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Double-wide trailer destroyed in early morning blaze


October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A double-wide mobile home was destroyed by fire early this (Thursday) morning, west/southwest of Portsmouth, in rural Harrison County. According to Persia Firefighter Bob Simon, the department was dispatched at around midnight to the fully engulfed structure at 3832 260th Street, and was on the scene until about 3-a.m.  Crews from Persia and Panama provided mutual aide to Portsmouth Fire.

A couple living in the mobile home was in the process of moving. The cause of the blaze was not immediately known.

Creston man arrested for Public Intox


October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A Creston man was arrested Wednesday evening on a Public Intoxication charge. Authorities say 54-year old Thomas Mullins was taken into custody just before 6-p.m., and brought to the Union County Jail where he was held on a $300 bond.

(Podcast) 7:07-a.m. News & funeral report, 10/2/2014

News, Podcasts

October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

With KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.


Iowa teen to plead insanity in Atlantic foster brother’s death


October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

LOGAN, Iowa (AP) – An Iowa teen charged with murdering his 5-year-old foster brother plans to use an insanity defense when his case goes to trial this month. Court documents filed in September indicate the defense plans for 18-year-old Cody Metzker-Madsen, who was declared competent to stand trial in April. He is charged with first-degree murder in the August 2013 death of Dominic Elkins, of Atlantic. Metzker-Madsen pleaded not guilty to the charge and opted to have his case decided by a judge.

Authorities say Elkins was killed while the boys were playing outdoors at their home near Logan, in western Iowa. He died as a result of blunt-force head injuries and drowning. Psychology experts who examined the teen say he has developmental problems.

Metzker-Madsen’s mother used methamphetamine while she was pregnant with him.

Atlantic City Council approves former dry cleaner site for priority clean-up


October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday, moved to support plans by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to include a former dry cleaner site as a “National Priorities List (NPL)” site, making it possible for the agency to use Superfund monies for the cleanup costs. Susan Fisher, with the EPA’s Region 7 office in Kansas City, says for the past several years, the agency has been assessing the groundwater in Atlantic, and found one area in particular to be contaminated with Tetrachloroethylene.

PCE, as it’s called, is a manufactured chemical typically used in dry cleaning solvents. The chemical PCE was originally detected in 1980. The source of the contamination is believed to be the former Norge Dry Cleaners Facility, which was located in a lot on the southeast side of 7th and Plum Streets.
Neither the City of Atlantic nor Atlantic Municipal Utilities will have any financial obligation costs for the removal of the contamination, which flows in an underground plum north toward Troublesome Creek.

Fisher says in the first phase, or “Removal,” the EPA wants to use technology at the source of the contamination that causes the PCE to heat up and vaporize prior to being collected from the soil. The next phase – called “Remedial” – is to remove the PCE from the groundwater, by dissolution. The remediation process will take several years.

The cost of the cleanup is estimated at $1.5-million dollars. Atlantic Municipal Utilities has operated and maintained an interceptor well since 1980 to keep the resulting underground plume migrating from the contamination site from impacting the municipal water supply well field. Earlier this week, AMU General Manager Steve Tjepkes says the utility continues to perform testing on a monthly basis to monitor the public drinking water supply wells to ensure that drinking water does not become contaminated with PCE.

He says also AMU is working closely with the EPA and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) as they continue their assessment, to encourage cleanup efforts for the site.

Iowa regents to consider restructuring IT, HR


October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa (AP) — A consultant is expected to release plans detailing how Iowa’s three public universities could cut costs by restructuring how employees perform routine administrative functions. Deloitte Consulting LLP is expected to tell the Iowa Board of Regents about potential changes to streamline human resources, information technology and financial operations. The plans are expected to lead to job cuts over time, but also potentially save millions of dollars.

More details are expected to be released Thursday, when the regents meet at Iowa State University in Ames. Regents are expected to discuss the proposals, but not take any action on them. They say they will gather feedback from employees before voting on whether to implement changes next month.

The regents hired Deloitte to look for ways to run the universities more efficiently.

Iowa early News Headlines: Thu., Oct. 2nd 2014


October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

AMES, Iowa (AP) – An Iowa State University student has been found dead in her apartment on campus, but authorities say no foul play is suspected. University police say the woman was found unresponsive Tuesday night in a University Village apartment on the Ames campus.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A state audit of the Mahaska County Soil and Water Conservation District office alleges more than $279,000 was improperly taken and cash not properly deposited by a former secretary over seven years. Iowa Auditor Mary Mosiman says in a report released yesterday her office investigated financial irregularities at the request of state agriculture department officials. The audit shows cash withdrawn from commission accounts numerous times from 2006 to 2013 by Jessica Strasser, the former office secretary who resigned in August 2013.

