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Atlantic City Council meeting preview (for 9/17/14)


September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council will meet in a regular session Wednesday evening in the Council’s Chambers, at City Hall. During the session, which begins at 5:30, the Council is expected to act on setting Oct. 1st as the date of a Public Hearing on the proposed disposal of city-owned property at 1200 Birch and 1106 Poplar Streets.

They’re also expected to act on an order denying a request to vacate Lot A of the Southern Heights Subdivision 2nd addition. It appears the City does not want to vacate the street right-of-way lot until the Council can review options for future residential development.

And, Mayor Dave Jones is expected to ask the Council to set the hours for Halloween trick-or-treating as from 5-to 7-pm Oct. 31st, in Atlantic.

Study: Nearly 1.8 million Iowans gambled last year


September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Nearly 1.8 million Iowa adults gambled last year, according to a study released Tuesday by state health officials. The data means the percentage of adults who gamble is up nine percent since 2011, according to the state Department Public Health.

The study, prepared by the University of Northern Iowa Center for Social and Behavioral Research, also estimates about 8,000 adults in the latest figure could be “problem” gamblers. Symptoms include the need to gamble with larger amounts of money.

The report concludes 77.8 percent of Iowans gambled during the past 12 months. That’s a jump from 68.9 percent in 2011. The most common forms of gambling were lottery tickets, raffle tickets, scratch and pull-tabs, slot machines and card games played outside a casino.

Young Professionals “Paint the Town”


September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Young Professionals of Atlantic (YPA) recently partnered with Cass/Atlantic Development Corporation (CADCO) to paint an Atlantic resident’s home. Every year CADCO helps a local resident whose home needs exterior paint in order to maintain the attractiveness of Atlantic and surrounding towns. Atlantic Chamber Director, Ouida Wymer said “We really appreciate all the volunteers that came to help with the project. Mike Redler with Redler Excavation, surprised us all with an air compressor, that really helped with the process.”

Before painting

Before painting

The YPA’S painted the house on Spruce Street over a period of two days. The project took several hours to complete but greatly improved the appearance of the home. YPA President, Kevin Wieser said “I was really impressed how well the YP came together to support this project. It’s great to see so many YP’s take an active part in helping preserve the beauty of Atlantic. It was a great project to be a part of and it was a total team effort to see it through to completion.”

The Young Professionals of Atlantic is a social group with no membership dues or required meetings. Their mission is to connect, engage and attract young leaders into the community while promoting the greater Atlantic area. Members are young professionals between the ages of 21-40. Any interested individuals can contact chamber@atlanticiowa.com or 712-243-3017 for information.

After painting

After painting

Report: Many Iowa schools not meeting standards


September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – About two-thirds of Iowa’s public schools did not meet educational targets set by the No Child Left Behind Law during the latest academic year, according to a report released Tuesday. The annual report from the Iowa Department of Education said 66 percent of 1,288 public schools missed targets for test participation and proficiency in reading and mathematics during the 2013-2014 school year. About 5 percent of Iowa schools are not included in this result because they were given a waiver to try a different type of assessment.

During the previous school year, 64 percent of 1,361 schools did not meet the standards set by the law. But Department of Education Director Brad Buck said the accountability standards set by the federal law are not working well in Iowa, arguing they don’t properly reflect progress made in schools.

“While I believe in accountability, No Child Left Behind has outlived its usefulness. This is a flawed law,” Buck said. “We must have a rigorous accountability system that acknowledges the strides schools are making.”

The federal law requires annual testing to show proficiency in reading and mathematics. Some states have received waivers granting permission to ignore parts of the law. Iowa has applied, but has not been granted any exemption. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has called for a replacement to No Child Left Behind. He has said the existing law does not allow school leaders to use common sense to determine which schools are failing and which are statistical anomalies.

Old Exira Elementary School site purchased


September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The site of the old Exira Elementary School will be put to good use following a decision Monday evening by the Exira-EHK School Board to sell the land for development. Superintendent Dean Schnoes told KJAN News the Board agreed to sell the property for $5,000.  The land was purchased by area resident Marvin Jorgenson. Along with the purchase price, Jorgenson agree to set aside an endowment, but the exact amount is not known at this point.

On June 1st, a controlled burn used as a training exercise for area firefighters brought the nearly century-old building down. And while many people were sad to see the structure go, Schnoes said the land will spring to life with many more opportunities for the community. He said plans call for the land to be used for a retirement home/assisted living facility, and/or a medical facility.

Schnoes said “I think it’s a win-win for everybody.” In other business, the Board voted to retain Kevin Petersen as President and Terri Harris as Vice-President. Schnoes said also an on-going problem with a leak in one of the district’s buildings that has never been resolved has forced the matter to be taken to the district’s attorney.

A leak on the roof at the Exira Middle School has been a thorn in the district’s side for about the past three years, ever since there was remodeling and construction. Schnoes said it’s gotten to the point where everybody involved has said “It’s not their issue anymore.”

Schnoes said also, they’re working on getting final bids for the new baseball field scoreboard, new lights and infield sod. They might even remodel or construct a new concessions stand, restrooms and stands.

DInkla and Kinze continue to serve as CAM School Board President and V-P


September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Members of the CAM School District’s Board of Education met Monday night at the High School, in Anita. During their meeting, they re-elected both Gary Dinkla as President and Chuck Kinze as Vice-President. The board also opted to continue meeting on the third Monday of each month, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

The CAM School Board also renewed its agreement with the Cass County Sheriffs’ Office for a School Resource Officer, at a cost of $3,000. In other business, they approved the Middle School “Man and Environment” camping and Field Trip, and agreed to allow the Middle School Students to join the High School Shooting Team.

