Grassley says he is supporting and praying for Ernst

first_imgNEW HARTFORD — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he is praying for his colleague and fellow Senator Joni Ernst.The private life of Senator Ernst has become very public lately, with the release of documents surrounding her divorce. There are allegations of extramarital affairs, physical abuse by her now-ex-husband and Ernst said Wednesday night she was raped while she was a student at Iowa State University.“People know how much I respect Senator Ernst and I don’t think I should comment in any way on her private life,” Grassley says. “She’s got to deal with a very tough situation that probably shouldn’t be discussed publicly but it seems to me she’s handling it very well.” Grassley, who is 37 years older than Iowa’s junior senator, was asked if he’s attempted to talk with Ernst since the personal details of her life went public, to offer his advice or comfort.“Obviously, I support her totally and it may sound sentimental to say that I’ll pray for her,” Grassley says. “To be more direct to your question and not to really expand on anything I said, but yes, I did reach out to her.” Grassley says it should be clear from the schedule Ernst keeps that “she’s working hard for Iowans every day.”last_img read more

Governor ends public airing of state agency budget requests

first_imgDES MOINES — Governor Kim Reynolds is breaking from predecessor and mentor Terry Branstad’s practice of having state agency directors present their spending outlines for the next budgeting year in a public forum.Reynolds is meeting privately with the top bureaucrats in state government to go over items for next year’s state budget. “Really doing a one-on-one and walking through the bugdet and asking them: ‘You know, what are some initiatives that you’re working on? Where can we maybe take a look at some opportunities to help you do what you’re doing in your agency?’ And I have really found that to be very, very productive,” Reynolds, a Republican, told reporters Tuesday.In the past two years, Reynolds hosted budget presentations in her office at thie time of the year, as Branstad did, giving legislative staff, the news media and others a chance to hear about agency priorities and the spending requests state boards and commissions had approved.Later this month, Reynolds will host a hearing at the state capitol — as former Governors Branstad did — to give members of the public a chance to speak about state policy and spending decisions.last_img read more

More than 20,000 could get Cedar Rapids speed ticket refunds

first_imgCEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — More than 20,000 people could soon be eligible for reimbursement of fines and late fees collected by the city of Cedar Rapids on traffic camera citations issued between 2010 and 2018. A proposed class-action settlement shows the city has agreed to pay nearly $3 million in refunds and attorneys’ fees to end a lawsuit that challenged its two-year-old collection program. Those who paid late fees or who had their state tax refunds seized by the city will be eligible to seek up to $599. Pending court approval, notices will be sent to class members detailing the process for filing claims.last_img read more

Help is available for those experiencing mental health issues during the COVID-19 crisis

first_imgMASON CITY — Many people during the COVID-19 situation may be experiencing mental health issues, and MercyOne clinical psychologist Brent Seaton says there’s a tendency when in a stressful situation to stop doing many of the things that we know can help us cope, so it’s a time for people to do things that will effectively help them.He says, “We should be eating a balanced diet as much as possible, doing our best to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re somebody who exercises, it’s important to exercise in ways that are consistent with our social distancing, if it’s been recommended or approved by your medical provider. When it’s nice outside and sunny, it’s important to get outside and again continue to follow the rules regarding social distancing.”Seaton says it’s always important to talk with your friends and family about what’s happening. “If you’re normally able to make social contacts in a face-to-face way and that’s no longer possible, it’s important to utilize resources that were lucky to have now. Video chat, calling people on the phone, FaceTime, It’s important to continue to make those social contacts.”Seaton says the COVID-19 crisis is anxiety provoking for a lot of people, and you need to set aside time to get your mind off of what’s happening. “Sometimes when we’re anxious, we really want to have as much information about the situation as possible, and it’s important to keep in mind that that may work against us. There are times where it’s really important to just turn off the television, to maybe check the Cerro Gordo Public Health Website once a day but not to stay kind of constantly involved in screen time that surrounds the COVID-19 situation. It’s important to take some time to listen to your favorite music. You may not feel like watching a happy movie or a funny movie and that might be exactly the reason why it’s a good idea to do that.”Seaton says we need to keep doing things for ourselves for self-care. “Sometimes when we’re in a stressful situation, we will pull away from those activities because it doesn’t feel like it’s the right time to do it, but I believe that those are the times it’s important to be very mindful that we’re doing these things that allow us to feel like we do when we feel best.”Seaton says there are many good providers in north-central Iowa to help address mental health concerns.Seaton made his comments during the weekly Cerro Gordo County COVID-19 press conference, which you can view belowlast_img read more

