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Iowa school officials react to NRA call for armed cop in every school


December 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The president of the National Rifle Association on Friday, called on congress to spend the money so every American school has an armed cop on school grounds. Iowa Association of School Boards executive director Tom Downs says many Iowa schools have a school “resource officer” already. “In the district I just recently left not only did we have an officer in uniform, armed — we had his squad car in front of the building every day that we had kids there,” Downs says. “We wanted people to know: ‘There’s an officer in the building at this time.’” Downs was superintendent of Southeast Polk schools before he retired and became the leader of the school board association.

“I think there’s strong indication of support of school resource officers,” Downs says. “I think that heightened security; that command presence, if you will; that show-of-force can’t be underestimated in providing a safe environment.” Jon Thompson, the superintendent of Aplington-Parkersburg schools, was the school’s leader when A-P football coach Ed Thomas was shot to death on school grounds by a former student. Three and a half years later, some students are still traumatized. “We had a young man this year who was having reflections and bad times and that’s the importance of the guidance counselor, the at-risk staff to identify that and to meet with them,” Thompson says. “It’s recurring. We never know when. We still have college students who are calling back (to Aplington-Parkersburg High School) who are still having emotions and reactions to that — and it’s a long term event.”

He says schools need some flexibility to use general state taxpayer support to pay the salaries of a variety of professionals, from cops in the school to people who can counsel students dealing with emotional problems. In the wake of the mass murders at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, some have suggested teachers and administrations should start carrying guns. Aplington-Parkersburg’s superintendent says he’s never even gone hunting.  “I’m totally against that,” Thompson says. “I just think it would lead to more problems than it would solve.” The executive director of the Iowa Association of School Boards is “hugely opposed” to any effort to arm educators.

“I would see two outcomes of that,” Downs says. “Number one, there would be more school shootings and number two, there would be more dead teachers. Teachers focus on instruction. They’re trained as educators. They’re not trained as law enforcement people. To have more guns in a school, whether they’re in purses or on the waists’ of adults, I don’t believe is in the best interest of securing schools.” Downs and Thompson made their comments today (Friday) during taping of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program. At the close of the program, the Aplington-Parkersburg superintendent offered this advice to the people of Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

“You do recover. As hard as that is to see at the time, it is going to happen and things will turn bright again — maybe not for those 20 families, but for the larger community for sure and it is a time-consuming process. There’s no hasty about a recovery and that’s being aware of trauma that can develop later,” Thompson said. “Stay the course, stay together and you can actually be stronger afterwards.” The “Iowa Press” program airs Friday at 7:30-p.m. and again on Sunday at noon, on Iowa Public Television.

(Radio Iowa)

SW Iowa mental health expert says gun control debate is only half the issue


December 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Debates about gun control continue after the elementary school shootings one week ago, but an Iowa psychiatrist says the debate also needs to include mental health. Dr. Walter Duffy is the founder and CEO of Premier Psychiatric in Shenandoah. Dr. Duffy says we first need to overcome the stigma about those needing mental health care. There’s another challenge, too. “Access is a difficult issue in various places because there’s not enough mental health providers to go around,” Duffy says. “Especially in the Midwest, psychiatry is very depleted, especially if you talk about child and adolescent psychiatry services.”

Duffy says even where service is available, there can be another obstacle — the willingness of a person to get the help they need. “If you do not have people onboard with wanting to obtain services, it’s very difficult in this country to make somebody take services,” Duffy says. “If you look at, like emergency protective custody where the courts take over and say you have to receive services. That’s only for people nowadays who are acutely suicidal or acutely homicidal.”

Duffy says one of the goals of his practice is to provide service to rural areas where services may not be readily available. “We also do tele-health where we go out to rural communities,” Duffy says. “I don’t like it that people have to drive two hours to see us here. I grew up in a farming community. People need the services where they are and there’s a lot of things like tele-health and other technologies going forward where we can make some big in-roads in that area.” Premier Psychiatric offers tele-health services in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. He says they hope to expand in 2013 to reach additional rural areas.

