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Harkin says bill will improve mental health services


April 12th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin has introduced a bill he says will address the need for major improvements in mental health care highlighted by the school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. Harkin, a Democrat, says the bill will reauthorize programs that focus on awareness, prevention and early indetification of mental health conditions, with a focus on schools. “We haven’t really trained teachers and other school people to recognize early onset of mental health problems and to seek appropriate services,” Harkin says. “The kid who is disruptive in school and may be disciplined maybe really does need some mental health services, in terms of what is happening at home or stresses and other things that may affect their lives.”

Harkin introduced the bill in the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pension Comittee he chairs. “The focus on schools I think is appropriate, but my bill doesn’t just do that — I would say the major emphasis is on schools — but it also spills out into other aspects of society also,” Harkin says. He says schools are where the problems may first surface, but there is also training for others who may come into contact with those who need some help. “The other part of my bill also responds by focusing on first responders and training them to recognize mental health problems, and getting them adequately trained,” Harkin explains. “A lot of people just don’t know how to recognize those symptoms.”

Harkin says the “Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act” passed the committee with support from both parties. He says most people can recover from mental health issues with the proper identification and treatment.

(Radio Iowa)

Report: 16% of Iowa now out of drought conditions

News, Weather

April 12th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A new report shows the drought has officially ended in a wider section of eastern Iowa. The weekly USDA drought monitor shows 16-percent of the state is now out of drought conditions. That’s up from 7-percent a week ago. State Climatologist Harry Hillaker points out that 20-percent of the state remains in extreme drought conditions. “In the long term, we do have some very substantial precipitation deficits, especially over north-central and northwestern Iowa,” Hillaker says. “It’s certainly not because of recent weather. We’ve been quite wet here for the last few months and especially the last week.” The statewide average rainfall for this week is over 2.6 inches.

“This has actually been our wettest week since June 2011,” Hillaker says. “So, things have been turning around here recently. But, we still have a ways to go, especially in terms of subsoil moisture in the northwestern part of the state.” Hillaker expects the next drought monitor will show even greater improvement across the state. The drought monitor report released Thursday is based on information gathered through Tuesday morning. “It reflects conditions prior to when about half of the rain from this last system came through, so things are even more moist now than what the monitor is indicating,” Hillaker said.

The drought recovery in Iowa began last October and the last four months have all been slightly wetter than normal, according to Hillaker. Meanwhile, the first 11 days of April have been extremely wet and more rain is in the forecast for early next week.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Friday, April 12th 2013


April 12th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald is urging Republican Governor Terry Branstad and state lawmakers to expand Medicaid in Iowa. Fitzgerald, a Democrat, said yesterday that a Medicaid expansion would cost the state less than an alternate plan proposed by Branstad. Fitzgerald is basing his analysis on data from the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency and Senate Democrats’ data.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Governor Terry Branstad will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) during an upcoming trade trip to China. In a press release announcing the Monday meeting, Branstad says he is looking forward to the visit with an “old friend.” Branstad’s ties to Xi date back to a 1985 diplomatic trip that Xi took to Iowa, during Branstad’s first stint as governor. Xi returned to Iowa last February for stops in Muscatine and the Des Moines area.

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Authorities in eastern Iowa say one person has died in a head-on collision between an ambulance and a vehicle. Yesterday morning’s crash in Davenport involved a Hyundai Tiburon and a medic ambulance. The ambulance was in a non-emergency mode but it was carrying two medics and a patient. Police have not released the deceased driver’s name.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say two people face prostitution charges after fighting about payment for a sex act. Twenty-three-year-old Alysia Talbert and 27-year-old Hamed El Mohamd were arrested Wednesday after police received a report about a dispute.


Neb. Furniture Mart to allow concealed guns


April 11th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — One of the biggest retailers in Omaha, the Nebraska Furniture Mart, is changing its policy to allow shoppers to carry concealed weapons as long as they the proper permit. The Nebraska Furniture Mart also plans to begin arming some of its security guards with handguns after they are trained to handle them. The store’s loss prevention manager Jim Cahill says there have been incidents where a shoplifter pulled a knife on employees, and the store wants to be able to protect staff and customers.

The Nebraska Furniture Mart is owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Similar policies will be used at the company’s existing store in Kansas City and its store under construction in the Dallas area.

Iowa Senate bill would allow ATV road travel

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

April 11th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A measure that would permit the use of all-terrain vehicles on some roads is gaining support in the Iowa Legislature. The Senate Transportation Subcommittee approved the bill Thursday and moved it to the full Senate Ways and Means Committee. It earlier passed the House in a 75 to 22 vote.

The bill would require those who want to drive an ATV on county roads to register for a small fee with the state Department of Transportation. ATVs would not be permitted on highways except on designated crossings. Cities could allow the ATVs on certain highways within their jurisdiction. Critics of the bill say ATVs aren’t made for road travel and passing the law could increase the potential for accidents.

