by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 15 2014 10:25AM
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Iowa's insurance commissioner has scheduled forums in Cedar Rapids and Davenport to educate the public on how to avoid investment and insurance scams.
Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart said a May 1 forum and panel discussion at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center would be limited to the first 210 respondents. A similar event is scheduled June 5 in Davenport.
Gerhart said the events are part of a education program called, "Iowa Fraud Fighters — Shield Your Savings." He said many con artists are targeting residents who are older than 60 with "very slick and sophisticated investment" scams that swindle millions of Americans out of billions of dollars every year.
The event will include information about common scams tips to prevent fraud. Attorney General Tom Miller and other state officials will participate.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 15 2014 10:24AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad has called on the Legislature to take action following an Iowa Supreme Court ruling that found school coaches cannot be convicted of sexual exploitation by a school employee under current law.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled 5-2 Friday to overturn the conviction of a former Bloomfield basketball coach who had sex with a 16-year-old girl on his team, saying coaches without teaching licenses are not considered school employees and therefore cannot be convicted. In a statement Monday, Branstad urged lawmakers to pass legislation to include school coaches in the law to protect Iowa students from sexual exploitation.
Branstad says action should be taken now, while the Legislature remains in session.
The session has no specific end date, but lawmakers will stop receiving expense payments after April 22.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 15 2014 10:23AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two top managers at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services have been asked to return for a second day of questioning before a joint legislative oversight committee.
Doug Woodley and Paul Carlson didn't help lawmakers clarify the big question: who authorized settlement agreements in which money was paid for secrecy.
The focus seemed to turn once again to a former DAS attorney, Ryan Lamb, who now works for a construction contractor.
Senate Oversight Committee leaders say they'll ask Lamb to appear.
Woodley and Carlson spent nearly two hours before the committee. They were cooperative in answering questions from Democrats and Republicans from the House and Senate and promised to provide a number of documents detailing the amount of money saved in the 2011 government reorganization
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 15 2014 10:22AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A plan to enroll more 4-year-olds in preschool and incentivize the creation or expansion of programs has won the Iowa Senate's approval.
The Senate voted 28-22 Monday in favor of the measure, which now goes to the House for further consideration. All those opposed were Republicans.
The Iowa Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program, established in 2007, already funds preschool for 4-year-olds. The legislation would offer additional funds to school districts with existing programs or those that initiate new programs, in an effort to expand preschool enrollment. These incentives would be offered for three years beginning in 2015, and would be based on increased enrollment.
Sen. Herman Quirmbach, an Ames Democrat, says the legislation is meant to increase participation in the preschool program and improve outreach efforts to Iowa children.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 15 2014 10:22AM
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A lawmaker is demanding an investigation to determine why so many workers at the Iowa Veterans Home have been fired and disqualified from future state employment.
Democratic Sen. Steve Sodders of State Center said Monday that his analysis of state data shows 61 home employees have been fired and added to the "do-not-rehire" list during Branstad's current term. He says that's nearly twice as many in three years under Branstad compared to the prior 12 years under Democratic governors.
Sodders has long blamed the home's former commandant, David Worley, for creating a hostile work environment. Worley resigned in October.
Sodders asked Branstad to launch an investigation to determine whether workers were wrongly fired and blacklisted under Worley.
More than 600 veterans and spouses live on the home's campus in Marshalltown.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 15 2014 10:19AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Longtime Iowa Republican Gov. Terry Branstad finds himself in the unfamiliar position of juggling mini-scandals as he prepares to seek a sixth term.
In recent weeks, he's had to face questions about why his administration pushed about 1,200 state workers out of their jobs and paid some to keep quiet, whether it kept a blacklist of former employees banned for rehiring, and whether an appointee was mishandling unemployment cases.
The controversies aren't threatening Branstad's re-election. He had 10 times the campaign cash of his little-known Democratic challenger.
But Democratic lawmakers are planning investigations. And Republicans worry that the turmoil will roil the political waters as they attempt to win a U.S. Senate seat and control of the state Senate. The Republican governor is counted on to help lead that effort.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 14 2014 10:25AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad says Democrats pursuing investigations into confidential settlement agreements, do-not-hire lists, and other issues are practicing partisan politics at its worst.
At his Monday news conference, Branstad argued lawmakers ought to focus on the budget and policy issues instead of making accusations using politically charged words.
House Democrats are calling for an expanded investigation into allegations that some employees have been blacklisted from future state employment and other issues.
