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Iowa gas prices up after problem at Indiana refinery

News

February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Gas prices have followed the temperatures and gone up in this week. Triple-A Iowa spokesman Brian Ortner says oil prices have gone up a bit, but there’s another factor impacting gas prices.  “Really the biggest factor has to do with a B-P refinery in Indiana. They had a power outage about a week and a half or so ago, and it cut their production and they’re looking to be out of service to the end of the month. So that has a direct impact,” Ortner says. The price of regular unleaded gasoline was averaging more than three dollars a gallon across Iowa.

“When you look at prices as a whole, thankfully we’re still lower than we were last year at this time by about 17 cents,” he says. “But we have gone up since a week ago, almost eight cents since last week, which is something we haven’t seen in quite some time across the state.” He says getting that refinery back up to speed will help.

“Once that gets back online, we should see the increases slowed down a lot. I mean, we’ll still see a little bit because we’re moving into spring and people want to be driving, you know the demand is gonna go up,” Ortner says. “but that’s probably the one factor we can point to at this point if we want to say hey, this is happening and something we can say is happening has affected us around the region.”

The national average for a gallon of gas was up one cent to three-dollars, 27 cents.

Iowa House approves 3% hike in state spending calculated per pupil

News

February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Republicans in the Iowa House have voted to provide a three percent boost in per pupil state funding for public schools in the next academic year — as well as a three percent increase in state payments into Education Savings Accounts for private school students who’ll qualify for the program. Representative Phil Thompson, a Republican from Boone, says the plan calls for three-point-eight BILLION dollars in state spending on public schools in the next school year.

“I am proud of this investment in our public schools,” Thompson said, “especially when you put it in context with the other pieces of the education funding puzzle that we’re bringing forward this year: teacher salaries, paraeducator pay, school security infrastructure.” Representative Molly Buck, a Democrat from Ankeny, says with a three percent oost in per pupil spending — the 116 public school districts with shrinking enrollment will raise local property taxes to fill a gap, so next year’s budget isn’t lower than this year’s.

“How are rural schools going to keep the lights on?” she asked. “…At what point do we stop and realize that we, in the legislature, are responsible for the shuttering of our schools?” Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, says three percent just isn’t enough for schools dealing with inflation and trying to keep salaries high enough to hire and retain staff.

“Three percent is totally inadequate for our schools. They have been cutting and cutting and cutting over the last 12 years,” Steckman said. “They have reached a point where there’s not much left to cut.” House Republicans plan to vote later to set beginning teacher salaries at 50-thousand dollars within two years. They’re also proposing a 15 dollar an hour minimum wage for paraeducators. House Speaker Pat Grassley says those moves are priorities for House Republicans.

“My expectation is that the legislature acts on a bill addressing teacher salaries,” Grassley says. “I just don’t know what it looks like at this point,” A Senate committee has voted to increase the mandatory minimum salary for beginning teachers to just over 46-thousand dollars. In January, Governor Reynolds recommended a 50-thousand minimum salary for first-year teachers, as well as a 62-thousand dollar minimum salary for those who’ve been teaching for at least 12 years.

Social worker: You can say no to things and still be Iowa Nice

News

February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) -The phrase “just say no” was part of a major anti-drug campaign in the 1980s, but saying no to certain situations in life is still difficult for many people, especially those of us who were raised to be “Iowa Nice.” Amber Sherman, a licensed clinical social worker in Iowa, says it can be really hard to reject an offer, an invitation, or a request for help.

“A lot of people struggle with saying no and knowing that ‘no’ is a complete sentence, that if I tell you no, I don’t have to follow it up with all kinds of excuses,” Sherman says. “The answer is just no, I don’t want to do that thing.” Sherman says saying no should always an option and it’s something we all likely need to do more frequently.

“We want to say yes to everything. We want to be everything to everybody, but that’s not sustainable,” Sherman says, “and it also really doesn’t feel good when we say yes to things we’d really rather say no to.” It may be easier to not make waves, but Sherman says setting boundaries and saying no is important to our mental and emotional health, even if it might make us feel guilty.

“So if your order is wrong, do you just eat it, or do you say in a respectful, kind way, ‘I think I ordered this. Would you mind correcting my order?’” Sherman says. “I think that even just small things like that are a big deal, and learning that early on and practicing it every day is really important.”

If there’s a collection being taken at the office for someone’s birthday or work anniversary, Sherman says there can be great pressure to participate, but if you don’t want to do so, don’t. “I think, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ is okay, like, that’s not something that I do,” Sherman says. “Even thinking about what are your personal policies around gifting, and so choosing not to participate is something that should be respected.”

Sherman is manager of the Employee Assistance Program at Gundersen Health System, which has clinics in Fayette, Decorah, Waukon, Lansing, Postville and Calmar, and a hospital in West Union.

