Monday News, November 17
Sioux City Residents To Receive Money Back From Illegal Franchise Fees
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa judge has approved the settlement of a class-action lawsuit in which the city of Sioux City agreed to pay nearly $6.5 million it overcharged in franchise fees to city residents and businesses.
Judge Jeffrey Neary of Woodbury County District Court approved the deal on Friday. The lawsuit was filed in 2006 class-action by Sioux City resident Kathleen Sweisberger on behalf of all households and businesses that paid the 2 percent franchise fees for gas or electricity to MidAmerican Energy or Woodbury County Rural Electric Cooperative from September 5th, 2001 to May 25th, 2009. Lawyers say nearly 62,000 individuals and businesses will qualify for settlement payments.
Iowa courts have ruled that the franchise fees were illegal when first imposed.
DeCoster's Await Sentencing From Tainted Egg Scandal
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A judge has scheduled a February sentencing for the father and son whose Iowa egg farms were linked to a huge 2010 salmonella outbreak.
U.S. District Judge Mark W. Bennett ruled Thursday that Quality Egg owners Austin "Jack" DeCoster and Peter DeCoster will be sentenced during hearings that begin February 9th in Sioux City and could last five days.
The DeCosters pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. They face up to one year in jail, but their attorney is arguing for a fine and probation.
Quality Egg also faces a fine after pleading guilty to bribing a federal inspector, selling misbranded food and introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce.
The outbreak sickened thousands of people nationwide and shook public confidence in the egg industry.
Hard Rock Casino Still Hiring Employees
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Those looking for a job at Sioux City's newest casino can count on more than Lady Luck.
The downtown Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sioux City that opened nearly three months ago is still looking to fill 40 to 45 jobs, many of them front-line positions, including table game dealers, security officers, bartenders, servers, cooks and housekeepers.
But some of the jobs are managerial. Hard Rock General Manager Todd Moyer says the casino is still looking for a purchasing manager, director of hotel operations and environmental services manager.
Moyer says a tight local labor market has made recruiting more challenging. The Sioux City area unemployment rate recently stood at 4.4 percent.
Six Year Old Girl Seriously Injured While Sledding
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - A 6-year-old girl was critically hurt this weekend when she sledded into a street in Council Bluffs and was hit by a truck.
The incident happened just before 1 p.m. Saturday.
Council Bluffs Police say Kailey Maloney was sledding down the driveway of her grandfather's property. She was hit by a 2005 Chevrolet pickup truck after she slid into the street.
Maloney was taken to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha for treatment of life-threatening injuries.
Grassley Questions The Daily Cost To Feed And Clothe Illegal Immigrants
(Washington) -- President Obama has said he intends to use his executive powers to approve a plan allowing millions of undocumented immigrants, that have come to live in the United States, to be given legal status. Many in Washington, especially Republicans, are opposed to offering what they call "amnesty" to illegal aliens. One concern is the cost factor. US Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews-Burwell estimates American taxpayers are paying between $250 and $1000 per child every day to house, feed and clothe children of undocumented immigrants. During his weekly news conference, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says, if the estimates are accurate, he is astonished, and questions why it's so expensive.
Iowa 4th District Republican Congressman Steve King says President Obama will provoke a "constitutional crisis" if he follows through with an executive order that would shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.
Farm Bill Meetings Scheduled For Northwest Iowa
(Le Mars) -- Beginning today, and continuing through the month of December, the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach along with the U-S-D-A Farm Services Agency will host a series of meetings discussing the provisions of the new Farm Bill. There will be a meeting for each county. Melissa O'Rourke, is the farm management specialist with Iowa State University Extension. She says this farm bill is a departure from previous farm program legislation.
The Farm Management Specialist says farmers will have to know the new programs, since the decision they make will be for the next five years. She says farmers and landowners need to decide whether they want to protect themselves from yield losses, or price loss.
On the other hand, as O'Rourke explains, if farmers are more concerned about the revenue losses, they may want to sign up for PLC or Price Loss Coverage program.
As mentioned, those farm bill meetings begin today at Cherokee and Primghar. The Cherokee location will be at the Western Iowa Technical Community College starting at 9:00 a.m. and the Primghar meeting will start at 1:30 p.m. at the Primghar Community Center. The Le Mars meeting is scheduled for December 3rd at the Le Mars Convention Center starting at 9:00 a.m. For specific dates, locations, and times, contact your local Iowa State University Extension and Outreach office.
Farm Credit Official Says Land Values Still Holding Strong
(Kansas City) -- While land prices in many parts of the Midwest have come down from their record highs, there are no indications they’re going to collapse. Doug Stark, president and CEO of Omaha-based Farm Credit Services of America, says there’s still a lot of strength under farmland overall.
But Stark says if the profitability in farming remains low—and interest rates start to rise—it’s likely to have a dampening effect on land prices going forward.
Farm Credit Services of America serves farmers in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Officials Worry About Available Water Supplies
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State officials may impose new limits on groundwater use to protect the underground aquifer that supplies drinking water to a half-million Iowans.
Environmental leaders are concerned about the future of the Jordan aquifer that sits beneath most of Iowa because water use continues to grow.
The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission is scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss requiring additional conservation measures and possibly force some water users to seek other sources of water.
Marion Water Department manager Todd Steigerwaldt says the lower the aquifer sinks, the worse the water quality will be.
Since the 1970s, use of water in the aquifer has increased 72 percent to nearly 26 billion gallons last year. The growing ethanol industry has contributed significantly to the increase.