Branstad to kick off budget hearings DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Governor Terry Branstad will hold a series of budget hearings as he readies the next state financial plan. Department heads and elected officials are set to present information to Branstad and staff starting Friday. More than 40 hearings will be held, concluding in mid-December. Branstad will present his next proposed budget to the Legislature in early 2015. Department of Management Director David Roederer said Thursday that the state must be cautious as it drafts a plan, because revenue growth has slowed. That's due in part to the falling corn and soybean prices paid to farmers. The state's current general fund budget includes nearly $7 billion in spending. While state revenues have grown compared to the previous year, the gains have been more modest than originally anticipated.
Survey suggests economy still slow in rural areas OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The economic outlook for rural areas of 10 states in the Plains and the West improved in November, but the monthly survey of bankers doesn't suggest much growth. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says low grain and energy prices continue to limit the economy in rural areas. The overall economic index for the region improved for the first time since May, but it only reached the neutral score of 50. That's up from 43.4 in October. The survey indexes range from 0 to 100. Any score below 50 suggests decline in that factor in the months ahead. Bankers from rural areas of Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, the Dakotas and Minnesota were surveyed.
Teen arrested after bomb threat at Iowa school SPENCER, Iowa (AP) — A 16-year-old has been arrested in connection to a bomb threat at a northern Iowa high school. Spencer police say the teenager was arrested Thursday morning. He has been released into his parents' custody. Police say the teenager is suspected of writing a bomb threat at Spencer High School that was discovered Wednesday morning on a bathroom wall. Students were evacuated and later released after authorities declared the school safe. The Sioux City Journal reports the teenager faces charges of terrorism and arson threats. A search of his home did not uncover any bomb-making materials.
2 Iowa school districts opt to not share grades LE MARS, Iowa (AP) — Two Iowa school districts have decided not to share grades in the upcoming school year. The decision means the Remsen-Union and Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn school districts will have to make big budget cuts. Together, they face budget cuts totaling about $600,000. The Le Mars Daily Sentinel reports Remsen-Union will have to make about $400,000 worth of reductions in general fund expenditures to not face a budget shortfall. The MMC district will have to make about $200,000 worth of budget cuts. The decision was made at an MMC school board meeting Monday. Remsen-Union school board members also were in attendance. Both school boards had to approve a whole grade sharing plan before February. Grade sharing would have meant sending students in grades five through eight to one district and those in grades nine through 12 to another.
Nicole Carroll resigns from Iowa Board of Regents URBANDALE, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Board of Regents member Nicole Carroll says she has resigned from the group that governs the state's three public universities. Carroll says in a news release that the resignation is due to her family's move out of Iowa. She says the decision is effective Thursday. Carroll says she wanted to make the announcement ahead of the board's next meeting. She was appointed by Governor Terry Branstad in 2011.
Iowa man held after arrest near White House WASHINGTON (AP) — An Iowa man arrested in Washington after the Secret Service found a hunting rifle, ammunition and a knife in his car parked near the White House will stay in jail for now. A judge on Thursday ordered R.J. Kapheim of Davenport held until a Friday hearing. He has been charged with illegally carrying a rifle in the District of Columbia, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. Court documents filed Thursday say Kapheim approached a Secret Service post Wednesday and said he had an appointment with the president, who Kapheim said called him directly. The officer determined he didn't have an appointment. Kapheim showed officers to his nearby car and let officers search it. He was arrested after officers found the rifle in the back seat.
Logan-Magnolia beats Gladbrook-Reinbeck 28-24 CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) — Brady Charbonneau ran for 234 yards and two touchdowns, the last with 59 seconds left, and Logan-Magnolia beat Gladbrook-Reinbeck 28-24 Thursday in the Class A title game. Charbonneau, a 5-foot-5, 162-pound senior, sprinted 83 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second half. He then finished a 12-play, 73-yard drive with an 8-yard burst as the Panthers came up with a big finish to a 14-0 season. Eric Stoakes rushed for 185 yards and two scores for Gladbrook-Reinbeck (12-2), which couldn't hold on after a taking a 24-21 lead on Dalton Schwartz's 25-yard interception return. It was the second title for Logan-Magnolia, and coach Matt Straight has been involved with both. He starred for the Panthers when they won their previous championship in 1990.
Newell-Fonda beats Fremont-Mills 39-35 CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) — Backup quarterback Jason Hess scored on an 8-yard run with 17 seconds left Thursday to lift Newell-Fonda to a 39-35 victory over Fremont-Mills and the eight-player state championship. Hess filled in for injured starter Brady Dicks and made several big plays, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Cole Wise and a 33-yard heave to Wise to set up his winning touchdown. Fremont-Mills used two hook-and-laterals to drive to the Newell-Fonda 9-yard line with 4 seconds remaining. But the Mustangs stripped the ball from quarterback Jason Rusten on the final play and Dustin Johnson recovered to end it. Newell-Fonda ran off 11 straight victories after starting 0-3 to win its first state championship and deny Fremont-Mills (13-1) a second title in four years.
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