The Senate Government Oversight Committee also is holding another hearing to ask questions about government payments to former workers for secrecy and problems they believe exist in the executive branch.
Democratic Sen. Janet Petersen, oversight committee chairwoman, has set a Monday afternoon meeting, and two Department of Administrative Services officials who didn't come last week say they'll appear.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 14 2014 10:24AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two Des Moines residents have been arrested in the kidnapping and beating of a man found in the trunk of a car.
Police say they've arrested 53-year-old Debra Oliver and 50-year-old John Deering and charged both with kidnapping. Online records say Oliver and Deering remained in Polk County Jail on Monday. Online court records don't list the names of their attorneys.
The two are suspected of abducting 60-year-old Ronald Carris. Police say Carris called 911 around 5:50 a.m. Friday, saying he had been stuffed into the truck of his car. The 911 audio recording captured the beating.
His cellphone was traced to a park along the Des Moines River. Officers found him in the trunk of a car they spotted there.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 14 2014 10:22AM
SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (AP) — The state has fined an assisted living center in Spirit Lake, saying it presents an "imminent danger" to residents.
Keelson Harbour Assisted Living has been fined $3,000. The state says the center has not adequately trained workers, used nonmedical staffers to inject diabetic residents and borrowed medical supplies from residents to meet other residents' needs. The center has 68 residents.
Keelson Harbour is owned by Vista Prairie Communities in Minnesota. Patrick Rafferty is a Vista Prairie executive, and he says the Iowa inspectors' findings are being reviewed. He says a decision has not been made yet on whether Vista Prairie will appeal the fine.
Rafferty says that "if there are issues, they will be corrected."
The center's executive director declined to comment.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 14 2014 10:21AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Authorities have released the name of a 57-year-old Des Moines homicide victim.
The Des Moines Police Department identified her as Juanita Lagrone, of Des Moines.
Police say officers were sent to a home around 2:15 p.m. Sunday after a relative found Lagrone on the floor. Officers and medics say Lagrone was dead when they arrived. Sgt. Jason Halifax says there were signs of trauma to her body and a baseball bat nearby.
Reports say her death is being investigated as Des Moines' first homicide of 2014. No arrests have been reported.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 14 2014 10:18AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden has unveiled a new exhibit featuring small hanging trees and flowers.
The High Flight exhibit offers a presentation showcasing hanging arrangements inspired by Japanese string gardens. There are more than 250 pieces on display during the six-week exhibit, which opened Thursday. It's available through May 18.
Officials say a blue steel sculpture constructed by a volunteer artist will be the exhibit's centerpiece. There will also be sky cables over various pathways in the conservatory.
Botanical officials will offer a workshop inspired by the exhibit on April 26.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 14 2014 10:18AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The State Historical Society of Iowa is reminding Iowa residents to apply for grant money that can be used for preservation purposes.
The division of the state Department of Cultural Affairs says the deadline to apply for the Historical Resource Development Program and the Country School program is April 25.
The development program aims to preserve and educate about historic resources in the categories of documentary collections, historic preservation and museums. The school program helps preserve and maintain the state's one- and two-room country schools.
Applications must be submitted online. Hard copies of application materials must be turned in manually or be postmarked by April 25.
Projects funded in this grant cycle will begin in July. They must be completed by Nov. 30, 2016.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 11 2014 10:10AM
ANKENY, Iowa (AP) — A 33-year-old teacher has been accused of sexually exploiting a former student at Ankeny High School.
Authorities say Mandy Davenport, of Des Moines, is charged with sexual exploitation by a school employee. Ankeny police say the youth involved is a 17-year-old boy.
On Monday Davenport resigned her job as a language arts teacher at Ankeny Centennial High School. Davenport was placed on leave April 4. A schools representative says Davenport worked at Ankeny High for three years before moving to Ankeny Centennial.
A public phone listing for her couldn't be found. Online court records don't list the name of her attorney.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 11 2014 10:10AM
CLINTON, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad has ordered U.S. and Iowa flags to be flown at half-staff to honor a Clinton man who died during World War II.
The remains of 1st Lt. Louis Longman are being returned to Iowa, and a memorial service is scheduled for Saturday at the Rock Island Arsenal National Cemetery, in Rock Island, Ill. Military honors will be provided by the Iowa National Guard.
The flags are to be flown at half-staff from 5 p.m. Friday until 8 a.m. Monday.
The Defense Department says the 26-year-old Longman went down with his P-38 fighter on April 16, 1944, in the mountains of New Guinea. The recovery and identification process began in 2005.
