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Temps drop – rain changes to snow – accidents pile up

News

February 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

When the temperature dropped 10-degrees in an hour this (Wednesday) afternoon, rain quickly morphed into heavy, wet snow. The first flakes began to fall at around 12:30-p.m.  As the snow accumulated, it didn’t take long for the accident reports to pile up. About an hour after the rain changed to all snow, an accident was reported on Interstate 80 in Cass County, between the 57 and 60 mile-markers eastbound.

The crash caused the roadway to be blocked while State Troopers, Cass County Deputies and emergency crews responded to, and worked to clear the wreckage. The road was re-opened to traffic at around 3-p.m.
Numerous other accidents were reported, as well. There was no immediate word on any injuries.

Towing services were being prohibited in Pottawattamie, Cass and Adair Counties late this (Wednesday) afternoon, because of the weather conditions. For the latest road report, go to www.511ia.org, or call 511 from any phone.

State details plan to use private firms to manage Medicaid

News

February 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A top state official says turning over Iowa’s Medicaid program to private operators would save money and improve service, but lawmakers are questioning how the change would impact people in the program. Department of Human Services Director Chuck Palmer addressed a legislative committee Wednesday. He says the state is moving forward with a plan to shift the Medicaid program to one or more managed care organizations. That means the state would pay outside companies a fixed amount per enrollee to provide health coverage.

About 550,000 people are enrolled in Iowa’s Medicaid program, which is funded with $4.2 billion in state and federal dollars. Democratic Sen. Joe Bolkcom says lawmakers need to closely monitor the change, noting that he’ll hear from constituents if there are changes to quality of care.

School bullying legislation advances in Iowa Legislature

News

February 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Legislation aimed at reducing school bullying in Iowa has advanced in the Legislature, though it remains unclear if it will have enough support to get to Gov. Terry Branstad’s desk. A three-member House education subcommittee gave unanimous approval Wednesday for a version of the bill. It now heads to a full committee for consideration. On the Senate side, the education committee voted 9 to 6 Wednesday along party lines to approve the bill with some changes. The full Senate can now debate it.

The legislation would add language that supporters say will give educators more clarification on how to respond to bullying cases. Rep. Quentin Stanerson, a Center Point Republican, was on the subcommittee Wednesday. He says he’s still figuring out whether the legislation has enough support in the House.

Slauson restitution hearing held Wednesday

News

February 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A restitution hearing was held this (Wednesday) afternoon at the courthouse in Atlantic, in the case of an Atlantic woman who falsely claimed her 5-year old daughter had cancer and then raised money for her treatment. Fourth District Court Judge Greg Steensland presided over the hearing for 30-year old Leatha Kaye Slauson. Slauson herself was unable to make it to the proceedings due to the weather, but she was represented by her lawyer, Jay Mez.

During the nearly 50-minute hearing, a half-dozen persons testified, and provided evidence to the judge of how much they had contributed to Slauson, or the “Super Riley” fund set up for her daughter. Most presented photocopies of checks, but one woman presented credit card statements. The amounts claimed ranged from $200 to over $3,000. In all, about $10,000 in claims were presented by private individuals or persons representing organizations, such as the 1st United Methodist Men’s group in Atlantic, and Beta Sigma Phi.

Judge Steensland, Mez and Cass County Attorney David Wiederstein agreed to accept the claims. Now it’s up to the judge to determine how much each person or organization will receive. The total amount victim restitution is in the amount of $35,964. Three-thousand dollars has been returned in the form of an R-V that was used, leaving a balance of $32,964. The amount of funds available to distribute are $15,920.

The Judge said since the amount of claims exceed the available funds, it puts him in a “Bit of a predicament.”  He said “We’ve already had a situation where we’re trying to figure out what to do with money that shouldn’t have been given out in the first place. As a judge, I cannot exacerbate that by giving out funds that I can’t track.” He said he would reimburse those funds that he thinks are provable, in the form of a court order as soon as possible, barring an unforeseen circumstances.)

In January, the 30-year-old Slauson was sentenced to 5 years probation and was ordered to continue mental health treatment and not contact her five children unless requested by her therapist. In November, she plead guilty to two counts of child endangerment, one of administering harmful substances, one of theft and one of unlawful possession of a prescription drug.

