A roundup of state government and Capitol news items of interest for Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018:
P.E. AND HEALTH STANDARDS: Officials with the Iowa Department of Education are seeking comments from the public regarding proposed physical education and health standards under consideration. State Education Department Director Ryan Wise said the standards — selected by the Physical Education and Health Standards Review Team — would be recommended to schools but not required. Feedback on the standards will come through a survey and public forums. The public forums, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., will be Dec. 4 with a host site in Pella and satellite links, and Dec. 6 with a host site in West Des Moines and satellite links, Wise said. The survey will be open until Dec. 20, and input will be incorporated into the team’s final recommendations for standards. The Physical Education and Health Standards Review Team was created in response to public support for offering standards that go beyond the mandatory subject areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and 21st century skills. The team hopes to get the proposed physical education and health standards to the State Board of Education for consideration sometime next spring.
INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDS AWARDED: Awards totaling $4.5 million for 11 communities across Iowa were announced Wednesday by the state’s Economic Development Authority. IEDA officials said the Community Development Block Grant funds will support community water and sewer infrastructure projects. The state authority received 12 applications totaling $4.8 million in funding requests. The grants are awarded based upon benefit to low- and moderate-income residents, financial need, project impact and readiness, and commitment of local resources to the project. The federally funded awards will allow communities to make needed improvements to water and sewer systems, improve housing conditions for low-income homeowners, provide facilities for people with disabilities and at-risk individuals, and make transformative improvements downtown. A list of the project awards can be found at iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/UserDocs/news/2018Q4CDBGWaterSewer.pdf.
BEWARE OF ICE AS LAKES FREEZE OVER: Officials with the state Department of Natural Resources are advising Iowans to stay safe as Iowa lakes freeze over as winter weather sets in. Officials say the recent blast of arctic air is growing ice on lakes and ponds over much of Iowa, and anglers are starting to get out for the early ice fishing season. The DNR recommends a minimum of 4 inches of clear ice for fishing and at least 5 inches for snowmobiles and ATVs. “Check ice thickness as you make your way to your favorite fishing spot,” said Joe Larscheid, DNR chief of fisheries. “Ice conditions change constantly and its thickness can vary across the lake. Trust your instincts — if the ice does not look right, don’t go out.” State officials note that no ice is 100 percent safe and that new ice is usually stronger than old ice. DNR officials advise against going out alone for ice fishing or other lake-related activities, and to inform someone where you are going and when you will return. They also recommend checking ice thickness for pockets of thin ice or places where ice recently formed, and to avoid off-color snow or ice, which usually is a sign of weakness.