Thursday Afternoon News, December 18
Plymouth County Conservation Board Eligible For Grant
(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Conservation Board was recently notified it is eligible for a grant to help with the new River's Bend Lake located near Akron. Nick Beeck serves as the executive director for the Conservation Board, and explains how the grant money will be utilized.
Beeck says before the County Conservation Board can obtain the funding, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources still needs to agree to the plan. However, Beeck is confident the local conservation board will be given approval. He says of the $9,600 requested, the state DNR would finance 90 percent of the costs, and the Plymouth County Conservation Board would need to finance the remaining 10 percent. The grant proposal was scored at a recent district conference.
The rennovation of the lake is scheduled for March or April, depending upon when the lake is free of ice. Beeck says within a month after the application, the Conservation Board will be able to re-stock the new lake with desired game fish.
Beeck says River's Bend used to be a gravel pit. He says the county made a land swap deal with the Higman Sand and Gravel Company. The Conservation Board is on year two of a three year plan to upgrade the facilities to include a boat ramp, camping area, restrooms, and a shelter house.
AGP To Expand Sergeant Bluff Facilities
SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa (AP) - An Omaha, Nebraska, soybean processing company plans to build a $90 million vegetable oil refinery in western Iowa.
Ag Processing Inc. plans to build the refinery at its complex near Sergeant Bluff, creating at least 20 new jobs. The information comes from documents by Ag Processing seeking nearly $1 million in Iowa loans and tax breaks released by the state Wednesday.
The company's complex in Woodbury County currently includes a soybean processing plant, biodiesel plant and grain storage facilities.
The vegetable oil refinery proposed for the same 85-acre site would be designed for 30 rail tank cars per day. Estimated project costs include $2.5 million for site preparation, $14.5 million for construction and $71.5 million for new machinery and equipment.
Argosy Casino's Final Remnants May Remain In Place For A Year
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The final remnants of Sioux City's former riverboat casino will remain in the river for up to a year.
Two large moorings in the Missouri River are all that is left at the former site of the gambling boat. The reddish-orange moorings protrude about 15 feet above the surface near the shoreline.
The Argosy riverboat casino closed in July after the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission ordered it to cease operations because it wasn't partnered with a state-licensed local nonprofit group as required by Iowa law. An Illinois marine business bought the riverboat and other assets, which it plans to sell.
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman says the business has until December 2015 to remove the moorings.
High School Students Building Home For College Credit
HUMBOLDT, Iowa (AP) - Four Humboldt High School students are earning college credit as they help build a house through a program at Iowa Central Community College.
The students are participating in the Early Bird Program with the community college that allows them to spend their school day mornings building a house.
Senior Colby Miller says he'll likely use his work experience to enter the construction industry. He says he's already been able to use his time in the program, which is in its 13th year, to his advantage. He spent part of his summer working on a building's roof.
The Humboldt County Housing Development Corporation funds the annual project.
Iowa's Blacklisted Employees Findiing It Difficult To Obtain State Employment
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Challenges to Iowa's practice of barring from re-employment former workers who resigned under pressure or were fired are failing in courts and the executive branch.
The Associated Press disclosed in March that the state has for years been quietly declaring such workers ineligible. Outraged union leaders called the practice illegal blacklisting and lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit.
But months later, little has changed. A judge dismissed the lawsuit in October, saying workers have to challenge their disqualification through the executive branch, not the courts.
Administrative law judges and the Employment Appeal Board have rejected appeal after appeal from workers trying to get re-employed. Not one challenge has been successful this year.
Former state worker Holly Rider says agencies are "missing out on a lot of people with great potential."
University Of Iowa Defends Decision To Reassign Employee
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa is defending its decision to reassign a law school employee while she brings a lawsuit claiming political discrimination.
The university last month transferred Teresa Wagner from her eight-year job as associate director of the law school's writing center to a position in the main library.
The move came after Wagner last month accused her boss at the writing center of going through her backpack, and said the two could no longer work together.
In her federal lawsuit, Wagner claims she was passed over for faculty jobs because of her conservative politics.
Her attorney has alleged the reassignment amounts to a demotion and is retaliation. The university denied that, noting the transfer didn't affect Wagner's pay.
A judge will hold a hearing next month on the issue.
Iowa City Businesses Feeling Uneasy About Homeless Shelter
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Some business owners are uneasy about a planned temporary homeless shelter in Iowa City aimed at keeping people warm during the winter.
Owner Jim Rogers of Jim's Instrument Manufacturing says the short-term housing solution, which will be open only in January and February, could draw more criminal activity to the area. He says there's already a homeless shelter in the area.
Paul Young, who owns Sweet Livin' Antiques, tells KWWL-TV that he supports helping those in need, but worries the temporary shelter could be permanent.
The Iowa City Council on Tuesday approved to spend up to $20,000 on the project that will be housed in a former grocery store building.