Iowa News Headlines: Sun., April 21st 2013

News

April 21st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

NEVADA, Iowa (AP) — Officials say they have uncovered a large-scale theft and money-laundering operation involving a former Iowa Department of Transportation employee and another man. The Iowa Department of Public Safety says 56-year-old David Weigel of Nevada, Iowa and 59-year-old Grady Marx of Sioux City were arrested Saturday after state, local and federal authorities executed search warrants in three counties in central and western Iowa. Weigel, who worked for the Transportation Department from 1995 to 2011, and Marx are charged in warrants with theft, conspiracy to commit theft, money laundering and criminal conduct. Weigel is also charged with felonious misconduct in office. Investigators say Weigel sold department land and fraudulently charged for maintenance, keeping nearly $240,000. Marx is accused of collecting nearly as much for mowing and other maintenance he did not perform.

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s Mississippi River communities have been preparing for flooding as the river’s waters continue to rise following days of heavy rain. City employees and volunteers have erected a sandbag barrier around much of Burlington’s Memorial Auditorium in an effort to keep rising water out of the building, and officials in Dubuque have closed several flood gates.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Senator Tom Harkin is endorsing fellow Democrat Bruce Braley to replace him in the U.S. Senate. Harkin announced his support for Braley in yesterday’s press release. The 54-year-old Braley announced in February that he’d seek the Senate seat held for decades by Harkin, who won’t seek re-election.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The chief of staff for Republican Governor Terry Branstad says he proud of his staff for producing a video that Democrats say mocks them for their position on education reform and funding. Chief of Staff Jeff Boeyink told The Des Moines Register on Friday his staff succeeded in the 1-minute, 45-second video in restating the governor’s education priorities.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A drop in federal donations has left Iowa food banks low on supplies and hopeful the Legislature will approve funding for the organizations. Food bank officials say U.S. Department of Agriculture donations to organizations in Iowa and part of Nebraska are more than 1 million pounds less than in previous years. Last year, Governor Terry Branstad vetoed a bill including $500,000 in aid to food banks.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — While most of the education debate in the state Capitol this year has been on how to improve teachers and enhance schools in Iowa, some lawmakers are focused on a very different educational goal — seeking to reduce regulations for homeschooling families. Language added to an education bill passed in the Republican-controlled state House in February would remove oversight for some households that homeschool their children. The issue could complicate negotiations as Republicans try to reach a compromise with the Democratic-controlled Senate on an education overhaul plan. Some Republicans have made clear that they will not support the overall education policy plan without these provisions. Democrats are noncommittal on the homeschooling proposals. Democratic Senate President Pam Jochum, of Dubuque, says it would “receive a lot of discussion in our caucus.”

RUDD, Iowa (AP) — One man died and another was hurt when a train hit a pickup truck in the northern Iowa city of Rudd. The Iowa State Patrol says the crash happened Saturday morning when a pickup driven by 73-year-old Gary Lee Eilers of Waterloo drove onto the tracks. A Canadian Pacific train pushed the pickup about a quarter of a mile down the tracks. A passenger in the pickup, 32-year-old Brian Allen Leckness of Waterloo, was killed. Eilers was flown to a Mason City hospital and then moved to a hospital in Rochester, Minn. He was in critical condition Saturday night.