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Early school start bill heading to Branstad for approval

News

March 31st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa schools will be able to start the upcoming academic year no earlier than Aug. 23rd, under a compromise bill that is now headed to Gov. Terry Branstad for approval.  Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal on Tuesday lifted a procedural hold he placed on the bill last week. The state House and Senate both approved the legislation, but Gronstal stalled, citing concerns that high schools would be excluded from setting year-round calendars.

Gronstal says it was time to move on. Branstad promised to sign the bill into law. The state announced plans late last year to stop issuing automatic waivers to allow districts to bypass current start date rules. Many lawmakers wanted districts to have control over their calendars, but Branstad argued that early start dates hurt tourism.

Sen. Grassley launches re-election bid seeking term #7

News

March 31st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley held his first fundraiser last (Monday) night in West Des Moines to kick off his 2016 re-election campaign. Grassley, a Republican, is seeking a seventh term. One reason Grassley says he’d like to remain in Washington D-C is the fact his party now has a majority of seats in the U-S Senate. “We anticipated that would happen,” Grassley says, “and being chairman of a committee, I’m in a position to show more leadership, not just through the Judiciary Committee but being fourth in seniority of 100 senators, I think, gives me some opportunity to push.”

Grassley first took office in 1959 when he was elected to the Iowa House and has served in public office ever since. He was elected to the U-S House in 1975 and was first elected to the U-S Senate in 1980. Grassley is now 81 years old and if elected to another term, he would be 89 when that term is up. He’s currently the second-oldest member of the Senate.  “I don’t have a right to serve a seventh term,” Grassley says. “I hold a public trust and from time to time, every six years, you have to renew that trust. If the people continue to have trust in me, I will serve a seventh term and if they don’t, then obviously, I’ll retire.”

Shortly after Senator Tom Harkin announced in 2013 that he would not run again, Grassley said he -would- seek re-election because he didn’t want to leave Iowa with two junior senators just two years apart. He says that remains as a primary reason he’s seeking re-election now. Grassley says, “Public service is an honorable thing and if I can be helpful to the people of Iowa, particularly in transition while Iowa has a new senator, then I think that’s helpful.”

Republican Joni Ernst of Red Oak was elected last year to fill the seat that had been held by Democrat Harkin. Grassley says Ernst has “really picked up the ball quickly,” adding, “she’s off to a very good start, but it still hasn’t changed my mind about running for re-election.”

(Radio Iowa)

AMU’s Revenue Bonds rated “A1” according to Moody’s

News

March 31st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Atlantic Municipal Utilities are pleased to report Moody’s Investor Services has assigned an A1 rating to AMU’s’ proposed $7.3 million Revenue Bonds. Moody’s Investors Service assigned the A1 rating to AMU’s $4.8 million Electric Revenue Refunding Capital Loan Notes, Series 2015A and $2.5 million Electric Revenue Capital Loan Notes, Series 2015B.

Among the items cited in Moody’s report were AMU’s sound financial operations resulting in strong coverage levels, a modest debt burden and management’s conservative budgeting approach. AMU General Manager Steve Tjepkes says the positive assessment and rating will help ensure the lowest available interest costs for the upcoming debt issuance.  According to Tjepkes, “Industry wide, electric utility credit ratings have been declining for a number of years, so for AMU to be able to continue maintaining an A1 credit rating is something we should be proud of. Our relative small size and our concentration in coal-fired generation are the two characteristics that keep us from getting a higher credit rating.”

The proceeds from the Series 2015A Notes will advance refund AMU’s currently outstanding Series 2007 Notes for an expected savings of approximately $250,000. The Series 2007 Notes have interest rates of approximately 4% while the replacement 2015A Notes will have an average rate of less than 2%.

The proceeds from the Series 2015B Notes will finance current improvements and extensions to the electric system, including replacement of the control system on AMU’s local gas generator and AMU’s share of the costs of improvements at the Walter Scott, Jr. Energy Center Unit 3 facilities in Council Bluffs.

Moody’s Investors Service provides financial research on bonds issued by commercial and government entities and ranks the creditworthiness of borrowers using a standardized ratings scale.

(Press Release)

AMU touts low electric rates

News

March 31st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The American Public Power Association has released its latest report on electric rates charged by all of the electric utilities throughout the U.S.   Based on the report, of the 182 electric utilities operating in the state of Iowa, Atlantic Municipal Utilities (AMU) ranks as the eighth lowest cost provider when comparing the average cost of electricity charged to all of AMU’s consumers. In addition, when comparing the rates charged to residential consumers, there were only three electric utilities in Iowa with a lower residential rate than AMU.

Jennifer Saathoff, AMU Comptroller, says “We were very pleased to see the results of the latest rate comparisons among electric utilities. Iowa has among the lowest electric rates in the U.S. and for AMU to be among the lowest cost providers in the state is something that benefits all of us.”