Longman graduated in 1936 from St. Mary's High School in Clinton.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 11 2014 10:09AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An effort to reopen the Iowa Juvenile home closed by Gov. Terry Branstad in January has been rejected by the Iowa House.
House Minority Leader Mark Smith, of Marshalltown, on Thursday attempted to tack on a provision to the health and human services budget to reopen the facility in Toledo and revamp programming for delinquent girls. The amendment failed in a 48-to-51 vote.
Smith and other Democrats say delinquent girls are no longer being properly served since Branstad closed the home, which previously housed some of Iowa's most troubled girls. They also say since there's a facility for delinquent boys in Eldora, girls deserve a similar state-run location.
Rep. David Heaton, a Mount Pleasant Republican, says although the House rejected the motion, lawmakers will continue to work toward a solution.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 11 2014 10:08AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A nonprofit group that supports low-income families who can't afford to bury their children would receive state funds under a budget provision approved by the Iowa House.
While debating the health and human services appropriation Thursday, lawmakers adopted an amendment to provide $100,000 to the organization Sing Me To Heaven. The group offers financial support to families who have lost a child, and members have said fundraising efforts aren't sufficient to help families across the state.
The money would be administered through Iowa's Department of Public Health. Eligible families could then receive up to $2,000 for funeral expenses after a child's death, which the group would dispense.
Rep. Bob Kressig, a Cedar Falls Democrat, says the appropriation is a way to help needy families suffering from loss.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 11 2014 10:07AM
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — The Waterloo airport is using a $1 million federal grant to buy snow removal equipment.
The Waterloo Regional Airport will get the money from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Michelle Weidner, finance director for the city, says the funding request was included in a previous application for airport improvement money.
Weidner says such grants typically require a local match. That is usually covered by airport passenger facility charges from plane fares.
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin announced the grant Thursday. The federal agency awarded more than $3.2 million to Iowa airports for various improvement projects.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 11 2014 10:06AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa House lawmakers have released an amendment that addresses the issue of the placement of cell towers.
The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday gave reporters copies of new language, which members will add to a bill primarily dealing with expansion of broadband and Internet access in rural Iowa. The bill also includes new rules for cell tower siting, which has prompted complaints from local officials who argued it stripped out local control.
The tower siting language reflected a call by cellular companies for uniformity in the application process.
New language includes a timeframe for local governments to respond to requests for the construction or modification of cell towers as well as rules for governments to approve or deny applications.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 11 2014 10:06AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz plans to return more than $200,000 to the state in unspent money from his budget. He says his ongoing efforts to reduce costs in his office resulted in less spending than his predecessors.
Schultz says finding efficiencies in technology, reducing staff, and consolidating management positions, allows him to return the money in July.
Schultz has been criticized by Democrats and voting rights advocates for paying the Iowa Division of Criminal investigation $250,000 over two years to investigate voter fraud. The money came from a federal grant designed to improve voting.
A spokesman for Schultz says the $200,000 is the current fiscal year savings but will continue in lower expenditures in future years.
Schultz, a Republican, is leaving after one term to run for Congress.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 11 2014 10:05AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal says he will sponsor a bill legalizing the sale of medical marijuana in Iowa, reviving an issue once thought dead this year.
The persistent efforts of woman who have children with epilepsy changed lawmakers' perceptions on the issue.
New policy measures cannot be raised late in the legislative session unless leaders in the House or Senate bring them up. Since Gronstal, a Democrat, will sponsor a bill its fate relies on Minority Leader Bill Dix, a Republican, to sign on too to move it forward. Dix says he will make that decision when a bill is presented to him.
Gov. Terry Branstad has talked recently with governors who have signed bills legalizing use of cannabis plant oil that isn't smoked and doesn't create a high.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 11 2014 10:04AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A bill making it illegal for landowners to allow drinking by minors on their property has won the final approval of the Iowa Senate.
The Senate voted 47-0 Thursday to send the legislation to Gov. Terry Branstad.
The measure originally prohibited landowners from permitting anyone under 21 to drink. The Senate concurred with a House amendment that limits offenses to those who permit people younger than 18 to drink on their property. Lawmakers also agreed to pass a provision exempting landlords and other property managers who may be unaware of minors drinking.
Under the bill, first violations would carry a simple misdemeanor charge and a $200 fine.
Sen. Robert Hogg, a Cedar Rapids Democrat, says despite changes to the legislation, it makes progress in fighting underage drinking across the state.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 11 2014 10:03AM
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa's human resources agency has released a list of hundreds of former workers who are barred from returning to state employment.
