STATE EMPLOYEE SENTENCED
A former state employee from northwest Iowa admits she manipulated her husband’s time sheets to inflate his pay by tens of thousands of dollars. Renae Rapp was an administrative assistant at the state unit in Cherokee where sexually violent predators are committed once their prison terms have expired. Her husband, Adam Rapp, was working as a part-time security specialist at the unit. Renae Rapp has pleaded guilty to second degree theft, a class D felony. She will not serve time in prison. She’s been ordered to pay the state more than 57-thousand dollars in restitution. That’s equal to the amount of excess pay she got for her husband by recording he’d worked more hours thn he had over an 18-month period. She must also serve two years of probation and reimburse the state for court costs and attorney’s fees.
SUMMIT CARBON SOLUTIONS
Summit Carbon Solutions, is holding an open house at this hour at the Quad Counties Corn Processors Plant in Galva, in Ida County. Summit plans to connect a carbon capture pipeline to the ethanol plant there, and transfer CO2 produced by the plant along their planned pipeline to a North Dakota storage site. The connection at Galva would extend north to Cherokee County, then northwest to join a line extending from Nebraska through Woodbury, Plymouth, and Sioux Counties. It’s one of two carbon capture pipelines proposed to run through parts of northwest Iowa. Summit is seeking easements from farmers to locate their pipeline. The company petitioned the Iowa Utilities Board for a construction permit in January, and the board will meet on December 13 to finalize a hearing schedule for the permit request. The company will be seek permission from the board for the right of eminent domain. This would allow Summit to force easements on land parcels where their owners refuse to grant them.
Akron celebrates a hometown Christmas tonight, from 5 to 8 pm. The Akron Fire Department will escort Santa and Mrs. Santa into town at 5 pm. They will help light the community Christmas tree in front of the American Legion Building. There’s a festival of trees at the Akron Opera House, and a bell choir will perform at the Post Office at 5-30 pm. There’s a selfie scavenger hunt at the Public Library, caroler, a living nativity, and window displays to add to the festivities. Akron’s Hometown Christmas is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and area businesses and organizations.
There were a number of crashes yesterday, due in part, to slippery road conditions. The Plymouth County Sheriffs Department reported details of a pair of accidents.
One, a rollover accident, occurred just before 7 am Tuesday, on US Highway 75 just south of Merrill. A northbound pickup, traveling too fast for conditions, entered the east ditch an rolled at least once, coming to rest of its wheels. The driver, 20 year old Angel Gorrochotegui, of Sioux City was not injured. The vehicle was totaled. Citations are pending.
There was also a two vehicle accident on US 75 near 150th St north of Le Mars. A southbound SUV lost control, going too fast for conditions. The vehicle crossed the center line and struck the duals of a northbound semi, then went into a ditch. The driver, 32 year old Andrew Styles of Sioux City, suffered minor injuries and did not seek treatment at the scene. The vehicle was totaled. The driver of the semi, Scott Ross, age 45 of Kingsley, was not injured. The Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Iowa State Patrol.
2022 CORN CROP
The U-S-D-A is predicting the average corn yield in Iowa this year will be 202 bushels an acre. That’s just a couple of bushels short of last year’s record. Iowa State University ag economist Chad Hart says drought conditions had a mixed impact on yields.
Commodity prices are strong and the U-S-D-A predicts farm income nationwide will be about five percent higher than in 2021.
Initial U-S-D-A projections for 2023 suggest Iowa farmers will plant more acres of corn next spring.
Hart says lingering drought conditions have been a concern for farmers in each of the past two growing seasons and will be again in 2023.
Officials in Texas say drought there is causing billions of dollars in losses for cotton farmers. In the American west, drought conditions have persisted for 22 years and ag operations are fighting to maintain access to water.
FOOD BANK DEMAND
The C-E-O of Iowa’s largest homeless shelter says a key indicator suggests more Iowans may become homeless in the months ahead. Melissa O’Neal is the C-E-O of Central Iowa Shelter and Services. She says just before people can no longer afford to pay rent or a mortgage, the last thing they stop buying is food. Officials who manage Iowa food banks and food pantries say demand is rising and O’Neal says she and others are watching that trend closely. The most recent federal data indicates over two-thousand Iowans were staying in a homeless shelter in January of 2021. Officials estimate up to 500 other Iowans were living in vehicles, homeless camps or some other unsheltered environment.
MISSOURI RIVER LEVEES
The U-S Army Corps of Engineers is agreeing to consider changes to levees along the Missouri River in an effort to avoid a repeat of recent major floods. State officials in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska worked together to suggest changes to reduce the risks following the 2019 flood. Colonel Travis Rayfield, commander of the Corps’ Kansas City District, says federal law restricts what they can do when rebuilding levees that were broken by floodwaters. Under current federal law, the Corps is only allowed to rebuild levees. Rayfield says the Corps will study the river’s flow from South Dakota all the way to St. Louis. The Corps will factor major floods in 1993, 2011 and 2019 into the study. Two southwestern Iowa towns, Hamburg and Pacific Junction, were heavily damaged in the 2019 flood, with Hamburg alone losing more than 70 homes.
GRASSLEY RAIL STRIKE
President Biden is calling on Congress to intervene to avoid a nationwide railroad strike that’s looming in early December and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he anticipates there will be quick action by federal lawmakers. Grassley, a Republican, says a rail strike would be “devastating” to the country’s economy, costing perhaps two-billion dollars per week. Grassley says it could hardly come at a worse time for Iowa’s farmers, who rely on rail to move inputs, grains and other ag products. He says the Biden administration has worked to resolve the labor dispute, but has only managed to delay a strike from early October until December 9th. Grassley says this could’ve and should’ve been done well before now, but he blames Democrats for being “too focused on a partisan spending agenda.”