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Iowa’s secretary of state chides presidential candidate for “skip Iowa” strategy

News

June 7th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A recently-elected Republican official in Iowa is taking a Republican presidential candidate to task for announcing he’ll skip Iowa’s Caucuses. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman said this past weekend he didn’t plan to compete here because he opposes subsidies for corn, soybeans and ethanol and understands “how the politics work” in Iowa. Matt Schultz, a Republican who was elected as Iowa’s Secretary of State last November, scoffs at Huntsman’s reasoning.

“That, to me, was like an excuse of ‘my dog ate my homework,'” Schultz says. “…This is a red-herring statement, just an excuse and that’s why I hope Jon Huntsman will change his mind. You know, the last two presidents won the Iowa Caucus.” Barack Obama won the Iowa Democratic Party’s Caucuses in 2008 enroute to winning the White House and George W. Bush was the victor of the Iowa Republican Party’s Caucuses and the presidency in 2000. As for ethanol support being a litmus test in Iowa politics, Schultz points out Iowa’s Republican Congressman Steve King represents the most-rural district in congress and King opposes ethanol subsidies, too.

“We’re not single-issue voters,” Schultz says. “We care about issues, but we want to hear what your vision is.” Schultz suggests there are other “real reasons” Huntsman is skipping Iowa, perhaps because Huntsman doesn’t want to face questions about his Mormon faith. Schultz, who is a Mormon, too, says that was “never an issue” in his race last year.

“Anybody who thinks that Iowans will discriminate against them for race, sex or religion, I think, are wrong,” Schultz says. Schultz made his comments during an interview with Radio Iowa.

(O.Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)

House GOP scales back property tax relief package

News

June 7th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

House Republicans have significantly scaled-back their property tax relief package in an effort appease city and county officials and try to convince Democrats to embrace the bill. Nearly a month ago, Republicans in the Iowa House voted to cut commercial and industrial property taxes by 40 percent over five years.

House Republicans are now proposing a 25 percent reduction instead. Representative Tom Sands, a Republican from Wapello, is chairman of the House committee that crafts tax policy.   “It’s a step in the direction of trying to address some of the concerns that we had heard,” Sands says. But Democrats like Representative Dave Jacoby,  of Coralville aren’t convinced.

“It still kicks the middle class in the kneecaps and the home owners because it’s going to raise our taxes,” Jacoby says. The original bill, which reduced property taxes by an estimated 800 million dollars over eight years, included a significant increase in state support of public schools in an effort to replace property taxes that are collected for K-through-12 schools. The scaled-back version would reduce property taxes by 340-million over five years, but Jacoby argues cities and counties will replace the lost revenue they’ve been getting from commercial and industrial property owners by raising property taxes on home owners.

“I just don’t see any way that this is not going to raise the average Iowan’s taxes over the next year,” Jacoby says. Sands says he and his fellow Republicans believe cutting commercial and industrial property taxes will spur economic growth. “I think anytime that you let any business have more of the money that they’re paying in (taxes), I think it will definitely have an impact on local economies,” Sands says.

House leaders have set Wednesday as the day to debate this property tax proposal, combined with a bill that outlines state spending for the next two years. Today (Tuesday), a hearing is scheduled at the statehouse from four ’til six p.m. to give the public a chance to speak out about the taxing and spending proposals.

(Radio Iowa)

Atlantic Parks & Rec Board lowers Sunnyside Pool rates

News

June 7th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

You won’t be paying as much as you thought for use of the public swimming pool, in Atlantic. The City’s Park and Recreation Board voted Monday, to lower the previously announced rates, and return the checks of anyone who bought a seasonal pass for the Sunnyside Pool, at the higher rate.
The action came during a special meeting of the board, and was in response to rates set at their last regular meeting. Those rates were based on incorrect information they had about last year’s rates at the pool. Under the previously approved 2011 schedule, a family pass increased from $75 to $160, the single pass went from $50 to $90, and the daily pass went from two-to four-dollars.

But with the correct information in-hand at yesterday’s meeting, the board voted unanimously to reset this year’s seasonal rates to $105 for a family pass, $70 for an individual pass, and to set the daily use rate, at four-dollars.  And, as to further clarify how the seasonal passes can be used, the board said only immediate family members will be included on a family pass.

If you’ve already paid for your summer pass, and at the previously announced higher rate, you will receive your original check back, and be asked to write a new check, for the correct rate.

Another counter proposal in bid to ban late-term abortions

News

June 7th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Thirteen Republicans and one Democrat on a House committee have voted to ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and only allow exceptions when the mother’s life is at risk. The House Ways and Means Committee jettisoned a Senate proposal which would have set up a state permit process for clinics, with rules written in such a way as to prevent a Nebraska doctor who performs late-term abortions from opening a clinic in Council Bluffs.

