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School enrollment up again, but increase not expected to continue

News

February 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Enrollment in Iowa’s public schools continued to increase this school year according to figures from the Iowa Department of Education. “For the fourth year in a row we’ve see the total number of students in Iowa public schools increase in the 14-15 school year. “It’s nice to see a continued climb after about 17 years of a decrease in student enrollment rates,” according to Jay Pennington, chief of the Department’s Bureau of Information and Analysis. School enrollment was up four-tenths of one percent to 480-thousand-772 students in grades K through 12.

Pennington says an analysis of census data and kindergarten enrollments indicate the upward trend in enrollment won’t continue. “I think we are going to see a slight decline, similar to what we’ve seen in the birth totals,” Pennington says. “But it’s not going to be a significant drop, unlike the 17-year decline, where we saw thousands of students leaving Iowa schools.” The increase in enrollment follows the slow, steady trend in population increases. Pennington says the overall population increase is showing in Iowa schools, as is the diversity of the student population. “This past year we saw the most minority students every in Iowa public schools So we are going to see about the same number of students in public schools, but a continuing change in the diversity,” he says.

Schools in suburban areas continue to show the most gains. “If we look at a five-year trend as an example, and we look at different size categories in which we classify schools, you can see smaller school districts overall — the likelihood that they are going to decline — is higher and the larger districts, the likelihood that they are going to see in creases is much greater.” The five schools with the largest increase in enrollment in the last five years were: Waukee (31%), Bondurant-Farrar (27%), Dallas Center-Grimes (21%), Ankeny (20%) and Seymour (18%). Four of the five are suburban Des Moines districts. Pennington says the continued declining enrollment in rural districts means more will look at consolidating.

“With the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, we saw eight consolidations compared to the year before. Beginning with the 15-16 school year, we are going to have two additional,” Pennington says. “But certainly with the those declining enrollments in those smaller districts, the way for them to stay financially viable — as well as provide adequate course offerings to their students — they need to consolidate.”

The districts that saw the biggest declines in enrollment this school year were: Ventura, which lost 33 percent; Walnut, which lost 25 percent; Corwith-Welsey, which lost 25 percent; West Harrison, which lost 20 percent and Northeast Hamilton, which lost 19 percent. The 2014-15 enrollment summary by school district is available online at the Education Department’s website.

(Radio Iowa)

Nodaway Valley Special Election set for Tuesday

News

February 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Patrons of the Nodaway Valley School District will gather tomorrow (Tuesday) to vote during a school bond special election. The $8.8-million bond, if approved, would help to build a proposed, new elementary building.The current building is nearly 60-years old. Officials say it would cost $6.5-million to renovate the existing facility, which is not currently energy efficient, is difficult to maintain, and not ADA compliant.elementaryfloorplan

Nodaway Valley Superintendent Casey Berlau has stated that the proposed, new structure would likely be  located north of the current elementary in the current parking lot. It would include a safe room/storm shelter. Parking would be moved closer to the high school building and parking would also exist south of the new elementary. If the bond issue passes, the board will make a final decision as to the location of the building and input from the public will be considered.

The polls will be open from noon to 8-p.m. Tuesday at the regular school election precinct sites: Bridgewater Fire Station, Fontanelle Community Building, and Adair County Health and Fitness Center. Additional information about the proposed bond and project can be found at http://www.nodawayvalley.org/

Iowa early News Headlines: Mon., Feb. 2nd 2015

News

February 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — More than 6 inches of snow fell across much of eastern Nebraska and Iowa Sunday. Des Moines observers reported 10 inches of snow there yesterday morning.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The winter storm has forced airlines to cancel some flights in Nebraska and Iowa, but the airports are operating normally despite the snow. The main problem area Sunday for airports in Omaha, Lincoln and Des Moines was flights headed to and from Chicago. Most of the cancellations involved one of Chicago’s two major airports O’Hare and Midway. Des Moines International Airport spokesman Andrew Wall says a few flights were cancelled Sunday, but those were mostly the ones that go back and forth to Chicago all day.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — As Iowa’s modified Medicaid expansion hits the one-year anniversary mark, some enrollees will be asked to pay small monthly premiums because they haven’t completed a physical exam and health questionnaire. For Governor Terry Branstad, those health requirements were key provisions for expanding Medicaid in Iowa using funding from President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The only time of year Kevin Moreland eats meat is when he serves as a judge at the Des Moines bacon festival’s food competition. The Des Moines Register reports Moreland again served as a judge at the Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival on Saturday. Moreland has only been a vegetarian since 2010, and he did it to help him meet his fitness goals.

