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Harkin has no regrets about retiring from Senate, but he may revive the Steak Fry

News

December 8th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

As congress faces a Thursday deadline to pass a federal budget plan, Senator Tom Harkin is in the middle of the negotiations, focused on health-care-related spending, but he’s not regretting his decision to retire at year’s end. “Yeah, I’m going to miss it, sure, because I enjoy this. I enjoy being a enator. I love the senate, It’s dented a little bit, banged up a ittle bit, but it’s still functional,” Harkin said. “…But, again, it’s time for me to move on. It’s time for me to retire. It’s time for young people and new people to come in.” The current federal spending plan expires this Thursday, December 11th.

Harkin thinks congress may vote for a one-week delay that keeps the current spending levels in place, then vote next week on a long-term, comprehensive spending plan. Harkin’s voluntary exit from the senate comes 42 years after he first sought to enter congress. Harkin ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1972, but lost. He ran again in 1974 and won. “In my first political campaign I spent $20,000. Now that was kind of a wave year. That was an anti-McGovern wave year. Two years later the wave went the other way with Watergate. I think in that year I spent a little over $100,000 in winning a congressional seat,” Harkin said. “Think about that compared to today.”

Nearly 62 million dollars was spent on this year’s battle between Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley to claim Harkin’s seat. After 10 years in the U.S. House, Harkin won the Iowa senate seat in 1984 and defeated three Republican congressman along the way to stay in the senate. He’s served as chairman of the Ag Committee and lead drafting the Farm Bill and he’s currently chairman of the committee that helped draft the Affordable Care Act, but Harkin says the “premiere” accomplishment of his political career is gaining passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“I’ve been very blessed and the people of Iowa have given me the opportunity to stay there long enough to see what it has done to this country,” Harkin says. “It’s amazing the changes that have been made.” Harkin plans to take a two-month long vacation, then return to Iowa in March for work at the Harkin Institute which was established at Drake University last year “The Institute at Drake is totally bipartisan. We have a bipartisan board. In fact, I have a former chair of the Iowa Republican Party on the board. I have Republicans on the board,” Harkin said. “I want it to be a totally non-partisan entity and Drake has set it up that way.”

One of the Harkin Institute’s panel discussions this past summer featured both Harkin and Republican Governor Terry Branstad. Archivists from Drake University and the U.S. Senate have been working in Harkin’s office over the past few months, starting the process of converting Harkin’s work papers from 40 years in congress to a digital forum.  “Once in a while they come across some very interesting tidbits, shall we say, of legislationa nnd letters and things like that that I had forgotten about long, long ago,” Harkin said. “I’m sure there’ll be some surprises.” All that material will be stored at Drake and a semi will transport between 400 and 500 boxes of documents from D.C. to Drake at the end of this year.

The Iowa Democratic Party faces big decisions after election losses last month, but Harkin — who has been the party’s top elected official — plans to focus on what he calls the “bipartisan” work at the Harkin Institute rather than steer selection of a new party chairman in January. “I am a Democrat and I love my party and I want them to have good policies and good candidates, so I hope to be supportive in some way, but I don’t intend to be any kind of ‘godfather’ or something like that,” Harkin says. Harkin’s annual “Steak Fry” fundraiser has been a launching pad for Democratic presidential candidates over the years. Bill and Hillary Clinton were the speakers this past September at what was billed at the time as the final Harkin Steak Fry.

“People are talking to me about maybe revisiting that, ‘Never again,'” Harkin said. “…Stay tuned on that one.” If Hillary Clinton runs for president in 2016, Harkin believes she’ll have competition from people like former Virginia Senator Jim Webb and Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Harkin’s wife, Ruth, endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2008 and Harkin says he has offered Clinton some advice about running in the 2016 Iowa Caucuses. “I said: ‘Don’t just go to Des Moines or Waterloo or Cedar Rapids or Dubuque. Go to the rural areas. Start out in smaller communities in Iowa,'” Harkin said. “‘Let them know you care about rural America and small towns and communities. You can get to the cities later on, but plant your flag in rural Iowa.'”

Harkin ran for president himself in 1992. He says the experience taught him what a “complex country” we live in and it made him a “better senator.” “Honestly, I really wasn’t prepared to run for president. I hadn’t really spent a lot of time thinking about it before. I’d thought about being a senator or being a congressman and I was really just focused on Iowa,” Harkin said. “…I think I could have been a pretty decent president, but I wouldn’t have had another happy day in my life.” Harkin made his comments during a weekend appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program.

