Metro briefs

BY DI STAFF | JUNE 22, 2015 5:00 AM

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UI rate student-loan defaults remains low

The University of Iowa is No. 12 nationally for lowest rate of student-loan defaults.

Despite what may seem to be an ever-looming cloud of darkness for many UI students, college debt can also have a silver lining.

Bestcolleges.com, a college information database, collected data on more than 700 colleges in the country and published the top 25 public and private schools.

In 2011, UI students’ default rate was 4.1 percent.

In order to determine an institution’s default rate, UI Director of Student Financial Aid Mark Warner said the government will track how many students went into default over a two- and three-year period.

Therefore, the most recent official data are from students who graduated in 2011 and went into default.

The average default rate for the state of Iowa in 2011 was 17.3 percent; the national rate for public four-year schools was 8.9 percent.

Currently, the UI projects its students’ loan-default rate will drop from 4.1 percent to 3.2 percent for 2012 graduates.

The University of Northern Iowa also cracked the top, coming in at No. 20. Iowa State University did not make the list.

The study cited several reasons why an institution might have a low default rate, including low tuition, higher scholarship and grant rates, or students finding jobs quickly after graduation.

Warner said it’s hard to attribute a single dominating factor in a situation such as this. The UI’s low rate is most likely a combination of all three, he noted.

Because the data are from four years ago, the UI’s recent tuition freezes do not affect it; however, Warner said, he expects to see the effect in the rate soon when the first students who benefited from the freeze graduate in 2016.

During the 2014-15 school year, the UI gave out $62.7 million in scholarships and grants to undergraduate students, compared with $57.7 million in 2013-14.

— by Ben Marks

Local water prices gush

For the second time in two years, Iowa City residents will need to adjust their budgets to accommodate rising water prices.

With water rates spiking across the country, the nation’s attention has been focused on California, where an extreme drought has caused water prices to rise.

Iowa City has also seen an increase of 10 percentage points in the price of water over the last two years.

“Last year, we approved two sets of increases, 5 [percent] in 2014 and another 5 percent in 2015,” said Dennis Bockenstedt, the city finance director.

Although the rate hikes between the two states may be similar, the reasons behind the raises are rather different.

“There have been lots of water-main breaks over the last few years,” Bockenstedt said. “The increase in price really has to do with a need for large-scale water-structure replacement.”

The rise in water cost stems from a water-rate study the city conducted in 2008 about the city’s water use.

Bockenstedt said the city’s water infrastructure has long been due for renovation, and the 2008 study cemented this.

As the increase approaches, residents and business owners are beginning to adjust.

While people must accept that prices are going up, some Iowa City residents, such as Arthur Murray, said they were unaware of the incoming rise in water rates.

Although the government website for Iowa City posted a brief bulletin announcing the changes, Murray said he wanted a more formal announcement of the increases.

“It would’ve been nice if they had it stamped in big red letters on the front of my bill,” he said.

— by Girindra Selleck

Illinois woman faces drug charge

Authorities have accused an Illinois woman of a controlled-substance violation.

Erika Katz, 30, was charged June 19 with conspiring to manufacture, deliver, or possess marijuana without a drug tax stamp.

According to the Iowa City police, officers stopped Katz on a routine traffic stop when the officer reportedly smelled burned marijuana eminating from the car. After a probable cause search, the officer allegedly found nine bottles of liquid marijuana, 32 chocolates with marijuana, two bags and two pill bottles, and 21 caramel candies with marijuana.

Katz reportedly admitted to never having purchased a drug tax stamp.

Failure to affix a drug tax stamp and controlled-substance violation are both Class-D felonies.

Woman charged with controlled-substance violation

Authorities have accused a Chicago woman of failing to affix a drug tax stamp and possessing a controlled substance.

Amy Novachis, 39, was changed June 19 with conspiring to manufacture, deliver, or possess marijuana without a drug tax stamp.

According to the Iowa City police, Novachis was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for a routine traffic violation.

The car allegedly contained oils, caramel candies, and a green leafy substance consistent with marijuana. The car also had large quantities of cash. 

Failure to affix a drug tax stamp and controlled-substance violation are both Class-D felonies.

Man faces burglary, theft charges

Authorities have accused an Iowa City man of burglarizing a farm property.

Brent Lothridge, 30, was charged June 2 with two counts of burglary and one of theft. Lothridge was charged June 7 with stealing a John Deere ZTrak lawn mower. He was also charged June 9 with burglarizing a farmstead on May 13.

According to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, Lothridge and an accomplice admitted to stealing items from the property, including a 5 HP Mercury boat motor.

The items were found in a Benson County property after a search warrant was issued June 9. During interviews, Lothridge and the accomplice blamed each other.

Lothridge also allegedly stole a John Deere lawn mower valued at $8,200.

Third-degree burglary and second-degree theft are both Class-D felonies.

Man charged with domestic abuse

Authorities have accused an Iowa City man of committing domestic abuse.

Devyn Denny, 24, was charged Sunday with domestic abuse  impeding blood or air flow,
According to the Iowa City police, Denny and his girlfriend were at Field House Bar when officers were called to respond to reports of a female being choked.

The girlfriend said Denny told her to leave the bar, then allegedly grabbed her by the back of the neck and started forcing her out of the bar.

He reportedly put her in a headlock around the neck, which the girlfriend said caused extreme pain.

Domestic-abuse assault is a Class-D felony.

— by Allie Biscupski

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