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Branstad: GPS tracking for subjects of some no-contact orders

News

September 17th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Governor Terry Branstad says it’s time to give judges the authority to order electronic surveillance of some of the men and women who are accused of stalking or domestic abuse in Iowa.  “I think it makes sense to have GPS tracking of people that have a no-contact order,” Branstad says. The governor doesn’t envision putting an electronic bracelet on every Iowan who is the subject of a “no contact” order, but he says judges should have the discretion to order it in certain cases.

“One of the big tragedies that we’ve had occur is when somebody that’s had a no-contact order violates it and then murders their estranged spouse or partner or whatever,” Branstad says. “And this would be a way to make sure that you knew where they were and that they were not violating the no-contact order.” There have been 253 domestic abuse homicides in Iowa in the past 19 years. Advocates for domestic abuse victims say electronic monitoring isn’t effective enough and accused abuser who are deemed a threat should be kept behind bars until trial. In addition to electronic monitoring for accused abusers, Branstad says those CONVICTED of violent sexual crimes should be required to serve out their full prison sentence, too.

“If they fall in that category of being a violent sexual predator, they would not be eligible for ‘good time’ and ‘honor time,'” Branstad says. Branstad cites the 2013 case involving Michael Klunder of Stratford. Klunder had been released early from prison after serving about half his sentence for kidnapping two toddlers. Klunder kidnapped two girls in Dayton and one escaped, but Klunder killed 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard before hanging himself.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa home sales decline in August 2014 by 9.2%

News

September 17th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Home sales in Iowa decreased last month by 9.2-percent compared to August 2013, according to a new report from the Iowa Association of Realtors. I-A-R President Kathy Miller isn’t entirely sure why home sales dropped off so significantly, but she says the start of a new school year may offer some explanation. “The market slows down a little bit because everybody wants to be settled when the kids go to school,” Miller says, “people are still buying, it’s just a little bit slower.” The report shows 3,685 homes were sold in August 2014, while 4,059 homes were sold in August 2013. Miller also credits a low inventory, combined with buyers who are waiting for the right home.

“We are still selling homes, it just hasn’t been what it was in the past,” Miller says. “I think buyers are more choosy with what they’re going to buy and that’s just the way it’s going to be.” While home sales decreased, prices increased by 4.7-percent over the one year period. The average price of a home sold in Iowa last month was $168,316. That compared to $160,688 in August of 2013. The I-A-R report found that average home sold in Iowa last month spent 79 days on the market, up from 78 days compared to a year ago.

(Radio Iowa)

Grassley blasts Braley for no vote on bill to reign in EPA

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 17th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has issued a carefully-worded written statement that takes aim at a vote Democrat Bruce Braley took in the U.S. House last week. Last week, Republicans in the U.S. House voted to block the E-P-A from imposing rules that farmers fear would give the agency authority to regulate water in ditches, farm ponds and tile lines. Grassley called that House bill “a thoughtful approach to the problem” and an “easy” yes vote for “anybody who has talked to Iowans in the last couple of months.” Braley, who is running for the U.S. Senate this year, voted no.

Grassley didn’t mention Braley by name, but Grassley said in the statement that it’s “too bad the entire Iowa delegation didn’t get the message” to vote yes. In a written statement, Braley’s staff noted Braley had supported an amendment to the bill instead. It would have barred the E-P-A from adopting rules that would change the Clean Water Act exemptions currently on the books for farmers.

A spokesman for Braley said that approach would have protected farmers, but ensured polluters “like Big Oil” are held accountable for Clean Water Act violations. Bruce Neiman, a livestock farmer from Manchester who is president of the Delaware County Farm Bureau, says based on an email he got from Braley’s congressional office, he had expected Braley to vote yes. “It was just the opposite of the way he voted,” Neiman says. “and so after the second time reading it, I said: ‘Well, I guess an actual political flip-flop right in front of me.'” Neiman lives in Braley’s congressional district, but has not supported Braley in the past.

Neiman is backing Joni Ernst, the Republican running for the U.S. Senate this year and he believes Ernst would join those who are trying to reign the E-P-A. “Anymore, there’s a very limited ag population let alone rural population so if we don’t find people that we can count on then we’re in a very difficult position because there’s been a lot of EPA — I’m going to call it static,” Neiman says. “I mean, when they’re concerned about dust coming out of a field, they’ve gotten everybody’s attention in production agriculture.”

