Iowa picnic in California may draw bigger crowd


July 31st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Organizers of the annual Iowa by the Sea Picnic in California say they have stepped up their organizing efforts and expect a bigger crowd this year. The picnic began in 1900 in Pasadena and at one time drew more than 100,000 transplanted Iowans and their families. From the 1940s through the 1960s, Iowa governors and celebrities with Iowa roots often attended.

The Sioux City Journal reports attendance dwindled over time, and last year only about 70 people gathered. Retired Navy and Cedar Rapids native Cmdr. Don Swenson is working to change that. He helped create a picnic website and encouraged university alumni groups to send information to graduates living in California.

Swenson estimates 200 people will attend the picnic Saturday near the battleship USS Iowa in San Pedro.

AP source: Lackey traded from Red Sox to Cards


July 31st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

BOSTON (AP) – The Boston Red Sox have traded right-hander John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-hander Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig before Thursday’s deadline, a person with knowledge of the deal said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because neither club announced the trade.

Earlier, the Red Sox sent their top starter, left-hander Jon Lester, to the Oakland Athletics with outfielder Jonny Gomes and cash for slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and a 2015 draft pick. Lackey was 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA as the No. 2 starter in Boston’s rotation.

Kelly is 2-2 with a 4.37 ERA in seven starts. He has made four starts since being activated from the disabled list on July 11. Craig is batting .237 with seven homers and 44 RBIs.

EPC to consider CAFO rules at Aug. 19th meeting in Des Moines

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 31st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES – The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission will consider adopting rules for concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) at its Aug. 19 meeting. Commissioners moved the meeting to the Wallace State Office Building Auditorium, 502 E. Ninth St., Des Moines.

If adopted, the rules will incorporate by reference the federal rules that require CAFOs to comply with national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permits. The Iowa Legislature directed adopting the federal rules. Adoption was also a condition of a work plan agreement signed between the DNR and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Sept.11, 2013.

The federal rules require confinement feeding operations that are CAFOs and discharge to waters of the U.S. to seek an NPDES permit. Generally, confinements are animal feeding operations that are totally roofed. The U.S. EPA defines a large CAFO as one that confines at least 1,000 cattle or cow/calf pairs, 700 mature dairy cattle, 2,500 finishing swine or 55,000 turkeys.

In other business, commissioners will be asked to approve contracts for watershed projects, statewide groundwater analysis and a food waste study.

The meeting begins at 10 a.m. with public comments to follow. The meeting is open to the public.

IA Court upholds murder conviction of a Mills County man


July 31st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Court of Appeals has affirmed the first-degree murder conviction of 38-year old Jason Curtis, from Glenwood. The Daily NonPareil reports the Des Moines-based court denied an appeal of the conviction by Curtis, who was convicted after a jury trial in February of 2013 in connection with the death of his 5-month-old son.

Curtis’ son, Jackson, died July 14, 2011, as a result of head injuries at the family’s Glenwood home. In September of 2013, Fourth District Court Judge Mark Eveloff sentenced Curtis to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Curtis appealed, leading to Wednesday’s decision. Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber says he expects Curtis will seek to have the Appeal Court’s decision overturned.

W. Iowa park reopens after extensive restoration


July 31st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

MISSOURI VALLEY, Iowa (AP) – A western Iowa state park has reopened after three years of work to repair and improve the park after devastating flooding in 2011. The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil reports the Wilson Island State Recreation Area near Missouri Valley will reopen Monday morning.

The state spent about $3 million to clean up and rebuild the park, which was damaged during months of flooding by the Missouri River.  The work included eliminating many flood-prone sites, changing the “first-to-flood” sites to nonelectric, and bringing electricity to other sites. The park also has a new shower house, two new dump stations, two new picnic shelters and a new park office.

The reopening was delayed by a June 3 storm that slammed the park with 4 inches of rain, high winds and baseball-sized hail.

Improvements made to Cold Springs State Park


July 31st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Visitors to Cold Springs State Park near Lewis will find it a little easier to get around these days. In his quarterly update, Cass County Conservation Director Micah Lee reported to the Board of Supervisors during their meeting this (Thursday) morning, that the south driveway was graded this past Spring, and the gravel road opened. He says the park has been getting a lot of use. New signs indicating a one-way direction of travel were installed. Other signs have been ordered that will be placed along the highway, informing people the south access road is available. When they arrive, Cass County Secondary Road Department crews will install them.cold

Lee says they’ve already received several compliments on the new road. He said the plan for this fiscal year is to continue to upgrade the camping site electrical outlets to 50-amps, which should help to draw more visitors. He said the current outlets aren’t capable of handling the needs of camper air conditioning units. That caused the breaker switches to pop on the older, voltage boxes.

Micah said also badgers have been creating problems on the sub-surface along T-Bone Trail, but the Conservation Department is battling the feisty little critters.  He said badgers chase the ground squirrels and cause damage to the trail bed trying to get to them. The department has been working at filling-in cave-in’s on the trail bed with concrete, but they might have to find another way of attacking the problem in the future.

