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Thanksgiving Week Travel May be Dicey but Gas Will be Cheap

Many thousands of Iowans will be on the road this week and their Thanksgiving holiday travels could be hampered by wintery weather. Forecasters say up to three inches of snow is likely this (Monday) afternoon into tonight for a wide section of eastern Iowa, while more snow is predicted for much of the state tomorrow (Tuesday) night into Wednesday. Rose White, at Triple-A-Iowa, says travelers will have plenty of company. Gasoline prices in Iowa have dropped to the lowest levels in many months, falling more than 30-cents a gallon from last Thanksgiving, while the cost to fly has risen slightly. Some people prefer to rent a car for long trips so they don’t put the miles on their personal vehicles, but White notes it’s getting pricey. Continue Reading

TAX

Branstad Open to Combo Alternative to Gasoline Tax Increase

Governor Terry Branstad says he’s open to considering all options that might boost the amount of money available to fix Iowa’s roads and bridges. The state gas taxes paid when motorists fill up at Iowa pumps are deposited in the state’s Road Use Tax Fund, but transportation officials have said for the past several years there’s not enough money being generated from the gas tax to finance needed road and bridge repairs and new construction. It’s partly because modern vehicles get far better gas mileage — so fewer gallons of fuel are purchased — and partly because the state gas tax of 22 cents per gallon hasn’t been raised since 1989. Branstad says he isn’t calling on legislators to pass an increase in the state gas tax. Branstad suggests a wide-ranging combination of actions should be considered. Continue Reading

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Carp Processor Shuts Down

GRAFTON, Ill. (AP) — The chief executive of a southern Illinois Asian carp processing plant says the facility has ceased operations ahead of a 30-day deadline to stop emitting rotten odors or shut down. American Heartland Fish Products chief executive officer Gray Magee tells The (Alton) Telegraph that the Grafton site has temporarily stopped processing fish. The city gave the company the deadline on Oct. 22. Continue Reading

HOG ODOR CONTROL

To Sign or Veto: That is the Question

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is deciding whether to sign or veto legislation to ban hog farmers in that state from using gestation crates, a decision that could impact his future political plans should he campaign in Iowa. Bill Tentinger, a Plymouth County pork producer and a past president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, says he talked with Christie about the subject at a recent event in northwest Iowa. While New Jersey’s hog industry is relatively small, Iowa is the nation’s number-one hog producer, in addition to being home to the first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. Tentinger says Christie is aware that banning the crates has been the focus of animal rights groups like the Humane Society of the United States. Tentinger says Christie has consulted with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad on the issue. Continue Reading

AFSCME, Local-61 Wants More and in Small Chunks

 

The union representing roughly 40,000 state government employees is requesting an 8-percent increase in salaries over a two-year period. AFSCME Iowa Council 61 submitted the proposal to state officials Monday. It calls for 2 percent raises on July 1, 2015; January 1, 2016; July 1, 2016; and January 1, 2017. The raises would cost the state around $523 million dollars, according to the Iowa Department of Management. The current contract for workers represented by AFSCME, covering 2014 and 2015, does not contain across-the-board pay raises. Continue Reading

Corn

Signup in One Week for New Farm Bill Programs

Learfield Communications, Inc.

Farmers can sign up for new farm bill programs starting next MondayIowa farmers can sign up for two new programs that were included in the latest Farm Bill starting next week. Val Dolcini , administrator of the Farm Service Agency, says farmers actually have several months to determine what works best for them and to make a selection between the Agricultural Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage programs.   Sign-up begins next Monday, November 17th.  

Dolcini says farmers have until March 31st to make a selection. Also, farmers need to update their base acres and planting history information with their local F-S-A office. The deadline to complete that is February 27st. Continue Reading

Canadian Fish Farmers to Locate in Webster City, Iowa

Plans are moving forward for Iowa to become home to North America’s largest indoor fish farming operation. A Canadian company has gotten the approval from Webster City leaders to take over two vacant buildings for the new plant while creating 150 new jobs. Keith Driver, president of Vero Blue Farms, says they plan to occupy the former Beam Vacuum Manufacturing facility and the former Kenco warehouse. The Beam vacuum facility closed two years ago, while the Kenco warehouse has been vacant since the closing of Electrolux Home Products in March of 2011. Driver says Webster City was a perfect fit for the fish farming operation since a similar facility operated by cousins Jeff and Mark Nelson near Blairsburg opened a few years ago. Continue Reading

Cronus Chemicals Chooses IL for New Fertilizer Plant

Iowa is no longer in the running to land a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant. 
Officials with Cronus Chemicals have chosen Tuscola, Illinois as the site for the plant. The company had also been considering a site in northern Iowa’s Mitchell County. Cronus had initially looked at dozens of potential sites in nine states, but narrowed the decision down to Illinois or Iowa. The Tuscola location is roughly two-and-a-half hours south of the company’s headquarters in Chicago. Iowa already has two massive fertilizer projects in the works. Continue Reading

Authorities Investigate Possible Electrocution of S.E. Iowa Men

WELLMAN, Iowa (AP) — Authorities are investigating what happened to two men found dead in southeastern Iowa. The Washington County Communications Center says it received a report Friday afternoon of a possible electrocution near a road in Wellman. Emergency personnel responded and found 38-year-old Chad Allen VanVoltenburg, of South English, and 47-year-old Paul Joseph Duello, of Kinross. They were pronounced dead at the scene. Additional information was not released. Continue Reading