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Branstad vetoes $56 million in school spending, rejects plan to preserve mental health centers


July 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad has vetoed $55.7 million in one-time education funding as well as a bipartisan deal to keep two state mental health institutes open.Branstad announced the vetoes late Thursday, as he approved a slew of budget bills. Branstad approved much of the more than $7 billion in spending that was passed in the Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate.

The legislative agreement included an increase in ongoing money for K-12 education, as well as the one-time payment. The fate of the two mental health institutes — in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda — was hotly debated. After Branstad sought to end funding for the facilities, lawmakers reached a deal to keep the Mount Pleasant center open and to seek a private provider to run the other.



Trooper Marc Griggs Hits First-Ever Milestone


July 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Iowa State Patrol Trooper Marc Griggs was recognized today (Thursday) for hitting a major milestone in the fight against drugged driving in Iowa.GriggsDREAward Griggs, one of 125 certified Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) in Iowa, recently completed his 500th Drug Recognition Expert evaluation—the first ever to accomplish this in Iowa. Griggs has been a certified DRE since 2001 and is a 22 year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol.

GTSB Bureau Chief Patrick Hoye said “His commitment and dedication to keeping motorists safe is certainly worthy of special recognition and we are pleased to be able to recognize his efforts.” The DRE program is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB). The GTSB works closely with many law enforcement agencies (police departments, sheriff’s offices and the Iowa State Patrol) across Iowa with the ultimate goal of reducing fatality serious injury crashes.

The latest trends show that impaired driving is not just drunk driving in the U.S. Impaired drivers are under the influence of illegal and sometimes even legal drugs that pose just as much of a threat to motorists as drunk drivers.  In Iowa, approximately 30% of fatalities are impaired driving related. One of the issues for law enforcement is determining impairment for a driver that is under the influence of drugs. The indicators for impairment are different for alcohol and certain drugs. That is where the DRE’s and the DRE program has had a positive impact. Officers receive specialized training that allows them to asses a driver’s condition and then take appropriate action.

Former ballplayer struck by foul wins more than $1M in suit

News, Sports

July 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) – A jury has awarded more than $1 million to a former high school baseball player who sued Davenport Assumption High School because he was injured by a foul ball while in a dugout, awaiting his turn at bat. Spencer Ludman filed the lawsuit in April 2013, alleging that the school was at fault because the dugout didn’t protect him. A Scott County jury ruled in his favor on Monday after a trial that began June 22.

Ludman’s skull was fractured on July 7, 2011, while playing for Muscatine High School in a game at Assumption. His attorney Steve Crowley said Thursday that the 22-year-old Ludman now must take anti-seizure medication. Assumption’s attorney, Lori Cole Magerko, says her client probably will appeal.

Creston man faces additional charges


July 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A Creston man arrested Tuesday for Driving While Barred and OWI/3rd offense, now faces an additional charge. The Union County Sheriff’s Office says 48-year old Joel Alan Weeks was arrested Wednesday afternoon at the Union County Jail, on a Department of Corrections warrant for Parole Violation. Weeks remains in the Union County Jail, where he was being held without bond.

Heading out for a dip? Tips on how to avoid becoming a drowning statistic

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Before the summer is over, statistics show about 33 people will drown in Iowa’s lakes, rivers and swimming pools. Deb Cooper, at the Iowa Department of Public Health, says it’s vital to follow safety rules when you’re around a body of water, especially as we head into the hot, busy 4th of July weekend.  “The thing I can’t stress enough is to watch children around open areas of water,” Cooper says, “whether it’s at the swimming pool or at a lake or a pond, always keep your eye on children.”

According to state records over the past decade, as many as 43 people drown in Iowa during 2005, while there were 22 deaths from drowning in 2009. Cooper credits the role that pool lifeguards play in keeping everyone safe and in keeping water quality healthy. “Most public swimming pools do provide lifeguards and you should always swim in an area where there’s a lifeguard, that’s the safest way,” Cooper says. “There are people at the swimming pools who regularly test the water to make sure the chemical levels are staying up where they should.”

