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DHS administrator grilled over proposed closure of MHIs in Clarinda, Mt Pleasant

News

January 30th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A panel of legislators grilled the state official who was dispatched to defend Governor Branstad’s proposal to close the state-run Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant. Rick Shults, the director of mental health and disability services for the Iowa Department of Human Services, testified before a budget subcommittee on Thursday. “We clearly are having difficulty in recruiting staff,” Shults says. “…The wards are outdated and they’re poorly configured. When I go to those facilities it causes me concern. There are nooks and crannies and they’re not as expansive and there are just some challenges there and there are high costs associated with these facilities.”

Representative Dave Heaton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, counters the costs for caring for patients with acute mental illness are higher at the Cherokee and Independence Mental Health Institutes which will remain open. “I mean, it’s flying in the face of a lot of things here, Rick…you know?” Heaton said during the 90-minute question-and-answer session with Shults. “I just can’t quite understand,” Heaton says there aren’t enough “psych beds” in private facilities in southern Iowa and closing the two state-run facilities makes things worse.
“Iowa is ranked fourth-worst in the country as far as our mental health services are concerned. We’re at the bottom,” Heaton said, pounding his fist on the table. “…It’s a mess.” Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, says he doubts the agency’s claim that many patients who’re now being served in the state’s Mental Health Institutes can easily find care from private providers. “You’re painting this rosy picture about how we’re going to have all these crisis services at the same time we’re ripping money out of the system,” Bolkcom says. “It’s to meet the bean counters’ numbers in the basement, the Department of Management. They’ve got to cut money out of this budget to pay for this historic property tax cut.”

Other legislators say they’re fielding complaints from county sheriffs who are often responsible for transporting patients to the Mental Health Institutes. Representative John Forbes, a Democrat from Urbandale, says it will be a 500-mile round trip for some departments. “What’s the human cost to the families of these patients who are now going to be instead of 20-30 miles away, 250 miles away?” Forbes asked. “These patients need their families close by to help them get through these very difficult times in their lives.”

Shults, the D-H-S administrator, counters that many hospitals around the state provide in-patient treatment for severe mental illness, plus he says the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Broadlawns Hospital in Des Moines will be able to take some patients who would have been sent to the state-run facilities. The D-H-S expects to shift the elderly sex offenders who’re in 24-hour nursing care in Clarinda to private nursing homes.

A court ruling is expected in late February on whether Governor Branstad had the authority to close the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo last year. If that ruling goes against Branstad, legislators say that will dramatically alter the discussion about closing the Mental Health Institutes.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Fri., Jan. 30th 2015

News

January 30th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company has plans to move 175 jobs out of Des Moines to its Ohio headquarters. Company spokesman Eric Hardgrove tells the Register the company’s home mortgage operations will be relocated to headquarters in Columbus, Ohio by mid-2016. Nationwide employs more than 4,000 people in Des Moines.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Senate panel has advanced a bill that would let school districts in Iowa decide whether to start classes earlier in August. Members of an education subcommittee voted yesterday in favor of advancing the bill, which would remove authority from the state education department to issue waivers that allow school districts to start early. The department recently released new guidelines for the waivers, which in the past were issued automatically.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Members of a House panel have rejected a bill that would have expanded the ability of children to use a crossbow to hunt deer in Iowa. The natural resources subcommittee tabled the bill yesterday. Bill sponsor Representative Matt Windschitl, a Missouri Valley Republican, says he will work with interested parties to reword the bill for a future session.

NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA Development League has suspended Iowa Energy forward Jarnell Stokes for three games and teammate Kalin Lucas for two games for fighting on the bench Tuesday night. The league announced the suspensions Thursday.

Villisca Burglary

News

January 29th, 2015 by admin

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a burglary of the United Farmers Mercantile Cooperative Elevator in Villisca that took place during the night time hours of Wednesday thru the morning hours of Thursday. Unknown perpetrators gained entry into the building and removed an undetermined amount of cash. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Montgomery County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-434-1001.

Villisca Accident

News

January 29th, 2015 by admin

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department investigated a single vehicle property damage accident late Thursday morning. A blue Chevrolet Impala owned and operated by Ashley Colwell of Corning was traveling west on 8th Street from 7th Avenue when she was attempting to adjust her seat belt. Colwell’s vehicle went of the road to the north and went across a driveway striking a trash dumpster owned by Brown Sanitation of Villisca.

Damage is estimated at 15-hundred dollars to the car and 150-dollars to the dumpster. No citations were issued.

Creston Accident

News

January 29th, 2015 by admin

No injuries were reported in a two vehicle accident in Creston Wednesday afternoon on Highway 34. Melinda Gist of Macksburg was traveling south and attempted to cross Highway 34 from a city street and Judy Damewood of Corning was traveling west on Highway 34.

Gist did not see the Damewood vehicle and started to cross the highway and broadsided the Damewood vehicle in th back passenger side. Total damage estimated at 26-hundred dollars.

