October 21, 2014

Shelby County man dies in ATV accident

A 79-year-old southwest Iowa man has died in an ATV accident. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said Charles Mumm, of Earling, died at the scene of the crash near Earling at 2222 Dogwood Road.

The accident happened at around 5:30 P.M. Monday. Mumm was found in a field near the residence, with the ATV nearby. An investigation determined he lost control of the machine in the field due to large washout ruts and possibly mechanical failure.

(Reporting by Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic)


Marion companies breaking ground for expansion

Construction is underway at the ELPLAST site.

Construction is underway at the ELPLAST site in Marion.

Two companies are scheduled to break ground on big projects this week in the eastern Iowa town of Marion. ELPLAST manufactures a brand of press to close zippers on flexible packaging, such as those used on a bag of shredded cheese.

ELPLAST, based in Poland, is opening its North American headquarters in Marion. Chad Rupert, president of ELPLAST America, told KCRG-TV that he lived in Chicago, but moved to Iowa when his wife accepted a job in Cedar Rapids.

“When we started looking for property (for ELPLAST), we looked in Cedar Rapids, Hiawatha, and Marion,” Rupert said. “To be honest the city of Marion, from a business perspective, was doing all the right things. They’re very cooperative and it was a pretty easy decision.”

ELPLAST will break ground Wednesday on a 33,000-square-foot facility in the new Marion Enterprise Center, located off Highway 151 just east of town. Rupert anticipates the first phase of the project will create 30 to 35 jobs, but the operation could grow to as many to 80 jobs.

Legacy Manufacturing is also moving into the Marion Enterprise Center. The longtime Marion company makes lubrication equipment, water and air hoses, and other products. Mark Weems, President of Legacy Manufacturing, says they’re building a $10.4 million facility that will more than double their current space.

The hope is that the new building will allow them to make more parts for their products, rather than getting them from overseas. “This facility is critical because it will give us the space to bring American manufacturing jobs back to Marion, Iowa,” Weems said. Legacy plans to break ground on the 125,000-square-foot building late this afternoon.

The Marion Enterprise Center is a 180 acre industrial park. Legacy Manufacturing and ELPLAST are the first two tenants. There are still approximately 150 acres for sale at the industrial park.

By Heather Hubbs, KCRG-TV


Rains keep corn and soybean harvest behind normal pace

Paul Kassel (ISU extension photo)

Paul Kassel

The latest U.S.D.A. crop report says heavy rains in the southeastern two-thirds of the state delayed the harvest and kept thing running behind normal last week. Farmers only advanced the corn harvest by 9-percent last week so that a total of 19-percent has been combined — which is 18 days behind normal.

The soybean harvest moved to 61-percent complete — which is 9 days behind normal. Many farmers have focused first on soybeans in hopes of more drying time for the corn. Tim Trettin farms 1,300 acres near Rockford in northcentral Iowa, and has finished harvesting 600 acres of soybeans.

Trettin says he’s gotten through about 20-percent of the 700 acres of corn. “Yes, we’re drying it, and I think that’s just normal for us here in northern Iowa. It’s very seldom that we do not ever dry the corn,” he says. The U.S.D.A. report says corn moisture was averaging around 21-percent, just about where Trettin’s crop is at this point. “The moisture in this variety that we just did across the road here was running around twenty-one-and-a-half-or-so, which is a nice moisture to be combining corn at,” Tretting says. “And yield-wise, this was corn on corn and it’s running just over 200 (bushels and acre).”

ISU Extension field agronomist, Paul Kassel, covers northwest Iowa and says they were glad to miss the recent rains. Rainfall was a problem at the start of some with many counties getting heavy rainfalls in June. “Parts of Clay, Palo Alto, Kossuth, Pocahontas, Buena Vista, and then a lot of areas had some decent rains in August that didn’t really hurt anything, and then the summer was kind of wet too, ” Kassle says. “Lately we’ve had some nice dry weather, so that’s been kind of beneficial.”

The dry weather let farmers get ahead of the average when it comes to harvesting beans. “We see the soybean harvest pretty well completed this week. A lot of folks are completed on their soybean harvest and are starting on the corn,” Kassel explains. “There’s kind of a two school of thought on the corn. There’s some corn getting down to that 18 to 20 percent so people are harvesting that. There’s some that’s still in the low to mid 20’s and people are looking at the weather forecast and it’s looking good, so they are going to let a field dry as much as possible.”

