Iowa Democrats seek more funding for preschool Iowa Senate Democrats want to boost state preschool spending, with a goal of making publicly-funded preschool available to all 4-year-olds whose parents want them enrolled. A bill that would provide more funding to school districts that expand or establish preschool programs for 4-year-olds was reviewed in a Senate subcommittee Thursday and has the support to move on to the Senate Education Committee for review. Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, says the additional funding would be offered for three years, starting in the fall of 2015. He says the effort could cost as much as $15 million. While this plan has support in the Democrat-majority Senate, it is not clear if the bill could win backing from Republicans controlling the Iowa House.
Iowa lawmakers OK tougher penalties for kidnapping Lawmakers have approved a bill seeking to increase penalties for kidnapping cases involving minors after hearing from the mother of murder victim Kathlynn Shepard. A subcommittee and then the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the bill Thursday. In urging passage of the bill, Denise Shepard told subcommittee members the story of her daughter's killing last May. She says legislation to keep kidnapping offenders in jail longer would save children's lives. The bill would increase criminal penalties in cases involving children 16 and younger and cases in which the person convicted had previously been convicted of kidnapping. Kathlynn was 15 when she and a 12-year-old friend were kidnapped by Michael Klunder while walking home from school in Dayton. The 12-year-old escaped but authorities say Klunder killed Kathlynn and committed suicide.
Deere laying off 120 in East MolineDeere and Company says it will lay off about 120 workers at its combine plant in East Moline on March 31st. Reports say employees learned the news Thursday during a meeting at the plant. About 2,800 people work at the factory. Moline-based Deere said this week that it expects the North American farm-equipment industry to see a 5 percent to 10 percent drop in sales this year after a record-setting 2013. The company also this week reported record first record first-quarter profits. Deere said the layoffs will be based on seniority.
DCI: Agent fired at man speeding in stolen vehicle Police have arrested a man accused of stealing a vehicle from a Burlington casino and speeding toward an officer, who fired his service weapon. Authorities said 40-year-old David Cross was arrested Thursday while sleeping in a parked car. He's charged with interference with official acts, assault on a peace officer and operating a vehicle without owner's consent. The Division of Criminal Investigation's bureau at Catfish Bend Casino received a report Wednesday night of a man breaking into vehicles in the parking garage. An agent tried to stop the man, who by then had stolen a casino employee's vehicle. Instead, the suspect sped toward the agent, who got out of the way and fired three shots. The stolen vehicle struck the agent's patrol car and sped off. No one was injured.
Urbandale schools say someone posted porn on site Urbandale school officials say someone hacked the district's website and posted pornographic images. Superintendent Doug Stilwell told The Des Moines Register the photos were noticed Thursday morning and removed a short time later. Stillwell says some students saw the images, which he called unfortunate. Stillwell say he wasn't sure how many pictures were posted. He saw one, which he called "pretty awful." The website posts were tracked to an Internet protocol address based in Canada. Stillwell plans to talk with the Urbandale Police Department about what to do next. It appears someone gained access to the website by hacking a staff member's account. The hacker didn't gain access to any restricted information about students or staff.
Iowa family recreates stone statute with snow A Mason City family has attracted attention from neighbors for recreating a famed stone statute with the use of snow. Paul Hertzel and his three adult daughters recently constructed an 8-foot tall by 4-foot wide replica of a giant Easter Island head known as a moai statue. The piece is in front of the family's home. Hertzel said that it took months for the family to pack snow down in large forms of plywood. It then took less than three hours to shape it. They first created a replica of their idea on a miniature scale with bars of soap. Thousands of tourists visit Easter Island in the South Pacific each year to visit the famed stone statues.
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