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DeSantis proposes National School Choice program


December 8th, 2023 by Blake Burris

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says if he’s elected president, he’ll push congress to extend the Trump era tax cuts AND set up new FEDERAL scholarships to help cover the costs of attending a private K-through-12 school. The tax plan President Trump signed into law in 2017 expires at the end of 2025 and DeSantis says that gives the person elected president in 2024 an opportunity.

“If you’re not thinking as the candidate about how you would use that to implement policy, then you’re already behind the curve,” DeSantis says. DeSantis says it would be a disaster to have federal income tax rates go up in what could be a recession.

“You’re going in on January 20, 2025, and it’s probably not going to be all sunshine and roses, so raising taxes in that situation would be a big mistake.” The “National School Choice” program DeSantis envisions at the federal level would be modeled on a tax check-off program in Florida. It lets businesses send corporate income tax payments to a scholarship fund.

“We did a billion-dollar program between administration and scholarships. That served 100,000 kids in Florida,” DeSantis says. “…If you did just $25 or 50 billion dollars, which in this day and age is budget dust basically, you’re going to be able provide scholarships to a low of working class and low-income families.” DeSantis says he would push to include a wide range of policies into a package to avoid the requirement that 60 senators support it — and pass with just 51 yes votes. He’d include repeal of Biden era spending and some of his own spending priorities, like funding to build more Navy ships. DeSantis made his comments during taping of Iowa Press which airs tonight on Iowa P-B-S.

Black Hawk County project looks to end recidivism


December 8th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Residents of Waterloo and Cedar Falls are hoping a new housing plan will end a cycle of some citizens continually returning to prison. Recent data from the Iowa Department of Corrections says that the recidivism rate for Black Hawk County is the second highest in the state at nearly 37 percent. Waterloo psychiatrist Tom Eachus (EEK-us) says finding housing is a big part of the problem.

Eachus and others have formed the Cedar Valley Housing Corporation, which has proposed a new 24-unit apartment complex in Waterloo designated for those getting out of prison.

The complex will also provide counseling services.

Iowa food bank shatters all-time record as specter of food insecurity looms larger


December 8th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Iowa’s largest food bank set another record during November, distributing two-point-15 million pounds of food, the most ever during a single month. It tops the previous record set during the height of the pandemic in October of 2020. Annette Hacker, spokeswoman for the Food Bank of Iowa, says the number of Iowans facing food insecurity continues to climb at an alarming rate. “More than 191,000 individuals were served, and the sobering part of that is that 42% are children,” Hacker says. “In addition to those served at our partner pantries, thousands more sought help through meal sites the Food Bank of Iowa supports to the tune of about 175,000 meals served.”

Studies find up to 36 percent of Iowa families and individuals don’t make enough money to cover the cost of basic needs. Hacker says it’s a social injustice we can’t ignore. “Most of the people we serve are working people,” Hacker says. “There’s a misnomer that people who need food assistance are sitting at home on the couch and watching television and that’s simply not the case. Many of the people we serve are working two or three jobs, sometimes with no benefits, trying to string together a living but they’re really struggling.”

Hacker says there are three things the food bank always needs: food, funds and friends. “If you can come and volunteer, if you can donate to help us buy more food, if you can have a food drive yourself and bring in that food,” Hacker says, “and most of all to advocate for our neighbors who need help with food, and help others to realize this is a real problem in our state and in our country, and this should not be a place where anybody goes to bed hungry.”

The Food Bank of Iowa and its partners serve people in 55 counties.

Home explosion reported in Creston, Thursday


December 8th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Creston, Iowa) – Officials with the Creston Fire Department say firefighters were dispatched Thursday evening to a reported home explosion in the 600 block of N. Cedar St.    Union County Sheriff’s deputies and Creston police officers arrived on the scene first and determined the location. The spoke with residents to ensure no one else was in the house. Greater Regional Medics were on hand to care for the residents and firefighters as needed. (Photos via the Creston F.D. Facebook page)

Flames were visible through the front window as the fire department arrived on scene. Crews were able to begin a transitional attack through the living room window and front door before attacking the fire offensively inside the home. Exterior crews were able to extinguish fire that had extended to the basement. Interior crews successfully extinguished the fire on the 1st floor but had to overhaul and remove almost the entire ceiling from the residence. Mutual Aid from the Afton Fire Department was also received. Union County Emergency Management was also on scene to aide the homeowners.

