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Amount businesses pay for unemployment will drop


September 5th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Workforce Development announced Tuesday it is changing the tax tables for employers which will save millions dollars. I-W-D spokesperson, Kerry Koonce says the tax table that determines how much employers pay into the unemployment trust fund is reviewed every year. “You can either move up into a higher tax table, which reduces employer taxes, or you can move down into a lower numbered tax table, which would increase employer taxes,” Koonce said. “There are eight tables in total and we are moving from table four to table five, which in 2013 will save Iowa employers just under a hundred million dollars in unemployment taxes paid into the system.”

The average employer will see the rate they pay fall from two-point-four-percent (2.4%) to two-percent (2.0%) percent for 2013. Koonce says there are several reasons for the move to lower the taxes required of businesses. “It’s happening because we do a good job managing the trust fund. And it’s happening because Iowa has done a good job compared to other states in coming out of the recession. Our wages being paid are going up, our manufacturing hours are back over to working an average over 40-hours-a-week, our employers have been diligent in paying their taxes,” Koonce says. Iowa also doesn’t have to pay any unemployment money back to the federal government.

“We did not borrow from the federal government to support our trust fund, which most states had to do that, and therefore that causes their tax rates to go up. We didn’t have to do that, so our rates have stayed consistent,” Koonce says. You may wonder how the rates paid in by employers can go down when Iowa’s unemployment rate inched up slightly in the last month. Koonce says the table is not based on a one-month trend.

“It’s not based either on just the unemployment rate…it looks at a several year period the amount of dollars that have been paid out of the trust fund. And it looks at the amount of dollars that have been coming into the trust fund, and it’s a very complicated actuarial formula that says there is more than enough funding to pay out even the highest level of benefits that you have experienced in the last five years,” Koonce explains. Over 52-percent of Iowa businesses do not have to pay in any unemployment taxes under the table.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News headlines: Wed., Sept. 5th 2012


September 5th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is in Iowa for the second day of a two-day visit. Mitt Romney’s running mate will be in Adel in central Iowa today. He’ll attend a rally at the Dallas County Courthouse in Adel.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A judge has ruled that Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson will be on the Iowa ballot in November. Polk County District Court Judge Arthur Gamble says in a ruling filed yesterday that Libertarians fulfilled legal requirements to get their candidate on the ballot.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The corn harvest continues ahead of schedule with some states nearly half-finished at a time when they usually are just getting started. The USDA says in its weekly crop update that little has changed in the condition of drought-damaged corn and soybeans. That’s because the plants are too far along for recent rain to make a difference.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — State officials say five deer at a breeding center in southwest Iowa have tested positive for chronic wasting disease, prompting the facility to be quarantine. Three of the deer at the center in Pottawattamie County and a deer at a hunting preserve in Davis County that tested positive in July were traced to a breeding facility in Cerro Gordo County. The Davis County deer was the first case of the neurological disease verified in Iowa.

Former Harlan resident/youth counselor arrested in 14-year old sexual assault case


September 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A man who lived in Harlan in 1998 has been charged in Pottawattamie County with three-counts of 3rd degree sexual assault, in connection with a case that dates back 14-years. 68-year year old Bobby Ervin Smith, a former youth coordinator was being held in the Pott. County Jail. According to Omaha television station KETV, the alleged victim, who was 12 years old at the time, said Smith was his youth coordinator at First Baptist Church. The victim claimed Smith assaulted him during a fishing trip. Smith and his family moved to Missouri in 2008. He’s due in court in November, and if convicted on all charges, he faces 30 years in prison.

Corn harvest continues to speed ahead of schedule

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. corn harvest continues ahead of schedule with some states nearly half-finished at a time when they usually are just getting started. The USDA said Tuesday in its weekly crop update that little has changed in the condition of drought-damaged corn and soybeans. That’s because the plants are too far along for recent rain to make a difference. Corn was planted several weeks earlier this year and matured more quickly in the summer heat, allowing farmers to start harvesting early. Tennessee has 49 percent of its corn in, compared to the usual 21 percent. Missouri is at 44 percent, ahead of the average 8 percent. Nebraska is at 7 percent, and Iowa, the nation’s leading corn producer, is at 5 percent. Typically those farmers haven’t begun yet.


