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Report concludes economic recovery “painfully slow” in Iowa

News

September 2nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The annual “State of Working Iowa Report” from an eastern Iowa think tank concludes the state’s economic recovery has been “painfully slow.” Noga O’Connor, a research associate with the Iowa City-based Iowa Policy Project, co-authored the report.

“We know that the state is doing better than the nation, but still we’re in much worse shape than we were before the recession hit,” O’Connor says. “So as far as unemployment, underemployment, job losses — all the measures that we traditionally look — we are still really struggling and have a long way to go to get back to where we were in 2007 or the first half of 2008.” The number of unemployed Iowans has swelled and 33 percent Iowans who are currently unemployed have been out-of-work for more than half a year. O’Connor says “underemployment” has grown to nearly 12 percent, as many Iowans have either taken a part-time job or dropped their search for a job altogether.

“Even once we gain the missing jobs, we are still — as far as wages — nowhere near where we used to be,” O’Connor says. “And the kinds of jobs that we are gaining seem to be lower-paying jobs, while the jobs that we have lost were the higher-paying jobs.” The Iowa Policy Project found wage levels in 2010, when adjusted for inflation, were lower than they were a decade earlier in Iowa.

“In several wage categories, we are at the very bottom nationally,” O’Connor says. The Iowa Policy Project identifies what it calls a “jobs deficit” in the state and concludes Iowa’s economy would have to add three-thousand jobs each month for the next three years in order to restore Iowa’s overall employment level to what it was in early 2008, when the recession began.

(Radio Iowa)

US Secretary of Veterans Affairs says returning soldiers should check out VA

News

September 2nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affair is urging Iowa soldiers returning from Afghanistan to use their local V.A. health facility when they need care. Secretary Eric K. Shinseki says veterans in their 20′s and 30′s think the local V.A. is a place for old soldiers, but Shinseki says the agency has made changes to meet the needs of the current generation.

“We have an interest in a long-term association with a veteran,” Shinseki says, “and we think we provide that best by having that veteran be part of our system.” Shinseki says one way the agency has changed is by adding outpatient clinics across the country.

“Seven-hundred-89 outpatient clinics that are provided for them in the communities they live in — that’s what’s different,” he says. “Instead of saying, ‘Come to us,’ this system has provided healthcare delivery to where they live.” The V.A. has opened 11 outpatient clinics in Iowa as part of that expansion. Shinseki was in Iowa Thursday. He spoke with reporters before holding a private roundtable discussion with veterans and other officials in Indianola. Shinseki served two combat tours in Vietnam and was wounded, losing part of his foot. He rose through the ranks to become the Army’s Chief of Staff before retiring in 2003.

(Radio Iowa)

Area farmer elected President of the Iowa Corn Growers Association

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 2nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A farmer from Pottawattamie County was elected President of the Iowa Corn Growers Association, Thursday. The ICGA and Iowa Corn Promotion Board says Kevin Ross of Minden, was elected to the top executive position for the organization. and

Ross is corn, soybean, and cow-calf producer and has been a member of the ICGA Board since 2008. During his tenure on the board, Ross has served on a number of committees ranging from ethanol to animal agriculture to membership and check-off.

Atlantic and Hamburg areas to benefit from USDA food collection effort

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 2nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the USDA report the Atlantic Food Pantry and Hamburg area will receive a total of 1,176-pounds of non-perishable goods, thanks to the efforts of the local  FSA, NRCS and Rural Development area offices. Cass/Audubon County Management Unit District Conservationist David York says half of the food collected (588-pounds) will go to the Atlantic Food Pantry, the other half will be delivered to the Hamburg area by Rural Development Employees. Those items will be distributed to victims of the Missouri River flood.

The goods were collected as part of the recently concluded “Feds Feed Families” event. USDA agencies across the nation were asked to participate in the event and collect non-perishable food items to donate to their local food pantries. Items collected include non-perishable food items such as fruits and vegetables, baby food, personal care items such as shampoo and soap, diapers, and bottled water.

Monica Robinson, program technician with FSA, and Kara Conn, RH technician with Rural Development were the leaders of this effort.

