Thursday News, June 20
Branstad Writes Letter To President Obama Asking For Assistance
(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad has signed a letter to be delivered to President Obama requesting a Presidential Disaster declaration for 47 Iowa counties where significant damage was sustained from damaging winds, tornadoes, heavy rains and thunderstorms resulting in severe flooding beginning May 19 and continuing through June 23, 2013. The governor is making the request for federal Public Assistance Program funding. Among the 47 designated counties include: Buena Vista, Cherokee, Clay, Crawford, Ida, Lyon, Monona, O’Brien, Palo Alto, Sac, Sioux, and Plymouth.
A joint federal, state and local preliminary damage assessment of the 47 counties found severe weather caused an estimated $22 million worth of damage that could be eligible under the Public Assistance Program. Public Assistance funds may be used to rebuild damaged infrastructure that may include roads, bridges, culverts and other public facilities, or to cover costs of emergency work during, and debris removal after the storms.
Branstad To Sign Health Care Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is set to sign legislation that expands low-income health care in Iowa.
Branstad is scheduled to sign the bill Thursday in Mason City. The location was selected to acknowledge two lawmakers from the region - Republican House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer and
Democratic Sen. Amanda Ragan - who helped broker the final deal.
Under the plan, Iowa will accept federal dollars offered to states that expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The state will use the funding to create a new
health plan for some poor residents and will pay the premiums for other low-income Iowans to get insurance on the new health care exchanges.
The plan will require federal approval. Branstad says he's optimistic that will happen.
"Cash Mob" Scheduled For Today
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce will once again host a "cash mob" scheduled
for Thursday at 12:15 p.m. This time the selected business will be a downtown chamber member that focuses on food for their business. Eligible businesses include: the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor, Fareway, Habitue Coffeehouse and Creperie, Hugo's, Piece of Cake, Pizza Ranch, and Sunshine Natural Foods. The "cash mob" invites people to the Chamber office, then the winning business will be selected and announced, and the "mob" of people then go to that business with the understanding of making a purchase of at least $20.
Educational Gains In Pre-school Are Lost By 3rd Grade
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A state report says early academic gains by children in Iowa's preschool program have been lost by third grade.
The report says the preschool students made modest gains on a school readiness assessment, but the program impact vanishes later in reading and mathematics.
Iowa Education Department Director Jason Glass says the study echoes a 2012 report that shows children in the federal Head Start program don't retain long-lasting increases in achievement.
Glass says the report issued Wednesday shows the state should develop better instruction for its Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program.
He says "quality preschool programs do show long-term impacts. Our preschool is not showing an impact, at least after four years."
The study compared the academic performance of students who attended the preschool program to students who didn't attend.
Branstad Would Like Schools Start After Sept. 1st
(Le Mars) -- Governor Terry Branstad has asked the state education department to enforce the state laws requiring schools to start school on the week of September 1st. Many school districts seek a waiver from the state which allows the school districts to start sometimes as early as mid-August. Le Mars Community School Superintendent, Dr. Todd Wendt says Le Mars is one of the few schools that traditionally begin in late August.
Wendt says many schools prefer to start early in order to offer the semester tests before the Christmas holiday break. But he doesn't know of studies that indicate students perform worst on a test following the break as opposed to taking the tests prior to the ten-day vacation.
The argument against starting school early is that it interrupts with teenager summer employment opportunities such as being a lifeguard, or working at amusement parks, resorts, campgrounds, or even restaurants. The Iowa State Fair is one of the strongest proponents for a later start date, saying early school starts has hurt the fair's attendance and number of exhibitors.
Ames Man Injured From Highway 20 Accident
(Moville) -- An Ames, Iowa man is hospitalized with injuries following a car verus semi-truck accident late Wednesday morning east of Moville. Major Todd Wieck of the Woodbury County Sheriff's office reports that the vehicles collided nearly head-on around 11:45 a.m. on Highway 20 near Jewll Avenue, resulting in the entrapment of the driver of the car. That driver, 25 year-old, Akinwumi Anjonrin-Ohu of Ames, was extricated and airlifted to Mercy Medical Center with multiple injuries. His condition is not available. Major Wieck says Anjonrin-Ohu was alone in the car headed westbound when his vehicle crossed the center line and collided with the oncoming semi. The driver of the semi truck was not injured. The cause of the accident remains under investigation by the Iowa State Patrol.
App Allows Drivers To Study For Driver's License Test
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A popular app that lets users take a practice Iowa driver's license test is available by e-book.
The state Department of Transportation says the app that was already available via other electronic devices will now be an option for Kindle users.
Officials say the app will generate 25 questions randomly from among 69 questions. Each test generates a different set of questions, and users can take the exam as often as they want.
The app tracks scores and indicates if a user has passed or failed the test. Officials say it's a good strategy to study the state's driver's manual before taking the test.
The free app is also available for iPad and Android devices.
Ten Iowa AmeriCorps Programs To Receive $2.7 Million In Grants
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Ten AmeriCorps programs in Iowa will receive $2.7 million for projects that include mentoring youth at risk for dropping out of school, building Habitat for Humanity homes and improving public lands and trails through habitat restoration.
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin says the money comes from the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that encourages volunteer work. The focus of many of the programs is
getting young people involved in community service.
Grants go to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Mississippi Valley, Community Corrections Improvement Association, the Des Moines Independent Community School District, city of Dubuque, Graceland
University, Habitat for Humanity of Iowa, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Legal Aid, Iowa Western Community College and the United Way of East Central Iowa.
Tony Blair To Attend World Food Prize
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The World Food Prize Foundation says former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will attend events in conjunction with the prize's award ceremony to be held in Des
Moines in October.
Blair, now an international envoy to the Middle East, will speak as part of a panel of experts discussing biotechnology and other topics. The Borlaug Dialogue events honoring Norman Borlaug, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 and founder of the World Food Prize, are scheduled for October 16th through 18th.
Others attending include Iceland's president and agriculture ministers from Nigeria and Malawi. Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, at the Holy See in the Vatican also is scheduled to be among the 1,000 dignitaries from businesses and nonprofit groups attending.