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Fatality accident reported Wednesday, in Mills County

News

October 19th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa State Patrol says a Glenwood man died, and three other people were injured during a single-vehicle rollover accident late this (Wednesday) morning, in Mills County. Officials say a 2002 Jeep Liberty driven by 21-year old Timothy Scott Mahan, of Council Bluffs, was traveling west on Ellington Avenue (a gravel road), at an excessive rate of speed. As the SUV topped at hill just before noon, Mahan lost control. The vehicle entered the south ditch and rolled several times, ejecting Mahan, and his three passengers. None of vehicle’s occupants were wearing their seat belts.

19-year old Chance Erik Gunderson, of Glenwood, died in the crash. 23-year old Felicia Marie Hansen, of Council Bluffs, 19-year old Jacob Alan Wahle, of Glenwood, and the driver of the Jeep were injured. All of the injured crash victims were transported by Glenwood Rescue to Creighton University Hospital in Omaha. The accident happened a few miles northeast of Pony Creek Park.

Bluffs woman seriously injured in Friday crash

News

October 19th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

In a report issued this week, the Iowa State Patrol says a Council Bluffs woman suffered “incapacitating” injuries last Friday afternoon, during a crash on northbound Interstate 29, near Crescent. Officials say 22-year old Ashley Jo Hogsett, of Council Bluffs, was transported to the University of Nebraska Medical Center by Crescent Rescue, after the 1993 Buick Regal she was driving went off the road, traveled down an embankment and began to rollover. The car continued to roll across Joslin Avenue before coming to rest in the east ditch. Officials say she was wearing her seat belt.

The Patrol says the woman was able to exit the vehicle on her own, but was laying on the ground when a Trooper arrived on the scene about five-minutes later. Hogsett told the Trooper that when other cars started coming around her vehicle, she panicked. The woman could not remember anything that happened after that.

The car was totalled in the crash. No citations were issued.

Speeding Bluffs motorist’s attempt avoid police radar results in injury accident

News

October 19th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa State Patrol says a motorists attempt to avoid a speeding ticket resulted in a crash that sent his passenger to the hospital. 21-year old Kirsty Marie Newland, of Council Bluffs, suffered possble, unknown injuries in the crash that happened at around 4:30-p.m. Monday, on Highway 92 in Council Bluffs. She was brought to Jennie Edmundson Hospital by Lewis Township Rescue. Officials say Newland was wearing a seatbelt.

The Patrol says the accident happened as a car driven by 20-year old James Robert Jorgensen, of Council Bluffs, was traveling east on Highway 92, and approaching the intersection with Valley View Drive. Trooper Jared Kastner said he clocked the car allegedly traveling at 76-miles per hour in a 50-mile per hour zone, while Trooper was waiting at a stop light. Kastner said in his report, that when Jorgensen saw the fully marked patrol car, he made an abdrupt attempt to slow down. In the process, Jorgensen lost control of the 2007 Hundai Tiberon, which had bald front tires. The car entered the south ditch and continued through a privately-owned fence, before coming to rest on Chickasaw Lane.

Jorgensen was not hurt in the crash. Kastner says the man was charged with Speeding, Failure to Maintain Control, and Careless Driving.

Interstate-680 in southwest Iowa may re-open well ahead of schedule

News

October 19th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Interstate-680 in southwest Iowa may re-open well ahead of schedule. Crews have been working non-stop for several weeks to rebuild the three-mile stretch of I-680 from I-29 north of Council Bluffs west into Omaha. It was reduced to rubble because of the months-long Missouri River flood. The Iowa D-O-T’s goal was to have that section open by the end of the year but now say it might be as soon as Thanksgiving. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad says funding for repairs, around 20-million dollars, will be funded by the federal D-O-T.

(Radio Iowa)

Cass County farmers will see adjustments to property valuations

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 19th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Last week it was announced that rural property owners in Adams County are facing 26.4-percent jump in adjustments to their 2011 valuations of real property. They’re not alone, though. In the October 10th edition of the local newspaper, the Cass County Assessor published a notice there would be a 37-percent increase in valuations for farmland only. Auditor Dale Sunderman says there is a window for persons to file their objections to the adjustment in valuations, with County Board of Review. He says a form available at the Assessor’s Office must be completed and filed with the Board of Review between now, and November 4th. The final adjustments to 2011 property valuations were ordered by Iowa’s Director of Revenue.

In Mills County, Assessor Christina Govig says an Ag Equalization Order was issued for a 39.4 percent increase on agricultural land, and ag structures are seeing a 29 percent increase. The increases are based on a five-year production formula. She says there will likely be a rollback, but it’s not clear what that will be, therefore the impact on the valuations is uncertain.

Montgomery County is looking at 31.6 percent valuation increase in agricultural land. Other counties facing valuation increases in agricultural land only include, Harrison, Pottawattamie, Shelby, and Union. Adams and Ringgold Counties are facing an increase in the valuation of agricultural land and agricultural structures.

Road work to temporarily close Iowa 83 in Avoca beginning Oct. 28

News

October 19th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Transportation said today (Wednesday), road construction work will cause the closure of Iowa 83 in both directions in Avoca from Friday, October 28th, through Thursday, November 3rd, weather permitting. The closure will be in place between U.S. 59 and Pottawattamie County Road M-47. A detour will be in place. 
The Iowa DOT reminds motorists to drive with caution, obey posted speed limit and other signs in the work area, and be aware that traffic fines for moving violations can more than double in work zones. As in all work zones, drivers should stay alert, allow ample space between vehicles and wear seat belts.