Amtrak resumes Calif.-to-Colo. Service Saturday

News

September 2nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Amtrak is getting ready to resume part of its service between California and Chicago after last week’s derailment in southwest Nebraska. The railroad said Thursday that it would restart service between Denver and Emeryville, Calif., on Saturday, but Amtrak won’t resume carrying passengers across Nebraska and Iowa until sometime later this month. Amtrak says its California Zephyr will depart California on Saturday, and a westbound train will leave Denver on Sunday.

Amtrak suspended service after last Friday’s derailment near Benkelman, Neb. Two locomotives and three passenger cars were forced after the rails when the train struck a crane but no major injuries were reported. Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, which owns the tracks Amtrak uses in Nebraska, is still repairing flood damage near Omaha that forced long detours for Amtrak.

Heat, drought lower some predictions for Iowa corn

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 2nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say a brutally hot July and a relatively dry summer have caused a moderate to severe drought in about a third of Iowa and have lowered expectations for the state’s corn crop. Crop yield predictions are down, and some lawns, particularly in southeast Iowa, have yellowed without adequate rain. The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted early last month that Iowa would average 177 bushels of corn per acre, down from 182 bushels in 2009 but higher than the 165 bushels per acre last year. But the continued lack of rain has prompted some private forecasters to drop the projection for Iowa’s corn yields to as low as 164 bushels per acre.

FEMA grants Iowa more time to appeal flood aid

News

September 2nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved Iowa’s request for more time to appeal the agency’s decision rejecting flood aid to five counties along the Missouri River. Gov. Terry Branstad says he received word Thursday that the deadline has been extended to Oct. 7. FEMA notified the state on Aug. 4 that activation of the Federal Individual Assistance Program for Fremont, Harrison, Monona, Pottawattamie and Woodbury counties was denied. The program helps homeowners, renters and businesses by providing grants and loans.

Iowa had 30 days to appeal. Branstad asked for an extension because the flood water is slowing recede and more damage will surface.

I-29 interchange reopens in Sioux City

News

September 2nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – An interchange on Interstate 29 in Sioux City has reopened, nearly three months after it was closed because of flooding on the Missouri River. The Iowa Department of Transportation says in a news release Thursday that the I-29 and Hamilton Blvd. interchange has fully reopened to traffic. Transportation officials say the roadway has been cleaned and repainted, and all traffic control devices restored. The ramps on the south side of the interchange had been closed since June 4.

CCHS to host Women’s Health Expo

News

September 1st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

ATLANTIC – Cass County Health System will be hosting a Women’s Health Expo on Tuesday, September 13, 2011.  The free event is open to the public and will be held in the Cass County Memorial Hospital Atrium from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.  Light refreshments will be served, and there will be several doorprize drawings.

Historically, women have been the primary healthcare decision makers for families, but often don’t take time to maintain their own health.  Throughout the country, hospitals are developing women’s health programs to address a broad spectrum of health issues.  The CCHS event will feature over 20 women’s health services, all provided either at CCHS or within the Cass County community.  The event is designed as an open house, so participants can come and go at their own pace. There are two scheduled events during the evening, hospital tours (6:00 and 6:45 pm) and bra fitting demonstrations (5:45 and 6:30 pm).

“Some people don’t realize that we offer most of the major women’s health services right here at home,” noted Diann McLaren, RN, Co-Coordinator for Women’s Health Services.  “We’re working to correct that by providing more community outreach on these important health concerns.”

In an effort to address a wide range of women’s health needs, the CCHS women’s health team has invited several community partners to participate in this event to showcase some of the non-medical services available for women.  “We really are interested in addressing the broad definition of health,” Diann noted.  “It is well known that stress and lifestyle habits affect our physical health, so it is important to look at all aspects of health together.”

Non-injury accident in Atlantic

News

September 1st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Police said today (Thursday), no injuries were reported following a two-vehicle collision Wednesday afternoon, near the intersection of 8th and Cedar Streets. Officials say a vehicle driven by William Bennett, of Kimballton, struck the door of a legally parked car registered to Paige Boken, of Atlantic, as Bennett was traveling south on Cedar. The accident happened at around 2:20-p.m.

Damage from the mishap amounted to $7,000. No citations were issued.