Ernst told a group of farmers in Independence, Iowa, last Friday that the E-P-A was “overreaching” and she accused Braley of voting no on the bill because Braley has the backing of an “extreme environmentalist” from California. The E-P-A is one of the federal agencies Ernst has said she’d like to see eliminated and Braley’s spokesman calls that a “radical Tea Party” idea that would get rid of rules that “keep Iowa drinking water clean.”

(Radio Iowa)

Atlantic Chamber Ambassadors’ News

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 17th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors headed to the country to visit Zellmer Farms and A-Z Feeders on Highland Road.

Pictured are: Gerry Ludington, Kathie Hockenberry, Janet Cappel, Sharon Ludington, Nancy Zellmer, Jolene Roecker, Joanne Mueller, Sue Muri, Pat McCurdy, Jane Kay, Tara Jennerjohn, Jim Skartvedt, Gerald Brink, Doug Harris, Josh Dvorak, Sara Nelson, Darlene Ellsbury ,Rita Willmott, Kerry Jepsen, Carole Schuler, Tammy Waters, Russ Joyce, Chrystal Christensen, Chip Hansen, Carol Seddon, JoAnn Runyan, Lucas Mosier, Rich Perry, Lana Westphalan,  and Dolly Bergmann

Pictured are: Gerry Ludington, Kathie Hockenberry, Janet Cappel, Sharon Ludington,
Nancy Zellmer, Jolene Roecker, Joanne Mueller, Sue Muri, Pat McCurdy, Jane Kay, Tara
Jennerjohn, Jim Skartvedt, Gerald Brink, Doug Harris, Josh Dvorak, Sara Nelson,
Darlene Ellsbury ,Rita Willmott, Kerry Jepsen, Carole Schuler, Tammy Waters, Russ
Joyce, Chrystal Christensen, Chip Hansen, Carol Seddon, JoAnn Runyan, Lucas Mosier,
Rich Perry, Lana Westphalan, and Dolly Bergmann

Alan and Brenda Zellmer began their farming career in the mid 1970’s. Alan and his two sons, are the 5th and 6th generation of Zellmer farmers. Zellmer Farms focuses on crop farming and Wagyu and Angus cattle production. The business is family owned and operated. Jim Skartvedt (son-in-law) explained the difference between Wagyu and Angus cattle.

Iowa early News headlines: Wed., Sept. 17th 2014

News

September 17th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -€” The Iowa Supreme Court has halted a ban on the use of a video-conferencing system that allows doctors to distribute abortion-inducing pills to women in rural areas of the state. The stay means Planned Parenthood of the Heartland can continue using the system until the high court makes a final ruling on whether the Iowa Board of Medicine had the authority to adopt the ban last year.

ELDON, Iowa (AP)€” – The rural Iowa house that helped inspire the famous “American Gothic” painting is empty and could be up for rent. The home in the southeast Iowa town of Eldon has had the same tenant for the past four years. But Monday marked Beth Howard’s last day in the house. The 700-square-foot home was made famous by Grant Wood, a native Iowa artist who spotted the house while traveling through the area. He used it as the backdrop to his 1930 painting of a farmer holding a pitchfork next to his daughter.

NEW YORK (AP) – Health officials say Iowa is among 12 states that now have respiratory illnesses caused by an uncommon virus -€” enterovirus 68. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say all are children. The virus can cause mild to severe illness, with the worst cases needing life support for breathing difficulties. Kids with asthma have been especially vulnerable. No deaths have been reported.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -€” Gov. Terry Branstad wants the state to partner with private industry to establish better professional training and job placement programs in Iowa. A plan released by his campaign says Branstad -€” a Republican who is running for a sixth term -€” wants to set up a partnership that he would call the Center for Human Capital Enrichment. The program would seek input from businesses about how to best set up training programs and would try to establish a better job placement system.

Severe respiratory illness confirmed in 12 states

News

September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

NEW YORK (AP) — Health officials say 12 states now have respiratory illnesses caused by an uncommon virus — enterovirus 68. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania together have 130 lab-confirmed cases. All are children.

