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Rule changes aim to speed civil lawsuits in Iowa


August 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Some lawsuits with less than $75,000 at stake will move through Iowa’s court system faster under new rules designed to cut the time and costs needed to resolve those disputes. The Iowa Supreme Court announced Thursday a set of new rules that will allow plaintiffs in smaller-value disputes to use an expedite process in which cases must be tried within a year. The rules limit the motions that can be filed before trial and give attorneys a maximum of six hours to present the facts of their side of the case to six-member juries.

Other rules pertaining to all civil cases will require litigants to disclose information to each other sooner. Justice Edward Mansfield says “people with valid legal claims were being priced out of our civil justice system.

DOT in final phase of reviewing traffic cameras


August 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Transportation is in the final phase of determining if traffic cameras in six cities meet the requirements of new state rules that began in February. D-O-T director of traffic and safety, Steve Gent, says they have finished the review of the reports required of the cities and they still have some questions. There’s an issue with the speed cameras in I-380 in Cedar Rapids. “At this point we really just need to gather more information. There appears to possibly be an issue in Cedar Rapids that we need to be dealing with and that came about by looking at their review,” Gent says. “That’s probably the one that’s the biggest concern right at the moment.” He says the issue involves the speed zones near the cameras.

He says they want more information on whether the speed cameras on I-380 are located within one-thousand feet of a lower speed limit. Gent says they also had an issue with the Sioux City report. “Sioux City did not provide us before crash data. Anytime you are looking at a safety enhancement, you always look at the crashes before the enhancement was put into place and then crashes afterward,” Gent says. “And of course that was required by the rule and I am not sure why they didn’t submit that. We need more information.”

Other questions involved the before and after crash data for two cameras in Davenport, questions about crashes and violations for each intersection in Muscatine, and concerns raised about the number of red-light violations for an intersection in Des Moines. Gent says the rules are designed to be sure the cameras are used on state controlled roadways to enhance safety. and that’s what they are trying to determine in the review.

“These traffic cameras are okay as long as they are absolutely — and people have to believe that — they are for safety. If people believe that they are a money-making scheme, then that’s a terrible situation. That’s not about what our government is supposed to do,” Gent says. He hopes to wrap up the issue before the end of the year to determine if all the cameras are in compliance. “The emails were sent out last week for more information and we asked for that information back within a month,” Gent says. “Certainly by the end of the year we will have all of these resolved. When we have issues, we are going to sit down with the cities and make sure we understand all the issues and that they understand all the issues, and we will work together on coming to a resolution.”

Other cities had cameras on state roads, but decided to make changes. Clive decided to shut down its cameras in June. Windsor Heights and Fort Dodge decided to only place their speed cameras on local roadways, which are not covered by D-O-T rules.

(Radio Iowa)

Audit finds more money spent on confidential settlements with former state workers


August 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A state audit released Thursday shows taxpayers paid nearly $700,000 to cover confidential settlements to former state employees over a four-year period. The dollar figure is roughly $200,000 more than what had been previously reported. On March 24, Governor Branstad signed an executive order ending the use of confidentiality provisions. At the time, his administration identified 24 former state employe

“We identified at total of 37 who had confidentiality clauses and of ones that were settled through court proceedings, we had five, so a total of 42 confidentiality clauses,” Mosiman said. The audit did not reveal any more evidence of so-called “hush money” payments to former state workers in exchange for their silence. Governor Branstad fired Mike Carroll, who was head of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, after a Des Moines Register investigation found his office had paid nearly $300,000 in settlements to a half dozen former workers to keep the details of their firings secret. Mosiman noted in her report that the 42 confidentiality clauses did not violate public records laws.

“None of them violated (section 22.13 of) the Iowa Code, which states these clauses are a matter of public record,” Mosiman said. “It seems the (confidentiality clauses) were intended to impact the behavior of the parties to the agreements, but it did not impact the ability of the public to have access to the document as a public record.” Jack Hatch, the Democrat who is challenging Governor Branstad’s re-election bid, released a statement claiming Branstad has been “dodging the truth and hiding the facts.”

(Radio Iowa)

Flood Warning: Nodaway River at Clarinda

News, Weather

August 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson









Iowa early News headlines: Fri., Aug. 29th 2014


August 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Governor Terry Branstad has issued a disaster proclamation for Clarke County to respond to recent storms. Branstad announced the declaration yesterday. The county suffered damage after severe storms and rain on Saturday. Under the declaration, the county can use state resources to recover from the storm. Clarke County is in southern Iowa.

MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa (AP) — A statue of former U.S. Senator James Harlan has been unveiled in Mount Pleasant after more than a century in Washington, D.C. The Burlington Hawk Eye reports Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds were among the guests Thursday as the statue was unveiled at Iowa Wesleyan College.

CHARLES CITY, Iowa (AP) — Floyd County officials plan to appoint someone to serve temporarily as county attorney, following the death of its top prosecutor. The Floyd County Board of Supervisors says it will appoint someone on Sept. 9 to fill the vacancy left by the Aug. 17 death of Normand Klemesrud. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports three people are currently running for county attorney in the November 4th election, but someone needs to serve as county attorney until then.

ELDRIDGE, Iowa (AP) — Three children have been removed from a home in eastern Iowa where police say an active meth lab was found. The Eldridge Police Department says that two men and a woman were arrested recently after officers found the meth lab. The children, ages 2, 7 and 10, are in the care of state officials.

Audubon Special Council Meeting Cancelled


August 28th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Audubon City Attorney Dave Wiederstein said late Thursday afternoon, that a special meeting of the Audubon City Council scheduled for Thursday, August 28, at 7:00 p.m., is cancelled. The purpose of the meeting was to vote on and approve a Remediation Plan that was revised from the prior version approved by the Council in May. A Remediation Plan is an explanation as to how the Council is going to fix past violations and prevent future violations of open meetings law.

