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Iowa early News Headlines: Thu., Jan. 30th 2014

News

January 30th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Acclaimed opera singer Simon Estes joined forces with fine arts lobbyists to advocate for arts education. Estes, along with members of the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education, urged lawmakers to add fine arts to the Iowa Core Curriculum in a presentation Wednesday before the Senate Education Committee.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Governor Terry Branstad has appointed former U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell to the Iowa Department of Transportation Commission. Branstad announced the appointment yesterday. Boswell, a Democrat, will take over a seat vacated by former Democratic state Senator Tom Rielly, who resigned due to a professional conflict of interest.

MARENGO, Iowa (AP) — A former county treasurer in eastern Iowa has been accused of stealing more than $62,000 from the county over several years. The Iowa County Sheriff’s Office says Kimberly Tanke has been charged with felony first-degree theft in connection with missing funds. A private auditing firm and Iowa County officials say the money was taken between 2006 and 2010, when Tanke served as treasurer. They gave their findings to authorities, including the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

BOONE, Iowa (AP) — Boone police say autopsies are complete on the bodies of two people found dead in their home last week, but it’s still unclear how they died. KCCI-TV reports the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s report showed no apparent injury or trauma to the bodies of 47-year-old Lisa Kurth and 56-year-old David Morrison. They were found in a Boone home on Friday.

Governor appoints former Congresman Boswell to transportation commission

News

January 30th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has appointed former Congressman Leonard Boswell to the state transportation commission. The governor announced he appointed Boswell to fill out the term of Tom Rielly, who resigned from the commission due to a business related conflict of interest. Boswell served in Congress from 1997 to 2013 and prior to that was a state legislator and a decorated veteran of the Army who served in Vietnam.

Boswell is a Democrat who has worked with the Republican governor recently on the initiative to recruit veterans to come and live in Iowa when they leave the military. Boswell’s appointment must be confirmed by the Iowa Senate and the term runs through April of 2017. The seven-member commission set transportation policy and state law requires the commission be balanced by gender and party affiliation.

(Radio Iowa)

2 injured during a crash in Page County, Wednesday

News

January 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa State Patrol reports two people from Essex were injured during a crash this (Wednesday) morning, in Page County. The drivers of both vehicles, 37-year old Stacy Graham and 65-year old Claude Harris, were flown by helicopter to Creighton Hospital in Omaha following the crash at around 9:20-a.m. on Highway 48.

The Patrol says a 2010 Ford Fusion driven by Graham was northbound on Highway 48, when for reasons unknown it crossed the centerline of the road and collided with Harris’ 1998 Ford F-150 pickup. Both drivers were trapped in their vehicles and had to be extricated by mechanical means.

The accident remains under investigation.

Bill to raise state gas tax a dime clears House subcommittee

News

January 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Advocates for an increase in the state gas tax flooded the statehouse today (Thursday) — just as a bill cleared a House subcommittee that would raise the gas tax by a dime over the next three years. Representative Josh Byrnes, a Republican from Osage, was among the five House subcommittee members who voted for it. “We’ve got to do something,” Byrnes said to a packed room. “I don’t think there’s a person in here that argues the point that our infrastructure is aging.” Governor Terry Branstad has consistently said he will not veto a gas tax increase if it clears the legislature and he spoke at a “Transportation Day” rally at the statehouse.

“We need to continue to consider a number of options and discuss the merits and potential challenges associated with each of them,” Branstad said. “I’ve been around long enough to know it’s not an easy task.” Ralph Arthur, chairman of the Iowa Motor Truck Association’s board of directors, says the “reality” is Iowa’s crumbling transportation system makes it harder to attract new business to the state. “Iowa is the third-highest in structural deficiency on their bridges in the country,” Arthur said during the rally. “Only 12 states have worse rural interstates than we do and only seven states have worse urban interstates than we do.” Larry Winum, a banker from Glenwood, says it’s time to raise the gas tax because “there’s nothing else” to cut in state, county and city transportation budgets.

“Bankers — we don’t like to talk about a tax increase…but we like to look at this as an investment,” Winum said during the rally. “It’s a user fee. It’s something that we need and, quite honestly, it has a lot to do with economic development.” Winum is chairman of the Mills County Economic Development Foundation and co-chairman of the Southwest Iowa Coalition Transportation Committee. City and county officials say they’re struggling to maintain roads and bridges and have raised local property taxes to fix roads because gas tax revenue is falling short.

Terry Cox is the city manager, the public works director and the city engineer in Harlan and he made the trek to the statehouse to show his support of a gas tax increase, too.”I just want to support you guys here,” Cox told legislators. “It’s…a tough nut to crack, but I think you’re going to get it done.” In a transportation related move, Iowa’s Republican governor has appointed former Congressman Leonard Boswell to the Iowa Transportation Commission. Boswell, a Democrat, lost his 2012 bid for reelection to the U.S. House. State boards and commissions are, by law, to be balanced by political affiliation. Boswell replaces a Democrat from Oskaloosa who resigned from the Transportation Commission due to a business-related conflict of interest.