Kassel says he’s heard the reports of rain in eastern Iowa last week from some of his counterparts and is glad it didn’t hit his area on the way there. “That was a welcome one to miss, because like I say, it kept us in the field,” Kassel says.

He says so far it appears there is enough space to stow the beans and corn coming out of the fields. “A lot of farmers have grown more corn lately in the area, so a lot of farmers have ramped up their on-farm storage, as have the commercial grain elevators — so we’ve got a lot of new storage,” according to Kassell. While he says he’s not heard of any concerns, it may be a little early to assess that.

Kassel photo courtesy of ISU extension.


Michelle Obama in for Braley, Mike Huckabee in for Ernst today

First Lady Michele Obama returns to Iowa today to campaign for Democrat Senate candidate Bruce Braley.

First Lady Michele Obama returns to Iowa today to campaign for Democrat Senate candidate Bruce Braley.

Prominent party voices continue to stream into Iowa to campaign with the two major party candidates for Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat.

First Lady Michelle Obama will headline a rally at the University of Iowa today with Democrat Bruce Braley. Last week Republican Joni Ernst’s campaign sent out video links of late-night comics who’ve made fun of the first lady for misstating Braley’s name seven times during an event at Drake University. Ernst herself brought it up with reporters on Monday.

“This is kind of her ‘Mulligan’ event, I think, to try and get things right after she messed up so badly the last time she was in town,” Ernst said.

On Wednesday evening, Ernst will be on the University of Iowa campus for a rally with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee will make stops in Sioux City and Council Bluffs today with Ernst.

During her solo stops, Ernst is stressing her work as a Republican state senator. Braley’s been traveling the state focusing attention on issues like retirement security. On Sunday during a rally in Des Moines, Braley got a big crowd reaction with this statement: “Unlike Joni Ernst, I will never ever vote to privatize your Social Security.”

Ernst has said it might be an option for younger workers. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a rising populist voice in the Democratic Party, campaigned alongside Braley on Sunday. A dozen current members of the U.S. Senate have flown to Iowa this year to campaign on behalf of either Braley or Ernst and that pace will continue through Election Day.

Report finds no standard policy for law officers using tasers in Iowa

Taser-reportA two-year study by the Iowa ACLU and the University of Iowa College of Law Clinic has found no standard set of guidelines for Iowa law officers when it comes to using tasers. The devices use electrical charges to try and bring people under control.

U-I Law Clinic professor, Nathan Miller, help conduct the study of the taser regulations for law officers in all 99 counties and several cities.

“We looked at the kinds of things that they addressed, and we also looked at the expanding literature on tasers to understand the types of things policies might address. And then we developed kind of a range of policy considerations that we then looked to see how each county treats those different policy considerations,” Miller explains.

Miller says they were surprised to find no standard state policy guidelines. “You can drive from one part of Iowa to another and find yourself in places where the law enforcement officials have completely different limits on when and how and when they can use tasers,” he says.

Miller says there needs to be a discussion on some broad guidelines for using the weapons. “On the one hand you can think of them as just replacements for deadly force.,” Miller says, “On the other end of the spectrum you can think about them being used against individuals who are already restrained, or who are being passive and not posing any physical threat. And I would really like us to focus in on where do we put tasers in that continuum. Should they be closer to where there is a physical threat? Or should we passive and unresisting?”

He would also like to see more focused guidelines for Taser use against those who are at a higher risk of suffering problems. “You would expect to see things like the use of tasers on women who are pregnant or on juveniles or the elderly to have more or less uniform treatment across the state — and we did not see that,” according to Millers.

Other information in the report found that only 5 policies in Iowa prohibit the use of tasers on sensitive body parts. These sensitive body parts are the head, face, eyes, genitals and female breasts. The use of tasers on sensitive body parts was allowed with some restriction by 35 policies; 29 policies make no mention of these most sensitive body parts, providing no information, guidance, or rules for officers.

While the weapons are supposed to be non-deadly, Miller says at least two people in Iowa have died immediately after law enforcement used tasers on them. “We’ve seen more than 500 deaths from tasers in the United States between 2001 and 2013. But event when they are not fatal, they really present a number of physical risks, even to healthy people. And those risks are of course exacerbated when you are talking about vulnerable folks like pregnant women, children, the elderly, the mentally ill,” Miller says.

