Thursday News, February 27
Elementary Schools To Get New Playground Equipment
(Le Mars) -- Efforts are underway to replace the playground equipment found at the three Le Mars Community Elementary schools. Scott Parry serves as the principal for the Kluckholn elementary school and has been overseeing the project. He says this summer, people will notice four new playground sets.
Parry says, so far, the local Parent Teacher Organization has been able to raise approximately one-fifth the cost for the playground equipment, or about $70,000.
He says the expected costs for the new playground equipment is set around $350,000. The Kluckholn principal says the time has come to replace the old equipment because it has become worn and rundown, and no longer meets all the regulations.
Parry says the new playground equipment is built to offer fun challenges for students and to provide for a safer environment.
The elementary school principal says all the playground equipment should be constructed and ready for use by the time school starts next fall. Parry says the P-T-O is still raising funds for the project, and donations are being accepted. Later this year, the school will be holding a raffle for a riding lawnmower that has been donated by ICON Ag and Turf with the proceeds to go towards the financing of the playground equipment.
Bids will be accepted from playground equipment manufacturers for the next month, with the school board set to review those bids during their March 24th meeting.
Borlaug Statue To Go To Washington D.C.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says a statue of Norman Borlaug will be installed in the U.S. Capitol next month.
Branstad will attend the official installation on March 25, which is the 100th anniversary of Borlaug's birth.
In 2011, Iowa officials agreed to replace a statue of Sen. James Harlan at the U.S. Capitol with one of Borlaug. Borlaug was a Cresco native who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his role in combating world hunger.
South Dakota artist Benjamin Victor created the sculpture. The statue is finished and is in Aberdeen, South Dakota, awaiting transport to Washington.
Each state can display two sculptures in the Capitol. The Borlaug statue will replace one of former senator and Interior Department secretary James Harlan. The Harlan statue will return to Iowa.
Veterans To Receive Property Tax Relief
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Veterans in Iowa would receive a larger property tax exemption under a bill approved by a legislative panel.
A three-member subcommittee unanimously approved the measure Wednesday. The legislation now goes to the full House Ways and Means Committee.
Under current law, a property tax credit of $1,852 is available only for certain veterans. The bill would increase the amount to $3,704 for all eligible veterans beginning July 1st.
The state appropriates a set amount to local governments to offset these costs. Local governments wouldn't pay the additional credits in full unless state funding was sufficient.
Republican Representative John Landon, who chairs the subcommittee, says discussion on the bill will continue.
Jimmy Centers, a spokesman for Governor Terry Branstad, says he's open to any proposals designed to reduce taxes.
Harkin Sponsors Bill To Limit E-Cigarette Marketing
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Iowa U.S. Senator Tom Harkin is co-sponsoring a bill that would curb electronic cigarette marketing while the fast-growing industry awaits federal regulation.
The bill introduced Wednesday by California Senator Barbara Boxer, Harkin and others would ban marketing to children based on standards set by the Federal Trade Commission.
Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine solution and create vapor that's inhaled.
Harkin says e-cigarette makers are attempting to create a new generation of nicotine addicts.
A 2009 law gave the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco products, including restricting marketing.
The agency first said it planned to assert authority over e-cigarettes in 2011 but has yet to do so.
The proposed FDA regulation was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for review in October.
West Des Moines Man Indicted For Threatening President Obama
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A West Des Moines man has been indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of making threats against President Barack Obama.
The indictment, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Des Moines, says 24-year-old Kerry Dale Downard wrote on Feb. 10 that he would murder the president.
A complaint filed Feb. 14 by U.S. Secret Service Agent Timothy Murphy says Downard was in the Polk County Jail charged with vehicle theft when he wrote the threat.
The second count stems from a conversation Downard had with agents at the jail on Feb. 13 in which he said he would shoot the president.
Court records say Downard has a history of mental health issues. No one answered the telephone at the office of the attorney appointed to represent him.
Perry To Visit Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry is returning to Iowa for a two-day visit that includes stops in the Des Moines suburbs and a meeting with business leaders in Davenport.
Perry will be interviewed Thursday by a media panel in Johnston for a public affairs show on Iowa Public Television. He'll meet later in the day with Republican activists at a GOP campaign office in Urbandale.
On Friday, he will meet privately with about a dozen business leaders in Davenport. That event is sponsored by Americans For Prosperity, a group backed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.
It will be Perry's first visit to Iowa since last November.
He's frequently mentioned as a potential presidential candidate but hasn't announced his plans. He failed in a 2012 bid for the GOP nomination.
Braley Wants Funding To Combat Emerald Ash Borer
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley has introduced legislation to restore funding for efforts to fight the emerald ash borer, which has been found in Iowa and is expected to ultimately devastate ash trees throughout the state.
Braley says in a news release that he introduced legislation Wednesday to restore $37 million in funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services, which researches ways to fight invasive species.
His legislation also would fund grant programs overseen by the Forest Service that offer funding to local communities trying to limit the spread of the beetle.
Braley says such funding was available when other states first dealt with infestations and it's only fair Iowa have such help.
The bug is confirmed in at least eight Iowa counties.
Hunters Concerned About Dwindling Deer Population
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Hunters in Iowa are concerned about the state's dwindling deer population.
The state has actively worked since 2003 to reduce the deer numbers which had been increasing rapidly resulting in damage to crops and contributing to millions in dollars in damage from car-deer collisions.
Some Iowans believe the state has gone too far.
Last year the number of harvested deer dropped below 100,000 for the first time since 1995.
Senator Dick Dearden, a Des Moines Democrat, says deer should be allowed to repopulate through the issuance of fewer female deer permits.
He says Republican Governor Terry Branstad bows too much to the influence of farm and insurance groups.
Branstad's office says the governor believes in a balanced approach to maintaining the deer population.