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Thursday News, June 6

Branstad To Sign Property Tax Relief Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad will sign legislation designed to reduce commercial property taxes in Iowa.
Branstad announced Wednesday that he will sign the bill into law on June 12th in Hiawatha. The compromise legislation passed by the Iowa Legislature will reduce taxable assessments for commercial
properties, as well as offer tax credits geared at small businesses.
The plan also limits the amount that residential and agricultural property values can grow. And it provides some income tax breaks to Iowa taxpayers.
Commercial property tax cuts were a top priority for Branstad during the 2013 legislative session.

 

Vilsack Will Not Run For Governor

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Former Governor Tom Vilsack will not run again for Iowa's top job in 2014.
A spokesman for the U.S. agriculture secretary and two-term Democratic governor says Wednesday that Vilsack has decided against a run. Matt Paul says Vilsack considered the race but enjoys his
current role.
Vilsack took the job in January 2009. He was governor from 1999 through 2007. He announced in January that he accepted President Barack Obama's offer to stay on for the second term, which ends in
January 2017.
Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has not announced plans to run for re-election, though he is widely expected to do so. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Jack Hatch, of Des Moines, is exploring
a run and state Rep. Tyler Olson, of Cedar Rapids, is also considering it.

 

Fitzgerald Considers A Run For Governor

(Des Moines) -- Iowa Democrat Michael Fitzgerald has won eight terms as state treasurer, but he may try to move his name up the statewide ballot in 2014.

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Fitzgerald won his first, four-year term as state treasurer in 1982 and has served in state government for 30 years.

If Fitzgerald secures the Democratic Party's 2014 nomination for governor, he would likely face Republican Terry Branstad who would be seeking an unprecedented sixth term as governor.

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In April Fitzgerald went on a speaking tour of the state organized by the Iowa Democratic Party to criticize what at that time was Governor Branstad's health care reform plan.

 

Levin's Trial Shows Investigator Interrogation

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - A northwest Iowa man accused of killing his mother and kidnapping another woman says in a written statement to police that he doesn't remember killing his mother, though he recalls choking her.
The  statement by 21-year-old Kirk Levin of Early was presented to jurors Wednesday in Webster
County during his trial.
Levin is charged with first-degree murder in the January death of Marilyn Schmitt. He faces third-degree kidnapping for allegedly abducting 21-year-old Jessica Vega.
The newspaper reports Levin gave the statement after a videotaped police interview where he repeatedly denied killing Schmitt. Levin says in the statement that he is the only person who
could have killed his mother. He says he can't explain his thinking, and he doesn't remember picking up Vega.

 

Search Continues In River For 15 Year Old Missing Girl

DAYTON, Iowa (AP) - Authorities plan to resume their search by river for a teenager in central Iowa abducted last month.
Dayton Police Chief Nick Dunbar says the state Department of Natural Resources will deploy boats on the Des Moines River this week to search for 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard.
The search will include new and old areas in the investigation.
Authorities halted their search for Kathlynn last week, which included more than 250 square miles in the Dayton area. Flooding also affected their efforts.
Police suspect Michael Klunder abducted Kathlynn and her 12-year-old friend on May 20 in Dayton. The younger girl was able to escape. Klunder was later found dead. Some of Kathlynn's blood
has been found, dampening hopes of finding her alive.
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Museum To Host Author During "Ice Cream Days"

(Le Mars) -- “Prairie Fever,” a program about the English in America, will kick off “Ice Cream Days” week at the Plymouth County Historical Museum at 7 p.m., Monday, June 10.
Peter Pagnamenta of London, England, will be in the Museum’s Music Room to speak about his new book, “Prairie Fever: British Aristocrats in the American West, 1830-1890.” Published in late 2012 by W. W. Norton and Company of New York and London, the book contains several references to the settling of the English in Plymouth County.
The movement of the English into the American West is the focus of the story by the British author.
Pagnamenta will present a brief program at the Museum, answer questions, and sign books. A limited supply of his books is available in the Museum’s Book Shop for $25 per book.

