Pot-ted Plants

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Marijuana Grow Room Discovered In Mills County House

By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

A search by Mills County Sheriff’s deputies has turned up a “sophisticated” marijuana plant growing operation in a rural Mills County home.

    Reports indicate deputies served a search warrant on a residence at 25365 Norrell Ave., southeast of Glenwood, shortly after 9 p.m. on Sept. 23. While conducting their search, deputies discovered a marijuana grow room in the home’s basement.
    Kenneth B. McDonald, 39, was arrested at the scene and charged with manufacturing marijuana, possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine and marijuana), no drug stamp, possession of drug paraphernalia and interference with official acts.
     Deputies were originally alerted to a possible incident at the Norrell Avenue home by more than a dozen emergency 911 calls and hang-ups beginning at 4:20 p.m. on Sept. 23. When deputies arrived on the scene, they found McDonald inside the residence and a second subject, Troy J. Sterba, 33, sitting in a vehicle in the driveway.
    When questioned by deputies, McDonald described Sterba as a former friend whom he suspected was there to “beat” him up, said Mills County Sheriff Gene Goos.
    Sterba was questioned by deputies and taken into custody. He faces charges of interference with official acts and criminal mischief.
    McDonald denied deputies entry into his residence.
    While at the scene a third subject, who was not identified by authorities, approached the residence by vehicle. The subject was questioned by deputies and subsequently admitted to coming to the residence to buy drugs, Goos said. Deputies then applied for a search warrant of the Norrell Avenue residence. Their equest was granted by Magistrate Kenneth Whitacre the same evening. Deputies served the warrant on the residence shortly after 9 p.m. The search turned up a marijuana growing operation with 10 plants ready for harvest, Goos said.
    “This was a pretty sophisticated, hydroponic operation,” Goos said.
    Goos declined to speculate on the amount of marijuana or its street value. The Southwest Iowa Narcotics Task Force took possession of the marijuana plants for testing.
    Two syringes of a liquid believed to be methamphetamine, a small baggie of marijuana and drug paraphernalia were also seized from the residence.
    McDonald faces felony charges of manufacturing marijuana and failure to affix a state drug tax stamp. Both Class D felonies have a maximum  punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine of $7,500. McDonald was also charged with possession of marijuana and meth, both serious misdemeanors, and possession of drug paraphernalia and interference with officials acts, both simple misdemeanors. The maximum punishment for a serious misdemeanor is six months in jail and a fine of $1,875 while a simple misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $635 fine.

    McDonald posted a cash $700 bond on Sept. 24 and was released. He is scheduled to appear in Mills County District Court again Oct. 31. A Dec. 13 trial date has been set. David Poore is listed in court documents as McDonald’s attorney.
    Sterba faced two misdemeanor counts of interference with official acts and criminal mischief. He posted a $300 cash bond and was released. His preliminary hearing is set for Oct. 5.