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Vilsack & King talk about Affordable Care Act/”Obamacare” on its 2-year Anniversary

News

March 23rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Today (Friday) is the second anniversary of what Democrats call The Affordable Care Act, while Republicans refer to it as ObamaCare. Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack is part of President Obama’s cabinet now and he held a conference call with reporters this week to tout the national health care reform law. “One thing that people don’t realize about this is that it actually will reduce the federal budget,” Vilsack said. “The Congressional Budget Office has determined that this act will reduce the federal deficit by over $100 billion over the course of the next decade.” According to Vilsack, people also overlook the tax breaks that were included in the legislation. “Particularly for small businesses, a 35 percent tax credit is a fairly significant tax create that makes it a little bit easier to afford the cost of health care coverage for a company that has, maybe, a half-dozen employees or so,” Vilsack said.

Vilsack, who is serving as U.S. Ag Secretary, invited a registered nurse at a hospital in Spencer, Iowa, to join his conference call to laud the provision that bars insurance companies from denying coverage due to preexisting conditions. “Many times that was the reason they chose not to have insurance later because they knew that for the very reason they needed insurance was the reason they now could not get that insurance,” she said. Carolyn Sheridan is also clinical director for AgriSafe, a network of health professionals who work in rural America.

From the other side of this debate, Republican Congressman Steve King spoke at a Washington, D.C. news conference this week to mark the law’s two-year anniversary. “Tens of thousands of Americans came here to this city to say to their legislators, ‘Keep your hands off of our health care and our constitution,’” King said. For the past two years King has argued for complete repeal of the law. “If we turned to the American people and said, ‘Come tear these pages out,’ they would tear every page out of there,” King said during the news conference, “and there’d be people standing in line to do that.” King has called the law an “assault on the personal liberty” of Americans that “nationalizes our skin and everything inside” our bodies. “Piece after piece, we know how bad this is,” King said. “I don’t have to do down through the list. It’s unaffordable, unsustainable, unconstitutional. The Supreme Court will get a look at this later this month and I hope to be there to hear that argument.”

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will start three days of hearings featuring lawyers arguing both sides of the health care reform dispute. President Obama signed the health care reform bill into law on March 23, 2010.

(O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)

Iowa (early) News Headlines: Fri., March 23rd 2012

News

March 23rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Construction is expected to begin soon on the University of Iowa’s first new residence hall since 1968. The Iowa Board of Regents on Wednesday approved plans for a $53 million, 10-story tower that will be located on the west side of campus near Rienow and Hillcrest residence halls. Construction work is expected to begin this summer and finish by spring 2015.

ATLANTIC, Iowa (AP) — A retired southwest Iowa teacher accused of sexual conduct with a student in 2009 and 2010 has pleaded not guilty to 50 counts of sexual exploitation by a school employee. KJAN radio in Atlantic reports 65-year-old William Foulkes (fowlks) of Anita entered his plea in Cass County magistrate court yesterday.

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — A 43-year-old Davenport woman has been given 10 years in prison for forgery and dependent adult abuse. Bobbi Christoffersen was sentenced Wednesday in Scott County District Court after pleading guilty. Prosecutors say she stole cash and forged checks belonging to the Walker family of rural Scott County while serving as a caregiver for their brain-injured son.

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — The excitement is building as a second eaglet has cracked out of its egg and a third is expected outside an Alcoa plant in Davenport. The second eaglet hatched Wednesday. The first hatched on Monday. A third egg was showing signs of a crack, but there was no announcement by yesterday afternoon on the company’s website that includes an internet camera.

Rivals in Iowa’s 4th District race talk debates

News

March 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican Rep. Steve King and Democratic challenger Christie Vilsack are negotiating for a series of debates leading up the November election in western Iowa’s newly redrawn 4th District. King, who has declined to debate his Democratic opponents in the past, has challenged Vilsack to a series of six debates. Vilsack on Thursday sent a letter to King saying she supports debates and this is the first step in the negotiations. Vilsack is the wife of Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor now serving as U.S. agriculture secretary. She says she’s reaching out to news organizations and other groups who may be interested in sponsoring the debates. King was first elected in November 2002 in Iowa’s 5th District. Iowa lost a congressional seat after the 2010 census.

