Iowa News

Officials confirm emerald ash borer in Dubuque County
DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — The trace of a pesky insect that slowly kills ash trees has been reported in Dubuque County in eastern Iowa. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship said Tuesday that emerald ash borer was confirmed in Dubuque. The discovery means the insect has been confirmed in 28 Iowa counties. Officials they discovered larvae from the insect in southern Dubuque and a rural area just outside of city limits. The emerald ash borer is a small, metallic-green beetle. Its larvae chew into the layer of wood under the bark, cutting off the flow of water and nutrients to an ash tree. Officials recommend landowners with ash trees within 15 miles of a known infestation to schedule preventative treatments for next spring.

Gazette Company sells KCRG-TV9 to Atlanta company for $100M
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Officials of the Gazette Company in Cedar Rapids say they have agreed to sell television station KCRG to an Atlanta, Georgia company for $100 million. KCRG-TV9, an ABC affiliate, serves Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo and Dubuque. The sale to Gray Television is effective Oct. 1. The station announced the sale Tuesday. Gray Senior Vice President Bob Smith says the company pursued KCRG because the station fits the corporate strategy of owning community focused market-leading stations. Smith says more stations give the company increased power in negotiating agreements with cable companies and networks. Gray owns stations in 45 television markets. Gazette Company CEO Chuck Peters says money from the sale will help the company solidify its finances. He says there are no plans to sell The Gazette newspaper.

Budget for new U. Iowa children's hospital balloons to $360M
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The estimated cost of the new University of Iowa children's hospital has ballooned to $360 million as a result of design changes and construction delays. University officials are asking the Iowa Board of Regents to increase the project budget by $69 million, from the $291 million approved in 2012. Contractors are building the state-of-the-art 14-story building across from Kinnick Stadium. Hospital officials say they need to spend tens of millions more than originally envisioned to make key safety improvements and design changes to improve the patient experience. They say the competitive labor market for construction workers in eastern Iowa is also resulting in "project delays and cost increases." The hospital is now expected to open in December 2016. It's being funded through a mix of bonds, patient revenue and donations.

County, state in dispute over who should pay expert fees
DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — Dubuque County and the state are at odds over who should pay expert witness fees for a trial that didn't happen. Twenty-five-year-old Joseph M. Connolly was charged with vehicular homicide by operating while intoxicated, among other counts, in the 2014 crash that killed four teenage boys. He agreed to a plea deal shortly before a jury trial was scheduled to begin in July. A judge ordered that the Iowa Court Administrator's Office be billed for more than $22,000 in expert fees from Dynamic Safety LLC in Illinois. But the state filed a motion last week to reconsider that decision. A court hearing on that motion has been scheduled for Thursday. Connolly's sentence hearing also is set for Thursday.

City streets to shine brighter at night thanks to LED bulbs
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Traveling during nighttime hours likely will be easier for motorists in Sioux City as the city looks to change more streetlights to LED bulbs, which shine brighter and are more cost effective. MidAmerican Energy Co. has announced that it started switching some 100,000 streetlights it owns and operates in the municipalities that it serves from older, high-pressure sodium bulbs to LED, or light-emitting diode, bulbs. Sioux City owns about 1,600 streetlights in the city, while MidAmerican owns about 6,600 of them. The city has asked MidAmerican to change the lights along streets that see higher traffic. The city started a process to convert to LED streetlights earlier this year and has replaced about 50 so far.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press