UI doctor says face shields offer more coronavirus protection

first_imgIOWA CITY — A University of Iowa researcher says the country could reopen more quickly and safely if everyone wore a clear plastic face shield.Doctor Michael Edmond, chief quality officer at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, says a universal face shield may reduce coronavirus transmission and could allow relaxing of social distancing measures.Edmond, a U-I infectious disease professor, says face shields have several advantages. “They’re more durable than face masks,” Edmond says. “The medical face masks really don’t last very long at all. Cloth masks can be reused and laundered, but face shields can just be wiped off.”Face shields cover the eyes and prevent people from touching their faces, and face shields are readily available. Edmond says he’s working on modeling studies to determine if his theories on face shield use prove valid.“If every person were in a face shield, we would reduce transmission of the virus to the point that some of these other more drastic things that we have to do like restricting people’s movements, those could be relaxed somewhat.” Volunteers in Iowa are making cloth masks and plastic face shields by the thousands for distribution to hospital workers, paramedics and other first responders.last_img read more

Casey’s makes up for drop in customers with higher gas margin

first_imgANKENY — The Ankeny-based Casey’s convenience store chain saw a big impact in lost customers during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but was able to take advantage of lower gas prices.Casey’s president Darren Rebelez says the quarter started with good momentum in gas and store sales. “This momentum continued and actually accelerated through the first two weeks in March, with inside same-store says up in the middle single digits and same-store gallons up in the low single digits — excluding the extra day for Leap year. However, in the middle of March, we began to see a rapid decline in our guest traffic,” Rebelez says.He says the company benefited as gas prices dropped by keeping the price at a point where they made much more on the sale of  of each gallon of gas then they made last year. “Fuel gallons were down 34 percent — but were more than offset by an unprecedented average fuel margin of 63 cents per gallon,” according to Rebelez. “Grocery and other merchandise was down nine percent and prepared food and fountain was down 30 percent.”The company weathered the COVID-19 issues and reported diluted earnings per share of $1.67 for the fourth quarter of its fiscal year ended April 30th, compared to 68 cents for the same period last year. Diluted earnings per share are $7.10 for the year, compared to $5.51 last year.Rebelez says they made many adjustments to handle the reduced traffic to stores. “Adjusting store hours to meet guest demand to optimize profitability. Expanding third-party delivery opportunities, expanding delivery items beyond prepared foods, expanding online assortment available for sale, and modifying food production to reduce food waste,” Rebelez says.Rebelez says the drop in gas prices was unique — and allowed them to take more profit on gas sales.  “Our average fuel margin in the fourth quarter was 40.8 cents per gallon. Fuel margins peaked around the first of April and moderated throughout the rest of the month,” Rebelez says. “The average retail price of fuel during the fourth quarter was $2.05 a gallon, compared to $2.46 a gallon a year ago. Total gallons sold for the quarter were down ten-point-seven percent to 488 million gallons — while gross profit dollars increased 96 percent.”Rebelez says many of the states where Casey’s operates have begun to open back up — but Illinois where they have 20 percent of their stores — has not yet lifted restrictions.  He made his comments during a conference call for investors.last_img read more

