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Pawlenty names Huckabee daughter as top Iowa aide


July 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty is naming the daughter of 2008 Iowa caucus winner Mike Huckabee to help lift his own effort ahead of a key test of strength in Iowa. Pawlenty’s campaign says Sarah Huckabee Sanders begins today as the former Minnesota governor’s senior adviser for the state’s Republican straw poll.

The August 13 event at Iowa State University is seen as a test of strength for Republican presidential candidates ahead of the leadoff caucuses, set for February. Pawlenty has spent a year and a half meeting Iowa Republicans and building a circle of top Iowa consultants, but registered only 6 percent in a recent Iowa poll.

Sanders was Huckabee’s 2008 national political director. Huckabee finished second in the August straw poll and surged to win

the caucuses.

Steve King says he’s proud of western Iowans’ tireless flood fighting efforts


July 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Congressman Steve King, of Kiron (R-IA)

Western Iowa 5th District Republican Congressman Steve King toured the area affected by Missouri River flooding last week, along with Governor Terry Branstad and Homeland Security/Emergency Management Director, General Derek Hill. King told KJAN News he’s proud of the effort Iowans have put forth to try and protect homes, businesses and farm land from the “Mighty Mo.” He says the amount of water coming down the river is unprecedented, and it’s going to be a very long Summer.

He credit’s the residents and officials in Hamburg in particular, with putting forth a valiant effort to protect the community. King says during his aerial tour of the flooded area, the extent of the flooding became clear. He says the water is a minimum of 1.5-miles wide in some locations, while in other areas, it’s about 11-miles wide.

And, while some have criticized the Army Corps of Engineers for not acting quickly enough to relieve pressure on the Gavins Point Dam this past Spring, King says they appear to have done everything “by-the-book,” but their actions will be scrutinized during a Congressional hearing.

On the topic of Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachman’s announcement last week she intends to run for President, King was asked if he will endorse her bid. He says she’s been a good friend of his since she came to Congress, and, while she’s near the top of the polls, he’s not willing to step forth and back her because she has to earn her place in the political arena by convincing voters at the straw poll and the state’s first in the nation caucuses she’s the best candidate for the job.

King says he wasn’t in Waterloo for her announcement because it would have come across as an endorsement of her candidacy. He says if Sarah Palin were to enter the race, he doubts the two women would ever team-up as the first female President-Vice Presidential candidates in the nominating process.

No charges to be filed after levee in SW Iowa was blown up on purpose


July 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

No charges are expected to be filed after some residents in southwest Iowa’s Pottawattamie County took matters into their own hands by blowing up a levee to get Missouri River flood water off private property and farmland. County Attorney Matt Wilber says the breach was a surprise, to say the least.

Wilber says, “We had a group of citizens that intentionally breached basically a private levee up in the northwest corner of the county, first mechanically and then with explosives.” His main concern was the amount of water released back into the already flooded Missouri River would impact many others in Iowa and Nebraska downstream.

He says, “We saw a rise in the river by about 3 or 4 inches as a result of we believe of that breach.” Wilber says the water quickly receded. No criminal charges will be filed as they used a licensed explosives expert to blow the levee which was located on private property. He says if they had damaged other property the landowners could face other charges.

“If any private property or other property is damaged as a result of this,” he says, “if you change the flow or velocity of water going down stream off of your property to the detriment of others, you can be held civically liable.” Wilber says there was a lot of confusion when this happened on Friday. Authorities in Harrison County were notified of the intentional breach but no one informed those in Pottawattamie County. Wilber says a lot of concern and panic could have been avoided had they made that call.

U.S. 30 flood mitigation work will begin Wednesday, July 6


July 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – July 5, 2011 – The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is reporting that installation of the flood barrier wall along portions of the north side of U.S. 30 from the Missouri River crossing (at Blair, Neb.) to Interstate 29 (near Missouri Valley) will begin Wednesday, July 6. The road will close at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Work will be performed around-the-clock and will take approximately 48 hours.

The Iowa portion of the detour, established for persons traveling from Missouri Valley, Iowa, to Blair, Neb., is: I-29 south to I-680E, take I-680E to I-80W, and then take I-80W to the Iowa/Nebraska state line at Council Bluffs/Omaha. The public will be notified when the roadway is reopened to travel. 

