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IA Board of education votes against changes on school start date


August 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The State Board of Education voted 5-2 today (Thursday) against moving forward with a change in rules that would have made it tougher for schools to get a state waiver to start school in August. The vote was preceded by comments from representatives of the tourism industry who favor the change, and educators, who have been against it. Daniel Smith, director of the School Adminstrators of Iowa, said the state should keep the current approach as it is a matter of local control over the issue.

“It also appears that the proposed rule change does not take into consideration the negative or potential negative impact on the coordination of calendars between school districts, community colleges, universities and the many student activities that routinely begin in early August,” Smith said. “At a time when there is a renewed commitment to excellence in Iowa schools, it is important that local schools have the flexibility in their calendars to promote student achievement.” David Cunningham of Norwalk spoke to the board as a parent, and agreed individual districts should make the decision.

“The educational excellence of our schools should be left up to those who we as communities hire and entrust with the purpose of educating our children. Not with the tourism business and the tourism lobbyists of the state of Iowa, Cunningham said. Iowa State Fair lobbyist, Brian Johnson sat down with a law book and made his argument. “We wouldn’t be here if it hurt education, and I would be happy to sit down at anybody, anytime, anywhere and talk about studies — hard facts that show that. We just heard that this ought to be left up to local representatives and those that are elected. It is, it is in 270-point-10 of this code book. And it’s existing law,” Johnson said.

The new rules would’ve required schools to show why they needed to start early. Johnson said that’s the problem with what’s happening now, waivers are granted by the Department of Education director without an explanation from school districts. “There is no process now. We talk about the processes working, there’s never been a process. We don’t know who, why. what, where, why, the decision was made not to follow state law,” Johnson said. “We respectfully ask you to follow the state law and the rules that exists in the state of Iowa.” Board of Education member, Charles Edwards, said he was upset the board had been placed in a position to choose tourism over education. He said he believed education should take priority.

“As much as I respect those folks who have spoken on tourism and the impact of tourism in Iowa –and certainly understand and respect what they are saying — and don’t want that to be an outcome of this. But I think we have to look at what’s in the best interest of Iowa students,” Edwards said. Board member Mike May is a retired teacher who now runs a resort. He defended the tourism industry.

“Tourism people are good people, they don’t want to ruin education, they don’t want to hurt kids as is being suggested. They don’t put money before kids, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact the truth is, I think the better part of their education in many cases is achieved through that summer job that they have,” May said. He said he knows from personal experience as he hires 25 kids to work for him every summer. May also said he sees the impact on his resort as the bookings drop off in mid-August now that many school districts are starting school earlier. May and LaMetta Wynn were the only two board members to vote to move forward in the rule process.

Mike Cormack with the Iowa Department of Education said the rule came after much discussion and he thought it presented a fair compromise for both sides. He said after the vote he was disappointed that it will not move forward. “There’s legitimate arguments for both sides of this. We believed that for all of Iowa it would have been a benefit to go forward with these and we would have heard more in the public hearing process. But, that’s the way it is, sometimes you win in this process and sometimes you don’t,” Cormack said. He says today’s vote doesn’t put the issue to rest. “The one thing that I can assure you, is this issue is not going away,” Cormack said. “This issue is going to come back again and again until it is ultimately decided by the legislature or ultimately decided by the courts.”

If the rule had been approved today, it would have moved forward to a public hearing on September 10th. The new rule would have required schools to demonstrate an academic need or hardship before they could get a waiver to start school earlier.

(Radio Iowa)

OH man injured during cycle crash in Adair County, Thursday


August 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

An accident involving a motorcycle and a semi on Interstate 80 in Adair County, resulted in an Ohio man being sent to the hospital late this (Thursday) morning. The Iowa State Patrol says 60-year old John L. Harris, of Springfield, OH, was riding his 2012 motorcycle east on I-80 about a mile west of the Casey exit at around 11:10-a.m.

As he was in  the left lane passing a non-contact orange-colored semi, the semi moved into the side of the cycle. When he attempted to avoid a collision, the cycle entered the median and went out of control and came to rest on its side in the median. Harris was transported to the Guthrie County Hospital by Adair Rescue.

The patrol says the semi failed to stop and continued eastbound on I-80.

Atlantic Chamber welcomes new business

Ag/Outdoor, News

August 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors welcome new business Renew Ag Supply to 811 Sunnyside Lane in Atlantic. Owner and manager Peggy Beschorner hosted the group and shared her story of 30 plus years in the ag supply industry serving the Atlantic Area.