Gas tax debate likely to heat up at statehouse this week

News

February 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The first committee votes on a bill that would raise the state fuel tax by as much as a dime a gallon may come this week at the statehouse. For several years, the idea of phasing-in a gas tax hike was considered, but never enacted. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, says this year is different. “It would appear to me that the memberzhip is moving towards 10 cents,” Paulsen says, “and likely all at once.” More than 200 county and city officials, along with road builders, flooded the statehouse last Wednesday to lobby for a fuel tax increase.

“Clearly the Iowans who are supporting it are making many more contacts to the General Assembly than those who oppose it and, in fact, some Iowans have contacted me that at one time were not O.K. with it and now they’re saying, ‘This is the right thing to do,'” Paulsen says. Paulsen, Republican Governor Terry Branstad and Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal have all said it will require “bipartisan support” for a gas tax hike to pass the legislature, however. Gronstal defines that in the senate as 13 Republicans joining 14 Democrats to vote yes.

“It depends on the level of support amongst Republicans,” Gronstal says. “…I’m hesitant to go much further than that.” Rob Solt is president of Iowans for Tax Relief and he questions why legislators aren’t “reallocating” gas tax revenue, so cities and counties get more of it. “I believe that the DOT has found $215 million of needs, but I think that that $215 million can come out of the resources they’re already getting,” Solt says. Senator Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa, is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, where a bill on this subject may emerge this week. Bowman says the D-O-T has already cut and reallocated for several years.

“I don’t think we can get ourselves out of this problem by being more efficient,” Bowman says. “We continue to look for efficiencies — and that’s what we need to do — but we need additional revenue to really solve the problems.” And the Iowa D-O-T’s director says while an immediate, 10-cent hike in the state gas tax will raise enough to address next year’s 215-million dollar shortfall, vehicles will continue to get more fuel efficient — and reduce the number of gallons of gas sold in Iowa. In addition, construction costs will continue to rise as federal tax money for transportation projects is expected to remain flat.

(Radio Iowa)

Blowing snow creating hazardous driving conditions for evening activities

News, Weather

February 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – Feb 1, 2015 – Most of Iowa’s roads are completely or partially covered with snow and ice with travel not advised in portions of Eastern Iowa.

I 80 W Mile Marker 70. IA DOT Snowplow View 5:14-pm 2/1/15

I 80 W Mile Marker 70. IA DOT Snowplow View 5:14-pm 2/1/15

Windy conditions with continued snowfall are expected through the evening hours causing hazardous driving conditions. The Iowa Department of Transportation is working to clear roads, but blowing snow can cause roadways to quickly become re-covered after trucks pass through. Visibility can also be greatly reduced due to blowing snow.

Iowa DOT reminds travelers that trips during severe winter weather can take three or four times longer than normal. Motorists are urged to monitor weather and road conditions before traveling and evaluate the necessity of trips. Often, the safest option is to skip the trip altogether. For road condition information visit the Iowa 511 website at http://511ia.org or call 511 within Iowa, or 800-288-1047 from outside the state. Tow ban information can be found on the full-featured version of the website.

Hwy 83 eastbound at mm 31 (2/1/15)

Hwy 83 eastbound at mm 31 (2/1/15)

To see photos of conditions on the roadway from the dash of an Iowa DOT snowplow truck or plow locations visit http://trackaplow.iowadot.gov.

Accident in Creston Saturday Night

News

February 1st, 2015 by Chris Parks

The Creston Police Department report a two-vehicle accident occurred in Creston at 11:15pm Saturday night.  19-year-0ld Jesse David Rathe of Creston entered the intersection of S Birch and Fremont Streets in Creston in his 1998 Ford Ranger and struck a 2008 Ford Taurus driven by 31-year-old Jeffrey Patrick Madore of Creston.  Rathe told officers he did not see Madore’s vehicle as he went through the intersection.  No one was injured in the accident and damages were estimated at $1,100 between both vehicles. No citations were issued at the scene.

Travel discouraged this morning in western IA

News, Weather

February 1st, 2015 by Chris Parks

Winds have been picking up this morning across western Iowa, causing blowing and drifting of snow. The Iowa DOT’s website at 511ia.org reports all roadways are 100-percent snow and/or ice covered. Travel is not advised.

I-80 eastbound at Exit 57

I-80 eastbound at Exit 57

I-80 westbound at Exit 57

I-80 westbound at Exit 57

I-80 westbound at the 53 mile marker

I-80 westbound at the 53 mile marker

I-80 westbound at the 46-mile marker

I-80 westbound at the 46-mile marker

Iowa State Patrol Trooper Wayne Brosam sent KJAN some pictures he took of the roadways as of 8:30-a.m. today.

