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Wednesday Afternoon News, January 21

Branstad Wants To Hire Private Company To Oversee Medicaid Programs

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad's administration says he wants to hire a privately managed care company or set of companies to help run Iowa's Medicaid program.
     Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers says more coordinated care would better serve patients and lower costs. The system could be implemented by the start of 2016.
     Branstad's office projects the state would save more than $50 million in the first six months of the program. Additional information is not available about how those savings would be reached.
     Rep. Dave Heaton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant, is co-chairman of the main legislative committee overseeing health care programs. He says Branstad has the authority to make the change without a vote in the Legislature.
     More than 560,000 Iowans are covered under Medicaid.
     ---

 

Public Safety Director Tells Employees To Behave Appropriately During Off Duty

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The acting commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety is telling employees they must behave professionally while off-duty or face consequences.
     Roxann Ryan told troopers and agents in an email Tuesday that missteps in their private lives can reflect poorly on their credibility and undermine the public's trust.
     The note comes after two high-profile incidents involving supervisors who showed poor judgment while off-duty.
     Capt. Ken Clary was caught speeding in November outside of Des Moines while driving a vehicle for a nonprofit. A trooper let him go, but he was ticketed this month for driving 92 in a 70-mph zone after the incident became public.
     Lt. Kelly Hindman is facing a review after writing on Facebook that he wished a sniper would shoot an ESPN announcer in the head.

 

Legislator's Trial Is Delayed

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Trial has been delayed for a former Iowa lawmaker accused of sexually abusing his wife at a care center.
     Court records show the jury trial of former state Rep. Henry Rayhons is set to start on April 8. A pre-trial conference is scheduled at the end of March.
     Rayhons' trial on a third-degree sexual abuse charge was scheduled to start Jan. 28. He has pleaded not guilty.
     Rayhons, of Garner, is accused of having sexual contact with his wife, Donna Rayhons, while she was living at a care center and not able to give consent. Donna Rayhons died in August. 
     Messages left for Rayhons' attorney, Joel Yunek, were not immediately returned Wednesday.

 

Pope Removes Iowa Priest Due To Sex Abuse

   DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Pope Francis has defrocked an Iowa priest who was accused of abusing a minor years ago.
     Howard Fitzgerald, who worked at parishes in central and western Iowa over the last 35 years, received notice of the pope's decision Monday.
     Fitzgerald had been placed on indefinite leave in June from his most recent position serving at two Indianola parishes and Simpson College.
     A Des Moines Archdiocese review committee found credible evidence that Fitzgerald sexually abused a minor in a "decades-old incident." 
     At the victim's request, church officials have not released information about when and where the abuse occurred.
     Bishop Richard Pates wrote in a memo to employees that he's informed Fitzgerald that the pope "had personally granted dispensations in his case from the obligations of the priesthood and sacred celibacy."

 

Iowa Racial Impact Law

  IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Back in 2007, Iowa lawmakers learned that their state had the nation's highest disparity for sending blacks to prison. So they took a novel step.
     They passed a law requiring analysts to draft "racial impact statements" on any proposals to create new crimes or tougher penalties. The statements were intended to help project how the measures might affect minority communities before any votes were cast.
     A review by The Associated Press shows that the first-in-the-nation law appears to be having a modest effect. The statements have helped defeat some legislation that could have exacerbated disparities and provided a smoother path to passage for measures deemed neutral or beneficial to minorities.
     Similar proposals have been adopted in Connecticut and Oregon. And more are likely to surface this year in other states.

 

 


 

 

   

Wednesday News, January 21

American Red Cross Honors Four People For Saving A Life

(Le Mars) -- Last July, Mark Ruba, an employee of Wells Enterprises was stricken with a heart attack as he was about to start work.  Three employees of Wells Enterprises and a Le Mars Police officer, all responded and performed C-P-R in a lifesaving effort.  At an awards ceremony held in Le Mars on Tuesday, the American Red Cross honored the four people with a Certificate of Merit, the highest award given by the American Red Cross, which bears the signature of President Obama.  Randy Bock was also presented the medal of Lifesaving Award of Merit.  Bock had taken C-P-R training from the Red Cross.  He says it was simply instinct to start administrating C-P-R on his fellow colleague. 

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Every two years Bock is re-certified for C-P-R training.  He says he is thankful for remembering the proper procedure.

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Dan Plueger of the Le Mars Police Department was also recognized for his quick response and lifesaving assistance.  Plueger used an automated external difibrillator to help revive Ruba.


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The heart attack victim, Mark Ruba was present at the Red Cross awards ceremony and offered his appreciation to those who saved his life.

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Wells employees Dennis Sexton and Don Allaway were also recognized by the American Red Cross for their efforts in helping save the life of Mark Ruba.

 

Woodbury County House Fire Declared As Arson

(Sioux City) -- The Woodbury County Sheriff's office is reporting that a fire at a vacant house is now being considered as arson.  Fire officials from Anthon, Oto, Danbury, and the Healy Werks responded to a house fire Tuesday afternoon at about 2:10 p.m.  The house is located at 4019 290th street in rural Woodbury County.  A caller stated smoke was coming from the structure with no visible flames.  The state fire marshal was contacted to investigate the cause of the fire.