Miller says the expanded use of tasers has put Iowa in a position that many other states are also in. “There are no national and very few statewide policies on this, but one of the things that’s happening, as tasers are used by more and more law enforcement agencies, they are studied more and more, and we are coming to a better understand of the risks that they pose,” Miller says. “And so, I think the time is right to have a statewide conversation about what uniform taser policies we might want to adopt,” Miller says.

He says Iowa’s legislature should consider adopting statewide guidelines for using the devices before more problems develop.  Miller says a standard policy would benefit both citizens and law enforcement.

The report found more than 265 Iowa law enforcement agencies are currently using tasers, and that number will increase as state agents under the jurisdiction of the Iowa Department of Public Safety will soon also carry tasers.

See more about the use of tasers in Iowa here: Taser report PDF

Branstad punchline aimed at Braley (AUDIO)

State Representative Chip Baltimore listens as Governor Terry Branstad speaks.

State Representative Chip Baltimore (left) listens as Governor Terry Branstad speaks.

A state legislator from Boone and Governor Terry Branstad drew peals of laughter from a crowd in Boone today with a couple of quips aimed at Bruce Braley, the Democrat who is running for Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat. State Representative Chip Baltimore, who is an attorney, got things started as he thanked the 50 Republicans in the room for showing up.

“I know there’s a lot of farmers in the field and I know that probably as you came in, you probably saw a few trial lawyers out there on combines, too,” Baltimore said.

As the crowd laughed at Baltimore’s reference to Braley’s remark about Senator Grassley’s status as “a farmer from Iowa who never went to law school,” Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and several people in the crowd yelled out “Bailey.” First Lady Michelle Obama’ called Braley “Bailey” seven times during a recent rally in Des Moines before the crowd corrected her.

Then, Governor Branstad, who also holds a law degree but describes himself as a “recovering” lawyer, closed the Boone event with this.

“Since you talked about lawyers and combines, do you know how many lawyers it takes to grease a combine?” Only one, but you’ve got to feed him in real slow,” Branstad said, as the crowd hooted and applauded.

Braley opponent Joni Ernst was there as well and, while she laughed, she did not add her own joke to the mix. Ernst had earlier promised the crowd she’d visit all 99 counties each year if she’s elected, just like Senator Chuck Grassley does. Ernst is in the midst of a 99-county tour of the state, with 49 counties to go before Election Day.

AUDIO of Baltimore, Reynolds, Branstad and crowd in Boone, 2:00

Branstad’s ‘IowaNEXT’ board to cement his ‘legacy’ (AUDIO)

Governor Terry Branstad.

Governor Terry Branstad.

Governor Terry Branstad is unveiling his “legacy” vision for Iowa — a new state board that would coordinate and accelerate state government efforts to improve Iowa’s quality of life. Branstad said today that if he’s reelected to a sixth term next month, he’ll find new ways to pay to improve parks, “cultural hubs” and historic sites around the state.

“Improving these areas is not only good for our overall quality of life, it is also good for our economic growth,” Branstad said.

Branstad would dismantle the legacy of a previous Democratic governor to enact his plan, though, by getting rid of the “Vision Iowa” Board created by former Governor Tom Vilsack. The Vision Iowa board helped direct significant state investment in large-scale community projects like the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, the National Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque, the River View Center in Ottumwa and the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs. The “Vision Iowa” board continues to hand out grants for community attractions, but Branstad would replace it with what he’s calling the “IowaNEXT” Board. The directors of four state agencies would serve on Branstad’s new board, along with seven citizen members.

“As Iowa grows and changes for a brighter future, it’s critical that our state build a living, lasting legacy of quality of life enhancements,” Branstad said today during a news conference in Boone. “We want to give Iowans an unmatched quality of life and have a state that is the best place to live, work and raise a family.”

Branstad said he’d “repurpose” some state spending and seek out private funding to accomplish those goals.

“State government spends tens of millions of dollars each year on a variety of quality of life efforts, but we lack an overall vision for the totality of Iowa’s efforts and oversight,” Branstad said.

One of the governor’s ideas is to “transform” the State Historical Building into what Branstad is calling the “iowa Cultural Center.”

AUDIO of event featuring State Rep. Chip Baltimore of Boone, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Gov. Terry Branstad & Iowa GOP U.S. Sen. nominee Joni Ernst, 34:00

Branstad will campaign in Carroll, Harlan and Greenfield today as well. Jack Hatch, Branstad’s Democratic opponent, says Branstad’s “final campaign tour is the capstone on a career misleading Iowans and pulling voters’ attention away from his dismal record of mismanagement, scandal and terrible decision-making.”