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Chuck Grassley supporting grandson for Iowa ag secretary

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 14th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley is firmly behind his grandson as a candidate to replace Bill Northey as Iowa’s secretary of agriculture.  Northey has been nominated to an undersecretary post at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is widely expected to be confirmed. State Rep. Pat Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford, has acknowledged his interest in succeeding Northey.

The Des Moines Register reports that Chuck Grassley said Wednesday that his grandson’s experience as a farmer and state legislator make him qualified to lead the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

And, Chuck Grassley says, “I hope he’ll be appointed.” Gov. Kim Reynolds, who is on a foreign trade mission, has said little about her plans for the appointment other than mentioning last week that several people were under consideration.

Enrollment down in Atlantic School District – final numbers not yet known


September 14th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

We won’t know for sure how many students are enrolled in the Atlantic School District until early next month, when administrators are required to update the figure to the State. However, Superintendent Steve Barber said at Wednesday evening’s School Board meeting, the numbers appear to be down significantly. They includes 13 or 14 students who have elected to take home schooled assistance, and another 13 or 14 who have opted not to Open enroll in the district, for a preliminary total of about 28 students.

Atlantic graduated 105 students in May, and brought in 101, or a net loss of four. While the deadline to Open Enroll students has passed, Barber says there may still be an influx of Open Enrollments, and the numbers seem to indicate that may be the case, for a number of reasons. The deadline is Sept. 1st, but there are some late kindergarteners brought in. Others include families who have moved into the district, changing living arrangements, etc. The parent or parents must show just cause why they wish to enroll their student or students after the Sept. 1st deadline to sign-up.

In other news, Superintendent Steve Barber said also the “punch list” is expected to be completed today (Thursday) for the district’s recently purchased and newly remodel building, formerly occupied by Cass, Incorporated. The list is the contractor’s way of showing all the facets of the building have been completed according to design and code.

Administrators are currently working through the process of what to name the building, which is tentatively known as the Cass County Educational Opportunity Center, or, CCEOC. A proposal with regard to that is likely to be presented before the school board next month. Barber says they hope to occupy the building no later than Sept. 28th.

When finished, the CCEOC will house various programs and staff, along with students and staff from the LINK Center.

4 arrested Wed. night for Disorderly Conduct in Villisca


September 14th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Four people were arrested for Disorderly Conduct Wednesday night, following an incident in Villisca. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office says deputies were called to the 100 block of W. 2nd Street in Villisca at around 9:37-p.m. With assistance from the Iowa State Patrol, they arrested 26-year old Jesse Allen Luft, 24-year old Jasmine Leigh Weaver, and 40-year old Miguel Angel Ramos-Saldana, all of Villisca, along with Javier Ramos-Saldana.

All suspects were being held in the Montgomery County Jail on a $300 bond, each.

ISU study finds Iowa economy evolving to demand more high skilled workers


September 14th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Research by two Iowa State University economists shows Iowa doesn’t have enough high-skilled jobs to keep qualified people from leaving the state — but that is expected to change. Economist David Swenson says that leads to what’s been called the “brain drain.” “The problem in Iowa is that it’s existing industrial structure can’t use all of the people that we educate. Our economy has fewer higher-skilled and higher-educated workers as part of its occupational structure than the national average,” Swenson explains.

Nationally around 26 percent (25.6) percent of all occupations are filled by people expected to have a bachelor’s degrees or higher compared to 21-point-four percent for Iowa. Swenson and fellow researcher Liesl (Lees-all) Eathington broke the high skilled positions into three categories — critical basic, problem solving and high level technical — and then tried to find out what they meant to Iowa’s future.

“We wanted to see whether there was going to be reasonable job growth in these categories. And indeed all three of these categories — again critical basic, problem solving and high level technical — were showing reasonable strong growth,” Swenson says. The labor data gave them a yes answer on that question. “The number of jobs anticipated to grow for people with four-year degrees or more was twice as many as the number of jobs that are anticipated to grow for people who just have something beyond a high school education, but they don’t quite have a bachelors degree,” according to Swenson.

He says problem showed itself again when they found that more people have been coming into the state to get jobs than those who are leaving for jobs. “That’s good for our economy – -but when we sliced and diced that — we found out that we were competitive in terms of people with a high school degree or a little bit of education beyond high school,” Swenson says, “we were very competitive, we had net pluses in that category. But if it was a college degree or if it was on one of those three categories of higher skills, we were net losers in all of those categories in terms of migration over the last five years.”

Swenson says the job landscape will continue to change and impact the current trends. “As we move into the next decade our economy is going to evolve such that it is going to demand and absorb more of those higher skilled workers. And we are not going to be exporting them at quite the high rates that we have been in the last few decades,” Swenson says.

He says that paints a bright picture for cutting the brain drain and keeping those who go through the state’s educational system from moving away. “Yep, this is good news for the state,” Swenson says, “the fact that our economy is transforming and the fact that our economy is wanting more smarter, better trained, higher educated workers, improves our competitive position overall.”

The study finds that nearly half of the projected growth in occupations in high critical basic skills will be in architecture and engineering along with life, physical and social sciences, management occupations, and in health care and related technical jobs.

(Radio Iowa)

Report: Midwestern farm economy is improving, gradually

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 14th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City shows slight improvements in the economy of the Midwestern farm sector. Nathan Kauffman, an executive with the Fed’s Omaha Branch, says lower farm incomes and weaker credit conditions continue in Iowa and neighboring states, but he says the second quarter was not quite as negative as it has been the past couple of years.

