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Iowa regents approve ‘historic’ 3rd tuition freeze


December 4th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Thousands of students at Iowa’s three public universities could graduate without seeing their tuition increase once. The Iowa Board of Regents voted Wednesday to freeze tuition for resident undergraduate students for the third straight year, provided that lawmakers approve a funding increase for the universities next spring. Governor Terry Branstad says that would be a “historic” achievement.

Regent Larry McKibben said a third straight freeze will help families who are struggling to afford higher education. If the freeze sticks, in-state students who graduate in May 2016 will have paid the same base tuition all four years: $6,678 at University of Iowa and $6,648 at Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.

The board raised tuition by 1.75 percent for nonresidents and students in graduate and professional programs.

Parents of children with mental illness rally for more state support


December 4th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Parents of children suffering from mental illness rallied at the Statehouse Wednesday. Tammy Nyden,  of Iowa City, is chairperson of a statewide children’s mental health committee of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “There are so many services that do not exist in Iowa and without them, our children are not safe to themselves and sometimes to others,” Nyden said. State legislators last year approved $6 million for the Iowa Department of Human Services to help some 9,000 Iowans with mental and physical disabilities who are on waiting lists for services. Nyden said while she’s grateful for the funding, it’s made little difference.

“It was honestly too little, too late,” Nyden said. “The year before, $8.7 million was vetoed and neither of those amounts would have paid down the waiting list. The $6 million…we have found out, halfway in to this fiscal year, very little, if any of it has been applied. If it were fully applied to the waiting list, it would only be reduced some 20-percent.” A spokesperson for the DHS said the agency will be ramping up their efforts soon the speed up access to services for Iowans with mental illnesses. Nyden has a 12-year-old son who has been on a waiting list for services for two years. One problem with improving services, according to Nyden, is the general public’s lack of understanding of mental illnesses. She said many people are afraid to speak with her about the subject or blame parents for the child’s condition.

Many of these children do have mental illness from trauma, but many of them were simply born with a brain disorder, like my son,” Nyden said. “You’re born with Tourette’s syndrome, he didn’t do anything to deserve what he has to live through every day.” Around 30 people gathered for Wednesday’s rally at the Statehouse in Des Moines.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Thu., 12/4/14


December 4th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Republican Party leaders are pledging to remain neutral in the 2016 presidential caucuses. Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said yesterday that all the State Central Committee members have signed a pledge not to publicly endorse a candidate. He says this sends a message to potential candidates that Iowa will be a fair playing ground.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Governor Terry Branstad has scheduled a special election for the House District 4 seat left open after Saturday’s death of state Representative Dwayne Alons. Branstad said yesterday that a special election will be held on January 6th. The district includes the cities of Sioux Center, Orange City, Rock Valley, Hull, Hawarden, Alton, Maurice, Granville, Ireton and Chatsworth.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) —Governor Terry Branstad is brushing off entertainer Cher’s criticism about hog crates. Cher posted a message on Twitter Tuesday asking why Iowa farmers “torture pigs” in narrow gestation crates, and calling New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie a “bully” for his stance on the issue. Christie recently vetoed legislation outlawing gestation crates in New Jersey.

MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) — An 18-year-old in Muscatine has been accused of posting nude photos of minors on Twitter. Muscatine County Attorney Alan Ostergren says Briar Jared Todd was arrested yesterday. He faces five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. Todd is scheduled to appear in court on December 15th.

Creston Accident


December 3rd, 2014 by admin

The Creston Police Department investigated a two vehicle non injury accident on Highway 34 Tuesday afternoon in Creston. Both Robert Spare of Afton and Zachary Steffen of  Creston were traveling east on Highway 34 with Spare in the right hand eastbound lane and Steffen was in the left eastbound lane; he failed to yield to the vehicle on the right and attempted to turn right from the left hand lane causing the accident. The vehicles made contact with the Spare vehicle sustaining functional damage and was towed from the scene. Steffen was cited for failure to yield right of way.

Beware of phone scam targeting utility customers in Council Bluffs, western Iowa


December 3rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

MidAmerican Energy Company is warning business owners and the public of a phone scam targeting utility customers in Council Bluffs and western Iowa. Criminals posing as utility customer service agents are trying to get money from customers by threatening service disconnection. The scam is occurring nationwide, but in recent days, several businesses across the state have reported receiving calls from people identifying themselves as representatives of MidAmerican Energy.

The criminals are using sophisticated deceptive tactics that make it appear to Caller ID systems that the scam call is coming from the utility when it is not. If customers receive such a call demanding
immediate payment to avoid disconnection of service, hang up and instead call MidAmerican Energy at 1-888-427-5632 to verify the call’s origins.

Some business owners noted that even though they found the circumstances suspicious, they went ahead and made the payments because the caller was very insistent and persuasive. It was only after the fact, when they contacted MidAmerican Energy directly, that they realized they had been scammed.