Ag/Outdoor, News

September 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources say five deer at a breeding facility in Pottawattamie County have tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), resulting in that operation placed under quarantine. Three of the five deer in Pottawattamie County along with a single white-tail deer at a hunting preserve in Davis County – Iowa’s first confirmed positive CWD sample – have been traced back to a breeding facility in Cerro Gordo County. In addition, 14 deer from the breeding facility in Cerro Gordo County have been sampled for CWD with one yielding a positive result for CWD. The Cerro Gordo facility is also currently under quarantine meaning live animals are not allowed to come or go from the operation.

After the first positive sample of the deer in Davis County was confirmed in July, both the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) have been working to trace back deer that have moved to and from the Cerro Gordo County facility. Once the initial positive detection of CWD was found in Davis County, the DNR worked with several other states that had clients of the facility to determine which deer was the carrier of the disease. Through DNA testing, it was determined that the affected deer had originated from the Cerro Gordo County facility. The DNR has regulatory authority on hunting preserves while IDALS regulates captive breeding herds.

Bruce Trautman, deputy director of the DNR, said “It’s important for us to gather as much information as possible as to where these deer have come from and gone to if we are going to be successful in containing the spread of CWD. Our primary concern is to keep CWD from spreading to the wild herd.”  The 330-acre Davis County facility is currently surrounded by an eight-foot high fence and routine inspections are being conducted by the DNR to ensure the integrity of the fencing system so that no deer are coming or going from the area.

The DNR will increase testing of wild deer in the area by working with hunters and landowners to collect samples from hunter harvested deer beginning this fall. A goal of 300 samples within a five-mile radius of the Davis County facility has been established. There is no evidence that CWD can spread to humans, pets or domestic livestock such as pork, beef, dairy, poultry, sheep or goats. Iowa has tested 42,557 wild deer and over 4,000 captive deer and elk as part of the surveillance program since 2002 when CWD was found in Wisconsin.

CWD is a neurological disease that only affects deer, elk and moose. It is caused by an abnormal protein, called a prion, which affects the brains of infected animals, causing them to lose weight, display abnormal behavior and lose bodily functions. Signs include excessive salivation, thirst and urination, loss of appetite, progressive weight loss, listlessness and drooping ears and head. The prions can attach to soil and spread the disease among deer. Chronic wasting disease was first identified in captive mule deer at a research facility in Colorado in 1967. Prior to the positive detection in Iowa, CWD had been detected in every bordering state.

Train and semi collide Friday near Dunlap


September 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Harrison County say no injuries were reported when a train struck a semi near Dunlap on Friday morning. Dunlap Police Chief Darren Klein says the semi was unable to get across the tracks, “It was an eastbound train and the Quality Liquid Feeds (QLF) was unable to cross the tracks. No injuries at all to either the driver or engineers. The impact drug the truck down about 50 yards and broke the cross arms off. That’s about it.”

The Dunlap Police Department was working with the Union Pacific to estimate the damage. The semi and trailer, owned by Quality Liquid Feeds, were a total loss while there was some damage to the locomotive. The accident happened around 10-am Friday. Traffic had to be re-routed while crews cleaned up the area.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)

Atlantic City Council to hold 3rd & final reading of Illegal dumping ordinance


September 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council will hold its first meeting of the month Wednesday evening, at City Hall. During their session, the Council will receive a report from AMU General Manager Steve Tjepkes. They’ll also possibly act on a resolution awarding a bid for improvements to the traffic signals at 7th and Walnut, Chestnut and Poplar Streets. Only one bid (amounting to $123,838) was received, from a company out of Oskaloosa. The engineer’s original cost estimate for the project was $93,000, so it’s possible the Council may reject the bid, and stick with the current signals until next year, or conduct what City Administrator Doug Harris calls “Value engineering,” to reduce the cost of the project.

The Council will also hold the third and final reading of an ordinance amending the City Code, with regard to Illegal Dumping, to make the rules consistent throughout the County. And, the Council will hold the first reading of a revised ordinance pertaining to “Private Wells,” with regard to Iowa DNR identified contaminated sites on Commerce, East 7th and West 2nd Streets. The ordinance allows closed-loop systems for non-drinking water wells use greater than 1,000-feet from an area of contamination, and drinking water wells greater than 1,000-feet from an area of contamination, and are more than 250-feet from an accessible public water supply.