GLENWOOD, Iowa (AP) – Officials in western Iowa say a new law enforcement center will house both men and women. Mills County Sheriff Eugene Goos says the facility has the capacity to separate the inmates. It can house up to 45 inmates. The Daily Nonpareil reports the new facility in Glenwood will mean less female inmates at the Adams County jail in Corning, where they’re often held after a transfer.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A campaign spokesman for Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Braley says he collected $2.8 million during the latest fundraising quarter. Jeff Giertz said yesterday that Braley had raised the funds between July 1st and Sept. 30th.

Officials: New Iowa facility will house men, women


October 1st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

GLENWOOD, Iowa (AP) – Officials in western Iowa say a new law enforcement center will house both men and women. Mills County Sheriff Eugene Goos says the facility has the capacity to separate the inmates. It can house up to 45 inmates.

The Daily Nonpareil reports the new facility in Glenwood will mean less female inmates at the Adams County jail in Corning, where they’re often held after a transfer. County officials say that will result in savings of between $2,000 and $6,000 each month.

Federal prison inmates can be held at the law enforcement center. It will also house the Mills County Sheriff’s Office.

Lund praises Harris and vows to honor “his legacy”


October 1st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Following the approval by the Atlantic City Council Wednesday, of City Administrator Doug Harris’ resignation and severance package, and the subsequent voted to appoint John Lund as Interim City Administrator, Lund spoke about the man who hired him a little more than three-years ago, and the suggestion by Mayor Dave Jones that he be “trained” for the position. Lund said with regard to taking over Harris’ job, “I don’t think I’m entitled to anything.”

He “With all due respect to the Mayor, I don’t believe I need any training. I’ve been in training for three and a half years under a man sitting right across from me.” He said he intends to honor Harris’ legacy, and is inspired by his “Class and integrity.” Lund said hopes moving forward, that he has “An opportunity to prove I’m worthy of serving this community, and that the City deserves “Nothing less than absolute transparency.”

In his final report to the Council, Doug Harris reported a development company out of Cedar Rapids that is interested in investing in Atlantic’s downtown area, such as the old Whitney Hotel.  Harris said the company plans to bring in their architects to look at a potentially $7-million dollar project to renovate the upper floor of the building into apartments, with a restaurant and sports bar on the first floor. Additional details are being kept “under wraps” for now.

Harris said “There is a real potential to see real revitalization in investments in our downtown,” but he said potential investors have concerns over the owners of other buildings not improving the façade of those structures. He said that’s where the City’s Minimum Maintenance Code and Tax Abatements come into play, by providing business owners the incentives and a chance to improve the look of their buildings and/or turning the second floors into apartments.

He said he recommends the Council focus on the opportunities to preserve and revitalize the downtown area, as opposed to “Incentivizing businesses to build-up on the outskirts.” Harris said Atlantic is a great community, and that he and his wife plan on sticking around.

Atlantic City Council approves Severance Agreement w/Harris


October 1st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A large crowd turned-out for Wednesday evening’s meeting of the Atlantic City Council. Most of the more than two-dozen people were there to show their support for City Administrator Doug Harris, who was asked to resign nearly two weeks ago. Harris, who has served the City since 2010, reached a severance agreement with the City that was approved by the Personnel and Finance Committee during their meeting on Sept. 23rd. Following a lengthy closed session to discuss the matter, the Council voted four-to three to approve Harris’ resignation and the severance package. Councilpersons Jimerson, Stuart and Cord voted against the matter, while Councilpersons Somers, Halder, Hayes and Hartkopf voted in favor.

The Council also voted to appoint Harris’ assistant, John Lund, as Interim City Administrator. Mayor Jones suggested Lund hold the position for at least six months, but in the end, his length of service in the position and salary will be determined by the City’s Personnel and Finance Committee.

Among those who spoke in support of Harris prior to the Council’s vote to accept his resignation, was Atlantic resident Doug Dimig, who said “The City of Atlantic owes Doug Harris a deep debt of gratitude.” Dimig said Harris worked hard to restore the City’s infrastructure in a fiscally responsible manner. Former Councilpersons Kern Miller, Dave Wheatley and Pat Simmons were in the audience, as well. Miller, who was on the Council when Harris was hired, said Harris was “The most informed gentleman to handle the type of situations we have in this community.” He was referring to the recently approved Tax Abatements and Tax Increment Financing matters.

Mayor Dave Jones has repeated said Harris was asked to resign because he and the City “We’re going in different directions.” When asked by Cass County Supervisor Mark Wedemeyer is Harris could choose to stay, Harris was diplomatic in his answer. He said “The Administrator serves at pleasure of the Council. There has to be that working relationship and trust. And sometimes, there are different viewpoints, and that’s fine.” He went on to say he’s enjoyed working with the council and for the community and that “We’ve accomplished a lot, but…they made it clear they did not agree…I respect that.” Harris acknowledged he was asked to resign.

He said his employment agreement stipulated the Council could terminate his services without cause, as a means of best protecting the community’s interests.