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2 Atlantic Police Officers recognized for their years of service

News

October 16th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday evening, paid recognition to two of the City’s Police Officers. Officers Christin Vavricek and Caleb Smith, have served the City for 10 years. Vavricek joined the force on July 8, 2009. Officer Smith began his service to the City Oct. 29, 2009.

Left to right: Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones presented awards to Officers Caleb Smith and Christin Vavricek. (Ric Hanson/photo)

Mayor Dave Jones presented both Officers with plaques in honor of their outstanding service, and thanked them for helping to keep the community one of the safest in the State.

Atlantic City Council hears pleas for help to alleviate erosion along Bull Creek

News

October 16th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday evening, heard an earful from residents who live along Bull Creek, north of 14th to Ed Podolak Drive. Property owners urged the Council to do something about erosion along Bull Creek that is eating into their back yards. Parks and Recreation Department Director Bryant Rassmussen told the Council he has calculated that based on the velocity and density of the water passing through Bull Creek, the bank has eroded 3.91-inches. The problem was exacerbated by recent heavy rains that caused extensive run-off and flooding.

Snyder and Associates Engineer Dave Sturm said the last study of Bull Creek he’s aware of, was done in the 1990’s. Rasmussen said he personally met with City Administrator John Lund and showed him the damage that’s being done. Some of the damage include to the Bull Creek Pathway, where holes have developed that could be a major liability to the City.

Mayor Dave Jones said the matter would have to be turned over to the Community Development Committee, working in conjunction with Snyder and Associates, to come up with an official engineer’s report, and a possible solution. Rasmussen said his education and experience should be taken into consideration when it comes to taking action on the matter. He said he’s been in contact with the Army Corps of Engineers, talking about how the Bull Creek area can be fixed, and that they have given him a verbal commitment to move forward, but he just needs to fill out a joint application.

Mayor Jones said the City has talked with the Corps before, and some ideas (such as a covered culvert) were “shot down.” One resident asked the Mayor how much of her back yard has to flow down Bull Creek before the City takes action instead of running in circles. Jones said “Sometimes it takes a while to get studies done…we’ve been working on things for years. There are some things we can do and some things we can’t do.” Another resident who has lived in the area for 25-years, said he has seen five-feet of his back yard erode into the creek.

Councilman Chris Jimerson suggested the City could use rip-rap as a temporary fix. Rasmussen said one of the solutions is to install native plants that allow the water to percolate into the soil, rather than create run-off. Another solution that has been presented before but not acted on, is to remove some of the dead trees in order to stabilize the bank and shape of the creek.

Iowa man/Ex-Santee schools official gets prison for kickback scheme

News

October 16th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge in Lincoln, Nebraska, has sentenced a former Santee Community Schools superintendent and Iowa resident to two years in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds.

Federal prosecutors say 63-year-old Paul Sellon, of Hamburg, was sentenced Wednesday and ordered to pay $314,121 in restitution. Sellon had earlier pleaded guilty to theft of government money. Sellon contracted with an educational consulting business, paying it $683,000 in funds from an annual school improvement grant. But prosecutors say he demanded a kickback of nearly half of the grant money as a pre-condition to being hired in Santee.

Sellon was the superintendent of Santee Community Schools from 2010 to 2014.

NE man cited following a collision in Montgomery County, Wednesday

News

October 16th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Montgomery County say a Nebraska man was cited following a collision that occurred at around 10:40-a.m., Wednesday. No injuries were reported. Authorities say the accident happened at 1732 K Avenue, where two semi’s collided and were blocking the roadway.

An investigation determined a 1994 International 9300 semi-tractor trailer pulling a tanker of manure, struck a 2007 Peterbilt Conventional semi that was pulling a feed trailer. The Peterbilt is registered to Koliha Trucking, LLC. Officials say the rig was traveling northbound. The driver Robert P. Ebel, of Shelby, Nebraska, stopped northbound in the southbound lane, in order to back into a farm drive on the east side of road. He got out of the semi tractor to examine the roadway in order to confirm the trailer would fit into the opening of the driveway.

