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Update: Harlan Schools to dismiss at 2:10-p.m. due to bomb threat


January 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency report students were safely evacuated from the Harlan Community High School this afternoon, after authorities were notified of a bomb threat. At 12:16 today Shelby County EMA/911 received a call for assistance in handling the incident. KETV reports the district alerted families via email and automated phone calls around 12:30 p.m. Officials said all students have been accounted for and are safe. Students were being dismissed at 2:10 p.m.

All K-8 students are at Immanuel Lutheran Church and can be picked up in the church parking lot. Students 9-12 are at Grace Baptist Church and can be picked up along Cyclone Avenue. Officials said students and staff won’t be allowed to get their vehicles or return to any building in the district, and everyone should stay away from the Middle School and High School.

Law enforcement determined the high school won’t be secure until at least 6 p.m.

Bomb threat at Harlan High School


January 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency report students were safely evacuated from the Harlan Community High School this afternoon, after authorities were notified of a bomb threat. At 12:16 today Shelby County EMA/911 received a call for assistance in handling the incident.

Harlan Police Department, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Harlan Fire Department were immediately dispatched to assist the Harlan Community School District. Law Enforcement is investigating the incident; no other information is available at this time as this is an evolving situation.

Students have been moved to a secure location. Officials are asking the public to stay out of the area as Emergency Vehicles are working. Traffic is being re-routed around the Harlan Community School. The next update is expected at 3-pm.

Newly elected Sen. Ernst to kick off 99 county tour


January 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Sen. Joni Ernst says she’ll start her 2015 tour of all 99 Iowa counties this weekend. During a call with news reporters Wednesday, Ernst said she’ll be in her home town of Red Oak on Saturday. The appearance will mark the beginning of an annual effort to visit all the counties in Iowa every year.

Other Iowa politicians that make this effort each year include Sen. Chuck Grassley and Gov. Terry Branstad.  The Republican Ernst was recently sworn in for her first term in the Senate.

Courthouse security discussions continue in Cass County


January 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The topic of courthouse security is clearly important, as evidenced by today’s (Wednesday’s) comments by Chief Justice Mark Cady, who spoke before the Iowa Legislature in his “State of the Judiciary” address (see the story posted on his statements). It’s also on the minds of officials in Cass County, who have been looking at ways to defend courthouse staff and the public during an “active shooter” situation.

Public Safety Commissioner Steve Livengood conducted an in-depth review of courthouse security and interviewed various departmental personnel to gauge their input. And while Livengood came up with numerous ways to address, or improve courthouse security, Cass County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Kennon says his priority has to deal with ‘Safe Rooms” within the courthouse.

The various County offices are equipped with vaults that can be used as a “Safe Room,” but there are issues with them unable to be closed and secured from the inside. Kennon said in some cases, the doors were removed and know one knows where they are or why they were removed to begin with. He says if they can be found, they likely can be remounted on the existing brackets.

The courthouse security issue arose when concerns were made by the Clerk of Courts Office. On November 19th, an “Active shooter” drill was conducted at the courthouse, to familiarize County personnel with the sounds of gunfire on different levels of the building. In addition to establishing “Safe Rooms,” the County has taken measures to ensure there is only one public access point to the Courthouse, as suggested during a recent ISAC (Iowa State Association of Counties) meeting.

Supervisor Chuck Reiken said while addressing safety issues now are fine, there needs to be a more comprehensive, on-going and/or long-term plan to deal with threats and security.

Iowa’s chief justice: More security needed at courthouses


January 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa’s chief justice says the state’s court system needs more security at courthouses and better ways of addressing racial disparities in its criminal justice system. Chief Justice Mark Cady of the Iowa Supreme Court made the comments Wednesday in the annual “state of the judiciary” address to a joint session of the Legislature. Cady says the judicial branch is completing surveys on security levels at each courthouse. He says some training has been implemented, but he did not elaborate.

The comments come after a man opened fire at the Jackson County Courthouse in September. He was killed after a scuffle with a county supervisor. Cady also says the justice system now offers staff training to recognize implicit biases that could contribute to racial disparities in its criminal justice system.

Branstad hoping tweaks to anti-bullying bill work


January 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Governor Terry Branstad says he wasn’t surprised he got a standing ovation from legislators when he talked about the need to pass an anti-bullying bill. The moment came during Branstad’s “Condition of the State” message on Tuesday morning. “I think its time has come,” Brasntad said. “I think there’s a lot of interest in that and I think we perfected what we proposed last year.”

Branstad has tweaked his anti-bullying proposal after failing to get legislators’ approval in each of the past two years. For instance, he’s recommending the bill include a parental notice provision, so the student’s parents will be told if they’ve been involving in a bullying incident. Branstad has embraced the idea of spending more state money to train school administrators and teachers to deal effectively with bullying.

“We have tried to listen to some of the concerns that people had about the bill last year, such as if a student changes schools because of bullying, they’d be able to not have to sit out — they could participate in athletics immediately,” Branstad says. “The parental notification is important, but if there is a situation where the child would be harmed by that, we want there to be an opportunity to protect that child from that.”

