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Vilsack says Army Corps river management must be “more flexible”

News

April 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is suggesting the Army Corps of Engineers should be more nimble in responding to weather events that impact the agency’s management of the Missouri River. “It would be well for the Army Corps to be more attentive to the needs and to listen more closely to the concerns along the river systems. I think there’s a tendency for the Army Corps to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got the answer,’” Vilsack says. “You know, you really have to have better dialogue and better communication with folks.”

Farmers and others along the Missouri River have complained about the way the Corps managed the release of water from upstream dams last year — leading to massive, long-term flooding along the river corridor. Vilsack says the Corps needs to build “more flexibility” into its management plan for the Missouri. “When they saw record snowfalls and snowpack, there should have been, ‘Hey, how does this fit into our overall strategy and does it still fit and does it still work?’” Vilsack says. “We’re seeing more extreme weather conditions and I think that put the emphasis and a requirement on all of us to constantly rethink whether or not our assumptions were correct in whatever plan we’ve developed.”

Vilsack says the Corps should “be more engaged” in an on-going review of its management plan for the Missouri or any other river. “Not just well, ‘Well, we’ve done this plan and we’ve put a lot of effort into it and we can park that plan and we can just work that plan because it’s the right plan,’” Vilsack says. “Well, maybe it was the right plan at the time. Who knows? But you now have changing weather conditions and you should be saying, ‘Does this plan still fit?’” Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, made his comments Friday, during and after taping of an appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program, which airs Sunday.

(O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)

Randolph post office headed for closure

News

April 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The post office in the Fremont County town of Randolph may be headed for closure after the Postal Regulatory Commission voted 2 to 2 on an appeal by the city’s mayor to keep it open. A tie vote means the appeal loses and the closing moves forward. The Postal Service, on track to lose $14 billion by year’s end, wants to close thousands of post offices. Many are small rural operations like Randolph, a town of 170 people in southwest Iowa. Closures are likely to begin in late May or early June unless Congress passes a bill to shore up postal finances. The Senate begins debate on a bill Tuesday. Despite Mayor Vance Trively’s appeal, a commission order posted Thursday affirmed the closing. The estimated annual savings by closing Randolph’s post office is about $45,000.

Jill Biden to give commencement speech at SWCC in Creston

News

April 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden, will deliver the commencement address at Southwestern Community College in Creston, which was hit by a tornado last weekend. The office of the vice president says Friday that Biden will address graduates on May 11. It’s one of two commencement addresses she’ll give this spring. The other is on May 4 at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Southwestern Community College is a two-year school, which serves over 10,000 students a year. Biden, an educator for more than 30 years, has taught English in community colleges for the past 18 years and currently teaches at a community college in Virginia. An EF2 tornado hit Creston last Saturday, damaging the community college and a hospital.

King Visits Thurman, Creston

News

April 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Congressman Steve King released the following statement today (Friday) after visiting the areas affected by the tornadoes in Thurman and Creston.

Congressman King inspects tornado damage at a house in Thurman, IA

“Today I am reminded of how adversity calls upon the resiliency of Iowans,” said King. “Volunteers from across the state rallied together to help those affected in Southwest Iowa this last week. Several colleges sent volunteers to help clean up the damage and many other Midwestern states pitched in as well. I am thankful that no lives were lost, and more than ever I am aware of the extraordinary efforts that Iowans will offer when a neighbor is in need.”

King toured homes in Thurman that were damaged and also visited Creston’s Hospital as well as Southwestern Community College, both of which sustained damage in the storm.

Iowa’s jobless rate dips to 5.2 percent in March

News

April 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — State labor officials say Iowa’s unemployment rate dipped to 5.2 percent in March, with the strongest gains in construction and manufacturing and the biggest losses in trade, transportation and utilities and retail trade. February’s rate was 5.3 percent. Iowa Workforce Development says Friday the state lost 1,600 jobs in March over February, but had over 13,000 more jobs than in March 2011. Officials say manufacturing has led all sectors over the past year, and construction appears to be rebounding. Government and professional and business services have lost jobs over the year. The U.S. unemployment rate for March was 8.2 percent.

Panel OKs incentives for Google, other companies

News

April 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A state panel has approved more than $22 million in tax credits to help businesses expand in Iowa, including more than $9 million for Internet giant Google. The Iowa Economic Development Authority board approved the credits Friday in hopes of creating 403 new jobs, retaining another 44 positions and attracting $389 million in business investment. The financial aid went to 11 companies, with the most prominent being Google. The company is considering making a $300 million investment in Council Bluffs, where it already operates a data center. If Google expands there, it would mean at least an initial 35 new jobs and later at least 50 jobs. Other companies receiving state aid include the John Deere Dubuque Works, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Whirlpool Corporation’s Amana division.

Stanton man arrested on forgery charges

News

April 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in  Montgomery County say a Stanton man was arrested this (Friday) morning, on forgery charges. 31-year old Joshua Mastin faces a charge of Theft in the 2nd degree, a Class-D felony offense. Additional charges are possible.

Mastin’s arrest was the result of an investigation that began in Clarinda, and involves locations in Villisca and Red Oak. Mastin was being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $5,000 bond.

4 people arrested on drug charges in Audubon County

News

April 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Four area residents were arrested on drug charges Thursday, in Audubon County. The Sheriff’s Department says 43-year old Kevin Scott Lea and 28-year old Melody Lynn Orndorff, both of Audubon, along with 36-year old Karie Capel Palen and 44-year old Robert Lee Olwell, both of Atlantic, were taken into custody. The charges against those individuals were the result of an ongoing investigation and the execution of a search warrant at 203 Washington Street, in Audubon.

Lea was charges with Delivery of a Controlled Substance/Meth, Possession with the Intent to Deliver/Meth, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Gathering where drugs are used, and Possession with the intent to deliver/marijuana. He was being held in the Audubon County Jail on $50,000 bond.  Orndorff was charged with Possession of Marijuana/2nd offense, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Her bond was set at $1,000.

Palen was charged with gathering where drugs are used, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was being held on $5,000 bond. Olwell was charged with gathering where drugs are used, and possession with the intent to deliver/Meth. His bond was set at $50,000.

The Audubon County Sheriff’s Office was assisted in their investigation and in making the arrests, by the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, Audubon Police Dept., and Iowa State Patrol.

State panel considers Google expansion plan

News

April 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The California-based Internet giant Google is considering making another $300 million investment in Council Bluffs that officials say could give the state and region a big boost. The new project, which would hinge on approval of state support, would bring Google’s investment in Iowa to about $900 million. It would create 35 jobs initially and 15 more later.  Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan says he’s encourage by the type of potential jobs more than the number of workers. He says Google offers high-tech positions that pay well, including current positions that pay more than $50,000 a year. State funding for the Council Bluffs project is being considered Friday by the state’s economic development board, which also is studying proposals that could bring $471 million in investment to Iowa.

Supreme Court dismisses education standards case

News

April 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – An unusually divided Iowa Supreme Court has declined to weigh in on the debate over Iowa educational standards. The court upheld a district court judge’s dismissal of a 2008 lawsuit filed by 16 students and parents of students in Davenport, Des Moines and West Harrison schools. The lawsuit alleges Iowa’s schools are not adequately serving students by failing to establish standards. The court emphasizes it was not deciding whether basic education is a fundamental constitutional right. It also says the case doesn’t mean it won’t take future constitutional challenges to state education. The court says the case doesn’t prove state officials violated state law or the Constitution.  Justice Brent Appel disagrees. He says the court rushed to judgment and should have allowed the case to proceed further in the courts.