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Construction to begin soon on Stanton Community Center

News

February 14th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Construction on a two-story community center in the Montgomery County community of Stanton is set to begin soon. According to the Omaha World-Herald, work on the Viking Center in Stanton will begin on or about April 1st. A non-profit group…”Stanton Friends”…has raised $3.2-million dollars through donations, to help pay for the community center, which is expected to open in December, 2013.

The facility, in a town of around 700 people, will feature a public library, a preschool, multipurpose/community room with a kitchen, a health and wellness area, gymnasium, and storm shelter. The idea for the 25,350-square foot Viking Center was formed during a community meeting in 2007. The following year, residents in the area formed the non-profit “Stanton Friends” group, to take the lead on bringing the concept to reality.

Officials say more than 400 people, businesses and foundations donated to the fundraising campaign for the multi-function building. Donations are still being accepted to develop the structure’s interior, purchase gym equipment and furnish the library.

Bill would open up more land for hunting preserves

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 14th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A bill that has passed its first step in the Iowa Senate Tuesday would allow more farmers to create game preserves on their land to boost pheasant hunting in the state. The bill allows landowners to offer hunting on as little at 40 acres of land for pheasants, quail and partridges. Senator Steve Sodders, a Democrat from State Center, says pheasant hunting has deteriorated dramatically in Iowa. “Farming has tore out trees we’re losing habitat. So, I think it’s much easier for someone with land out there to be able to find 40 acres along a certain waterway or tree line that they are not going to take out, as opposed to trying to take out a big chunk all in one spot,” Sodders says.

Current law requires landowners to have at least 320 acres of land for game preserves. Sodders says there are benefits for hunters and everyone else when the birds are released. He says the owners put the birds out in the morning before the hunt. Some of the birds are going to get away, and they’re going to hunt some of them.

Lack of habitat is one of the factors cited in the decline of pheasant numbers in the state, along with poor weather conditions that have hurt the development of young birds.

(Radio Iowa)

House Republicans push to make education reform optional

News

February 14th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Republicans in the Iowa House are scaling back Governor Terry Branstad’s education reform plan, making it optional rather than mandatory. Representative Ron Jorgensen, a Republican from Sioux City, is chairman of the House Education Committee. “I’m hoping that all of them will opt in to the program, but…some of them may be just leery of change and whether this will work or not,” Jorsensen says, “and so they may delay coming in until they see how effective it is for others.”

Branstad has proposed a “teacher leadership” plan for schools that would give bonuses to teachers chosen to serve as mentors and coaches for other teachers in their school. Branstad’s also called for raising the beginning teacher salary to 35-thousand dollars, but House Republicans favor a lower level and plan to make raising beginning teacher pay optional, too. Linda Fandel is a senior advisor to Governor Branstad on education issues. “The teacher career pathways provide such an attractive opportunity for school districts, you know, both the teacher leadership that they put in place, and the additional funding that comes with it, that school districts will want to do this,” Fandel says.

Jorgensen — a former school board member — says it’s about giving local school officials more control.  “We want to encourage everyone to come in,” Jorgensen says, “but I’d rather not mandate that they do something that they might feel that they’ve got a better system where they’re at right now.” House Republicans have settled on an optional, 32-thousand dollar beginning teacher salary.  “Percentage-wise it’s still pretty good growth,” Jorgensen says. “From $28,000 to $32,000 — so we’re still going up $4000 in salary.” But that’s a far cry from the 45-thousand dollar starting teacher salary a state task force called for this past fall.

Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City who is a retired teacher, says the G-O-P changes are disappointing. “It’s kind of obvious to me that this really isn’t a huge priority for them,” Steckman says. “…They cut a lot of the funding. They made it so it’s not mandatory.” Fandel, the governor’s education advisor, says a lot of schools already offer more than 35-thousand dollars as a starting salary for new teachers.  “I think there’ll be a lot of conversation about what’s the right starting salary,” Fandel says. House Republican leaders hope to schedule debate of education reform in the full, 100-member House next week.