Its release came days after its now-fired director repeatedly told lawmakers no such list existed.
A spreadsheet released by the Department of Administrative Services identifies 975 workers who've been disqualified from future employment because they were either fired or resigned before termination, dating to 1990. The majority are barred from any of the executive branch's 42 agencies.
The department released the data to The Associated Press four days after its then-director Mike Carroll told lawmakers that "there is no list." Gov. Terry Branstad fired Carroll on Tuesday.
The AP reported last month that state government has continued the little-known practice of barring former workers despite questions about its legality.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 10 2014 10:55AM
It was the announcement that Steven Leach, president of Iowa State University, never dreamed of having to make and the announcement students didn't want to hear.
"It's with mixed feeling and a heavy heart that I have decided to suspend the remainder of this Viesha."
But that's not the worst thing President Leach felt he had to say.
"Today, I'm really here to express my extreme disappointment and sadness over the Campustown incident."
To words rang in the ears of student, university faculty, and community members who filled the South Ballroom. So many people trying to fit into one room caused the staff to open the partitions, separating the ballrooms, on the second floor of the Memorial Union.
Unlike the students who become visibly upset after the announcement was made, President Leach kept his composure as he delivered his speech of disappointment.
"Frankly, I'm embarrassed for our university, and our community," he says, "I feel especially sorry for the students who have worked so hard over the past year planning."
Zach Morton, co-chair of this year's Viesha festival said the event was just getting started and he thinks those who flipped cars and downed light poles forgot what Viesha was really about.
"At the end of the day, Viesha is here for Iowa State University," Morton said, "Viesha is for all the students in the room, all the faculty, all the staff…everyone; and that's the important thing to remember."
The key word through the whole press conference could be summed up in one word: Safety.
"The consensus of the group was perfectly clear," says President Leach, "human safety and the safety of our community has to be our number one priority, and we cannot have any more property destroyed or any more instances of this nature."
That one instance almost cost one student his life after a light pole that was knocked down by students during the riots. He is now recovering in a Des Moines hospital, but his family is asking to keep his identity secret, according to Ames Police Chief Chuck Cychosz.
And then, President Leach said what all students, present and future, were afraid of hearing.
"The likelihood of Viesha, or something like it, continuing in its present form is very, very small."
All events were suspended last night after 5:00 p.m. The university is now working with organizers and the community to refund and rebuild the university and its reputation.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 10 2014 10:17AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — For the second consecutive day officials in the Iowa Department of Administrative Services have told legislators investigating use of state money to pay former workers for silence they wouldn't appear to answer questions.
Senate Oversight Committee Chairwoman Janet Peterson says two DAS administrators were asked to appear for a Thursday afternoon hearing but sent a message Wednesday night they would not show up.
She says discussions will be held about whether it's time for the committee to exercise subpoena power if Gov. Terry Branstad's administration continues to avoid legislative oversight.
Petersen says she's also hoping to release documents that reflect Branstad's office conducted only a cursory investigation into the payments for silence in settlement agreements with former workers.
Spokesmen for the DAS and Branstad did not immediately reply to messages.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 10 2014 10:16AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A southwest Iowa lawmaker has returned to his job in the Iowa Capitol, where he hadn't voted on a measure since March 4.
Sen. Hubert Houser on Wednesday wrote a $576 check to repay expense money he was paid while absent.
Houser received handshakes and encouragement from Democrats and Republicans as he headed to his desk in the Senate chamber.
He told the Register earlier that he was too busy with work on his farm to join in legislative business, adding that as a Republican in the Democratic-controlled Senate, he had little to do. He's served 22 years in the Legislature.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 10 2014 10:15AM
FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — The veteran Iowa investigator fired after reporting Gov. Terry Branstad's speeding SUV is going into business as a private investigator.
Former Division of Criminal Investigation agent Larry Hedlund said Wednesday he's obtained his private investigator's license and founded Hedlund Investigations. His business card touts 25 years of experience and a motto of, "truth, trust and tenacity." He envisions investigating everything from unsolved homicides to potential wrongful convictions and police misconduct.
Hedlund continues to sue his former superiors for wrongful termination. He alleges that he was removed from duty and fired in retaliation for initiating a pursuit in which a vehicle carrying Branstad was clocked traveling 84 mph but not stopped.
The 56-year-old Hedlund says he believes he has "something to offer attorneys or anybody that might need a private investigator."
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 10 2014 10:12AM
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An associate cello professor at the University of Iowa is playing a series of shows at private homes around the state in an effort to get more people into classical music.
