DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — This year's corn harvest is ahead of schedule with 4 percent in already compared with just 1 percent at the same time last year.

The harvest is three to four weeks ahead of schedule in most of the corn belt because an unusually warm spring allowed farmers to plant earlier.

Most expected a good year then, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been reducing its estimates of the nation's harvest amid a severe drought centered over the Midwest. It now says it expects the least amount of corn since 2006, although the tally won't be certain until the harvest is done.

It is significantly ahead of schedule in some places. The USDA reported Monday that in Tennessee and Missouri, the harvest was already 18 percent complete.


CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Clipper Windpower, which has a wind turbine plant in Cedar Rapids, says it's cutting jobs.

The Gazette ( ) says company officials on Monday say layoffs will reduce the total employment at the wind energy company by 174 positions.

Spokeswoman Christina Stowell says in an email that the company is downsizing and refocusing operations in response to "continued challenges" facing the industry. She says the total workforce would be reduced from 550 employees to 376.

Stowell didn't say how many positions would come from Cedar Rapids. She says Clipper would not close any plants.

Clipper Windpower was recently sold by United Technologies of Hartford, Conn., to Platinum Equity in Los Angeles.



COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Council Bluffs' fire chief says children playing with a lighter caused a deadly house fire over the weekend.

KETV-TV in Omaha, Neb. ( ), says Fire Chief Alan Byers also says there were no working smoke detectors in the house.

Four-year-old Leland Johnson died in the fire Saturday morning after being trapped in an upstairs bedroom. Firefighters reached the boy, but he died at the hospital. His mother and two other children safely escaped the house.

Byers says the tragedy drives home the need for more fire safety education. He says the fire department has free smoke detectors that firefighters will install for residents.


IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa City is considering changing its law to allow police to issue civil complaints when it comes to dealing with unruly house parties.

Currently, a disorderly house charge is handled with a criminal complaint, but the occupants, typically college students, are increasingly refusing to answer the door.

In those situations, officers have to get search warrant, which requires the signature of a county attorney or a judge. The process can take hours.

The City Council will vote Tuesday on an ordinance to amend the city's nuisance rental property regulations to allow for a civil citation when occupants don't answer the door, The Gazette ( reported.

"I think it can be more effective in how we enforce that disorderly house regulation," said Doug Boothroy, director of housing and inspection services.

Under the change, everyone who lives at the residence would receive a citation.

An attorney who works with college students believes the ordinance would be unconstitutional.


OSKALOOSA, Iowa (AP) — Researchers recently found the remains of another mammoth at an Oskaloosa farm where scientists unearthed a nearly complete mammoth skeleton earlier this year.

Jim North, a professor at William Penn University, told the Oskaloosa Herald ( ) the discovery of shoulder bones of two distinct mammoths and fragments of a tusk is rare in the Midwest.

The remains appear to date back about 12,000 years.

Dave Brenzel, a program naturalist at the Indian Creek Nature Center, said the fossils were found with remains of trees, offering clues about the environment when the animals lived.

"The rarity is that we found them where they lived," Brenzel said. "Two were entombed in their environment."

The farm's owner, who has asked not to be identified, discovered the bones about two years ago when he and his sons noticed a 4-foot-long leg bone protruding from a creek bed.

Researchers have been studying the southern Iowa site since this spring. About 25 people excavated at the site Sunday, including scientists from the University of Iowa, Iowa State and local volunteers.