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Monday News, March 4

185th Refueling Wing Returns Home

(Sioux City) -- Members of the 185th Air Refueling Wing, based at Sioux City returned home on Sunday.  Nearly 160 airmen and airwomen were recognized for their sacrifices during a welcome home ceremony held at the airwing's hanger.  Over this past year, the 185th were deployed to 12 different parts of the world including Afghanistan,Saudi Arabia, Guam, and Antarctica.


Proposed Casinos Go Through Background Check

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - State casino regulators are scheduled this week to hear reports on the background checks done on applicants for a casino license in Sioux City.
The Sioux City Journal reported Sunday that the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is scheduled to hear the results at a closed meeting on Wednesday.
The commission expects to issue a state gaming license to a casino operator on April 18th.
Extensive background checks are done by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. Top officials with the proposed Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and the proposed Warrior Casino and Hotel were
checked. So were board members of two nonprofit groups, Siouxland Strong Incorporated, which backs the Warrior project, and Greater Siouxland Improvement Association, which is partnering with Penn
National Gaming Co. on a Hollywood-themed casino.


Northern Iowa To Get Snow

CHARLES CITY, Iowa (AP) - Snow has started to fall in northern Iowa, but meteorologists say heavier snow is on the way.
The National Weather Service said an inch and a half of snow had already fallen on Charles City by 5:30 a.m. Monday. The service says the snow band is expected to leave up to 3 inches in some
parts of northern or northeast Iowa.
The heavier snow is expected to arrive Monday night, totaling up to 6 inches by sunrise Tuesday and as much as 8 more inches by Tuesday evening before the storm exits to the east. Blowing snow
and drifting are expected Tuesday afternoon.
The weather service says travel will become dangerous and all but impossible in some locations.

February Precipitation and Temperatures About Normal

(Des Moines) -- February ended on a snowy note across sections of Iowa, and that helped make the month overall a little wetter than normal. State climatologist Harry Hillaker keeps track of the precipitation.
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Temperature readings didn't show anything that stood out.
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Hillaker says he doesn't have all the numbers in yet, but things will be very close to normal. Hillaker says the snow late in February turned around what had been a lack of the white stuff for most of this winter. One storm dumped a statewide average of just over five inches of snow, while another left an average of four inches across the state.


Branstad Pushes IowaCare

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad is expected to soon reveal his plans for revamping the IowaCare health program for low-income adults, sticking to an approach he holds is better for
the state than the Medicaid expansion that Democrats are promoting.
IowaCare was designed to provide limited health benefits to low-income adults who don't qualify for Medicaid. But the program, which now has about 70,000 enrollees, offers very limited services.
If Branstad agreed to expand Medicaid, the federal government would pay the full cost of the expansion for the first three years, then 10 percent of the cost would gradually be shifted to the
But Branstad says he's not convinced the federal government will keep its promise to pay most costs.

Disabled Residential Care Facilities Not Being Inspected

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State records show 39 percent of Iowa's 178 residential care facilities for the disabled have not had a full state inspection in at least 2 1/2 years even though a state law
requires regular inspections.
A Des Moines Sunday Register analysis of state records shows some care facilities have gone almost four years without an inspection.
The newspaper reports on Sunday delayed inspections are due to a law passed in 2011 that suspended a previous policy requiring inspections every 30 months. The move enacted under former Gov. Chet Culver was intended to save money.
Last year, the Legislature and Governor Terry Branstad reinstated inspections, but inspectors haven't caught up.
Inspections are completed at 109 facilities, leaving 69 - or 39 percent - uninspected for at least 30 months.









Saturday News, March 2

Branstad Appoints Local People To Boards and Commissions

(Des Moines) -- Governor Terry Branstad announced his choices for state boards and commissions on Friday.  Dr. Thomas Jenery of Le Mars has been selected to serve on the Board of Dentistry, Larry Den Herder of Sioux Center will serve on the Board of Economic Development Authority, and Dr. Allison Schoenfelder of Akron has been asked to be on the state board of medicine.


Branstad Wants To Appoint His Son To Natural Resources Commission

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad wants his son Marcus Branstad to serve on the state commission that oversees hunting.
Branstad announced dozens of board appointments Friday, including a nomination for his son to serve on the Natural Resources Commission.
The governor's spokesman, Tim Albrecht, calls Marcus Branstad an "avid hunter" and says he "is seeking to use his passion to make his state a better place." Albrecht says Marcus Branstad will go
through the same vetting process as the other nominees, including approval by the Democratic-controlled Senate.
This would be an unpaid volunteer position for Marcus Branstad, who works for the American Chemistry Council.
The Iowa Natural Resources Commission is a seven-member board that sets policy and hears appeals on cases related to fishing, wildlife, conservation and parks.


