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Officials: Iowa’s budget won’t prompt special session

News

September 20th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – State officials say a projected shortfall in Iowa’s roughly $7.2 billion budget has shrunk and will not require a special legislative session to fix. The Iowa Department of Management and the Iowa Department of Revenue say the state budget that ended in June has about a $13 million shortfall. That figure is much smaller than projections earlier this summer.

The announcement Wednesday means Gov. Kim Reynolds will not have to call lawmakers back to the Capitol. She has authority without legislative action to transfer up to $50 million in emergency funds to plug a budget shortfall. The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency estimated earlier this summer a possible shortfall of about $100 million. State officials say final adjustments on a range of incoming revenue shrunk the expected shortfall.

LSA tax analyst Jeff Robinson later said data does show major revenue improvements in the final months of accounting. Democrats in the Republican-majority Legislature expressed skepticism at the figures. State officials offered to meet with anyone to go over the numbers.

Cass County Auditor’s Office: We need people to run for offices in 4 towns!

News

September 20th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The deadline is quickly approaching for persons in Cass County to submit nomination papers for the Nov. 7th City Elections in Cass County, and the Auditor’s Office is putting out a plea for anyone thinking about running for office, to do so now. If you’ve ever thought about being involved in civic government, get a nomination form and the required 10 signatures, and turn it in by 5-p.m. Thursday!

The following cities are still in need of people to file to run for city office:

Anita– 2 Council positions
Cumberland– Mayor position & 2 Council Positions
Massena-Mayor Position
Wiota– 2 Council Positions

Contact Shari Karns at the Cass County Auditor’s Office, or your city clerk. They can get you the paperwork you need immediately. You can also go to the Secretary of State’s website. You only need 10 signatures to get your name on the ballot!!

Iowa Supreme Court hears $75 traffic ticket case

News

September 20th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Supreme Court has taken the unusual move of hearing a small claims case stemming from a speeding ticket. The court today (Wednesday) heard a case brought by 67-year-old Marla Leaf, who argued her constitutional rights were violated after an automated camera ticketed her for speeding on a freeway in her hometown of Cedar Rapids. It was her first speeding ticket, and Leaf says she wasn’t speeding.

Her attorney, James Larew, argued Cedar Rapids violates equal protection and due process clauses of the Iowa Constitution in part because it delegates police power to a private, for-profit company. Attorneys for Cedar Rapids say the city’s system abides by state law. After the hearing, Leaf said she pursued the case simply because, “Why should I pay for a ticket I didn’t do?” The fine for the ticket, which was issued in Feb., 2015, amounted to $75.

Leaf’s case is unusual because the Iowa Supreme Court rarely takes small claims cases. Such cases are closely watched by other communities with automated traffic equipment.

Essex-based tree service employee killed in work-related accident

News

September 20th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Officials with Essex-based Sorensen Brothers Southwest Iowa Tree Service,  Inc. said on their social media page today (Wednesday), that an employee of the company, died Tuesday in a job related accident. Keith Sorensen died during the accident that is believed to have taken place near Sidney, in Fremont County, but local authorities have not released any further information.

A statement from the company said also, “Those who had spoken to Keith and gotten bids or scheduled work, please call the Sorensen Law Office at 712-246-1924 for arrangements to have the work completed.”

CCHS announces physician resignation

News

September 20th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Officials at Cass County Health System today (Wednesday) announced the resignation of Dr. Vanessa Cook, family medicine physician.  CCHS CEO Brett Altman says Dr. Cook and her husband, Steve Brunin, will be moving her practice back to her home state of Kansas.  She has been caring for patients at CCHS since February 2010. Her last day at CCHS will be December 17th, 2017.  Altman said “It is with very mixed emotions we share this news. We are very pleased for Dr. Cook and her family for this opportunity to move closer to home. We will, however, truly miss her and appreciate her contributions to our organization. ”

Vanessa Cook, M.D.

Dr. Cook said in a statement that her “Decision to leave has been a difficult one,” and that she has enjoyed her time at CCHS, working with a great team and wonderful patients. ” I wish I could take CCHS with me!” Dr. Cook said.  “However, after my mother’s death last summer I have felt a pull to get back closer to family, which this change will allow me to do.”

