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Branstad orders end to confidential agreements

News

March 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Gov. Terry Branstad says he has signed an executive order prohibiting state agencies from signing confidential settlement agreements. Branstad, back in Iowa from vacation, is responding to criticism of agreements reached between state agencies and several state employees who were fired and then paid more than $280,000 to keep quiet. Branstad said Monday (today), that Iowans expect more from state government and deserve better. He says he didn’t know about the settlements.

His order requires settlement agreements to be reviewed by the attorney general’s office and all agreements to be posted on a state website. He’s also ordered all past settlement agreements to be posted – that’s more than 321 since he took office. He says 24 contain confidentiality agreements and 10 included lump sum payments to workers.

Fighter Pilot from S.W. IA receives award

News

March 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A fighter pilot with roots in southwest Iowa was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for “Meritorious service.” The Secretary of the Navy presented the award to US Navy Strike Fighter Pilot, Lt. Commander Joshua Larson on Feb. 26th.

LCDR Joshua Larson (Photo submitted(

LCDR Joshua Larson (Photo submitted(

Lieutenant Commander Joshua A. Larson is the son of Larry and Dee Larson of Massena, grandson of Lois Larson of Corning and brother of Kim Pontius of Corning. Lt CDR. Larson is a 1996 graduate of the Massena High School.

The award read as follows:

“Meritorious Service while serving as Kingdom of Bahrain Country Engagement Officer on the staff of Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and Commander, U.S. Fifth Fleet from January 2013 to March 2014 conducting Operations in the U.S. Central Command Area of responsibility.

Lieutenant Commander Larson superbly managed more than 170 Key Leader engagements including meetings with Bahrain’s King, Crown Prince, Chief of Defense, and Minister of Foreign Affairs along with numerous Royal Court Leaders, Ministers, and National Heads of Services. Demonstrating keen foresight, he expertly integrated the Kingdom of Bahrain into 20 U.S. Central Command International Exercises while flawlessly managing expanding Bilateral Coordination. In addition, he brilliantly led the planning for 10 Major International Conferences including the 2013 Manama Dialogue and the 2014 Bahrain International Air Show.

By his unswerving determination, wise judgment, and complete dedication to duty, Lieutenant Commander Larson reflected credit upon himself and upheld the highest tradition of the United States Naval Service”.

Thousands of Iowa families behind on utility bills

News

March 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Thousands of Iowa households are behind on their utility bills in the wake of winter’s subzero weather.  The Iowa Utilities Board figures say that as of February, more than 243,000 households were in arrears – 4 percent more than a year ago. But because of the severe cold and the higher costs of natural gas and propane, the amount of the debt has hit $46 million – 40 percent more than the figure in February 2013.

William Brand is administrator of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in Iowa, and he says 38,000 of the Iowa households in the program are behind on their bills by a total of $11.7 million. April 1 marks the end of the winter moratorium on utility shutoffs for those households.

Shelby County Fire Danger Index “High” this week

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

March 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

This week’s “Fire Danger” index has been moved to the “High”  category this week, in Shelby County. Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Seivert says the risk of controlled burn spreading beyond their intended scope is increasing due to the sunny and windy conditions expected Tuesday and Wednesday. Fire Danger

Seivert asks residents of Shelby County to please remember to contact the EMA at 712-755-2124 and your local fire Chief to report your controlled burn prior to starting any fires.

 

 

Fremont County arrest report

News

March 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office today (Monday) released a report on recent arrests. Officials say on March 16th, 25-year old Jared Allen Meyer, of Council Bluffs, was arrested on OWI/3rd Offense, Interference with Official Acts and Carrying a Weapon, charges. On March 13th, 21-year old Randi Marie Jordan, of Sidney, was arrested for Possession of drug Paraphernalia. That same day, 23-year old Thomas Scott Ware, of Thurman, was arrested for Theft in the 2nd degree, Vandalism in the 4th degree, and Trespassing.

