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Senate panel likely to continue, broaden inquiry
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Senate Democratic leaders have made it clear their questions about government payments to former workers for secrecy and other state employment issues will not stop when the Legislature adjourns for the year.
While lawmakers appear to be on track to end the session within a few weeks, the Senate Government Oversight Committee is likely to keep pursuing the matter.
"We have no limit on the time were going to spend to get to the truth," Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, said last week.
Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, who chairs the oversight committee said after she was forced to cancel meetings for two consecutive days last week because Iowa Department of Administrative Services executives declined to show up for hearings, she's ready to talk about issuing subpoenas to require testimony.
Petersen said Friday she has set the next hearing for Monday afternoon, and two of the DAS officials who didn't come last week have agreed to appear. They are Doug Woodley, DAS general services enterprise chief operating officer, and Paul Carlson, the agency's chief resource maximization officer.
House Oversight Committee members also have confirmed they will participate in the meeting, Petersen said.
Petersen is leading the investigation into why the DAS paid former workers to keep quiet about their settlements with the state. The workers, including some long-term state employees, were laid off shortly after Gov. Terry Branstad took office in 2011 and reorganized parts of state government.
Iowa State suspends Nader after DUI arrest AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State University has suspended Abdel Nader from the basketball team after his arrest on suspicion of drunken driving over the weekend.
The Iowa State Police arrested Nader around 11:40 p.m. Saturday on suspicion that he was operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Nader is a 6-foot-6 small forward who sat out this past season after transferring to Iowa State from Northern Illinois.
Nader led Northern Illinois with 13.1 points a game in 2012-13, and he was expected to play next season.
Iowa State athletic department spokesman Matt Shoultz says Nader has been suspended indefinitely in accordance with the conduct policy for athletes.
Restoration nears for historic Iowa City cabins IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — More than a century's worth of history, dating back to the first settlers of Johnson County, can be found in the weathered oak logs of two Iowa City cabins.
More than 100 years after they were built using oak logs and old-fashioned labor, the City Park cabins are nearing renovations to not only restore their integrity, but also bring them back to their original mission as educational tools to open the window into early Johnson County history.
"People drive by there all the time and they see the cabins. They just pass on by; there's nothing there to get their direction to look over and appreciate what they are. For a long time nobody knew why they were there and what they represented," said Marlin Ingalls, architectural historian and archaeologist at the Office of the State Archaeologist. "They were the literal connection between modern Johnson County and the original settlers who started the whole thing, literally carved it out of the wilderness."
The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports (http://icp-c.com/1hDBMk8http://icp-c.com/1hDBMk8 ) that with the cabins added to the National Register of Historic Places last year, Iowa City staff recently applied for a $50,000 Resource Enhancement and Protection grant to begin restoration of the two cabins nestled among the trees just east of City Park's swimming pool.
The REAP grant will be reviewed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in September, and if approved, the city could receive funding to begin working on the cabins yet this year.
Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek, who remembers attending educational offerings at the cabins in the 1970s, said the opportunity to once again use the cabins as educational tools was too great to pass up.
"Iowa City is a constantly changing community, which is great, but where we have opportunities to remember our heritage, we should take advantage of that," Hayek said. "Iowa City's history is pretty well documented, but much of that history is on paper or outside of the public view. ... The cabins are viewable, tangible links to the past."
Fort Dodge considers smaller waste containers FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — When a pair of new solid waste containers was delivered to the Fort Dodge home of Marlys Huebsch earlier this year, she was surprised by their size.
"I thought, my God, that would take care of a whole neighborhood," she told the Fort Dodge Messenger (http://bit.ly/1quazFU).
Huebsch, who describes herself as a senior citizen who's barely 5 feet tall, found the 95-gallon containers a bit difficult to move.
'It's not the easiest thing in the world," she said.
Complaints from residents like her who have problems handling the new containers are prompting some City Council members to push for at least a discussion on the possibility of providing smaller ones to some people.
"I have suggested from the get-go that we need to re-evaluate the need for smaller containers," said Councilman Terry Moehnke. "I can understand that some people have some trouble getting them back and forth. It's something we need to look at."
Each of the city's roughly 8,400 sanitation customers received two of the containers in January as the Public Works Department switched to a new collection method that relies on trucks with mechanical arms to pick up both garbage and recycling materials. The container with the green lid is for garbage. The one with the blue lid that has the words "Recycling Only" stamped on it is for recycling materials.
Iowa West Foundation delivers $4.2M in grants COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Twenty-two nonprofit groups in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska are benefiting from $4.2 million in grants.
The Iowa West Foundation says it made those grants in the first three months of 2014.
The biggest grants included a $1.1 million award to support preschool programs at Pottawattamie County schools and a $1 million grant to support improvements at the Joslyn Arm Museum in Omaha, Neb.
Foundation President Pete Tulipana says early childhood education plays an important role in children's success in school.
One of the other major grants of $850,000 will help Council Bluffs improve the area near the eastern end of the Bob Kerrey pedestrian bridge that connects with Omaha.
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