Category Archives: Local News

Critics say US House tax bill could cripple Iowa’s wind energy industry

DES MOINES — Wind energy advocates in Iowa fear the tax reform package that passed the U-S House on Thursday will eliminate the wind production tax credit, phasing it out in 2019.

Evan Vaughan, spokesman for the American Wind Energy Association, says if the House version is ultimately adopted, it will significantly hurt investment in wind projects, manufacturing jobs and rural economies.

Sasse urges Iowa crowd to ‘be on guard against political idolatry’ (AUDIO)

DES MOINES — Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse warned against false idols, political tribalism and an addiction to “24/7 news cycles” during a speech in Iowa Saturday night.

“Friends, there is no politician who’s going to save America,” Sasse said. “Friends, there is no election that’s going to transform your life to become so much better than it is right now and into all you want it to be.”

Sasse was the featured speaker at a fundraiser in Des Moines for The Family Leader, a Christian conservative organization.

Iowa Supreme Court says no tax exemption for stepchildren when divorced parent dies

DES MOINES — The Iowa Supreme Court issued a ruling today on the rules regarding stepchildren and inheritance taxes.

The case involved Paula Tyler and Mark Alcorn who were raised in Rockwell after their mother Constance married Donald Hithusen in 1966. Constance and Donald divorced in 2001, but he remained close to Paula and Mark and left them 77 percent of his estate when he died in 2012.

EPA invests $12 million in loans for Iowa water projects

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The federal Environmental Protection Agency is adding $12.3 million to a loan fund that will help pay for drinking water projects in Iowa.

The money will help pay for projects across Iowa that will improve municipal drinking water supplies, protect water systems or improve efficiency.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says the loan money helps cities make important investments that keep people safe.

Cedar Rapids has decisions to make after second failed attempt to get a casino

CEDAR RAPIDS — A second attempt to bring a casino to Cedar Rapids met with the same result as the first attempt last week as the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission voted against awarding the city a license.

Outgoing Mayor Ron Corbett says there are now decisions to be made. He say the city will have to decide what to do with the property that was set aside for the casino. Corbett says the new city council and the new mayor will have to decide if they want to sell that property.

Wintery weather should miss Iowa for busy Thanksgiving travel week

AMES — Forecasters say it should be a relatively quiet weather week for Iowans, which is good news as it’s also one of the busiest travel weeks of the year.

Meteorologist Dennis Todey, director of the U-S-D-A’s Midwest Climate Hub — based in Ames — says there are no major storm fronts brewing, but they’re staying vigilant. Todey says, “There are a couple of systems that could be coming through the region that we should keep an eye on, just because it is that time of year when we have enough cold around and if we get a system through, it can always could produce something.”

Not guilty plea by woman who claimed she was attacked on Worth County roadside, then recanted story

NORTHWOOD — A woman who claimed earlier this fall she had been attacked along a Worth County road and then later recanted her story has pleaded not guilty to making a false report to law enforcement.

The Worth County Sheriff’s Department says 36-year-old Ty O’Hara Wooten of Clear Lake reported being assaulted on September 28th, claiming that she had stopped to help a man whose car had apparently broken down along Wheelerwood Road, with the man trying to rape her. Wooten is accused of telling three law enforcement agents that the man had a knife and burned her.

Man living in Mason City accused of trying to strangle woman sentenced to jail

MASON CITY — It’s three months in jail for a man that was residing in Mason City accused of trying to strangle someone earlier this year.

34-year-old Leonardo Trejo was accused by police of assaulting an individual by placing a fabric belt around the person’s throat and applying pressure, leaving a visible injury. The incident took place shortly after 3 o’clock on the morning of July 11th at a residence in the 100 block of 14th Southeast.

Iowa unemployment rate down for second straight month

DES MOINES — The state unemployment rate dropped for the second straight month in October as Iowa Workforce Development says manufacturing jobs increases.

I-W-D spokesman Cory Kelly says the rate fell to three-percent — down from three-point-two percent in September. “This is the lowest it’s been since January 2001. Our biggest gains this past month occurred in the manufacturing sector, which is the backbone of many of Iowa’s rural communities and economy at large. The sector has grown by six-thousand jobs in the last year,” Kelly says.

Bankers: economy to remain slow in rural parts of 10 states

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – The economy will likely remain slow in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states in the months ahead.

The overall Rural Mainstreet Index for the region remained in negative territory below 50 and declined to 44.7 in November from October’s 45.3. The index is based on Creighton University’s monthly survey of bankers.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss the current low commodity prices and declining farm income continue to weigh on the rural economy.

