Jerry Perkins and Ken Fuson have asked for and received buyouts from The Des Moines Register, according to a memo from Editor Carolyn Washburn and Managing Editor Randy Brubaker to the newsroom. Perkins' last day will be Aug. 29 and Fuson's last day will be Sept. 5. Perkins started with the Des Moines Tribune in 1978 and has been the Register's farm editor since 1993. Fuson has been with the Register for 25 years and has won several awards, including the Register's top writing award and Gannett Co. Inc.'s 25th anniversary Outstanding Achievement Award for Writing. Sources also say that Jane Norman, a reporter at the Register's Washington bureau since 1988, has been laid off, with a severance package.

Brothers James and Robert Myers and their spouses have been ordered to pay slightly more than $2 million in principal and interest on promissory notes that are in default at West Bank. The orders, filed last week in Polk County District Court, say that James and Robin Myers and Robert and Lynda Myers defaulted in May on notes they signed for slightly more than $1 million each. West Bank filed a lawsuit in June, claiming that the Myerses and Richard and Becky Moffitt had defaulted on loans. James and Robert Myers are the targets of lawsuits and foreclosures as the result of the failure of Regency Homes, which was founded by their father, Michael, and Moffitt. According to documents filed with the West Bank lawsuit, the Moffitts are in default on a $2 million promissory note.

Des Moines attorney Kim Walker will lead Faegre & Benson LLP's new Food, Agriculture and Biofuels Group. The Minneapolis-based firm announced that its new group will be composed of more than 100 lawyers focused on 12 industry segments, including crop protection products, biofuels and agricultural finance. The firm already has several clients in these industries, including Cargill Inc., E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Hormel Foods Corp. and VeraSun Energy Corp.

The compensation committee of Meredith Corp.'s board of directors has awarded President and CEO Stephen Lacy a $531,250 cash bonus. Other executive officers to receive bonus are John Griffin Jr., president of the publishing group, who received $382,500, Paul Karpowicz, president of the broadcasting group, who received $235,000 and John Zieser, chief development officer, general counsel and secretary, who received $380,000. According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Lacy's bonus is based on earnings per share and cash flow, while the other bonuses are 85 percent based on earnings per share, cash flow and other quantifiable financial criteria and 15 percent on certain qualitative standards. The compensation committee also set base salaries for fiscal 2009 as follows: Lacy at $925,000, Griffin at $725,000, Karpowicz at $655,000 and Zieser at $600,000.

The U.S. Producer Price Index rose 1.2 percent in July after a 1.8 percent increase in wholesale prices in June, the Labor Department said today. Bloomberg reported that the increase was twice as high as economists had forecast. Prices excluding fuel and food rose 0.7 percent after a 0.2 percent rise in June. Producers paid 9.8 percent more for goods in July 2008 than in the year-ago period, the biggest year-over-year gain since June 1981. Excluding food and energy, core prices were up 3.5 percent from a year earlier.

A Commerce Department report said housing starts fell 11 percent to an annual rate of 965,000, following a 10.84 million pace in June. Bloomberg reported that housing starts were down 30 percent from July 2007 and at the lowest pace in 17 years. The Midwest, however, had a 10 percent gain in housing starts, while the rest of the nation experienced decreases. Building permits, a sign of future construction, also fell 18 percent to a 937,000 annual pace.

The Technology Association of Iowa is accepting nominations for the Women in Innovation Awards, which honor exceptional women in the fields of science, technology and innovation. Nominations are due by Sept. 26 and finalists will be named by Oct. 20, with an awards ceremony on Nov. 11. For more information, go to www.technologyiowa.org/women/2008.