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Denison students walk out in protest of teacher’s comment


November 19th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — Students from Denison High School in western Iowa participated in a walk out today (Tuesday) in protest of a recent incident at the school involving teacher Crystal Holt using the “n” word. More than 75 students wearing red and black gathered around the Wall of Pride monument in front of the school holding up posters and signs and chanting.

Denison High School student protest

Holt says her use of the word was not a racial slur as it was not directed at a person or an individual and the word was used to teach and help people understand the seriousness of racism in a capital punishment case. Denison High School senior, Chris Espino gave a speech during the protest as he held up a signed petition.

“We the students who have signed this petition, want a supportive educational environment for all students, educators and staff. And we stand firmly behind this belief,” Espino says. Espino called for a full evaluation from an outside organization of all issues related to diversity in the school.

“Internal investigations sweep many of the problems under the rug — allow people off the hook. We can’t let it happen this time,” Espino said. “Therefore, everyone in this petition has asked that we get a full evaluation from an outside organization of all issues relating to diversity in this school.”

Denison Superintendent Mike Pardon says they are working on the internal investigation at this time and until the investigation is finished he can not comment any further. Law enforcement along with other administration were present to monitor the protest. The protest lasted approximately 35 minutes before the students headed back to class.

Atlantic School Board welcomes new members


November 19th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic School District’s Board of Education met Tuesday evening at the High School, for what would be the last meeting of the retiring Board, and a gathering of remaining members and those newly elected. Retiring Board members included Allison Bruckner and Dr. Keith Swanson. Both were presented with plaques for their four-years on the Board.

In his departing comments, Dr. Swanson said “What I would is, when I came on the board four-years ago, it was with an extreme purpose. And the extreme purpose was to get the finances improved.  And I think I have accomplished that. I think we have a very good Superintendent, and I think Sarah [Sheeder] does an excellent job with the finances. And I think the new Board will really appreciate those (Financial) reports. Thank you very much for allowing me to serve.”

Newly elected Board members Laura McLean and Nicholas Hunt were sworn-in, with Hunt attending the meeting via video-conference from Colorado. Afterward, the new Board approved the re-appointment of Sarah Sheeder as Board Treasurer and Secretary. Josh McLaren was elected by a vote of 3-to 2, for another term as Board President, and Kristy Pellett was elected as Vice-President.

The new School Board voted to keep the regular dates of their meetings as the second Wednesday of the month, and the 10 yearly Work sessions as the fourth Wednesday of the month. They also opted to change the start time of their meetings from 5:30-p.m. to 6-p.m.

In his report to the Board, Superintendent Steve Barber said “We are very grateful to have the opportunity to offer the Aviation Curriculum produced by AOPA (The Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association).” He said also, Mrs. Sonntag, the current instructor, plans to be trained in and teach the second year curriculum in 2020-21. The district will make an application to the organization for the opportunity to train another instructor, as well.

Superintendent Barber said also, there was a Construction meeting Monday, with regard to progress on the District’s Athletic Facilities projects. During the meeting they learned construction was “A little bit behind due to whatever reason, the weather (Etc.).” If you’ve been by the baseball and softball fields, though, you may notice that a lot has been done. The District received a report on soil compaction Tuesday evening, which Barber says means they’re getting closer to setting the footings for the baseball/softball concession stand/restroom and storage building.

The goal he says is to complete demolition and get the two concession stands up yet this fall, if the pads are poured prior the frost coming out this Spring, the concession stand can be built and set-up with electrical and plumbing.

Update: Train hits semi trailer in Cass County


November 19th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

No injuries were reported after an Iowa Interstate Railroad train struck a grain trailer pulled by a semi Tuesday afternoon, in eastern Cass County. Deputy Bill Ayers told KJAN News the accident happened at the railroad crossing just south of White Pole Road on 770th Street, at around 12:50-pm

A 2012 Freightliner semi driven by 38-year old Justin Miller, of Wiota, was northbound on 770th, pulling a Wilson grain trailer loaded with about 1,000 pounds of grain.

Miller said he didn’t hear the train coming when he crossed the tracks and stopped to turn left onto Whitepole Road. As he was waiting for westbound traffic, the trailer was still partially on the tracks.

The locamotive’s  engineer saw the trailer on the tracks and slammed on the brakes one-quarter of a mile away, but the train was unable to avoid the collision.

The trailer sustained about $25,000 damage. Ayers said his guess was the engine of the train sustained at least twice that amount.

The accident remains under investigation by the Iowa Interstate Railroad. No charges have been filed through Cass County.

Shelby County Sheriff’s report (11/19)


November 19th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Shelby County report eight arrests took place over the past few weeks. Arrested on Nov. 14th, was 27-year-old Robert James Roby, of Denver, CO. Roby was arrested on an active warrant out of Sarpy County, Nebraska, for failure to appear for court date.   Roby was taken to court on Monday, November 18th, to sign extradition and will be turned over to Sarpy County Deputies for transport.