Branstad unveiled his top legislative priorities, along with his proposed state budget yesterday (Tuesday). It would include more money for the public universities, but not as much as was requested — for instance, if the governor’s proposal is adopted by legislators the University of Iowa would get a third of what they’ve requested to cover a shift in the way state tax dollars are distributed to the three universities. “There’s only so much money available,” Branstad says. “And, you know, this is a tight budget.”

The board that governs the three state universities issued a written statement, saying Branstad’s budget plan would provide enough new state support for the schools so they’ll be able to freeze in-state tuition for a third consecutive year. But the board plans to lobby legislators to provide more money to the University of Iowa in the first year of the new system that will send Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa more state resources, since they have more students who are Iowa residents.

(Radio Iowa)

Cass County Supervisors sign plans for Griswold bridge project & discuss HMP


January 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors received an update on a bridge project near the Griswold Golf Course during their meeting this (Wednesday) morning. Rich Hansen, Assistant to County Engineer Charles Marker, said bid letting on the Baughman Creek Bridge on 560th Street is tentatively set for April 21st. In the interim, there are plans to purchase the Rights-of-Way on either side of the bridge, which will be 138-feet long and 30-feet wide. Survey plats are also being drawn-up.

The bridge will cost about $600,000, with 80-percent coming from the Bridge Replacement funds, and 20-percent a local match. It’s not clear when work on the bridge will begin. That will be determined after the bid letting is complete. Right now, the bridge is only capable of handling single-lane traffic weighing no more than 3-tons.

In other business, the Board kicked-off the 5-year Hazard Mitigation Planning (HMP) process, upon hearing from Community Development Specialist Jason Ehrig Paige, who is in charge of writing the plan for Cass County. Hazard Mitigation is defined as any sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk to life and property from hazard events, especially those related to weather. It’s an on-going process that occurs before, during, and after disasters and serves to break the cycle of damage and repair in hazardous areas.

Paige said a series of initial public meetings have taken place or will be held throughout Cass County, with the last meeting set to take place in Griswold, next month. The next step will be to develop strategies, goals and actions for each jurisdiction to include in their plan, such as the construction of safe rooms, purchase generators, or to take other action to reduce risks to their communities.

It will be up to the communities then, to implement those strategies. A HMP is required in order to obtain funding from FEMA following a disaster, in addition to a local match, which usually consists of volunteer hours in attending meetings and services. The current HMP was created in 2010. The plans expire every 5-years.

Signup by Feb. 2 to Receive Priority for Conservation Planning Assistance from NRCS

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

An official with the USDA’s office in Greenfield says Iowa producers and landowners who sign up for voluntary conservation planning assistance at the Greenfield Field office by Feb. 2nd will receive priority planning service from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field staff.  District Conservationist Alan Lange says “Developing a conservation plan is the first step towards realizing the economic and stewardship benefits of managing the natural resources on your farm.

Lange said “The extent of the plan is guided by the producer’s individual goals and objectives. Our role is to assist farmers learn more about their land’s potential, and how conservation management and stewardship practices can improve their sustainable bottom line. Conservation plans are tailored to each individual situation. It truly is your farm and your plan.”

Producers can call or visit the Greenfield NRCS office to participate in the signup. Staff will schedule a time to make farm visits and start the planning process. State Conservationist Jay Mar says “The signup is part of Iowa NRCS’ multi-faceted effort to emphasize the benefits and importance of conservation planning.”  Mar says the idea “Is to help landowners accelerate good conservation management through quality conservation planning. This signup is an excellent way to begin working relationships between conservation planners and Iowa producers.”

The conservation planning process often helps producers and planners discover different, more effective solutions to previously identified problems. Mar said “Our conservation planners offer to work together with producers to provide another set of eyes. Sometimes a different perspective is needed to make sure a producer’s goals and objectives are met with the best tools available.”

The completed individualized conservation plan guides future land management decisions and helps streamline conservation implementation. For more information about NRCS conservation planning assistance please go to www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov or visit your local NRCS field office.

Clarinda man arrested Tuesday on warrant for assault


January 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

An investigation into an alleged assault that took place January 1st in rural Page County resulted in a warrant for, and the arrest of, a Clarinda man. The Page County Sheriff’s Office reports 32-year old Donald Ernest Runyon turned himself in Tuesday afternoon. Runyon was arrested for Assault and later posted a $300 bond.

The incident which resulted in his arrest allegedly took place at around 2-a.m. Jan. 1st, at 2692 220th Street,  in rural Page County (about one-half west of Clarinda). The investigation showed that Runyon assaulted 20-year old Skylur William Shane, of Clarinda, while they were at the residence.

Glenwood man arrested for Child Endangerment


January 14th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Police in Glenwood report the arrest on Tuesday of a Glenwood man. 19-year old Cody Hunter was arrested on a Mills County warrant for Child Endangerment. No other details were provided. Hunter’s bond was set at $10,000.