One More Case of Bird Flu, US to Begin Importing Eggs from Europe

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa agriculture officials are reporting an additional farm infected with bird flu in Sioux County. It’s the 18th case in the county and was found in a flock of 3,800 birds of various species. An Iowa Department of Agriculture spokesman says he can’t be more specific about what type of farm is infected or what species of birds are involved. It is the 73rd case of bird flu in Iowa. The outbreak has cost the state more than 29 million birds including 24 million egg-laying chickens and 3.8 million pullets, young chickens raised to be egg layers. Continue Reading

Branstad Doesn’t Rule Out Special Session on Education

Governor Terry Branstad says the legislature’s failure to decide how much state aid Iowa’s public schools will get for the 2016/2017 school year is a disappointment. When pressed by reporters Monday, Branstad wouldn’t rule out calling lawmakers back to Des Moines in special session to make the decision. “I’m not going to speculate,” Branstad said. “You all can speculate all you want to, but I’m just going to wait until I see all the bills and try to choose the course of action that I think makes the most sense.” The 2015 legislative session ended Friday and legislators approved a one-and-a-quarter percent increase in general state aid for the school year that starts this fall, plus lawmakers voted to give schools a one-time allotment of 55 million dollars. Continue Reading

San Diego Man Accused of Posing as ‘Twilight’ Actor Gets 10 Years in Prison

NEWTON, Iowa (AP) — A San Diego man accused of posing as an actor from the “Twilight” movies has been given 10 years in an Iowa prison for sexual abuse. The Newton Daily News reports that 34-year-old David LaVera was sentenced Monday in Newton. Authorities say that while LaVera was in Jasper County last spring, he posed as “Twilight” actor Kiowa Gordon and visited two Newton schools. Prosecutors say LaVera inappropriately touched a 14-year-old girl and lured her into his vehicle. The newspaper also reports that a federal judge on Friday rejected a plea deal LaVera made with U.S. prosecutors, saying the punishment wasn’t severe enough. Continue Reading

Five Shot in Davenport, Police Investigating

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Police in Davenport are investigating a shooting near an apartment complex that left five people with gunshot wounds. The Quad-City Times reports that the shooting happened around 5 a.m. Friday in the 900 block of West 3rd St. Christina Acosta, a resident at the apartment complex, says she heard several shots, then opened her door to see a crowd of 10 to 15 people “jumping and hollering.” Davenport police responded to the area and said none of those wounded suffered life-threatening injuries. Investigators traced the location of the shooter to an alley behind the apartment building next to Acosta’s. Continue Reading

Iowa Officials Hope Worst of Bird Flu Outbreak Behind Us

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa officials are optimistic after the growth of bird flu cases in the state slowed last week. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey tells the Des Moines Register he’s hopeful the disease has been contained in the state. But officials are still working to dispose of millions of chickens and turkeys that were killed to limit the spread of the disease. Northey estimates that will take several weeks, if not months to complete. It’s important that poultry and egg producers remain vigilant about biosecurity measures at their farms. It’s possible that migratory birds could bring another round of disease outbreaks this fall when they pass through the region again. Continue Reading

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Legislature Passes Budget, Adjourns for 2015

After nearly six months of wrangling, the members of the Iowa House and Senate put the finishing touches on a more than seven billion dollar state budget plan and concluded the 2015 legislative session this afternoon, shortly before four o’clock. Republicans have spent the past months preaching fiscal restraint and House Speaker Kraig Paulsen — a Republican from Hiawatha — admits it was “a difficult year.” “We walked into a difficult financial situation, made tough decisions,” Paulsen says. “But we once again balanced the budget…and we met the priority of Iowans.” Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs, argued for more money for schools and he said they leave the statehouse with “mixed emotions.” Continue Reading

Coralville Man Who Triggered Amber Alert Says He Was Justified in Taking Daughter

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Court documents say a 48-year-old Coralville man will claim justification in defending himself against accusations that he abducted his 10-year-old stepdaughter. Kenneth Johns is accused of kidnapping the girl from a Solon home in early March. The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports that Johns’ attorney filed documents Wednesday that say Johns intends to “rely on the defense of justification” in contesting a kidnapping charge. The girl’s mother, 44-year-old Shelly Johns, in April pleaded guilty to child endangerment charges. Criminal complaints say Shelly Johns burned her daughter’s face with a cigarette, smacked her, kicked her and pulled her hair. Continue Reading

Friday Should Mark Last Day for Legislature

Legislators in both the House and Senate began this Friday with optimistic words. “I do believe this is going to be our last day of the 2015 session,” Said Senate President Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque. The House began taking votes on bills shortly before nine o’clock, including a bill identified internally by the number 666. There was a bit of laughter among some legislators, one of whom exclaimed “Judas Priest” when he was told. Representative Chris Hall, a Democrat from Sioux City, said it was “ironic” the bill with the title “Debt Reduction and Strategic Investments” had been given what is identified as the “number of the beast” in the Book of Revelations. Continue Reading

Lull in Bird Flu Gives Workers Chance to Catch Up

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — There are no additional bird flu cases in Iowa giving hundreds of state and federal workers and hired contractors a chance to catch up with the backlog of birds to be euthanized. Iowa Department of Agriculture officials say they expect to have all turkeys exposed to the H5N2 virus euthanized and composting by the end of the day Thursday. That’s about 1.2 million turkeys. Of the nearly 28 million chickens exposed to the virus, about 24 million have been euthanized. Disposal using composting, on-site burial, incineration and placement in landfills, continues. Continue Reading