Anthony Arnone is performing with his instrument at upcoming house concerts this month in Davenport and Iowa City.
He's also enlisted the help of a musical arts doctoral student who will play the piano. The pair has other house concerts scheduled in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Dubuque, Keokuk, Muscatine and Washington.
Arnone says the shows were inspired by his impromptu performance at a car service business. The experience was so positive he started performing at other public spaces.
The free house concerts involve 20 to 30 guests. They will be one-hour performances.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 8 2014 10:45AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A power outage at the Iowa Capitol Tuesday morning shut down chamber voting machines, microphones and cameras and disabled the Legislature's website until about 9 a.m.
Power went out around 7:30 a.m. plunging the Capitol into darkness. Power was on again in about 10 minutes. By 8 a.m. elevators, some doors and other electricity-powered equipment were coming back into service but not completely functional.
A spokesman for the Department of Administrative Services says there was an interruption in power during routine testing of the Capitol complex emergency power system.
The House convened at 8:30 but quickly stood at ease. The Senate gaveled in shortly after 9 a.m. and by then equipment on the Senate floor was working.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 8 2014 10:37AM
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A 38-foot-long recreational vehicle sponsored by the University of Iowa will soon travel Iowa promoting the state's rich history.
The Mobile Museum is expected to make its inaugural appearance in Fort Dodge this weekend, and stops in Decorah, Osage and Council Bluffs are planned. The university plans to show it off to the media Tuesday.
The Mobile Museum is sponsored by the Old Capitol Museum, Museum of Natural History and Office of the State Archaeologist. It will feature exhibits about mammals that roamed Iowa during the last ice age, the founding of Iowa, and the state's "ancient agriculturalists" based in the Loess Hills.
UI vice president for research Dan Reed says it is a "museum built in Iowa, by Iowans, for Iowans" that will visit schools, libraries and special events.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 8 2014 10:35AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Three Republicans viewed as potential presidential candidates will speak at the GOP state convention in June.
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Danny Carroll announced Monday that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will speak at the June 14 convention in Des Moines.
The three have taken part in a number of events in Iowa since the 2012 election.
In a statement Carroll says, "This will be a treat for our state convention delegates and guests and will create some lively interaction as we plan for victory in November."
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 8 2014 10:34AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An appeals court panel says an Urbandale attorney acted improperly during a sexual harassment trial when she told of her own harassment experience.
A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed an award given to Mindy Gilster, a former employee of Primebank in Sioux City. She sued the bank and supervisor Joseph Strub in 2010, claiming sexual harassment and retaliation.
In closing arguments during the 2012 trial, her lawyer, Brooke Timmer, told jurors a Drake law school professor sexually harassed her.
Defense attorneys objected, but U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett allowed Timmer to continue.
The appeals panel ruled Friday the comments were improper.
The jury awarded Gilster $900,000. The judge reduced that to $428,982.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 8 2014 10:33AM
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa inmate who has spent most of his life in prison for playing a minor role in a 1984 slaying has been granted work-release privileges.
Todd Hoffer has left the minimum-security prison in Rockwell City and transferred to a halfway house in West Union in northeastern Iowa.
The Iowa Board of Parole ordered work-release for the 53-year-old Hoffer after interviewing him last month. If he's successful in that facility, he could be released on parole.
Hoffer was one of three men convicted in the 1984 killing of Juanita Weaver, who was shot during a Des Moines home invasion.
Gov. Tom Vilsack commuted Hoffer's life sentence in 2007, noting that Hoffer wasn't the shooter and never intended for Weaver's death. Even the man who prosecuted Hoffer supported his clemency application.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 8 2014 10:30AM
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) — A group of University of Northern Iowa students is helping bring thousands of free saplings to Cedar Falls to help the city replace trees lost to disease or flooding.
UNI Hardwoods recently transported 6,500 oak tree saplings from a nursery in East Moline, Ill. More than 100 student volunteers will plant some of them on April 12 at a new nursery in the North Cedar neighborhood.
The saplings will replace trees infected by the emerald ash borer or destroyed by historic flooding in 2008. City officials say funding for tree removals and replacements has dwindled.
The saplings will mature for several years before they're either moved or kept in place to reforest the area.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 7 2014 10:10AM
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a 30-year-old Cedar Falls man has died after crashing during a pursuit by an Iowa state trooper.
The Iowa State Patrol says Jon Winburn tried to get away from the trooper after running a stop sign late Sunday morning. The patrol says the brief chase ended when Winburn lost control of his motorcycle and it crashed into a concrete wall of the Mutual Wheel building on La Porte Road in Waterloo.