The revisions consisted of removing “action items” to be performed by the City Council that IPIB does not have the authority to enforce. In order for a Remediation Plan to be considered and approved by IPIB, all of the complainants-Francine O’Brien Andersen, Dawn Rohe, and Jessica Rohe-need to agree to the Plan. One of the complainants, Dawn Rohe, asked to be removed as a complainant because she no longer lives in the City of Audubon.

Wiederstein said he hadn’t received a response from O’Brien-Andersen, and Jessica Rohe informed him that she will not agree to the Plan. The Council can vote to approve it, but if not everyone is in agreement, then the Remediation Plan will not be considered by IPIB.

Wiederstein said he does not know how much longer IPIB will wait for a Remediation Plan to be agreed to but he will be in discussion with IPIB regarding the matter.

Study estimates the cost of raising a kid to age 18; It’s cheaper in Iowa


August 28th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A new study from the U-S Department of Agriculture predicts it will cost Iowans about 245-thousand dollars to raise a child born in the last year through age 18. U-S-D-A Undersecretary Kevin Concannon, the former director of the Iowa Department of Human Services, says that near-quarter-million dollar figure doesn’t take inflation into account. “That amount will add up to $304,480,” he says.

Concannon, the agency’s Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, says the amount of money you spend depends on how many children you have, the age of the children, your marital status, where you live and your household income. Mark Lino, an economist in the U-S-D-A’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, is the author of the report and says the most expensive age group is teens.

“These are the years when they start to drive so you add them to your auto insurance,” Lino says, “maybe buy them an automobile.” Iowans can consider themselves lucky. Lino says Midwesterners have the lowest child-raising expenses due to lower housing costs in our region. Calculate your potential costs for raising a child here: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/calculatorintro.htm

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa State Patrol Offers Football Traffic Tips

News, Sports

August 28th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Des Moines, IOWA – As we approach start of college football season, the Iowa State Patrol urges all fans traveling to and from games across the state to obey the following:

  • Slow down and expect heavy traffic delays.
  • Pay attention and avoid any unnecessary distractions.
  • Be patient if you encounter heavy traffic.
  • Obey all directions given by law enforcement officers.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Buckle up!

Due to the many in-state college rivalries this weekend, more traffic is expected on Saturday.  Some fans will arrive several hours before kickoff, so traffic congestion can be expected several hours prior to and following the conclusion of the games.  Motorists not attending the game are encouraged to find alternate routes.
By following these simple tips, the Iowa State Patrol hopes everyone remains safe while cheering on their favorite team.
For further questions, please call Sergeant Scott Bright at (515) 745-2863.

West Nile cases increase in IA: 7 confirmed, 2 possible cases in Sac & Shelby Co.


August 28th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) Thursday, announced seven cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed in Iowa: one case each in Buchanan, Clay, Crawford, Monona, Plymouth, Sioux and Woodbury counties. Additional cases are being investigated in Sac and Shelby counties. Two of the confirmed cases were hospitalized, but are now recovering at home.

In addition to the human cases of West Nile virus, four mosquito pools have tested positive for the virus: two pools in Story County, one from Polk County, and one from Woodbury County. Mosquito pools are a method researchers use to see if insects in an area are carrying the West Nile virus, which can then be transmitted to humans through a bite. A horse in Johnson County tested positive for West Nile virus.

“We are now seeing either confirmed human cases, animal cases, or positive mosquito pools across a large area of the state,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “This is not unexpected as late summer and autumn are the times when mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus are most likely to be circulating. This is why it is important to continue to use insect repellent when outdoors, and to take other protective and preventive measures.”

To Protect Yourself, the IDHP recommends:

  • Using a insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always read the repellent label and consult with a health care provider if you have questions when using these types of products for children. For example, DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old and oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years old.
  • Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes, and socks whenever possible outdoors.

To Prevent mosquitoes from gathering:

  • Eliminate standing water around the home because that’s where mosquitoes lay eggs.
  • Empty water from buckets, cans, pool covers and pet water dishes.
  • Change water in bird baths every three to four days.

Approximately 20 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will have mild to moderate symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and vomiting. Less than one percent of people infected become seriously ill and rarely someone dies. Since West Nile first appeared in Iowa in 2002, it has been found in every county in Iowa, either in humans, horses, or birds. In 2013, there were 44 human cases of West Nile virus and zero deaths.

SWITA hires new transit director


August 28th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Southwest Iowa Transit Agency (SWITA) welcomed a new transit director Monday, August 18th. Officials announced Thursday that Mark Lander comes to SWITA with 12 years of transportation experience. Lander most recently worked at Werner Trucking out of Omaha, NE the Supervisor of Load Planning for the Southeast Region of the US and their fleet of over 3,000 trucks. While at Werner Lander performed many roles including dispatcher, route planning, fleet coordination, and driver supervision.

SWITA Executive Director John McCurdy says “Mark’s work experience in transportation, as well as leadership skills, made him the ideal person for the position. His knowledge will be an asset to our communities, clients, and staff.”

Lander attended Dana College in Blair, NE, and was an All American Wrestler for the school. Lander is also an assistant wrestling coach at Underwood in his free time. Lander resides in Shelby with his wife Ganna and five-year-old daughter.

SWITA is the public transportation agency for the eight counties of southwest Iowa; Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie, and Shelby. SWITA provides approximately 400,000 rides a year and travels 1.5 million miles. In addition, they employ 60 drivers and 9 office staff in the eight counties served. For more information on SWITA please visit our website at www.swipco.org or call our office at 800-842-8065. SWITA is an equal opportunity employer, lender, and provider.