cell

New Illinois Laws

Several new laws will take effect January 1st in Illinois. Two may be particularly hard habits to break. Throwing a cigarette butt on the ground will now be considered littering in the state. Also, talking on the phone while driving will be illegal. Illinois State Police are reminding motorists that unless you are using a hands free or voice operated mode on your phone, you will be fined for holding it up to your ear and driving with one hand on the wheel. Continue Reading

Signourney Meat Plant Says Flicka Not on Menu

SIGOURNEY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa meat plant that was approved to slaughter horses has no immediate plans to do so, despite an appeals-court ruling that allowed the company to proceed.  

Keaton Walker, the founder and CEO of Responsible Transportation in Sigourney, said Monday that he was still reviewing options with his lawyers. A federal appeals court lifted a temporary ban on domestic horse slaughter last week, clearing the way for Walker’s company and others in New Mexico and Missouri. The companies are fighting a lawsuit filed by The Humane Society of the United States and other groups. Walker tells The Associated Press that he may sell the company, because his beef operation is struggling against better-established competitors. Continue Reading

wind

Siemens, Ft. Madison to Host Major Announcement

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials at MidAmerican Energy Co. and the state of Iowa are set to make a major announcement regarding a new wind energy development.  

Gov. Terry Branstad is expected to discuss the project at his morning news conference Monday and release further details with company officials at a 1 p.m. news conference to be held at the Siemens Energy wind blade factory near Fort Madison. In August MidAmerican Energy received approval from the Iowa Utilities Board for a $1.9 billion project to install hundreds of wind turbines by the end of 2015. More than 448 turbines are to be installed in Grundy, Madison, Marshall, O’Brien, and Webster counties. Continue Reading

Huckabee Drops Daily Radio Show – May Run Again

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee ended his nationally syndicated radio show this past week and has indicated he’s seriously considering another run for the White House in 2016.  

Huckabee won the Iowa Republican Party’s Caucuses in 2008 and he appears ready for the rigors of another campaign.  He says the Iowa Caucus process forces candidates to reach out beyond donors “who are laying down 26-hundred dollar checks” to “connect” with regular voters. Huckabee has made frequent return visits to Iowa in the past five years, including a speaking engagement last month in Des Moines for a pro-life group. Huckabee won the Iowa Caucuses and a few contests in southern states in 2008, but was unable to raise enough money or win enough delegates to wrest the G-O-P’s presidential nomination from John McCain. While his daily radio program has ended, Huckabee will continue his daily radio commentaries as well as his weekend television show on the FOX News Channel. Continue Reading

Reduced Ethanol in Fuel Won’t Break Industry: Swenson & Goss

Two Midwestern economists say the E-P-A’s proposed reduction in ethanol production in 2014 will contribute to a “slow down” in what’s been a booming ag economy, but it won’t drive the farm economy into negative territory. Iowa State University economist David Swenson says there won’t be “much of an impact” on the production of ethanol.   That overseas demand should prop up corn prices, according to Swenson.  

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss agrees that the ethanol industry will “weather” this storm over a reduced “Renewable Fuels Standard” for ethanol production in 2014.  Anything connected to agriculture is slowing down, according to Goss, from farm equipment sales to ag land prices, but he expects ethanol plants to survive. Goss and Swenson made their comments during a weekend appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program. Continue Reading

Trail Through Corn Field

Iowa Farmland Values Set Another Record

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ The 2013 Iowa Land Value Survey says farmland values rose 5.1 percent from last year, setting another record. The Des Moines Register says the new survey shows farmland values rose to more than $8.700 an acre. It was the fourth year in a row that farmland values rose in the Iowa State University survey of nearly 500 real estate experts. Last year’s figure was nearly $8,300 an acre.    Despite the new high, some of the experts say values may be eroding. Land demand could slow because Iowa farmers are concerned about lower commodity prices and a proposed rollback in the mandate for corn-based ethanol.   There’s also uncertainty over interest rates and over the prospects for a new farm bill. Continue Reading

towboat copy

Tow Boat Being Pulled From River Today

The Mississippi River towboat that partially sank just over two weeks ago is nearly ready to begin its 350-mile trip to a St. Louis area repair facility. U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Colin Fogarty says two small holes were discovered in the boat’s hull but they have been patched and the boat is watertight. A larger 30-by-12 inch hole had been patched earlier. Fogarty says the Coast Guard is doing a final safety inspection and reviewing the transit plan. Continue Reading

Grayhounds on Last Legs in Dubuque?

The Dubuque City Council is calling for an end to greyhound racing in Dubuque. Pari-mutuel wagering was the first gambling to be legalized in Iowa back in 1983 and voters in Dubuque approved of dog racing in their county back in 1985.  Mayor Roy Buol says there are “hardly any spectators” at the track these days.   The track is now part of the Mystique Casino in Dubuque and the mayor says the casino spends between three and five million dollars a year subsidizing greyhound racing. There are two greyhound race tracks in Iowa. Dog owners complain the casinos in Dubuque and Council Bluffs no longer promote the races and make it difficult for patrons to follow the action. Continue Reading

alcohol

Binge Drinking Takes its Toll in Iowa

A federal study finds the cost of alcohol abuse through binge drinking in Iowa totals nearly two-billion-dollars a year.  

The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that figure incorporates costs from health care, the justice system and lost work productivity. Julie Hibben, a project director in the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse, says the impact of binge drinking on health care alone is enormous. The C-D-C report found 23-percent of Iowans reported at least one drinking binge in the previous month. That ranks Iowa among the top five states in the U-S with the highest rates of binge drinking. Continue Reading