 

Suspicious Package Sent To ISU's Student Newspaper Offices

AMES, Iowa (AP) - A suspicious substance found in a package sent to the Iowa State University student newspaper in Ames turned out to be harmless.
Jay Knox of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said Wednesday that the substance was just paper residue.
The Iowa State Daily's office was evacuated Wednesday during the investigation.
The newspaper editor, Stephen Koenigsfeld, says the package return address said it was from Robert Alberg. A Washington state man with that name was sent to prison in 2005 for violating parole
by trying to manufacture the poison ricin.
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Iowa Gaming and Racing Commission To Discuss New Casino

OSCEOLA, Iowa (AP) - The board that regulates gambling in Iowa is discussing a proposal to build a $100 million casino in Cedar Rapids. The five-member Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission must
decide if it is ready to authorize another casino, adding to the 18 already licensed by the state to operate. The state also has three Native American casinos not regulated by the board.
The Cedar Rapids proposal is on the agenda for the commission's meeting Thursday at Lakeside Hotel Casino in Osceola. 
Linn County voters approved a gambling referendum in March.
The board also is discussing a Davenport group's plan to buy the Rhythm City casino located near the Mississippi River. The group proposes moving the gambling operation to a new $110 million
casino-hotel complex that would be built near Interstate 80.  Also on the agenda for the Iowa Gaming and Racing Commission is the topic of Penn National, the owners of the Sioux City Argosy riverboat casino, who is contesting the IGRC's decision in April to allow the Hard Rock Casino be the designated land-based casino in Sioux City.

 

State Ag. Department Shuts Down Dairy Plant

BUFFALO CENTER, Iowa (AP) - Agriculture officials have revoked the permit of a dairy plant in northern Iowa because of food safety concerns.
An administrative law judge ruled Wednesday in favor of the state Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, which revoked the dairy plant permit for Meinders Farm Fresh Dairy in Buffalo
Center. The company must cease all operations and sales.
The department says Meinders Dairy violated state law requirements over how to store its milk products. They say inspections of the plant in 2012 turned up bacteria and coliform
counts that exceeded acceptable standards for pasteurized milk products.
The department says Meinders Dairy failed to perform specific follow-up tests in an effort to determine the company's progress.
A public phone number listed for Meinders Dairy went unanswered Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

   

Wednesday Afternoon News, June 5

FEMA Officials Visit Plymouth County

(Le Mars) -- Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, were in Le Mars on Tuesday afternoon visiting with county and local officials about the extent of flood damage that occurred in Plymouth County last week.  Plymouth County Emergency Management Director Gary Junge says the meeting was organized to offer a preliminary view of the dollar damage.

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Junge says Plymouth County will have to wait until FEMA officials assess the entire state's damages before knowing whether Plymouth County will qualify for any federal financial assistance.


South Dakota Company Wants To Buy Ash From Coal Generator Plant

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A South Dakota company plans to buy ash from two Sioux City power plants and sell it to concrete companies.
Rail to Road Transloading, of Sioux Falls, S.D., plans to open two storage silos near the MidAmerican Energy power plants. The fly ash is a byproduct of coal used to power the plants. The ash is used to
strengthen concrete.
MidAmerican has been burying the ash. Rail to Road Transloading President Clark Meyer told the Woodbury County Board on Tuesday that his company will store more than 20,000 tons of ash in the
winter and sell it to concrete companies during warmer months.
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Monona County Officials Issue Amber Alert

ONAWA, Iowa (AP) - A mother described by authorities as a "noncustodial parent" has been arrested and her two young sons are safe hours after an Amber Alert was issued in western Iowa for
the boys.
The Monona County Sheriff's Office in Onawa said early Tuesday it was looking for a 4-year-old and 1-month-old. Authorities say 30-year-old Cari Eich abducted the boys and is suspected of being
under the influence of methamphetamine.
Iowa Department of Safety communications manager Jessica Lown said Tuesday evening that Eich and the children had been found safe across the border in Nebraska and that Eich is in custody.
Lown says officials believe Eich is a "noncustodial parent" of the children and that it did not appear she ever had custody rights.

