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7AM Newscast 07-03-2012

News, Podcasts

July 3rd, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

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Debating state abortion policy

News

July 3rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

State officials have until August 10th to decide how to respond to an attempt to stop government-paid abortions in cases of rape or incest. Last month 41 Republican legislators who oppose abortion asked the Iowa Department of Human Services to rewrite its rules which currently allow tax dollars to pay for some abortions. Abortions are covered under Medicaid if the woman’s the victim of rape or incest, if her life is endangered by the pregnancy, or if a fetal abnormality leads doctors to conclude the baby would not survive past birth. This week several groups have filed a response. Jill June is president and C-E-O of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. “This would re-victimize a woman who’s already been through the trauma of a violent crime or who’s facing a pregnancy that’s incompatible with life of the fetus and to withhold health care from her in these circumstances really is heartless,” June says.

This spring a group of Republican lawmakers made a similar attempt to prevent Medicaid patients who’re victims of rape or incest from getting a state-paid abortion. Democrats who prevailed said such a move would jeopardize federal reimbursement to the state and June raises the same argument now.  “Iowa law clearly provides that women who are facing a pregnancy as the result of rape or incest or gross fetal anomaly have access to health care, paid by the Medicaid program,” June says, “so this really doesn’t make sense because the law in Iowa and the federal law all agree that this is the right thing to do.” Critics on the other side argue cases of rape or incest aren’t the fault of the fetus, but the fetus gets the death penalty if the mother opts for an abortion.

The American Civil Liberties Union argues opponents of abortion are asking the Iowa Department of Human services to make a “procedural run-around that violates Iowa law” about how agencies can make rules. June agrees. “We don’t understand what basis they are making this complaint,” June says. Officials in the Department of Human Services can either dismiss the petition filed by Republican legislators, or start drafting emergency rules to implement the policy abortion opponents seek.

(Radio Iowa)

Education Department given one year freeze for no child left behind

News

July 3rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The U-S Department of Education has granted Iowa’s request for a one-year freeze on the standards imposed by the No Child Left Behind. The state Education Department requested the one-year freeze on the federal regulations last week after failing to gain a permanent waiver of the rules. A spokeswoman for the department, Staci Hupp, says this move is just one step in a larger battle over education in the state.  “This is a temporary measure while we continue to seek permanent relief from No Child Left Behind’s unrealistic accountability measures,” Hupp says. If the freeze had not been granted, 87- percent of all students in third through eighth and 11th grade would have been expected to have meet grade-level standards in reading and math. The target for most Iowa schools will stay around 80-percent of students performing at grade level. Education Department director Jason Glass and Governor Terry Branstad blamed the legislature for failing to pass an educator evaluation system as the reason the state did not received a permanent waiver from the federal standards. The legislature is studying the evaluation system to make a recommendation for the next session.

Hupp says it’s good news to get more time to work on the issue. “Although it’s a temporary measure that doesn’t really address the root of the problem. Director Glass believes that as a nation significant changes to the No Child Left Behind law must become a priority,” Hupp says. The Department of Education is in the process of yearly progress reports, and officials say they do not yet know how many schools the freeze will affect. Federal officials indicated Iowa would not get another freeze year if it fails to come up with the changes required for a permanent waiver.

(Radio Iowa)

New left turn traffic signals in Iowa feature yellow flashing arrow

News

July 3rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A new traffic signal is showing up in Iowa and officials are hoping it’ll clear up confusion many motorists have with left turns across traffic. The Federal Highway Administration has adopted the flashing yellow arrow as a national standard for “permissive left turn” operations. Cathy Cutler, a transportation planner with the Iowa Department of Transportation, calls it an “enhancement” of the green arrow. “When people are going to make left turns across traffic, they get the green arrow and that means they have the right-of-way to make the left turn. The new addition is what the next phase will be and that’s the flashing yellow arrow. That indicates you can still make a left turn across traffic, but you’re required to yield to any oncoming traffic and any pedestrians,” Cutler says. Following the flashing yellow arrow, the signal will change to a steady yellow arrow indicating the left turn signal is about to turn red. Cutler says a national study determined drivers found flashing yellow left turn arrows more understandable than traditional yield-on-green indications.