Iowa’s largest sycamore tree severely damaged by suspicious fire at Geode State Park

News

February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

DANVILLE, Iowa – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is asking the public for any information as to the cause of a suspicious fire at Geode State Park on Sunday, Feb. 18.

According to Park Ranger Andrew Kuckler, a visitor alerted staff that a tree in the park was burning. While the fire was extinguished, the tree was severely damaged and its survival is uncertain. The cause of the fire is unknown.

The tree has been certified as the largest sycamore in Iowa. While the exact age is unknown, the sycamore is estimated to be around 350 years old, based on circumference and other measurements.

Geode State Park sycamore burning on night of February 18, 2024, Danville, Iowa

“We are encouraging anyone who may have information about the fire to contact us,” said Kuckler. Callers can remain anonymous.

House panel dismisses ethics complaint against southeast Iowa lawmaker

News

February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Republicans and Democrats on an Iowa House committee have unanimously voted to dismiss an ethics complaint against Republican Jeff Shipley, a state representative from  southeast Iowa . Sara Hayden Parris of Johnston accused Shipley of defaming her on social media and her complaint alleged that was a violation of the House Ethics Code. Parris is president of a non-profit that distributes free books with sexual content that have been banned in some schools. Shipley has accused her of distributing obscene material and has said on social media that she should be under criminal investigation.

Representative Anne Osmundson of Volga, chair of the House Ethics Committee, led the meeting where the complaint was dismissed.  “It really seemed politically motivated,” Osmundson says. “He had not violated any of the House Code of Ethics rules.”

Rep. Jeff Shipley

In the complaint, Parris accused Shipley of committing libel against her. In a written response, Shipley said the House Ethics Committee should not be used as a forum for personal grudges.

3 accidents in Guthrie County: 2 injured in a rollover crash

News

February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Guthrie Center, Iowa) – The Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office reports two people were injured during an accident that took place last week. At around 12:35-p.m. on Feb. 15th, a 2017 GMC SUV driven by 43-year-old Eric Lee Ireland, of Scranton, was traveling south in the 3300 block of Frontier Road, when the vehicle crossed the northbound lane and entered the east ditch. The SUV struck a field entrance and went airborne, landing nose first, before it rolled over. A front seat passenger in the vehicle, 35-year-old Bridgette Nichole Perez, of Scranton – who was not wearing a seat belt – was ejected through the windshield. She landed on the ground, with the vehicle rolling over just missing her by almost a foot.

Eric Ireland was not wearing his seat belt. He landed upside down on the interior of the SUV’s roof. Perez and Ireland suffered significant injuries and were transported by Stuart and Adair EMS crews to the Guthrie County Hospital. A juvenile female, born in 2014, was in the back seat of the SUV restrained in a car seat and was not injured. Ireland told authorities he thinks he fell asleep prior to the accident. He was charged with Failure to show proof of financial liability (accident related), Failure to Maintain Control, and Failure to Use a seat belt. The SUV was a total loss, with the damage estimated to be $20,000. The crash remains under investigation.

An accident that occurred at around 1-a.m. Saturday, in Guthrie County, caused $10,000 damage, but there were no reports of injuries. The Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office says a 2005 Chevy pickup driven by 25-year-old Dale Allen Vogel, of Adair, had crested a hill while eastbound on 350th Street when it went out of control near Dogwood Avenue, and came to rest in the north ditch. Vogel was cited for Failure to Maintain Control and Expired Registration.

And, no injuries were reported following an accident Tuesday morning (Feb. 20), in Guthrie County. Authorities say a 2007 Peterbilt semi-tractor/trailer driven by 59-year-old David Alan MacNaughton, of Des Moines, was pulling a John Deere field cultivator, when the implement struck a City of Panora power-line.The cultivator was 15-feet, 1-inch tall, and 14-feet wide. The sides were folded-up/in.

The accident happened as the semi was southbound on Highway 4, at around 8:17-a.m.  As the tractor/trailer began dragging the power-line, it pulled/detached the line from a residence and nearby transformer. The siding of the residence where the power-line was attached, came off. The accident also caused damage to a private fence on the same property. Damage to the electric line/pole was estimated at slightly more than $8,000 dollars. Damage to the Shane Andersen residence was also estimated at $8,000.

There were no citations issued.

GC School Board selects replacement for retiring Guthrie Center Elementary School PK-6 Principal

News

February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Guthrie Center, Iowa) – Shared AC/GC School District Superintendent Josh Rasmussen, today (Thursday), announced Guthrie Center School Board has selected Mr. Tandem Eischeid as the new, PK-6 Principal for the Guthrie Center Elementary School.

Ramussen says Mr. Eischeid has 16 years of teaching experience and has spent the last seven years as a fourth-grade classroom teacher at Grant Ragan Elementary School in the Waukee Community School District. He holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in administration and special education from Iowa State University.