(Radio Iowa)

Wall Lake couple admit to four bank robberies


December 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A Wall Lake couple has admitted to four bank robberies. Court information shows that 48-year-old Jeffrey Alan Schoon and 40-year-old Roxena Lee Schoon pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank robberies, and Jeffrey pled guilty to four counts of bank robbery and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a conspiracy. The information shows the Schoons robbed the Iowa State Bank in Odebolt on December 29 2011, on January 11, 2012, they robbed the Citizens First National Bank in Early, on January 28, 2012, they robbed the Westside State Bank in Vail. And finally, on March 23, 2012, they robbed the Heritage Bank in Lytton. All the banks were within 20 miles of their home in Wall Lake. Jefferey Schoon admitted to carrying guns and a Molotov Cocktail during the robberies. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

(Radio Iowa)

Lenox teen arrested on 2 charges, including Animal Cruelty


December 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Lenox Police Department reports the arrest Thursday evening of 18-year old Brandon Brown. Brown, who’s from Lenox, was taken into custody on a Taylor County warrant for Criminal Mischief and Animal Cruelty. He was transported to the Taylor County Jail and left in their custody. No other details with regard to the charges were released Friday evening.

Brandon Brown (Booking photo courtesy Lenox P-D)

Council Bluffs man receives 34 month sentence for possessing a firearm as a felon


December 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The U-S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa said Friday, a Pottawattamie County man was sentenced last week in U-S District Court, to a little more than 9 1/2 months in prison, for possessing a firearm as a felon. United States District Court Judge John A. Jarvey handed down the 34-month sentence against 21-year old Justin Christopher Sneed, of Council Bluffs, on December 11th. Sneed faces 3-years of supervised release, once his term in prison is served.

The sentence was imposed to run consecutively to an undischarged term of imprisonment Sneed is currently serving in the State of Nebraska upon his April of 2012 conviction in Douglas County, Nebraska, for theft by receiving stolen property. Sneed remained in the custody of the United States Marshal pending his return to corrections authorities in the State of Nebraska or the designation of the Federal Bureau of Prisons facility at which he will serve his federal sentence.

Sneed was sentenced upon his August 6, 2012, plea of guilty to the charge of felon in possession of a firearm. The charge arose from a February 8, 2012, incident in Council Bluffs in which an officer of the Council Bluffs Police Department encountered Sneed and found him to be subject to an arrest warrant out of Nebraska. As the officer attempted to take Sneed into custody, Sneed ran from officer and, upon being caught by the officer, physically resisted arrest. Upon his arrest, Sneed was found to be in possession of a .25 caliber pistol.

In 2004, Sneed was convicted in the District Court of the State of Nebraska for Sarpy County of a felony theft.

Omaha woman sentenced in Pott. County on firearms charge


December 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A Nebraska woman was sentenced last week in Pottawattamie County, to slightly more than 9-years in prison, for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The 110-month sentence was handed down on Dec. 11th in U-S District Court, against 31-year old Janel Marie Giovannoni, of Omaha. District Court Judge John A. Jarvey ordered the woman to be placed on 3-years of supervised release once her term is served. Giovannoni remained in the custody of the United States Marshal pending designation of the Federal Bureau of Prisons facility at which she will serve her sentence.

According to the U-S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa, Giovannoni was sentenced upon her September 5, 2012, plea of guilty to the charge of felon in possession of a firearm. The charge arose from a January 4, 2012, incident in Council Bluffs in which officers of the Council Bluffs Police Department caught Giovannoni and two other persons burglarizing a motor vehicle in the parking lot of an apartment. Giovannoni was found to be in possession of a loaded 9mm pistol.

Under the terms of her federal plea agreement, Giovannoni has also entered pleas of guilty to a State of Iowa charge in Mills County for conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver methamphetamine, and in Pottawattamie County to an unrelated charge of credit card forgery. She is awaiting sentencing on the state charges.

The case against her was investigated by the Council Bluffs Police Department, the SouthWest Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force, and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Explosives and Firearms. It  was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

Grassley Nominates Iowa Students to the U.S. Service Academies


December 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Senator Chuck Grassley has nominated 39 outstanding Iowa students for consideration for appointments to the United States service academies. Grassley said Friday “The young Iowans who want to serve our country and enter the academies are remarkable for their accomplishments and leadership.  These candidates are an impressive reflection on our state and signal continued excellence in the United States armed forces.”

