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Iowa lawmakers hope to introduce fuel tax bill next week

News

January 28th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Lawmakers say they hope to introduce a bill to increase Iowa’s fuel tax as early as next week. Sen. Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa, and Rep. Joshua Byrnes, a Republican from Osage, said Wednesday they are working on legislation that would increase the tax, potentially by 10 cents a gallon. That would provide $215 million annually for the state’s network of bridges and roads, many of which are in disrepair.

Iowa’s fuel tax is currently 22 cents a gallon, including fees. It hasn’t been raised since 1989. The lawmakers said they are working on ways to maintain the funding in future years. Gov. Terry Branstad has said he wants to increase funding for roads this year, though he has not endorsed a specific plan.

Data reveals more than 400 Iowans committed suicide in 2013

News

January 28th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) – Health officials say more than 400 Iowans committed suicide in 2013, a 17 percent increase from the previous year. The Iowa Department of Public Health released data last month that reveals 445 such deaths statewide in 2013, the most since at least 1989. The suicide rate was 14.4 per 100,000 people, up from 12.8 in 2012. The Telegraph Herald reports Iowa’s suicide rate exceeds those of neighboring Illinois and Wisconsin.

Officials say changes to Iowa’s mental health system might improve crisis intervention in eastern Iowa.
Clete Gartner, a National Alliance on Mental Illness-Dubuque member, says criteria for hospitalization for mental health crises leave some without needed support. He says officials are pushing for law enforcement training and the expansion of in-between care systems to help stem Iowa’s suicide spike.

Report shows sharp decrease in Iowa flu hospitalizations

News

January 28th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa health officials say the number of flu hospitalizations has decreased by more than two-thirds since late December. An Iowa Department of Public Health report shows just 50 flu hospitalizations were recorded in the week ending Jan. 17, down from 182 admitted in the week ending Jan. 3. The drop in cases comes when Gov. Terry Branstad’s hospitalization due to the illness focused attention on the flu.

Health Department medical director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk tells the Des Moines Register there are likely more cases last week than the report indicates because a major hospital couldn’t send its figures. Still, she says it’s clear fewer people are becoming severely ill from the flu.

Despite the drop, Quinlisk says flu season is not over yet, and the epidemic could rekindle.

Judge rejects farm groups’ lawsuit to keep EPA data private

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 28th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit by two major farm groups that sought to block the release of data on large livestock farms in Minnesota and Iowa. The American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Pork Producers Council filed the lawsuit in in Minneapolis in 2013 after some activist groups requested the Environmental Protection Agency data under the Freedom of Information Act. The data includes physical addresses and other operational details about the farms. The farm groups said releasing the data would violate farmers’ privacy.

But U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery dismissed the lawsuit Tuesday. She ruled that Farm Bureau and the Pork Producers lacked legal standing. And she pointed out that the data the two groups sought to keep private is easily available from other public sources anyway.

Contentious debate over school funding

News

January 28th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Last night (Tuesday) Republicans in the Iowa House voted to increase general state spending on Iowa’s public K-through-12 schools by nearly 48-million dollars. Democrats like Representative Art Staed (STAYED) of Cedar Rapids say that’s not enough and it will mean: “Fired teachers, larger class sizes, fewer supplies, outdated textbooks, outdated software, fewer course offerings.” Representative Patti Ruff, a Democrat from McGregor, says shortchanging schools shortchanges the state’s future.

“You can’t have world class schools on a third-world budget,” Ruffs said. Republicans rejected those arguments, saying schools will get an increase and it will be a large share of the new tax revenue that’s available for lawmakers to spend. Representative Chip Baltimore, a Republican from Boone, was indignant. “I will not sit here and be beat about the head and told that I dont’ care about children,” Baltimore said. He says state spending on schools has increased significantly in the past decade, but the overall performance of students hasn’t increased.

“Where does the money go?” Baltimore asked. He suggests the school districts are wasting money on inflated salaries for administrators. The groups which represent teachers, administrators and school boards in Iowa are asking legislators for an increase that’s about four times as much as Republicans propose. Now that a bill on the subject has cleared the Iowa House, this debate will now shift to the Democratically-led Senate.

(Radio Iowa)

Clarinda man arrested on felony forgery charges

News

January 28th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Clarinda Police Chief Keith Brothers says multiple felony charges have been filed against a local man as the result on an ongoing investigation into financial fraud by the Clarinda Police Department. Brothers said 31-year old Tristan Lynn Marsh, of Clarinda, was arrested Tuesday afternoon, (January 27th) on a warrant alleging that Marsh committed felony theft and 25 counts of felony forgery at a local Clarinda business.

Marsh allegedly issued 25 forged checks to the business between October and December 2014, totaling almost $15,000.  He was taken into custody without incident at his home, and was being held in the Page County Jail on $25,000 cash bond, pending an initial appearance before the Page County Magistrate.

The investigation has been referred to the Page County Attorney’s Office for review of the filing of formal charges.

Woodbury County takes step toward another I-29 interchange

News

January 28th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – The Woodbury County Board has taken a step down what could be a 10-year journey for another Interstate 29 interchange. The Sioux City Journal says the board committed nearly $181,000 for its share of a study that will cost $600,000. Local officials have been asking the Iowa Transportation Department since 2012 for an exit between mile markers 138 and 140 to help boost economic development. They cite traffic near Southbridge Business Park, which is being built south of Sioux Gateway Airport.

Department rules require a justification report before interchanges can be built. The interchange cost was estimated at $20 million in 2013. County consultant Terry Lutz told the board that even if state approves the project, it would take eight to 10 years before it opens to motorists.

(Podcast) 8-a.m. KJAN News, 1/28/2015

News, Podcasts

January 28th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

With Ric Hanson.

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Van careens out of control & hits an office bldg in Creston

News

January 28th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A woman from Creston was injured Tuesday afternoon, when her vehicle went out of control and hit a building before coming to rest. The Creston P-D says 84-year old Ruth Kralik was backing into a parking space on Grand Avenue in Creston, when she lost control of her 1996 Ford van and stepped on the gas pedal. The vehicle went over a curb and into a yard to the south before continued through the yard, where it narrowly missed a light pole and several trees.

The van continued southbound across the street and into another yard, which it crossed before the van spun around on concrete in front of an office building at 612 Grand Avenue. The van hit the building, causing a large hole to form in the wall. Two picnic tables were also broken during the collision, before the van finally stopped.

Kralik was transported by ambulance to the hospital in Creston. The van was totaled in the crash. Damage to the Regency Park Office Building was estimated at $15,000. No citations were issued.

In other news, Creston Police say a resident of an apartment on north Maple Street reported someone entered his apartment sometime between Jan. 20th and 28th. The thief took a Toshiba Satellite computer valued at $350. And, the Union County Sheriff’s Office says K & K Auto, in Creston, reported Tuesday, that sometime between Sunday and Monday, two of the vehicles on their lot were damaged. The loss was estimated at $1500.

(Podcast) KJAN News & Funeral report, 1/28/2015

News, Podcasts

January 28th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The 7-a.m. Newscast, with Ric Hanson.

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