Huckabee is latest straw poll no-show; is event in jeopardy? DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The people running Iowa's Republican presidential straw poll want less money and glitz involved as they try to take this summer's event back to basics. But now they are facing a different kind of downsizing — fewer candidates. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is the latest 2016 prospect to opt out of the Iowa tradition. He said Thursday he won't participate in the poll that he placed second in eight years ago. That was the latest bad news for the carnival-like summer event that draws thousands of party activists. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also plans to skip the poll. State GOP officials have fought to keep the August 8th event alive after criticism that it has ballooned into a costly sideshow. But so far, few have committed.
Iowa farm equipment company to close plants, eliminate jobs SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A farm equipment manufacturer in Sioux City is shutting down its two plants, eliminating more than 50 jobs in the area. The Sioux City Journal reports Soo Tractor, which has been doing business as Radius Steel Fabrication, will shut down production at its two Sioux City plants between the end of May and the end of June. It's unclear why the company, founded more than 70 years ago, is shutting down the plants. Its chairman, Allen Mahaney, died in February at age 77. Messages left for the company Thursday were not immediately returned. The newspaper reports the company will host a job fair May 29th for displaced workers such as welders, machinists and laser cutters.
Another chicken farm in Buena Vista County gets bird flu DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Another chicken farm in Buena Vista County has tested positive for bird flu, the 17th farm in that northwest Iowa county to get the virus. Iowa Department of Agriculture officials on Thursday did not have an immediate count on the number of chickens housed at the egg-laying facility. The new case brings Iowa's total to 63 farms infected in 15 counties and more than 25.5 million birds dead, dying or scheduled to be euthanized. Iowa has reported 11 new outbreaks this week. The disease prompted state officials to cancel poultry shows at fairs in the state this summer. Across the Midwest, the U.S. Department of Agriculture puts the bird loss at nearly 39 million, mostly chickens and turkeys.
Iowa cancels bird shows at Iowa State Fair, county fairs DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — There will be no chickens or ducks at the Iowa State Fair this summer and no poultry shows at county fairs in Iowa this year as the bird flu continues to infect birds. Iowa Department of Agriculture officials on Thursday prohibited all live bird exhibitions at fairs and live bird sales at livestock auctions and swap meets. The order lasts through the end of the year. Iowa has more than 25 million birds and more than 60 farms infected with the H5N2 virus. Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says the scale of the current outbreak is unprecedented and it's important to take every step possible to limit the spread of the disease. Other states to take similar steps include Minnesota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Largest Minnesota farm hit by bird flu to lay off 39 workers RENVILLE, Minn. (AP) — The largest Minnesota farm to be hit by bird flu is temporarily laying off 39 full-time employees. The outbreak at the Rembrandt Enterprises egg farm in Renville was confirmed last week. All 2 million chickens there will have to be killed to ensure the complete eradication of the H5N2 virus. The Spirit Lake, Iowa-based company said Thursday that the layoffs will start around June 1st. While Rembrandt plans to restart the operation, it says it can't predict the date. Rembrandt Enterprises is owned by Glen Taylor, who also owns the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. The company is one of the largest egg producers in the U.S. It had to destroy 5.5 million chickens on its Rembrandt, Iowa, farm after bird flu turned up there last month.
Census says Des Moines reaches population peak, topping 1960 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Pat yourself on the back, Des Moines, you've never been bigger. The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday released an estimate showing Des Moines' population on July 1st, 2014 was 209,220. That tops the city's previous population high of 208,982 set in the 1960 census. Following that peak, the city's population began a long decline that saw the number of residents bottom out at 191,003 in the 1980 census. It's been a slow climb back since. Des Moines is Iowa's largest city, followed by Cedar Rapids, with at 2014 estimate of 129,195, and Davenport with 102,448. Sioux City had a population of 82,517, Iowa City had 73,415 and Waterloo totaled 68,364.
Kennel club in western Iowa donates pet oxygen mask kits COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — A kennel club in western Iowa has donated pet oxygen mask kits to help cats and dogs in fire emergencies. The Council Bluffs Kennel Club's seven kits will go to the local fire department. The masks can be used on pets of various sizes. The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil reports the donation will allow each station and most fire trucks under the department's jurisdiction to have masks. Curtis McKeon with the Council Bluffs Fire Marshal's Office estimates about 80 percent of the roughly 1,000 fire calls received last year involved pets.
Michigan beats Iowa 8-5 in Big Ten tourney MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Cody Bruder and Kendall Patrick hit home runs, leading Michigan to an 8-5 victory over Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament Thursday night. The third-seeded Wolverines (35-23) knocked Hawkeyes starter Blake Hickman (9-2) out of the game in the third inning. Hickman walked three of the last six batters he faced, and allowed four hits and two earned runs in the loss at Target Field for second-seeded Iowa (39-15). Five Wolverines had at least two hits as Michigan peppered Hickman's replacement, Ryan Erickson, with seven hits and four runs — two earned — in four innings. Bruder and Jacob Cronenworth each had three hits for Michigan, and Patrick finished with three RBIs. Cronenworth took the mound in the ninth inning, getting two outs for the save. Eric Toole homered for Iowa, which will play sixth-seeded Indiana on Friday. Michigan next plays on Saturday.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press