Charges pending following Page County injury accident

News

January 29th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Page County Sheriff Lyle Palmer says charges are pending the result of an investigation into a single-vehicle accident that took place at around 7-a.m. today (Thursday). The accident happened about four-miles west of where a 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse driven by 36-year old Thomas Christopher Lee Blank, of Council Bluffs, blew a passenger side tire as the car was traveling east on 190th st. The tire shredded, but Blank continued to drive the car, which went out of control about 150-yards east of E Avenue. The car went into the north ditch and rolled onto the roof. When Law Enforcement arrived, Blank and passenger in the vehicle, 33-year old Lacey Nichole Remmen, of Carter Lake, where under the trunk / rear deck of the vehicle, sheltered from the weather. Both were transported to Shenandoah Memorial Hospital for treatment of unknown injuries. Remmen was transported to University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska by Life Net.
Blank and Remmen were found to be the only occupants of the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Iowa Senate panel advances early school start bill

News

January 29th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Senate panel has advanced a bill that would let school districts in Iowa decide whether to start classes earlier in August. Members of an education subcommittee voted Thursday in favor of advancing the bill, which would remove authority from the state education department to issue waivers that allow school districts to start early. The department recently released new guidelines for the waivers, which in the past were issued automatically.

The bill will be sent to a full committee for consideration. A similar House bill was recently sent to another full committee for review. Organizations in support of both bills say school districts should have control on deciding their calendars. Tourism officials say early school start dates hurt businesses that rely on summer attendance, including the Iowa State Fair.

House panel rejects bill on crossbow use for Iowa children

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

January 29th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Members of a House panel have rejected a bill that would have expanded the ability of children to use a crossbow to hunt deer in Iowa. The natural resources subcommittee tabled the bill indefinitely Thursday. Bill sponsor Rep. Matt Windschitl, a Missouri Valley Republican, says he will work with interested parties to reword the bill for a future session.

The bill would have allowed children ages 16 and under with a youth deer hunting license to hunt for deer with a crossbow during other firearm seasons. The minor would have needed an unused tag. A child can currently use a crossbow during the late muzzleloader season if they’re accompanied by a licensed adult.

The Iowa Bowhunters Association, which supports archery through bow and arrow, expressed concern about expanding crossbow use.

Glenwood man evades authorities

News

January 29th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A Mills County man is being sought by authorities following an incident that took place Wednesday night in Page County. According to reports, an Iowa State Patrol Trooper saw 38-year old Harold Rudduck, of Glenwood, walking along County Road J-20 east of Essex, at around 8:30-p.m. After talking with the man, the Trooper ran a check on his identity and learned Rudduck was wanted in Council Bluffs for failure to appear on a drug charge.

Rudduck took off on foot when the Trooper went to place him under arrest, and ran into a wooded area. Despite a search by a k-9 unit and deputies from Cass, Page and Montgomery Counties, authorities were unable to locate the man. The search was called-off at around 11-p.m.

Rudduck is described as being a white male with tattoos on his left arm, right forearm, chest, neck and left wrist. The man may have been picked up by a friend. Anyone with information on Ruddock’s location is asked to contact their local law enforcement agency.

Competition heats up among colleges for Iowa students

News

January 29th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

There’s an increased emphasis on bringing in-state students into the three state-supported universities and that has ramped up the competition with private schools for graduating Iowa high schoolers. Jonathan Brand, the president of Cornell College, says the Mount Vernon school is continually seeking to increase the number of in-state students. “About seventeen percent of our students now are from Iowa..and that number has got to grow,” Brand says. He says it’s an important issue for the school that has nearly 12-hundred students.

“I so firmly believe — without giving up our national or international focus — when you have a healthy number of students from your home state, it anchors the student body, the culture, the population, in the healthiest of ways.” The college has launched what it calls a “Promise Grant” which Brand says makes Cornell a good deal. “Which is 20-thousand dollars per year for four years for those Iowa students who are admitted to Cornell College,” Brand explains. “That is our way of saying that we want to make sure that Cornell is accessible to them, that we want them here.”

The discount brings Cornell’s tuition next fall to 18-thousand-dollars for Iowa residents and brings it within five-thousand dollars of what the University of Iowa is listing as its base tuition. Brand says the school is looking to grow, even in the more competitive environment. “Our plan over the next seven to ten years is to grow initially to sixteen-hundred students. And, at that point, we’ll take a breather and make sure that the academic experience is of the same caliber and quality that it is today,” Brand says. He says they realize they are fighting strong headwinds with the demographics in the upper Midwest, and in Iowa. The school does draw eighty-three percent its students from regions that are growing like the west coast and Chicago has also been a target area.

M.J. Dolan, executive director of the Iowa Association of Community College Trustees, says the fifteen regionally-based colleges draw from outside too, dispelling the notion that they are exclusively Iowan.
“And it think it’s important, certainly for Iowa’s community colleges, we welcome all young people coming into this state,” Dolan says. But she says they also depend on a diverse variety of Iowa students. “Certainly we’ve seen that in our communities with the increasing minority populations all across rural Iowa as well as the urban areas, inviting those folks in. You know, we have so many stories, the Cattlemen’s Association approached us and was interested in getting training for Latino workers in the cattle industry. We had a German company come to Estherville, Iowa who is interested in getting training for the wind industry.” Dolan does acknowledges that Iowa’s community colleges largely depend on the same pool of Iowa students as the other schools.

“I don’t want to lead anyone astray saying that we aren’t concerned about the unintended consequences of a policy that takes our Iowa students and wants to put them into many institutions when there aren’t enough to go around,” Dolan says. Dolan’s reference to unintended consequences is a reference to the proposed Board of Regents policy which changes the funding formula to distribute money based on the number of in-state students.

(Radio Iowa)