 

Vilsack Says He Will Not Run For Governor

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Former Governor Tom Vilsack will not run again for Iowa's top job in 2014.
A spokesman for the U.S. agriculture secretary and two-term Democratic governor says Wednesday that Vilsack has decided against a run. Matt Paul says Vilsack considered the race but enjoys his
current role.
Vilsack took the job in January 2009. He was governor from 1999 through 2007. He announced in January that he accepted President Barack Obama's offer to stay on for the second term, which ends in January 2017.
Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has not announced plans to run for re-election, though he is widely expected to do so. On the Democratic side, state Sen. Jack Hatch, of Des Moines, is exploring
a run and state Rep. Tyler Olson, of Cedar Rapids, is also considering it.

 

Regents Select Rastetter As President

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Board of Regents has selected agribusiness executive Bruce Rastetter as the next president of the board that governs Iowa's public universities.
The board voted 7-0 Wednesday to name Rastetter to replace Craig Lang, who left the board in April.
The Democratic-controlled state Senate had rejected Gov. Terry Branstad's appointment of Lang to a second term after a partisan clash over management of the universities.
Rastetter is a top Branstad donor and a Republican powerbroker who's been in the middle of controversies involving academic freedom, the board's transparency and his own business dealings. He
said he looks forward to "continuing to make a difference of the fine institutions we represent."
The board voted to elevate Regent Katie Mulholland to president pro tem, a position that Rastetter held previously.


Former Regent Files Second Lawsuit Against Iowa Public Radio

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A former Iowa Board of Regents president has filed another lawsuit against the Iowa Public Radio board over a meeting that he says was illegally closed to the public.
Michael Gartner's second lawsuit names a slightly different group of board members who, the lawsuit says, met behind closed doors on Feb. 26, the day Iowa Public Radio officials voted to fire chief executive Mary Herrington.
Gartner first sued Iowa Public Radio and five board members on May 28. That lawsuit says a Dec. 13 meeting to discuss Herrington's performance was a violation of state public meeting rules. The
second lawsuit says the Feb. 26 meeting where Herrington was fired also was improperly constituted.
Board representatives didn't immediately respond to messages on Wednesday.
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Free Fishing Weekend

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa residents can fish without a license this weekend.
The Department of Natural Resources says the free fishing weekend will run from Friday through Sunday.
The event typically is scheduled during a time when bluegills are usually close to shore and aggressive, making it likely novice anglers will have success.
The DNR encourages those catching their first fish to take a photo and send it to the DNR, which will commemorate the event by sending back a certificate suitable for framing and the submitted
photo. Information on the first fish program is available online at http://www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/MasterAnglerFirstFish.aspx .
All other regulations remain in place during the free fishing weekend.

 

Eastern Iowa Rivers Start To Recede

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Cities along major rivers in Iowa remain in a holding pattern as flooding reaches a high point and water begins to recede in the coming days.
At Iowa City the Iowa River is expected to reach just above 25 feet Wednesday and remain there through the middle of next week before falling. Talk in Iowa City is beginning to turn toward
cleanup after the river falls below moderate flood stage.
National Weather Service Meteorologist David Cousins says the Mississippi River is behaving as expected. He says peak levels will be reached within the next couple of days before the water begins
to fall this weekend.
The river should reach its crest at 20.3 feet in Burlington on Thursday then begin to fall. Flood stage is 15 feet.

 

Leach To Work At University of Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Highly-regarded former Iowa congressman Jim Leach is joining the University of Iowa faculty.
University President Sally Mason said Wednesday that the university beat out Harvard and Princeton to land Leach, who stepped down last month as President Obama's chairman of the
National Endowment for the Humanities.
Mason said Leach will become a visiting professor of law. She said he will work with the school's center on human rights, give special campus lectures on foreign policy and other issues, and
teach courses on American government and the legislative process.
Leach, a Davenport native, represented Iowa in congress for 30 years until he was defeated for re-election in 2006 in an anti-Republican wave. He had chaired the House committees on
banking and international relations.
Mason says Leach's term will last three years.




 

 

   

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