Iowa News

Branstad vetoes school spending, mental health deal
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Governor Terry Branstad has vetoed $55.7 million in one-time education funding as well as a bipartisan deal to keep two state mental health institutes open. Branstad announced the vetoes late Thursday, as he approved a slew of budget bills. Branstad approved much of the more than $7 billion in spending that was passed in the Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate. The legislative agreement included an increase in ongoing money for K through 12 education, as well as the one-time payment. The fate of the two mental health institutes — in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda — was hotly debated. After Branstad sought to end funding for the facilities, lawmakers reached a deal to keep the Mount Pleasant center open and to seek a private provider to run the other.

Officials say Gray's Lake Park in Des Moines to reopen
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials say a popular park near downtown Des Moines that was closed due to flooding will reopen soon. City officials for Des Moines say Gray's Lake Park will reopen Friday morning at 5 a.m. Some parts of the park, including the beach and the playground, will remain closed. Officials say volunteers and city staff helped clean up dirt and debris at the park, which has been closed since severe weather with heavy rains affected the area late last month.

Federal government to step up bird flu monitoring this fall
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The federal government has announced plans to step up monitoring of wild birds for avian influenza this fall to provide an early warning of any resurgence of a disease that devastated poultry farms in the Upper Midwest. The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued plans Thursday aimed at minimizing the impacts on domestic poultry flocks if any bird flu viruses return or mutate in migrating waterfowl and other wild birds. Federal and state biologists will collect around 41,000 samples from apparently healthy wild birds from targeted areas across the country, mostly from ducks shot by hunters. The H5N2 strain has cost poultry producers around 48 million birds, hitting Iowa egg producers and Minnesota turkey growers especially hard.

Ex-security guard pleads not guilty in Iowa mall shooting
CORALVILLE, Iowa (AP) — A former security guard has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the death of a 20-year-old coworker shot dead inside a busy Iowa mall. Court records show 22-year-old Alexander Kozak entered the plea in writing on Thursday through his attorney. Investigators say Kozak shot Andrea Farrington multiple times June 12th at the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville, killing her. The shooting prompted a chaotic scene in which some shoppers fled and others went on lockdown. Kozak worked as a mall security guard but quit his job earlier in the day. Investigators say he went to his North Liberty home to retrieve a gun and returned to shoot Farrington, who worked at a children's museum at the mall. Kozak was arrested during a traffic stop near Davenport after the shooting.

Iowa City church opposes planned Chauncey tower
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa City church that's across the street from the site of the planned Chauncey tower is opposing the project. The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports Trinity Episcopal Church filed a petition Monday asking for a judicial review of the City Council's June 8th vote to rezone the site of the proposed 15-story mixed-use, residential tower. An attorney representing Trinity Episcopal says the church wants the court to consider whether Iowa City violated its restructuring plan. In previous objection, Trinity Episcopal cited a state law that specifies if the owners of 20 percent of the land within a 200-foot radius of the project object to the rezoning, a vote would require a super-majority. The city determined the church represents just seven percent. City Development Services Coordinator John Yapp declined to comment to the newspaper.

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