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Iowa Senate OKs 2014-2015 school funding increase

News

February 14th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The state Senate has approved legislation that would increase state funding for K-12 schools by 4 percent for the 2014-2015 school year.   The Legislature is required to set school funding more than a year in advance, prompting Thursday’s Senate vote. Because lawmakers didn’t approve a budget last year, the Senate last month passed a bill increasing funding for the coming school year.

In the House, Republicans in a committee approved a scaled-backed version of Gov. Terry Branstad’s education reform proposals Wednesday night. The revised plan reduces teacher raises backed by Branstad and lets schools opt-out of minimum salary hikes or leadership bonuses.

The dueling efforts show the distance between the Democratic-majority Senate, the Republican-controlled House. A spokesman for Branstad says the governor was encouraged that House lawmakers were debating education reform.

U-of-I program could help with Iowa’s shortage of nurses

News

February 14th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Iowa’s shortage of nurses is starting to be solved through a University of Iowa program which officials hope will see an increase in state funding. U-of-I President Sally Mason briefed legislators on the program called Better Future for Iowans. Mason says the goal is to help would-be nurses achieve their aspirations through distance education. “Some of which allow place-bound Iowans to get a full University of Iowa degree without ever having to leave his or her home community,” Mason says. “Right now, we’re able to do that in all of the community colleges across Iowa for the nursing degree.”

A study by the Iowa Council of Nurses projected a shortfall of 25-hundred registered nurses in Iowa in the coming years. Mason says the U-of-I program is already making a difference. “It’s allowed many of our nurses in small communities across Iowa to go from their two-year nursing degree to a four-year bachelor of science in nursing degree without having to leave their jobs, leave their homes or do anything that would disrupt their lives.” Mason says if the legislature appropriates more money, a business degree program for working professionals in Des Moines can be extended to other locations around the state. She made her budget request before a joint House-Senate committee which oversees spending on education.

(Radio Iowa)

TIMOTHY JAMES GLENN, 30, of Winterset (Svcs. 2/16/13)

News, Obituaries

February 14th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

TIMOTHY JAMES GLENN, 30, of Winterset, died Mon., Feb. 11th. A Memorial service for TIMOTHY GLENN will be held 2-p.m. Sat., Feb. 16th, at the Redfield American Legion Hall. Johnson Family Funeral Home in Dexter has the arrangements.

Memorials may be directed to the Timothy Glenn Memorial Fund, in care of the funeral home. Online condolences may be left to the family at www.johnsonfamilyfuneralhome.com.

8AM Newscast 02-14-2013

News, Podcasts

February 14th, 2013 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

(Update): 1 injured during Atlantic apartment fire

News

February 14th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

One person was injured during an apartment fire this morning, in Atlantic.

402 Maple Street fire in Atlantic (Ric Hanson photo)

Firefighters were called to 402 Maple Street at around 8-a.m. Atlantic Fire Chief Mark McNees told KJAN News the incident was reported by a resident in a neighboring apartment, who smelled smoke.

He said the resident couldn’t get a man living in the apartment to evacuate. Atlantic Police Lt. Dave Erickson also tried but was unsuccessful in getting the man out. McNees said firefighters made entry into the building and were able to remove the man from the home, along with the rest of the tenants. The victim was taken to the Cass County Memorial Hospital for treatment.

McNees said the fire, which apparently started in the kitchen, spread to the wall and into the ceiling. There are four apartments in the two-story structure, three of which were believed to have been occupied by a total of six-residents. The other occupants were expected to return to their apartments once the structure was ventilated. Atlantic Fire was on the scene for about 45-minutes.

7AM Newscast 02-14-2013

News, Podcasts

February 14th, 2013 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Motive not being released in shooting of Bluffs woman & her child

News

February 14th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Police in Council Bluffs say they think they know the motive behind the shooting of a Council Bluffs woman and her child, but they’re being mum on the reason, for now. According to the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil, investigators say rumors, and comments by the wife of the Harlan man charged in the shooting that the incident happened over a tax refund, are not true. They say there is also no truth to the rumor the victim, 22-year old Heather Wilson, pulled a gun the alleged assailant, 30-year old Ronald Farr, of Harlan.

The shooting of Wilson and her 19 month old son Tyson Underwood happened early Tuesday morning outside an apartment complex, in Council Bluffs. Court documents indicate Farr’s wife, Lisa, told investigators the shooting occurred over a $6,000 tax refund payable to Farr, that was allegedly in the possession of the father of Wilson’s children, who refused to give it back.

