Thursday Afternoon News, April 21
House Republicans Say No To D-O-T Salary Raises
(Des Moines) -- Republicans in the Iowa House say the Iowa D-O-T got a significant budget boost when the state gas tax went up a dime-a-gallon last year -- and the agency should reallocate money within its budget to pay for negotiated employee pay raises. Representative Daniel Huseman (HYOOZ-man), a Republican from Aurelia, says this is a "tough budget year" and other state agencies will have to do that.
Iowa D-O-T officials say without the extra money, up to 400 employees will be laid off, plus some of the state's Driver's License stations and D-O-T maintenance garages will have to be closed. Lee Wilkinson, director of the D-O-T's operations and finance division, isn't saying which locations might be targeted.
Wilkinson says the D-O-T cannot use any of the additional gas tax revenue to cover salaries, because of legislative action in 2015 that barred the practice.
The House Appropriations Committee met last night (Wednesday) and voted to remove the money for D-O-T salary hikes that Senators had included in a transportation budget bill.
Clay County Fair To Construct New Exhibit Hall
(Spencer)-- Members of the Clay County Fair Executive Committee broke ground yesterday, on two capital improvement projects totaling nearly $750,000 that will dramatically transform the Clay County Fairgrounds for years to come.
The first project is the construction of a new 12,000 square foot exhibit building east of the Creative Living Center. The new exhibit building will provide additional commercial and competitive exhibit space beginning with the 2017 Fair, as well as new restroom facilities for the east end of the fairgrounds.
Clay County Fair Manager and CEO Jeremy Parsons talks about the new commercial exhibit building.
Parsons says he feels the new exhibit building will become an 'anchor' to the east end of the fairgrounds, providing quality exhibit space and restrooms. He says the porch along the north side will also provide a great place for fairgoers to sit and rest.
The second project is a complete rebuild and expansion of the Fair's electrical grid in the "Food Row" area south of the Grandstand. The project, which will be completed with assistance from Spencer Municipal Utilities, will allow the Fair to handle the increased electrical demands of the food concessionaires.
Parsons says burying the electrical grid underground will also serve as a huge aesthetic improvement to the Fair. Both projects are part of the Fair's "Centennial Vision," the multi-year, multi-million dollar renovation of the Clay County Fairgrounds that was announced in 2014. The goal of "Centennial Vision" is to make the Fairgrounds a shining jewel for not only the Fair's Centennial in 2017, but for its next 100 years of use. Several "Centennial Vision" projects have been completed since 2014 including new white vinyl fencing around the North Parking Lot and campgrounds; the renovation and restoration of Historic Main Gate A, as well as new landscaping and seating areas; new aluminum bleachers in the Grandstand Annex; and an overhaul of the Outdoor Arena new permanent fencing and gates, new lighting, and bleacher repair.
Roll-Over Accident Claims Life Of A 15 Year Old Girl
(Sioux City) -- One teenager was killed and two others injured Wednesday evening in a one vehicle rollover crash in Sioux City. Sioux City Police say the car driven by a 15 year old girl went out of control in the 4000 block of 28th Street, left the road, and struck a dirt embankment and rolled. The three teens were taken to Mercy Medical Center, where a 15 year old female passenger was pronounced dead. The driver, and a 15 year old male passenger were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. The names of the victims have not been released and the accident remains under investigation.
American Red Cross To Distribute Fire Alarms To Homes
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Volunteers will fan out across some Sioux City neighborhoods later this month to install hundreds of smoke detectors.
The American Red Cross event on April 30 is the first of such scale in the city, involving more than 100 volunteers visiting about 1,600 homes. Fire officials say the neighborhoods were chosen because fire call data show the neighborhoods have a disproportionate number of fires.
Teams will have three to five volunteers per group. They'll talk to residents about fire safety while one of the volunteers installs a detector.