The Creston Fire Department thanks all of their partners who come together during this and other emergency situations.

Supreme Court overturns Texas trucker’s drug conviction


December 8th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – The Iowa Supreme Court says a search that led to a 2020 drug charge conviction against a Texas trucker was not legal. Stephen Arrieta stopped at the Northwood weigh station on I-35 after his automatic pass device failed to work. A D-O-T officer then inspected his truck and called for a drug dog. The drug dog alerted outside the truck and Arrieta admitted to having marijuana in the cab. He appealed his conviction for possession of a controlled substance, saying the stop was illegally delayed to allow the dog to show up.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruling says the officer had no reasonable suspicion to delay the stop and improperly detained Arrieta to allow the drug dog to arrive.

Adams County Sheriff’s report, 12/8/23: 9 arrests from 11/22-12/5; 4 arrested on drug charges


December 8th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Corning, Iowa) – The Adams County Sheriff’s Office reports a total of nine people were arrested between Nov. 22nd and Dec. 5th, including four people who were arrested on drug charges.

On Nov. 22nd, Adams County Deputies arrested 20-year-old Jasime Caplinger, 20-year-old Kally Burchett, and 18-year-old Jeffrea Van Scoy, all of Creston. They were taken into custody following a traffic stop on 150th Street at Willow Avenue, and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCS), as well as Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Additional charges on Van Scoy were pending lab results.

On the 23rd of November, 33-year-old Makinze Reed, of Lenox, was arrested for OWI/1st offense. Additional charges on Reed were also pending lab results.

November 27th, Adams County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested 25-year-old Desiree Ladd, of Council Bluffs, on a warrant for Failure to Appear on original charges of Poss. of a Controlled Substance and Unlawful Poss. of Prescription Medication.

54-year-old Patrick Jones, of Lenox, was arrested November 30th in Adams County, for OWI/1st Offense, and Interference with Official Acts.

December 1st, 35-year-old Jacob Franson, of Villisca, was charged in Adams County with PCS and Poss. of Drug Paraphernalia.

This past Tuesday (Dec. 5), 21-year-old Christian Sexton, of Bellevue, NE, was charged in Adams County with Sexual Abuse in the 2nd Degree. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office was assisted in the investigation by the Cass County Sheriff’s Office. And, 60-year-old Dennis Nekuda, of Corning, was arrested Dec. 5th for OWI/1st Offense. He was also cited for additional traffic violations.

More than $1.9 million awarded in CAT and Sports Tourism grants


December 8th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Des Moines, Iowa) – The Enhance Iowa Board, Thursday (Dec. 7, 2023) awarded $1.4-million dollars in Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) grants to an event center in North Liberty and an indoor aquatic center in Ames. In addition, the board awarded $503,572 in Sports Tourism grants, to promote the National Junior High Finals Rodeo event in Des Moines and the Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend in Newton.

Details for the projects receiving CAT and Sports Tourism grants follow:

Project Name: Centennial Center – North Liberty
Total Project Cost: $8,357,963
Amount Awarded: $900,000
Project Description: This project includes the construction of a 13,000 square-foot event center with an outdoor stage designed to accommodate crowds from 500 to 5,000. The interior of the facility will accommodate events for up to 500 people.

Project Name: Fitch Family Indoor Aquatic Center – Ames
Total Project Cost: $31,374,394
Amount Awarded: $500,000
Project Description: This project includes the construction of a 39,000-square-foot recreational and wellness facility with a six-lane lap pool, zero-depth recreational pool with a current channel, children’s play structure, wellness pool, two water slides, locker rooms, party/meeting room, multi-purpose rooms and walking area.