Motorcycle vs. deer

News

March 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

One person was transported to a hospital by helicopter following a motorcycle versus deer accident March 14th. In information released today (Monday), by the Mills County Sheriff’s office, authorities report Shaun Peacock, of Glenwood, was traveling north on 221st Street near the intersection with Ashton Road, when the 2004 Harley Davidson cycle he was riding collided with a deer that had entered the roadway.

Following the collision, the cycle entered the east ditch and slid for several feet before hitting a tree. Peacock was ejected from the machine and came to rest in a tree line. The accident happened at around 9:07-p.m., March 14th. Peacock was transported to an unknown hospital by LifeFlight helicopter.

No other information is available.

Iowa Among the Top States for Clean Energy Job Creation

Ag/Outdoor, News

March 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

URBANDALE, Iowa – As the Iowa job market continues to bounce back slowly from the depths of the economic downturn, one industry that’s leading the way is clean energy. The state ranked fifth in the nation in the fourth quarter with 650 new jobs announced in such areas as wind energy, biofuels, and recycling. Among those hoping that trend will continue is Mark Schroder, who runs LED Source of Urbandale. gr-38278-1-1

“We are a LED-lighting-retrofit company,” he said. “We do some new construction, but a majority of our business is retrofitting existing business owners. And we’re certainly trying to do our part to hire more people and do what we can to keep the economy in Iowa turning.” Schroder said some of his customers are also hiring more staff, thanks to the savings from moving to more-energy-efficient lighting.

The growth in clean energy jobs is not only helping economically, but is also promoted as providing environmental benefits like curbing climate change. That’s been helped in recent years in Iowa and across the country with the availability of certain tax credits, but Schroder noted that most of those now have been changed dramatically or eliminated altogether. “And in fact we’ve had a few customers tell us that they were going to put their projects on hold due to that particular situation, so we’d certainly like to see that legislation come back,” he said. “And it certainly would help not only our business, but many other businesses as well.”

Nationwide, nearly 80,000 clean-energy and clean-transportation jobs were announced in 2013, based on more than 260 projects tracked by the nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).

Iowa clean energy jobs information is at CleanEnergyWorksForUs.org.

(Iowa News Service)

8AM Newscast 03-24-2014

News, Podcasts

March 24th, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

7AM Newscast 03-24-2014

News, Podcasts

March 24th, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Spring is here along with new risks. Be prepared during Severe Weather Awareness Week

News, Weather

March 24th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

With winter behind us, Iowans need to get in the mindset to be prepared for different potential weather dangers associated with spring — like hail, lightning, flash flooding and tornadoes. Jeff Johnson, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service, says today (Monday) marks the start of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa. One key element will be a statewide tornado drill on Wednesday morning. “We’ll have the watch at 10, followed by a Tornado Warning at about 10:15,” Johnson says. “It’s an excellent time to exercise your home plan, if you have one, or your school response to a tornado or your business response.”

Each day this week will focus on different types of severe weather, including flash flooding, severe thunderstorms, developing a family emergency plan and how watches and warnings have changed in recent years. Johnson says 2013 was another unusual year as Iowa had very few tornadoes.  “The numbers were inflated a little bit from that event in early October, particularly in northwest Iowa, but if you took that out, if you take out that event and Belmond, we had seven tornadoes in the Belmond area in June of last year, it was very quiet,” Johnson says. “Even with those two events, we had in the upper 20s for tornadoes.”

Iowa averages 48 tornadoes a year, but recorded 120 twisters in 2004. Johnson says it’s difficult to predict what kind of year will be ahead, especially after such a cold, snowy winter.
“It all depends on where the weather patterns set up in April, May and June,” Johnson says. “I always tell everybody prepare for the worst and we’re going to have severe weather at some point. We’re going to have tornadic storms, flash flooding storms, large hail and wind.”

This month, the National Weather Service will hold storm spotter classes across Iowa. The classes offer information about cloud development, how to spot tornadoes and more. Learn more about Severe Weather Awareness Week and the spotter classes at www.weather.gov/dmx.

(Radio Iowa)