TOWN LOSES POWER Boil advisory lifted for Iowa town after fire MESERVEY, Iowa (AP) – A boil advisory has been lifted for a small north-central Iowa town that lost power after a weekend fire. The state Department of Natural Resources says it lifted the advisory Wednesday for the city of Meservey in Cerro Gordo County. Test results showed the water was safe to drink. The advisory was issued Sunday after a fire damaged utility wires and destroyed two buildings. The city lost water pressure after losing power. Officials say the drop can cause bacteria to enter the water distribution system. The city has restored pressure and tested water in several locations. Its water tower also has been refilled.
CRYSTAL SUGAR-ACCIDENT Worker burned at Minn. Crystal Sugar factory (Information in the following story is from: Grand Forks Herald, http://www.grandforksherald.com) EAST GRAND FORKS, Minn. (AP) – Officials are saying little about an accident that seriously burned a worker at the American Crystal Sugar Company plant in East Grand Forks, Minnesota last week. A Crystal Sugar spokesman says the man “came into contact with lot liquid and was burned,” and that the Moorhead-based sugar beet processor is investigating. But since the man is a replacement worker – working under contract during Crystal Sugar’s lockout of union members – the company can’t say much about the accident. The Grand Forks Herald was referred to the man’s employer, Strom Engineering Corporation in Minnetonka, Minnesota. But Strom’s national safety manager declined to comment to the Herald. The Crystal Sugar lockout began on August 1st, 2011, and affected about 1,300 workers at plants in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa.
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS-IOWA Iowa GOP lawmakers back bill restricting abortions DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Republican lawmakers are introducing legislation that would outlaw abortion and allow prosecution of doctors in Iowa. Representative Tom Shaw, of Laurens, says he’s trying to protect human life, whether “you’re a zygote, an infant, a teenager or an adult.” The bill he introduced Wednesday would prohibit abortion from the moment of conception. Doctors who perform abortions could be charged with murder. Shaw says he believes the bill wouldn’t violate the U.S. Constitution, but Jill June, president of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, disagreed. She calls the bill an extreme attempt to restrict abortion and says it would clearly be unconstitutional. The bill’s prospects in the House are unclear, and it likely would face problems in the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority.
IOWA REGENTS-TRANSPARENCY Panel to seek more ‘sunshine’ at Iowa universities IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – A panel will be appointed to investigate ways to improve transparency at Iowa’s three public universities and special schools for deaf and blind students. The Iowa Board of Regents voted Wednesday to create the 9-member transparency task force. Its members will be appointed next month, but the panel will be chaired by a regent and include lawmakers, university representatives and others. The goal is to ensure the universities and special schools have uniform policies for complying with Iowa’s public records and meetings laws. The panel will craft recommendations to “create the maximum transparency” possible. Board President Craig Lang pitched the idea last month to improve the public trust in regents’ schools. Some universities have faced criticism for refusing to release employee personnel files, which can be shielded under the law. HARKIN INSTITUTE-CHANCELLOR Harkin dispute leads legislator to seek chancellor
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A Democratic lawmaker is proposing changes to the governance of Iowa’s public universities to avoid what he called improper political influence that marred an institute for Senator Tom Harkin. Des Moines Senator Jack Hatch on Tuesday introduced legislation that would create a chancellor position overseeing the three universities at the direction of the Board of Regents. The Des Moines Register reports Hatch argued the move would help avert disputes such as occurred between Harkin and Iowa State University over the longtime senator’s papers and research into issues that have been important to his career. Harkin has opted not to give papers to the Harkin Institute of Public Policy at Iowa State, his alma mater. Harkin says he wasn’t sure university leaders would allow unrestricted academic freedom at the institute.
FIRST BILL APPROVED Tax bill first to clear both legislative chambers DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The first bill to clear both chambers of the Iowa Legislature would update the state tax code to match recent federal tax changes. The House unanimously approved the bill Wednesday, two days after the Senate gave its approval. The bill is among nearly 300 introduced by lawmakers so far this session. The update means Iowans filing state taxes can get tax credits for childcare, deduct interest paid on student loans and expense some equipment bought for small businesses or farms. The updates match state law to federal legislation approved by Congress in January. An analysis by the Legislative Services Agency estimates the legislation will cost the state about $60 million over two years in lost tax dollars. A spokesman for Governor Terry Branstad says he will likely sign the bill.
FIELD OF DREAMS-PERRY Actor to invest in Iowa’s ‘Field of Dreams’ site DYERSVILLE, Iowa (AP) – Actor Matthew Perry is investing in a youth sports complex at an eastern Iowa farm where “Field of Dreams” was filmed. Go the Distance Baseball LLC announced Wednesday that the “Friends” star is part of a group of investors that includes Hall of Fame third baseman Wade Boggs. It’s unclear how much Perry is contributing to the project. A Go the Distance spokeswoman behind the All-Star Ballpark Heaven says the actor approached them after the 1989 movie site’s sale was announced. Go the Distance plans to transform the state landmark into a 24-field youth baseball and softball tournament complex. The first tournament games are scheduled for 2014. The project’s groundbreaking is tentatively scheduled for May. Perry is expected to attend.
SIGNING DAY-IOWA Iowa signs 21 to letters of intent IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz never pays much attention to recruiting rankings. That’s a trait that could serve him well this week. The Hawkeyes announced their latest class on Wednesday, a group that recruiting services have rated near the bottom of the Big Ten. The 21-player class is ranked 52nd nationally by both Rivals.com and Scout.com. Rivals has the class slotted eighth in the 12-school league while Scout ranks it 10th. Those aren’t the kind of numbers likely to entice a fan base that watched Iowa finished last season with six straight losses and a 4-8 record. But coach Kirk Ferentz said he couldn’t tell much difference between this year’s class and last year’s – which was ranked in the top half of the Big Ten.
SIGNING DAY-IOWA ST Lineman, jucos highlight Iowa State class AMES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa State has landed a highly regarded high school lineman and two players from the national junior college championship team as part of its 25-member 2013 recruiting class. Jake Campos, a 6-foot-7, 260-pound offensive lineman, is considered the top prospect that coach Paul Rhoads has signed in his five recruiting classes at ISU. Campos played at Waukee High School, which is about 45 miles from the Iowa State campus. He originally committed to Missouri, but changed his mind during a visit to ISU on December 1st. Defensive end Rodney Coe and running back Aaron Wimberly signed with Iowa State out of Iowa Western Community College, which won the NJCAA championship. Wimberly, who rushed for 1,125 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, also had offers from Iowa, Penn State, Boise State and TCU.
IOWA ST-JONES Maurice Jones won’t play for Iowa State AMES, Iowa (AP) – Point guard Maurice Jones won’t play for Iowa State next season after the Cyclones lost an appeal with the NCAA over his eligibility. Iowa State spokesman Mike Green says Jones wasn’t academically eligible to play when he left USC in early September. The Cyclones signed Jones to a financial aid agreement in October, and the school had hoped to restore Jones’ eligibility by the second semester of next season. Green says the NCAA cited Jones’ previous ineligibility in denying the appeal. Jones averaged 13 points and 3.5 assists as a sophomore for the Trojans last season. The Cyclones moved quickly to fill the void, signing Northeast (Neb.) Community College point guard K.J. Bluford. Bluford is averaging 18 points a game this season.