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7:05-a.m. Local Newscast (Podcast), April 21st, 2012

News, Podcasts

April 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here’s a check of the latest area news, from KJAN News Director Ric Hanson…

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While IA Senate quarrels over “climate change,” Sen. Ernst admits to driving a Prius

News

April 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

On the eve of “Earth Day” this Sunday a handful of state senators got into a partisan squabble over “climate change.” It was Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, who got things started by reading a statement from a group of Iowa religious leaders, including his own Catholic bishop. The statement read “Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges facing our world today and as religious leaders representing diverse faith traditions we are called to reaffirm our commitment to be responsible stewards of Earth’s resources and to act in love to our neighbors both locally and globally,’” Hogg said. “‘Scientists, including those representing 28 Iowa colleges and universities who recently released a statement, have warned us that changes in global climate patterns are brining more extreme weather events to Iowa, the United States and our world.’” 

That prompted Republican Senator David Johnson of Ocheyedan to ridicule the idea that humans are the main cause of climate change. “With all due respect to our religious leaders…how much are you willing to spend to reverse what you call global warming?” Johnson asked. “…The country of Spain made a huge transition to their economy for green energy. What was the result of that? Bankruptcy?” Hogg suggested ignoring climate change would wreck the U.S. economy.
“How much better off would this country be if there hadn’t been a $6 billion drought last year in Texas? How much better off would our state be if we hadn’t suffered $20 billion in flood damage over the last 20 years,” Hogg said, his voice rising to a yell. “You want to ruin our economy, Senator Johnson, you stick your head in the sand and ignore this issue.” Johnson responded with a little yelling of his own.

I’m on the side of the scientists I served with in Antartica and Greenland and I’m the only member of this body that has done that,” Johnson said. “And there is no agreement in the scientific community, no consensus that things have really changed because change happens.” Senator Joni Ernst of Red Oak openly admitted to being a Republican who drives a fuel-efficient Prius. “I did it just because I’m fiscally conservative and driving a Buick Enclave all around my rather large (senate) district was just not affordable,” Ernst said. That prompted Senator Tom Courtney, a Democrat from Burlington, to admit he drives a gas-guzzling Corvette convertible. “That’s my choice and I think it makes a 64-year-old man look pretty good, so that’s why I drive that,” Courtney said, to laughter.

Key leaders expect the 2012 legislative session to wrap up sometime next week, but big decisions remain on budget issues and an agreement on property tax reform.

(O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)

Branstad to speak at Republican Party Convention in Stuart today

News

April 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Governor Terry Branstad will be the featured speaker this (Saturday) afternoon at the Republican Party of Iowa’s 3rd District Convention, in Stuart. The district convention takes place at the Stuart High School, beginning at 9:30-a.m.  Branstad is scheduled to address the convention at 2-p.m.

Other Iowa GOP District Conventions will be held today in Grinnell, Mt. Pleasant, and Fort Dodge.

Culver: Iowa Power Fund was ‘right thing to do’ – cites Shen. Algae plant as example

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Former Iowa Governor Chet Culver says his program to support renewable energy research and development has been “wildly successful” even if only a fraction of the money has been spent. Culver pointed to a plant in Shenandoah that is growing algae as an example of a success story from the Iowa Power Fund. He says construction on a cellulosic ethanol plant is under way in Emmetsburg, and a second plant is moving forward. Culver says those three projects alone, if they come to fruition, would justify the state’s $71 million investment in the fund.  Culver reacted Friday to an investigation by The Associated Press that found a third of the fund’s money has been spent, five years after its creation. He says the fund has been careful with tax dollars.

Audubon County Deputy becomes Guthrie County’s newest Deputy next week

News

April 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Guthrie County Board of Supervisors have unanimously approved a request by Sheriff Marty Arganbright, to hire a deputy to replace one of his men, who went to work for the Guthrie Center Police Department. The man Arganbright hired to replace Neil Lemke, was Audubon County Sheriff’s Deputy Kent Gries, who is scheduled to begin his duties with Guthrie County, on April 25th.

The 26-year old Gries is a K-9 officer, who served with the Carroll County Juvenile Detention Center and Coon Rapids Police Department, before becoming a deputy in Audubon County. According to the Guthrie Center Times, Sheriff Arganbright told the Board of Supervisors last Tuesday, that Gries is interested in training a dual purpose replacement dog for K-9 Raven, who retired from the force last year.