In southwest Iowa, nominees for the 2013-2014 school year include the following:

U.S. Air Force Academy
Nathan Dunning, of Council Bluffs, a student at St. Albert High School, and Christopher Haijsman of McClelland, a student at the Treynor High School.

West Point Military Academy
Jose Olivo, of Griswold, a student at the Griswold High School, Wilson Pingrey, of Coon Rapids, who attends the Coon Rapids-Bayard Jr.-Sr. High School, and Brendan Stephany, of Council Bluffs, who attends Council Bluffs/St. Albert High School.

U.S. Naval Academy

Kelsey Hofmann of Adel, who attends the Adel-DeSoto-Minburn High School, and Seth Horsley of Carroll, a student at the Carroll High School

Grassley has the opportunity each year as a United States senator to nominate either current or future Iowa high school graduates for a select few service academy placements.  The Air Force, West Point Military, and Naval academies all select at least one qualified student from Grassley’s nominations.  The Merchant Marine Academy makes selections in proportion to states’ representation in Congress.

Grassley said he encourages Iowa students to consider applying to more than one service academy due to the highly competitive nature of admissions.  Students interested in academy appointments should begin the application process in the spring of the junior year of high school.

Senator Tom Harkin and Iowa Representatives in the United States House of Representatives also make nominations.  The academies subsequently select students based on the number of vacancies available for the next school year.  Traditionally, the high quality of Iowa nominees results in several Iowa students being selected to attend each of the service academies.


Iowa DOT issues a road condition update


December 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – Dec. 21, 2012; 12:45 p.m. update – The Iowa Department of Transportation is reporting that road crews are out actively clearing remaining road blockages, blading off packed snow and ice, and widening areas where travel was restricted to one lane or narrow lane areas. Drivers are urged to take appropriate actions as described below.

Heavy-duty snow blowers and other equipment are being moved into areas where there are large drifts blocking the road. The Iowa DOT is also working with state and local law enforcement agencies, and towing companies to remove vehicles that are stuck in drifts or blocking the roadways.

Recovery work is being hampered by the hard snow/ice pack caused by the rain/snow mix of precipitation, vehicle travel on covered roadways, and at times the ineffectiveness of salt 12due to the drop in temperatures. The sun today will help loosen some of the snow pack and aid blading operations.

Until the snow pack is removed, travelers may encounter areas where there are clear patches of road and then snowy or icy patches. Drivers should adjust their winter driving skills accordingly by reducing speeds for conditions and adding more space between their vehicle and the ones ahead and around them.

It is imperative that persons traveling on the interstate or higher speed four-lane roadways make appropriate adjustments as the severity of a crash at higher speeds is greater, and the risk of involving other vehicles in an incident is more likely. Do not use cruise control under these conditions.

All travelers should also be aware that it is difficult for semi-tractor-trailer units to climb roadway inclines in some areas due to the icy road conditions. This means everyone sharing the road must exercise patience and be prepared to slow down when there are trucks ahead.

The Iowa DOT expects road conditions to continue to improve throughout the day, but it will be a very gradual process. Please exercise additional caution so everyone can make it to their holiday destination safely.

(Press Release – IA DOT)

Authorities looking for killer of pigs in NW Iowa

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

ROCK VALLEY, Iowa (AP) – Sioux County authorities are looking for the person or people who tampered with a hog facility’s thermostat, killing 475 pigs.  The Sioux City Journal reports that at least one person entered the hog confinement facility five miles south of Rock Valley on Wednesday and tampered with the climate control system.  That led to the death of the pigs, each weighing about 280 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office at 712-737-2280.

Iowa Nov. unemployment rate drops to 4.9 percent


December 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa’s unemployment rate has dropped below 5 percent in November for the first time in nearly four years. Iowa Workforce Development reported Friday that the unemployment rate dipped to 4.9 percent, down from 5.1 percent in October. The November rate was a decline from the 5.6 percent rate last year.  Iowa’s rate is significantly lower than the national November figure of 7.7 percent.

Workforce Development says there were 80,400 unemployed Iowans in November.