DNR official explains why Iowa quit Missouri River coalition

News

March 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Iowa and Nebraska have left the Missouri River Association of States and Tribes, known as MORAST (MORE-ast). Remaining members are meeting this week in Kansas City for the first time without Iowa at the table. The group was made up of seven states in the river basin, along with several Native American tribes. Now, only five states remain. Chuck Gipp, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says the reason Iowa left was simple. Gipp says, “We didn’t think that the lower basin states were being represented very well by that organization.”

 The executive director of MORAST said this week Iowa is welcome to rejoin the group at any time, but that appears unlikely. Gipp says Iowa decided to leave in large part because of a host of issues that arose from the record flooding on the river last summer. “It was determined by the governor of Iowa that we would withdraw simply because we didn’t think that we were being listened to as far as using the controls that we have on the Missouri River for interest in the lower basin states,” Gipp says. “It got people’s attention and hopefully, we can work forward from that aspect.” Gipp says despite leaving the association, the state will continue to cooperate with other states in the Missouri River basin, just not through MORAST. “All of the states have an impact and a contribution,” he says. “It’s going to be important to continue to talk with the upper basin states about what’s good for the entire Missouri River stem, because we certainly can’t go it alone.”

MORAST still includes: Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Kansas. The group’s website says it was formed “to help resolve issues of concern to the basin states and tribes, to serve as a forum to foster communication and information exchange among the member states, tribes and various other governmental units, and to facilitate the management of the natural resources of the Missouri River Basin, including water resources, fish and wildlife while considering the impacts to the economic, historical, cultural, and social resources.”

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)

Body recovered from Tabor pond this morning

News

March 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s Officials in southwest Iowa’s Mills County say dive teams have recovered a body from a farm pond near Tabor. The name of the victim has not been released, pending notification of family, but it’s believed he is from Papillion, NE.  The Mills County Coroner arrived on the scene and has ordered an autopsy to determine the victim’s cause of death.

Chief Deputy Sheriff Bruce Paulsen said in a press release this (Thursday) afternoon, that the Mills County Sheriff’s Office responded to the farm pond northwest of Tabor, after receiving a report at around 11-a.m. March 19th, of a possible drowning.

Tabor Fire and Rescue and Red Oak Rescue and Dive teams, along with a dive team from Clarinda were called to the scene. A unoccupied boat believed to belong to the missing person’s boat was found in the pond. Deputy Paulsen said weather conditions and surface conditions on the pond complicated the search.

The body was recovered at around 11-a.m. today.

Former SW IA Teacher pleads Not Guilty to Sexual Exploitation charges

News

March 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

(updated 3/23 with arraignment hearing date set)

A former teacher with the Anita School District has entered a plea of Not Guilty to charges he sexually exploited a minor female over a period of 13-months. 65-year old William Glenn Foulkes, of Anita, made his plea during his initial court appearance today (Thursday), in Cass County Magistrate’s Court. Foulkes also waived his Preliminary Hearing, and will appear in court during his arraignment hearing at 9-a.m., on April 10th.

Foulkes, a former long-time Math teacher at the Anita High School, and Anita Elementary School, was arrested March 15th on a felony warrant for Sexual Exploitation by a School Employee, and 49-Aggravated Misdemeanor counts of Sexual Exploitation by a School Employee. If convicted on all of the charges, Foulkes could face a maximum time of 103 years in prison and fines of more than $300,000. Foulkes resigned from his teaching position in November 2010. He’s accused of engaging in sexual conduct on numerous occasions with a minor female while teaching the student in a math program from August 2009 until November 11, 2010.

His Attorney, F. Montgomery Brown, from West Des Moines, spoke with reporters after the hearing. Brown said Foulkes, who is a 40-year employee of the Anita Community School District, “Is a decorated Iraq War veteran who served in the violence and combat. As a commanding sergeant, he will vigorously contest these allegations. He denies any contact or activity with any sexual purpose or ideation.” When asked about the allegations coming to light more than a year after the complaint says they last took place, Brown said the question “Should be addressed to the School District, about when specific complaints were made, and the school district’s response to that.”

When the charges were filed last week, CAM Superintendent Steve Pelzer said at the time Foulkes’ resignation was accepted, “The School Board had no knowledge of any allegations of criminal misconduct.” Foulkes remains free on bond. He was previously ordered not to have contact with his alleged victim.

