Monday Afternoon News, June 30
Wet Weather Pattern May End Soon
(Le Mars) -- June obviously has produced a record rainfall for the entire state, and it may seem as though we have had more occurances of severe weather consisting of large hail and damaging winds. But according to State Climatologist, Harry Hillaker, state wide, June was considered a fairly quiet month.
It may seem as though more and larger hail has fallen this year, covering a wider area than in past years. Hillaker says hail can be quite variable, and is not always easy to record from year to year over a wide area.
The state climatologist says weather occurs in patterns, and he believes the pattern that created the unusual wet month of June may be ending.
Hillaker says there have been fewer reports of tornadoes in Iowa this year than in past years. He notes last year also had the fewest number of tornadoes ever reported in Iowa. July and August typically have hotter temperatures, but Hillaker says that may not happen this year.
Le Mars Man Arrested For Assault
(Le Mars) -- A Le Mars man has been arrested for assaulting a woman that resides with him. The Plymouth County Sheriff's office has arrested 27 year old Michael Grubb. Grubb was charged with serious domestic abuse assault, a serious misdemeanor. The Sheriff's office received a 9-1-1 call of a domestic abuse occurring at 13896 2nd Avenue. After an investigation at the residence, Grubb was arrested for assaulting a female victim. He was then booked into the Plymouth County jail.
Diverted Flight Lands In Sioux City
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Denver-bound jetliner has landed in Sioux City after its pilot noticed a power warning light flashing in the cockpit.
Southwest Airlines Flight 3809 landed without incident at 2:40 p.m. Sunday after leaving the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport about 90 minutes earlier. The Boeing 737 model carried 143 passengers and five crew members.
Southwest spokeswoman Michelle Agnew says the pilot took the cautious route even though the situation wasn't dire. Agnew says the system that was involved powered such features as coffee pots and cabin lights and that backup power sources were available.
Sioux City airport operations manager John Backer says the passengers waited in the terminal for about three hours until a replacement plane arrived and they could board and resume their journeys.
State Grant To Help Pay For Courthouse Clock Repairs
VINTON, Iowa (AP) - A state grant should help pay for repairs to a Benton County Courthouse clock that has been frozen in time for years.
The State Historical Society of Iowa has approved a $32,000 grant for work on the clock atop the courthouse in Vinton. The grant is contingent on a local clock restoration group raising $16,000 for the project.
Time has been frozen on the clock at just before 12 since sometime in 2008.
County Attorney David Thompson says organizers of the restoration effort hope to complete the clock project by spring 2015.
Robert Spangler, who heads the Benton County Clock Restoration Task Force, says it will take about three months to remove, recondition and reinstall the clock.
Farmers Plant More Soybeans - Less Corn
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - American farmers have planted less corn than in any year since 2010 but more soybeans than ever, as expected.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says in its annual Acreage Report released Monday that farmers planted 91.6 million acres of corn. That's 4 percent less than last year but still the fifth-largest corn crop planted since 1944. Analysts expected some farmers to devote more acreage to soybeans because of a drop in corn prices.
The USDA says farmers planted a record high 84.8 million acres of soybeans, up 11 percent from last year. Record soybean acres have been planted in Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Seventy-six percent of the corn crop is in good to excellent condition, compared with 63 percent last year.
Branstad Says Staff Did Not Know Of Secret Settlements
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says his staff knew nothing of settlement agreements with state workers that included clauses requiring secrecy before late March when reports surfaced in the media. And he says they didn't know payments had been made for that secrecy.
Branstad is responding to last week's Senate Government Oversight Committee hearing in which former Department of Administrative Services attorney Ryan Lamb said he told the governor's chief of staff documents might exist showing money was negotiated for secrecy.
Branstad says Chief of Staff Matt Hinch met with Lamb twice and both times Lamb insisted there were no payments made for promises of secrecy.
Lamb later called Hinch after recalling there could be an email showing a payment was offered.
It later surfaced, creating questions around who knew about secret settlements.
Audit Questions Payments To Workers
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Auditors say a state-run center for the disabled improperly awarded dozens of no-bid construction contracts to the family business of a high-ranking Iowa purchasing official.
State Auditor Mary Mosiman released findings Monday of an investigation into Department of Administrative Services employee Lois Schmitz and her family business, BluePrint Homes LLC.
The report says Woodward Resource Center gave the company $505,000 in contracts in one year. Most payments were improperly split into amounts of less than $10,000 to avoid competitive bidding.
The report says Schmitz failed to disclose the payments to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board as required.
Schmitz was fired last year after bosses accused her of a conflict of interest. But an arbitrator reinstated her in January after determining she had no role in awarding the contracts.