And, Mary Schoning was offered a contract to coach Junior High School Volleyball at CAM.

Griswold School Board elects officers & discusses safety issues


September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Griswold School Board held its annual organizational meeting Monday evening. Superintendent Dana Kunze told KJAN News the Board elected to continue with Doug Lembke as President for the 2014-2015 School Year, and the elected Tom Moore as Vice President, to succeed Scott Peterson. Moore also served as Vice President of the Board a few years ago.

Kunze said things have begun to “Simmer down,” with regard to their construction projects, most of which were wrapped-up over the summer. He said projects for next summer will focus on safety issues and concerns. Kunze said “safety” covers a variety of categories the board will look at and prioritizing the list of projects. That might include controlled access entries, video cameras, and even new lights at a sports facility.

Safety was one of the topics included in the “Board Learning Opportunities” portion of their agenda, Monday evening. Kunze said it’s one of the goals the Board has set for itself this year. Last month they indicated Student Academics was one of their goals. This month it’s safety. Another goal for the Board is financial. They set a target for the Central Office to try and maintain a Solvency Ration of 20-percent. Kunze said the district has been above that rate for the past few years, so the Board wants to see it pulled back.

Kunze said he’s glad he and the Board could come to an agreement on a target rate, so everyone is working “Off the same page.”

Notice of renewal of highway corridor preservation for the Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvements Project


September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Transportation is providing public notice of the renewal of corridor preservation for the Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvements Project that includes Interstate 80 from the Missouri River east-northeast to U.S. 6 (Kanesville Boulevard) in Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County. It also includes I-29 between 25th Avenue on the north to just south of U.S. 275, and I-480 from the Missouri River bridge on the Iowa side to the I-29 interchange.

The Iowa DOT implemented corridor preservation for the project Sept. 20, 2005, which was renewed on Sept. 18, 2008, and again on Sept. 16, 2011. It is the intent of the Iowa DOT to continue to utilize corridor preservation for this project. The Iowa DOT may need to acquire additional right of way or property rights within this designated area.

The notice is valid for a period of three years from the date of publication of the notification (Sept. 12, 2014) and may be refiled by the Iowa DOT every three years. The notice includes a depiction of the corridor preservation area on a map, which is available at www.iowadot.gov/ole/otherprojectinfo.html. Width of the corridor preservation zone varies depending upon the location within the corridor.

Per Iowa Code, each city and county within the designated preservation corridor is required to provide written notification to the Iowa DOT of: (1) an application for a building permit for construction valued at $25,000 or more; (2) submission of a subdivision plat; or (3) proposed zoning change within the area. Notification must be provided to the Iowa DOT at least 30 days prior to granting the proposed building permit, approving the subdivision plat, or changing the zoning. Written notification shall include all pertinent information regarding the proposed permit, plat, or zoning change.

If the Iowa DOT, within the 30-day period, notifies the city or county in writing that the Iowa DOT is proceeding to acquire all or part of the property or property rights affecting the area, the city or county shall not issue the building permit, approve the subdivision plat, or change the zoning. The Iowa DOT may apply to the city or county for an extension of the 30-day period. After a public hearing on the matter, the city or county may grant an additional 60-day extension of the period.

The Iowa DOT will begin the process of acquiring property or property rights from affected persons within 10 days of the Iowa DOT’s written notification of intent to the city or county.

For information regarding the corridor preservation, contact Scott Suhr, District 4 Planner, Iowa Department of Transportation, 2210 E. Seventh St., Atlantic, Iowa 50022, by phone at 712-243-3355 or 800-289-4368 or email scott.suhr@dot.iowa.gov.

Study finds big wealth gap in rural Iowa counties

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa (AP) – A new study by a sociologist at Iowa State University found three rural Iowa counties were among the top 10 in the nation in growth of income equality over more than a decade.
The gap is less obvious because showy displays of wealth are typically frowned upon in places where agriculture is the main economic driver, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, sociologist David Peters told The Des Moines Register. Emmet County was fifth on the list, O’Brien was seventh and Worth was ninth in the growth of inequality between 2000 and 2012.

“That’s shocking. It’s really a phenomenal jump,” Peters said. “It’s strongly affected by farm income.” The growth of biofuels and increase in farm commodity prices drove up incomes for some households. Because rural counties have low populations, the wealth gap can grow quickly when a relatively small number of households increase their incomes. There are fewer farmers now and some middle-skill jobs in manufacturing have disappeared, leaving people who don’t farm with fewer options.

Eight of the 10 Iowa counties with the biggest wealth gaps were rural. The other two are home to major universities and low-income students. In Emmet County, the poorest households saw their share of income decrease nearly 27 percent, while the richest saw theirs grow by 17 percent. “Iowa has never had a wealthy class and a poverty class, but we are getting more like the rest of the nation,” Peters said.

Clarinda man arrested for credit card fraud


September 16th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Police in Clarinda arrested a local man Monday afternoon on a warrant associated with a fraud investigation. 19-year old Caleb Jordan Ennen, of Clarinda, was taken into custody on a warrant for credit card fraud issued by the Page County Magistrate.

At the time of his arrest Ennen was found in possession of a controlled substance believed to be marijuana and drug paraphernalia related items. Ennen was taken into custody without incident and booked into the Page County Jail in lieu of bail, pending initial appearances before the Page County Magistrate.

The matter has been referred to the Page County Attorney’s Office for review and determination regarding the filing of formal charges.