Metro Briefs

BY DI STAFF | APRIL 22, 2009 7:26 AM

Education-budget bill back to House

The Iowa Senate passed the state education budget with myriad amendments Tuesday night, sending the bill back to the House for additional debate.

Tuesday marked the second time Senate lawmakers have approved the budget, but the two chambers still haven’t agreed upon specific provisions in the bill. The measure now goes back to the House, which first approved the measure last week.

Under the version the Senate approved Tuesday, the UI would take an additional $400,000 cut.
But the extra slash would be minuscule compared with the millions of dollars likely to be gutted from the budget already, and the UI still faces roughly the same 13 percent cut.

Other education areas will likely see an 8 percent cut from fiscal 2009.

Supporters hope federal stimulus money will, in the end, lessen the blow of disproportionately austere cuts — including the state Board of Regents’ approximately 12 percent curtailment.

For his part, Sen. Joe Bolkcom, D-Iowa City, held out hope that the stimulus-cash influx will provide enough money to preclude any actual cuts to the regents’ budget, although it’s unclear whether that’s possible.

Bolkcom said he expects the budget process to be done within one week.

— by Shawn Gude

2 CR men charged in robbery

Coralville police arrested two Cedar Rapids men after they allegedly displayed weapons during a robbery.

Kevin Lee, 32 and Brandon Vance, 19, were charged March 24 with first-degree robbery.

According to police reports, the men entered the lobby of the Big Ten Inn, displayed two firearms, and took money from the cash drawer. The weapons used in the robbery — including a unique Remington 870 assault shotgun and a Bushmaster XM15-E25 — were recovered from a codefendant’s residence.

Those weapons and two others had reportedly been stolen in a previous robbery, and Vance was captured on video selling guns to a local pawn-shop, police said.

Lee was apprehended in a Ford Explorer that was seen being used by both men on hotel video, officers said. Some clothes worn by the defendants were recovered in the vehicle.

Both men made self-incriminating statements about their involvement, authorities said.

— by Regina Zilbermints

Woman who missed hearing tracked to Illinois

Authorities have tracked Heather Kathleen Jackson — who is charged with second-degree theft for allegedly stealing more than $8,000 of prescription drugs — to Monmouth, Ill., Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek notified the County Attorney’s Office Monday.

Jackson missed a March court hearing, after which authorities issued another arrest warrant. She is accused of lifting medications from Windmill Manor nursing facility in Coralville, where she worked beginning in 2005.

According to police reports, Jackson gave her employers an Iowa nursing license effective through 2007. It turned out to be fake; Iowa Board of Nursing officials indicated they never issued the certificate to Jackson. The license also displayed the wrong numbering, spacing, and font.

Jackson allegedly forged other nurses’ signatures on destruction orders or left records incomplete to get hold of the drugs. They included Eth-Oxydose medication — a narcotic pain reliever similar to morphine — and morphine sulfate.

Records show Jackson, 33, lives with her unemployed spouse and three dependent children.

— by Zhi Xiong

Engineering gets wind-energy grant

The Iowa Alliance for Wind Innovation and Novel Development, a collaborative project by the UI College of Engineering, received a $3 million grant from the Iowa Power Fund on April 21.

The project, which started in 2008, will help Iowa attract wind energy companies, College of Engineering Dean Barry Butler said in a UI press release.

“The national goal of 20 percent wind energy by 2030 will require significant growth in the industry and overcoming technical challenges,” he said in the release.

“The nation’s wind industry will cluster in regions with a supply of well-educated talent, demonstrated partnerships between academia and industry, and a welcoming business climate. That perfectly fits the state of Iowa,” he added.

—by Michele Danno

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