Thursday Afternoon News, May 21
Legislators Watching Avian Bird Flu's Impact On State Economy
(Le Mars) -- The outbreak of the avian bird flu and its impact on the state's poultry industry has caught the attention of the state legislature. Le Mars State Representative Chuck Soderberg says state lawmakers are wondering if funds should be appropriated to chicken and turkey producers who have had their flocks wiped out due to the bird virus. He says the estimates of economic losses may affect the state's budget projections.
Government Discontinues Offering Military Hardware To Law Enforcement Agencies
(Le Mars) -- This past week the Obama Administration announced that no longer would the government allow the donation or sale of surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies. Le Mars Police Chief Stuart Dekkenga says in the past, Le Mars was able to obtain a military vehicle.
The Police Chief says at about the same time the city acquired the military vehicle, the local police department also acquired three M-16 military rifles.
Dekkenga says the reason he would like to return the military rifles is because of too many regulations, and too much bureaucratic red tape. He says the government's decision not to allow law enforcement agencies to acquire military hardware will not affect the Le Mars Police Department. However, Dekkenga says it is a shame the government decided to discontinue the program.
Dekkenga says its too bad the government has issued the order, because as he says, many city budgets simply cannot afford to purchase new armored equipment that may be needed because of its cost.
Dekkenga says he often times questions the wisdom of our government's decisions with regard to military surplus items.
Huckabee Says He Will Skip Iowa Straw Poll
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says he won't participate in the Iowa Straw Poll, where he competed and placed second eight years ago.
In an opinion piece published Thursday in The Des Moines Register, Huckabee said his resources are better spent on other efforts. He argued that the straw poll is likely to draw only conservative candidates and that the competition could weaken them.
Huckabee has declared his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. In 2008, he won the Iowa caucuses but did not win the nomination.
State GOP officials have fought to keep the Aug. 8 event alive. But critics say the poll has become a costly sideshow.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will skip the poll and attend a conservative gathering in Georgia.
Sioux City Man Sentenced To 15 Years For Synthetic Marijuana
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sioux City man accused of burglary and possessing synthetic marijuana has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
19-year-old Javen Mobley pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary, and in a separate case, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.
Authorities say Mobley admitted breaking into a house Sept. 1 to steal items, and other people he was with started a fire. Mobley had been charged with second-degree arson in connection to the fire, but the charge was dismissed as part of his plea agreement.
According to court documents, Mobley was arrested in April during a traffic stop when police found six plastic bags containing synthetic marijuana. The documents say Mobley told officers he was on his way to deliver the substance to a woman.
Branstad Appoints New Civil Rights Director
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A woman who's worked since 2012 for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission has been named its executive director.
The office of Gov. Terry Branstad on Wednesday announced his appointment of Kristin Johnson to the post. Johnson replaces Beth Townsend, whom Branstad appointed to be director of Iowa Workforce Development.
Johnson has been working for the commission as a civil rights specialist. Previously she was an arbitrator and mediator for the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a consultant for the Iowa Association of School Boards, an attorney in private practice and a labor relations attorney for the Iowa Department of Personnel.
Johnson earned her bachelor's degree and law degree from the University of Iowa.
Con-Agra Expands In Waterloo
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - ConAgra Foods says it plans to expand its Waterloo plant and add 55 jobs to the local payroll.
Officials say Omaha, Nebraska-based ConAgra expects to break ground next month on the 99,000-square-foot expansion, pending approval of state and local incentives. ConAgra says the expansion project could be finished by late 2016. The expansion will provide space for production of the company's David sunflower seed snacks.
ConAgra has produced Snack Pack and Swiss Miss products in Waterloo since 1997.
Two Landfills Given Permission To Accept Bird Flu Carcasses
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two Iowa landfills have been given approvals from federal and state officials to dispose of some of the millions of chicken, turkey and duck carcasses amassing from the outbreak of bird flu.
The carcasses will go to the Northwest Iowa Area Solid Waste Agency landfill near Sheldon and the Iowa Waste Systems landfill near Malvern in southwest Iowa.
On Wednesday Iowa officials added two turkey farms to the state list of cases, raising the number to 62.
The USDA says confirmed outbreaks have claimed nearly 40 million birds in 15 states since early March, mostly in Minnesota and Iowa.