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Friday News, April 19

Where Is Spring?

(Le Mars) -- You can't help but scratch your head as you see the date on the calendar says it is Friday,  April 19th, but to look outside and see snow on the grounds. Although the moisture is perhaps appreciated, obviously, Mother Nature is playing a cruel late April Fools joke by producing the late season snow.  The spring snow, along with ice, has prompted many area schools, including Le Mars Community and Gehlen Catholic, to have a two hour late start.  Iowa State University Extension Climatologist, Elwynn Taylor says it may be at least two more weeks, or more, before temperatures warm up to near normal levels.

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Normally at this time of year, farmers would be in their fields planting the new corn crop. Since it will be a while until farmers can get to their fields, will that hurt the corn production in the long run?

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The ISU extension climatologist says although records show earlier planting usually performs better, he says the soil temperatures need to be at or above 50 degrees for a sustained period of time to help with the development of the seed.  Taylor says records have proven as the spring progresses, it normally will become wetter, which may be another factor determining when farmers will be able to plant the corn crop.  Taylor says this past winter and colder than normal spring reminds him of the conditions similar to 1947.

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Taylor says Iowa farmers have had three straight years of below trend-line yields, and he believes the odds are in favor for a fourth year of below trend-line yields.


Then Feed Just One Reaches Milestone of 1 Million Meals

(Le Mars) -- Officials with the "Then Feed Just One" organization will acknowledge the volunteer efforts of both Spalding Catholic and Remsen St. Mary's schools for helping the non-profit organization create one million meals for starving children worldwide.  A plaque presentation ceremony is scheduled today for both schools.


Gehlen Places 3rd in State Jazz Band Competition

(Des Moines) -- The state High School Jazz Band championships were held in Des Moines on Thursday with a number of area schools performing. Much like many of the sporting events, the schools are divided into classes depending upon its size of student enrollment.  In order to have qualified for the state jazz championship a school would have had to place either first or second within their district jazz music competition.  This was the fourth time in five years Gehlen Catholic had qualified for the state jazz championships.  Lisa Niebuhr of Gehlen Catholic attended the jazz music competition and says Gehlen was given their highest honor.

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Hard Rock Casino Selected For Downtown Sioux City

(Council Bluffs) -- It's Hard Rock Casino.  That is the casino selected by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to be the featured casino for downtown Sioux City.  Hard Rock with its parent company, Sioux City Entertainment, and the non-profit license holder,Missouri River Historical Development, hope to get started right away with converting the old Battery Building found on Water Street into the latest tourist attraction, complete with a 30 foot electric guitar neon sign. Three members of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission voted for the Hard Rock casino, chairman Jeff Lamberti of Ankeny, Carl Heinrich of Council Bluffs, and Kris Kramer of New Hampton.  Vice chair Greg Seyfer of Cedar Rapids voted for the Hollywood Casino for downtown Sioux City, and Dolores Mertz of Algona voted for the Warrior Hotel casino.


Senate Passes Health and Human Services Budget

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Senate has approved a $1.9 billion budget for Iowa's Health and Human Services agency.
The Senate passed the bill Thursday on a 26 to 22 party line vote. It spends $73 million more than the budget proposed by Gov. Terry Branstad.
The Senate bill gives more money to programs for autistic children, elderly and people on Medicaid waiting lists.
The proposal will likely go to a joint committee where members from both parties and chambers work out compromises.
Republican Sen. Amy Sinclair of Allerton tried to amend the bill to outlaw abortions funded through Medicaid. Such abortions now are allowed in rare cases of rape, incest, fetal deformity and to
protect a mother's life.
Sinclair's proposal, which would have allowed abortions to protect a woman's life, was rejected.


Lawmakers Try To Find Compromise On Education Funding Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Senate Democrats and House Republicans are rapidly trading education proposals, suggesting that a compromise deal might not be far off.
Democrats on Thursday said they will accept an offer from Republicans to increase general school funding, but they still want to implement a Democratic proposal to boost teacher pay and offer
leadership incentives.
In response, Republicans said they wanted to keep their plan that makes salary increases and teacher incentives optional, but they said they would increase the minimum teacher salary for
schools that participate to $33,500.
Lawmakers from the Democrat-majority Senate and Republican-controlled House have been debating how to implement Republican Gov. Terry Branstad's proposed education overhaul.
The joint committee deliberating on education does not yet have another meeting scheduled.


Federal Grant To Help Prevent Foreclosures

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa program geared at helping people avoid foreclosure has received a federal grant for more than $600,000.
The Iowa Mortgage Help foreclosure prevention initiative received the grant from the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program. State officials announced the award Thursday.
According to a press release, the award will go to preventative counseling efforts.
The state mortgage program was started in 2008. It receives an average of 20 calls each day and offers counseling services and legal support. The program is a partnership effort between the Iowa
Finance Authority, the Office of the Attorney General, Iowa Mediation Service, the Iowa Home Ownership Education Project and Iowa Legal Aid.

Tobacco Settlement Helps Iowa's Funding

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's state treasury has received an annual payment from tobacco companies totaling more than $65 million.
The payment is the result of a 1998 settlement agreement between tobacco companies and states over tobacco-related health care costs.
According to a news release from the state attorney general, since 1999 Iowa has received nearly $889 million in payments from the settlement. Attorney General Tom Miller says it provides
"significant ongoing payments to Iowa."



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