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Cass County Master Gardeners Grant Money Available for Local Garden Projects

Ag/Outdoor, News

March 29th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Extension Service report the Cass County Master Gardeners organization is offering a total of $3,000 in grant money to be used in the 2013 growing season, to encourage gardening to grow food and/or beautify local communities. The money may also be used for gardening education purposes.

The David Williams Master Gardener Grants are offered to honor the many years of service Master Gardener David Williams has provided, and continues to provide. Williams is a long-time volunteer, both within the Master Gardener program and with other community organizations, including a term as Cass County Master Gardener president in 2012.

Any Cass County not-for-profit group or individual may apply. Schools, churches, libraries, 4-H clubs, Scouts, and individuals working to improving their communities can use the money to begin or improve gardens or landscaping, or to provide education for their members or the public. Each grant has a maximum value of $500. The application must also include plans for teamwork and sustainability. Consideration for the environment is also an important selection factor.

Applications must be received by Friday, April 19th for consideration. They may be submitted by mail or email. Grant recipients will be informed of their selection by the end of April. More information, as a well as application forms, is available on the Cass County Extension website, www.extension.iastate.edu/cass or by calling the Cass County Extension office at 712-243-1132, or stopping by the Extension Office at 805 W. 10th St in Atlantic.You may also contact committee members Judy Kennedy, LaVon Eblen, Dottie Krogh or Carolyn Hartmann for more information.

The Master Gardener program trains volunteers to develop their knowledge and skills in horticulture. These volunteers then give back to their communities through gardening service and education. The program is available in all 50 states and Canada through land grant university Extension programs such as Iowa State University.

Ailing Iowa school district eyes consolidation

News

March 29th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A June consolidation vote has been scheduled for a school district in western Iowa that hasn’t operated in the black since 2006-07.  The Des Moines Register reports that the Exira district has received nearly $600,000 in extra state aid since the 2007-08 school year. The district in Audubon County has about 220 students.

The neighboring Elk Horn-Kimballton district also will vote in June on consolidating more operations with Exira. The districts share grade instruction. Exira sends students in first through third grades and ninth through 12th grades to Elk Horn-Kimballton schools. Elk Horn-Kimballton buses students in fourth through eighth grades to Exira.

Exira’s district accreditation is in jeopardy. A state review last year cited 40 instances of noncompliance with state standards.

Survey: Iowa farmland prices up nearly 18 pct

Ag/Outdoor, News

March 29th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A survey report says Iowa farmland prices continued their boom in the past year and have more than doubled since 2008.  The Des Moines Register reports that the survey by the Realtors Land Institute says prices have risen nearly 18 percent since March 2012, to nearly $8,700 an acre. The institute figure was a little more than $4,200 in 2008.

The March figure of nearly $8,700 compares with the Iowa State University farmland price survey through November that showed an average of nearly $8,300 an acre. Kyle Hansen, of Hertz Farm Management, says the growth is being fed by high corn and soybean prices and the strong worldwide demand for grains.

Atlantic Parks & Rec Board approves Office & Maintenance bldg bid

News

March 29th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The City of Atlantic’s Parks and Recreation Board of Directors, Thursday, approved a bid from a local contractor for the construction of the department’s new office and maintenance building at Sunnyside Park. Tim Teig, from Snyder and Associates Engineers in Atlantic, said two of the three base bids they received and reviewed earlier that afternoon, were within $4,000 of each other, while the third was about $40,000 higher than the lowest bid. All of the bids were higher than the engineer’s estimated base bid of $221,500, and all included alternate additions that could be tacked-on to the base bid. Both Teig, and Parks and Rec Director Roger Herring recommended the Board approve the base bid of $244,762. Herring said Iron Specialties, of Atlantic, was the low bidder. Following the bid letting, Herring and Teig sat down with City Administrator Doug Harris, and determined it was within the budget to accept the base bid and alternate additions 1 and 2.”

The additions, which add nearly $46,000 to the base bid,  include the finishing of the exterior and an entrance canopy, which are the two highest priorities. Herring said the idea to have the exterior finished instead of just having a plain metal shell, was so that the building would fit in with the park environment, and not be an eyesore from the road.

The Parks and Rec Board agreed, and requested Teig and Herring look into adding one garage door opener to supplement the otherwise manually operated doors for the building. That matter will be discussed with the contractor when the contract is awarded. The City Council has the final say on whether the recommended bid will be awarded, during their regularly scheduled meeting on April 3rd. The other two bids for the project came from Henningsen Construction, of Atlantic, and Jensen Builders, in Ft. Dodge.

In other business, Herring said the Sunnyside tennis court reconstruction project will likely be finished ahead of schedule. He said it was originally thought the project wouldn’t be finished until August 31st. Now it appears that, weather permitting, it should be done by the end of July. That means, according to Herring, that a Youth Tennis Tournament may be possible at the end of Summer, as well as a Fall Adult Co-ed Tennis League, along with a grand opening and US Tennis Association presentation.

