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Iowa dad rejects plea deal, faces trial in death of baby boy

News

June 16th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – A prosecutor says a 27-year-old Sioux City man has rejected another plea offer and will proceed to trial for the death of his 2-month-old son. Michael Williams is charged with three counts of neglect of a dependent person, a count of child endangerment resulting in death and one of child endangerment resulting in injury. His trial is scheduled to begin July 7.

The Sioux City Journal reported Tuesday that County Attorney Patrick Jennings declined to discuss details of the plea deal. Williams also rejected a deal in October. Authorities have said little Leonard Williams was taken to an emergency room on April 29 last year. An autopsy later showed he died of malnutrition and dehydration.

The trial of his mother, 24-year-old Rebekah Williams-McCarthy, is scheduled to begin Aug. 4th.

2 workers at wastewater plant no longer Sioux City employees

News

June 16th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – Two workers at Sioux City’s wastewater treatment plant are no longer employed by the city.  Human Resources Director Bridey Hayes confirmed to KTIV-TV that superintendent Jay Niday and operations supervisor Pat Schwarte no longer work for the city. Hayes said she couldn’t comment further about their departure.

It’s unclear if the employees’ departure is connected to an ongoing investigation by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The agency is investigating whether an employee changed chlorine levels in wastewater samples to meet standards outlined in a state-issued permit that allows treated wastewater to be discharged into the Missouri River. City officials have said they are cooperating with the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Weirich unveils Lewis Festival art work

News

June 16th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A unique sculpture created by the owner of a local iron works company will be featured during the parade for the Lewis Day Festival on June 27th, and in an international art competition. Duane Weirich, of Weirich Welding, in Lewis, said he started working on a steel sculpture of an Eagle, in January. He later learned of a contest that’s held in Grand Rapids Michigan called “Art Prize Seven,” (www.artprize.org/) which runs from Sept. 23rd through Oct. 11th. Wierich entered his project April 20th, and has a venue lined-up to display the piece, which is made entirely out of scrap iron.

The Eagle is 12-feet from wing-tip to wing-tip, eight-feet tall, and weighs roughly 400-pounds. The base alone weighs 2,200 pounds. When finished, it will sit on top of a metal globe that turns. The project is entitled “America, Come Together.” Weirich says the eagle will be clamped to a U-S map on top of a globe.

He says he has about 200 hours into the project so far. The Eagle has 2,000 individual pieces of metal that comprise the feathers.  Wierich says he will travel with the eagle this fall to Michigan for the contest Art Prize contest. Billed as the World’s Largest Art Competition, there were 1,500 entries from 46 countries and 41 U-S States.

The awards are based on “People’s Choice, and by professional judges. There are cash prizes for the top ten finishers. When the contest is over, the Eagle will be sold. Weirich says he already has two people interested in purchasing it.

The parade in which the eagle will be featured on June 27th in Lewis, is military-themed, and features members of last year’s Cass County Honor Flight, along with many other area veterans. Grand Marshall’s for the parade are Dula Thompson and John Robinson, two of the oldest residents of Cass County.

A ceremony dedicating the Cass County Freedom Rock at Pioneer Park in Lewis gets underway at 4-p.m. The Rock was painted by Ray “Bubba Sorensen,” of Greenfield. A salute to Veterans fireworks display rounds out the activities, at dusk.

Mixing margaritas in sun? Don’t get burned by “lime disease”

News

June 16th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

For many Iowans, a highlight of summer is enjoying a margarita while taking in the sun. But, state health officials have a warning about a toxic reaction playfully referred to as “lime disease.” That’s L-I-M-E, not the tick-borne Lyme Disease spelled with a “Y.” State epidemiologist Patricia Quinlisk says there’s a more technical term for the combination of citric acid and sun.

“The name of this is phytophotodermatitis and what it basically means is a combination of a plant or fruit juice, along with sun light, can actually cause your skin to burn,” Quinlisk said. Also sometimes referred to as margarita dermatitis, the skin rash or burn often happens when someone is outdoors mixing a drink and lime, lemon or another citrus juice splashes on their skin. Add some sun rays and it can turn painful.

“That sets up this reaction that can actually burn your skin and burn it to the point of getting blisters,” Quinlisk said. There’s a simple solution to avoiding “lime disease” – wash your hands and arms with soap and water after handling citrus juice. “There are interesting situations where a parent will have it on their hand and touch their child on the back…and the child will actually get a burn that looks like a hand on their back,” Quinlisk said.

(Radio Iowa)

Overnight ramp closure and new interstate lane shifts at South Expressway and northbound I-29/westbound I-80 begin tonight

News

June 16th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Road construction work at South Expressway and northbound Interstate 29/westbound I-80 in Council Bluffs requires closing the entrance ramp from South Expressway/Iowa 192 to northbound I-29/westbound I-80 Tuesday, June 16, from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. Wednesday, June 17, weather permitting, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation. Metro Drive will remain open throughout construction.

After the on-ramp is closed at 10 p.m., interstate traffic will shift onto the new northbound I-29/westbound I-80 lanes east of Indian Creek. Merging traffic from South Expressway will also begin to use the new northbound I-29/westbound I-80 on- and off-ramps located north of the existing ramps. Motorists are urged to use caution while becoming accustomed to shifting onto the new lanes.