Despite acquittal, court rules Iowa can keep seized cash

News

February 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – An appeals court says Iowa government officials can keep $33,000 in cash seized from a man later acquitted of possessing marijuana. The Iowa Court of Appeals says the traffic stop that led to the arrest of Robert Pardee was pretextual but didn’t violate his rights. Pardee was the passenger in a California-plated vehicle stopped by a trooper on Interstate 80 in 2012 as part of an interdiction program that pulls over vehicles for minor traffic violations for the purpose of searching for illicit drugs.

Troopers found a small amount of marijuana, $33,100 cash and drug ledgers listing amounts sold, prices and names of buyers. Pardee was charged with possession of marijuana, but later acquitted. The court is upholding a judge who found the money was tied to a criminal offense.

Branstad signs gas tax bill into law

News

February 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Fuel prices will soon go up in Iowa now that Gov. Terry Branstad has signed a tax increase into law. Branstad announced Wednesday that he had signed the bill, which will raise the state fuel tax by 10 cents a gallon. The Legislature gave bipartisan support to the measure Tuesday in an effort to provide more road funding.

The legislation will provide more than $200 million annually for Iowa’s network of bridges and roads, many of which are considered deteriorating or deficient. The price change will go into effect March 1.
Branstad says he recognized the state needs more money for infrastructure. He praised lawmakers for reaching a bipartisan consensus.

Winter Weather Statement updates (2/25/15)

News, Weather

February 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

CARROLL-GREENE-BOONE-GUTHRIE-DALLAS-COUNTIES
1019 AM CST WED FEB 25

WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 PM.

* SHORT TERM TRENDS…MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW WILL PERSIST OVER
NORTHERN IOWA AND SPREAD SOUTH INTO CENTRAL IOWA LATER IN THE MORNING. THE SNOW WILL LAST THROUGH THE AFTERNOON INTO THE EARLY EVENING HOURS.

* STORM TOTAL SNOW…4 TO 8 INCHES.

* WINDS/VISIBILITY…WINDS WILL INITIALLY BE EAST AT AROUND 10 MPH THIS MORNING BUT INCREASE TO 15 TO 25 MPH BY AFTERNOON AS THEY BECOME MORE NORTHERLY. VISIBILITIES WILL OFTEN BE A MILE OR LESS DURING PERIODS OF HEAVY SNOW.

* IMPACTS…SNOWFALL RATES MAY REACH AN INCH OR MORE PER HOUR AT TIMES LEADING TO SNOW COVERED ROADS AND HAZARDOUS DRIVING CONDITIONS. BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW MAY ALSO LEAD TO DIFFICULT DRIVING CONDITIONS THIS EVENING EVEN AFTER THE HEAVIEST SNOW HAS ENDED.

CRAWFORD-AUDUBON-CASS-ADAIR-ADAMS-UNION-TAYLOR-RINGGOLD

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM UNTIL 9 PM

* STORM TOTAL SNOW…2 TO 4 INCHES.

* WINDS/VISIBILITY…WINDS WILL INITIALLY BE EAST AT AROUND 10 MPH THIS MORNING BUT INCREASE TO 15 TO 25 MPH BY AFTERNOON AS THEY BECOME MORE NORTHERLY. VISIBILITIES WILL DROP TO A MILE OR SO DURING PERIODS OF HEAVIER SNOW.

* IMPACTS…MODERATE SNOWFALL IS EXPECTED TO PRODUCE SNOW COVERED ROADS AND HAZARDOUS DRIVING CONDITIONS. BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW MAY ALSO LEAD TO DIFFICULT DRIVING CONDITIONS THIS EVENING EVEN AFTER THE HEAVIEST SNOW HAS ENDED.

POTTAWATTAMIE

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 2 PM UNTIL 8 PM…

HARRISON-SHELBY

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 8 PM.

* TIMING…A MIX OF RAIN…SNOW AND FREEZING RAIN WILL DEVELOP BY MID MORNING CHANGING TO ALL SNOW BY MID AFTERNOON ENDING BY THIS EVENING.

* IMPACT…1 TO 2 INCHES OF SNOW IS POSSIBLE IN FAR NORTHEAST HARRISON AND SHELBY COUNTIES…OTHERWISE AMOUNTS WILL BE AN INCH OR LESS.

* TIMING…NORTH OF I-80 SNOW WILL MOVE IN DURING THE AFTERNOON HOURS BEFORE DIMINISHING IN THE EARLY EVENING HOURS. SOME LOCATIONS SOUTH OF INTERSTATE 80 WILL SEE A WINTERY MIX OF RAIN…SLEET AND SNOW INITIALLY BEFORE CHANGING OVER TO ALL SNOW LATE IN THE AFTERNOON.

