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Iowa’s pheasant numbers have fallen far over the years

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

January 8th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A new report finds the size of Iowa’s pheasant population has fallen 83-percent since the mid-1990s due to disappearing habitat and a series of harsh winters. Kevin Baskins, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says habitat loss alone would have meant only a 26-percent drop in pheasant numbers. “You kind of have an exponential effect when you have declining habitat combined with harsh winters because they have no cover to escape the conditions they’re facing,” Baskins says. “We’ve had several winters in a row with above-average snowfall.”

A milder winter a year ago, combined with the summer-long drought, helped the pheasant population somewhat. Baskins says the habitat loss combined with several severe winters is making it harder for pheasant chicks to survive. “The other big influence we have weatherwise is when we get into colder and wetter springs,” he says. “The chicks, when they’re hatching, if they’re exposed to those conditions, they succumb to the elements. They don’t have as high a survival rates when we get into the colder and wetter conditions after first hatching.”

Baskins says Iowa lost more than a million acres of habitat between 1996 and 2010. He says higher corn prices prompted many farmers to plow up land that normally would serve as habitat for the birds. Bob-white quail numbers are also in decline. The numbers come from the DNR’s 2013 report on the pheasant population.

(Radio Iowa)

It’s winter, sure, but all of Iowa is still in a drought

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

January 8th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A new federal report finds well over half the country is still in a drought, including all of Iowa and several neighboring states. U-S-D-A meteorologist Brad Rippey says it’s easy to forget about the drought during wintertime, because there’s no blazing heat and lots of snow, but he affirms, the exceptionally dry weather is continuing.  “We still have 61.09% of the contiguous U.S. in drought,” Rippey says. “That is down nearly three-quarters of a percentage point from December 25th but it does still leave, obviously, a significant portion of the country in drought.” That’s virtually unchanged since July when about 60-percent of the nation was in drought conditions. Rippey says we need to be prepared for the long-haul.

Rippey says, “It is not unusual, especially across the western half of the country, for droughts historically to last many years, in the vicinity of a decade.” The famed Dust Bowl drought started in 1931 and lasted until 1940. Rippey isn’t predicting this drought will continue that long, but he reminds, it can happen. While we’ve all heard of a flash flood, Rippey says the “flash drought” isn’t nearly as well known, although Iowa saw a couple of them this past summer. “It is a very fast-developing phenomenon where you have high temperatures and little-to-no rainfall for a short period of time, on the order of one to two to three weeks,” Rippey says. “That’s the situation we’ve seen many times in the last couple of decades where crops get into trouble very quickly.”

While the report finds a large portion of the country is in drought, that includes all of the following states: Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma and South Dakota. While parts of Iowa have seen a foot of snow or more already this winter, the report says to overcome the drought, it may take up to eight-feet of snow.

(Radio Iowa)

Corning man arrested Monday evening


January 8th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Adams County Sheriff’s Department reports a Corning man was arrested Tuesday evening for a violation of his driving privileges. 29-year old Choua Ly was taken into custody at around 6:50-p.m., after being stopped in Corning for a simple traffic violation. During stop, it was determined Ly’s license had been suspended. He was subsequently arrested for Driving Under Suspension, and brought to the Adams County Jail, where his bond was set at $566.

Governor, legislators consider education reform options


January 8th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Governor Branstad is again putting “education reform” on his to-do list for legislators. “I think we need to focus on things that are going to improve student achievement,” Branstad said recently during an interview with Radio Iowa, “and having great teachers is an important part of motivating students to achieve at the highest level possible.” Branstad will reveal the details of his proposal next Tuesday, during his “Condition of the State” Address to legislators. But the governor already has outlined his primary goals.
“You want to attract top quality people to the profession. You also want a career ladder that makes it possible for talented teachers to stay in the profession, move up to leadership positions at an earlier age,” Branstad says. “Those are all things that I hope we can accomplish in the education reforms that we’re looking at.”

Those ideas were included in a teacher pay initiative Branstad’s education director unveiled in the fall of 2011, but the proposals were tabled as the governor said the state didn’t have the resources to finance those moves. The state now has a billion dollar surplus, but it’s unclear how much Branstad will commit to the teacher pay effort, as using that excess to provide commercial property tax relief is a higher priority for the governor. Senator Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs, the top Democrat in the legislature, says lawmakers are “open” to raising teacher pay. “The idea of paying teachers what they’re worth makes sense,” Gronstal says.

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha, the top Republican in the legislature, says legislators also need to ensure high-performing students don’t get bored in high school.  “A lot of that has to do with the high school years and the transition to college and how we smooth that, accelerate that, provide dual-credit opportunities — some of those different types of things,” Paulsen says. Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix of Shell Rock says legislators must address the shortage of math and science teachers, too.

“The private sector has offered better compensation packages and in order to maintain and attract quality people into the classroom, we may need to be more flexible in how some of those needs can be met,” Dix says. “Now whether it’s signing bonuses or flexibilities in how they are compensated, those skill sets clearly need to be accommodated at higher levels.” House Democratic Leader Kevin McCarthy of Des Moines expects Branstad’s education reform package to be in the range of 177-million dollars in additional spending.