Winter Storm Warning Update (9-am, 2/1/15)

News, Weather

February 1st, 2015 by Chris Parks

858 AM CST SUN FEB 1 2015

A WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM CST THIS EVENING.

* SHORT TERM TRENDS…WIDESPREAD LIGHT TO MODERATE SNOW WILL CONTINUE WITH STEADILY INCREASING WINDS ACROSS NORTHERN AND WESTERN IOWA. WINDS WILL INCREASE THIS AFTERNOON REGIONWIDE.

* STORM TOTAL SNOW…ACCUMULATIONS OF GENERALLY 8 TO 12 INCHES.  SOME LOCATIONS WILL RECEIVE OVER A FOOT OF SNOW.

* WINDS/VISIBILITY…NORTHEAST WINDS GRADUALLY INCREASING AND BECOMING NORTHERLY BY AFTERNOON. GUSTS INCREASING TO 35 TO 40 MPH OVER WESTERN AND NORTHERN IOWA BY MIDDAY AND OVER THE REMAINDER OF THE AREA BY EARLY TO MID AFTERNOON. WINDS WILL REMAIN STRONG THROUGH EARLY EVENING.

* TEMPERATURES…TEMPERATURES WILL CONTINUE TO FALL THROUGH THE AFTERNOON HOURS INTO THE LOWER TO MID TEENS BY EVENING. ALONG WITH THAT WIND CHILL VALUES WILL DROP TO 5 TO 10 BELOW ZERO OVER THE NORTHERN HALF OF IOWA AND JUST BELOW ZERO OVER CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN IOWA BY LATE AFTERNOON.

* IMPACTS…ROADS WILL REMAIN SNOW COVERED AND SLICK WITH HAZARDOUS DRIVING CONDITIONS. BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW WILL BECOME MORE SIGNIFICANT THROUGH THE DAY. VISIBILITIES WILL OFTEN BE BELOW A MILE WITH NEAR WHITEOUT CONDITIONS POSSIBLE AT TIMES…ESPECIALLY IN OPEN AND RURAL AREAS. THE HEAVY WET NATURE OF THE SNOW HAS ALSO COATED TREES OVER CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN IOWA. TREE DAMAGE AND LOCALIZED POWER OUTAGES MAY BECOME MORE LIKELY AS THE WINDS INCREASE THROUGH THE AFTERNOON.

Significant Winter Storm affects the region Sunday

News, Weather

February 1st, 2015 by Chris Parks

The National Weather Service says “A significant winter storm” will affect the region today and into tonight. A Winter Storm Warning continues until 9-p.m. today (Sunday). Heavy snow will continue to fall across much of Iowa and winds will increase, causing blowing snow and drifting snow that will make travel even more hazardous. The snow will finally end with diminishing winds late this evening. As of 7-a.m. in Atlantic, we had received 5.8-inches of snow, which melted into just over six-tenths of an inch of liquid precipitation. Massena had 6-inches of snow over the same 24-hour period ending at 7-am.

Other snowfall reports as of include: 6.9 inches in Oakland (8:30-a.m) 7 inches in Audubon, Carroll and Guthrie Center; 5.4 inches in Adair; 9.8 inches in Waukee and 7.9 inches in Ames and 7.3 inches in Des Moines.

As of 8-a.m., roads were 100-percent snow and ice covered in the KJAN listening area, and many churches had cancelled services for today. Towing services are prohibited in Cass, Adair, Pottawattamie, Mills and Fremont Counties.

Additional snowfalls will be possible in the coming days, especially from Tuesday into Wednesday when some accumulations are expected. Temperatures will be quite a bit colder for most of next week with the fresh deep snow cover in place. The coldest temperatures will come tonight into Monday morning and again from Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

2 CA truckers injured during crash on I-80 in Pott County

News

February 1st, 2015 by Chris Parks

Two truck drivers from California were injured during a crash early this (Sunday) morning on Interstate 80 in Pottawattamie County. The Iowa State Patrol reports the 2002 Kenworth driven by 62-year old Jesus B. Garcia, of Oxnard, CA, was traveling eastbound on I-80 about a mile west of the Neola Exit, when he lost control of the rig at around 1-a.m.

The semi rolled onto its side and blocked both lanes of travel. Garcia suffered minor injuries. His passenger, 55-year old Rufino V. Murillo, of Carpinteria, CA, was seriously hurt, but listed in stable condition. Both men were transported to Mercy Hospital, in Council Bluffs.