Mr. Tandem Eischeid

Mr. Eischeid’s wife, Kelsey, is a Senior Business Analyst with an app-based wellness company headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. She also coaches CrossFit in her spare time.  Tandem Eischeid will replace the current principal, Mrs. Diane Flanery, who is retiring at the end of this school year after 37 years in education.

See the full press release, below:

A sure sign spring is coming: The Home and Garden Show opens today

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Spring will arrive in a little under a month and central Iowans who are plotting out their landscaping projects can get a helping hand as the Des Moines Home and Garden Show opens today (Thursday). Show manager Shannon Nathe says they’ll have some 300 exhibitors at the Iowa Events Center offering a wide range of yard and home-related products and services. “If you have a project in mind, bring your plans, sit down with these business owners, and get on their calendars because they are very busy,” Nathe says. “We have seven feature gardens in the show this year, so there’s seven local landscapers showing their ideas of what you can do in your backyard.”

While the large exhibition hall is indoors, vendors have created stunning garden displays designed to inspire your next home upgrade. “The landscapers are located in Hall A, so when you come down the escalator, it’s just a sea of flowers and some of them are putting in pools and trees,” Nathe says. “It’s a great environment to think about spring, think about your projects that are coming up, all under one roof.”

This year’s list of celebrity speakers includes Patric Richardson, who’s known as The Laundry Guy on H-G-T-V, as well as a woman who’s a combination general contractor, real estate developer, business innovator, and philanthropist. “Ati Williams is a renowned design builder and an engaging TV host on Netflix’ ‘Hack My Home,'” Nathe says, “so she’s going to give you tips and tricks on saving money, but have the higher-end look of, like, let’s say redoing your cabinets. She’s going to give you all the tips and tricks.”

Attendees can get a hand with potting their own plants at the Potting Bar, while there’s also a Made in Iowa Market featuring some three-dozen products that all originated in the Hawkeye State. The 46th annual Home and Garden Show runs through Sunday.

desmoineshomeandgardenshow.com

MN man killed in a northern IA crash Wednesday evening

News

February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Lake Mills, Iowa) – A single vehicle accident Wednesday evening in northern Iowa, claimed the life of a man from Minnesota. The Iowa State Patrol reports a 1992 Buick Roadmaster driven by 69-year-old David Wayne Mason, of Elmore, MN., was traveling north on Highway 69 near 440th Street, in Winnebago County, when the vehicle left the road west of Lake Mills and entered the east ditch before vaulting over 440th Street, and rolling over. The accident happened at around 4:50-p.m.

Mason, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the car and died at the scene. The Patrol was assisted during their accident investigation by the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department and Lake Mills Police.

Special investigation of the Webster County Public Health Department

News

February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Des Moines, Iowa) – Auditor of State Rob Sand today (Thursday), released a report on a special investigation of Webster County Public Health Department (Department) for the period July 1, 2016 through May 31, 2022. The special investigation was requested by County officials as a result of concerns regarding certain financial transactions processed by the former Public Health Director, Kari Prescott.

Sand reported the special investigation identified $24,436.00 of undeposited collections, $32,663.85 of questioned costs charged to the Federal Family Planning Grant, and $1,611.13 of unsupported disbursements. The $24,436.00 of undeposited collections includes $16,456.00 of fees for immunizations and $7,980.00 of fees for tuberculosis tests administered by the Department. Because sufficient records were not available, it was not possible to determine if funds were not collected, collected but not deposited, or split between uncollected and undeposited.

Sand also reported it was not possible to determine if additional fees for other services were not properly deposited because adequate documentation was not available.
Sand also reported the procedures performed identified $32,663.85 of questioned costs related to payroll being improperly charged to the Family Planning Grant and $1,611.13 of unsupported mileage reimbursements issued to the former Public Health Director, Kari Prescott.

Sand saidthe Department received COVID-19 Response grant funding for the period of January 1, 2021 through May 31, 2022. The grant allows for grantees to submit claims for reimbursement of administrative costs, or bill insurance companies for the administrative costs. The County cannot bill both the Grant and the insurance companies of the same administrative costs. An allegation was made the County double billed for these administrative costs. However, because of the lack of supporting documentation, we could not reconcile the amounts which should have been billed to the grant and insurance companies for administrative costs under the COVID 19 grant. As a result, it cannot determine if administrative costs were double billed.

The report includes recommendations to strengthen the Department’s internal controls and operations, such as improving segregation of duties, maintaining supporting documentation, and maintaining adequate financial records, including ledgers and receipt books. The report also includes a recommendation regarding proper oversight of Department operations by Webster County officials and Public Health Board members.

Copies of the report have been filed with the Webster County Attorney’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Division of Criminal Investigation. A copy of the report is available for review on the Auditor of State’s website at Special Interest Reports.