Details for the projects receiving Sports Tourism Marketing grants follow:

Catch Des Moines was awarded $3,572 toward marketing the National Junior High Finals Rodeo in Des Moines on June 23-29, 2024. The funds will go toward social media marketing and digital billboards.

Newton Community Events, Inc. was awarded $500,000 to market the Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend on July 12-14, 2024. The funds will go toward a national TV ad buy, radio campaigns throughout the Midwest and digital media ad buys.

The Enhance Iowa Program provides financial incentives to communities for the construction of recreational, cultural, educational or entertainment facilities that enhance the quality of life in Iowa. To date, 132 CAT grants have been awarded by the board, totaling more than $44.6-million dollars. The next Enhance Iowa Board meeting is scheduled for January 4, 2024.

Semi tractor-trailer driver killed in a fiery eastern IA crash Friday morning


December 8th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Tiffin, Iowa) – A crash early this (Friday) morning in eastern Iowa claimed the life of a semi tractor-trailer driver. The Iowa State Patrol reports a 2022 Freightliner semi was traveling west on Interstate 80 south of Tiffin/west of Coralville, when it left the road at around 4:30-a.m. The semi entered the north ditch and struck a tree before catching fire. The name of the driver was being withheld, pending notification of family.

The Patrol was assisted at the scene by Tiffin Fire, Johnson County Communications(JComm) & Sheriff’s Office, Oxford Fire, and the Iowa DOT.

Holiday train begins tour of Iowa


December 8th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – The Canadian Pacific Kansas City Railroad is bringing its 25th annual Holiday Train program through northeastern Iowa today (Friday). Railroad spokesman Terry Cunha Says the train visits 191 communities across North America over the course of four weeks, spreading holiday cheer and raising donations to help people struggling with food insecurity. “Guests are able to watch a free, live performance by a talented musician, and all it costs is a donation to your local food bank,” Cunha says, “All we ask is anyone who comes and participates in these free, live musical performances is to bring a non-perishable food item that is donated to your local food bank and supports those in need during the holiday season.”

The Holiday Train. (Canadian Pacific photo)

Cunha says the festive six-car train has intricate displays inside and out. “It’s a train that’s lit up full of decorations and lights that help bring some excitement to the holiday season for those in attendance,” he says, “and then one of the train doors slides open and the musical act comes out and they sing some of their hits and also several Christmas carols that those in the audience would definitely know very well.”

Cunha says the Holiday Train’s focus has always been to work with local food banks in the communities they operate in. “Over the course of our 25-year history, we’ve been able to raise over $25-and-a-half million to local food banks and also raise over five million pounds of food, which is extremely important just to help address food insecurity,” he says, “but more importantly during the holiday seasons just a positive way to give back to the communities in which we operate.”

The Holiday Train will make stops today (Friday) in Ossian, Marquette, Lansing and New Albin.

Four Iowa cities set records for December warmth

News, Weather

December 8th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – It’s pretty rare Iowans get to run around in sweatshirts or light jackets in December, but unseasonably warm weather settled on the state late this week. Meteorologist Rod Donavon, at the National Weather Service, says Lamoni had the state’s hot spot with a record high temperature of 62-degrees on Thursday, one of many. “We did have several record highs, including Waterloo at 57, Mason City at 55, Ottumwa at 61,” Donavon says. “In addition, we had basically this entire area was in the upper 50s to low 60s, so a very mild day and well above normal.”

Today’s (Friday) forecast calls for cooler weather than yesterday, but still very comfortable for this time of year. “We are having a few more clouds passing across the state today,” Donavon says, “so it’s still going to be pretty mild high temperatures in the 50s, which is still within that 10- to 15-degree above-normal range.”

Much colder weather will move in tonight and overnight, bringing the chance of scattered rain or light snow across various parts of the state on Saturday. Highs for the weekend will be back around normal, in the 30s and 40s.