Car hits tree in Atlantic Wednesday night

News

March 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

An Atlantic man was injured after the car he was driving hit a tree late Wednesday night. According to the Police Department, 18-year old Joseph Riesberg was traveling west on 9th Street at around 11-p.m., when the vehicle veered north onto the City Right of Way and hit a tree located just off the roadway. Riesberg was taken to the Cass County Hospital by Medivac Ambulance. No charges had been filed as of late this (Thursday) morning. Damage to the vehicle was estimated at $3,000.

Police Chief Steve Green reports also, 22-year old Tyler Johnston, of Atlantic, was arrested Wednesday, on a charge of Criminal Trespass. Johnston was booked into the Cass County Jail.

Multi-state Missouri River group meets for first time without Iowa

News

March 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The multi-state group known as MORAST is meeting this week in Kansas City, for the first time without representatives from Iowa at the table. The Missouri River Association of States and Tribes is one of several groups working on river issues. Executive director Mike Hayden says they’ll discuss actions on the river by the U-S Army Corps of Engineers. Hayden says changes were needed, long before last year’s historic flood. “The law that governs the river has been in place since 1944,” Hayden says. “It does not represent the contemporary needs of the people in the Missouri River basin. After 68 years, at the very least, it needs a thorough review.”

A review was underway in recent years but he says Congress cut off the funding before it could be completed. During the height of last summer’s flooding, the states of Iowa and Nebraska left MORAST because of disputes over the group’s direction. Hayden says both states can return at any time. “Iowa and Nebraska are always welcome back,” he says. “It is disappointing that they dropped out but our whole emphasis from the beginning was to get the states to work together, at the very least, get them to the table. If they’re not at the table, then they can’t even dialogue with the other states.” Hayden says he has a pretty good idea of the various states’ motivations up and down the river, but the states have to get past that. “It’s understandable why there was perhaps some confusion and hard feelings, but it’s time to put those aside and time for everybody in the basin to, at least, begin to dialogue together,” he says.

The Kansas City meeting runs today (Thursday) and tomorrow. MORAST still includes representatives from: Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Kansas.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)

Report: retail sales up slightly in Iowa in fiscal 2011

News

March 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A report from Iowa State University shows retail sales in many large and small Iowa cities stabilized over the past fiscal year. Liesl Eathington, an assistant scientist in I-S-U’s Department of Economics, produced the annual analysis showing average per capita sales statewide grew by less than one-percent for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011. “That was a pretty big improvement over the prior year when the state, as a whole, saw a 6.5-percent drop in per capita sales,” Eathington says.

More than half of Iowa’s counties experienced growth in retail sales last year. Iowa’s large metropolitan areas accounted for 64-percent of the state’s taxable sales. Eathington says retail sales declined slightly (0.6%) in micropolitan areas – which include cities with 10,000 to 50,000 residents – cities like Fort Dodge, Storm Lake and Mason City. “We saw a lot of job losses in these communities and especially manufacturing jobs, which are the core of the economy in a lot of these mid-sized cities,” Eathington says. “So, the manufacturing and other job losses in these communities would ripple through…affecting the retail sales.” 

The analysis found some positive news for Iowa’s rural areas. The state’s 21 most rural counties posted a four-percent increase in retail sales last year. Eathington says it’s difficult to determine how much rising internet sales might be impacting Iowa’s retail sector. “To really get at how internet sales are affecting Iowa’s retailers, you’d really have to do some household level research – such as surveys to find out how (Iowans) are changing their spending habits,” Eathington says. “That’s just not something that we can figure out from the sales tax return data.”

 (Pat Curtis/Radio Iowa)

Links:

CITY:
http://www.recap.iastate.edu/retail/
COUNTY: http://www.recap.iastate.edu/retail/county.php

Shelby man makes deal, pleads guilty to sex abuse

News

March 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – A 46-year-old man Iowa man already sentenced for raping two women in Nebraska has pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual abuse in Iowa. The Omaha World-Herald reports Todd Mills made his pleas Wednesday in Council Bluffs.  Mills, of Shelby, originally was charged with four counts of kidnapping and sexually assaulting four women in Iowa from 2008 to June 2010.
 
On Wednesday he pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree sexual abuse. The newspaper says that under terms of the agreement with prosecutors, Mills will serve two terms of 25 years at the same time, then another 25-year term.
 
Mills was sentenced in Nebraska in September to up to 140 years in prison for sexually assaulting two women in Omaha.