Category Archives: Local News

Autopsy shows man died of heart attack at Cerro Gordo County Jail last week

MASON CITY — Authorities say the man who died while being held in the Cerro Gordo County Jail last week died of a heart attack. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation says 54-year-old Taras Roan of Mason City was found unresponsive while in a detox cell on Thursday morning after being arrested by Mason City police for assault and public urination.

Democrat who lost to Steve King in 2016 election wants rematch

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Democrat Kim Weaver wants a rematch against U.S. Rep. Steve King after losing to the Republican congressman in 2016. Weaver announced Sunday she would challenge King in Iowa’s 4th Congressional District in 2018. In the last election, Weaver lost in 38 of the 39 counties in the district, but she remains optimistic about her chances against King. The 52-year-old Weaver of Sheldon has criticized King in the past for his comments on minorities, immigration and same-sex marriage.

Iowa officials agree to help Medicaid firms with shortfall

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Newly released documents show Iowa officials have agreed to help private Medicaid management companies shoulder huge losses they’ve suffered in covering more than 500,000 poor or disabled Iowa residents. The Des Moines Register reports that the three national companies have complained losing about $450 million in Iowa’s shift to private Medicaid management, which started last April.

Financing plan for water projects seems positioned for passage

JOHNSTON — Key legislators say there is not consensus on a bill that would reorganize the drinking water system in metro Des Moines, but it appears a statewide water quality initiative may get bipartisan support. Representative Chip Baltimore, a Republican from Boone, has been working on that second bill, to set up a financing structure for water improvement projects.

Report critical of agriculture nuisance bill headed to governor

IOWA CITY — An Iowa City based research organization has released a report that’s critical of a bill approved at the statehouse dealing with nuisance claims against large livestock operations. David Osterberg is co-author of the report, titled “CAFOs and the Diminished Defense of Public Health,” released by the Iowa Policy Project. At issue is a bill that’s cleared both the Iowa House and Senate and awaits the governor’s signature.

Two abuse cases, two very different responses by Iowa lawmakers

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The death of a 16-year-old Iowa girl has led to finger-pointing at the Legislature and is an indication of how much has changed in the 17 years since the death of another child prompted a bipartisan inquiry. Five months after the death of Natalie Finn, Republican lawmakers have been split over whether to investigate her treatment and Democrats have accused GOP leaders of being reluctant to take up the matter because of possible questions about state staffing.

Former UNI president to be appointed interim president of ISU today

AMES — The Board of Regents will name an interim president for Iowa State University during a special meeting today. Information from the Board of Regents office says they will accept the resignation of Steven Leath, who is leaving the I-S-U presidency to take over the same job at Auburn. The board will appoint former U-N-I president Ben Allen as the interim president at the Ames school effective May 9th at a salary of 525-thousand dollars.

Community meeting about RAGBRAI Tuesday night in Clear Lake

CLEAR LAKE — A special community meeting will take place Tuesday night in Clear Lake about RAGBRAI. Chamber of Commerce executive director Tim Coffey says there will be a lot of information available at the meeting, with the hopes of attracting a lot of volunteers to help out with the July event.  He says it’s an opportunity not only for people to learn more about the July 25th event and get their questions answered, but also to give people an opportunity to sign up as volunteers.

Cancer researchers concerned about increase in liver cancers

IOWA CITY — Lung cancer remained the top killer of Iowans in the report just released by the State Health Registry, but researchers say they are concerned about the growing number of cases of liver cancer. “The rate of new cases in Iowa has roughly tripled from 1975 to 2014. A similar trend has been seen in other registries across in the United States,” according to Doctor Mary Charlton.

It’s Severe Weather Awareness Week

JOHNSTON — We’re a week into spring now and with the change of seasons, Iowans know it also means changing weather and sometimes, severe weather. Meteorologist Mindy Beerends, at the National Weather Service, says this is Severe Weather Awareness Week. There’s a different theme each day and today’s focus is on severe thunderstorms.

Ragan, Upmeyer field questions at legislative forum in Clear Lake (AUDIO)

CLEAR LAKE — A standing-room only crowd back into the community room of Clear Lake Bank & Trust late this morning for a legislative forum featuring House Speaker Linda Upmeyer and Senate Minority Whip Amanda Ragan. Several topics were discussed during the event, including collective bargaining, water quality and the minimum wage. One of the first questions dealt with the privatization of Medicaid services in the state, specifically dealing with more than 220-thousand poor or disabled Iowans possibly losing access to the Mercy Health System because of a payment dispute with AmeriHealth Caritas, one of the three companies the state hired last year to run the program. Ragan says the switch happened too quickly.

