Iowa News

New report offers economic development strategies
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A new report says Iowa should invest more in business development, education and infrastructure to boost the state's economy. State officials released the report from the nonprofit Battelle Memorial Institute Thursday. It was commissioned last year by an economic advisory board co-chaired by Gov. Terry Branstad. Overall, the report said the state has seen job growth and wages increases. Still, there is room for improvement. As of 2013, Iowa ranked 23rd nationally for per capita income. Recommendations in the report included simplifying the state tax code and providing more funding to programs that offer support to businesses. It suggests increasing educational opportunities to develop more skilled workers. The report also cites Iowa's infrastructure needs, stressing the need for more funding for roads and better broadband infrastructure across the state.

Plea hearing set for ex-manager in halal food case
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A former manager at an Iowa-based halal food supplier is expected to plead guilty as part of a federal criminal investigation into the company's exporting and marketing practices. The conspiracy charges filed Thursday against 50-year-old Philip G. Payne are the latest involving the Midamar Corporation of Cedar Rapids. The founder and two directors, the company and its halal certification organization have been indicted. Prosecutors contend that workers conspired to mislead regulators and customers about the source and nature of beef products, how cattle were slaughtered and the level of adherence to halal standards the companies promised. Midamar denies the allegations, contending prosecutors are overreaching by trying to regulate religion. A plea hearing for Payne is scheduled for January 5th. He worked as the company's operations manager from 2008 to 2012.

Officials: Iowa man faces charges in house fire, car crash
NEVADA, Iowa (AP) — A Nevada, Iowa man faces charges in connection to a house fire and a car crash at a convenience store. The Nevada Public Safety Department says authorities were called to a house Thursday morning that was fully engulfed in flames. They late responded to a convenience store where witnesses said a vehicle intentionally backed up into the building, destroying the entrance and almost hitting people inside. Authorities later pursued the vehicle and the driver, identified as 38-year-old Matthew William Henrich. He is accused of leading authorities on a high-speed chase. He was captured a short time later. Henrich faces multiple charges including arson, assault, criminal mischief and theft. Court records do not list an attorney.

Former Clarke U. employee pleads guilty in school theft case
DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — A former Clarke University employee has pleaded guilty to charges connected to the theft of more than $300,000 from the school. Clemens Erdahl, an attorney for James Spaulding, says his client entered the plea Thursday on one count of mail fraud and two counts of filing a false tax return. Erdahl says Spaulding requested to start serving prison time immediately, though a sentence hasn't been issued. Spaulding is a former bookstore manager at the eastern Iowa school. Authorities say he submitted invoices to buy books from a company he established in 2011 with a friend. He is accused of issuing checks for several invoices between 2011 and 2012. He would later receive cashier's checks. Clarke University reported the theft in April 2013 after an internal review of vendors.

Man pleads guilty for improper removal of asbestos in Iowa
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Sioux City developer accused of improperly removing asbestos from a former YMCA building has pleaded guilty. Records show 54-year-old Larry Wolf of Dakota City, Nebraska entered his plea Wednesday in federal court in Sioux City on one count of violating the work practice standards of the Clean Air Act. Wolf was accused of improperly removing asbestos from an old YMCA building between July 2009 and March 2011. He admitted during his plea hearing to knowing about the asbestos ahead of removing material from the building. Prosecutors say Wolf also removed asbestos-containing material wrappings from metals inside the building then sold the metals. It's unclear when Wolf will be sentenced. He remains free on bond.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press