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BASF of Germany buying Iowa-based Becker Underwood

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa (AP) – German-based chemical maker BASF had made a deal to buy Ames-based Becker Underwood, which makes seed treatment and other farm products.  BASF says the purchase price is $1.02 billion. Becker Underwood was co-founded in 1982 by Atlantic natives Roger Underwood and Jeff Becker.  They sold controlling interest to Norwest Equity Partners of Minneapolis in 2004. Becker has more than 210 employees in Ames; St. Joseph, Mo.; and Caldwell, Idaho; and nearly 270 more in several other countries.

BASF is based in Ludwigshafen, Germany, and produces chemicals and plastics as well oil and gas and agricultural herbicides and fertilizers. BASF spokeswoman Anne Burt says final decisions haven’t been made about the future of Becker Underwood’s chief executive officer, Peter Innes, other managers or other workers.

Iowa early News Headlines: Fri., Sept. 21st 2012

News

September 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) – A Cedar Rapids police spokeswoman says no obvious signs of trauma have been found on the body of a man that was found between two houses. Officers were sent to the scene on the southwest side of the city after a neighbor reported seeing the body of 25-year-old James Tamayo shortly after 7 a.m. yesterday.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A Des Moines area developer has pleaded guilty to bank fraud in connection with a loan to develop a condominium project. U.S. Attorney Nicholas Klinefeldt announced that Randal Walters of Polk County pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of bank fraud related to the Meadow Cove project. The 55-year-old Walters acknowledged during court proceedings that he diverted loans intended for condos to other uses.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Rural electric cooperatives operating in Iowa, Nebraska and seven other states are getting federal loan guarantees to improve portions of their power lines and generating systems. The funding includes a $6.7 million loan guarantee for Nobles Electric Cooperative, which serves customers in northwest Iowa and Minnesota.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Cleanup of an oil spill along 10 to 15 miles of the North Raccoon River south of Jefferson continues as environmental officials warn people to avoid canoeing, fishing, or even hiking in the area. Pools of thick black smelly oil are apparent in the area after a valve on a storage tank malfunctioned September 13th at Krieger’s Greenhouse in Jefferson.

Missouri River trash cleanup is Saturday, volunteers needed

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Volunteers are needed to pull on boots and gloves this weekend to help clean up the banks of the Missouri River after last year’s historic flooding. Jeff Barrow is director of Missouri River Relief and says they’re focusing their efforts Saturday on the Nebraska side of the river, just north of Omaha. They’ll be getting the debris that washed up on the islands and in the woods in last year’s flooding. Barrow says up to 300 volunteers are expected for the event who will help pick up 10 to 15 tons of trash. He recommends bringing bug spray and sunscreen. The trash pick-up runs until noon and lunch will be provided. After lunch, more volunteers are needed to sort and haul that trash away.

The Army Corps of Engineers is providing a barge on which the trash will be dumped, while there will also be separate dumpsters for trash and scrap metal. Volunteers should be on the look-out for unusual items and there’s a contest for the best “trash treasures” found. Barrow says they’ve literally found a message in a bottle before.”We were doing a clean-up way down near the Mississippi River on the Missouri River and someone in Council Bluffs had put a message in a bottle and it’d been in the river ten years,” he says. “We found it. It was really amazing. We tried to call the person back but the phone number was no longer active.”

Volunteers should be at N-P Dodge Park north of Omaha at 9 AM Saturday. Barrow says in ten years, more than 16,500 volunteers have collected and hauled away more than one-million pounds of trash from 784 miles of river.

(Radio Iowa)

Cass County residents encouraged to participate in local walks

News

September 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds are calling on Cass County residents and all Iowans to join in a one-kilometer Healthiest State Walk on Wednesday, October 3rd, as one part of an effort to become the healthiest state in the nation. More than 291,000 Iowans from each of Iowa’s 99 counties participated in the Healthiest State Initiative’s “Start Somewhere” walk in 2011. This year, many organized Healthiest State Walks will be held at noon on October 3rd, but walks are encouraged throughout the day.

A kilometer is about 7.5 city blocks, a 12-minute stroll for the average walker. Walkers can sign up for the event and find or create a local, organized walk at www.iowahealthieststate.com. In addition to walking, Branstad and Reynolds are encouraging Iowans to add one more wellness activity to their day on October 3rd.  The Governor and Lt. Gov. last year announced the plan to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation within five years as measured by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index(r). In 2011, Iowa ranked 16th compared to all other states, moving up from the 19th position in 2010.

The Healthiest State Initiative is a privately led, public effort that engages Iowans and their communities throughout the state. It involves individuals, families, businesses, faith-based organizations, not-for-profits and the public sector in a broad-based community-focused effort.

Page County officials: Ottumwa man found in the cab of a semi, died from natural causes

News

September 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Page County Sheriff Lyle Palmer reports his deputies were called Thursday to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a man found in a vehicle.  Deputies responded to 1851 A Avenue at approxiamtely7:30 AM. Following an investigation, which involved the Page County Medical Examiner and the Page County Sheriff’s Office, it was determined that 59-year old George Henry Mier, of Ottumwa,  had died from natural causes in a Semi tractor waiting in line to get into the business of Hallet Materials.  The Semi was parked on A Avenue facing north just south of the entrance to the business.