SH660M: Museveni clears Micho’s salary, boosts Cranes

first_img“The President has required me to deliver a message to the team and the coaches that they should represent their country to the pride of Ugandans. He has extended financial support of sh660 million to help in the preparations ahead of the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match against Ghana in Tamale October 7,” said Magogo.Museveni was later quoted as saying, “I tasked Mr. Magogo to tell the team to represent our country with pride and assured them of my full support.”Museveni talks to Micho in an earlier call in 2015.According to Magogo, Museveni said the money be used to cater for the teams logistics ahead of the qualifier and help calm down head coach Micho, who had taken to social media to make his case.Micho led Uganda to a historic qualification to the African Cup of Nations Finals, the first time since 1978 but issues surrounding his pay threatened to overshadow the celebrations.It forced the soccer governing body to come out with a statement, in which the said “FUFA greatly appreciates and recognises the immense contribution and extra efforts of our national team coach in helping Uganda qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 38 years.”FUFA admitted they indeed owe Micho unpaid salaries and “shares his frustrations over the delay,” nit said that “during the costly AFCON 2017 qualification campaign, FUFA prioritised all the meager resources at its disposal to facilitate requirements for the success of the team and campaign.”They said that in preparation for the final group D key match against Comoros, Micho had been paid three times and received all his bonus and allowances entitlements  for the AFCON 2017 campaign just like the rest of the team members.“FUFA is committed to ensuring all his salary arrears are cleared and we are confident this will be handled. Coach Micho’s unpaid dues are currently FUFA’s number one priority and the federation is doing everything in its means to raise the funds needed to clear the outstanding amount,” the FUFA statement said then.Share on: WhatsApp The Uganda team that faced Comoros. World Cup qualifiersGroup  A :Libya, Guinea, DR Congo, TunisiaGroup B: Zambia, Cameroon, Nigeria, AlgeriaGroup C: Gabon, Morocco, Mali, Ivory CoastGroup D: Burkina Faso, South Africa, Cape Verde, SenegalGroup E: Uganda, Congo, Egypt, GhanaPresident Yoweri Museveni has boosted Cranes’ World Cup preparations and offered to clear coach ‘Micho’ Milutin Sredojevic’s three-month salary arrears.Uganda are drawn in one of the toughest groups in the Africa zone, 2018 World Cup qualifiers.  They are in Group E with Congo and African giants Egypt, Ghana. The qualifiers start in October, with Uganda away to Ghana.Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) president Moses Magogo revealed Saturday he had got a phone call from Museveni, in which he promised financial support.last_img read more

Arrests after Burundi president ‘roughed up’ on football field

first_imgFILE PHOTO: Nkurunziza playing footballNairobi, Kenya | AFP | Two Burundi officials have been arrested after their town’s football team allegedly “roughed up” President Pierre Nkurunziza who was playing during a match with his personal team, legal sources and witnesses said Friday.A legal source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the administrator of the northern town of Kiremba as well as his deputy, who is in charge of sport, had been charged with “conspiracy against the president” on Thursday.It all started when the Kiremba team played a match earlier this month against Nkurunziza’s Allelua FC team, which includes the president.Several town residents told AFP that the administrator Cyriaque Nkezabahizi and his deputy Michel Mutama had recruited players among Congolese refugees living in a camp in the town.“These Congolese obviously didn’t know President Nkurunziza because they roughed him up during the match, attacking each time he had the ball and making him fall several times while the Burundian players were careful not to get too close to him,” one witness said.Nkurunziza, who is a “born-again” evangelical, spends at least half of every week travelling with his team Allelua FC and his choir “Komeza gusenga” which means “pray non-stop” in the local kirundi language. He also participates in community development projects, in which he can be seen lugging around rocks or mixing cement.The 54-year-old president, a former sport professor at the University of Burundi, continues to practice swimming and cycling and plays up to three football matches a week.He built a 9,000-seat stadium in his home town and dozens others across the country.Critics say he is allowed to score several “bogus” goals during each match, with no player daring to seriously take him on.In power since 2005, Nkurunziza is leading a push for a referendum in May on changes to the constitution that would allow him to run in elections in 2020.Share on: WhatsApplast_img read more