The patrol says Winburn was pronounced dead at Covenant Medical Center.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 7 2014 10:10AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Settlement agreements are likely to continue to dominate the agenda at the Iowa Capitol this week as some lawmakers remain unsatisfied with discrepancies in testimony and answers they received during hearings last week.
Former employees testified at a Government Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday they were treated badly when fired in 2011 and were offered money to keep quiet about their dismissals. Department of Administrative Services Director Mike Carroll denied those allegations on Thursday in testimony to the committee that completely contradicted the workers.
Democratic Sen. Janet Petersen, chair of the Senate Government Oversight Committee, says she plans to ask state department heads and human resources officials to come before the committee. She's waiting for the Department of Administrative Services to provide numerous documents about state contracts and hiring practices.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 7 2014 10:08AM
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Wildlife and environmental groups are claiming victory when it comes to conservation under the new farm bill.
Two of their top priorities made it into the law, which set federal farm policy for the next five years.
One is "conservation compliance," which means farmers will have to use good conservation practices on highly erodible lands and protect wetlands to qualify for crop insurance premium subsidies.
The other creates "sodsaver" protections to discourage farmers from plowing up native grasslands in the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana and Nebraska.
It wasn't a total victory, though. The $57.6 billion in the farm bill for conservation programs over the next 10 years represents a net reduction of $4 billion. And conservationists are disappointed that fewer acres can be enrolled in the popular Conservation Reserve Program.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 7 2014 10:07AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A bill intended to expand broadband access to rural Iowans also includes language that could limit the ability of local governments to regulate the placement of cell towers.
Both the state Senate and House are wrangling with details on the so-called Connect Every Iowan Act. In an effort to increase cellular and wireless coverage as well, the House has included provisions to streamline the cell tower siting application process across the state.
This has prompted opposition from some city officials who argue they are being stripped of their authority in tower placement decisions.
Lawmakers say it's not their intention to remove local authority, and that they will work to find common ground for all parties involved.
Subcommittees in both chambers plan to meet to discuss the legislation next week.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 4 2014 10:37AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — In a key voting rights case, the Iowa Supreme Court will decide whether a state senate candidate convicted of an aggravated misdemeanor is eligible to hold office.
The court granted a request Thursday to hear the case in which primary rival Ned Chiodo is seeking to disqualify Tony Bisignano based on his conviction for second-offense drunken driving.
At issue is whether that was an "infamous crime" that stripped Bisignano of his right to vote and hold public office. The court's decision could affect thousands of current and future offenders convicted of aggravated misdemeanors.
A state panel ruled that Bisignano is eligible because lawmakers have defined "infamous crimes" as felonies. A judge agreed Wednesday.
But prior court rulings have defined them as crimes that could land offenders in a state prison.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 4 2014 10:34AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez will hold events in Des Moines and Ottumwa this weekend.
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin announced Thursday that Perez would be in Iowa on Saturday. Harkin says the labor secretary will focus on a proposed increase in the national minimum wage and job training during the events.
The first event will be at Raygun, a quirky clothing store in Des Moines' East Village. Perez will be joined by Harkin, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley and Raygun owner Mike Draper.
Later, Perez will tour the Job Corps Center in Ottumwa. Besides Harkin, Perez will be joined by U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack.
Before being confirmed as labor secretary, Perez headed the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. He previously was secretary of Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 4 2014 10:32AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz is asking the Iowa Supreme Court to review and overturn a district court judge's decision that Schultz did not have the authority to create a new rule aimed at ridding voter registration rolls of voters who didn't appear to be U.S. citizens.
Polk County Judge Scott Rosenberg last month said state law does not authorize Schultz to create a rule that would cancel a voter's registration based on citizenship questions.
Schultz tried to pass a rule that would have removed voters from registration rolls if he could not confirm their citizenship by comparing state records with federal immigration records.
Schultz says he can't allow non-citizens to cancel out Iowans' votes and insists the rule protects the integrity of the vote.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 4 2014 10:31AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A bill meant to stop the release of sexually violent predators has been signed into law.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed the bill Thursday.
The law allows those convicted of a violent sexual offense as a juvenile to be sent to a civil containment unit for sexually violent predators upon release from prison. Officials didn't previously consider such juvenile convictions when making adult release decisions.
Lawmakers say those who commit sexually violent crimes as juveniles could be dangerous as adults. They say this was true in the case of Kathlynn Shepard, who authorities say was abducted and killed last year by Michael Klunder.