(Radio Iowa)

Corps plans normal navigation season for Missouri River

News, Weather

February 14th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Despite the threat of continued drought, the U-S Army Corps of Engineers is planning on a “normal” navigation season for 2013 on the Missouri River. Bill Doan, a water engineer in the Corps’ Omaha office, says levels on the river will be low, but it will be navigable. “On March 1st, which is typically near the start of the runoff season, the basic simulation shows system storage at 48.5 million acre feet, which means that the reservoir system would start the runoff season 8.3 million acre feet below the base of the annual flood control zone, or in other words, 8.3 million acre feet below the top of the carryover multiple use zone.” Based on the water available now, Doan says the Corps expects an eight-month navigation season in the year ahead.

“We would be providing minimum service flow support to navigation for the first part of the navigation season,” Doan says. “Flows for this level of service are designed to provide an eight-feet deep by 200-feet wide navigation channel and would require Gavins Point monthly average releases ranging from 20,000 to 28,000 (cubic feet per second).” Doan says the low water now in the up-river reservoirs will definitely have an impact on hydro-electric power production.

“The forecast for 2013 energy generation, with the basic simulation, is 7.9 billion kilowatt hours,” Doan says. “With normal reservoir levels and releases, we would expect about 10 billion kilowatt hours.” River levels were exceptionally low all of last year due to the severe drought, which followed record flooding on the Missouri which lasted a large portion of 2011.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Thu., Feb. 14th 2013

News

February 14th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — House lawmakers have approved a bill giving some counties a share of $11.6 million so they continue treatment of mental health patients as the state transitions to a regional system. The bill now moves to the Senate.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Lawmakers in the state House have approved a bill designed to limit municipal liability if someone is injured sledding on city property. The measure was approved 55-45 yesterday. It was sponsored by Republican state Representative Chip Baltimore. It wouldn’t remove all liability for cities but would limit it if people were injured on city property designated for sledding. The bill will now go to the Senate.

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — More than 100 teachers in Waterloo have been asked to consider early retirement. Television station KWWL reports the Waterloo Community School District has mailed letters to 115 teachers about an incentive to retire early. A district spokeswoman says the Waterloo School Board could approve the retirement incentives as early as February 25th.

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — The mother of a 2-year-old Dubuque boy who died last year is asking a judge to let her speak with the man accused of killing him. Kylee Vandermuelen asked a judge yesterday to lift a no contact order between her and her former boyfriend, Nicholas Reed. She says she needs to communicate with Reed because she’s pregnant with his child. Reed faces first-degree murder and other charges in the November death of Bentley Randall.

Iowa man faces weapons charges in shooting of dogs

News

February 13th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Sioux City man accused of shooting and killing his two dogs faces weapons charges. Jon Holloway was charged Wednesday with reckless use of a firearm and discharging a gun within city limits. Two animal abuse charges were dismissed due to a filing error, but authorities may refile them. The Sioux City Journal reports the 51-year-old Holloway is accused of shooting the Labradors Tuesday with a rifle in his backyard. An affidavit says Holloway shot them after ordering them separately into their kennel. Police say Holloway had been arguing with his sister about the dogs being aggressive. The city’s animal control officers took the dogs. Their bodies will be examined.

Cass County Supervisors approve a bridge project and pipe materials

News

February 13th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors, Wednesday, approved bids for the replacement of a bridge, along with Stock Pipe and Project Pipe. Cass County Engineer Charles Marker said the paperwork is completed with Murphy Heavy Contracting Corporation, of Anita, and the bond established for, a bridge replacement project. The bridge (#345) is located over the Nishnabotna River on Lansing Road.  Marker said with that, they are finally in a position to completely accept the contract bid.

The bid which was approved by the Supervisors was in the amount of $963,826. Work on the bridge will begin sometime after a pre-construction conference is held on February 26th.  Marker said bids were also received last week for their maintenance and stock pipe.

Midwestern Culvert, in Ankeny, was the lowest of four bids for the supply of stock pipe, at $51,244.  And, a low bid of $58,800 for project pipe – that which is used for 23 specific projects planned for this year — was received from Metal Culverts out of Maryville, MO.  The Supervisors approved both bids.