AMU says increased costs to meet stricter environmental and regulatory requirements, especially at the coal-fired Walter Scott, Jr. Energy Center Unit 3 plant in Council Bluffs, has put upward pressure on the electric rates AMU charges local consumers. AMU is a 2.5% owner in the plant which provides approximately 70% of the energy needed to meet local consumer demand. Most of the remaining power to service our area is provided through purchase power contracts with Western Area Power Administration, for hydro-generated electricity, and Missouri River Energy Services, located in Sioux Falls, SD. Atlantic’s local generation includes a dual fuel, 4.5 MW, Nordberg diesel generator and a 10 MW, low-NOx dual fuel natural gas generator. The local generation is utilized primarily to meet capacity and energy reserve requirements, emergency generation, and occasional energy sales.

AMU provides electrical service to 3,953 residential and commercial consumers within the city of Atlantic and another 670 residential and commercial consumers in the surrounding rural area.

The American Public Power Association (APPA), based in Washington, D.C., is a national service organization representing the unified interests of the nation’s more than 2,000 community-owned municipal electric utilities. Collectively, municipal utilities serve more than 48 million Americans.

(Press Release)

(Podcast) 8-a.m. KJAN News, 3/31/2015

News, Podcasts

March 31st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

With Ric Hanson.

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Early Out Wednesday fun in Montgomery County this April

News

March 31st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Montgomery County 4-H and Extension will be holding early-out Wednesday fun sessions during the month of April. “STEM Kids!” is a month of sessions held on Wednesday’s for 4th and 5th grade youth to learn about science, technology, engineering, and math! Each week the session will be held at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds white building from 2 – 3:45PM. Youth will learn about different aspects of STEM, learn about technology & even get to try out lots of fun experiments!

STEM Kids is open is all youth grades 4th and 5th. STEM Kids sessions will be on the following dates: Wednesday, April 8th; Wednesday, April 15th; Wednesday, April 22nd; and Wednesday, April 29th.

The month of April sessions fee for 4-H members will be $10.00 and non-members $15.00. Registrations are due to the Montgomery County Extension Office, 400 Bridge Street, Suite 2, Red Oak, Iowa 51566, by Monday, April 6th. Officials say if there is anything you would like to learn more about, see a presentation on, or attend a workshop for, we are always open to ideas and would love to hear your interests!

For any other questions regarding 4-H contact Hallie at the Extension Office (712) 623-2592 or email hpeck@iastate.edu.

(Podcast) KJAN News & funeral report, 3/31/2015

News, Podcasts

March 31st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The 7:06-a.m. Newscast w/KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.

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Iowa’s turkey hunting season opens soon, tens of thousands of hunters expected

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

March 31st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Turkey hunting season starts this next weekend (April 4th) for youth in Iowa and the season opens on April 13th for adults. Jim Coffee, a forest wildlife research technician with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, based in Chariton, says last year’s turkey season was tremendously popular. “We had about 50,000 people that went out in the woods to hear that spring gobble and over 11,000 of them were successful,” Coffee says. “That’s a pretty good success rate, when you look at the wariness of a species like this.”

Coffee offers a few tips for Iowa turkey hunters. “The biggest thing is to be prepared which begins a lot with the mental aspect of getting ourselves up early, thinking about things, always making sure your weapon is in good shape,” Coffee says. “I always emphasize understanding the biology of the bird. If we understand that animal, what it wants to do and when it wants to do it, it helps increase our success rate.”

Hunters from all over will be in Iowa, trying to bag a turkey. “We’ve got a great reputation for having big, healthy birds in Iowa,” Coffee says. “We’re going to have a lot of people, obviously, from the state of Iowa hunting but we draw from a lot of other states. Some years, we have as many as 38 other states represented in the hunting population out there.”

Turkeys are found in all 99 Iowa counties and they like to forage in forests, agricultural lands and pasture lands. There is a new application for smartphone users that will be helpful for hunters called the D-N-R Atlas.  “Open it up and it’s an aerial photograph of the entire state that you can zoom right down to literally see a tree that you want to sit underneath of, as well as all of the public lands available in every county,” Coffee says, “and do a lot of scouting right from your chair.”

Find more information about turkey hunting season at www.iowadnr.gov.

Iowa urged to toughen up rules on teen driver’s licenses

News

March 31st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A safety research organization is urging Iowa to toughen its rules for teenager driver’s licenses. The Des Moines Register reports that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says a study shows Iowa could more than halve its rate of fatal teen accidents if a stronger driver’s license law were adopted. The institute says Iowa should increase its licensing age to 17 years old from the current 16. And the institute suggests Iowa not issue instructional permits until someone reaches age 16 instead of the current 14.

Two lawmakers and the state’s chief highway safety expert said Monday that it would be difficult to adopt tougher teen driver rules in Iowa, where many teenagers in rural communities rely on cars and pickups to drive to school, work and other activities.

Jury seated for 2nd Iowa murder trial of man

News

March 31st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

BOONE, Iowa (AP) – Attorneys are expected to deliver their opening statements Tuesday in the second Iowa trial of a man accused of killing his former roommate in 2009.  The Messenger reports that a Boone County jury was seated Monday for the trial of 55-year-old John Green. Green is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 58-year-old Mark Koster in Sac City.

Green’s first trial was held in Webster County because his attorney had argued that pretrial publicity would make it impossible for Green to receive a fair trial in Sac City. The same argument was used against holding the second trial in Fort Dodge. The first trial ended in a mistrial.

Koster was declared missing in 2010. His remains were found in the basement of his Sac City home in 2012.