Had the law had been in place last year, lawmakers say Klunder could have been kept in civil containment for past offenses instead of being freed.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 3 2014 10:14AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Des Moines man shot by police who said he was trying to run them down has been charged with two counts of assault.
30-year-old Shawntee Deiyane Young was arrested and charged Saturday with two counts of assault by use or display of a dangerous weapon.
Police say Young drove up to the scene of a shooting officers were investigating March 20. Police say when officers tried to stop Young, he accelerated toward them. Three officers fired at Young, who was hit by one bullet and treated at a local hospital.
The three officers — Sgt. Chad Nicolino and Officers Andrew Becker and Seth Arganbright — remain on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 3 2014 10:13AM
AMES, Iowa (AP) — Four Iowa Republicans running for U.S. Senate are debating higher education costs, health care and the federal debt at a forum at Iowa State University.
Radio host Sam Clovis, state Sen. Joni Ernst, businessman Scott Schaben and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker met for the debate Wednesday evening. They said any of them would be better suited to succeed retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin than four-term U.S. House Democrat Bruce Braley.
A fifth candidate, Mark Jacobs, isn't participating because of a scheduling conflict. But that didn't keep him out of the debate.
Clovis took a shot at Jacobs, who has spent heavily on television ads ahead of the June 3 primary. Clovis, who also teaches at Morningside University, says it's "important for all the candidates" to attend.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 3 2014 10:11AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Lawmakers in the Iowa House say they want to further establish government transparency and openness in the light of secret settlement agreements between state agencies and fired employees.
While debating a budget bill for agriculture and natural resources Wednesday, the House adopted an amendment to prevent money appropriated in the bill from being used for payments in such settlement agreements. Iowa's Department of Natural Resources participated in these payments to former employees.
Rep. Chris Hall, a Sioux City Democrat, says the amendment is an effort to keep taxpayer dollars from being used for settlements.
Republican Rep. Matt Windschitl, of Missouri Valley, says he supported the motion, though he says Gov. Terry Branstad already addressed the issue with an executive order prohibiting state agencies from signing confidential settlement agreements.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 3 2014 10:10AM
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa City has approved several changes to an ordinance that bans people younger than 21 from being in bars late at night.
The changes clarify some rules that bars and other venues must meet if they want an exemption to the regulation.
The clarifications include the definition of a disc jockey, and specifies that they're not considered a performer whose shows go toward a 150-show requirement for the exemption.
More than five venues currently have the exemption.
The City Council made the changes during a meeting Tuesday. They passed the ordinance in 2010 as part of an effort to reduce binge drinking by University of Iowa students and other minors. The law has withstood two ballot votes to repeal it.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 3 2014 10:09AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Senate has rejected changes to a bill meant to crack down on certain instances of human trafficking involving minors.
The Senate unanimously voted Wednesday to restore a law enforcement training reporting requirement and a victim fund in cases of prostitution involving minors. The House voted last month to remove these provisions.
The bill maintains a provision proposed by the House to remove offenses from the records of anyone previously convicted of prostitution as a minor. It also keeps a penalty increase for pimping involving a minor.
Democratic Sen. Robert Dvorsky, of Coralville, says the measure returns to the House, where lawmakers can consider the Senate's changes.
Should the House fail to approve the changes, the bill will die unless lawmakers from each chambers work together on a compromise.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 3 2014 10:07AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Four former state employees have cast doubt on state officials' claims that hundreds of thousands of dollars were saved through layoffs in 2011 as part of government reorganization.
The workers, testifying before the Senate Government Oversight Committee, claim some of their jobs are done by contractors at higher cost. They also claim laws were broken in the way their dismissals were handled in what Sen. Matt McCoy calls the Sept. 1 massacre.
The workers say their replacements were unqualified to perform the engineering and architectural jobs they held, jobs weren't posted, and replacements hired were close friends of administrators at the Iowa Department of Administrative Services.
A department spokesman says millions have been saved and the savings continue as the department runs more efficiently with fewer people and less paperwork.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 3 2014 10:07AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The attorney for a woman who says her high school coach molested her causing her emotion problems wants the Iowa Supreme Court to change the way lawsuits against schools are handled in such cases.
Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin is representing a woman who says her New London school teacher and coach sexually abused her for several years. She's suing the school district.
The district's attorney, Steven Ort, says current law prohibits the lawsuit because the statute of limitations has expired.
