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Wednesday Afternoon News, Jan 30

Sohl Retires After 38 Years with the Conservation Board

(Hinton) -- After being on the job for 38 years, Plymouth County Conservation Executive Director, Dennis Sohl has announced he intends to retire.  The announcement was made official when Sohl mailed a letter to inform the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors. Sohl says he is proud of the accomplishment's during the span of 38 years, with the most recent, the completion of the Outdoor Learning Center
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Sohl says he decided to retire when the County Supervisors reduced the Conservation Board's budget.  He says a position would needed to be cut, and he thought it may be best for him to step aside.
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After retiring, Sohl says he wants to stay in the area, and he hopes to get additional education.  The conservation official says the Plymouth County Conservation programs will offer people a better quality of life.
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Sohl's official last day will be August 15, 2013.


Sioux City To Become A Blue Zone Community

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City is among six Iowa communities that will become Blue Zones as part of a privately funded program designed to reduce obesity.
The other cities include Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Muscatine, Oskalooska and Marion were also named Blue Zone demonstration sites Wednesday. They join 19 other Iowa cities that are participating in the effort.
Under the program, teams will work with the communities for two years to develop healthier food options and create effective public health policy.
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has donated $5 million toward the program each year since it started in 2011.
Gov. Terry Branstad says the program is essential to reaching his goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016.


State Senate Passes Education Finance Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The state Senate has approved a plan to boost funding for Iowa schools in the coming school year, though it's not clear the bills will get backing from the rest of the
Legislature or the governor.
The proposal would increase state school support by 4 percent, or $135 million. Legislators in the Democratic-majority Senate on Wednesday also approved a plan to provide additional money from a
budget surplus fund to prevent local property tax increases for schools and to reduce the property tax rate in some districts.
Sen. Herman Quirmbach, who sponsored the plan, says districts need to know what funding to expect.
Gov. Terry Branstad opposes setting funding until lawmakers approve his education reform plan, which raises minimum teacher salaries and provides incentive bonuses to some educators.

 

State Budget Director Hospitalized

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An aide to Gov. Terry Branstad says the state's budget director has been taken to a Des Moines hospital.
Spokesman Tim Albrecht says Department of Management director Dave Roederer was taken to a hospital Wednesday morning from his Capitol office. Albrecht says he doesn't have details but noted
that Roederer was alert at the hospital and in good spirits.
The 62-year-old Roederer is a key to aide to Branstad and oversees many state budget issues.

 

Casey's Settles Lawsuit Over Breast Feeding

GARNER, Iowa (AP) - A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit against Casey's General Stores Inc. filed by a former employee who says a video camera was placed in an office she used to pump breast
milk.
The Mason City Globe Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/tThAY1) that the details of the settlement are confidential.
Stepheni Salz gave birth in March 2011. Her lawsuit says when she returned to work at a Casey's store in Garner, she was told she could use an office to pump breast milk.
The lawsuit says on July 28 she discovered a video camera had been installed in the office and had been operating since July 15.
The lawsuit claimed the company violated her privacy and a federal law that says employers must provide women a private place.
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State Auditor Finds Improper Handling of Funds in Buffalo

BUFFALO, Iowa (AP) - A state audit shows more than $9,000 has been mishandled by officials in the small eastern Iowa city of Buffalo.
State Auditor David Vaudt's report Wednesday shows officials gave more than $5,000 in improper disbursements between September 2008 and September 2010. That includes payments to the former
assistant city clerk and city council members. Additional disbursements and charges were made with the city's credit card.
The report says some of the mishandling stems from the city clerk using paid vacation days she had not earned. Money also was incorrectly entered into the city's accounting system.
Vaudt says it is impossible to determine if more money was improperly disbursed or collected because of inadequate records.
Buffalo is located in Scott County and has a population of about 1,200 people.


Braley To Meet With Democratic Leaders About Senate Race

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley says he'll meet soon with Democratic leaders in Washington to discuss running for the Senate next year.
In an Associated Press interview Wednesday, the Waterloo Democrat says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has encouraged him to run for the seat that will be vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin. Harkin
announced Saturday he wouldn't seek a sixth term in 2014.
Braley plans to meet Thursday with Reid and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. Braley says Harkin has encouraged him to consider making
the race.
Other possible candidates include Democrat Christie Vilsack, who lost a House race last year, and Republican U.S. Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham.