On Nov. 10th, 19-year-old Madison Nicole Moore, of Avoca, was arrested as a result of a traffic stop in Shelby County for having no license plates.  Deputies, with the assistance of K9 “Corty,” arrested Moore for possession of controlled substance, drug paraphernalia and prohibited acts.  She was released the following morning following an initial appearance before the magistrate. On. Nov. 9th, 24-year-old Matthew Cole Becker, of Shelby, was arrested following a traffic stop in Shelby.  Upon further investigation Becker was placed under arrest for operating while intoxicated 2nd offense, reckless driving, and improper registration light lamp and transferred to the Shelby County jail without incident.  He was released the following morning after posting bond.

On Nov. 8th, 61-year-old Randy Lee Sorensen, of Irwin, was arrested on a active warrant for violation of probation, and operating while under the influence.   The charge stems from an August 2019 arrest involving Sorensen after test results were returned from the Iowa DCI Lab.   Sorensen was also charged with driving under suspension. He was later released after posting the required bond. On Nov. 1st, 28-year-old Michael David Muhlbauer, of Manning, was arrested and transported to Shelby County Jail under no bond on an outstanding active warrant for violation of no contact order.   The charges stem from an incident that occurred at the protected parties place of business earlier in October.  Muhlbauer was later released after posting bond.

And, there were three arrests in Shelby County on Oct. 31st: 23-year-old Amauri Joel Olivares-Gamez, of Harlan, was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. He was also cited for having no proof of insurance. 24-year-old Marcus Tyler Morgan was arrested on active warrant for domestic abuse assault filed within the district courts.   Olivares-Gomez and Morgan were later released on their own recognizance. 41-year old Aaron Joseph Moore, of Walnut, was arrested Oct. 31st, on active warrant for violation of probation.  Moore was released Nov. 12th, after being sentenced to credit for time served in the district court of Shelby County.

Train vs. semi in Cass County Tue. afternoon – no injuries


November 19th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

A semi tractor-trailer and a train collided early this (Tuesday) afternoon in Cass County, with no injuries reported. The accident happened at around 12:50-p.m. at 770th and White Pole Road. Anita Rescue was dispatched to the scene because the driver of the semi wanted to be checked-out. The trailer was loaded with grain.

Photos courtesy Mike Kennon, Cass County EMA

The accident remains under investigation by the Cass County Sheriff’s Office. No other details were immediately available.

Harlan Police report (11/19)


November 19th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Police Department reports 24-year old Alexander Archer Foster Gorka, of Manilla, was cited following a traffic stop Saturday, for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Last Friday, 18-year old Trinity Akasha Callahan, of Harlan, was also cited following a traffic stop Saturday, for Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. And, on Nov. 14th, 42-year old Bradley Layne Carey, of Earling, was arrested following a traffic stop. Carey was transported to the Shelby County Jail, and charged with OWI.

AP Exclusive: Therapist broke rules with Iowa sex predator


November 19th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A psychologist in charge of treating Iowa’s most dangerous sex offenders violated policies by developing an improperly close relationship with a violent predator who became obsessed with her, The Associated Press has learned. Shannon Smith Sanders, who directed the treatment program at the Civil Commitment Unit for Sex Offenders in Cherokee, committed boundary violations and did special favors for the patient, according to a Sept. 16 termination letter obtained under Iowa’s open records law.

Sanders shared secrets with the patient, did not apply the institution’s rules to him and lied to protect him, the letter said. She also failed to report that the patient was having personal feelings for her. Those actions created potential security problems for the institution, which houses about 120 sexually violent predators who have been ordered by the courts to be locked up for treatment following completion of their prison terms.

The letter did not identify the patient. But attorney Jason Dunn told the AP that it was his client, Jeffrey Goodwin, who has been locked up since committing a 1988 sexual assault in Keokuk. In custody, Goodwin has a record of expressing sexually violent fantasies and threats toward female guards and assaulting other patients and staff. Dunn alleged that Sanders encouraged Goodwin, 55, to masturbate in front of her and that they watched pornography together at least once. He said Goodwin grabbed her buttocks a couple times and that they developed an “emotional affair” that included sexual discussions. He said his client frequently sent Sanders notes written in code. “She had Jeff so wound up that he was willing to kill himself or someone else if he dishonored her or someone else dishonored her,” Dunn said in an interview. “He was really going crazy.”

The Iowa Department of Human Services, which operates the program, allowed Sanders to resign in lieu of termination after a three-month investigation into the complaint, documents show. Sanders, 38, declined to comment about the investigation’s findings or Dunn’s allegations. Dunn recently asked the FBI to investigate, saying the relationship may have violated an Iowa law barring therapists from sexually exploiting their patients. He said Goodwin intends to pursue a lawsuit. The Cherokee Police Department is investigating “claims that have been brought to our attention,” according to police Chief Nate James, who declined to elaborate. Sanders may avoid other professional consequences. Psychologists who work for government agencies in Iowa are exempt from licensing requirements, which means she cannot face investigation or public discipline from the Iowa Board of Psychology.