The other semi, registered to Cory Kiddoo Trucking, was southbound on K Avenue, and was unable to stop after seeing the road way blocked. The driver, Kiel S. Davis, of Creston, tried to avoid hitting the trailer of the stopped semi, and entered the northbound lane while traveling southbound, but was unable to avoid the collision. Damage from the crash amounted to $27,000. Ebel was cited for stopping on the traveled portion of an unpaved highway.

Farmers blame Trump for biofuels rule they view as betrayal

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 16th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Farmers and biofuel industry officials are reacting angrily to a rule released by the Environmental Protection Agency that they say doesn’t uphold a promise President Donald Trump made to fulfill the intent of an ethanol law passed by Congress.

The Trump administration announced Oct. 4 plans to implement a rule requiring oil refineries to replace the ethanol gallons lost through exemptions the EPA has granted to small oil refineries.

The deal farmers say Trump agreed to would add about 1.3 billion gallons (2.5 billion imperial gallons) of waived ethanol back into the fuel supply next year. On Tuesday, the EPA released the proposed rule that would use a different calculation biofuels groups say would replace only 770 million gallons (641 million imperial gallons).

An EPA spokesman says the rule reflects the negotiated agreement.

Iowa man finds 5 inches of animal blood flooding basement

News

October 16th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

BAGLEY, Iowa (AP) — Blood may be thicker than water, but it’ll still flood your basement. Nick Lestina found this out the hard way two weeks ago when he discovered 5 inches of blood, fat and other animal tissue flooding his family’s basement in Bagley, which is about 45 miles northwest of Des Moines. He told the Des Moines Register that he hasn’t been able to clean it up because it’s still seeping in.

The waste is coming from a neighboring meat locker, where blood and tissue from slaughtered animals was washed down a drain. Officials say a clog or break in the pipe sent the waste into Lestina’s basement through a floor drain.

A state environmental specialist traced the waste to Dahl’s Custom Meat Locker and says the company is now pumping its into a large tank. The Lestina family has temporarily moved in with a relative.

Mills County Sheriff’s report (10/16)

News

October 16th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

Two people were arrested Tuesday on separate charges, in Mills County. The Sheriff’s Dept. reports 50-year old Cindy Lou Hammermeister, of Council Bluffs, was arrested at the Pottawattamie County Jail, on a Mills County warrant for Violation of Probation. Her bond was set at $10,000. And 32-year old Danielle Jean Frazier, of Glenwood, was arrested on a warrant for Failure To Appear. Her bond was set at $500.

UPDATE: 3 vehicles involved in Highway 6 crash near Council Bluffs – 7 injured

News

October 16th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

(In an update to our earlier reports) The Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office today (Wednesday), said deputies and emergency crews were dispatched at around 7:34-a.m.,to the area of Highway 6 and Sunnydale Road for a motor vehicle accident involving a concrete truck and a Southwest Iowa Planning Council (SWIPCO) transport vehicle. When deputies arrived, they determined three vehicles were involved in the accident.

An investigation determined that 66-year old Bernard Morrison, of Crescent, was westbound on Highway 6 near the intersection of Sunnydale Road, in a 2018 Champion Defender transport vehicle with eight passengers. The vehicle was registered to the Southwest Iowa Planning Council, based in Atlantic.

40-year old Luke Andrle of Omaha, NE., was eastbound on Highway 6 near the intersection of Sunnydale Road in a 2015 Kenworth cement truck owned by Consolidated Concrete LLC, of Omaha, NE. 58-year old Scott Peterson, of Eden Prairie, MN. was eastbound on Highway 6 near the intersection of Sunnydale Road in a 2017 Ford Fusion.

