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Governors say Corps should make move now to ease flood threat in 2012

News

October 17th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

North Dakota’s governor is suggesting the Army Corps of Engineers take action this fall to lower the level of a federal reservoir in his state, as a preparation for potential flooding along the Missouri River next year. North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple unveiled the idea in Omaha during a meeting of the eight governors from states along the Missouri River.  “National Weather Service says we’re going to have more snow…We know that the ground is saturated down through the valley. We know that the levees are at a weakened condition,” Dalrymple says. “That calls for an adjustment.” Dalrymple suggests lowering the level of the reservoir behind Garrison Dam, which is north of Bismarck, North Dakota, by two-and-a-half feet. The idea comes from the state water engineer in North Dakota.

“He’s comfortable that because of the relatively dry fall we can easily move an additional 10,000 cubic feet per second out of that area for 38 days and create some significant additional storage before the river freezes up,” Dalrymple says. Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman says this idea could help take some pressure off Missouri River levees. “We’ve gone through this one-in-500-year event. We clearly have more water right outside behind us in the Missouri River than we normally have,” Heineman says. “Our grounds, our lands are saturated, so it’s not going to take as much moisture to get right back to where we are, so we’re all concerned about what additional steps can we take.” According to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, governors up and down the Missouri usually have “sharp opinions” about how to manage the river, but Brownback says this idea has broad support among the governors.

“This is a situation where inches matter and anything we can do to purchase a little bit of insurance, hopefully on the cheap, to provide for a weakened system would be an important thing for us to do,” Brownback says. “And that’s why we’re urging the Corps to do it.” Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says it seems as if the region is in the midst of a “wet cycle” and it’s time to make changes in the Missouri River’s management to address that reality.  “I think we’re in unanimity that we don’t want to have happen again next year what happened this year — a flood of this extent that lasts this long,” Branstad says, “and having more storage as well as repairing the levees as quickly as they can be (repaired), those are important things to do.” The governors in the region want congress to launch an “independent” investigation of the Army Corps of Engineers’ plan for managing the Missouri River basin. The governors also say that plan should make flood control a higher priority.

(Radio Iowa)

Haunted SW Iowa jailhouse is subject of night tours, paranormal investigation

News

October 17th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

October is the busiest month of the year for a 19th century jailhouse in southwest Iowa which some believe is haunted. What’s known as the Squirrel Cage Jail was built in Council Bluffs in 1885. Karla Borgaila is the museum coordinator for the Pottawattamie County Historical Society. She says the jail’s a spooky place.  “It got the name of the Squirrel Cage because inside this absolutely gorgeous brick building is a three-story cage that has pie-shaped cells for the men and it would rotate around,” Borgaila says. “It had a water motor for during the night and a hand crank for during the day.” Only 16 jails of this type were built in the U-S and three survive, but the facility in Council Bluffs is the only one that has three tiers of cells. She says it was a very unpopular place for prisoners.

“It even has a solitary confinement area down this long narrow hallway just barely bigger than the width of a gym locker,” Borgaila says. “There’s a standing area the size of a gym locker at the back they could put you in with a cage door for anywhere from one to ten days.” Members of the group Nevermore Paranormal have spent time in the jail and will share what they have documented about ghostly activity in the cages on Sunday at 2 P-M at the Western Trails Center, in Council Bluffs. Borgaila says there will also be evening tours of the jail on October 29th.

“From 6 to 8 P-M, we do spooky tours, evening tours throughout the jail and Nevermore Paranormal will be there,” she says. “The jail’s spooky enough during the day and once the sun goes down, it’s even a little bit creepier.” The Pottawattamie County Historical Society will also hold haunted lantern tours of its rail cars at the RailsWest Railroad Museum on October 28th. Younger kids can stop buy earlier that evening and go railcar-to-railcar trick-or-treating.

(Radio Iowa)

Atlantic teen sentenced for role in Neb. shooting.

News

October 17th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

BELLEVUE, Neb. (AP) — An 18-year-old Cass County, Iowa man has been sentenced to 4 to 9 years in prison for his role in a deadly shooting of another man in Bellevue. Online court records show Cable Cohrs, of Atlantic, was sentenced on Monday in Sarpy County, NE, District Court after pleading guilty to being an accessory to a felony and aiding consummation of a felony. Cohrs was originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of 18-year-old Kyle Williams. In exchange for Cohrs’ plea, the murder charge was dropped.

Williams was found injured and unresponsive by his grandfather at their home in March. He died of his injuries. Johnathan Armendariz was sentenced in September to 80 to 100 years in prison on charges of second-degree murder and use of a firearm in Williams’ death.

Governors at odds over Missouri River management

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 17th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

HELENA, Mont. (AP) – Missouri River state governors are clashing with Montana over flood control as federal officials tell them damage from this year’s high water will make them even more vulnerable during next year’s flood season. Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer lashed back against a developing notion that downstream flood control should dominate upstream reservoir management. He told the downstream governors Monday such a plan would lead to empty reservoirs in Montana when a drought hits.