“We’ve seen commodity prices really be more or less stable the last couple of years, albeit at a lower level,” Kauffman says. “We’re just not seeing the same pace of decline that we would’ve seen a couple years ago as commodity prices had really fallen sharply.”

Kauffman says many lenders were caught off guard a few years ago with the decline in commodity prices, but he says it seems like they have adjusted. “A lot of lenders are still trying to work through some of those issues, communicate more effectively with their borrowers, maybe requiring a little bit more from their borrowers, recognizing that maybe not out of the woods even though things are not deteriorating as rapidly as they had been,” Kauffman says.

During the second quarter, more bankers reported denying new farm loan requests compared to the previous two years. Kauffman says credit conditions are weaker compared to several years ago. “There are a number of businesses that would be involved in providing service to agriculture,” Kauffman says. “So, when there are changes to the agricultural economy, that does have an impact across a larger spectrum of business interests.”

Producers are not being helped by the fact that interest rates on variable rate operating loans increased to nearly six-percent in the second quarter, the highest in five years. Kauffman says conditions are stabilizing, but commodity prices are still lower than five or six years ago.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Thursday, 9/14/17


September 14th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press at 3:48 a.m. CDT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa prison officials don’t plan to reopen four prison facilities with room for hundreds of inmates that had been temporarily closed because of budget cuts. The Des Moines Register reports that the three satellite prison units in Harpers Ferry, Clarinda and Fort Madison as well as a community corrections facility in Sheldon won’t be considered for reopening in the state Department of Corrections’ 2018 budget request to the Legislature.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Sioux City teen has been sentenced to seven years in prison for shooting his 3-year-old sister in the face with a BB gun. Adrian White, now 18, was sentenced after pleading guilty Monday in Woodbury County District Court to assault and child endangerment. Prosecutors say White was 17 in May when he shot the preschooler twice in the face, breaking her jaw and requiring surgery.

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) — A 16-year-old Cedar Falls boy faces charges after police say he took photos of a younger teen changing clothes. The Courier reports that the boy was charged last Friday with dissemination of obscene material to minors and exploitation of a minor, both misdemeanors. Police say the incident took place last year when a 13-year-old girl was photographed with an electronic device while changing.

MONTEZUMA, Iowa (AP) — Iowa officials say a black bear has been spotted just southeast of Montezuma in central Iowa. The Poweshiek County Sheriff’s Office tells the Press-Citizen that deputies and an Iowa Department of Natural Resources officer confirmed the bear’s presence on Tuesday. DNR Conservation Officer John Steinbach says the bear ran in front of a sheriff’s cruiser and into a cornfield as he and the deputies were out looking in the area.

1.1 million Iowans affected by Equifax data breach


September 13th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Attorney General’s office is urging Iowans to “act now” following a massive data breach involving the credit reporting company Equifax. Geoff Greenwood, spokesman for the A-G’s office, says approximately 143 million consumers nationwide are affected by the breach. “Here in Iowa, it affects in the neighborhood of 1.1 million,” Greenwood said. “So, that’s a lot of people affected by this.”

The data includes Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers. Iowans can check if the breach exposed their personal information at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Greenwood suggests victims of the breach should immediately take action. “The steps can include something as simple as monitoring your bank statements, your credit card statements, your overall financial statements,” Greenwood said.

Equifax disclosed the breach occurred between mid-May through June, and that so far there’s no evidence of unauthorized activity. “Equifax is offering a free credit monitoring service for a year. We urge Iowans to take advantage of that,” Greenwood said. “Regardless of whether you have been a victim of this breach, the company is offering this free of charge for one year.”

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said his office is investigating the breach. “We intend to hold Equifax accountable for what happened, and ensure that something of this magnitude never happens again,” Miller said.

(Radio Iowa)

Teen sent to prison for shooting 3-year-old with BB gun


September 13th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Sioux City teen has been sentenced to seven years in prison for shooting his 3-year-old sister in the face with a BB gun. The Sioux City Journal reports that 18-year-old Adrian White was sentenced after pleading guilty Monday in Woodbury County District Court to assault and child endangerment.

Prosecutors say White was 17 in May when he shot the preschooler twice in the face. One BB fractured the girl’s jaw and the other entered her eye and lodged next to her brain. Surgery was required to remove one of the BBs, but the other lodged near her brain. Doctors determined it was too risky to remove it.

White had sought to be tried as a juvenile, but that request was denied and he was prosecuted as an adult.

Preston files for Griswold City Council


September 13th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Auditor’s Office reports Carol Preston, of Griswold, has filed nomination papers to serve on the Griswold City Council. Preston’s name will appear on the ballot for the November 7th Cass County City Elections.

Previously, it was announced the following individuals had submitted nomination papers for their desired respective seats (I=Incumbent):

  • David R. Jones (I), Atlantic Mayor
  • Jolene Smith (I), Atlantic Parks & Rec Board
  • Gerald Brink (I), Atlantic City Council At Large
  • Richard “Dick” Casady (I), Atlantic City Council – 5th Ward
  • Bryan Olson-Everett, Lewis City Council.

The last day to file nomination papers for City Offices is Sept. 21st at 5-p.m.

Woman arrested for Driving While Barred in Corning


September 13th, 2017 by Chris Parks

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office reports the arrest of a woman from Kent on Wednesday afternoon. At 1:30pm Deputies arrested 60-year-old Vicki Jo Abell of Kent for Driving While Barred. Abell was arrested in Corning for the offense and taken into custody and held on $2,000 cash bond.