(Radio Iowa)

Drug czar says hash oil showing up in Iowa

News

December 8th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Iowa’s drug czar says a new marijuana derivative is showing up on the streets in Iowa. Steve Lukan leads the Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) and says marijuana is reduced to a product known as hash oil or wax. He says it has a high percentage of the psychoactive compound known as T-H-C. “That then is used in the electronic cigarette, much like you might add a flavored nicotine product, instead they’d be adding the high-potency oil,” according to Lukan. Lukan says the hash oil is likely arriving in Iowa from states which have liberalized their marijuana laws:

“If you’re in states like Colorado there’s been an explosion of products with very little regulation, oil, food products, candies,” Lukan says. Iowa has approved the use of a low T-H-C cannabis oil for limited medical use, but the more potent oil is illegal in the state. Hash oil is produced by boiling down marijuana leaves. Lukan says some of the product is showing up in Iowa schools. He recently made his comments to the governor’s budget panel.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Mon., Dec. 8 2014

News

December 8th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa cattle and hog producers are working to comply with new state rules that are designed to keep animal waste from polluting nearby waterways. The Sioux City Journal reports Craig Moss and his family created new concrete drainage systems with grates to ensure rain can leave their feedlot without carrying manure with it. Moss says his family wants to make sure that fresh water flows around the feedlot and dirty water from the feedlot is directed through terraces into a field.

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (AP) — Iowa authorities are investigating a suspicious death after a body was found this weekend, but two men have been arrested in connection with the case. Marshalltown Police say a deceased man was found inside a home around 8 p.m. Saturday. Police did not immediately release details of the death or identify the victim yesterday. Police arrested two suspects in the case on Sunday.

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Waterloo police have identified the young man who was killed in a weekend shooting. Waterloo Police said yesterday that 23-year-old Orintheo Campbell was fatally wounded near a Prime Mart convenience store around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Tennessee and Iowa will meet January 2nd in the TaxSlayer Bowl in a matchup of Southeastern Conference and Big Ten foes. The game will be played at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Tennessee is 3-2 all-time in the game formerly known as the Gator Bowl.

Iowa feedlot operators adjusting to new rules

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – Iowa cattle and hog producers are working to comply with new state rules that are designed to keep animal waste from polluting nearby waterways. The Sioux City Journal reports Craig Moss and his family created new concrete drainage systems with grates to ensure rain can leave their feedlot without carrying manure with it.

Moss says his family wants to make sure that fresh water flows around the feedlot and dirty water from the feedlot is directed through terraces into a field. The new clean water rules increased state inspections and oversight of large feedlots. The state adopted the rules last year to satisfy the Environmental Protection Agency’s concerns about lax enforcement.

Small Iowa schools may face pressure to close

News

December 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

OWASA, Iowa (AP) — Across Iowa, many former rural schools are now vacant buildings, and more small schools may feel pressure to close in the next few years. The Des Moines Register reports  a budget guarantee that had help small districts with declining enrollments survive expired last year after being phased out over a decade.

So it may become harder for small schools to stay open. Today, Iowa has 338 school districts. In 1950, there were 4,652 districts. The idle school building in Owasa is symbolic of the trend because local leaders fought a 1958 law that required all schools to be part of a K-12 district.

Owasa’s school closed after an Iowa Supreme Court ruling in 1967, and the town’s population has declined 60 percent since then.

Program seeks to bring more doctors to rural Iowa

News

December 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An effort to get more doctors in rural Iowa through a state-run loan forgiveness program moved forward this year, though backers say they still need more funding. The first group of students was awarded funding through the Rural Iowa Primary Care Loan Repayment Program this year. The eight recipients will each get up to $200,000 in loan aid in exchange for working for five years in small town Iowa.