In other business, the Supervisors approved the purchase from the Schneider Corporation, of “Ripple,” a tool that allows the Assessor and GIS office to cross-check public records systems, thereby improving the accuracy of the data in each system, and it’s hoped, better manage property information. The program costs $6,000 ($4,500 for the program, plus $1,500 for a set-up fee), and $1,125 every year thereafter for maintenance and updates.

Atlantic City Council to hear Loan Recommendation


July 31st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council August 6th, will consider and possibly act on a recommendation by the City’s Personnel and Finance Committee, with regard to a loan agreement with a local investor who looks to build a new apartment building near the Cass County Memorial Hospital. The Committee, comprised of Council Persons Kathy Somers, Chris Jimerson, Dana Halder, Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones and John Lund, Assistant to City Administrator Doug Harris, met Wednesday evening with Pat McCurdy, of McCurdy Investments.

Pat McCurdy (Center), Kathy Somers (on his left), Dana Halder (far right); John Lund (left front). Ric Hanson/photo.

Pat McCurdy (Center), Kathy Somers (on his left), Dana Halder (far right); John Lund (left front). Ric Hanson/photo.

During the meeting at City Hall, McCurdy said he was seeking a $300,000 loan from the city as a means of “Gap financing,” to secure a bigger, federal loan package for a $2.1-million dollar project featuring a 24-unit, three-level apartment building just north of the current Walnut Hill Terrace Apartments, at 1300 E. 10th Street.

The Federal Government provides a majority of the loan on “Very favorable terms,” according to McCurdy. The funds are administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, and locally, through the Southwest Iowa Planning Council (SWIPCO). McCurdy said unlike other local developers, he’s not coming to the City asking for all kinds of incentives. He says he doesn’t want a TIF – Tax Increment Financing. He requested a $300,000 loan for two-years that he would pay, with a reasonable interest rate.

He said “In the end, it should be revenue-neutral for the City.” McCurdy said a similarly funded project worked well in Woodbine, and therefore concluded it would work in Atlantic. The structure would be ADA – Americans With Disabilities Act – compatible. The apartments will feature energy efficient appliances and be constructed with energy efficiency in mind.

The plan calls for 12 two-bedroom and 12 one-bedroom apartments, 14 of which would be reserved for low-to-moderate income persons, the rest of which would rent for “market rate,” which McCurdy says would be $600 on the 925-square foot two-bedroom apartments, and $550 on the 735-square foot one-bedroom apartments. There would be a laundry room on each floor, with the lower floor accessible for persons with handicaps. It’s hoped the new apartment complex will lure young professionals and others to Atlantic, some of whom commute a couple of hours to work in Atlantic.

While McCurdy had asked for a $300,000 loan at 4.2% interest, the Committee thought he would score better on his application to the government and get the project approved, by recommending the full City Council approve a $400,000 loan at 4-percent interest. If the application is approved, construction could begin next Spring.

Backyard and Beyond 07-31-2014

Backyard and Beyond, Podcasts

July 31st, 2014 by Chris Parks

Lavon Eblen speaks with Denise O’Brien with Rolling Acres Farm about a Practical Farmers of Iowa Field Day this Sunday at her farm.


Woman wrecks car while plugging-in cell charger


July 31st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A Clarinda woman had a wild ride after losing control of her car when she took her eyes off the road for a brief moment. Page County Sheriff Lyle Palmer reports authorities received a call at around 2:35-a.m. Wednesday, with regard to a single-vehicle accident at the intersection of 180th and Redwood Avenue, about a mile north of Clarinda.

Deputies spoke with the driver, 37-year old Neeli Rae Eickemeyer, of Clarinda, who told them that as she was plugging her cell phone into the charger, her 2006 Audi drifted onto the shoulder and across the roadway at the 180th intersection. The car crashed through a guard railing and became airborne for approximately fifty feet before hitting the ground and proceeding down a steep embankment.

The vehicle then went front end first into the creek, overturned onto its top and came to rest upside down with the front of the car partially submerged in water. Eickemeyer said that it took her some time to get out of the vehicle and to a residence to call for help. She was taken to Clarinda Regional Health Center for undisclosed injuries by Clarinda Ambulance Service.

The accident remains under investigation with charges pending. The Page County Sheriff’s Office was assisted at the scene by the Clarinda Fire Department and the Clarinda Ambulance Service.

Riverboat casino ends operation in Sioux City


July 31st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – After fighting for months to remain open, Sioux City’s floating casino has ended two decades of legalized gambling on the Missouri River. The Sioux City Journal reports the Argosy Sioux City closed with little ceremony Wednesday. A female voice announced over the public address system, “Attention, the Argosy Casino is closed.”

The closure followed an Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission order requiring the Argosy to cease operation because it wasn’t partnered with a state-licensed local nonprofit group, as required by state law.

Argosy fought the order but last week the Iowa Supreme Court ruled the casino needed to close.

On Friday morning the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City will open in the city’s downtown.