DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowans should soon know more about what they can expect to find on the new health exchange, though whether the state’s two largest carriers will participate remains unclear. Today is the deadline for insurance carriers to file to be included in the online marketplace for Iowa. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart says he expects to release the insurance providers’ names tomorrow, though the details on the specific plan proposals will come later. Representatives for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield and UnitedHealthcare — which combined hold roughly 90 percent of the Iowa insurance market — declined to comment on their intentions.
CHARLES CITY – Two Charles City men survived a trip over a dam Saturday evening on the Cedar River. A pontoon boat being operated by Ryan Fisher, 25, lost power and floated over the dam at approximately 8 p.m. Saturday. Fisher and an unidentified passenger were rescued uninjured from a bridge pillar downstream by the Charles City Fire Department. Neither was wearing a life jacket and the boat had not yet been recovered Saturday evening. The incident is still under investigation by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The University of Iowa will soon begin taking down flood barriers surrounding campus buildings. The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports that the university announced the decision Friday, saying the threat of further flooding has diminished. The university is taking bids on a project to remove the flood barriers, make repairs to sidewalks and pedestrian walkways and landscape the areas of campus affected by the barriers. The university already has a contract in place to remove the floodwall that was built around Art Building West. The university estimates that the cleanup and restoration process will cost $2.3 million, including $1.25 million to remove barriers and sandbags across campus and another $1 million to restore sidewalks and other areas that were turned into construction zones.
OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) — Officials in southeastern Iowa’s Ottumwa expect upcoming inspections to show that some the city’s bridges are deteriorating. The Ottumwa Courier reports that four of Ottumwa’s 18 bridges are up for inspection this year, three of which are ranked as structurally deficient. The Iowa Department of Transportation requires that the most fragile — or “fracture-critical” — bridges be inspected every five years to qualify for Highway Bridge Program funding. Currently, the city is receiving $1 million from the federal program for the Market Street Bridge reconstruction.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Police say a gun has been found in the search of two homicide suspects’ homes and that ballistic testing has been ordered to determine if it was the weapon used to kill a 20-year-old man. Police arrested 18-year-old Marquice Morris and 20-year-old Joshua McCoy on Thursday and charged them with robbery and first-degree murder in the Wednesday shooting death of Christopher Byers.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Police have identified a 16-year-old boy critically injured in an overnight shooting as Tony Matthews. Police say officers responded to reports of a shooting just after midnight and found the teen in someone’s yard. Matthews was taken to a local hospital and underwent surgery. He remained in critical condition Saturday afternoon.
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — An Oran man accused of sexually abusing children in Fayette County now faces federal charges. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports that a federal grand jury handed down the indictment Wednesday. It charges 76-year-old Benton Stong with enticing a minor for the purpose of producing child pornography, as well as four counts of possession of child pornography. The federal charges allege Stong attempted to persuade minors to engage in sexual activity of the purpose of photographing the activity using digital cameras. The alleged incidents happened between June and July last year.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A city program that helps remove lead from older buildings has received a $2.5 million federal grant. The Sioux City Journal reports that the Neighborhood Services Department was awarded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Lead Hazard Control Grant. The money is for owner-occupied and rental units. People can apply to get money for removing lead paint and other items.
AMES, Iowa (AP) — The use of algae in research is rapidly increasing and Iowa State University has created a way to ramp up algae growth and harvesting to feed the need. Scientists at universities and in private industry are exploring the potential for algae to be used as a fertilizer, a source of biofuel, and as a feed supplement for livestock, among many other applications Iowa State’s new algal production facility built inside a greenhouse on the BioCentury Research Farm in rural Boone went online in January. The new facility produces about 10 pounds of algae a week.
SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (AP) — Officials are warning residents about swimmer’s itch after cases were reported on East Okoboji Lake in the Iowa Great Lakes Region. The state Department of Natural Resources says people should avoid swimming in marshy areas and places containing aquatic plants. Swimmer’s itch is caused by a parasite, but officials say most cases do not require medical attention. They can be treated with anti-itch lotions and other creams used for most skin allergies or irritations. Officials recommend that people limit the time they spend in water and towel off quickly afterward. That helps remove parasites from the skin’s surface. Welts and itching caused by parasites can last for several days to about a week.