Unemployment down again in Iowa

DES MOINES — More Iowans went off the unemployment rolls in February as the rate dropped for the fifth straight month to three-point-two percent. Iowa Workforce Development spokesman, Cory Kelly, says the state is pushing toward full employment — but that number is not exactly known. “We’re having those discussions, as a matter of fact a year ago our analysts were sitting around discussing that very same thing, thinking three-point-four or three-point-five percent was full employment,” Kelly says.  

Ag Secretary nominee questioned about budget

WASHINGTON — The Senate Agriculture Committee held a confirmation hearing Thursday for U.S. Ag Secretary nominee Sonny Perdue. Democrats on the panel have raised questions about the Trump Administration’s commitment to agriculture. Perdue said he did not have input into the administration’s proposed budget, which calls for a 21-percent cut at USDA, but the former governor of Georgia said he’s “used to doing more with less.”

USDA remains vigilant after bird flu strain kills 140 people in China

DES MOINES — There have been -no- cases reported in Iowa, but a strain of bird flu that’s deadly to humans has already killed 140 people in China. The U-S-D-A’s head veterinarian, Dr. Jack Shere, says the agency is preparing to fight the strain should it be found here. Shere says it’s possible migrating wild birds could bring the killer strain over from China which is why vigilance is so important.

Food Bank of Iowa receives large gift from Nationwide Foundation

DES MOINES — The Nationwide Foundation announced a gift of one-and-a-half million dollars Thursday to the capital campaign of the Food Bank of Iowa. Michelle Book is the president of the Food Bank, which serves 55 counties in the state including north-central Iowa. “This is a big game changer, it’s a jump starter. It is the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for our effort. Nationwide doesn’t do something like this every day — but when they do something like this  for the Food Bank of Iowa, the community will stop and stand up and look around to says ‘hey what’s going on here,  this is something worth doing,'” Book says.  

Inmate death at Cerro Gordo County Jail being investigated

MASON CITY — State authorities are investigating the death of an inmate at the Cerro Gordo County Jail. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation says a man was found unresponsive in a detox cell at about 4:25 Thursday morning. According to the DCI’s written statement, jail staff attempted to perform life-saving measures and Mason City fire paramedics took the man to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa, where he was pronounced dead. The inmate’s name was not released. An autopsy has been scheduled at the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny.

Charles City Democrat Prichard to explore run for governor

CHARLES CITY — A north-central Iowa Democrat who’s a 42-year-old veteran of the Iraq War has formed an “exploratory committee” — his first step toward officially launching a campaign for governor. Todd Prichard of Charles City is currently in his fifth year as a state representative. “I’m discouraged with the focus of our legislative agenda and the Republican leadership right now,” Prichard says, “and I think we need to find a new direction.” Prichard says his goal as governor would be to help more “regular Iowans” land in the middle class.

House panel to investigate DHS child welfare system

DES MOINES — Republican leaders in the Iowa House are launching an investigation “inspired by” the case of a central Iowa teen who died last October of starvation, but House Speaker Linda Upmeyer says they do not plan to ask direct questions that might jeopardize the criminal case against Natalie Finn’s adoptive mother and the woman’s ex-husband. “We certainly don’t want to do anything that would prevent the law from dealing with this the way they should,” Upmeyer says. “Now, I think, we are at (time) where we have a responsibility to look at the system and the process.”

Republicans stick with minimum wage bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa Republican lawmakers are forging ahead with a bill prohibiting cities and counties from increasing the minimum wage, but House leaders say GOP legislators aren’t interested in raising the statewide wage. The House has approved a bill blocking local jurisdictions from approving minimum wages above the state level of $7.25 and the measure now awaits action in the Senate.

Senate Republicans pass own version of Voter ID bill

DES MOINES — Republicans in the Iowa Senate have put their own stamp on a “voter I-D” bill. The G-O-P senators have voted to shorten the “early” voting window in Iowa from 40 days down to 29. In addition, Senate Republicans want precinct workers to check a prospective voter’s signature on a driver’s license or voter I-D card to verify the voter’s eligibility.

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