Siouxland Ranks First For Economic Development

(Sioux City) -- The Siouxland metro area ranks first in the nation for economic development for cities with a population of 50,000 to 200,000 residents.  That's according to results announced Friday morning by "Site Selection" magazine.

Ron Starner, Executive Vice President of "Site Selection", made the announcement to around 100 local business leaders and elected officials at a Siouxland Initiative breakfast event:

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It's is the third time in the last six years that the Siouxland region has been recognized with this distinction.  Siouxland Chamber director Chris McGowan says the ranking puts our area out front to companies considering an expansion or relocation:

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The $1.7 billion announcement made by CF Industries, last November, coupled with major expansions at Sabre Industries, Tyson Foods, and Gerkin Windows and Doors contributed to Siouxland's 23 qualifying projects for the calendar year.


Bill To Protect Pets of Domestic Violence Victims

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Fort Dodge lawmaker has introduced a bill that would help victims of domestic violence protect their pets from abuse.
Sen. Daryl Beall proposed the legislation, which got its first hearing last week.
An abuse victim urged Beall to introduce the bill, noting that abusers often try to hurt victims by lashing out at their pets.
The bill would allow domestic abuse victims of domestic violence to include pets under a protective order, making it illegal for an abuser to be in contact with the animal.
Republican Sen. Kent Sorenson, of Milo, says his only concern is to define a pet to ensure protections don't extend to livestock.
If Sorenson supports the bill, it likely will receive a full judiciary committee hearing next week.

Work Continues To Restore Chief Wapello Statue

OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) - Workers are making progress on the restoration of a 119-year-old statue that was ripped from its perch atop the Wapello County Courthouse in Ottumwa during a storm last
The 11-foot tall statue honoring Fox Indian Chief Wapello was blown down in June after metal supports snapped.
Jensen Conservation Services of Omaha, Neb., is handling the restoration, expected to cost about $20,000. Insurance is paying for the work.
Company director Rob Jensen tells the Ottumwa Courier (http://bit.ly/ZRPFIX) they're replacing the statue's internal armature and straightening out many pieces, including moccasins, hands and the face.
Jensen says repairs are on schedule but he wasn't sure when they would be complete.
After returning from Omaha, county supervisors plan to display the statue for a few weeks, then hoist it atop the courthouse.


Planned Parenthood To Open Health Clinic

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is opening a health center in downtown Des Moines.
Officials say the facility is open Wednesdays and offers general health care services. That includes treatment for colds and the flu, sore throats and ear aches. The facility also provides birth
control and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
No appointment is needed before a visit. Spokeswoman Shelby Cloke says abortions will not be performed at the center.
The center's opening comes after Planned Parenthood recently announced plans to close two clinics in March. A clinic in Spencer will close and operations at the Fort Madison clinic will be
consolidated with other clinics.
Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has nearly 30 health centers across Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas and Oklahoma.


Branstad Denies Inmate's Request For Sentence Commuted

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad has denied an Iowa inmate's request to have his life prison sentence commuted.
Branstad says Friday he denied 78-year-old Harry Sisco's commutation request. The former Rock Island man was convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of Audrey St. Clair of Milan in
April 1991.
The Quad-City Times reports Sisco was accused of wrapping St. Clair's body in garbage bags and dumping it in rural, nearby Muscatine County.
Sisco told the Iowa Parole Board at a hearing last year that St. Clair was a good friend, and the death was an accident. The board later voted against his commutation request.
Sisco is imprisoned at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. A message left at the facility was not immediately returned Friday.


State Supreme Court Orders New Trial For Sexual Offender

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court has ordered a new trial to determine whether a sex offender should remain locked up for treatment after his prison term expires.
The court ruled Friday that prosecutors improperly told jurors that a careful state review process determined Jonathan Stenzel met the criteria for a sexually violent predator. Justices say those
statements may have unfairly persuaded jurors to keep him locked
Prosecutors are trying to keep Stenzel civilly committed, arguing he's at high risk to reoffend if released.
Stenzel was convicted of sexually abusing a store clerk at knifepoint in 1986, as well as arson and burglary. He says he's gotten treatment, no longer presents a risk to women and should be
released from prison. But a jury sided with prosecutors at a 2011 trial.



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