 

Akron Fire Department Responds To Hay Bale Fire

(Akron) -- The Akron Fire Department responded to a fire Tuesday morning.  Fire fighters were called at about 8:15 a.m. to county road C-16 and Fir Avenue.  A semi truck and trailer hauling 12 large round hay bales had caught on fire.  Akron Fire Chief Shane Coyle says a wheel bearing in the trailer's wheel had gotten hot and ignited the blaze.  In an effort to save the truck and trailer, fire officials pushed the round bales of hay into a roadside ditch and extinguished the flames.  Fire officials were on the scene for approximately an hour and a half.  The Le Mars Fire Department offered mutual aid by sending a tanker truck to the scene.

 

Le Mars Fire Department Submits Annual Report

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department submitted its annual report to the Le Mars City Council on Tuesday.  The local fire and rescue crew responded to a total of 413 calls in 2014, which over shadows the 360 calls from the previous year.  Breaking down the numbers, the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department responded to 335 calls within the city limits, and 58 rural calls and 20 times the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department offered mutual aid.  Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says the fire department was called to 13 structure fires, 9 vehicle fires, 37 rescue calls, and 17 grass fires.  During the past five years, the total number of calls has been on the increase, with 2014 nearly doubling the number of calls from 2010.

 

City Parks Department Offers Annual Report

(Le Mars) -- City Parks Department Superintendent, Brad Eppling, delivered the parks department annual report on Tuesday.  Eppling told the city council that considering the two floods and the early spring heavy rains, the city parks had a fair year.  Eppling reported the city's seasonal help was able to work 40 weeks instead of 29 as was the case in 2013.  The Park's Department hired three additional seasonal employees to operate equipment, which allowed the full time employees the opportunity to perform other maintenance.  Eppling offered a list of accomplishments for the past year.  Among those accomplishments include: grading the golf course to drain water back to Willow Creek instead of holding water when it floods, remodeling jobs at the library, fire station #2 and the police station.  The parks department constructed new park signs using recycled materials.  The parks department also widened the concrete camper entrance at the municipal park making it easier for campers to enter and exit the campgrounds without hitting the bridge.

 

Ernst Delivers Response To State Of The Union Address 

  WASHINGTON (AP) - Freshman Republican Sen. Joni Ernst says the newly empowered GOP-led Congress heard the voters' message in November and will work to change the direction in Washington.
     Ernst delivered the GOP response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday evening.
     The Iowa senator says Republicans will make Washington focus on Americans' concerns. She is criticizing Obama's health care law as a failed policy.
     She says there are issues where the White House and Congress can work together, such as trade and simplifying the tax code.

 

Smoking Ban Bill For Casinos Introduced In State Legislature

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill has been introduced in the Iowa Legislature that would force casinos to comply with the state's smoking ban.
     Casino floors in Iowa are now exempt from following a 2008 law that prohibits smoking in public places. A bill sponsored by Sen. Herman Quirmbach, of Ames, would eliminate that exemption.
     Quirmbach said Tuesday there is broad public support for such a change. Democratic Rep. Lisa Heddens, of Ames, says she plans to introduce a similar bill with bipartisan support.
     Rep. Guy Vander Linden, a Republican from Oskaloosa, says the bill may have some support, but it will face strong opposition from the casino industry.
     A spokesman for Republican Gov. Terry Branstad says the governor favors such a measure and would sign it into law.

 

Iowans Now Allowed To Register To Vote On-line

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa commission has approved a rule that will allow people with a state driver's license or photo ID to register online to vote.
     The Iowa Voter Registration Commission unanimously agreed Tuesday to allow a system that will let qualified voters register on a website. Information from the state Department of Transportation would be imported into voter registration forms that would automatically be forwarded to the state's voter database.
     Voters currently fill out a paper application form to register. That system would remain available.
     Voter rights groups have said the new system should provide equal access to people without a state driver's license or state-issued ID.
     The committee's decision does not require legislative action. The Transportation Department is not expected to have the system ready until early 2016.

 

Regents Accept Resignation Of Sally Mason

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The board overseeing Iowa's public universities has accepted the resignation of University of Iowa President Sally Mason, who says she'll retire July 31.
     The Iowa Board of Regents, meeting Tuesday, also approved Mason's request to remain as a tenured faculty member after her retirement and to be given president emeritus status.
     As a tenured faculty member, Mason can earn 60 percent of her current salary for a year. The emeritus title allows her to remain active in fundraising until a new president is named.
     The board also approved a motion to hire a search firm, select a search committee and set a timetable to search for a new president.
     Board members praised Mason's 8-year tenure as president particularly her fundraising acumen and ability to rebuild campus after 2008 flooding.

 

Des Moines Police Charge Two With Child Endangerment

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Des Moines police have arrested two people on charges of child endangerment after finding an 8-month-old girl in an apartment closet near a rifle and ammunition.
     Authorities say 27-year-old Philip Barber and 22-year-old Kelsey Kenworthy were arrested Tuesday. Police reports say the two also showed signs of drug use.
     Reports say officers initially responded to a report of screaming and crashing sounds coming from the home. Upon entering, reports say police searched the bedroom to find exposed, used syringes and the girl in a car seat in a closet next to a loaded semi-automatic rifle.
    Police contacted family services, which then transported the girl to Broadlawns Medical Center for evaluation.
     Barber and Kenworthy were placed on $2,000 bond each. Calls to attorneys went unanswered.
 
 

 

 

 

 



   

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