Wednesday News, December 11
Judge Rules A Stay On Hard Rock Casino
(Sioux City) -- A judge has ruled a stay on the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission's awarding of the Hard Rock Casino. Polk County Judge Robert Hanson has granted a motion from Penn National Gaming and the Belle of Sioux City to stay the actions of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission as it relates to the Hard Rock Casino Development in downtown Sioux City. Karen Bailey, Vice President of Public Affairs for Penn National Gaming, says the company is grateful to the judge for granting the stay. She says it is a "great relief for the (Argosy) employees given the turmoil they have been put through". Bailey says their side of the story is finally being heard.
Judge Hanson's ruling says the issuance and effectiveness of the licenses granted to Hard Rock Casino developer Sioux City Entertainment and their nonprofit, Missouri River Historical Development, for the development and operation of a land-based casino in Woodbury County, and all other actions by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission are hereby stayed. The ruling does not specificly mention the ongoing Hard Rock Casino Construction. Bailey says Penn National Gaming will continue the case in court.
"From a legal perspective, we are going to continue to argue our case, based on the court's schedule, and we do believe in the merits of the case that we brought forward."
Mark Monson of MRHD says he has not had a chance to read the ruling, and is not commenting at this time.
Wireless World Makes Donation To Le Mars YMCA
(Le Mars) -- Wireless World of Le Mars is donating funds to the Le Mars YMCA to help support youth programs. The cellular telephone distributer is contributing $1,160 to the local Y organization. Steve Harrington, store manager, says "the Le Mars and Plymouth County community has helped our business be very successful over the past year, and Wireless World wants to give back something in gratitude". Harrington says the Wireless World donation will help up to 100 children take health and safety courses at the YMCA. He says the Wireless World support of youth programs will allow children to participate that may not otherwise be able to attend the courses.
Fagg Discrimination Lawsuit Trial Continues
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A memo sent by a former prosecutor was a focus of a trial in U.S. District Court in Sioux City alleging discrimination by a former U.S. attorney.
One of former prosecutor Martha Fagg's supervisors cautioned her about sending the memo to then-U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose. The memo raised concerns that a personnel move could be seen as age discrimination.
Retired assistant U.S. attorney Janet Petersen testified Tuesday that she recommended Fagg tone down some of her language.
Fagg claims she ran into problems with Rose due to the memo. Less than a month after sending the memo, Fagg was disciplined and then ordered to temporarily transfer from Sioux City to Cedar Rapids. She later was fired.
Rose is now a federal judge.
Iowa Credit Unions Show Growth
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Credit unions in Iowa had the largest gain in deposits in the country in the past year and the state's credit unions had the second fastest growth in assets.
The National Credit Union Administration, which charters and supervises credit unions, released Tuesday its third quarter statistics for the industry.
The report says deposits at the state's 116 credit unions grew to $10.1 billion, up 9 percent from the same quarter a year ago, the fastest growth in the country.
Assets held by Iowa's credit unions grew 8.2 percent to a third-quarter total of $11.69 billion, the second highest growth rate behind Idaho.
Iowa credit union membership grew to just over 1 million, a 1.6 percent increase from September 2012.
Federal Authorities Give Approval For Iowa Low-Income Heallth Care Plan
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Federal authorities are granting approval to Iowa's proposal to expand low-income health care.
Officials from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service announced Tuesday that Iowa's request was granted with "virtually all the initiatives the state has proposed." But authorities are not giving the Gov. Terry Branstad as much flexibility as he sought to charge premiums to the very poor.
Iowa sought a waiver enabling the state to receive more federal Medicaid money for the proposed Iowa Health and Wellness Plan. The new health insurance program would cover up to 150,000 residents.
The state wanted to charge small monthly premiums to those with incomes over half of the federal poverty line starting in 2015. Federal officials said Iowa could only charge those with incomes above 100 percent of poverty.
Transportation Department Sets Rules For Red Light And Speeding Cameras
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Transportation Commission has approved new rules that would give state transportation officials control over whether speed and red light cameras are placed by cities and counties on state supervised highways and interstates.
The rules approved Tuesday would require local agencies to show cameras are targeting "documented high-crash or high-risk locations." They would have to justify renewal every year.
Local officials have criticized the rules, saying the state is taking away local control. Many insist the cameras make roads and intersections safer.
Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Sioux City have cameras on interstates that would be regulated by the new rules. The state has no laws governing their use.
The rules must go through another public hearing before a legislative committee before finalization, likely in February.
DNR Using Social Media To Answer Questions About Wildlife
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials are turning to social media to answer questions about the state's wildlife.
The state Department of Natural Resources says wildlife supervisors will be on the social networking site Facebook on Dec. 19 to answer questions.
Karen Kinkead and Willie Suchy of the Wildlife Diversity Program will monitor a specific post for questions on anything ranging from animals in a backyard to out in the field. People can also post questions ahead of time on the agency's page.
The pair will answer questions between noon and 2:30 p.m.
Spirit Lake Man Faces Murder Charges
SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (AP) - A Spirit Lake man faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of a Minnesota woman.
The Dickinson County Sheriff's Office says 21-year-old Tailer James Handsacker made his first court appearance Tuesday in connection with the death of 36-year-old Sarah Renee Grimmius, of Jackson, Minn.
Police say Grimmius was found dead Sunday night at a rural home in Spirit Lake. Additional information about the case has not been released.
Handsacker was arrested Monday and he remains at the Dickinson County Jail. Court records do not list an attorney.