Pictured are: Lana Westphalen, Carole Schuler, Jolene Roecker, Nedra Perry, Deb Leistad, Sue Muri, Peggy Beschorner, Arlene Drennan, Bil Saluk, Dolly Bergmann & Tessa, Pat McCurdy, Connie Wailes, Donnie Drennan, Gerald Brink, Russell Joyce, Jim Kickland, Chip Hansen, Kathie Hockenberry, Rich Perry, Karl Aldag, JoAnn Runyan, Tammy Waters, Melanie Petty, Diane Harris, Lucas Mosier, Keith Leonard, Josh Dvorak, and Sara Nelson.

Pictured are: Lana Westphalen, Carole Schuler, Jolene Roecker, Nedra Perry, Deb Leistad, Sue Muri, Peggy Beschorner, Arlene Drennan, Bil Saluk, Dolly Bergmann & Tessa, Pat McCurdy, Connie Wailes, Donnie Drennan, Gerald Brink, Russell Joyce, Jim Kickland, Chip Hansen, Kathie Hockenberry, Rich Perry, Karl Aldag, JoAnn Runyan, Tammy Waters, Melanie Petty, Diane Harris, Lucas Mosier, Keith Leonard, Josh Dvorak, and Sara Nelson.

Renew Ag Supply offers products for large animals including antibiotics, vaccinations and many other products necessary for farming operations. Beschorner said they hope to expand and fill their new space as the business grows.

Page Co. man arrested on assault charge


August 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reports the arrest this (Thursday) morning, of a Page County man on a warrant for Simple Assault. 34-year old Jeremiah Joseph Hicks, of College Springs, was taken into custody at around 9:45-a.m. on the warrant issued out of Union County. Hicks was being held for Union County authorities, on $300 bond.

Iowa’s Annual Pheasant Survey is underway

Ag/Outdoor, News

August 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources reports the State’s 15-day annual pheasant population survey began with tempered expectations on Aug. 1, after a record setting wet spring, with cool temperatures that followed a snowy winter. Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources , coordinates and collects the data from the 208, 30-mile survey routes.

Bogenschutz says “When our pheasants do best, it’s after mild winters with less than 30 inches of snow followed by a warm, dry spring nesting season where we receive less than eight inches of rain. We had that scenario last year and our birds responded. But that is not the case this year.”

The nesting season is April 1 to May 31 and during that period, the average temperature was 51 degrees and Iowa received 15.4 inches of precipitation, including a significant snowfall during the first weekend in May. In years with similar weather, the pheasant survey found declines ranging from 4 percent to 51 percent. “It’s probably assured that the pheasant count will decline, the only question is by how much,” according to Bogenschutz, who says “We will know soon.”

The 30-mile routes are driven at sunrise on gravel roads preferably on mornings with heavy dew and little wind. The surveyors watch for hens moving their broods to the road edges to dry off before starting to look for insects. Surveyors note the number in the brood, any adult pheasants present and the size of the chicks, which tells Bogenschutz if this was an initial nest or if the nest was washed out and this brood was from a second or even third nest attempt. Each attempt after the first has fewer eggs than the previous attempt. They are the same routes each year.

The survey also collects data on cottontail rabbits, jack rabbits, quail and Hungarian partridge. The information will be available online at www.iowadnr.gov/pheasantsurvey by the middle of September.


Midwest, Plains economic index declines from June


August 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Conductors of a monthly survey of business leaders in nine Midwest and Plains states say the region’s economy will grow in the coming months, despite a fourth month of decline in the survey’s overall index.  The overall economic index for the region declined to 53.5 in July from June’s 55.6, but any score above 50 suggests growth.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey. He says the regional economy will continue to add jobs, but at a slow pace. The survey of business leaders and supply managers uses a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth, while a score below that suggests decline.

The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

8AM Newscast 08-01-2013

News, Podcasts

August 1st, 2013 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Several organizations band together to form the SW IA Animal Coalition


August 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

An official in Pottawattamie County reports that on Wednesday (July 31st),  seven Southwest Iowa non-profit animal welfare organizations came together to create the Southwest Iowa Animal Coalition.  Pott. County Supervisor Loren Knauss, facilitator of the Coalition, says the regional collaboration is comprised of: Catnip & Tails Rescue (in Council Bluffs), The Harrison County Humane Society (in Logan), Lusco Farms Rescue (in Malvern), Montgomery County Animal Rescue (in Red Oak), People for Paws (in Shenandoah), The Pottawattamie County Animal Shelter (Pottawattamie County), and the Western Iowa Feral & Homeless Cat Program (in Walnut). Each organization has committed to working together to improve the health, safety and quality of life of our communities through the humane treatment and management of animals in Southwest Iowa.