USDA Announces 22 Iowa Counties as part of Secretarial Natural Disaster Designation

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 11th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Iowa State Executive Director for USDA Farm Service Agency, John R Whitaker, has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 22 Iowa counties as part of a Secretarial Natural Disaster Designation.  Farm operators who have suffered major production and/or physical losses caused by combined effects of freezing temperatures and continuing drought conditions may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans.  Other programs may also be made available to assist farmers, including the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE) due to this designation.

A Secretarial Natural Disaster Designation has been issued for the following counties:

  • Thirty-one Missouri counties have been designated as the primary disaster area due to drought conditions beginning November 1, 2012 and continuing. Five Iowa counties are contiguous to this designated disaster area, making these producers also potentially eligible for program based on this designation.  The contiguous counties are:  Decatur, Fremont, Page, Ringgold, and Taylor.  The final date for making application under this designation is September 9, 2013.
  • Eighty-nine Nebraska counties have been designated as the primary disaster area due to drought conditions beginning April 2, 2013 and continuing.  Six Iowa counties are contiguous to this designated disaster area, making these producers also potentially eligible for program based on this designation.  The contiguous counties are:  Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie, and Woodbury.  The final date for making application under this designation is December 10, 2013.

The Farm Service Agency may make Emergency Loans to eligible family farmers which will enable them to return to their normal operations if they sustained qualifying losses resulting from natural disaster.  Physical loss loans may be made to eligible farmers to enable them to repair or replace damaged or destroyed physical property, including livestock losses, essential to the success of the farming operation. For production loss loans, the disaster yield must be at least 30 percent below the normal production yield of the crop, on a crop or crops that make up a basic part of the total farming operation. Applicant must be unable to obtain credit from other usual sources to qualify for the Farm Service Agency Farm Loan Program assistance.  Interest rates are based on the date the loan is approved.  The current interest rate for emergency loans is 2.375%.

Interested farmers may contact their local County FSA office for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs.  Information can also be found on-line at www.fsa.usda.gov.


Louie and Elsie Hansen Scholarships Awarded


April 11th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Cass County Memorial Hospital Foundation say they recently awarded the Louie and Elsie Hansen Scholarships.  Alisha Ponsar and Ben Kopp each received a $5000 award for the 2013-14 academic year.  Ben is enrolled at the University Of Iowa College Of Medicine and Alisha is a student at Creighton University College of Nursing.

The Louie and Elsie Hansen Scholarship was established through the generosity and careful planning of these two life-long Cass County residents, who farmed in the Marne area until they retired, and then became residents of Atlantic.  The Hansens believed in higher education, so much so that over 70% of their estate was bequeathed for that purpose, including a gift to the CCMH Foundation.

Under the supervision and guidance of the CCMH Foundation, scholarship opportunities are provided yearly.  As per the Hansens’ wishes, scholarship candidates must have graduated from a Cass County high school and be enrolled in an accredited nursing or medical doctor school.

Teen Charged with making Terroristic Threats


April 11th, 2013 by admin

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reports a teenager was arrested Thursday for making felony, “Terroristic Threats.” 17-year old Nicholas Farwell, of Villisca, was taken into custody Thursday morning, in the 200 block of East 5th St, in Villisca. Farwell was being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $5,000 cash bond.

Experts: Iowa St likely to see more NCAA sanctions

News, Sports

April 11th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Two NCAA compliance experts say Iowa State is likely to face sanctions beyond what the school has already imposed for major recruiting contact violations.  Expert John Infante said Thursday he wouldn’t be surprised if men’s basketball coach Fred Hoiberg received a suspension for one to three games next season because of an NCAA push to hold head coaches accountable for what happens in their programs.

Infante said it was possible the university would lose a small number of scholarships in men’s basketball and football. Another expert, Ohio University professor David Ridpath, doubts the school will lose scholarships but won’t be surprised if Hoiberg is suspended.

Both experts said the NCAA could also further punish football and men’s basketball assistants who made improper recruiting calls by limiting their contact with prospects.

Iowa State Treasurer urges Medicaid expansion


April 11th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald is urging Gov. Terry Branstad and state lawmakers to expand Medicaid in Iowa.  Fitzgerald, a Democrat, says Thursday that a Medicaid expansion would cost the state less than an alternate plan proposed by Branstad. He is basing his analysis on data from the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency and Senate Democrats.

Fitzgerald says he’s concerned about the state’s “fiscal health and how we spend our money.”  Senate Democrats have been pushing to expand Medicaid, as permitted under President Barack Obama’s health care overall.   Branstad opposes the plan. He says long-term Medicaid costs are unsustainable and has proposed expanding an existing program for low-income Iowans.