“Really, the confusion came for those left turners when there wasn’t a green arrow. They didn’t really know what the green bulb meant. It means you can proceed but you need to yield to oncoming traffic and pedestrians,” Cutler said. “We believe the flashing yellow arrow will help prevent crashes.” Several flashing yellows arrow signals are already in operation around Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Des Moines. More will be installed across the state at busy intersections in the coming months. “The ones that have been up…have been up for a couple months now and we haven’t had any issues or citizen complaints about them,” Cutler said. The flashing yellow arrows are also expected to reduce traffic delays as the new signals provide traffic engineers with more options to handle variable traffic volumes.

(Radio Iowa)

HEAT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FOR MUCH OF IA TUES. THROUGH SATURDAY

News, Weather

July 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

COUNTIES: EMMET-KOSSUTH-WINNEBAGO-WORTH-PALO ALTO-HANCOCK-CERRO GORDO- POCAHONTAS-HUMBOLDT-WRIGHT-FRANKLIN-BUTLER-BREMER-SAC-CALHOUN- WEBSTER-HAMILTON-HARDIN-GRUNDY-BLACK HAWK-CRAWFORD-CARROLL-GREENE- BOONE-STORY-MARSHALL-TAMA-AUDUBON-GUTHRIE-DALLAS-POLK-JASPER- POWESHIEK-CASS-ADAIR-MADISON-WARREN-MARION-MAHASKA-ADAMS-UNION- CLARKE-LUCAS-MONROE-WAPELLO-TAYLOR-RINGGOLD-DECATUR-WAYNE- APPANOOSE-DAVIS-

HEAT ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 7 AM TUESDAY TO 7 AM CDT SATURDAY... THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN DES MOINES HAS ISSUED A HEAT ADVISORY…WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 7 AM TUESDAY TO 7 AM CDT SATURDAY. *

A PROLONGED PERIOD OF HOT AND HUMID CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED ACROSS THE AREA TUESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY NIGHT. HEAT INDICES OF 100 TO 105 ARE EXPECTED EACH AFTERNOON…AS MAX TEMPERATURES CLIMB INTO THE MID TO UPPER 90S…COMBINED WITH DEWPOINTS IN THE UPPER 60S TO AROUND 70. HEAT INDICES WILL REMAIN AROUND 80 DEGREES OR HIGHER AT NIGHT.

DUE TO RECENT DRY CONDITIONS IN SOME AREAS ACROSS CENTRAL IOWA…THIS PROLONGED PERIOD OF HOT WEATHER COULD LEAD TO AN INCREASED CONCERN FOR SMALL GRASSLAND FIRES.

A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HOT TEMPERATURES IS EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS…STAY IN AN AIR-CONDITIONED ROOM…STAY OUT OF THE SUN…AND CHECK UP ON RELATIVES AND NEIGHBORS. TAKE EXTRA PRECAUTIONS IF YOU WORK OR SPEND TIME OUTSIDE. KNOW THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION AND HEAT STROKE. ANYONE OVERCOME BY HEAT SHOULD BE MOVED TO A COOL AND SHADED LOCATION. HEAT STROKE IS AN EMERGENCY…CALL 9 1 1.

Crop conditions fall as Iowa remains dry

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Crops conditions in Iowa have declined as the state remains dry despite some much-needed rain. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says in Monday’s weekly report that 62 percent of the corn crop is in good to excellent condition. A week ago, it was 68 percent. Fifty-nine percent of soybeans are in good shape, down from 63 percent a week ago. The USDA says 73 percent of topsoil and subsoil levels are dry. South-central Iowa is the driest with 91 percent of topsoil running short or very short. Storms brought rain to the middle of the state on Friday along with hail and strong winds. Rain fell on southeast Iowa late Saturday and Sunday. The statewide average rainfall for the week was 0.25 inches. The normal is over an inch.