Montgomery Co. Auditor’s office: Absentee ballots available beginning Sept. 27th

News

September 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office said Thursday, that Absentee ballots for the November 6th General Election will be available in the Auditors Office on Thursday September 27th. Absentee ballots may be cast in the Election/Auditors Office, 2nd Floor of the Courthouse, during office hours from 8:00 AM through 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday.  Last day to cast Absentee ballots is in the Auditor’s Office on 11/5/12 until 5:00 PM. Absentee ballots must be requested in writing.  Forms are available at the Auditor’s office and on the Secretary of State website at www.sos.iowa.gov.  Return ballots must be postmarked by 11/5/12 or earlier. All requests for a ballot to be mailed must be received by the Election Office by 5:00 pm, on Friday November 2, 2012.

For further information, contact the Montgomery County Election/Auditors Office at 712-623-5127 between 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM Monday – Friday.

Cass County Authorities remind residents not to fall victim to the “Relative in Jail” phone scam

News

September 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office is reminding the public to be aware that telephone scams are still alive and well in the county. Most recently reported to officials is the old scam whereby people are called by someone claiming to be that person’s grandchild or other relative and asking for cash to be wired to them so they can get out of jail. If you receive this sort of call, be sure to satisfy yourself as to the true identity of the caller. Never wire money without verifying the whereabouts of your actual relative, and never give out personal or banking information over the phone.

Update – eastbound I-480 to northbound I-29 bridge in Council Bluffs to close Sept. 26 for repairs

News

September 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) said Thursday, that the work location has changed but the schedule will remain the same, for the Interstate 480 work scheduled for next week in Council Bluffs. The DOT will be closing the eastbound Interstate 480 to northbound I-29 bridge in Council Bluffs on Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 26th and 27th, to make repairs.

Northbound I-29 traffic will be routed around the construction zone by traveling south on I-29, exiting at 9th Avenue (exit 53A), and traveling north on I-29. Motorists will want to allow some extra time in the morning hours to travel on this detour. The roadway should be reopened to traffic by Friday, Sept. 28, weather permitting.

The Iowa DOT reminds motorists to drive with caution, obey posted speed limits and other signs in the work area, and be aware that traffic fines for moving violations are at least double in work zones. As in all work zones, drivers should stay alert, allow ample space between vehicles and wear seat belts.

3 noncitizens from Council Bluffs charged with voter fraud

News

September 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation has charged three people with voter fraud for voting in Pottawattamie County even though they are not U-S citizens. D-C-I assistant director, Chari Paulson, says the three people who live in Council Bluffs were arrested after there was suspicion that they had illegally voted in the 2010 general election and 2011 city election. “This is information that we had gotten from the Secretary of State’s office regarding a possible vote that had been cast by non-U-S citizens in that county,” Paulson says. The information led to the arrest of 52-year-old Albert Harte-Maxwell, 49-year-old Linda Harte-Maxwell and 40-year-old Maria Ayon-Fernandez.

Our agents conducted our normal due-dilligence in a criminal investigation. We made contact with U-S Immigration and Customs to determine their immigration status and then based upon that information, we conducted our investigation and found out that they did vote while they were non-U-S citizens,” Paulson says. Secretary of State Matt Schultz, a Republican, has been involved in a legal battle over trying to take non-citizens off the voters rolls after he found over 35-hundred people through driver’s license records that were not citizens but had vote. A lawsuit was filed to block Schultz from using a federal immigration list to cross-check and remove non-citizen voters. Schultz said during a hearing on the issue that he had turned the names over to the D-C-I and what they did with the names was out of his hands. Paulson says they are looking into more possible voter fraud.

“We still have ongoing investigations in reference to election misconduct in other counties in Iowa,” Paulson says. The three individuals from Council Bluffs turned themselves in today and were released on their own recognizance. Secretary of State Schultz released this comment in connection with the fraud charges: “As Secretary of State one of my primary duties is to ensure that we have fair and honest elections. Every person who cheats in the voting booth deprives a hard-working, eligible citizen of their voice in our government. That is why I have been fighting for election integrity and will continue to do so.“I am grateful for the hard work and dedication DCI has shown so far in their investigation of election crimes in our state.” According to criminal complaints filed, Albert Harte-Maxwell voted in both elections, Linda Harte-Maxwell voted in the 2011 city election, and Maria Ayon-Fernandez voted in the 2010 general election.

(Radio Iowa)

Drought hurts rural economy in 10 states

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 20th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The economy in rural parts of 10 Midwest and Western states continued to look weak in September as the drought weighed down agricultural businesses. A new survey of bankers in the region released Thursday showed that the overall economic index remained in negative territory at 48.3 in September. That was slightly better than August’s 47.1 and July’s 47.9, but any score below 50 on the 1-to-100 index suggests that the economy will contract in months ahead. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the drought is already hurting businesses linked to agriculture like ethanol and farm equipment dealers. The survey covers rural areas of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. The confidence index was also weak at 43 in September, up from August’s 39.6.