Thursday Afternoon, August 21
Warm Weather Has Schools Dismissing Early
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Warm, humid weather is prompting some school officials in Iowa to dismiss classes early.
The Sioux City Journal reports nine schools that don't have air conditioning will dismiss students at 1:30 p.m. Thursday amid high temperatures near 90 and high humidity.
Schools also were closing early in Iowa Falls, North Tama, Independence, Centerville and other districts.
Hot weather is expected to continue through the weekend.
City Council Hears About Skilled Iowa Initiative
(Le Mars) -- During Tuesday's Le Mars City Council meeting, the council heard a report from Jon Murad of Iowa Works. Murad informed the council about Governor Branstad's Skilled Iowa Initiative to assist employers and workers, and stimulate business growth. Murad told the council the Skilled Iowa Initiative is a critical step in improving the quality of the workforce in Iowa. The program is supported by Iowa businesses, economic development, workforce development and education to enhance the quality of Iowa's workforce and connect Iowa's employers to the right labor pool. Murad shared with the council that job seekers would complete a test of skills and abilities and would be given a certificate offering proof of your job skills. Murad indicated having high job skills means having access to higher-paying jobs. The council approved a measure offering support of the Skilled Iowa Initiative.
Grain Elevator Scam
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A northeast Iowa man sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison for fabricating grain elevator scale tickets and bankruptcy fraud has lost his sentence appeal.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says 48-year-old Michael Recker was properly sentenced last year to 46 months in prison.
Recker, of Arlington, admitted at sentencing that in 2008 and 2009 he bribed an elevator worker to create false grain tickets then lied to Internal Revenue Service investigators about it. He also admitted he didn't disclose to the bankruptcy court ownership and subsequent sale of a combine for $50,000.
The appeals court judges conclude in a ruling posted Thursday the sentencing judge properly considered Recker's initial denial of his actions and 15 previous convictions for which he was treated leniently by Iowa courts.
Netherlands King To Visit Iowa Ethanol Plant
EMMETSBURG, Iowa (AP) - The king of the Netherlands plans to visit Iowa next month to attend the grand opening of a northern Iowa ethanol plant co-owned by a Netherlands-based company.
Willem-Alexander says he will take part in the Sept. 3 grand opening ceremony at the Project Liberty cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg and tour the facility. The $250 million project is a joint venture of Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based ethanol-maker POET and Royal DSM, a biotechnology company based in the Netherlands. The plant will produce 25 million gallons a year when fully operational.
It is among the first facilities of its size in the United States to begin making ethanol from plant material.
Cellulosic ethanol is made from the woody and fibrous parts of plants, including corn cobs, stalks, leaves and other residue.
University Of Iowa Marching Band to March In New Facility
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa marching band is trying out a new, $15-million indoor facility for the first time after stormy weather blew through Iowa City this week.
The Hawkeye Marching Band used to rehearse on a field along Park Road. Bad weather usually puts the nearly 250-member band behind schedule during its annual preseason camp, but students were able to rehearse inside on Wednesday.
The new building also will be used for sports, including baseball, softball and soccer. It has athletic turf with yard markers, and acoustic panels line the ceiling to enhance sound for the band.
Branstad To Host Midwest-Japan Conference
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governors from throughout the Midwest will join next month with officials from Japan at a three-day conference in Des Moines.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad announced Wednesday that the 2014 Midwest-U.S.-Japan Association Conference would feature governors from Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds also will attend.
A number of officials from Japan, including the nation's ambassador to the United States, will speak at the conference.
The events will be held September 7th through 9 at a downtown Des Moines hotel.
Aerial Spraying Blamed For Fish Kill
GEORGE, Iowa (AP) - The state Department of Natural Resources says it's investigating a fish kill in northwest Iowa.
Officials say a conservation officer reported seeing dead fish and crawdads in an unnamed stream Tuesday in Lyon County. Further investigation Wednesday revealed dead fish of different sizes and species in the stream. It is unclear how many fish have been affected.
The stream flows into Rat Creek, a tributary of Otter Creek between Ashton and George.
Officials say aerial spraying is the most probable cause of the spill, but lab results are still pending. Three aerial applicators were flying in the area Tuesday.
This is the second recent fish kill in Lyon County. Officials believe it was caused by aerial spraying.