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Iowa will seek to opt out of No Child Left Behind


October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Department of Education officials have notified their federal counterparts that the state will seek a waiver from requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. State officials have criticized the law as being too rigid and argued it relied too heavily on standardized test scores. They also said it’s one-dimensional and doesn’t accurately measure how well schools are  performing. Education Department Director Jason Glass said Iowa officials have developed their own rigorous standards and can implement them in a way that ensures students make progress each year. “We expect our schools to meet high standards, but we need to do it in a reasonable way that focuses on students making strong progress every year,” Glass said Wednesday. “The bar has to be reasonable.” Iowa officials announced details of that plan earlier this month.

Glass noted that federal officials have encouraged states to seek a waiver from the federal law, as long as they develop their own systems for measuring the progress students are making. Glass said the formal waiver request will be filed in February. President Barack Obama’s administration announced in August that states were being encouraged to seek a waiver from the law, which requires states to show that a higher proportion of students are reaching proficiency in math and science.

The plan that Glass announced called for linking teacher pay to performance in the classroom as well as setting new testing standards for students, along with developing other methods of measuring student performance. He said measuring performance of a healthy and active child involves more than a single test score, though testing is part of the measurement.

Pioneer announces new Iowa research center

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Pioneer Hi-Bred is expanding its seed research in central Iowa. The company announced plans Wednesday for a new research facility in Dallas Center. The company says in a news release that it will support corn breeding, corn and soybean product testing and help farmers in western and central Iowa, eastern Nebraska and northwest Missouri. Pioneer has had a research location in Dallas Center since 2004. Construction is to begin this month and be finished in the spring.

The new facility is the latest in a series of projects by Pioneer, including a $40 million research facility in Johnston that is expected to create 400 jobs. Pioneer, which is headquartered in Des Moines, is a subsidiary of Wilmington, Del., chemical maker DuPont Co.

2 injured in I-80 crash near Adair


October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa State Patrol now says two people were injured during a collision involving two semis on Interstate 80 westbound early this (Wednesday) morning, about a mile west of Adair. The accident was reported at around 5:45 a.m.

According to Trooper Ryan DeVault, a westbound semi went of the road near exit 75, entered the south ditch and came back onto the roadway before it rolled onto its side, blocking both westbound lanes of traffic. A second semi approaching the scene crested a hill and collided with the overturned semi.

Both drivers suffered minor injuries. Their names have not yet been released. The accident resulted in the interstate being closed for a little more a little more than three-hours. Traffic was rerouted through Anita while the wreck was being cleared and investigated.

Omaha’s Mayor wants IA DOT to elevate I-680 to prevent damage from future flooding


October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

I-680 torn-up by Missouri River Flooding, Summer 2011 (IA-DOT photo)

The Mayor of Omaha, Nebraska says Missouri River flooding that decimated Interstate 680 in western Iowa demonstrates the need to have that stretch of road elevated, to avoid future devastation caused by floodwaters. Jim Suttle, addressing the Iowa Transportation Commission Tuesday, in Council Bluffs, also asked officials to consider doing the same thing for parts of flood-affected Interstate 29.

Suttle said western Iowa relies on Eppley Airfield in Omaha, just as Omaha relies on the Interstate system in Iowa. According to the Omaha-World Herald, Suttle said “Let’s figure out how we can work together so that we can deal with the flooding situations in the future, but also assuring that our transportation system stays in place if we do have another catastrophic event like the flood of 2011.”  Suttle’s remarks were part of the public comment portion of the meeting. No action was taken on his request, and the commission members did not respond during the meeting.

A 3.1-mile stretch of Interstate 680 between Omaha and Crescent, Iowa, was massively damaged during the summer’s Missouri River floods and remains closed. The Interstate runs perpendicular to the flow of the Missouri. Floodwaters undermined the roadway, and caused it to collapse.

Suttle, a civil engineer by training, suggested raising parts of the Interstates to 1 foot above the so-called 100-year flood level, but Commissioner Barry Cleaveland of Council Bluffs, who works in Omaha, expressed skepticism. Cleaveland said it would be cost-prohibitive, to the tune of several billion dollars, at least. .He also didn’t know how high I-680 would have to be raised, in order to meet Suttle’s request.

Omaha television station KETV reported Tuesday, 100 construction workers are on the job 24/7 to repair I-680, and they’re just days away from pouring cement.  The $20 million effort has those crews, working 16 to 24 hour shifts. They’ve already removed hundreds of thousands of tons of damaged interstate.  Peterson Contractors and Reilly Construction started work a week and a half ago, and almost all the torn up freeway has been recycled into the new construction. In fact, work has progressed so well, the westbound lanes of I-680 are nearly ready for paving.  Construction officials say they hope to have traffic flowing again by December 23rd.