Iowan resigns from post in U.S. Dept of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON — A former member of the Iowa GOP’s governing board resigned from his Trump Administration job shortly after a CNN report about some of his previous remarks on race and religion.

Jamie Johnson is an ordained minister in the Anglican Church. He had been heading up Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He resigned Thursday evening.

Cedar Rapids mayor reacts to gambling license vote

DUBUQUE — The second effort to bring a casino to Cedar Rapids failed Thursday as the Racing and Gaming Commission voted 3-2 against awarding the license on concerns about the impact for existing casinos.

Commissioner Kris Kramer ended up being the deciding vote — which Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett says was not a surprise. “She was never a supporter of expansion of gambling anyway, so that wasn’t the person that hopefully we could turn,” Corbett says.

USDA: Thanksgiving dinner will cost Iowans less this year

DES MOINES — For the second consecutive year, the Thanksgiving feast will cost Iowans less than the year before.

A report finds the average price to feed a family of four a turkey dinner with all the fixings will run a little over $23, which is down $1.87 from last year.

U.S.D.A. livestock analyst Shayle Shagum says the biggest drop is in the price of the main course.

Thanksgiving travelers will pay less for airfares, more for gas

DES MOINES — Tens of thousands of Iowans are expected to make Thanksgiving journeys next week, in many cases to visit distant friends and family for a big holiday meal.

Rose White, at Triple-A-Iowa, says those who are planning trips will be in good company. “Nearly 51-million Americans will journey 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving,” White says. “That’s reflecting a 3.3% increase over last year. The 2017 holiday weekend will see the most Thanksgiving travelers since 2005 with 1.6-million more people taking to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways compared to last year.”

Iowa Democratic leader seeks Senate GOP harassment findings

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The top Democrat in the Iowa Senate wants information released from an internal investigation into alleged sexual harassment within the Senate Republican caucus.

Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, a Des Moines Democrat, sent letters Thursday to the GOP-controlled chamber’s two ranking Republican lawmakers requesting that findings from the investigation be shared publicly.

UnityPoint may end contract with private company managing care for 54,000 Iowa Medicaid patients

DES MOINES — Iowa’s largest health care system may sever ties with one of the two remaining companies that manage care for Iowa Medicaid patients.

UnityPoint Health operates hospitals, clinics and home-care services throughout Iowa. UnityPoint executives say if negotiations with Amerigroup aren’t resolved by the end of the year, UnityPoint may not renew its contract with the company.

DHS director: fixing Iowa’s mental health care system ‘a priority’

DES MOINES — A key state official says ensuring mentally ill Iowans have access to the “full array of services” should be a top concern for policymakers.

“At some point we have to say: ‘What’s our priorities?’” Iowa Department of Human Services director Jerry Foxhoven said this week. “Nobody’s going to be able to just print more money, so you’re going to have to decide between one thing and another and it’s important for us to have this conversation to say: ‘This is a priority.’”

Foxhoven made his comments Tuesday during an hour-long “town hall meeting” sponsored by Iowa Methodist Medical Center and WHO-TV. Foxhoven credited the parents of an 18-year-old who took his own life this fall for “stepping up” and focusing attention on “the gaps” in Iowa’s mental health care system.

Crop anxiety sets in as harvest season wraps up

OMAHA — The harvest in Iowa is nearly over and now farmers face an agricultural economy which has stabilized, but has yet to rebound. Economists with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City report farm income is down from a year ago, but the decrease is smaller than in recent years.

Nate Kauffman, in the Omaha office, says farmers continue to operate under stressful conditions. “In most cases though it hasn’t led to a lot of widespread default rate increases,” Kauffman says. “So, even though we’re continuing to see some of that increase in financial stress, it doesn’t seem to be so far that it’s affecting the entire sector.”

Judge says suspect competent to stand trial in Mason City murder case

MASON CITY — A Cerro Gordo County District Court judge has ruled that a Mason City man charged with murder last year is competent to stand trial.

61-year-old Larry Whaley is accused of using a handgun to shoot 19-year-old Samantha Teeter in the head during an incident in an apartment complex at 116 17th Southeast shortly before 4 o’clock on the morning of December 2nd of last year. Teeter died two days later after being transported to St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester.

Trial set for Chickasaw County father in death of maggot-infested baby

ALTA VISTA, Iowa (AP) – Trial has been set for next year for the father of a 4-month-old baby whose maggot-infested body was found in a swing in his family’s Alta Vista home.

The trial for 28-year-old Zachary Paul Koehn has been scheduled for Jan. 3 in Chickasaw County.

Koehn and 20-year-old Cheyanne Renae Harris, both of Alta Vista, have each pleaded not guilty to child endangerment and first-degree murder charges in the death of their son, Sterling Koehn.

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