Chiefs try to rectify slow starts ahead of Denver


November 27th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – By the time the Kansas City Chiefs pushed the pause button and looked at the scoreboard on Thursday night, they were already trailing the previously winless Oakland Raiders. Not just trailing, either. They were in a 17-3 hole midway through the third quarter. They rallied down the stretch, even taking a brief lead in the fourth quarter. But a defensive collapse and their offense’s inability to go the length of the field in the closing minutes led to a humiliating 24-20 defeat, one that knocked Kansas City from first place in the AFC West.

“We wanted to start off fast and we didn’t play like that in the first half,” Chiefs linebacker Josh Mauga recalled, “and it kind of hurt us.” That may be an understatement. “We didn’t really start the way we wanted to,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith admitted. “You know, on the road, we gave them too much momentum, it felt like.”

When asked to explain the Chiefs’ slow start, running back Jamaal Charles was stumped. “I don’t know, you know? Some games are just like that,” he said. “You learn from those games. Hopefully we’ll learn from it and move on and come back next week against Denver.” Yes, the Chiefs get their bitter division rival at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday night, and with them a prime opportunity to move back into a tie atop the AFC West. But unless they are able to solve a troubling trend of slow starts, Peyton Manning and the Broncos could bury them early.

The Chiefs are 5-0 when leading at halftime. They’re 2-4 in all other games. “We come back home and then we’ve got another big division game, and we are about to handle this the right way,” Smith said. “We can regroup and get it together.” Just how do you get it together, though? How do you fix slow starts? After all, it’s not a tangible problem, something that can be fixed with playcalling alone. It doesn’t come down to personnel groups, necessarily, or the scheme for the week. Often, it involves all of those things and more.

In their opener against Tennessee, the Chiefs trailed 10-3 at halftime. They were behind 23-3 by the fourth quarter, when they finally found traction. The result was still a 26-10 loss, one that is even more frustrating now that Kansas City has clawed back into playoff contention. A few weeks ago in Buffalo, the problem popped up again. Kansas City trailed 10-3 at halftime and 13-3 after three quarters, finally coming alive when the game was coming down the stretch. The Chiefs scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, their defense shut the Bills out and the result was a confidence-building 17-13 victory. The result was better. The way the Chiefs got there was a bit disappointing.

Andy Reid has experience just about everything over the course of his coaching career, and even the Chiefs’ boss has yet to put his finger on the solution to the slow starts.  “Well, I’ve got to make sure that I dial up plays that will help us with that. If you have an opportunity then we’ve got to execute when given the opportunity,” he said. “It hits all of us and defensively the same thing. There are things you can do as a coach with play calls and then the guys have to execute; we’re all in it together that way.”

Reid shouldered much of the blame for the flop in Oakland, and admitted that “we weren’t as well coordinated as we needed to be.” But he also said the Chiefs failed to grasp the opportunities that were presented, and that responsibility falls on the players. “You’ve got to stay on and execute. That’s one area on both sides of the ball we can do better at it. We didn’t do a great job there,” Reid said. “I didn’t feel it was a letdown; the guys didn’t work hard and all that. It was one of those deals.”

One of those deals the Chiefs are trying hard to resolve by Sunday night.

Griswold woman arrested for theft of a vehicle


November 27th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reports a woman from Cass County was arrested this (Thursday) afternoon, in connection with the theft on Nov. 24th, of a 2003 Ford Escape belonging to Richard McAlpin, that was later located by the Nebraska State Patrol. 23-year old Alexandria Marie Sindt, of Griswold, was taken into custody at around 1:20-p.m.    Sindt was being held Thursday in the Montgomery County Jail on $2,000 bond.


Free citizenship curriculum available for Iowa schools


November 27th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A new public-private partnership is offering all Iowa schools new “citizenship” courses for students in Iowa middle schools and high schools. Brent Siegrist is executive director of Iowa’s nine Area Education Agencies. “This type of partnership and this type of curriculum being offered to teachers is extremely, extremely important,” Siegrist says. “This curriculum is research based. It’s been tested and it will be a real benefit to provide to teachers and students — every teacher and every student in the state of Iowa, free of cost.” The course work is all posted online.

“And there is great interest in this curriculum in other states as well as other countries,” Siegrist says. Plus, Iowa’s A-E-As have the authority to charge educational institutions outside the state of Iowa that want to use the online coursework. Character Counts Iowa, a private organization based at Drake University, helped finance the project to collect and organize the coursework for middle schools and high schools. Scott Raecker is the executive director of Character Counts Iowa.

“What’s exceptionally exciting about this particular curriculum is that these are resources that we’ve seen utilized not only in individual classroom settings, that we’ve seen in leadership development at the high school level, they’ve been embeded in community college level in degree programs at Des Moines Area Community College and we’ve seen ongoing professional development of these same resources at some of Iowa’s largest organizations: Principal Financial Group, Unity Point Health, HyVee,” Raecker says, “all using these same materials.” Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds says this citizenship course not only promotes leadership skills, it stresses the importance of working as a team.

“And shapes an intentional culture of safety, respect and engagement,” she says. Governor Terry Branstad says this coursework will help Iowa students be “truly ready” for college and the work world. “This is about educating the whole child,” Branstad says. Go to to find a link to the “personalized” learning system set up by Iowa Area Education Agencies. This citizenship curriculum is available there.

(Radio Iowa)

Ag Secretary reflects on year

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 27th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Thanksgiving is a time for farmers to look back on the harvest and review their work. Iowa Ag Secretary, Bill Northey, says there is plenty to be thankful for. “For most farmers in Iowa, we had awful good crops. We had some spots that weren’t…there’s lots and lots of fields out there that all yield different. For some of those fields, we had the best crops ever,” Northey says. “Certainly farmers are very thankful for that.” Northey says the value of the crop has changed in the last year.