Sgt. David Dawson with the Council Bluffs Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division told the paper that story is not true. Lisa Farr also told investigators that the shooting was self-defense. She claimed Wilson pulled a gun on Ronald Farr, Dawson said investigators have found no evidence Wilson had a gun. Wilson suffered eight gunshot wounds during the incident. Her son suffered a gunshot wound to his arm.

Farr, who was arrested without incident at his home in Harlan,  faces three counts of attempted murder, two counts of willful injury causing serious injury and one count of going armed with intent. He made his initial court appearance Wednesday during a video conference, where associate district court Judge Charles Fagan set a preliminary hearing for Friday, February 22nd. Farr remains in the Pottawattamie County Jail on $1-million bond.

Construction to begin soon on Stanton Community Center

News

February 14th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Construction on a two-story community center in the Montgomery County community of Stanton is set to begin soon. According to the Omaha World-Herald, work on the Viking Center in Stanton will begin on or about April 1st. A non-profit group…”Stanton Friends”…has raised $3.2-million dollars through donations, to help pay for the community center, which is expected to open in December, 2013.

The facility, in a town of around 700 people, will feature a public library, a preschool, multipurpose/community room with a kitchen, a health and wellness area, gymnasium, and storm shelter. The idea for the 25,350-square foot Viking Center was formed during a community meeting in 2007. The following year, residents in the area formed the non-profit “Stanton Friends” group, to take the lead on bringing the concept to reality.

Officials say more than 400 people, businesses and foundations donated to the fundraising campaign for the multi-function building. Donations are still being accepted to develop the structure’s interior, purchase gym equipment and furnish the library.

Bill would open up more land for hunting preserves

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 14th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A bill that has passed its first step in the Iowa Senate Tuesday would allow more farmers to create game preserves on their land to boost pheasant hunting in the state. The bill allows landowners to offer hunting on as little at 40 acres of land for pheasants, quail and partridges. Senator Steve Sodders, a Democrat from State Center, says pheasant hunting has deteriorated dramatically in Iowa. “Farming has tore out trees we’re losing habitat. So, I think it’s much easier for someone with land out there to be able to find 40 acres along a certain waterway or tree line that they are not going to take out, as opposed to trying to take out a big chunk all in one spot,” Sodders says.

Current law requires landowners to have at least 320 acres of land for game preserves. Sodders says there are benefits for hunters and everyone else when the birds are released. He says the owners put the birds out in the morning before the hunt. Some of the birds are going to get away, and they’re going to hunt some of them.

Lack of habitat is one of the factors cited in the decline of pheasant numbers in the state, along with poor weather conditions that have hurt the development of young birds.

(Radio Iowa)

House Republicans push to make education reform optional

News

February 14th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Republicans in the Iowa House are scaling back Governor Terry Branstad’s education reform plan, making it optional rather than mandatory. Representative Ron Jorgensen, a Republican from Sioux City, is chairman of the House Education Committee. “I’m hoping that all of them will opt in to the program, but…some of them may be just leery of change and whether this will work or not,” Jorsensen says, “and so they may delay coming in until they see how effective it is for others.”

Branstad has proposed a “teacher leadership” plan for schools that would give bonuses to teachers chosen to serve as mentors and coaches for other teachers in their school. Branstad’s also called for raising the beginning teacher salary to 35-thousand dollars, but House Republicans favor a lower level and plan to make raising beginning teacher pay optional, too. Linda Fandel is a senior advisor to Governor Branstad on education issues. “The teacher career pathways provide such an attractive opportunity for school districts, you know, both the teacher leadership that they put in place, and the additional funding that comes with it, that school districts will want to do this,” Fandel says.

Jorgensen — a former school board member — says it’s about giving local school officials more control.  “We want to encourage everyone to come in,” Jorgensen says, “but I’d rather not mandate that they do something that they might feel that they’ve got a better system where they’re at right now.” House Republicans have settled on an optional, 32-thousand dollar beginning teacher salary.  “Percentage-wise it’s still pretty good growth,” Jorgensen says. “From $28,000 to $32,000 — so we’re still going up $4000 in salary.” But that’s a far cry from the 45-thousand dollar starting teacher salary a state task force called for this past fall.

Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City who is a retired teacher, says the G-O-P changes are disappointing. “It’s kind of obvious to me that this really isn’t a huge priority for them,” Steckman says. “…They cut a lot of the funding. They made it so it’s not mandatory.” Fandel, the governor’s education advisor, says a lot of schools already offer more than 35-thousand dollars as a starting salary for new teachers.  “I think there’ll be a lot of conversation about what’s the right starting salary,” Fandel says. House Republican leaders hope to schedule debate of education reform in the full, 100-member House next week.

(Radio Iowa)