Gries, he said, would like the force to train a combination tracker/drug dog. In comparison, Raven was trained only as a drug dog. If a dog is purchased to replace Raven, Arganbright said it will be accomplished through private donations, and not taxpayer funds. He also noted that there was still nearly $2,500 in Raven’s account which could be applied to a new dog.

Vilsack says Army Corps river management must be “more flexible”

News

April 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is suggesting the Army Corps of Engineers should be more nimble in responding to weather events that impact the agency’s management of the Missouri River. “It would be well for the Army Corps to be more attentive to the needs and to listen more closely to the concerns along the river systems. I think there’s a tendency for the Army Corps to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got the answer,’” Vilsack says. “You know, you really have to have better dialogue and better communication with folks.”

Farmers and others along the Missouri River have complained about the way the Corps managed the release of water from upstream dams last year — leading to massive, long-term flooding along the river corridor. Vilsack says the Corps needs to build “more flexibility” into its management plan for the Missouri. “When they saw record snowfalls and snowpack, there should have been, ‘Hey, how does this fit into our overall strategy and does it still fit and does it still work?’” Vilsack says. “We’re seeing more extreme weather conditions and I think that put the emphasis and a requirement on all of us to constantly rethink whether or not our assumptions were correct in whatever plan we’ve developed.”

Vilsack says the Corps should “be more engaged” in an on-going review of its management plan for the Missouri or any other river. “Not just well, ‘Well, we’ve done this plan and we’ve put a lot of effort into it and we can park that plan and we can just work that plan because it’s the right plan,’” Vilsack says. “Well, maybe it was the right plan at the time. Who knows? But you now have changing weather conditions and you should be saying, ‘Does this plan still fit?’” Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, made his comments Friday, during and after taping of an appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program, which airs Sunday.

(O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)

Randolph post office headed for closure

News

April 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The post office in the Fremont County town of Randolph may be headed for closure after the Postal Regulatory Commission voted 2 to 2 on an appeal by the city’s mayor to keep it open. A tie vote means the appeal loses and the closing moves forward. The Postal Service, on track to lose $14 billion by year’s end, wants to close thousands of post offices. Many are small rural operations like Randolph, a town of 170 people in southwest Iowa. Closures are likely to begin in late May or early June unless Congress passes a bill to shore up postal finances. The Senate begins debate on a bill Tuesday. Despite Mayor Vance Trively’s appeal, a commission order posted Thursday affirmed the closing. The estimated annual savings by closing Randolph’s post office is about $45,000.

Jill Biden to give commencement speech at SWCC in Creston

News

April 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, will deliver the commencement address at Southwestern Community College in Creston, which was hit by a tornado last weekend. The office of the vice president says Friday that Biden will address graduates on May 11. It’s one of two commencement addresses she’ll give this spring. The other is on May 4 at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Southwestern Community College is a two-year school, which serves over 10,000 students a year. Biden, an educator for more than 30 years, has taught English in community colleges for the past 18 years and currently teaches at a community college in Virginia. An EF2 tornado hit Creston last Saturday, damaging the community college and a hospital.

King Visits Thurman, Creston

News

April 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Congressman Steve King released the following statement today (Friday) after visiting the areas affected by the tornadoes in Thurman and Creston.

Congressman King inspects tornado damage at a house in Thurman, IA

“Today I am reminded of how adversity calls upon the resiliency of Iowans,” said King. “Volunteers from across the state rallied together to help those affected in Southwest Iowa this last week. Several colleges sent volunteers to help clean up the damage and many other Midwestern states pitched in as well. I am thankful that no lives were lost, and more than ever I am aware of the extraordinary efforts that Iowans will offer when a neighbor is in need.”

King toured homes in Thurman that were damaged and also visited Creston’s Hospital as well as Southwestern Community College, both of which sustained damage in the storm.

Iowa’s jobless rate dips to 5.2 percent in March

News

April 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — State labor officials say Iowa’s unemployment rate dipped to 5.2 percent in March, with the strongest gains in construction and manufacturing and the biggest losses in trade, transportation and utilities and retail trade. February’s rate was 5.3 percent. Iowa Workforce Development says Friday the state lost 1,600 jobs in March over February, but had over 13,000 more jobs than in March 2011. Officials say manufacturing has led all sectors over the past year, and construction appears to be rebounding. Government and professional and business services have lost jobs over the year. The U.S. unemployment rate for March was 8.2 percent.