When completed, construction of the I-29/80 dual, divided freeway will physically separate through traffic on I-80 from traffic on I-29 destined for Council Bluffs, creating I-80 express lanes and I-29/80 local lanes. The dual, divided freeway will offer greater flexibility to travelers and will improve the overall efficiency of the transportation network.

Iowa DOT is in the process of reconstructing I-29, I-80, and I-480 in the Council Bluffs metropolitan area. This comprehensive interstate redesign will modernize the highway system and improve mobility and safety of approximately 18 miles of interstate. Motorists are encouraged to allow for extra travel time while this interstate improvement takes effect.

2 Pottawattamie County men sentenced on Meth charges

News

June 16th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Two Pottawattamie County men were sentenced last week to prison in connection with the distribution of methamphetamine. 20-year old Ruben Toledo Jr., of Council Bluffs, and 25-year old Oscar Arriaga Martinez, a citizen of Mexico who resided in Council Bluffs, were sentenced by United States District Court Judge Stephanie M. Rose. Toldeo received a seven-year prison sentence for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. Martinez was ordered to serve 11-1/2 years in prison for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine. Both men were also ordered to serve five years of supervised release following imprisonment, and to pay $100 towards the Crime Victim Fund.

They pled guilty to the charges on January 8th. The charges were the result of an
investigation by law enforcement of drug trafficking that occurred in and around the Southern District of Iowa and the District of Nebraska. Beginning as early as February of 2014, continuing through September of 2014, Toledo and Martinez conspired with others to distribute methamphetamine in the Southern District of Iowa.

The investigation was conducted by the Southwest Iowa Narcotics Task Force and the
Drug Enforcement Administration. Their case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

Adams County Resident Sentenced to Five Years of Probation for Conversion of Mortgaged Property

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 16th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

(Corrects info. in Press Release to show Nodaway in Adams Co., not Page County)

A man from Adams County was sentenced last week in connection with conversion of mortgaged property. 34-year old Gary Matthew Johnston, of Nodaway, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Stephanie M. Rose to five years of probation, and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $113,754, for converting the proceeds from the sales of approximately 176 head of cattle that were
mortgaged by the Farm Service Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Johnston pled guilty on March 5th, to the charge of conversion of mortgaged
property, which was the result of an investigation by law enforcement after Johnston was involved in multiple sales of collateral at livestock auctions that were not reported to the Farm Service Agency as required.

The investigation was conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of the Inspector General, and the case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

Iowa’s congressional delegation asks EPA for hearing in Iowa on ethanol

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 16th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Members of Iowa’s congressional delegation are urging the federal Environmental Protection Agency to hold a public hearing in Iowa over the agency’s proposed changes to the Renewable Fuel Standard, or R-F-S. It’s feared those changes could hurt the ethanol industry and Iowa is the nation’s top ethanol producer. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he hopes the E-P-A takes the request for a hearing in Iowa seriously.

“They’re going to say they’re in Kansas City but Iowa, anyplace in Iowa, is the center of ethanol production and that’s where they should be,” Grassley says. “Why they aren’t, I don’t know.” A letter is being sent to E-P-A administrator Gina McCarthy that’s signed by all six members of Iowa’s congressional delegation. Members say the decision to drop R-F-S levels set by Congress has left the biofuels industry in an uncertain situation which has slowed investment. Grassley says it’s important for the agency’s leaders to fully understand the impact of their rulemaking.

“It’s to embarrass them into understanding why avoid Iowa?,” Grassley says. “It’s going to embarrass them to come where the information is, make it easier for those that are in the middle of ethanol production and things of that nature. It’s that simple.” Iowa has 42 ethanol plants in operation, producing nearly three-point-eight billion gallons a year, about 25-percent of all ethanol produced nationwide. Iowa plants also produced 230-million gallons of biodiesel in 2013.

(Radio Iowa)

Exira-EHK Board approves quotes for new phone system and fees

News

June 16th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Exira-Elk Horn Kimballton School District Board of Education zipped through several discussion and action items during their meeting, Monday evening. Superintendent Dean Schnoes said one of the issues they needed to address was a new phone system. With the current system, he says, voice mails sound like they’re using a walkie-talkie. Schnoes said also there was no big leap in the fees for next year, there was no increase in activities fees.

Both the Elementary and Middle School Principals’ contracts were approved, with those individuals assuming more responsibilities at the High School, because Principal David Johnson has been struggling with back issues that limit his ability to be at work.

The Board also set July 20th, at 7-p.m. (their next regular meeting), as the date and time for a Public Hearing on “Continued participation in the Instructional Support Program” (ISP) Levy. The levy, which comes about every 5-years, allows the District to use extra tax money to purchase tangible assets like books, paper, etc.

Rain causes work setback on Hwy 6/7th Street project in Atlantic

News

June 16th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The recent, heavy rainfall here in Atlantic has affected many projects, not the least of which is the Highway 6/7th Street reconstruction project. Iowa Dept. of Transportation District 4 Planning Director Scott Suhr said today (Tuesday), the rain has set back progress by about four or five days. Once the weather cooperates, crews will resume hauling dirt. On the bright side, Suhr says the Spruce and Pine street sanitary sewer portion of the project have been completed.