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Officials hope for a safer year on Iowa’s waterways


May 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Many Iowans are spending the Memorial Day holiday on the water and Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials are hoping this boating season is a safer one than last year. Susan Stocker is the DNR’s boating law administrator and education coordinator. She says there were 32 boating “incidents” in Iowa in 2014 with seven fatalities. There have already been two fatal boating mishaps this year and one occurred this weekend.

Lake Okoboji in NW Iowa (File photo)

Lake Okoboji in NW Iowa (File photo)

An Oskaloosa man was killed on Saturday when the boat he was operating overturned, throwing him and a passenger into Rathbun Lake. Fifty-year-old Gregory Williams was pronounced dead at Mercy Medical Center in Centerville. The passenger was not seriously injured. Investigators say the boat rolled after making a sharp turn. Rough water caused by windy conditions may’ve contributed to the incident. On April 11, a Waldorf College student died when his small kayak overturned in a waterway in Hancock County.

National statistics show more than 8 out of 10 people who die from drowning in a boating accident were not wearing a life jacket. Stocker says even people who consider themselves to be a good swimmer should wear a life jacket. “When you’re in car, you don’t expect to get in a car accident, so we all wear our seatbelts because it’s required. In a boat, you don’t expect to get in a boating accident, but just like in a car, you won’t have time to put on a life jacket…and if you’re unconscious, you’ve got nothing,” Stocker says.

Iowa law requires children who are 12-and-under to wear a life jacket while the boat is in operation. Stocker says boating while intoxicated (BWI) arrests have been steadily declining in Iowa since 2011 when lawmakers lowered the legal limit for drunk boating to a blood-alcohol level of point-oh-eight (.08). “What we’re finding is people do have a designated driver,” Stocker says.

According to Stocker, a person’s senses and judgment are impacted even greater when they’re on a boat and drinking alcohol. “In a boat, you’ve got the wind, the waves and the glare…and the effects of one beer or one alcoholic beverage you might have on land is going to be double or triple when you’re on the water,” Stocker says. Nationally, alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. It’s listed as the leading factor in nearly one-fourth of deaths in boat crashes.

(Radio Iowa)

1 boater rescued, another missing near Burlington


May 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa DNR said late Sunday evening one boater was rescued, but another is missing, after the small jon boat they were in went over the roller dam at Lock and Dam 18 near Burlington. The one boater was in the water holding a log in the Mississippi River when he was rescued by Iowa Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Officer Paul Kay late Sunday afternoon.

The search for the other missing occupant of the boat will continue on Monday when
there is daylight. The names of the boaters were being withheld pending notification of relatives. The incident remains under investigation by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Des Moines County Sheriff’s Department.

Iowa early News Headlines: Memorial Day (Mon., May 25th 2015)


May 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

SIBLEY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa farmers who have been dealing with thousands of dead chickens attracting flies for weeks are frustrated with the government’s response to the ongoing bird flu outbreak. The Des Moines Register reports several chicken and turkey farmers expressed their concerns at public meetings in northwest Iowa Saturday. Merlin DeGroot says he’s waiting for government crews to dispose of his dead chickens, but the agencies involved haven’t coordinated plans well.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — As budget talks drag on in the state Capitol, educators are growing increasingly frustrated. School funding has been a central point of conflict throughout the legislative session, with the Democratic-led Senate seeking to provide more new dollars than the Republican-controlled House for the 2015 to 2016 academic year. The two sides are about $50 million apart on funding.

LE MARS, Iowa (AP) — Former Texas Governor Rick Perry is working his way through small-town Iowa one handshake, bear hug and backslap at a time. The early, hands-on approach from the 2016 presidential prospect contrasts with his failed bid four years ago, when he entered the Republican race relatively late and stumbled in debates.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Council Bluffs have arrested a man after the stolen car he was driving smashed into parked cars and a house. KETV reports the incident happened around 4:30 a.m. Sunday in Council Bluffs. Police say a 22-year-old man’s vehicle hit an oncoming minivan and two parked cars before striking a house.

Some Iowa farmers upset with government’s bird flu response

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

SIBLEY, Iowa (AP) – Iowa farmers who have been dealing with thousands of dead chickens attracting flies for weeks are frustrated with the government’s response to the ongoing bird flu outbreak. The Des Moines Register reports several chicken and turkey farmers expressed their concerns at public meetings in northwest Iowa Saturday.

Merlin DeGroot says he’s waiting for government crews to dispose of his dead chickens, but the agencies involved haven’t coordinated plans well. Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says the size of the bird flu outbreak is unprecedented and the government is working to respond.

More than 25 million chickens, turkeys and ducks have been killed in Iowa, and it has taken time to find places to dispose of their carcasses. Two landfills in the state recently agreed to take birds.

McCain, Ernst, et al. to travel to Vietnam & Singapore this week


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will lead a Senate delegation visit to Vietnam and Singapore this week at a critical time for U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific region. The delegation visiting Vietnam, which is marking the 20th anniversary of the normalization of relations with the United States – an effort in which Senator McCain played a leading role – will include Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK). In Singapore, the delegation will be joined by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

In Vietnam, senators will meet with top government officials and civil society leaders in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to discuss a range of vital security and economic issues. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam and the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.

In Singapore, senators will participate in the The Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual conclave of Asia-Pacific defense ministers and policy makers, including U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

4 escape serious injury after going over spillway in eastern IA


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

MUSCATINE – Four people escaped serious injury when the boat they were in went over the spillway at Lock and Dam 16 near Muscatine late Saturday evening. Officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said Sunday, the fiberglass runabout boat being operated by 41-year old Kevin Mundt, of Orion, Ill., went over the spillway shortly before 11- p.m. on Saturday at a high rate of speed landing in about two feet of water. Both Mundt and 20-year old Jenna Bundy, also of Orion, Ill., were transported to Trinity Hospital in Muscatine where they were treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The other passengers in the boat, 31-year old Daniel Dick, 31, and 33-year old Amanda Dick, both of LeClaire, were ejected from the boat, but uninjured. None of the occupants of the boat were wearing life jackets at the time of the incident, but did put them on before swimming and wading to shore.