I-80 now open near Adair


October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

(update 9:17-a.m.) The Iowa Department of Transportation reports Interstate 80 westbound is now open near Adair. Both lanes had closed earlier this morning, due to a crash involving two semis. One person was injured. Additional details are not available at this time. The accident was under investigation by the Iowa State Patrol.

Arrests reported in Adams County


October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Two people are being held in the Adams County Jail in Corning, following their arrests Tuesday night on unrelated charges. Sheriff’s officials say 34-year old Michael Welling, of Corning, was taken into custody at around 11:15-p.m. on charges of Domestic Abuse, 3rd offense, and Disorderly Conduct. His arrest followed an investigation into a noise complaint at a residence in Corning.  When deputies arrived on the scene, they heard a fight allegedly taking place inside the home at 909 7th Street, Apartment number three. Shortley thereafter, Welling was arrested and brought to the Adams County Jail.

And, 25-year old Elizabeth Ann Holt, of Des Moines, was arrested at around 10:45-p.m. Tuesday, in Woodbury County. Holt was wanted on a warrant for Conspiracy to Commit Felony Forgery, and Identity Theft. She was transported from Woodbury County to Adams County, where she was being held on a $25,000 cash only bond.

8AM Newscast 10-12-2011

News, Podcasts

October 12th, 2011 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson


Bigger corn surplus could slow food inflation

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

WASHINGTON (AP) – Food prices could rise more slowly next year because farmers have a bigger surplus of corn on hand than previously thought. The Department of Agriculture estimates farmers have 206 million more bushels of surplus corn on hand at the start of this year’s harvest. That means farmers will have 866 million bushels of corn on hand at the end of next summer. That’s higher than last month’s forecast of 672 million bushels. The bigger surplus could bring down corn prices, which soared to record levels in June because of limited supplies. Corn is an ingredient in everything from animal feed to cereal to soft drinks. So cheaper corn could ease broader food prices. It takes about six months for corn prices to trickle down to products at the grocery store.

Road crews work to fill “The Beast” left by Missouri River flooding


October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

"The Beast" (image courtesy Radio Iowa)

After a full summer of flooding, Interstate 29 reopened last weekend in southwest Iowa, yet repair work is still underway on many miles of other highways and roads. The Missouri River flood caused tens of millions of dollars damage to thoroughfares in the region. Melissa Black, with the Missouri DOT, says there’s a giant hole worn in Route 136 in northwest Missouri, just south of Hamburg, Iowa.   “It’s 480 feet long, which is quite sizeable, and 65 feet deep,” Black says. “That’s a pretty darn big gap in the pavement.”

While it’s not exactly the Grand Canyon, she admits it’s going to take a lot of work to fill in the huge hole, dubbed “The Beast” by construction crews.

Three other large gaps in the highway that were carved out by months of rushing floodwaters have already been repaired. “It will take more than 100-thousand tons of rock to fill that back up to the regular pavement level, which is about what it took to fill the other three gaps,” Black says.

The contract to tackle and fill “The Beast” is worth nearly three-and-a-half million dollars and she says it should take another several weeks to complete. “These other emergency repair projects have been going pretty smoothly,” she says. “The weather’s been cooperating and contractors have been getting done quicker than we were anticipating so we’re hopeful this one will go the same way.” The target date for completion of work on that gap is November 28th. Many roads that were impacted by the flooding closed in June.

(Radio Iowa)

Southwest Iowa officials ask for Missouri Valley bypass


October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A delegation from southwest Iowa spoke to the Iowa Transportation Commission Tuesday, asking the commission to consider building a Highway 30 bypass around the south edge of Missouri Valley. John McCurdy of the Southwest Iowa Planning Council in Atlantic, told the commission the time is right to move ahead.  McCurdy says the D-O-T studied the issue in the 1990′s and it was put on the shelf. He says one of the reasons it didn’t move forward is that there wasn’t the local support needed. Missouri Valley Mayor, Clint Sargent, says the biggest reason to move ahead with the bypass now is that the support has changed in favor of the bypass. Sargent says they would like to combine the building of the bypass with FEMA flood mitigation measures to improve the flood protection in the area. 

 Sargent says they know the importance of Highway 30 as a “corridor for commerce,” and he says the was evidenced by the efforts of the D-O-T to keep it open during the flooding this year. Sargent says there’s also a safety issue as the amount of truck traffic through the town on Highway 30 has increased. He says the businesses that rely on the truck traffic have already moved to the nearby interstate and those in Missouri Valley are not dependent on that traffic, so they support a bypass. Sargent finished his remarks with a call for action on the issue.