Thursday Afternoon News, March 14
Julie Baack's Murderer Released From Prison On Parole
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa man who served 17 years of a 50-year murder sentence has left prison on parole.
Iowa Department of Corrections spokesman Fred Scaletta says Brian Davis was released on Wednesday. Under the terms of Davis' parole, he must stay with relatives in Olathe, Kan., obey all laws
and get a job. His parole will be supervised by Kansas officials.
Davis was convicted of second-degree murder for killing Julie Baack. The 23-year-old Baack disappeared from her Le Mars apartment in 1992. Her remains were found east of Onawa three years later.
Davis and Baack were dating at the time of her death.
Davis originally was scheduled to be released on parole in 2018, but in January the Iowa Parole Board granted Davis an early release. Baack's sister, Beth Baack-Williams, had asked the parole board, as well as
Governor Branstad to deny the parole of Davis claiming he should serve his entire sentence.
Williams says Iowa needs to re-instate the death penalty for those convicted of murder.
Le Mars High School To Offer Seminar On College Planning
(Le Mars) -- High school juniors and seniors and their parents can learn about planning for college during a free presentation offered by the Le Mars community High School and the Iowa College Access Network. Barry Borchers is a Guidance Counselor for Le Mars Community High School. He says the seminar is open to area students and parents who have questions about college.
The seminar is scheduled for Monday evening beginning at 6:30 p.m. and it will be held at the Le Mars High School Cafeteria. Borchers says interested parents and students don't need to bring anything special to the seminar.
Johnson Wins Morningside's Siouxland Alumni Teacher of the Year Award
(Le Mars) -- Morningside College of Sioux City through its Morningside Educator Recognition for Inspired Teaching or (MERIT) has awarded its Siouxland Alumni Teacher of the Year Award to Kelley Johnson, a fourth grade teacher at the Le Mars Kluckhohn elementary. Johnson, a 1991 Morningside graduate, has served over the past 16 years in several leadership roles in her building and with the Le Mars Community School District. She has served as staff liaison to the elementary parent teacher organization and also served as a member of the elementary school improvement team and the district advisory committee. Johnson has been a leader in implementing various professional development initiatives such as Every Student Counts, Guided Reading, and the Daily 5/Daily CAFÉ educational programs.
Soderberg Comments On House Flat Tax Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A proposal to give taxpayers the option of paying a flat income tax has the support of the Republican-controlled Iowa House.
The legislation was approved Wednesday in a 53 to 46 party-line vote.
The plan says taxpayers could pay a 4.5 percent tax on income instead of the current progressive tax. Most deductions and credits, however, would not be available to those paying the flat tax. State Representative Chuck Soderberg of Le Mars hopes the Senate will pass the measure.
Soderberg believes the measure will help Iowa remain competitive against other states.
Soderberg says those against the bill don't like it because it reduces Iowa's generated revenue by nearly $400 million.
Rural Iowa Losing Its Population Base
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Nearly two-thirds of Iowa's counties lost population between 2011 and 2012 even as the state gained 10,089 overall.
The latest U.S. Census estimates show that Iowa had 3,074,186 residents last year, but the population of 65 of the state's 99 counties declined between 2011 and 2012.
Many of the population declines were in rural areas where aging populations are dying off while younger residents move to urban areas in search of work. Fifty-five Iowa counties had more deaths
than births in 2012.
The biggest population gains in the state were reported in Polk, Johnson, Dallas, Scott and Linn counties, which are home to Des Moines, Iowa City, Davenport and Cedar Rapids.
Senate Democrats Push For Expanded Medicaid Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Senate Democrats are proposing a Medicaid expansion with an opt-out provision in case federal funding levels change.
Democratic Senate President Pam Jochum says Thursday that the plan would address concerns from Gov. Terry Branstad that the federal government can't fulfill funding promises for a Medicaid
Democrats argue that expanding Medicaid would provide better coverage to more low-income Iowa residents. Branstad says the cost is unsustainable for the federal government and questions the
long-term cost to states.
Branstad has offered an alternate plan called Healthy Iowa. This plan revamps an existing health program for low-income residents and would use state and federal funds to provide coverage.
A spokesman for Branstad says he will work with Democrats, but continues to oppose an expansion.
Missing Woman's Body Found
HAMILTON, Ill. (AP) - The body of a missing Iowa woman has been found floating in the Mississippi River near the western Illinois city of Hamilton.
The Quincy Herald-Whig reports that 44-year-old Teresa Bruegge of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, was found Wednesday. She was found about 3 1/2 miles north of Hamilton in Hancock County. Mount Pleasant is about 50 miles north of where Bruegge's body was found.
Hancock County Sheriff Scott Bentzinger said an autopsy was planned Thursday. Police in Henry County in Iowa have been looking for Bruegge for four weeks. She went missing Feb. 14.