Thursday News, July 23
EPA Officials Conducting Tests For P-C-E In Le Mars
(Le Mars) -- City council members heard a brief update Tuesday from Environmental Protection Agency officials who are in town conducting research and testing on the pollutant, P-C-E found in the downtown area of Le Mars. The EPA officials are trying to determine if the pollutant P-C-E that was located more than a year ago in the soil near the railroad tracks and other locations within downtown, has spread. Susan Fisher is an onsite coordinator with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Fisher says EPA officials have tested about 20 downtown properties. She says testing has also occurred in buildings that had small amounts of P-C-E detected nearly a year ago.
The EPA official says P-C-E is a cancer causing agent that is similar to radon, and was used many decades ago in dry-cleaning operations.
Fisher says her studies are not conclusive, but she believes the P-C-E has been confined to the contamination area with in downtown.
Fisher will again report back to the city leaders when her findings are conclusive.
Branstad Authorizes National Guard To Arm Personnel At Facilities
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is authorizing the Iowa National Guard to increase security and arm additional personnel at facilities, including recruiting stations.
Branstad said Wednesday he was authorizing Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr to strengthen security, but would leave the decisions to Orr's discretion. Earlier this week, Branstad asked Orr to review the current security measures at National Guard sites.
The Republican governor also plans to ask the federal government to review the protections at all military facilities. He'll make that request during a meeting this week in Washington for a group of governors who advise federal officials on security matters.
Last Thursday, Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire at a military recruiting office and a Navy-Marine operations center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, killing four Marines. A sailor wounded in the attack died Saturday.
Branstad Asks For Federal Disaster Assistance For 19 Counties
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is asking President Barack Obama to issue a presidential disaster declaration for 19 Iowa counties to aid recovery from damaging storms in June.
Branstad announced Wednesday he was sending a letter to Obama that seeks the declaration for Allamakee, Appanoose, Butler, Clayton, Dallas, Davis, Des Moines, Guthrie, Howard, Jefferson, Lee, Lucas, Marion, Mitchell, Monroe, Warren, Wayne, Winneshiek and Wright counties.
They were damaged by winds, tornadoes, heavy rain, hail and thunderstorms from June 20 to 25.
A preliminary damage assessment found the weather caused $5.1 million in damage that would be eligible for aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Public Assistance Program.
That program aids the rebuilding of damaged infrastructure, including roads, bridges and public facilities. It also covers the cost of debris removal.
Scientists Develop Vaccine For Bird Flu
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Scientists have developed a vaccine strain that is 100 percent effective in protecting chickens from bird flu and testing is underway to see if it protects turkeys
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the House Agriculture Committee at a hearing on Wednesday that the agency plans to quickly license it for widespread production if it is effective for turkeys. The USDA is seeking federal funding to stockpile vaccine nationally.
The vaccine targets the H5N2 virus that killed 48 million birds in 15 states this spring. Development is part of the USDA's preparation for a possible outbreak recurrence.
Scientists believe the virus was spread by droppings of wild birds migrating north this spring. They're concerned it could return this fall when birds fly south for the winter or again next spring.
Road Rage Incident Results In Arrest
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Des Moines authorities say a man suspected of firing gunshots during a road rage incident has been arrested.
Police say 21-year-old Jamar Wooten was arrested by Des Moines detectives on Wednesday afternoon. His attorney didn't immediately return calls from The Associated Press on Thursday.
The allegations of intimidation with a dangerous weapon stems from an incident July 9. A man and woman were returning home with their children in a sport utility vehicle when another driver cut them off. After exchanging shouts, the other driver began following the SUV.
The SUV driver parked, and the other man demanded that they fight. The SUV driver says he saw the other driver get a handgun from his vehicle and shoot at the SUV driver, striking the SUV.
Road Crews Use Snow Plows To Remove Insects From Bridge
SABULA, Iowa (AP) - Iowa highway crews had to plow a bridge crossing the Mississippi River because of ankle-deep mayflies that swarmed the span.
The insects on Saturday night swarmed to the Savannah-Sabula bridge, connecting Iowa and Illinois.
The bugs covered the bridge so thickly, and caused such slick conditions, that crews plowed the bugs off the lanes and then applied sand for traction.
Officials plan to keep bridge lights turned off for the next few weeks in hopes that the insects will be less attracted to the structure.
Mayflies, also known as fishflies and shadflies, emerge from freshwater and spend lives as short as 24 hours flying around and reproducing.
Johnson County Proposes Increasing Minimum Wage
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is considering a proposal to raise the minimum wage to more than $10 an hour by 2017.
The proposal would raise the current minimum of $7.25 by 95 cents a year for three years, starting in November.
Supervisor Janelle Rettig said Wednesday during a board work session that, for people's basic human needs, $10.10 an hour "is not aggressive at all."
County Attorney Janet Lyness says her office is reviewing whether the county could withstand any lawsuit brought against the new wage. Cities inside the county would have the option of passing an ordinance exempting them from the new wage rule, were it to be passed by the supervisors.