Dunn said he fears that Sanders will not be held accountable and that she could get another job at a similar facility. Goodwin filed his complaint against Sanders in June after coming to believe that he was being manipulated by the psychologist, who told him she would deny everything to protect herself if they were caught, Dunn said. Their relationship developed this year after Goodwin returned to the program following completion of a prison sentence at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. He has been in and out of the treatment program for most of its 20-year existence. The Iowa Supreme Court in 2004 upheld a jury’s ruling that Goodwin is a sexually violent predator who needs to be committed for treatment for sexual sadism, exhibitionism and anti-social personality disorder.

The investigation revealed “boundary/security issues” that she failed to report, violating numerous program and department policies, according to the termination letter signed by DHS administrator Rick Schults. Sanders refused to sign the letter and resigned immediately. Her husband also worked for DHS at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute, which houses the treatment program. Trevor Sanders was in charge of overseeing surveillance cameras and other electronic security systems. It’s unclear whether any video of his wife’s alleged misconduct exists.

Trevor Sanders also recently left his state job, and the couple’s Cherokee home is listed for sale. Shannon Sanders would not say whether they have moved. “I don’t want anyone to know my whereabouts, for obvious reasons,” she said.

Unemployment rate inches up slightly as workforce grows


November 19th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — The state unemployment rate inched up slightly in October, as the workforce expanded. Iowa Workforce Development Deputy Director, Ryan West, says its a unique situation. “The rate for October did slightly go up from two-point-five to two-point-six percent. However, we also saw an increase of just over nine-thousand more Iowans in the workforce from September to October — 91-hundred to be exact,” West explained.

He says they change in the labor force was the biggest factor in the slight rise in unemployment. “When you have a large jump in your labor participation rate — nine-thousand-100 more folks working — and the number of your unemployed doesn’t change by that much, it’s based on proportions,” West says. “So the number of our unemployed only changed by 900. When you have those factors in place, that can adjust your rate and we think that is what happened for October.”

West isn’t exactly sure where the influx into the labor force came from. “It could be a lot of factors. The Census is going on right now, that could be a part of it. Certainly cyclically where were are it could be campaigns — you could have more people in the state of Iowa working for campaigns. You could have people switching jobs, graduating, maybe graduated in May and are now in the workforce. There’s a lot of factors that go into that,” according to West.

He says there’s occasionally bumps up in the labor force like this. “It’s one of those things that depends on where you are in the year and what’s going on during that time,” he says. West says the unseasonably cold weather didn’t seem to slow the rush of work that usually hits at the end of the year. He says traditionally in September, October and November before Thanksgiving there is usually a real push to get things done. “So the weather kind of threw us a curve ball a little bit — but not much,” West says.

The unemployment rate had been at two-point-five percent for three months before this slight move up — and prior to that it held at two-point-four percent for 12 months. West says the biggest concern still remains finding enough workers to fill available jobs. “When the unemployment rate goes down, employers need more skilled workers,” West says. “We’ve been kind of in this circle for two or three years now. I think we’ve come a long way during that time.”

West says they’ll continue with programs to improve and upgrade the skills of workers to try and fill the demand with Iowa employers.

Pott. County Sheriff’s report (11/19/19)


November 19th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

The Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office reports the arrest Monday night, of 34-year old D’Lisa Ann Ware. Ware was taken into custody for OWI/1st offense, after a deputy saw a vehicle that had earlier been described in a communications center broadcast, as swerving, speeding and driving recklessly on Highway 92 out of Treynor. The vehicle was spotted and stopped coming into Carson.

A man from Treynor was arrested Monday afternoon at the Pott. County Jail. 50-year old Richard Allen Sullivan was charged with Contempt of Court for Violation of a No Contact/Protective Order. A woman being held in the Shelby County Jail was transported to the Pottawattamie County Jail, Monday afternoon, to address a warrant. 30-year old Crystal Lynne Gardner was wanted on a warrant for Possession of A Controlled Substance/marijuana – 1st offense.

And, a Mills County Jail inmate, 27-year old Zackery David Mount-Gallet, was transported to the Pott. County Jail Monday afternoon, where he was wanted on a warrant for Violation of Probation.

Vice chair of Iowa insurance pool will depart amid scrutiny


November 19th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The longtime vice chairman of an insurance pool for Iowa municipalities will not seek re-election, following scrutiny of its travel and his arrest for domestic violence.
Gary Mahannah said earlier this year he would seek another 4-year board term on the Iowa Communities Assurance Pool, where he’s served since its formation in the 1980s. But he recently changed his mind, telling board members his departure would be “the best path forward” for a program that insures about 800 municipalities.

Voting has started among its membership to replace Mahannah as a city representative on the board. Andy Lent of Indianola and Matt Mardesen of Nevada are candidates. Two other board members, retired Sioux County auditor Lois Huitink and Lake Delhi trustee Larry Burger, are unopposed for re-election. Mahannah, 66, resigned as city administrator in Polk City in February, weeks after he was charged with misdemeanor domestic abuse for striking his wife during an argument. He pleaded guilty and received probation — but remained on the ICAP board.

Days after his arrest, Mahannah attended ICAP’s February meeting in Florida, an annual trip the board is rethinking.