Branstad intends to sign gas tax hike into law this week

News

February 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Governor Terry Branstad says unless there is a glaring technical error, he intends to approve the bill that would raise the state gas tax by a dime a gallon on Sunday. “It is very likely I’m going to sign it and you’ll know very soon,” Branstad told reporters this morning. That’s because once an Iowa governor receives the formal copy of a bill, he or she must sign or veto it within the following three days.  “I do intend to sign it this week,” Branstad said.

Branstad got the formal copy of the gas tax bill this morning (Wednesday), shortly after nine o’clock, so he has a Saturday deadline for action. Branstad says he has a responsibility as governor to carefully review the final copy, but he doesn’t expect to find a problem that would prevent him from signing the bill into law. “What’s in this bill is not a surprise because we have worked and looked at all the different options and worked with the legislative leaders as they developed this,” Branstad said, “and then worked through the committee processes in the House and Senate.”

In a span of less than two-and-a-half hours the bill cleared both the House and the Senate yesterday (Tuesday) with bipartisan support.  “This is a great example, on a difficult and controversial issue, of the kind of bipartisan cooperation that really makes Iowa stand out as a state where we work together and we get things done,” Branstad said this morning.

Critics of the gas tax hike say Iowa retailers will now be selling the most expensive fuel in the region. Many legislators who opposed the bill said they agree there’s a need for more money to fix Iowa’s transportation system, but they favored cutting other areas of the state budget and diverting that money to road and bridge projects.

(Radio Iowa)

Much of Iowa soon to be buried under 6+ inches of snow

News, Weather

February 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A major winter weather storm is rolling through Iowa as snow started flying this morning in the northwest and is moving southeast through the state. Jim Lee is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.  “The accumulations will vary widely across the state. The southwest corner will see very, very little (snow). Whereas, in a band from about the northern to southeastern part of the state we’re looking at six plus inches,” Lee said.

Parts of Iowa may receive eight or more inches of snow. Some cities in the area projected to get the most snow include Webster City, Marshalltown, Newton, and Oskaloosa. Winter Storm Warnings and Winter Weather Advisories cover nearly the entire state. The heaviest snowfall may occur over sections of central during the afternoon commute.  “We’re looking for snowfall rates probably close to an inch an hour at times within that heaviest band,” Lee said.

As the snow is moving out of the state later tonight, winds are expected to increase and usher in some very cold conditions. High temperatures on Thursday and Friday will be in the single digits to teens across the state. Another smaller snow event is possible for parts of Iowa Saturday night into Sunday.

(Radio Iowa)

Cass County Master Gardeners Grant Money Available for Local Garden Projects

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 25th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The cold weather of winter is the time to plan for future gardens. The Cass County Master Gardeners group is again offering grant money to be used in the 2015 growing season, to encourage gardening to grow food and/or beautify local communities. The money may also be used for gardening education purposes. The David Williams Master Gardener Grants are offered to honor the many years of service Master Gardener David Williams provided as a long-time volunteer, with the Master Gardener program and other community organizations, including a term as Cass County Master Gardener president in 2012.

Any Cass County not-for-profit group or individual may apply. Schools, churches, libraries, 4-H clubs, Scouts, and individuals working to improving their communities can use the money to begin or improve gardens or landscaping, or to provide education for their members or the public. To ensure the money is helping a wide variety of community organizations, groups who were funded by 2014 grants will not be eligible to apply in 2015. Each grant has a maximum value of $300. The application must also include plans for teamwork and sustainability. Consideration for the environment is also an important selection factor.

Applications must be received by Monday, March 30th for consideration. They may be submitted by mail or email. Grant recipients will be informed of their selection by the end of April. For more information, or with questions, call the Cass County Extension office at 712-243-1132, email keolson@iastate.edu, or stop by the Extension Office at 805 W. 10th St in Atlantic. You may also contact committee members Judy Kennedy, Marla Anstey or Linda Edelman. Application forms can be picked up at the Extension Office, or printed from the Cass County Extension website- www.extension.iastate.edu/cass.

The Master Gardener program trains volunteers to develop their knowledge and skills in horticulture. These volunteers then give back to their communities through gardening service and education. The program is available in all 50 states and Canada through land grant university Extension programs such as Iowa State University. Education courses are available throughout Iowa on a regular basis. Contact Cass County Extension Program Coordinator Kate Olson, at 712-243-1132 or keolson@iastate.edufor more information.