Saturday Afternoon News, April 20
Financing Road Construction Projects Can't Keep Up On Need For Repairs
(Le Mars) -- Once the weather warms up road construction will commence at various points across Plymouth County. County Engineer Tom Rohe recently submitted his proposed five-year road construction and bridge repair projects to the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors. Rohe says Plymouth County has 365 miles of paved highways, and more than 600 bridges or culverts that at some point will all need to be repaired or replaced. Obviously, the cost to repair the roads and bridges is constantly rising. Rohe says many of the bridges and wooden structures were designed to last for forty to fifty years and were built in the 1960's and 70's. However, Rohe says the roads and bridges are deteriorating at an accelerated rate due to more volume of heavier trucks and farm equipment.
Rohe says the local ethanol plants have also contributed to an increase of truck traffic on Plymouth County roads. He says the funding for road construction projects hasn't kept up with the pace for the need of road and bridge repair.
The county engineer says the money that is collected from vehicle registration fees has actually passed the amount of money the state collects from fuel tax. Iowans have not had an increase in the fuel use tax for more than twenty years. Rohe says the new structures are designed to last for several decades.
Food Banks Look To State For Help
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A drop in federal donations has left Iowa food banks low on supplies and hopeful the Legislature will approve funding for the organizations.
Food bank officials say U.S. Department of Agriculture donations to organizations in Iowa and part of Nebraska are more than 1 million pounds less than in previous years.
Linda Scheid, executive director of Siouxland Food Bank in Sioux City, says their supplies are "critically low." Her food bank serves 11 counties, including 3 in Nebraska.
The Iowa Senate has approved a bill the provides $2 million to the Iowa Food Bank Association, but some Republicans oppose the funding.
Boone Sen. Jerry Behn says the state shouldn't be in the grocery business.
Last year, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad vetoed a bill including $500,000 in aid to food banks.
Iowa Unemployment Rate Drops
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Workforce Development says the state's unemployment rate for March dropped slightly to 4.9 percent, but the number of people working in nonfarm jobs also
The state agency reported Friday that the seasonally adjusted rate was down from 5 percent in February and had declined from 5.4 percent a year ago.
Although the number of unemployed people dropped from 82,300 in February to 80,700, the nonfarm employment figure also dropped by 5,500 workers.
Iowa's numbers are substantially below the national rate, which stood at 7.6 percent in March.