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Branstad says state made no payments for silence

News

April 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Gov. Terry Branstad is standing firm in support of the director of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, who says no money was offered to former workers for silence about their dismissals.  Branstad, at his weekly news conference Monday, says he believes Mike Carroll when he says no money was offered to keep settlement agreements confidential.

At least two state workers have testified they were offered additional cash to remain silent about their dismissals in 2011. Carroll told a joint legislative Government Oversight Committee last week that no money was offered.

Branstad says he believes Carroll that no state agencies offered money for silence. He says the workers are disgruntled former state employees. Branstad in an executive order signed last month prohibited future confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements.

Iowa Groups still pushing for an increase in the Gas Tax

News

April 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

While legislators in Des Moines continue to haggle over how to raise money to repair, maintain and expand Iowa’s crumbling roads, County Engineers and others keep pressing Iowa’s leaders to increase the Gas Tax. Cass County Engineer Charles Marker is one person who hopes legislators will stop fighting over the matter and get a bill passed that will give him more money to fix the roads that he can’t fix given his current budget.

Marker says the gas tax hasn’t changed since 1989 inflation “Has been eating us [meaning the County Secondary Roads budgets] alive, because [the] Road Use Tax is two-thirds of my budget.” Marker says about half of the property tax dollars he receives locally, are used to purchase road rock. Without an increase in the RUTF, they’re falling being on getting the roads fixed. Even when property taxes go up, according to Marker, his department’s share of the money doesn’t change. He says he has been capped at his maximum Mil levy for the past 12-to 15-years, and when the property taxes go up, it’s caused by something other than Secondary Roads.

Marker says when there’s no money, there’s no improvements in road infrastructure. The Iowa County Engineer’s Association, a trucker’s  lobby, the Iowa Association of Contractors and others are lobbying for an increase in the gas tax, which Governor Branstad has said is “not popular” with Iowans. Marker disagrees. He says from what he hears, people are not opposed to improving county roads. The question remains however, “How do we fund them?” Marker says Road Use Taxes are just that – User supported – meaning they are paid by tourists, truckers and anyone who uses Iowa’s roads, when they fill-up with gasoline, in the state.

Marker understand no one wants to pay more for gas, especially with the day-to-day fluctuations in prices, the gas tax is something that – if approved – would be spread out over a period of three- years. The one-time 10-cent increase would be phased-in three-cents for both the first and second years and four-cents the third year.

He also wanted to dispel rumors that funds derived from the tax would be used for anything other than road repairs. Marker says that’s simply not the case. If the misconception were alleviated, there would be an up-swell of support among the public in favor of the specifically designated tax.

(Update 8:40-a.m.) Harlan man injured in collision west of Portsmouth

News

April 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

In an update to our earlier story, authorities in Harrison County say a Harlan man was transported by Medivac ambulance to Myrtue Memorial Hospital in Harlan, following a collision Sunday night, about three-miles west of Portsmouth.36-year old Eric Robert Lidgett, of Harlan, was a passenger in a 1999 Toyota Corolla that hit the back of a wagon being pulled by a tractor. Two other people in the car, 23-year old Shawn Mosher and 19-year old Brett Ballantyne, both of Harlan, were also injured, but did not require transport to the hospital.

Officials say the car, driven by 25-year old Kyle Tearney, of Tennant, was traveling east on Highway 44 at around 8:20-p.m., when the vehicle crested a hill near Vienna Avenue and quickly came upon an eastbound slow moving tractor pulling a wagon. Tearney slammed on the brakes and took evasive action but the car, registered to Sarah Koester, of Harlan, struck the wagon, causing minor damage to the wagon, and $3,000 damage to the car. Tearney, and the operator of the 1974 Farmall tractor, 58-year old Bruce Bruck, of Portsmouth, was not injured.

8AM Newscast 04-07-2014

News, Podcasts

April 7th, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Red Oak man arrested on drug charge Monday morning

News

April 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Police in Red Oak report one person was arrested this (Monday) morning on a drug charge. 31-year old Terence Chevy Magill, of Red Oak, was arrested following a traffic stop at 130th Street and Highway 48. Magill was taken into custody at around 6:10-a.m. on a Possession of Drug Paraphernalia charge. He was being held in the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Center on $300 bond.

7AM Newscast 04-07-2014

News, Podcasts

April 7th, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Exira-EHK Super Board to meet this evening

News

April 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Members of the Exira-Elk Horn-Kimballton Community School District’s Super Board of Education will meet this evening, in Elk Horn. During their 7-p.m. session in the Family and Consumer Science room at the high school, the Board will discuss and/or act on: Purchasing a new bus and car for FY 2014-2015 and Contracts for refinishing the gym floors.

