Archive for  January 8th 2019

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Ten Iowa Air National Guard soldiers returned home on Monday after being in Africa for six months.

Matthew Stern, a firefighter for the Iowa Air National Guard, was welcomed home by his mom, Susan Smith, his two sisters and his wife at the Des Moines International Airport.

“My son’s been in the Air Guard since high school practically, and this is his first deployment, and he’s been close before but he’s been gone now for 6 months. He left right after the Fourth of July,” Smith said.

She said it was the most she had missed her son since he went through training.

“It seemed to go by fairly quickly. I sent him care packages very often, which he shared with his comrades. He said they really liked the homemade cookies,” Smith said.

They were able to text each other every day, but she hadn’t actually seen him since he left.

“Time change though was nine hours, so I tried to be careful about texting him at one in the morning. It was a little difficult,” Smith said.

Stern said he has been in the Air National Guard for about nine years.

“We did firefighting operations on a small airbase out in Africa. We just pretty much did everything a normal firefighting group would do here in the city,” Stern said.

He said he really missed the food at home, and the first thing he’s going to do is have dinner with his wife at The Cafe in Ames.

“We had a lot of repeat dishes over there, so I’m excited to have some variety,” Stern said.

Smith said she is so proud of her son.

“I’m so happy they all made it home safely,” she said.

Smith even left her Christmas tree up so they all could celebrate.

“We got to do some back celebration on birthdays and Christmases while I’ve been gone, so that’ll be fun. It’ll be a quick couple weeks here to start, but I’m just happy to be home,” Stern said.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The White House says tax refunds will still go out during the government shutdown.

The announcement is a reversal of a long-standing policy to withhold refunds during shutdowns. While that is welcome news for taxpayers, employees at the federal court could be getting asked to work without pay. The judiciary has two weeks left of funding.

A former U.S. Attorney says federal court employees could be furloughed, and that could impact the 131 federal court hearings scheduled from January 22 to the January 31 and after.

“I hope that both sides can figure it out and we can come to some sort of agreement,” Des Moines resident Tim Army said.

Until then, the government shutdown is causing the federal courts to run on limited funds.

Nick Klinefeldt, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District in Iowa, has gone through a government shutdown before.

“It was scary. It was affecting morale,” Klinefeldt said.

The judiciary says it has enough reserve money to last until January 18.

“The courts are going to have to furlough people. They are going to have to send staff home. They probably already are ramping up and preparing for the shutdown,” Klinefeldt said.

“That’s their livelihood. It’s really unfortunate. That is money people rely on,” Des Moines resident Brooke Van Soelen said.

According to the Labor Department, in Iowa there are nearly 18,000 federal employees including postal workers, military and those who work for the federal court.

“We are basically shutting down one branch of the government,” Klinefeldt said.

Fewer people working could slow the courts down.

“[It] affects the judge’s ability to conduct trials and resolve disputes. [It affects] anything from employment dispute, business’s disputes and social security disputes,” Klinefeldt said.

In order to continue resolving those disputes, Klinefeldt says essential employees could be asked to work without pay.

“That’s a lot of uncertainty. It’s the president asking people to work without a paycheck even though you are working for the American public,” Klinefeldt said.

We reached out to the U.S. Clerk of Courts and the Department of Justice for the Southern District of Iowa for comment and have not heard back.