(updated 12:34-p.m.) IA Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Atlantic School District in ACLU case

News

October 19th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled the Atlantic School District does not have to release records on the discipline of two employees involved in a controversial strip search of students. The court says the information is part of confidential employee records. The alleged strip searches were conducted on five teenage girls during a gym class in August of 2009 after another student reported that 100 dollars had been stolen from her. Atlantic assistant principal/activities director Paul Croghan resigned in November, and was one of the two employees identified by the district as being involved. The other employee was identified as Heather Turpen, but nothing was said about their punishment. Iowa A-C-L-U executive director, Ben Stone, says they will seek further review from the Iowa Supreme Court.

Stone says they are “troubled” by the way the appeals court interpreted the law, as it “makes it likely that school districts and other government entities are gonna have an incentive to keep some employees that are engaged in bad or negligent conduct on staff in order to keep things secret.” He says the interpretation allows employers to hide behind the law protecting confidential employee records.  Stone says if an employee is fired, the public can learn the reasons for the firing throught the open recores law. But, he says if the employee is not fired, then the information does not have to be distributed to the public. Stone says this case is not about an every day review of an employee’s performance.

Stone says they argued that this is a very specific incident where the district has voluntarily identified the people involved and the basic facts. “So this is not like going on a fishing expedition to find out which employees might be doing something that the public doesn’t like, this is a very specific situation,” Stone says. Stone says they believe the specific situation should be weighed against the employee’s rights to determine if the information should be released. Stone says they are looking for a situation “where the public’s right to know is properly balanced.” He says one of the justices on the appeals court agreed with them, so they are encouraged and will try to get the Iowa Supreme Court to take the case. 

Atlantic Superintendent, Mike Amstein, had this to say to KJAN News, about the ruling:  He says he thinks the decision “Affirms the District’s Court’s Decision on the Open Records Issue, and that’s good news for the district to hear,” so it can move on with the “business of educating.” There was one dissenting opinion, but Amstein says the ruling is strong.  He says the decision speaks for itself, that the district court was correct in its findings. Amstein commented on the possible appeal by the A-C-L-U: He says the opportunity is there for them to appeal, but he’s just glad for right now the decision has been affirmed.

The majority ruling of the court said “We acknowledge the public interest in open access to governmental records and the conflict between access and the interest in protecting privacy rights of employees. But we agree with the district court that any expansion of the public’s right to these records is a matter for the legislature to determine.” Justice Amanda Potterfield disagreed with the majority ruling. She said ” While the disciplinary measures may implicitly contain information regarding the job performances of the two individual employees, the privacy interests implicated here, the measures relate most directly to the response of the school district in which the public has a legitimate interest. My analysis of the decisions of the Iowa Supreme Court in cases involving the exemption to our open records law for “personal information in personnel records” leads me to believe disclosure of the narrow piece of information requested by the ACLU should not be categorically denied under the circumstances here.”

(Radio Iowa/KJAN News Dir. Ric Hanson)

8AM Newscast 10-19-2011

News, Podcasts

October 19th, 2011 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Low-income Iowans reminded to apply for heating bill help

News

October 19th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Thousands of Iowans who are turning on their furnaces in response to the dip in temperatures this week are wondering how they’ll afford their heating bills this winter. Last winter, more than 95,000 households received help with those bills through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – or LIHEAP. Jerry McKim oversees the program at the Iowa Department of Human Rights.

“We’re serving about 45-percent of the eligible population. That means there are still a lot of folks out there who, for whatever reason, don’t sign up for the program,” McKim said. Many people believe they’ll be able to handle the heating bills early in the winter season, but then struggle in later months as the costs keep climbing. McKim notes 28-percent of the people served by LIHEAP are older Iowans and 45-percent are disabled.

“Almost 94-percent households assisted by this program are not on welfare,” McKim said. “So what we’re seeing, particularly over the last few years with the recession, is first time applicants…because of job loss or something like that.” In some cases, LIHEAP recipients also qualify for a weatherizing program that helps improve the energy efficiency of their home. Applications for LIHEAP are accepted from November 1st through the end of next April. McKim says some households can apply now.

Those would include eligible households with an older or disabled person. Low-income residents facing a utility shutoff are also encouraged to apply now. A family of four would likely qualify for LIHEAP if the household family income is below $33,525.

To receive a LIHEAP application on-line, surf to www.dcaa.ia.gov.

(Radio Iowa)

September homes sales up across the state

News

October 19th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The president of the Iowa Association of Realtors, Kurt Schade, says the numbers from the September statewide sales survey show good signs. He says September sales were up 20-point-nine percent in the month with pending sales up eight-point-three percent up from the previous years as well. Schade says the record low interest rates are part of the reason for the bump.

Schade says homeowners are recognizing that if they have the ability to buy, it is a great time to buy a home. The average sales price dropped, and he says people are also capitalizing on that. The average sales price was down one-point-seven percent. Schade says the loan process is still taking some time for buyers to complete the sale. He says the average number of days a home is on the market is up and he says that’s because of new appraisal rules that began in September, and lenders are taking a long look at loans before approving them. Schade says the uptick in September sales is encouraging as home-buying naturally falls off as we head from fall into winter.

Schade says real estate is season in Iowa because of the weather, and the pool of buyers goes down as people can’t see as much of a home when there is snow on the ground. He says some sellers take their homes off the market in the winter to wait for better spring weather. The report showed that 36 of the 44 local boards and reporting sites across Iowa reported increases in the number of sales and 23 boards reported increases in average sale price from September 2010. Fourteen boards showed a decrease in the average number of days on the market.

(Radio Iowa)