Big Drop in HIV Diagnoses in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa public health officials say the number of new HIV diagnoses fell dramatically last year, but it’s too soon to tell if the drop represents a sustained trend. The Iowa Department of Public Health announced Monday that new HIV diagnoses decreased 19 percent from 2013 to 2014. The 99 new diagnoses in 2014 were the fewest since 88 were diagnosed in 2003. HIV Surveillance Coordinator Jerry Harms says the department will need more data to determine if the drop is the start of a long downward trend but that the 2014 numbers were promising. At the end of 2014, there were 2,369 HIV-infected people living in Iowa. Continue Reading

prison

State Settles Part of Financial Dispute With Fort Madison Prison Contractor

The state has settled part of the financial dispute over the rising costs of the new-but-not-yet-opened maximum security prison in Fort Madison. The main contractor submitted a claim for 18-million dollars in December of 2013 to cover the expense of fixing problems at the prison. A professional mediator was hired and the final agreement calls for the state to pay about 40 percent of what Walsh Construction originally requested. On Monday afternoon, the State Appeals Board approved the seven-million-dollar settlement. Department of Management director Dave Roederer calls it “a fair conclusion to a bad situation.” Continue Reading

Orascom Plant

Iowa Economic Development Authority Director to Investigate Fertilizer Plant Layoffs

The director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority is offering to be a go-between to find out more about the hundreds of layoffs at the Iowa Fertilizer Plant construction site in southeast Iowa. Debi Durham met with a dozen union leaders and a handful of Democratic senators late Monday afternoon at the statehouse. “I will be the honest broker here,” Durham said. “I will go to the company and say: ‘There’s a lot of unrest. There’s a lot of misinformation.’ Continue Reading

Branstad Urges Anti-Bullying Bill Passage

Governor Branstad is urging his fellow Republicans in the Iowa House to pass the anti-bullying bill that has already cleared the Democratically-led Iowa Senate. “This bill passed with strong bipartisan support in the Senate 43-7,” Branstad says. “We think it’s critically important that the legislature be approved this year.” Branstad has proposed similar legislation in each of the past two years and, while it’s been identified as one of his top priorities, it has bogged down in the legislature. “I just think it’s critically important that we have action this year,” Branstad says. Continue Reading

A BHS flag grabber hoists his championship belt up high after winning the Dragon Boat Races on Sunday.

Burlington Team Takes Dragon Boat Racing Belt

A fundraiser like no other took place for the 27th time over the weekend during the annual Dragon Boat Races on Lake Geode. Teams from Burlington High School, West Burlington High School and Notre Dame High School crammed into dragon-shaped longboats and raced down the lake to grab a flag on the other end before the other team. A Burlington High School Team, “It’s Aboat Time” beat out the team from West Burlington and a team comprised of BHS Staff to win it all. Landon Summers was that team’s captain. “Feels great [to win], It’s a great honor and back-to-back wins for us. Continue Reading

Police Searching for Inmate Who Walked Away From Cedar Rapids Work Release

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Police are searching for a 36-year-old inmate who failed to return to a work release facility in Cedar Rapids. Cedar Rapids television station KCRG reports that Paul Hoff did who not return to the Lary Nelson Work Release Facility from his job Friday. He was two years into serving a 10 year sentence for intimidation with a dangerous weapon, theft and criminal mischief. Information on Hoff’s whereabouts should be reported to the Cedar Rapids Police Department or Linn County Sheriff’s Office. Continue Reading

Police Chase Drunk Driver Near Lake Geode

A Danville man was arrested Saturday after allegedly fleeing police who attempted to pull him over for a traffic stop. 53 year old Scott Beach was apparently driving erratically near Lake Geode and sped away from Henry County Sheriff’s Officials when approached. Beach allegedly wrecked his car multiple times during the short pursuit before getting stuck in a ditch in the 2500 grid of Perkins Road. Beach was charged with Operating While Intoxicated, Eluding Police, Driving While Barred, Driving Under Suspension, Failure to Maintain Control, Speeding, having an Open Container of Alcohol, and having no insurance. Continue Reading

Another Week Starts at Statehouse for Legislators Wrangling Over Budget

Legislators remain at odds over the main function of the Iowa General Assembly — coming up with a state spending plan. For example, the two parties have been wrangling since January over how much state aid to forward to Iowa’s public schools for the school year that begins in August. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says Republicans are “unwilling to compromise.” “It’s kind of messy for them,” Gronstal says. “Their leadership says: ‘We’ve drawn a line in the concrete…not the sand. Continue Reading