All Iowans are encouraged to learn how to swim and how to perform C-P-R. “Always wear a life jacket around open bodies of water,” Cooper says. “Two-thirds of drowning victims are good swimmers, so it’s important you wear a life jacket when you’re around those areas of water.”

Find more tips at the Iowa Department of Public Health website: www.idph.state.ia.us.

State taxes for fiscal year top $8 BILLION


July 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

For the first time in state history, overall state tax collections for a fiscal year have topped eight BILLION dollars. State officials have to subtract tax refunds and local option sales tax payments to schools from that eight BILLION dollar figure. It represents GROSS state tax receipts. That means NET state tax collections were over six-point-six BILLION for the state fiscal year that ended Tuesday.

A report from the Legislative Services Agency indicates state tax collections grew by six percent over the 12 month period. That growth rate beat the official expectation of five and a half percent growth in state tax revenue during the fiscal year.

The six percent increase amounts to nearly 377-MILLION dollars in additional tax payments to the state this fiscal year compared to the last one. The increase was spurred by a nearly six percent increase in personal income tax payments to the state, plus corporate income tax payment to the state were up by about five percent. Sales and use tax payments to the state were up by more than four percent. That’s just under the prediction from a three-member panel that sets an official estimate of state tax collections. Lawmakers use that prediction as the basis for their state budget plan.

(Radio Iowa)

2 Iowans take deals in marijuana-for-sale cases


July 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

WALL LAKE, Iowa (AP) – A northwest Iowa woman is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 5 after pleading guilty to selling marijuana from the home she shares with her four children. The Sioux City Journal reports that 37-year-old Laura Lawler was convicted Wednesday in Sac County District Court. Prosecutors dropped other charges in exchange for her plea.

The father of the children, 38-year-old Jason Ransom, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge after several other charges were dropped in exchange for his plea. He was given a deferred judgment and a year of probation. Under a deferred judgment, the conviction will be removed from Ransom’s record if he successfully completes probation.

Officers say they found bags of marijuana locked in rooms and two measuring scales during a search of Lawler’s home on March 22.

(Podcast) KJAN 8-a.m. News, 7/2/2015

News, Podcasts

July 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

More area and State news from KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.


Former coach denies allegations he choked 7-year-old boy

News, Sports

July 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

TREYNOR, Iowa (AP) – An assistant high school basketball coach has denied that he choked a 7-year-old boy at the man’s residence in western Iowa. The Daily Nonpareil reports that Michael Doner is charged with assault causing injury. The 40-year-old is due back in court on July 9th. Doner’s attorney, Chad Primmer, told the newspaper that Doner “denies the allegations and looks forward to his day in court.”

Authorities say the boy was choked on May 21 at Doner’s home in Treynor. Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker says that when authorities interviewed the boy, marks were found on his neck. Doner has told athletic officials at St. Albert Catholic Schools in Council Bluffs that he would not be part of the school’s boys basketball coaching staff this coming season.

OK man arrested for assault in Creston


July 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A man from Oklahoma was arrested Wednesday on an assault charge, in Creston. The Creston P-D says 42-year old Gustavo Parra-Bello, of Hugo, OK, was arrested at around 4:20-p.m. at the Union County Law Enforcement Center (LEC) for Simple Assault. The man was later released on a citation to appear in court.

Also arrested Wednesday in Creston, was 40-year old Jason Michael Spelts (whose address is unknown). Spelts was arrested at the Union County LEC at around 4:20-p.m., for Public Intoxication, and also released on a citation to appear later in court.

And early this (Thursday) morning, 37-year old Delbert Thomas Davis, of Clearfield, was arrested in Creston on a charge of Driving While Suspended. He was subsequently released on $300 bond.