(Radio Iowa)

Bluffs man sentenced on drug & firearm charges

News

January 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A District Court Judge in Council Bluffs has sentenced 37-year old Scott Norman Hart, of Council Bluffs, to 20-years in prison on charges of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and carrying a firearm regarding drug trafficking. Chief United States District Court Judge James E. Gritzner Tuesday, sentenced Hart to 180 months imprisonment on the drug charge, and a consecutive 60 months imprisonment on the firearm charge. Hart was further sentenced to concurrent terms of 5 years of supervised release on both charges. The judge also ordered Hart to forfeit the firearm and ammunition he possessed, and to pay a $200 special assessment to the Crime Victim Fund. Hart remains in the custody of the United States Marshal pending designation of the Federal Bureau of Prisons facility at which he will serve his sentence.
The charges against Hart arose from the Fugitive Task Force encountering him at a residence in Council Bluffs on November 9th, 2012. Hart was wanted on a fugitive warrant for absconding from parole in Nebraska. At the time Hart was arrested, he was found in possession of approximately 95 grams of methamphetamine and a small quantity of marijuana. Also found on his person at the time of his arrest was a loaded .380 caliber pistol.

Regulators OK tweak in Neb nuke plant’s flood plan

News

January 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Federal regulators have approved a small change in a Nebraska nuclear plant’s flood preparations. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission license change issued Wednesday should ensure the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant shuts down soon enough to be protected in a flood. NRC spokeswoman Lara Uselding says the change reflects an issue identified before the 2011 Missouri River flooding and it will make Fort Calhoun’s flood plan more conservative.

The nuclear plant Omaha Public Power District owns will now shut down whenever the river rises to 1,004 feet above sea level. Previously, the plan didn’t require shutdown until the water reached 1,009 feet above sea level. In 2011, flood waters reached 1,006 feet above sea level and surrounded the nuclear plant which was already shut down for maintenance. Barriers protected the plant’s core.

U. Iowa fires worker after shortage

News, Sports

January 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – The University of Iowa has fired an athletics department accountant after auditors projected that $66,000 is missing from ticket sales for a popular train that takes fans to Kinnick Stadium.  Spokesman Tom Moore tells The Associated Press that 31-year employee Kathleen Willier was fired Nov. 6 for failing to follow cash handling procedures.

The firing came after auditors found that the university failed to make deposits for two 2011 football games for ticket sales to the Hawkeye Express, which transports fans from Coralville to the stadium.  An audit report said revenue for 2011 unexpectedly dropped by $66,000 even though ridership slightly increased, and that management can’t explain why.

Willier’s husband, Charlie, said Wednesday his wife disputes that any cash was missing and believes she is a scapegoat for longstanding problems.

Cat nearly chokes to death on a hair ball? There’s an app for that…

News

January 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Many Iowans love their pets like they’re family members, but if Fido or Fluffy has a sudden, catastrophic health problem, would you know how to respond? Kara Kelly, at the American Red Cross office in Des Moines, says the agency is now offering a Pet First Aid application for smart phones. It contains training in everything from controlling bleeding to giving the animal C-P-R.m27540138_763x260-pet-first-aid-app-p

“This app is a great tool, it’s easy to use,” Kelly says. “You can learn about signs to monitor your dog or cat’s health. It gives some common first aid and emergency situation advice for dogs and cats.” The Red Cross has long been an authority on training people to provide first aid for humans, so she says this was just a natural progression. One section of the app could be useful when you’re on vacation with your animal — or if there’s been a house fire or a flash flood.

It actually will help you locate a shelter or a hotel that will let you bring your pets,” Kelly says. “We know a lot of times when we’re in emergency and disaster situations, people won’t evacuate because there aren’t a lot of places that will take your pets.” When people are involved in a life-threatening situation, it’s natural to call 9-1-1, but that’s not appropriate if your pet is having a serious problem. This app has the answer.

“One thing you can do is program your vet’s number in so you can just hit a button and call your vet,” Kelly says. “It also has an animal hospital locator, which is very cool.” A survey finds about half of all Iowans own either a cat, a dog or both. You can use the app to create a pet profile including tag identification numbers, photos, lists of medications and instructions. The app costs 99-cents and can be downloaded via the Red Cross website: www.redcross.org

(Radio Iowa)

House passes farm bill, crop subsidies preserved

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House has passed an almost $100 billion-a-year, compromise farm bill that would make small cuts to food stamps and continue generous subsidies for the nation’s farmers.  The vote was 251-166. The five-year bill now goes to the Senate, which is expected to send it to the president’s desk.

The measure had solid backing from the House GOP leadership, even though it makes smaller cuts to food stamps than they would have liked. The bill would cut about $800 million a year from the $80 billion-a-year program, or around 1 percent. The House had sought a 5 percent cut.

The legislation would continue to heavily subsidize major crops while eliminating some subsidies and shifting them toward more politically defensible insurance programs.

Cass County authorities investigate stolen car incident

News

January 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the theft of a vehicle stolen from Anita. Officials say at around 9:12-p.m. Tuesday, they received word a 1998 Ford Escort was stolen from the parking lot of the CAM High School, in Anita. The car, owned by April Annette McAfee, of Anita, was recovered this (Wednesday) morning in a ditch near 640th and Fayette Road in Cass County. Officials say there are no suspects in this incident at this time.