Orascom Plant

Iowa Fertilizer President Defends Hiring Practices at Wever Plant

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials overseeing construction of a $1.8 billion fertilizer plant in southeast Iowa are defending their hiring practices amid criticism from labor leaders. The Iowa Economic Development Authority says in a Tuesday release that Iowa Fertilizer President Shawn Rana met with labor leaders Friday. Rana argued the company hired many local construction workers at the Wever plant site, noting a main on-site employer is an Iowa-based union contractor. Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham organized the meeting between Rana and labor leaders, many of whom represent union workers, following a Capitol meeting where union organizers claimed plant officials were trying to hire workers outside of the region following layoffs in April. Southeast Iowa Building and Construction Trades Council President Ryan Drew says he looks forward to continued communication with Iowa Fertilizer. Continue Reading

Speed Camera Requests Rejected by Iowa DOT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa’s transportation department has rejected requests by officials in four cities to keep operating some speed cameras in their areas. The state Department of Transportation issued the denials in letters dated Monday to officials in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Muscatine. A letter to Council Bluffs was dated May 6. DOT Director Paul Trombino says in the letters the cameras are not making interstate highways or nearby intersections safer. The DOT decided in late 2013 that speed cameras on or adjacent to state highways should not be used as long-term enforcement tools and required more justification for their use. Continue Reading

MHI Placement Still Difficult, DHS Director Says

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The head of the Iowa agency overseeing the proposed closings of two state mental health facilities says officials are still finding placements for some long-term patients. Charles Palmer, director of the Iowa Department of Human Services, says up to six patients in a specialized unit for the elderly at the facility in Clarinda may not have placements by June. Gov. Terry Branstad removed funding in his budget for facilities in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant. He supports a proposal by some Republican lawmakers to keep them open through December, but it’s unclear what support the measure will get from others. Janice Scalise told lawmakers Monday her 63-year-old sister at Clarinda has yet to be placed and DHS officials have been unclear about the process. Continue Reading

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Roundabout Plans Detailed at Work Session

The Burlington City Council is expected to move forward with a plan to install a roundabout to replace the intersection of West Avenue and West Burlington Avenue after the measure was discussed at a Monday night work session. The roundabout is part of $1.7 million in improvements to the roads surrounding the proposed Silgan Containers location in the Flint Ridge Business Park on Division Street. Public Works Director Steve Hoambrecker says that roundabout intersections are safer and will ultimately prove popular. “There’s a 37% overall reduction in collisions…vehicle delays are usually reduced between 64% and 72%…I think that when people learn to navigate it the conclusion they’ll get will lead them to ask, ‘When are we going to get one on Division Street?'” Hoambrecker said. French-Reneker-Associates will be tapped for engineering and design services on that project. Continue Reading

Christopher King. Courtesy: Des Moines County Sheriff's Department

Dozens of Additional Victims Come Forward in King Molestation Case

Burlington Police now say that the investigation into the case of an ex-Burlington City Councilman accused of sexually molesting young girls now includes “several dozen” victims in at least three states, stretching back at least 10 years. Burlington Police Lt. Jeff Klein says that interviews with potential victims have been booked throughout the entire week, with more and more alleged victims coming forward each day–all of them telling just about the same story: that 40 year old Chris King either sexually molested or attempted to sexually molest them by luring them on social media and providing them with alcohol after meeting them in a professional capacity. Many of the victims were customers of King’s photography studio, Daisy Frames Photography in Downtown Burlington. Some victims say that King even attempted to give them money to have sex with him–if they refused, police say he would attempt to rape them. King has so far only been charged with the molestation of four victims, but Klein says that several more charges are on the way as they interview victims stretching back to around 2005, shortly after he left the city council. Continue Reading

Fort Madison Main Street BBQ a Success

If you were in Downtown Fort Madison over the weekend, you may have noticed a particular smell…that smell was grilled meat–and a lot of it. It was the 14th Annual Main Street BBQ Cookout Competition, sponsored by Faeth’s Sporting Goods in Downtown Fort Madison. 13 Grill Teams and over 450 food enthusiasts descended upon the Downtown area to devour Chicken, Beef, Pork, Kansas City BBQ Ribs, and whatever else the seasoned grill meisters felt like cooking up. Tina Faeth says it started out just so people could have something to do on a Saturday. “It started out as a brainstorm from a couple of our customers,” Faeth told KBUR, “Something to do on a saturday when business is slow, and they decided on a barbeque.” Continue Reading

Governor Branstad Assesses Tornado Damage

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad is heading to Calhoun County to assess tornado damage. Branstad said Monday that he was going to the region to see how cleanup was going. On Sunday night a tornado tore the roof from a high school in Lake City as about 150 students, family and faculty attended an awards ceremony. Branstad said no one was hurt, but the state has been working to clear debris from roads and clean up other damage. Branstad said the state was ready to help the community in any way necessary. Continue Reading

Budget Haggling Continues in Statehouse

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Budget haggling continues in the Iowa Legislature, as lawmakers seek a compromise financial deal for the next fiscal year. Leaders in the Republican-led House and Democratic-majority Senate were working to resolve their differences Monday. The two sides must agree on an overall spending level and how much new money to provide for K-12 education. A compromise could include an increase in basic aid for K-12 schools, plus a one-time payment. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Council Bluffs Democrat, says he would “love to get done” with the budget this week, which would mean they could adjourn. Continue Reading

George Zimmerman Shot in Florida

LAKE MARY, Fla. (AP) — A shooting incident involving George Zimmerman is the latest in a series of run-ins the former neighborhood watch volunteer has had with the law, random strangers and his ex-wife since he was acquitted of murder charges two years ago in the death of Trayvon Martin. Police say Zimmerman flagged down an officer to report Monday’s shooting in Lake Mary, Florida, and that a man with whom Zimmerman was involved in a road-rage encounter earlier this year also called 911 to report it. Police spokeswoman officer Bianca Gillett says no charges were filed immediately against the man, whom she identified as Matthew Apperson. Last September, Apperson said Zimmerman threatened to kill him during a road confrontation. Continue Reading