Gas prices in Iowa jump 10-cents a gallon in a week, again

News

February 13th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Gasoline prices have taken another big leap in Iowa, rising a dime a gallon in the past week and 50 cents a gallon in the past month. Pam Moen, at Triple-A, says a jump in crude oil prices and production problems are largely to blame. Moen says, “We have a number of refineries, 10 or 12 of them across the country, that are having production outages and are tightening supplies and helping to drive prices up.” Pump prices are unlikely to head back down any time soon, she says, with many refineries getting ready to start producing summer-blends of fuels.

“Typically, during that process, our supplies are tighter than they would be otherwise and that tends to put upward pressure on prices,” Moen says. The statewide average for a gallon of gas is three-58. That’s up ten-cents a gallon in the past week and it’s up 50-cents a gallon in the past month. Iowa’s current average gas price is three-cents below the national average.

(Radio Iowa)

Indoor Cass County shooting range clears another hurdle

News

February 13th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A Massena man’s plans for an indoor shooting range along with a gun sales and service shop near Massena, have cleared another hurdle. The Cass County Board of Supervisors today (Wednesday) approved the first of two readings of an amended County Zoning Ordinance that would allow such a business to exist anywhere in the County. Prior to the Supervisor’s unanimous vote to approve the amendment, Zoning Administrator Rich Hansen updated the Board on the matter during a public hearing. Hansen says Kevin McCunn, of Massena, approached the County Planning and Zoning Commission about plans to open an indoor shooting range and gun sales/repair business.

The Zoning Board held a hearing on Jan. 24th during which McCunn explained the EPA has guidelines concerning the levels of lead in the building, and OSHA guidelines pertaining to safety. The Commission therefore believed no additional guidelines were needed to establish that type of facility. McCunn says the range would feature six indoor shooting alleys with mechanical target setting and retrieval.

The next step was to determine whether the business should fall under the classification of Business or Light Industrial District. They came to the conclusion it should be included in a business district. Also, under Business, the Commission determined the indoor shooting facility could be included under a section entitled “Recreational/Amusement activities,” such as bowling alleys, miniature golf courses, driving range, skating rinks and dance halls. He says the gun sales and repair part of the business would be included under a separate section of the amended ordinance.

The change means business owners can locate a separate open shooting range and/or a gun sales and repair shop in a rural area of the County as long as the land is zoned Business or Light Industrial. Hansen says business uses can be included in Light Industrial Districts. Prior to the Board’s vote, they heard comments from the public, all of whom were in favor of the amendment and indoor shooting range. Among those who spoke was Cass County Veteran’s Affairs Director Mitch Holmes, and Atlantic City Councilman Steve Livengood, both of whom said gun enthusiasts in the area really have no where close to practice shooting. They said the closing last year of an outdoor shooting area north of Griswold known as “Iranistan,” leaves no place for public shooting, other than in Omaha or Des Moines.

The next public hearing and vote on the amended ordinance takes place during the Supervisor’s meeting on Feb. 20th

Shelby County Leadership Program to be held in mid-March

News

February 13th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with ISU Extension in Shelby County report registrations are currently being accepted for the Shelby County Leadership 2013 program, which is designed to maximize the strengths and skills of current and future community leaders. The program entails two partial-day sessions that focus on topics such as understanding ourselves and others, dealing with conflict, understanding change, and leading effective meetings.

The sessions will be presented on two Wednesdays in March – March 13 and March 20 — from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The location for the first session is at the C.G. Therkildsen Activity Center, Harlan and the second class will be held at Iowa Western’s Harlan Center. A mid-day meal will be served for each session.

The program is being sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach – Shelby County and SCOPE (Shelby Co. Opportunity, Promotion and Enterprise committee). As the result of a local grant, the registration fee for Shelby County Leadership 2013 will be only $50 per person if registered by March 1; or $75 if registered after March 1.  The registration fee will be refunded to participants who complete both sessions of the program in their entirety.

Training sessions will be taught by ISU Extension and Outreach community and economic development program specialists. Newly-elected and appointed officials are encouraged to register for the program, as well as long-time leaders interested in polishing their skills, and individuals interested in getting more involved in their community.

Registration forms may be picked up and returned to the Shelby County Extension and Outreach office, the Shelby County DevelopSource office or from planning committee members.  For more information about the program, contact Jane Nolan Goeken, Community Development Specialist, ISU Extension and Outreach at 712/240-2504 (or, jngoeken@iastate.edu)