At the center of the argument is whether school districts fall under a discovery rule that gives victims up to four years to file suit after they discover the abuse affected them.
Ort claims past court rulings concluded the discovery rule doesn't apply to schools. Conlin argues it does.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 3 2014 10:06AM
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A spokesman says Iowa's executive branch no longer tells fired workers when they are added to the state's "do-not-rehire list" and waits to break the bad news only if they ever apply for another state job.
Department of Administrative Services spokesman Caleb Hunter said Wednesday the change came in response to administrative law judges who ruled that state officials don't have the legal authority to issue blanket employment bans against fired workers. Instead, those judges ruled that state officials can disqualify applicants on a case-by-case basis based on previous firings.
Instead of ending the practice of barring some ex-employees for life, Hunter says the department limited how it notifies those affected.
The department previously notified employees at the time of their firings that they were barred from future state employment.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 1 2014 10:42AM
The weather is getting nicer, so why not go for a run or walk for the Marshall County 4-H and their first ever Clover Run/Walk 5-K? Katie Mullaney, Spokesperson for the event says the money will expected to go to events the whole community could benefit from.
"At the Marshall County Fair, we would love to have more activities for people who are not involved in 4H as an incentive to come out to the fair ground and be able to participate in any way," she say.
She then goes on to add, "Raising that money would, pretty much, would give more room for activities."
The money not used for the fair, would then go back to 4H dues. However, they needed to find a way to raise the money, all while getting the community involved.
While walking and running are fun, there is another activity during the event to help raise money.
"We will also have a silent auction," Mullaney says.
The items being auctioned off will be particularly of interest to sports fans.
"We have a Fred Hoiberg signed basketball; a Paul Rhoads signed basketball; and gloves signed by wide receivers from the St. Louis Rams."
But, if sports are not your thing, there are a few other items donated from people in the community, including a Puddle Tractor.
The 4-H Clover Run/Walk will take place on Saturday, April 12th, at the Central Iowa Fair Grounds. For more information and to learn how to register you can go to the ISU Extension's website.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 1 2014 10:24AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Representatives for a company overseeing redevelopment of a historic downtown Des Moines building destroyed in a fire have made their first public statements.
Officials from the Hansen Company held a press conference Monday. They insisted the work site at the Younkers building met necessary regulations.
Tony Garcia, company vice president, said construction crews were doing "hot work" Friday that could generate sparks. But he added that the work was carefully monitored and it was completed hours before the fire started early Saturday.
Officials say the former Younkers building will have to be demolished and that several nearby buildings sustained smoke and water damage. Investigators say there are no early indications as to what caused the blaze.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 1 2014 10:23AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court has rejected an appeal argument by Jonathan Narcisse in his fight to gain a spot on the Democratic primary ballot for governor.
Last week a judge denied the former Des Moines school board member's request to overturn a ruling by the Iowa secretary of state's office that his nomination petitions were incomplete.
That office ruled earlier this month that some of Narcisse's petitions didn't note the title of the office sought, disqualifying him from being placed on primary ballots. The decision leaves state Sen. Jack Hatch the only Democrat running for governor.
On Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court agreed to hear Narcisse's appeal and on Monday delivered an opinion that simply affirms the district court decision.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 1 2014 10:21AM
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A nonprofit group wants Iowa lawmakers to approve financial assistance for low-income families who can't afford to bury their children.
Sing Me To Heaven, a foundation that offers support to families who have lost a child, will visit the Capitol on Tuesday to urge lawmakers to support a bill intended to help low-income families with funeral costs.
The bill would provide $100,000 to be administered through Iowa's Department of Public Health. Eligible parents and families could then receive up to $2,000 for funeral expenses after the death of a child. The bill is now in the House Appropriations Committee and is still eligible for consideration.
The group has already helped more than 40 families in Iowa, but it says in a statement that more money is needed.
by KIX101.1 /1230 KFJB News Department,posted Apr 1 2014 10:20AM
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa's executive branch maintains an internal "do not rehire" list that has grown to more than 1,400 people who are barred from returning to state employment after being fired previously.
A review by The Associated Press shows the two-decades-old list has grown under Gov. Terry Branstad even as the state lacks clear legal justification and policies for how workers' names are added and removed.
Administrative law judges have ruled three times since 2009 that the Department of Administrative Services doesn't have "the statutory or regulatory authority" to issue lifetime employment bans against fired workers.
At least 250 names have been added since Branstad returned to office in 2011, about twice the pace of his predecessor.
Iowa managers say they use the list to reject bad employees and save taxpayer money.