Representative Dawn Pettengill, a Republican from Mount Auburn, says the Senate bill didn’t go far enough. “We are addressing it again to keep Dr. Carhart out of our state,” Petengill says. “The bill that the senate passed only kept him out of Council Bluffs. It didn’t keep him out of the state.”

Representative Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, told her colleagues last night that there were more important matters for legislators to consider. “Democrats came back today focused on balancing the state budget to avoid a government shut-down,” Petersen said. “Instead, we’ve waited around all afternoon for your party to get enough of your members here to pass a divisive issue.”

Representative Anesa Kajtazovic, a Democrat from Waterloo, also opposed the bill. “This is not abortion on demand,” Kajtazovic said. “These are pregnancies that are wanted by families and by these women and for you to be politicizing such a private decision is just so sad to see.”

Representative Pettengill ridiculed the two Democrats for reading from notes during the committee meeting. “I don’t have a prepared statement, but I can assure you that this is not about politics,” Pettengill said. “It is about life and the ability of a fetus at 20 weeks and over to live outside of the womb on its own.”

Representative Petersen suggested the proposal would even classify an emergency ceasarian as an abortion. “It’s time to focus on balancing the state budget and putting Iowans back to work instead of attacking young mothers-to-be and doctors faced with unthinkable situations that none of us would ever want to face,” Petersen said.

Pettengill said in the early 1980s a fetus may have been considered “viable” at 24 weeks, but that standard has changed because of medical advancements. “A baby is able to be saved a lot sooner and live outside the womb with life support,” Pettengill said.
The lone Democrat to vote for the bill in committee was Representative Dan Muhlbauer, of Manilla. The reworked proposal is scheduled for House debate on Wednesday.

(O.Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)

COUNCIL BLUFFS MAN SENTENCED ON FIREARMS CHARGE

News

June 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The U-S Attorney’s Office for the southern district of Iowa says a Council Bluffs man was sentenced today (Monday), to almost six-years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm.  Judge James E. Gritzner imposed the sentence on 37-year old Jack Gregory Milledge.

Gritzner ordered the sentence of imprisonment to run consecutively, or, in addition to, a sentence of 6-9 years imprisonment which Milldege is currently serving on a State of Nebraska burglary and theft charge. The judge also sentenced Milledge to three years of supervised release following his imprisonment, and imposed a $100.00 special assessment for the Crime Victim Fund.

In sentencing the man, Gritzner noted Milledge’s extensive criminal history, and the seriousness of someone with his criminal history, being in possession of a firearm. He remains detained in the custody of the United States Marshal pending designation of the Bureau of Prisons facility at which he will serve his term of imprisonment.

On March 3rd, Milledge pled guilty in Council Bluffs federal court to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The charge arises from a November 11th, 2009, search of Milledge ‘s residence in Council Bluffs. During the search, officers found a loaded .22 caliber handgun, which was later determined to be stolen.

Prior to November 11th, 2009, Milledge had been convicted of a number of felony and other offenses in Iowa and Nebraska, including, among others, burglaries, theft and stolen property offenses, and trespass offenses.

The case against him was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa, and was investigated by the SouthWest Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Neb. nuke plant declares emergency due to flooding

News

June 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska nuclear power plant on the west bank of the Missouri River has declared an emergency because of the rising river.

The Omaha Public Power District, which operates the Fort Calhoun plant, says Monday that the river has reached a lever where the company is declaring a “notification of unusual event,” which is the lowest of four emergency levels that are standard in the U.S. nuclear industry.

The utility says it has notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and emergency management agencies in Nebraska and Iowa.

The Fort Calhoun plant, which is about 20 miles north of Omaha, has been shut down since early April for refueling. The OPPD says in a statement no release of radioactive material requiring offsite response or monitoring has occurred or is expected.

DNR REMINDS PUBLIC OF BOATING SUSPENSION ON MISSOURI RIVER; RAMPS CLOSED AT SOME WESTERN IOWA LAKES

News, Weather

June 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES - The suspension of recreational boating by the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers on the Missouri River between Sioux City and mile marker 550 where Iowa,
Missouri and Nebraska meet includes backwaters of the river.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has also closed boat ramps at Blue Lake,
Browns Lake and Snyder's Bend because of the flooding occurring on the Missouri
River.

"This is an extremely dangerous situation, not only for recreational boaters, but
for rescuers if a problem should occur on the water," said Robert Garrison, chief of
the law enforcement bureau for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR closed all state run boat ramps on the Missouri River on June 2nd.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, violation of the order establishing
the suspension of recreational boating in the designated area can result in a
maximum civil penalty of $40,000 for each violation.