In addition to other, administrative matter, they’re also expected to act on approving the 2014-2015  School Calendar and Budget, and a Resolution authorizing the redemption of General Obligation Bonds to be paid earlier than scheduled.

Gas tax hike not popular, key legislators say it won’t pass in 2014

News

April 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

It appears lawmakers will adjourn the 2014 session of the Iowa Legislature without taking action on proposals that would have raised additional money to maintain and expand the state’s transportation system. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, says those who’ve been lobbying for an increase in the state gas tax have gained no traction.
“I don’t think anything’s changed in that dialogue this session,” Paulsen says.

Efforts over the past few years to raise the state gas tax have fallen short and last fall the Iowa D-O-T’s director developed a list of other alternatives, like getting rid of the tax exemption for fuel used in farm machinery, to raise funds for roads. None of those alternatives have been endorsed by a legislative committee and Governor Branstad did not include the proposals in his own budget plan.

Representative Josh Byrnes, a Republican from Osage who supports increasing the gas tax, suggests now would be a good time for Branstad to change his tune. “What the governor’s office should do, if they want to divert attention from this other conversation, they should come out in support of the fuel tax,” Byrnes says. Branstad’s administration is under scrutiny for alleged “hush money” payments to laid off state workers. Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix of Shell Rock does not sense a groundswell for a gas tax increase.

“I believe that what you’re seeing happen in the Iowa Senate is that people are listening and while attitudes may be changing about that, at the moment they’re not hearing a strong message from the vast majority of their constituents to make those changes,” Dix says. Representative Byrnes says Republicans in one of the counties in Dix’s district called for an increase in the gas tax in their party platform. “I don’t get why he’s been so anti, against this when his own constituents are wanting it,” Byrnes says.

Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs has said if a gas tax hike is to pass, it must get bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. “I personally believe we need additional in the Road Use Tax Fund and, if that’s going to happen, it requires a meeeting of the minds,” Gronstal says. “…If we get to that, I am still open to considering (a bill to increase the gas tax) this session.” Representative Byrnes says he’s frustrated by those comments from Gronstal.

“If you know that we need to do this and you know that it needs to be done, then quit putting up this stupid requirement that says you need to have 12 Republicans in favor of it out of the Senate,” Byrnes says. “If you get 10, take it. It’s still a bipartisan vote.” In November Governor Branstad said raising the gas tax is “not popular” with Iowans. State transportation officials estimate they are 215 million dollars short of what’s needed to maintain and build new roads and bridges. Iowa’s gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1989.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa FFA membership reaches new record high

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

It appears more young Iowans are interested in pursuing a field in agriculture than ever before. The Iowa chapter of the Future Farmers of America Association has announced its membership has climbed to a record high this year. Iowa FFA executive secretary Scott Johnson says there are 14,207 members in 219 high schools across Iowa. That’s up 57-percent compared to a low reached in 1989, following the Farm Crisis.

“So, this is something that has been 25 years in the making,” Johnson says. “We’re thrilled to be back to where we really think we should be and hope to grow some more.” The previous record was set during the 1977-78 school year with 14,204 Iowa FFA members. Johnson says more girls are joining the organization.

“Our male enrollment has been fairly steady to slowly growing over the last 25 years, but our significant growth has been in our female membership,” Johnson says. The organization was launched in the state in 1929. The 86th Iowa FFA Leadership Conference is scheduled for April 27-29 on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Mon., April 7th 2014

News

April 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — New London residents are getting ready to dedicate their new veterans memorial nearly four years after planning for it began. The Hawk Eye reports New London Veteran Memorial Park and its tributes to veterans will be celebrated on Saturday.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — The owners of a historic Sioux City building that dates to the 1930s are trying to determine how much can be salvaged after a weekend fire. The Sioux City Journal reports the distinctive Normandy building sustained significant damage Saturday. Fire officials haven’t been able to determine what caused the fire partly because it hasn’t been safe for inspectors to enter the building. Sioux City Fire Marshal Mark Aesoph says the roof will have to be removed before investigators can enter.

FARLEY, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say an eastern Iowa man struck and killed a pedestrian early Sunday. KWWL reports the accident happened before 3 a.m. yesterday along Highway 20 near the town of Farley. The Dubuque County Sheriff’s office says 24-year-old Alex Hannan was merging onto the highway when his vehicle struck the pedestrian. A deputy arrested Hannan on suspicion of drunken driving. The name of the pedestrian was not immediately released.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Police say the death of a 37-year-old Cedar Rapids woman is suspicious. Cedar Rapids police say Shanna Beyhl’s death is being investigated. Beyhl was found dead in her apartment Friday.