 

Man Arrested For Shooting Horses

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Police have arrested a 31-year-old Cedar Rapids man they suspect of shooting three horses in a Johnson County pasture.
One horse was killed and two others injured in the weekend shooting.
Ryan Grafft is being held at the Johnson County Jail on $17,500 bond. Investigators say Grafft fired a rifle at the animals from inside his truck as he passed by their pasture Sunday afternoon.
Grafft faces multiple charges, including shooting a rifle over a highway and injury to animals. He was arrested and jailed Tuesday morning.
Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek says Grafft fired about 20 shots into the pasture. The owner of the horses says he doesn't know Grafft and doesn't know why someone would want to harm his animals.
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Wednesday News, January 30

Climatologist Says Drought Likely To Continue

(Le Mars) -- "More of the same..." that's what State Climatologist Harry Hilaker told a group of farmers and other crop production officials during a seminar held in Le Mars on Tuesday.  Although Hilliker says it is likely the drought will continue through this upcoming crop year, there may be some noticeable changes.
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Hilaker says the real concern may not be so much with the dry conditions for the crops, but rather with the available water supplies.
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The state climatologist says don't look for any re-charge of moisture levels during the winter months.
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Sohl To Retire From Conservation Post

(Le Mars) -- After being on the job for 38 years, Plymouth County Conservation Executive Director, Dennis Sohl has announced he intends to retire.  The announcement was made official when Sohl mailed a letter to inform the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors. Sohl made the announcement to the County Conservation Board during their last meeting last Monday.  Sohl's official last day will be August 15, 2013.  The newly constructed Outdoor Learning Center located at the Hillview Recreation Center is named after the Conservation official.

 

Plymouth County's Finances Are In Good Shape

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County's financial condition was given a stamp of approval today when Jeff Peters of the Williams and Company offered to supervisors his independent review and audit of the county's finances.
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According to Peters' audit, the county has enough money in reserve to continue operations for at least 90 days.  Peters noted it is a vast improvement from years past when the county had only enough finances in reserve to sustain for about 45 days.  However, Peters suggested to the governing board to see if they may be able to increase the reserve general fund to continue county operations for at least 120 days.

 

15 Female Truck Drivers Not Allowed To Testify in Sexual Harassment Case

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A judge says 15 female drivers who claim they were sexually harassed by male trainers cannot testify at the upcoming trial against a Cedar Rapids trucking company.
U.S. District Judge Linda Reade barred the testimony Monday from women who claim they were groped, assaulted and harassed while working for CRST Van Expedited.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission wanted to introduce their testimony to bolster claims of the woman it's representing in the long-running case. Monika Starke claims she reported being
sexually harassed by a trainer in 2005 but a dispatcher initially instructed her to stay on the truck. CRST denies that.
Reade says the testimony isn't relevant to Starke's claim and could confuse and prejudice jurors since the 15 were allegedly harassed by other trainers. A scheduling hearing is Thursday.


Democratic Legislators Wants To Expand Medicaid

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Democratic legislators are pushing to expand Medicaid in Iowa.
Sen. Jack Hatch and Rep. Lisa Heddens, both Democrats, introduced legislation Tuesday that would broaden eligibility requirements for the state program, which covers low-income people, including children and the disabled. President Barack Obama's health care overhaul provides funding to states that do this expansion.
If expanded, as many as 150,000 people could be added to Iowa's Medicaid rolls, mostly low-income childless adults.
Gov. Terry Branstad has opposed an expansion, based on the cost to the state. The federal government would pay the full cost of the expansion for three years and then the state would gradually assume 10 percent of the costs for the new enrollees.


Economic Development Authority Wants More Money

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Economic Development Authority is asking legislators to approve an extra $65 million in state tax credits for this fiscal year.
The state puts a $120 million limit on tax breaks the agency can offer business, but director Debi Durham told lawmakers Tuesday that the authority needs $185 million for the fiscal year ending
June 30.
Democrat Sen. William Dotzler of Waterloo express skepticism, saying Iowa got "suckered" into giving $150 million in loans and tax breaks to two fertilizer companies last year. Those were the
state's biggest capital investment in history.
Durham says the request is necessary to compete with other states to get big business deals in Iowa.
The authority also asked for a $35 million budget increase for international marketing and a new jobs program.

 

Alons Wants To Make It Easier For Veterans To Obtain Guns

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Republican lawmaker wants to make it easier for veterans to purchase certain types of guns in Iowa.
Rep. Dwayne Alons has proposed legislation that would allow veterans to buy pistols and revolvers without getting a permit from a county sheriff. Currently, anyone purchasing those types of firearms must first get a permit.
Alons, of Hull, argued Tuesday at a subcommittee hearing that gun dealers already do background checks, so the additional permit process is unnecessary.

 

 

   

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