The virus can cause mild to severe illness, with the worst cases needing life support for breathing difficulties. Kids with asthma have been especially vulnerable. No deaths have been reported.

The strain is not new but only a small number of labs can test for it. Since mid-August, there’s been an unusual spike in identified cases. The CDC has tested more than 200 specimens from more than 30 states. Investigators say it’s not yet clear what triggered the outbreak or whether it’s worsening.

Atlantic City Council meeting preview (for 9/17/14)

News

September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council will meet in a regular session Wednesday evening in the Council’s Chambers, at City Hall. During the session, which begins at 5:30, the Council is expected to act on setting Oct. 1st as the date of a Public Hearing on the proposed disposal of city-owned property at 1200 Birch and 1106 Poplar Streets.

They’re also expected to act on an order denying a request to vacate Lot A of the Southern Heights Subdivision 2nd addition. It appears the City does not want to vacate the street right-of-way lot until the Council can review options for future residential development.

And, Mayor Dave Jones is expected to ask the Council to set the hours for Halloween trick-or-treating as from 5-to 7-pm Oct. 31st, in Atlantic.

Study: Nearly 1.8 million Iowans gambled last year

News

September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Nearly 1.8 million Iowa adults gambled last year, according to a study released Tuesday by state health officials. The data means the percentage of adults who gamble is up nine percent since 2011, according to the state Department Public Health.

The study, prepared by the University of Northern Iowa Center for Social and Behavioral Research, also estimates about 8,000 adults in the latest figure could be “problem” gamblers. Symptoms include the need to gamble with larger amounts of money.

The report concludes 77.8 percent of Iowans gambled during the past 12 months. That’s a jump from 68.9 percent in 2011. The most common forms of gambling were lottery tickets, raffle tickets, scratch and pull-tabs, slot machines and card games played outside a casino.

Young Professionals “Paint the Town”

News

September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Young Professionals of Atlantic (YPA) recently partnered with Cass/Atlantic Development Corporation (CADCO) to paint an Atlantic resident’s home. Every year CADCO helps a local resident whose home needs exterior paint in order to maintain the attractiveness of Atlantic and surrounding towns. Atlantic Chamber Director, Ouida Wymer said “We really appreciate all the volunteers that came to help with the project. Mike Redler with Redler Excavation, surprised us all with an air compressor, that really helped with the process.”

Before painting

Before painting

The YPA’S painted the house on Spruce Street over a period of two days. The project took several hours to complete but greatly improved the appearance of the home. YPA President, Kevin Wieser said “I was really impressed how well the YP came together to support this project. It’s great to see so many YP’s take an active part in helping preserve the beauty of Atlantic. It was a great project to be a part of and it was a total team effort to see it through to completion.”

The Young Professionals of Atlantic is a social group with no membership dues or required meetings. Their mission is to connect, engage and attract young leaders into the community while promoting the greater Atlantic area. Members are young professionals between the ages of 21-40. Any interested individuals can contact chamber@atlanticiowa.com or 712-243-3017 for information.

After painting

After painting

Report: Many Iowa schools not meeting standards

News

September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – About two-thirds of Iowa’s public schools did not meet educational targets set by the No Child Left Behind Law during the latest academic year, according to a report released Tuesday. The annual report from the Iowa Department of Education said 66 percent of 1,288 public schools missed targets for test participation and proficiency in reading and mathematics during the 2013-2014 school year. About 5 percent of Iowa schools are not included in this result because they were given a waiver to try a different type of assessment.

During the previous school year, 64 percent of 1,361 schools did not meet the standards set by the law. But Department of Education Director Brad Buck said the accountability standards set by the federal law are not working well in Iowa, arguing they don’t properly reflect progress made in schools.

“While I believe in accountability, No Child Left Behind has outlived its usefulness. This is a flawed law,” Buck said. “We must have a rigorous accountability system that acknowledges the strides schools are making.”

The federal law requires annual testing to show proficiency in reading and mathematics. Some states have received waivers granting permission to ignore parts of the law. Iowa has applied, but has not been granted any exemption. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has called for a replacement to No Child Left Behind. He has said the existing law does not allow school leaders to use common sense to determine which schools are failing and which are statistical anomalies.