The incident remains under investigation by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Atlantic Police Chief: Lock your homes & cars (re: burglaries)


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Police Chief Steve Green, Sunday afternoon, issued a statement to the media with regard to a set of burglaries that occurred early Sunday morning in the vicinity of 9th and Birch Streets. Green said “Atlantic Police would like to encourage citizens to lock their cars and houses.”

Green said “While Atlantic enjoys an unusually low rate of crimes of this type, the recent incidents are a reminder that all citizens should observe common security measures.” About 10 days ago, Green says there were a number of unlocked cars entered, and items stolen. A number of local juveniles are currently being investigated for the offenses, however, according to the Chief, “The case is not complete, so no further details will be released at this time.”

Green says “One of the best defenses against theft and burglary is the common door lock, couple with the neighborly act of reporting anything unusual or suspicious in your neighborhood. Citizens do not need to be alarmed by these occurrences” according to Green, but rather this is “A call to be observant, and practice what should be normal, daily security measures.”

Stolen vehicle crashed into 3 vehicles & a house in C. Bluffs Sunday morning


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The driver of a stolen vehicle was injured and faces numerous charges after the suspect crashed the vehicle into a total of three vehicles and a house in Council Bluffs early this (Sunday) morning. According to Bluffs Police, 22-year old Mark E. Wilke, Jr., suffered minor injuries during the crash and was transported to Jennie Edmundson Hospital for treatment. When he’s released, he’ll be arrested for Reckless Driving, Theft in the 1st degree of  a stolen vehicle, and OWI.

Police and Council Bluffs Fire and Rescue Personnel were called to the area of the 3500 block of Avenue A at around 4:25-a.m., after they received word a vehicle hit a house at 3515 Avenue A. The vehicle, owned by Terry Hanson, of Council Bluffs, was damaged when it hit two parked vehicles and the home of Scott Mohr, of Council Bluffs. The vehicle was located in the intersection of Avenue A and 35th Street.

Police say the suspect vehicle was apparently traveling at a high rate of speed on Avenue A westbound. At the intersection of 35th Street and Avenue A, it collided with a mini-van before continuing west and hitting the two parked vehicles in front of 3511 Avenue A and then hitting Mohr’s home.

Upon further investigation, it was determined the suspect vehicle was stolen out of Treynor, and that Hanson didn’t know it was missing. A City of Council Bluffs building inspector was called to check the structural stability of the home.

SW IA educators receive Outstanding Teacher Awards


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Four teachers in southwest Iowa were recognized recently by the Charles E. Lakin Outstanding Teacher Awards. According to the Daily NonPareil, Joy Best, who teaches fifth grade at AHST in Avoca, and Rhesa Leiding, who teaches sixth through eighth grade social studies at Nishnabotna Middle School in Hamburg, both won the award. They received $10,000 as well as earning $2,500 for their respective schools.

Paul Hart, band instructor at Tri-Center High School, was named as runner-up and received $5,000. A fourth teacher, Cynthia Bachman, an elementary art teacher and counselor at Corning Elementary School, was inadvertently omitted from a previous article in The Daily Nonpareil. She was also a runner-up, earning a $5,000 prize from the awards.

This year, the Lakin awards surpassed $200,000 given to educators who live within a 40-mile radius of Emerson, which is Lakin’s hometown. Teachers in Council Bluffs aren’t eligible but are recognized by a different program. Last Thursday, the Atlantic Rotary Club presented its Outstanding Teacher Award to Schuler Elementary School 5th Grade teacher DeLana Harris.

Hamburg District among Iowa schools to select a new Superintendent


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Hamburg has joined the list of southwest and western Iowa school districts that will have a new superintendent this year, while Red Oak hopes to announce its selection for a new superintendent on Wednesday evening. According to the Daily NonPareil, Terry Kenealy announced this past week that he would step down as superintendent so he can take a similar job at Odebolt-Arthur and Battle Creek-Ida Grove community school districts.

Kenealy was hired by Hamburg last May after the school board voted not to renew its contract with Jay Lutt, who was a shared superintendent with Farragut. Members of the Hamburg school board will meet Tuesday at 10 a.m. to accept Kenealy’s resignation and release him from his 2015-16 contract. The board will also discuss finding a replacement superintendent and principal for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade at that special meeting.

The Odebolt-Arthur & B-C-I-G schools in Ida Grove recently conducted a superintendent search as well, with one of the three unsuccessful candidates being Tom Messinger, who is one of two finalists to be superintendent of the Red Oak Community School District. He also was a named finalist last month in a superintendent search in Osage.

Messinger is the principal of Burlington High School, where he has been for the past 11 years. He grew up in Casey on the Adair-Guthrie county line. The other Red Oak finalist is Debra Rodenburg, who is the director of elementary curriculum and Title I for the Papillion-La Vista School District in Papillion, Neb. She was an elementary teacher in Nebraska for 10 years as well as a former principal of West Elementary School in Glenwood.

Red Oak plans to conduct interviews early this week, with a “probable vote” listed on the agenda following a dinner and interview with Rodenburg during a special meeting of the school board on Wednesday evening. In addition to Hamburg and Red Oak, Shenandoah also recently hired Kerri Nelson as its new superintendent after firing its previous superintendent during a fraud inquiry that was initially disputed and then dropped.