A "willful and knowing" violation of the no-boating order can also result in a
felony charge punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison sentence from
five to 10 years.

Minor accident in Atlantic

News

June 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

No injuries were reported following a two-vehicle collision Friday afternoon, in Atlantic. Officials with the Atlantic Police Department say a vehicle driven by Scott Nixon, of Afton, hit a car driven by Joan Yarger, of Atlantic, after Nixon’s foot slipped-off of brake peddle.

The accident happened at the intersection of 7th Street, at the entrance to Wal-Mart. Nixon’s vehicle was begind Yarger, who was waiting for the stop light to turn green, when the mishap occurred at around 2-p.m., Friday.

Damage from the collision amounted to $2,750. No citations were issued.

Smoke from AZ fire spreads to Midwest

News

June 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DENVER (AP) – Smoke from the Arizona wildfire has spread as far away as 1,000 miles from the blaze.

Kyle Fredin, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Denver, said Monday that a ridge of high pressure was carrying the smoke as far away as central Iowa. He said the smoke was also hitting eastern Colorado – where it obscured the view of the mountains from downtown Denver – as well as New Mexico, Nebraska and Kansas.

Fredin said the smoke won’t be as noticeable in the Midwest, where humidity already makes conditions hazy, but it would likely cause striking orange-pink sunrises and sunsets, as it has in Denver.

The high pressure system is also bringing hot, dry weather along with the smoke. Cooler temperatures are expected by Wednesday, bringing cleaner air with it.

Missouri River Flood outlook

News

June 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

HYDROLOGIC OUTLOOK

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OMAHA/VALLEY NE

1121 AM CDT MON JUN 6 2011 

…SIGNIFICANT AND PROLONGED FLOODING LIKELY ALONG THE MISSOURI RIVER…

 IN THE PAST FEW WEEKS…THE UPPER MISSOURI BASIN HAS RECEIVED NEARLY A YEAR’S WORTH OF RAINFALL. IN ADDITION…SNOW PACK RUNOFF YET TO FULLY ENTER THE UPPER PORTION OF THE RIVER SYSTEM IS 140 PERCENT OF NORMAL. THESE CONDITIONS ARE RESULTING IN MISSOURI BASIN RESERVOIRS ACROSS EASTERN MONTANA AND THE DAKOTAS NEARING THEIR MAXIMUM LEVELS.

RECORD RELEASES HAVE BEGUN AT GAVINS POINT DAM LOCATED TO THE WEST OF YANKTON SOUTH DAKOTA. CURRENT RELEASES ARE AROUND 100,000 CFS (CUBIC FEET PER SECOND)…AND WILL BE INCREMENTALLY INCREASED TO 150,000 CFS BY MID-JUNE. THE PREVIOUS HIGH RELEASE AT GAVINS POINT WAS 70,000 CFS IN 1997.

 THESE EXTREMELY HIGH FLOWS…COMBINED WITH NORMAL RAINFALL…MAY RESULT IN NEAR-RECORD FLOODING ALONG PORTIONS OF THE MISSOURI RIVER. IN ADDITION…MANY LOCATIONS ON THE MISSOURI RIVER WILL REMAIN FLOODED THROUGH JULY.

 THE FOLLOWING TABLE IS THE LONG-RANGE MISSOURI RIVER FORECAST…

ASSUMING NORMAL SUMMER PRECIPITATION ALONG WITH THE EXPECTED PEAK RELEASES OF 150,000 CFS FROM GAVINS POINT DAM. RECORD AND 2010 FLOOD CRESTS HAVE BEEN INCLUDED FOR REFERENCE. THIS PRODUCT WILL BE UPDATED FREQUENTLY AS THE LONG-RANGE FORECAST WILL LIKELY BE MODIFIED AS A RESULT OF RAINFALL EVENTS AND POTENTIAL ADJUSTMENTS TO RELEASES AT GAVINS POINT.

 LOCATION FS LONG-RNG FORECAST(FT) RECORD(FT) 2010 CREST(FT)

——– — ——————— ———- ————–

SIOUX CITY 30 35 TO 37 44.28-1952 25.49

DECATUR 35 40 TO 42 32.31-1996 31.42

BLAIR 26.5 30 TO 32 33.50-1952 26.93

OMAHA 29 34 TO 36 40.20-1952 28.74

NEB. CITY 18 27 TO ABOVE 28* 27.66-1952 25.21

BROWNVILLE 33 43 TO ABOVE 44* 44.30-1993 42.89

RULO 17 25.5 TO ABOVE 27* 26.63-2010 26.63

——– — ——————— ———- ————–