A preliminary investigation indicates that SWIPCO bus crossed the center line and struck the cement truck, which in-turn, hit the SUV. As a result of the collision, six passengers in the bus were transported to area hospitals. Luke Andrle was transported to the hospital as well. None of the injuries are believed to be life threatening. The motor vehicle accident remains under investigation.

Sexual harassment findings increase in Iowa executive branch

News

October 16th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The number of known cases of sexual harassment committed by employees in Iowa’s executive branch spiked last year after responsibility for conducting  investigations was shifted to a central agency. The increase may be welcome news for advocates for sexual harassment victims, who had expressed disappointment at the state’s handling of the issue in the past. Department of Administrative Services spokeswoman Tami Wiencek said the agency concluded there were 10 founded complaints of sexual harassment in the last fiscal year that ended June 30. The agency told lawmakers earlier this year that it knew of only three founded sexual harassment complaints in the prior three fiscal years combined.

The department now has responsibility for the investigation of all sexual harassment complaints involving the executive branch’s roughly 16,000 full-time employees. Before last year, it only assisted in investigations if other agencies requested help. The recent investigations confirmed allegations of unwanted touching of co-workers, sexual comments and jokes and other inappropriate behaviors. Multiple employees, including workers from the Department of Transportation, the Department of Human Services and the Department of Revenue, were dismissed as a result.

Multi-million-dollar settlements of earlier cases prompted calls for the state to overhaul its procedures for handling complaints and investigations. The state paid $4.15 million earlier this year to two women who had been sexually harassed by the director of the Iowa Finance Authority, Dave Jamison. An investigation found that for years nobody reported his behavior , in part because it was unclear who would investigate an agency director. The case was politically sensitive for Gov. Kim Reynolds, a longtime friend, who abruptly fired Jamison after one of the women complained to her office. The governor has pursued a zero-tolerance approach toward workplace sexual harassment and the new rules make clear that supervisors who are aware of misconduct but don’t report it can also be fired.

Details of complaints and investigations are confidential under the rules to protect the privacy of complainants. But some of the cases have become public after fired employees appealed their terminations to the Public Employment Relations Board. At least four have argued that the state’s crackdown has gone too far, complaining that investigations were not conducted fairly and the punishments were too harsh. Among those fired was a Department of Revenue agent accused of unwanted touching and asking co-workers a “question of the week” that often had sexual overtones, and a prison worker accused of improperly grabbing colleagues.

The board will consider their requests to be reinstated with back pay. In July, the board ordered the reinstatement of a Department of Human Services worker fired for texting an unwanted photo of a penis to a female state vendor, ruling that a suspension was a more appropriate punishment. State lawyers are appealing that ruling in court.

Two Men Sentenced in Pott. County to Prison on Child Pornography Charges

News

October 16th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – Two men who had earlier pleaded guilty, were sentenced on child pornography charges today (Wednesday), in Pottawattamie County U-S District Court. 39-year old Brian Lee Rhodes and 46-year old Jeremy Eugene Jameson, were sentenced to 30-years in prison, on each of three counts of Coercion and Enticement of a Minor, and 20 years in prison for one count of Distribution of Child Pornography. The sentences will run concurrently.

Rhodes’ imprisonment will be followed by a term of supervised release of 15 years for each count, also to run concurrently. Jameson was sentenced to 35 months in prison, to be followed by a term of supervised release of five years for Access with Intent to View Child Pornography. In March of 2018, a concerned parent made a report to the Creston Police Department regarding an inappropriate conversation she found on her 11 year-old daughter’s Facebook account with Rhodes. During a search of Facebook accounts created by Rhodes, officers located conversations with other minors in which Rhodes asked the minors to send him inappropriate images and videos.

The Douglas County Nebraska Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation also received a tip from Facebook that Rhodes, through a fraudulent Facebook account, sent Jameson an image of child pornography. The case was investigated by the Creston Police Department, Atlantic Police Department, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation – Internet Crimes Against Children Unit and the Douglas County Nebraska Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.