Monday Afternoon News, Feb. 4
Kayaker Chosen As Photo For Tourism Guide
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A photo of a kayaker on the Turkey River in Northeast Iowa will appear on the cover of the 2013 Iowa Travel Guide.
Gov. Terry Branstad on Monday announced the winner of a contest held by the Iowa Tourism Office to find a cover photo for this year's guide. More than 600 entries were narrowed down to three
contenders. Facebook fans of the office then voted for the winner.
Jessica Rilling, of Cedar Rapids, took the winning image. It will be featured on the 100,000 printed copies of the guide, set to come out in the spring, and digitally on www.traveliowa.com. She
will not receive any financial compensation for the photo.
Branstad says tourism is important to the state's economy, noting it generates about $328 million in taxes annually.
Couple Mistakes Police Station For Adult Entertainment Venue
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities in Des Moines say a woman was arrested after she and another person accidently drove to a police station looking for an adult entertainment venue.
The female passenger was arrested early Friday for possession of a controlled substance after officers stopped her and the male driver. The pair had driven their vehicle into a private area of
the police station after looking for an adult entertainment venue in West Des Moines.
Officers reported the pair had bloodshot, watery eyes. They also say the vehicle smelled of marijuana. Officers did not find anything illegal in the car.
The passenger was arrested after she reportedly admitted to having prescription pain killers in her
Legislators Wonder If Illegal Aliens Are Entitled To In-State Tuition Rates
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Young people in Iowa who entered the country illegally, but have been granted temporary residency through a presidential order are getting work permits and driver's
licenses. But questions remain about their access to in-state tuition at public universities and community colleges.
Some Democrats in the state Senate want to clear up any confusion. They have introduced legislation that would ensure in-state tuition at community colleges and state universities for students who are accepted, meet residency requirements and commit to trying to pursue legal citizenship.
Bill sponsor Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City says this would help develop a trained workforce in the state.
A previous attempt to pass a similar law in Iowa failed in 2004 and this bill would likely face trouble in the House.
Lawmakers Trying To Make It Easier For Young Farmers To Acquire Land
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two young Republican farmers who serve in the Iowa Legislature are trying to make it more appealing for retiring farmers to lease their land to beginners.
New Hartford Representative Pat Grassley and Wilton Representative Bobby Kaufmann have introduced a bill that would expand the current tax credit program to beginning farmers who
legislators say need incentives to compete with bigger farms for land.
The state now provides $6 million in tax credits to retiring farmers who lease their land to beginners. The bill would double that amount, offering tax breaks for beginners who add livestock or
machinery that increases the value of the land they lease.
About 1,135 farmers have received these tax breaks since the Iowa Agricultural Development Authority started the program in 2007.
Town Loses Power and Water
MESERVEY, Iowa (AP) - Residents of a small north-central Iowa town spent most of Sunday without power or water after a fire damaged utility wires and destroyed two buildings.
The town water tower was drained as firefighters battled the fire early Sunday morning. Then officials in Meservey could not refill the town's water tower because there was no electricity.
Meservey residents were asked not to use any water for most of Sunday.
Power and water service was restored by Sunday evening.
The two buildings that were destroyed in the fire were vacant. The cause of the fire was still being investigated Sunday.
Police Officer Being Sued For Driving While License Had Expired
INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (AP) - An Independence police officer who had an expired driver's license when his cruiser hit a woman's car is being sued.
The city hired a Waterloo lawyer to defend Officer David Winger.
Winger is being sued by Charity Weinschenk. She says Winger was negligent when his cruiser crashed into her Jeep in July 2011.
Weinschenk says Winger didn't have his lights or sirens on but he ran a red light.
Councilman Dennis Vaughn says the city will defend Winger in the lawsuit, but Vaughn says he thinks Winger clearly screwed up and got caught in this situation.
In the past, Winger has been involved in controversy. More than 100 people demanded his resignation in 2008, but the city attorney cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Farmland Values Slowing Down
MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - The frenzied pace of farmland sales has slowed at the start of the year amid uncertainty about the drought.
Fred Greder, who owns Benchmark Agribusiness, says that between Labor Day and the end of 2012, about 100 farmland auctions were held in north Iowa.
Greder says he's only aware of seven so far this year. Greder says he thinks the market is catching its breath.
The fast pace of sales last fall was boosted by worries about possible tax law changes, low interest rates and high farmland values.
The average value of Iowa farmland rose 24 percent to $8,300 an acre at the end of 2012.
Some farmland near Mason City sold for $15,540 an acre last year to set a county record.