Dr. Brent Hoehns, a family physician in Knoxville who chairs the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians, says this kind of investment is needed. The ultimate goal is to use state and private dollars to provide the loan aid to 20 students each year who commit to rural jobs, which can often pay less than other physician positions

McNees and Eilts named receive the honor of “Scrooge” in Atlantic

News

December 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce, Saturday, said Karla Eilts and Mark McNees were named as this year’s “Scrooge” contest winners. Chamber Program Director Chelsea Amundson said both McNees and Eilts served as Grand Marshals in the Lighted Christmas Paraded on Saturday evening. McNees and Eilts earned their title by collecting the largest amount of donations for the Atlantic Area Chamber’s 14th Annual Scrooge Contest sponsored by Hockenberry Family Care and Longaberger Consultant – Dolly Bergmann. All contributions were donated to the Atlantic Food Pantry.

The 2014 candidates included: Karla Eilts, from Rex Pharmacy; Kevin Wieser, with Brown’s Shoe Fit; Kyle Bartholic, Youth Leader at E-Free Church; Mark McNees, Atlantic Fire Chief and U.S. Postal Service worker; and Rob Tarrell with the Cub Scouts.

Eleanor Hoover has been coordinating the contest since 2002 just one year after the inaugural Lighted Parade. She said she is “So proud of our Scrooge Candidates and our community for supporting
Atlantic food Pantry.” Hoover said also “Winning is not everything, but making the effort to win is.”

The Atlantic Area Chamber would like to thank everyone who donated. Past Scrooge titles have been awarded to: Devin Ferguson 2002, Eleanor Hoover 2003, Rex McDermott 2004, Tonia Goft 2005, Rick Harlan 2006, Mary Ann Moorman 2007, Dana Halder 2008, Tammy Wise & Janet Huey 2009, Ritchie Anderson 2010, Janet Cappel 2011, Melanie Petty 2012 and David Miller 2013.

Iowa early News Headlines: Sun., Dec. 7th 2014

News

December 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Police say one person has died after an early-morning shooting in Waterloo. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports that the shooting was reported near a Prime Mart convenience store around 1:30 a.m. Saturday. No arrests have been made. Waterloo police say they’re seeking the public’s help with the investigation.

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — A Burlington police officer on paid leave has retired after a video showed him slapping away a cellphone from a man who was recording him at a domestic disturbance. The Hawk Eye newspaper reports that officer Dale Wyatt stepped down after an internal police investigation of the November 9th incident.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say two Iowa youths stole a pizza delivery car and went on a joyride in Des Moines. KCCI-TV in Des Moines says police caught a 13-year-old and 12-year-old after the car was reported missing on Thursday. Papa John’s Pizza driver Borislav Paji told police he was delivering pizzas to an apartment complex after 8 p.m., and when he stepped outside, his silver Kia was gone. The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify juveniles charged with crimes.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa athletic director Gary Barta is reiterating his support for football coach Kirk Ferentz, while acknowledging that the Hawkeyes failed to live up to expectations this season. Barta said this weekend that the team’s 7-5 season “isn’t unacceptable”.

Cass County K-9 unit assists in Montgomery County man hunt

News

December 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County K-9 unit consisting of Deputy Kyle Quist and his partner “Vader,” along with Deputies from the Page County Sheriff’s Office and Troopers with the Iowa State Patrol, participated in a lengthy man hunt late Saturday night into early this (Sunday) morning. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reports the efforts of their deputies, with assistance of the other law enforcement agencies, resulted in the arrest at around 1:45-a.m. today (Sunday), of 23-year old Jeremy Scott Dolph , of Villisca.

Dolph was taken into custody in connection with an incident that had occurred at around 8:50-p.m. Saturday. Dolph faces a felony charge of Willful Injury, Aggravated Domestic Assault, and Violation of a No Contact order. He was being held without bond in the Montgomery County Jail.

Iowa athletic director backs Kirk Ferentz

News

December 6th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Iowa athletic director Gary Barta is reiterating his support for football coach Kirk Ferentz, while acknowledging that the Hawkeyes failed to live up to expectations this season. Barta said Saturday that the team’s 7-5 season “isn’t unacceptable,” adding that success at Iowa is measured by championships. But Barta says Iowa has a strong foundation under Ferentz, now in his 16th season as head coach.

Ferentz has five seasons left on the 10-year contract extension he signed on the eve of the 2010 season. It includes a buyout clause of nearly $3 million a year should Iowa decided to fire Ferentz. The Hawkeyes (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) closed the season with home losses to Wisconsin and Nebraska.

They’ll find out which bowl they’re headed to on Sunday.