Smoke from Colorado wildfires drifts over Iowa

News, Weather

July 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Smoke from wildfires raging in Colorado has drifted into Iowa, making for redder skies at dawn and dusk but causing no health problems. The Des Moines Register says the smoke will likely remain over the state until the fires are out. The National Weather Service says the smoke is high in the atmosphere, so residents likely won’t see too many effects. Meteorologist Kevin Skow says winds, which generally flow from west to east across the U.S., has pushed the smoke over Iowa. He says the sky is hazier, and sunrises and sunsets will be redder than normal. Meteorologists haven’t notices any dust or other particles that could settle on the state and aren’t aware of any health risks. Environmental officials say Iowa’s air quality is good.

Former Glenwood Deputy Treasurer released from custody Monday

News

July 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The former Mills County Deputy Treasurer arrested Friday afternoon for stealing more than $36,000 in vehicle registration transactions, was released by a judge today (Monday), under a pre-trial agreement. 43-year old Tammy Gammon, of Glenwood, was held over the weekend in the Pottawattamie County Jail on $65,000 bond, on charges which included 5 counts of forgery, ongoing criminal conduct, 1st degree theft and Felonious Misconduct in Office.

A report by State Auditor David Vaudt says the theft dated back to 2005 and included more than 180 transactions. Auditors say Gammon would enter the vehicle registration information into a state database but later void the transactions and pocket the fees. Gammon was fired in April , 2011. The theft was uncovered by the Iowa Department of Transportation as it was reviewing registration data from various counties around the state.

Gammon admitted during an interview with investigators that she did not deposit some fees and kept them instead to pay daily expenses, particularly when a lot of money was in her cash drawer, the report said. She said she believed she took less than $10,000. Auditors say the scheme started to unravel after a routine review by DOT in January 2011 questioned an unusual transaction in which the office reinstated a registration that had been voided months earlier without explanation.

A complete copy of the Special Audit report can be found at: http://auditor.iowa.gov/specials/1010-0065-BE00.pdf

Names released in connection with double fatal Bluffs crash

News

July 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Council Bluffs Police Department Monday afternoon, released the names of the persons who died and were injured in a crash Sunday evening on Interstate 80. Officials say 49-year-old Pamela Mahoney and 19-year-old Colene Mahoney, both of Carter Lake, were killed in the crash which occurred at around 6:15-p.m.

Officials say a pickup truck driven by 46-year old Scott Billings, of Omaha, was traveling west on I-80 when it traveled down an embankment and hit a Ford Escort driven by Pamela Mohoney, as she was traveling south on Interstate 29. Her car had just passed beneath the westbound I-80 overpass, when it was hit by the pickup. Pamela Mahoney died at the scene. Colene Mahoney was transported to the University of Nebraska Medical Center where she died from her injuries Monday morning.  Billings and his children, ages 4, 12 and 15, were taken to Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs, where they were treated for non-life threatening injuries and released.

While the accident remains under investigation, officials say speed and alcohol did not appear to have been factors in the crash. Instead, officials suspect Billings fell asleep at the wheel of his pickup. No charges have been filed at this time.

Street closure planned for Shelby County

News

July 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Shelby County Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Seivert reports 900th Street, between County Road M-16 and Umbrella Road, will be closed for about 4 weeks, beginning Thursday, July 5th. The road will be closed for culvert repairs in the 2100 block of 900th Street.  Seivert advises emergency crews should be aware the Hog confinement site at 2116 900th St must be accessed from the east only, should there need to be a response to that facility, and those crews should prepare alternate routes to residences in the area, for the same reason.Anyone with questions about the project should call the Shelby County Engineer at 712-755-5954