“Increases in teacher pay, trying to find new efforts to recruit and retain the best and brightest teachers, and so at least thematically we will work with him in that regain and work with him in a bipartisan way,” McCarthy says. The Iowa legislature convenes Monday, January 14th.

(O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Tue., Jan. 8th 2013


January 8th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

POLK CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers says a leaking pipe is reducing the water level of a lake at an Iowa state park. Television station KCCI reports workers have tried to stop a leaking valve that’s contributing to the reduced level at Big Creek Lake in Polk County. The lake, which is primarily used for recreation, is losing about a foot of water every month.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A hacker has hit a website used by the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus. A spokeswoman for the Senate Republicans says the attack was discovered yesterday morning and hadn’t been fixed by the afternoon. Spokeswoman Kirsten Anderson says efforts were under way to fix the problem.

(Information in the following story is from: The Gazette, http://www.gazetteonline.com/)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — One of three Iowa unions representing state workers has reached a tentative deal on a two-year bargaining agreement. The Gazette reports that a leader for the State Police Officers Council confirmed that workers have reached an agreement with state negotiators. Iowa state trooper Mark Bowlin declined to discuss details about the deal.

CORAVILLE, Iowa (AP) — The former vice president of a boat distributor in eastern Iowa has been given prison time and six months of home confinement in connection with several counts of wire fraud. Corey Hagen was sentenced Friday to two months of prison and three years of supervised release. He also has been ordered to pay $150,000 in restitution.

Preliminary Autopsy results released in Sac County death investigation


January 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Iowa Department of Public Safety have released additional details about the death of a Sac County woman whose body was found in a home during an investigation into a kidnapping and assault. Authorities say preliminary autopsy findings from the State Medical Examiner’s Office show that 45-year old Marilyn Schmitt died of sharp force injuries. Her death has been ruled a homicide.

Schmitt was found dead by law enforcement officials in an upstairs bedroom at her home located at 2242 Ira, Ave., Early, on Thursday afternoon, January 3rd, 2013. Preliminary investigative findings indicate Schmitt died earlier that morning. Schmitt’s son, 21-year old Kirk Riley Levin faces a felony charge of Murder in the 1st degree. Kirk Levin was arrested on January 3rd on charges unrelated to Schmitt’s death.

Levin allegedly admitted to authorities he was the only one who could have killed his mother, and that his choking her would have resulted in her death. The complaint filed against him alleges Levin stabbed his mother between the hours of 1:30-a.m. and 5:45-a.m. Jan. 3rd, in her upstairs bedroom. Levin is currently being held in the Sac County Jail.

The investigation is being conducted by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Sac County Sheriff’s Office.

Mills County arrest report


January 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s Officials in Mills County report the arrest on Friday, of 22-year old Shane Michael Murley, from Red Oak.  Murley was taken into custody at around 1-p.m. at the Mills County Jail, on a Warrant for Probation Violation. His bond was set at $10,000.00.  And, on Saturday, 25-year old Shawn Joseph Adams, of Grand Fork, ND, was arrested at around 11-a.m., at a rest area off of I-29.  Adams was charged with Public Intoxication. His bond was set at $300.

A-PD says donations to their Christmas programs netted $10-k


January 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Police Chief Steve Green reports thanks to donations from local citizens and businesses, over $10,000 was spent this past Christmas through two programs designed to serve families and children in need.  Green says the donations enabled the Police Department’s annual programs to serve more than 45-children and 14 adults. Those persons were able to have a Christmas that was otherwise not going to happen.

The A-PD’s Officers and Reserve  Officers offer their thanks and blessings on everyone who made a contribution to their Christmas programs, regardless of the amount you contributed. The Christmas programs have been offered for many years, and evolved from just a few Reserve Officers repairing bicycles for children, during the 1980′s.

Chief Green says both of the department’s programs are sustained through the generosity of the citizens of Atlantic, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign, and local business partners.

Adult arrested for assaulting a minor


January 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Page County Sheriff’s Office reports an adult was arrested Sunday evening for allegedly assaulting a person under the age of 18. 40-year old Steven Dean Lundvall, of College Springs, was charged with Simple Assault, after deputies investigated a disturbance at 712 Iowa Avenue, in College Springs. The name of the victim was not released by authorities. Lundvall posted a $300 bond and was released pending a court appearance.

The Sheriff’s Department reports also, the arrest Saturday evening of a Clarinda man. 27-year old Chris Dean Johnson was charged with Driving Under Suspension, following a traffic stop on Highway 2, at around 6:55-p.m.  Johnson was brought to the Page County Jail and later posted a $300 bond. He was released pending a court appearance.

Animal Neglect case under investigation in Page County

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Page County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report of animal neglect involving cattle. According to Sheriff Lyle Palmer, his office received a complaint Saturday with regard to the condition of cattle in Section 7 of Colfax Township. When deputies went to investigate, they observed the animals and made contact with the person who was responsible for their care. The deputies were advised that cattle were being moved the following day, and that a veterinarian was coming to look at the cattle today (Monday).

The deputies confirmed the cattle were moved on Sunday to another location in Page County, where they could be more closely monitored by their care taker. No citations have been issued in connection with the incident, and Palmer says deputies will continue to monitor the situation. The investigation remains on-going.