Confiscated dogs won’t being going home

News

March 29th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A judge in Pottawattamie County issued a ruling Thursday on the disposition of nearly two-dozen dogs seized from a home in Neola. According to the Daily NonPareil, Fourth District Court Judge James Heckerman ruled that 17 shih tzus and one cavalier King Charles spaniel will not be given back to Troy C. Dargin, or his mother, Cathy Eckmann, and her husband, Dennis, whose home the dogs were confiscated from on March 13th, by Pottawattamie County Animal Control. Another dog will be returned to its owner in Kansas City, Mo.

Two of the owners said health issues in the family resulted in the dogs not being cared for after March 1st.  County Animal Control Director Corbin Ranslem said  the dogs were found in cages in a garage at the Eckmann residence. Some of the small enclosers held two and three animals. Most of the food and water dishes in the kennels were empty at the time of the seizure. A majority of the animals were in “unkept condition,” one had a severe skin condition, another a heart murmur, four had umbilical hernias and five suffered from dental disease. Eight of the dogs were deemed to be in normal physical condition.

The dogs’ fate has not yet been determined. The Eckmanns and Troy Dargin still face criminal charges in the incident.  The three were each arrested on 37 misdemeanor charges, including 19 counts of animal neglect, nine counts of unlicensed operation of a commercial breeder and nine counts of violation of standard care. No court date has been set in the criminal matter.

Iowa early News Headlines: Fri., March 29th 2013

News

March 29th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Governor Terry Branstad’s administration has agreed to stop allowing workers in state employee unions to voluntarily contribute to their health insurance costs. The Des Moines Register reported yesterday that Branstad halted the option in exchange for unions dropping a complaint about the voluntary plan filed with the Public Employment Relations Board.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Conservative state lawmakers have threatened to withhold state funding for an Iowa community college if the school spends tax dollars on a conference for gay youths. Sixteen Republican lawmakers released a statement yesterday threatening to vote down funding for the Des Moines Area Community College, which sponsors the Iowa Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth. The conference is set for April 3rd at Prairie Meadows in Altoona.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Two Iowa men have pleaded guilty and face up to 40 years in prison for conspiring to rob a store in northeast Nebraska. Federal prosecutors say 20-year-old Terrence Miles of Sioux City and 19-year-old Austin Peters of Nemaha made their pleas on Tuesday in federal court in Sioux City. Peters also is known as Austin Stadler.

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State basketball coach Fred Hoiberg has agreed to a new 10-year, $20 million deal with the Cyclones that will run through 2023. Hoiberg, who just completed his third season with the Cyclones, finalized the contract with Iowa State President Steven Leath and athletic director Jamie Pollard last night.

Former Harlan teacher charged with student abuse & unethical practice

News

March 28th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A former Harlan Community School District vocal teacher has been charged by the Iowa Board of Education Examiners. The Harlan News-Advertiser reports Heidi Schwery was charged with student abuse and unethical practice. Schwery resigned from her position back in October 2012. She is accused of encouraging or consummating a romantic or otherwise inappropriate relationship with a student. The relationship was not sexual in nature. Schwery is also charged with unethical practice by failing to make reasonable efforts to protect the health and safety of students or creating conditions harmful to student learning.

Her hearing is set for Thursday, May 23rd. The paper says the matter may be resolved by Schwery surrendering her teaching license or an agreement to a lesser sanction. She was employed by the Harlan Community School District in August of 2005 and resigned on October 22nd, 2012.

Statistics show large increase in Iowa vineyards

Ag/Outdoor, News

March 28th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) – Statistics show a big jump in the number of vineyards in Iowa.  KWWL-TV reports that in 2000, Iowa had only five vineyards that covered about 15 acres. That’s now grown to 310 vineyards that stretch out over 1,200 acres.  Iowa’s roughly 100 wineries place the state in the top 20 nationally for the number of wineries.

Iowa State University Extension viticulture specialist Mike White says Iowa winemakers in 2012 sold a total of about 300,000 gallons of wine. Despite the growth, some winemakers say they must offer other features to be profitable, such as restaurants or catering.

Atlantic man arrested on a moving violation

News

March 28th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Police in Atlantic report the arrest Wednesday, of an Oakland man. 31-year old Jesse Westover was taken into custody for Driving While Barred. He was brought to the Cass County Jail and held pending an appearance before the magistrate.

(12-p.m. News)

Atlantic & Council Bluffs men arrested on weapon & drug charges

News

March 28th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Audubon County Sheriff’s Department reports the arrest Wednesday afternoon of a Cass County and Pottawattamie County man on weapon and drug charges. 49-year old George Otis Brittain, of Atlantic, was charged with Being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Possession of Methamphetamine/3rd offense, Possession of Marijuana/3rd offense, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

45-year old Danny Lawrence Brittain, of Council Bluffs, was charged with Possession of Meth/2nd offense, and Possession of drug paraphernalia. The charges stem from a search warrant executed at 3210 Zinnia Road, in Audubon County.

Both men were brought to the Audubon County Jail and held. George Brittain appeared in magistrate court this (Thursday) morning, and was being held in the Audubon County Jail. His preliminary hearing is set for April 8th. Danny Brittain also appeared in magistrate court, and was released. His preliminary hearing was set for April 15th.

The Audubon County Sheriff’s Office was assisted in the execution of the search warrant, by deputies from the Cass and Shelby County Sheriff’s Offices.

(12-p.m. News)