Wednesday News, January 28
Floyd Valley Hospital Receives Certification As A Trauma Center
(Le Mars) -- Floyd Valley Hospital has successfully completed the categorization and re-verification process to be re-certified as a Level IV community trauma care facility. Hospitals must re-apply every three years to participate in Iowa’s trauma system, and based on availability of resources. Community Trauma Care Facilities are often located in rural areas and have resources to provide initial stabilization for all trauma patients while preparing the patient for transfer when appropriate.
Leading the Floyd Valley Hospital categorization and re-verification process was Dr. Sheila Holcomb, Emergency Department Medical Director; Dr. Dariush Ghaffari, Trauma Medical Director and Mary Jo Clark, RN, BSN Trauma Coordinator.
Supervisors Set February 24th As Date For Budget Hearing
(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Board of Supervisors have set the date of February 24th at 10:00 a.m. as the date for a public hearing regarding the county fiscal year budget. In other action from Tuesday's meeting, the county supervisors approved the action to remove a stop sign located at the 220th Street and Pioneer Avenue. County engineer Tom Rohe reported to the supervisors the stop sign was initially installed due to several trees that had blocked the line of sight. However, Rohe says those trees now have been cleared. He says the stop sign was for only one direction. The supervisors have also set the date of February 17th at 10:15 a.m. for a public hearing to vacate a portion of Otter Avenue. County road crews had recently removed a bridge and replaced it with a culvert, and in doing so, they altered the road away from a creek. The county supervisors are looking to close the old stretch of roadway. The supervisors approved the semi annual settlement of funds report, and they approved the county weed commission annual report.
Climatologist Says 2015 Should Be Good Weather Year For Crops
(Le Mars) -- An Iowa State University Extension Climatologist believes 2015 should be a decent year for farmers and their crops. Elwynn Taylor spoke before nearly 200 farmers in Le Mars on Tuesday. He says subsoil moisture levels have for the most part, been replenished across the cornbelt, giving farmers some optimism for having another good yield, despite what appears to be a dry winter.
Taylor says the nation is ending one weather cycle and is starting another. He says so far, we are having a moderate el nino' weather pattern which could mean above average crop yield for 2015.
The Extension Climatologist says farmers may see a cycle that could be more volatile.
Ethanol Industry Is Hurting Due To Low Oil Prices
(Le Mars) -- Corn prices are low, as are gasoline prices, so how is the ethanol industry doing? An Iowa State University agricultural economist says the ethanol industry is facing a good news - bad news scenerio with profit margins becoming very slim.
Chad Hart spoke at a Crop Advantage seminar in Le Mars on Tuesday. He says ethanol is able to compete when oil prices are high, but times like today, the ethanol industry still needs support from subsidies.
Hart says there isn't much optimism for improvement in the grain prices for this next marketing year.
The grain marketing specialist says if there is a possibility for hope in the grain markets, it could be with exports.
Transportation Department Testing Solution For Icy Roads
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Transportation Department is testing a new system that could help motorists drive more safely on icy roadways.
The testing is underway on an 11-mile stretch of Interstate 35 north of Des Moines.
During and after storms, some drivers go too fast, some too slow. The system being tested comes up with a limit that, if observed, would smooth out traffic flow and make travel safer.
The system includes sensors that use lasers to detect the ice, snow or slush on the pavement. Engineer Willy Sorenson says the system uses the data to determine what he calls an "advised" lower speed limit. That safer speed limit is sent to four digital speed limit signs along the roadway.
Coralville Apartment Fire
CORALVILLE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say three people, including a baby, are safe after they escaped from a second-story window during an apartment fire.
Coralville Fire Chief Dave Stannard says it's not yet clear what caused the Tuesday night blaze.
Officials say firefighters and multiple ambulances were called to the building around 9:30 p.m. after receiving a report of smoke and fire.
Police say the three people didn't appear to have any injuries.
Universities May Adopt Uniform Admission Policies
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's three public universities may soon have a more uniform admissions policy for students from the growing number of high schools that do not provide class rankings.
The Iowa Board of Regents will consider a new formula next week that would affect students from roughly 40 public and private high schools that don't rank students.
Students from those schools would be automatically admitted if they score above a 245 on a mathematical formula, which is based on ACT scores, grade point average and number of core courses completed. Students who fall below that number would be subject to individual reviews.
The change addresses inconsistencies in how students without class rankings have been scored for admissions by the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.
Democrats Work On Wage Theft Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Democrats in the Senate say a bill aimed at curtailing wage theft in Iowa would require businesses to be more direct with workers about employment terms.
Sen. Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, is co-sponsor of a bill that would require employers to share a written record of employment terms with an employee at the start of a job. The measure would also define penalty terms and expand protection for whistleblowers.
Dotzler and Democratic Sen. Tony Bisignano, of Des Moines, spoke at a press conference Tuesday.
Sen. Rick Bertrand, a Republican from Sioux City, says the measure would overregulate many honest businesses. He says he plans to introduce a bill this session that would give Iowa Workforce Development more funds to investigate wage theft cases.
Unemployment Rate Falls In Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa has seen an increase in nonfarm jobs and a decrease in its unemployment rate in the past year.
Data released Tuesday shows Iowa gained 16,400 nonfarm jobs in 2014. The state's jobless rate dropped to 4.1 percent in December, down from 4.3 percent in November and 4.2 percent in December 2013.
According to a news release, Iowa nonfarm employment increased to 1.56 million jobs, gaining 2,100 jobs from November to December alone. Education and health services, government and construction saw the largest growth in the past year.
U.S. Department of Labor statistics show Iowa is among 46 states and the District of Columbia to lower unemployment rates in 2014.
Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development interim director, says the state's economy "ended on a high note."
University Of Iowa Employees May Qualify For Retirement Benefits
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Some University of Iowa employees may be eligible for additional benefits in exchange for retiring early.
A plan released Tuesday says employees who are 57 and have 10 years experience will be eligible to apply for an early retirement program starting Feb. 6.
Those who are accepted would receive payments of unused vacation and sick leave, and five years of health and dental benefits. The university would make contributions to employees' retirement plans for five years, also covering the employees' share for the first three.
University Health Care employees would not be eligible for the program, which the Iowa Board of Regents is expected to consider approving next week.
UI President Sally Mason has said the program is designed to save money and soften the impact of restructuring on employees.