Schweitzer called into what was expected to be a private meeting attended by governors from Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota. The host, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, clashed with Schweitzer during the meeting. Schweitzer invited reporters to his office to listen to the meeting. He criticized the others for closing the doors to the public.

Wellmark proposes 9.35 percent hike in premiums

News

October 17th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is proposing a 9.35 percent increase in premiums for more than 70,000 individual customers in Iowa, saying it’s needed to offset rising health care costs. The Des Moines-based health insurer announced the increase Monday. Wellmark executives say the primary factor behind the increase is increased use of health care services as Iowans become less healthy, in part because of obesity. The proposal would translate into an increase of up to $47 per month. Earlier this year, Wellmark imposed an 8.5 percent increase on individual customers. That followed an 18 percent hike in 2010. Hugh Espey, executive director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, calls the proposed increase “outrageous” during a time of economic crisis. A public hearing on the increase is scheduled for Dec. 10.

I-80 EB in Pott. now open after semi fire (update 11:29-a.m.)

News

October 17th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Transportation reports all lanes of I-80 eastbound near Shelby are now open, following a semi-tractor trailer fire earlier this morning.

Reminder: Conversation on mental health to be held in Cass County

News

October 17th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Cass County Mental Health Coordinator Teresa Kanning says seats are still available for this Thursday evening’s “Conversation on Mental Health,” which takes place at Iowa Western Community College, in Atlantic. The event begins at 7-p.m., with keynote speaker Joan Becker.

Becker’s son Mark shot and killed Aplington-Parkersburg Football Coach Ed Thomas in June 2009. A jury found him guilty of 1st degree murder in March 2010, after rejecting his insanity defense. He was later sentenced to life in prison.

Joan Becker, who has two other sons, is making her way around the state to hold conversations about mental health issues. She spoke last month at the Wallace Country Life Center in rural Orient, about her son‘s struggle with paranoid schizophrenia.

Kanning told the Board of Supervisors during a meeting earlier this month, that Becker will discuss what parts of the mental health system failed her son, and which parts were helpful. A local mental health panel discussion will follow Becker’s presentation about how the system works or doesn’t work, in Cass County.

Several mental health and medical professionals, as well as Cass County Sheriff Darby McLaren and County Attorney Dan Feistner, have signed-up for the program. Some of those individuals will participate in the panel discussion that evening. The event is open to the public. To reserve your seat, call 712-243-4424.

Fremont County arrest report

News

October 17th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Fremont County Sheriff’s office reports five people were arrested over the past week and a half. On October 10th, 62-year old Mary Jane Hammes, of Tabor, was arrested for 5th degree theft, and 19-year old Alexandra Brooke Odell, of Hamburg, was arrested on a Possession of Drug Paraphernalia charge.

On October 8th, 47-year old Michelle Dawn Campbell, of Thurman, was arrested on a Mills County warrant for 3rd degree theft. She posted a $2,300 cash bond that same day. And, 24-year old Lester A. Gonzalez, of Bellevue, NE, was arrested for 1st Offense OWI.

And, on October 6th, 21-year old Amy Marie McConahay, of Glenwood, was arrested on two counts of allegedly providing alcohol to minors. The woman posted $1,000 bond. Her arraignment is set to take place October 31st, with a jury trial scheduled for December 6th.

Accidents reported in Fremont County

News

October 17th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Fremont County Sheriff’s Department today (Monday), released a compiled report on accidents which occurred over the past couple of weeks. Officials say two people suffered minor injuries during a rollover accident Oct. 11th, northeast of Sidney. The accident happened when Justin Carter, of Nevada, MO, missed a curve on 195th Street, as he was traveling north onto 305th Street. The car rolled into the east ditch. Carter, and a passenger in the car were injured, and transported by Sidney Rescue to Grape Community Hospital in Hamburg.

Another accident happened October 8th, near the Sidney Recreation area. Officials say Rosemary Spiegel, of Hamburg, was traveling north on Highway 275. As she passed 230th Street, Spiegel lost control of her 1998 Buick LeSabre and overcorrected, sending the car across the opposite lane of traffic and into the west ditch, where it rolled onto its top. Spiegel and a passenger in the vehicle were transported to the hospital in Hamburg by Sidney Rescue.

And, on October 4th, two passengers in a van were taken to the Shenandoah Hospital after a car driven by Brittany Corbin, of Tarkio, MO, collided with the van as Corbin was passing a semi. The accident happened on northbound Highway 275. Neither Cordbin, nor the driver of the van, David McSorley, of Sidney, were injured in the crash.

Downed power line leaves Lewis residents in the dark

News

October 17th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A downed power line north of Lewis Sunday left residents of the community without power for a little more than five-hours. The downed line caused a small ditch fire just north of Highway 6, near County Road M-56.

The power was knocked out at around 3-p.m.. Crews from Mid-American Energy were on the scene and able to restore service to the utility’s customers, at around 8:00 p.m.