Knauss said “The Southwest Iowa Animal Coalition is the first regional collaboration of animal welfare organizations of its kind in Southwest Iowa.  We have made the decision to design a new way for animal welfare and government organizations to work together in an effort to increase the number of animal adoptions, to better promote spay/neuter and microchip programs, to increase education and outreach, and to help create a more consistent and effective approach to animal control in Southwest Iowa.”

Sheila McKern with the Pott. County Animal Shelter, says the problem of neglected and unwanted animals in Southwest Iowa has no borders.  McKern says “Owners that do not spay and neuter their animals have helped to increase the number of unwanted animals that are abandoned throughout Southwest Iowa.  To solve the problem in one community, you must also attempt to solve the problem in all the surrounding communities.  And this can only happen when everyone is working as a team.  The animal coalition is our team effort.”

Linda Hoefing, with People for Paws says “The Southwest Iowa Animal Coalition has become the foundation for what we see as a regional team effort to reduce the number of neglected, unwanted, and abandoned animals in Southwest Iowa.  Through shared adoption efforts, education programs, spay and neuter programs, microchipping, and a discussion on the best practices for addressing animal control, we feel we can take a realistic approach to reducing the number of unwanted and abandoned animals in our region.”

Knauss said the coalition has partnered with Petco in Council Bluffs, and Orschelin Farm & Home in Red Oak, Iowa to hold two regional adoption and microchip events in an effort to increase the number of animal adoptions and use of identification microchips in Southwest Iowa.  The use of microchips has helped to increase the likelihood that lost, stolen, and injured pets are successfully returned to owners.

The first regional adoption and microchip event will be held on Saturday, September 14, 2013 at 10:00 A.M. at Petco, at 3271 Marketplace Drive, in Council Bluffs.  The second regional adoption and microchip event will be held on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at 10:00 A.M. at Orschelin Farm & Home in Red Oak. 

(Podcast) 7:06-a.m. News, 8-1-13

News, Podcasts

August 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A podcast of the area’s top news stories, with KJAN News Director Ric Hanson….

Looking back on a weird month of weather

News, Weather

August 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Last month was much cooler and drier than the typical July in Iowa. State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says the month started with some significant heat, but turned unusually cool over the last week. “Overall, temperatures for the month averaged about 1.2 degrees below normal,” Hillaker says. “It ranks as the 30th coolest July in 141 years of records.”

Many locations posted daily record low temperatures between July 28th and 30th. Here in Atlantic, the coldest and record-setting low temperature occurred on July 27th, when we bottomed out at 41-degrees. Average low for the month was 58, whereas the normal average low is 63. The coldest temperature recorded over the month occurred last weekend when Battle Creek, in northwest Iowa, hit 39 degrees. “That’s the first time we’ve reached the 30s anywhere in Iowa in July in almost 30 years,” Hillaker says.

The highest recorded temperature last month was 98 degrees in Keokuk on July 19th. “That 98 at Keokuk is the highest temperature so far in the summer months this year in Iowa,” Hillaker says. “Oddly enough, it’s not the highest temperature of the calendar year. Way back on May 14th, Sioux City reached 106 degrees.” The hottest day in Atlantic, was 92 on July 17th. The average high for the month was 85, which is just one degree shy of normal. Iowa has not reached triple digit temperatures this entire summer.

The statewide average rainfall total for July was 1.76 inches, making it the 9th driest July in state history. Hillaker says sections of north-central and south-central Iowa actually received above average rainfall, but most of the state received very little precipitation. At least one town, Carroll, posted a record dry July with just 18-hundredths of an inch of rain.

Atlantic was also very short on rain last month. We received just 13-hundredths of an inch of rain in July, but that did not break the record set last year, when just a trace of rain fell over the entire month in Atlantic. Normally, Atlantic receives 4.62-inches of rain during the month of July. Year-to-date, we’ve received 18.81-inches of precipitation (Jan.-July, including melted snowfall).

Not a single tornado touched down in Iowa last month. There have been 15 confirmed tornadoes in Iowa this year. That compares to 16 in all of 2012, which was the lowest tornado total in Iowa since 1953.

(Radio Iowa/KJAN weather records)