In order to help customers recognize the fraudulent calls, in general, the scam works like this:
Scammers call residential or business customers demanding payment for overdue bills. Sometimes, the caller tells the intended victim that they owe a specific amount of money. The thief advises the customer to make a payment in one of two ways: either immediately on the phone via credit card, or by going to a local store to purchase a pre-paid card and calling back a special toll-free number, made to resemble MidAmerican Energy’s phone response system, and providing the pre-paid card’s code
to the phony “agent.”

MidAmerican Energy wants customers to be aware that this is a scam and not a legitimate request. MidAmerican Energy does not use these methods. If such a call is received, hang up and call 1-888-427-5632 to inquire about the call with MidAmerican Energy.

Some tips to help customers recognize a scam call:

* The caller is threatening immediate disconnection. Sometimes the caller will
claim a crew is already en route to the business to disconnect service. If you
receive such a call, hang up immediately and call MidAmerican Energy customer
service. MidAmerican Energy makes several attempts to contact customers regarding
overdue bills; disconnection is a last resort, not a first step in the process.
* The caller insists on a prepaid debit card (often a Green Dot card) as the
only acceptable form of payment. MidAmerican Energy accepts several different
forms of payment; a company customer service representative can go over your
options with you.
* The caller asks you for credit card numbers, account numbers, balances or
other personal information. MidAmerican Energy representatives will not ask you
for this information over the phone.

Iowa governor brushes off Cher comments on hogs

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 3rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is brushing off entertainer Cher’s criticism about hog crates. Cher posted a message on Twitter Tuesday asking why Iowa farmers “torture pigs” in narrow gestation crates, and calling New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a “bully” for his stance on the issue.

Christie recently vetoed legislation outlawing gestation crates in New Jersey. New Jersey has few hogs, but some argue that Christie is influenced by the early voting status of Iowa, a state that raises more than 20 million hogs annually. Christie is weighing a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Branstad has dismissed that characterization. On Wednesday he responded to Cher, saying, “They know a lot about pig production out there in Hollywood.”

Drug-related arrests in Audubon County


December 3rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Audubon County Sheriff’s Office reports two people from northern Iowa were arrested Tuesday night, on drug charges. 50-year-old Jeffery Allan Wear and 32-year-old Crystal Marie Rashedi, both of Fort Dodge, were taken into custody at around 9:30 p.m., following a traffic stop in the 1300 block of Bluebird Avenue.

The pair was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Deliver, Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver, and a Tax Stamp Violation.

Wear and Rashedi were being held in the Audubon County Jail on $100,000 bond, each.

3 arrests in Mills County


December 3rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Three people were arrested Tuesday in Mills County. The Sheriff’s Office reports 29-year old Bradley Allen Fink, of Malvern,  was arrested at the Sheriff’s Office on a warrant for OWI 2nd, Theft 2nd and Driving While Revoked. Also arrested at the Sheriff’s Office Tuesday, was 26-year old Andrew Dean West, of Malvern, who was wanted on a warrant for two counts of Conspiracy.

And, 28-year old Clayton Andrew Fritz, of Pacific Junction, was arrested at the Mills County Sheriff’s Office on a warrant for Failure To Appear on a Driving While Barred charge.

Bond for all three men was set at $5,000, each.

Disabled Iowa residents still waiting for services


December 3rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Thousands of disabled Iowa residents remain on waiting lists for state assistance despite the $6 million the Legislature earmarked to reduce those numbers. The Des Moines Register reports more than 9,000 Iowa residents are waiting, some for more than two years, for services to help them with their mental or physical disabilities. State lawmakers approved the funds last year for the Iowa Department of Human Services.

In June, about 8,400 people were on the lists. The number increased to almost 9,300 by October. Patient advocates say the state agency hasn’t spent much of the money intended to quicken access to the services.  A spokeswoman said Tuesday the agency will soon ramp up the effort.

Deer Hunters waiting to Purchase Licenses

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

December 3rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Hunters planning to be in the timber for Saturday’s opening day of the first shotgun deer season should consider buying their license soon to avoid waiting in line at the license sales counter. Officials with the Iowa DNR say fewer than half of the expected 70,000 hunters have purchased their deer license as of Wednesday morning. A weekend weather forecast with temperatures favorable for hunting could lead to additional hunters choosing to go during the first shotgun season rather than second.

“Good weather usually means more people will be hunting and staying in the field longer which can lead to higher success rates,” said Willie Suchy, wildlife research supervisor for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Successful hunters are reminded to report their deer harvest by midnight the day after the deer is recovered. For hunters with Internet access, the online harvest reporting is the easiest way to register the deer. Hunters can report their deer online at www.iowadnr.gov, by calling the toll free reporting number 1-800-771-4692, or at any license vendor.

Accurately reporting the harvest is an important part of Iowa’s deer management program and plays a vital role in managing deer populations and future hunting opportunities. Reporting the harvest is required by law. Hunters will be checked for compliance.