As a reminder, flood mitigation work being performed at this site is intended to address a specific scenario – breaches that occur south or downstream of U.S. 30. This site remains on the Iowa DOT’s list of roadways at “high-risk of closure due to flooding” because of its continued vulnerability to a levee breach north or upstream of U.S. 30. The duration and severity of the flooding is putting tremendous pressure on the levee systems. Placement of the TrapBags® on both sides of the roadway in lower-lying areas does not prevent an inundation of U.S. 30 should a breach occur in the agricultural levee north of the highway. Due to the characteristics of this site, no mitigation strategies were feasible for a northern breach.

Gov. Branstad announces appointees to Iowa’s boards and commissions


July 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Governor Terry Branstad today (Tuesday) announced the names of the individuals he has appointed to Iowa’s boards and commissions. They include, from western Iowa:

James Graham, of Council Bluffs, to the Iowa Arts Council

Angela Hance, of Creston, to the Early Access Council for Children and Families

Daniel Rittel, of Stuart, to the State Historical Records Advisory Board

Frank Hermsen, of Carroll, to the State Historical Society of Iowa Board of Trustees

Wayne Phipps, of Glenwood, to the Preserves Advisory Board

Jerry Mathiasen, of Council Bluffs, to the Terrace Hill Commission

Sherri Clark, of Red Oak, to the Vocational Rehabilitation Council

And Gina Schochenmaier, of Council Bluffs, to the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service. 

The members of Iowa’s boards and commissions are appointed by the governor. State law requires most boards and commissions to be balanced by gender, political affiliation. Geographic location and diversity is considered.

Data mistakes almost cost Iowa Medicaid millions


July 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – A federal report says data entry errors nearly caused the Iowa Medicaid program to overpay doctors by $9.2 million, but the mistakes were caught before the checks were cashed. An audit by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services made public last week says the mistakes in 2009 involved employees who copied and pasted the wrong numbers into the amount to pay. The errors resulted in two doctors receiving checks for $9.2 million more than they should have for the procedures they performed.

The audit says the state was fortunate to catch the mistakes and cancel the payments following a special review of old checks that had not been cashed. Iowa Medicaid officials say they’ve prohibited employees from using the “copy and paste” function during data entry.

Branstad doesn’t plan special session on education


July 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Gov. Terry Branstad says he no longer plans to call a special session of the Legislature to deal with recommendations from an education summit being held later this month. The governor told reporters Tuesday that any major reforms of the state education system will require time to build political support and he will make the issue a top priority of the Legislature convening next January.

When he announced plans for the summit earlier in the year, the governor called for a special session to enact recommended education reforms. But that was before this year’s session stretched until the end of June, making it one of the longest sessions in Iowa history.

Branstad says he also intends to seek public pension reforms in the next session.

Clarinda High School burglarized over the weekend


July 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Clarinda are investigating a burglary that took place over the weekend at the Clarinda High School. Police Chief Keith Brothers says his department was informed about the incident when it was discovered early Saturday morning.

Responding officers confirmed someone forced their way into the building through a door on the west side of the school. The person or persons involved in the incident gained entry to the building by breaking the glass on a door. Once inside, they broke into several classrooms and stole an undetermined number of items. School officials were working to conduct an inventory in an attempt to determine what was missing.

Anyone with information about the incident should call the Clarinda Police Department at 542-2194. Your anonymous tip may make you eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000 if the information leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the crime.

Drug charges filed against an Anita man


July 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Audubon County Sheriff’s Department reports an Anita man has been charged with Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. The charges filed against 27-year old Robbie Troy Metheny stem from a traffic stop on Sunday, July 3rd. Metheny is scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning.

And, 36-year old Angela Marie Weaver, of Exira, was arrested Saturday evening following a traffic stop on Highway 71, near 310th Street. The Sheriff’s Department says Weaver was charged with OWI, 1st offense. She posted a $1,000 cash bond and was released from custody. Weaver is scheduled to appear in court, on Thursday.

Corps of Engineers seeking land along Mo. River


July 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) – The Army Corps of Engineers has sent letters to landowners in Missouri and Iowa asking if they wanted to sell land in the Missouri River basin after flooding began along the river. David Kolarik, corps spokesman in Kansas City, said the timing of the letter was a coincidence, and a mistake. He said most of the letters went out before the flooding began in May.  The St. Joseph News-Press reports that some of the letters, however, went out June 6, after the flooding began.

The Missouri River has been flooding for weeks since the corps began releasing historic amounts of water to relieve bloated upstream reservoirs. The corps said the proposal to buy the land had nothing to do with the flooding, and that it’s seeking land to rebuild wildlife habitats.