“Prices now are different than they were at the beginning of the year or the end of last year, so they’ve softened up some. But the yields certainly help and that’s definitely one of the things a farmer is looking for when he plants his crop in the spring,” according to Northey. There’s also hope that the prices will see some rebound. “Sometimes we see kind of an after harvest bump. Once folks store the crop away it takes usually a better price for them to go to the bin and pull it out. They put it in the bin with the expectation of seeing a better price, and we’ll see if that does happen or not, but often we see a little bounce coming out of harvest,” Northey says.

There’ll be several new federal lawmakers in the new year and Northey says that could impact trade deals and other issues impacting farmers. “I think we have a congress that in general that would be slightly more friendly to trade in both chambers, certainly in the senate, than what it once was,” Northey says. “We are still waiting on an R-F-S, a renewable fuel standard number for 2014… I don’t know that we would expect any help out of congress for that.” Northey says with the makeup of the state legislature staying pretty much the same, he doesn’t expect to see any major legislation this year that would impact farmers.

Northey operates a farm near Spirit Lake.

(Radio Iowa)

SNAP benefits are helping more Iowa families avoid hunger

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 27th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

About 13-percent of all Iowans now put food on the table each day with the help of SNAP benefits. The latest Farm Bill is providing some 200-million dollars in grants that will be used to help those receiving SNAP benefits to find jobs — or better paying jobs. U-S Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the face of the SNAP program has changed in the last 40 years. “Today, only 7-8% of SNAP beneficiaries are cash welfare recipients,” Vilsack says. “It used to be that hardly anybody had income in SNAP. Today, 41% of households have somebody earning a paycheck of one kind or another. It’s a different mix of people. It’s a different kind of program than it was, ending the stereotypes, making sure people understand there are a lot of folks struggling.”

Almost 421-thousand Iowans receive monthly SNAP benefits, about 13-percent of the state’s population. Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, says the majority of those receiving SNAP benefits work but are under-employed or under-paid.  “Nearly three-quarters of SNAP beneficiaries are senior citizens, people with disabilities or children of moms and dads who are actually in the workforce,” Vilsack says. “Forty-one percent of SNAP beneficiaries live in households where there is income being generated by a job.” Vilsack says the grant money will be used to provide education and training, rehabilitative services for individuals in need and target hard to serve areas.

Vilsack says, “Congress in the Farm Bill basically created a fund of $200-million, said that we could use that fund to fund up to 10 pilot projects, $165-million of that 200-million will be used for actual costs and helping to create new programs and better programs and better linkages to job opportunities and 35-million will be used to evaluate those pilot projects.” Several of the pilot programs, he says, will be tested in what are considered hard-to-serve areas, including rural parts of Iowa.

(Radio Iowa)

Town hall meetings scheduled for proposed pipeline


November 27th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (AP) — Landowners that would be impacted by a proposed oil pipeline through Iowa will be able to get more information at some upcoming public meetings. The Sioux City Journal reports that the Texas-based company seeking to build the $3.8 billion pipeline will start holding informal public meetings on Monday in Northwest Iowa.

Meetings are also scheduled in the other areas the pipeline would touch. A spokesman for the Iowa Utility Board said the company must hold the meetings before seeking a permit.

Energy Transfer Partners, of Dallas, wants to build the 1,100-mile underground pipeline across Iowa and three other states. The pipeline would carry crude oil daily from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, where it could be redirected.

Spanish family celebrates first Thanksgiving


November 27th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

MONDAMIN, Iowa (AP) — A family from Spain is celebrating their first Thanksgiving in Iowa this year. The Daily Nonpareil reports that a high school teacher visiting from Valencia, Spain will carve a turkey this year in Iowa. Carmen Palmero is teaching at West Harrison High School in Mondamin as part of a program that brings Spanish teachers from Spain to the United States and Canada.

Palmero’s husband and two daughters also came to live in Iowa and her son is visiting for the holiday. Palmero is one of five teachers in Iowa through the program. She said she has applied unsuccessfully before and it has been a good experience.

Backyard and Beyond 11-27-2014

Backyard and Beyond, Podcasts

November 27th, 2014 by Chris Parks

Laovn Eblen talks about Thanksgiving sense and nonsense.


BARBARA L. NORMAN, 87, of Atlantic (Svcs. 12/1/14)


November 27th, 2014 by Mark Saylor

BARBARA L. NORMAN, 87, of Atlantic died Thursday, Nov. 27th,  at the Heritage House in Atlantic. Celebration of Life services for BARBARA NORMAN will be held 10-a.m. Mon., Dec. 1st, at the Evangelical Free Church in Atlantic. Roland Funeral Home in Atlantic has the arrangements.

Visitation is open at the funeral home from 1-to 5-pm Sat. (11/29). Online condolences may be left at

Burial will be in the Atlantic Cemetery at 9-a.m., Monday.

BARBARA NORMAN is survived by:

Her sons – Rick (Maggie) Norman, of Missoula, MT., & Dan (Betty) Norman, of Salina, KS.

Her daughters – Jo (Jack) Wagner, of Atlantic, & Kay (Dan) McCarthy, of Minnetonka, MN.

Her brothers – Dale (Marilyn) Howard, & Richard “Dick” Howard & wife Denny.

Her sister – Elizabeth King.

8 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren, her in-laws, other relatives & friends.

PHYLLIS NIELSON, 93, of Coon Rapids (Svcs. Pending)


November 27th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

PHYLLIS NIELSON, 93, of Coon Rapids, died Wed., Nov. 26th, in Carroll. Services for PHYLLIS NIELSON are currently pending at the Ohde Funeral Home in Coon Rapids.