In other business, the Atlantic City Council, Wednesday, is expected to pass on the second- and third-readings, an ordinance prohibiting parking  on Linn Street, on the east side, from 8th Street north 100-feet, from 7:45-a.m. to 3:15-p.m., for the purpose of loading buses when school is in session. They’ll also act on an expanded Tobacco Free Policy for City Hall, which was originally enacted in February of 2007, but now includes a tobacco cessation program for City employees.

The Council’s session begins at 5:30-p.m., Wednesday, and is scheduled to be broadcast locally, on Cable Channel 18.

Community Conversations on STEM to be held in Bedford & Creston


September 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen today (Tuesday) announced a series of community conversations featuring Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and economic development, will take place across the state in September and October. Two of the meetings will be held in the southwest Iowa towns of Bedford and Creston, on Wed., Sept. 19th.

The first session will take place 1:30-p.m. Sept. 19th, at Southwestern Community College, in Creston. The event will be held in Instructional Center Room 180. The second session takes place at 4-p.m. Sept. 19th, in the Auditorium at the Bedford High School. Both meetings feature Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and UNI President Ben Allen.

The community conversations are designed seek feedback from Iowans about what priorities the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council should focus on as the STEM initiative continues to build across Iowa.  Reynolds, co-chair of the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, says “We are determined to provide Iowa’s young people with engaging STEM education opportunities, no matter where they live. That will help assure more students are well equipped to be knowledgeable citizens and to someday begin college or career training prepared for success. It also will help assure a stronger STEM employee pipeline for Iowa’s businesses and industries.”

All parents, grandparents, educators, business and civic leaders, legislators and other Iowans are invited to attend the hour-long, town hall style meetings. Ben Allen, co-chair of the STEM Advisory Council,  said they  “Are in the process of rolling out STEM programs through our scale-up initiative and these community conversations are a way to foster STEM relationships between local businesses, the regional STEM networks and area schools.  The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council is a public-private partnership whose overarching goal is creating greater student achievement in STEM subjects and a stronger STEM workforce.

Shelby County Fire Danger Index remains “Extreme”, TFN

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

September 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Fire Danger Index will remain in the “Extreme” category in Shelby County, at least until the next update, on Thursday. Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Seivert says field work is beginning in the County, and there are typically three or four combine fires each harvest season. Seivert says while the short grasses have greened-up thanks to recent rainfall, the major fuel source for explosive fire growth…corn, beans, and tall grasses.. continue to dry-up due to the sunshine and wind.

Extra precautions should be taken while farmers are out in the field, to ensure their machines are free of debris and that fires are not started behind those implements while the harvest is underway.

3 accidents Sunday in SW IA


September 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa State Patrol kept busy investigating three separate accidents in southwest Iowa, Sunday. One took place at around 9:30-a.m. on Interstate 680 in Pottawattamie County. Officials say the driver of a 2003 Toyota Camry, 53-year old Timothy Gurtis, of Omaha, was injured, when he lost control of the vehicle, which wound-up hitting a guardrail. The accident happened near Neola. Gurtis was transported by Neola Rescue to Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs, for treatment of minor injuries.

The second accident happened at around 11:25-a.m. Sunday, in Fremont County. The State Patrol says 27-year old Chance Greer, of Kansas City, MO, was traveling south on Interstate 29 when the 2000 Toyota CXL he was driving left the road, traveled into the median and struck a cable guardrail. Greer suffered minor injuries. The Patrol says alcohol was a factor in the crash, and charges are pending completion of lab results.

The third accident took place Sunday afternoon, in Mills County. The State Patrol says a 2001 Pontiac Sunfire, driven by 18-year old Hallie Fitzsimmons, of Glenwood, was traveling south on 230th Street, when the teen lost control while her vehicle as it entered a curve. The car left the road and hit a driveway entrance, before striking a fire hydrant. Fitzsimmons was transported by Glenwood Rescue to Jenny Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs.

Officials say all three of the injured drivers were wearing their seat belts.