Altman says CCHS has been and continues to be, actively recruiting physicians and advanced practice clinicians to ensure patients’ needs are met.  Recent additions of Dr. Ben Howard, Jessica Jackson, ARNP; Max Starlin, PA-C;  and Elisha Hardy, ARNP;  along with the 2018 addition of Dr. Autumn Keiser, will help to absorb the loss of Dr. Cook.

Frontier to offer winter flights between Omaha, Florida

News

September 20th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Frontier Airlines will offer nonstop flights from Omaha and southwest Florida this winter. The Omaha World-Herald reports the service will begin Nov. 9 and will be offered Thursdays and Sundays through Dec. 7. It will fly on Mondays and Fridays after Dec. 15th. The flight will leave Fort Myers, Florida, at 10:20 a.m. and arrive in Omaha at 12:53 p.m. It will leave Omaha at 1:50 p.m. and arrive in Fort Myers at 5:55 p.m. Frontier also flies nonstop to Denver and seasonally to Orlando International Airport.

The Wellmark Foundation awards more than $1 million in Large MATCH grants

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 20th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The Wellmark Foundation has awarded 12 Iowa organizations Matching Assets to Community Health (MATCH) grants. Organizations were able to request up to $100,000 in grant funding. To ensure community support for the grant project, communities were challenged to match this grant amount dollar-for-dollar. Each of the grant recipients submitted projects that can help individuals, families and communities achieve better health through safe and healthy environments that encourage physical activity and access to and consumption of nutritious foods.

“The Wellmark Foundation is proud to award a cumulative total of $1,020,000 to these grant recipients,” said Becky Wampler, The Wellmark Foundation executive director. “These organizations are focused on sustainable initiatives that will improve the well-being of citizens in the communities they serve for years to come.”

Among the 12 Iowa organizations that were able to successfully raise matching funds and were awarded grants, was the Dallas County Conservation Foundation, which received $90,000 for Phase 1 of the Raccoon River Valley Trail to High Trestle Trail Connector. Officials say the trail project is a significant link between two major statewide trails: the Raccoon River Valley Trail and the High Trestle Trail. The connector, which is nine miles overall, starts in Perry and follows a former railroad right-of-way to the east until it connects to 130th Street.

Police pursuit in City of Spirit Lake ends with fatal crash into the lake

News

September 20th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

A woman involved in a brief police chase in Spirit Lake has died after her vehicle wound up in East Lake Okoboji. Police say it started at about 12:30 Tuesday morning when an officer tried to pull over a vehicle. The driver didn’t stop and a pursuit began. Officers lost view of the vehicle, then found it a short time later after it had gone through a residential yard, hit a shed and wound up in the lake. The driver was taken to the hospital in Spirit Lake and was pronounced dead a short time later. Authorities say the incident is still under investigation and additional details will be released later.

(Radio Iowa)

Man to use Iowa’s new “stand your ground” defense

News

September 20th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – A man accused in a deadly shooting on Iowa City’s pedestrian mall plans to use Iowa’s new “stand your ground” law in his defense. The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports that 23-year-old Lamar Wilson is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and intimidation with a dangerous weapon in connection with an Aug. 27 shooting that killed one man and injured two others. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The state’s “stand your ground” legislation took effect July 1. It says law-abiding citizens don’t have to retreat before using deadly force if they believe they’re in danger. Court documents filed Monday show Wilson plans to also claim self-defense. Wilson is being held at the Johnson County Jail on a $1.75 million bond. His trial is scheduled for Nov. 7th.

Omaha man sentenced to prison for possession w/intent to distribute Meth

News

September 20th, 2017 by Ric Hanson

A U-S District Court Judge in Council Bluffs, Monday, sentenced a Nebraska man to six-years in prison on a drug charge. Judge Stephanie M. Rose also sentenced 52-year old John C. Gundersen Jr., of Omaha, to four years of supervised release following his incarceration, for possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute some or all of it.

Gundersen entered a guilty plea to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine on May 1, 2017. He was contacted by law enforcement at a traffic stop on June 2nd, 2016, and had active warrants for his arrest. Following his arrest, Gundersen’s vehicle was searched, during which  methamphetamine was found, which authorities say he intended to distribute to other people. They also found more than $1,000 in cash.

The Missouri Valley Police Department and Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement conducted the investigation. The case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.