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Atlantic School Board approves new hires and resignations


May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

In addition to approving a $2.2-million budget amendment during their special meeting Wednesday evening, the Atlantic School Board approved recommendations for new personnel, and resignations. Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstein said High School Principal Heather McKay recommended the hiring of Marcus Upchurch to fill one of the existing openings in the English Department.

McKay also recommended CCEOC/Special Ed teacher Karen Vogl for the eight-day Summer Program working with the CCEOC (Cass County Educational Opportunity Center) students, which allows them to earn credit. She also recommended Lori Parrott to facilitate the ALEKS Math Program (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces). The program is used extensively at the EOC, and will serve as a “Math Recovery” program for the summer.

District Technology Coordinator Roger Warne requested the Board approve Kyle Beemer as an assistant to fill vacancies created by an employee who is scheduled to have knee surgery, while another is on vacation. Kyle has worked with the district in the past in a similar position.

Maintenance Director Russell Peck, recommended recommend the hiring of Craig Lukehart for a summer groundskeepers/maintenance position. Washington Principal Stacey Hornung recommend the Board approve Marsha Vonseggern. She would be utilized in a junior Kindergarten position.

Resignations approved by the Board include Schuler Para-Educator Linda Shafer, and Kathleen Blake, Central Office Secretary to the Business Manager. High School Social Studies Teacher Trace Petersen is resigning from the Assistant Varsity Basketball Coaching position. Daniel Vargesen is resigning as Assistant Freshman Football Coach. Maria Oltmans, High School English Instructor is resigning to take a position in a school district closer to her family. There were also staffing changes in the Food Service Department.

Administrators in the district noted there are still some teaching and/or coaching positions left to fill in the coming weeks.

Atlantic School Board approves 2.2-million budget amendment


May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic School Board held a special meeting Wednesday evening at the high school and after much discussion, voted to approve a $2.2-million budget amendment for the 2013-2014 school year. The action came after the Board held a public hearing, during which there were no comments. Business Manager Mary Beth Fast explained there are four areas where a budget could be exceeded that would require a budget amendment. They include Construction, Support Services, Non-instructional programs and Total “Other” expenditures.

Atlantic School Board acts on Budget Amendment. (Ric Hanson/photo)

Atlantic School Board acts on Budget Amendment. (Ric Hanson/photo)

She said if a district exceeds expenses in any one of those areas, the budget should be amended. Fast said nearly 50-percent of Iowa’s school districts amend their budget at some point in time, some more than once. It is especially common she said, when a construction project is underway or was recently completed. The bulk of the Atlantic School District’s budget amendment comes in the area of Support Services.

Mary Beth said the biggest expenses came as the result of the installation wireless system at the Middle School, the Access Control System, Auditorium repairs/lights and sound, and the purchase of two new buses. Those items total around $303-thousand.

Board member Rod Hartwig was concerned about the 42-percent adjustment in the budget and wanted to know where the other $1.9-million is coming from. Fast says she’s “Hoping that’ll more than cover” what the district will need, but she “Would rather err on the side of certifying too much or amending too much, than to cut it close and have that area be exceeded.”  She went on to describe other expenses, much of which were computer-related.

The $2.2-million she said, would cover any additional expenses (bills) that arrive before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1st. Board President Kristy Pellett said she too, was concerned with the large amendment. She said if they failed to sufficiently plan for it 18-months ago, they need to make sure the plan for what they can spend, in the future.

Districts have until May 31st to amend their budget and submit it to their county auditor, or as late as June 30th, but if there was a protest from members of the community, there wouldn’t be enough time for the Iowa State Appeals Board to review render a decision, therefore the amendment would be void. Mary Beth Fast answered the question of “Why do you wait so long to amend your budget?,” by saying  districts are sometimes faced with unexpected expenditures, such as when the purchase of a bus is billed in one fiscal year instead of another, the timing of construction project and payments, curriculum materials being delivered before the end of the current budget year, and damages caused by severe weather that are not immediately reimbursed by insurance.

AMU Scam Alert


May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Police Department is warning area citizens about a phone scam that is occurring in the Atlantic area. Officials say several customers of the Atlantic Municipal Utilities have been called and told that their electrical service will be disconnected unless the customer provides the caller with bank information.

Officials say if you receive a call from someone claiming to be from AMU who is requested financial information, hang up immediately. Atlantic Municipal Utilities will not call its customers requesting that type of information over the phone.

AMU says if your account is past due, you will be contacted by an individual who will provide their name and indicate that they are with Atlantic Municipal Utilities. In addition, prior to being disconnected for a delinquency, you would receive a written notice from AMU. Also, any calls from AMU staff will come from a local number, not a 1-800 number.

If you receive one of the scam calls or have a question about the status of your account, contact AMU directly at 243-1395.

Boom truck accident victim identified


May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Dallas County have identified a man who died after falling from a boom truck Tuesday morning, while installing a power line. According to the Sheriff’s Office, 39-year-old David Denger, of Panora, died at the scene of the accident located about two-miles north of Dexter. Denger was working on installing power lines at around 10-a.m., when he fell about 50-feet to the ground, from the bucket of a boom truck.

The incident remains under investigation.

US charges egg company, 2 execs in 2010 outbreak

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Federal prosecutors have filed charges against an Iowa egg company and two executives blamed in a 2010 salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands of people. Disgraced egg industry titan Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son Peter DeCoster were charged Wednesday with introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, a misdemeanor. A charging document says the pair sold shell eggs that were poisonous for several months in 2010.

Their company, Quality Egg LLC, is charged with introducing misbranded food into interstate commerce, a felony. The document says Quality Egg sold products for years with labeling that “made the eggs appear to be not as old as they actually were.” The company is also charged with bribing a U.S. Department of Agriculture Inspector.

The outbreak led to an unprecedented recall of 550 million eggs.

Atlantic man arrested on warrant out of SE IA


May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Police in Atlantic have arrested a man wanted on a warrant out of southeast Iowa. 21-year old Austin Lemke, of Atlantic, was arrested Tuesday on a Mahaska County warrant for Absence from Custody. Lemke was brought to the Cass County Jail and held pending transport to Mahaska County by their deputies.

Sidewalk issues in Harlan


May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan City Council heard from several citizens about the current Harlan Country Club Estate (HCCE) sidewalk agreement. In a regular meeting Tuesday, the council intended to make a motion to approve the sidewalk agreement has to be completed by December 31st, 2014. The Estate is located on the South side of the Harlan Golf Course in particular the discussion was from citizens residing on Hawkeye Avenue between Country Club Parkway and Shelby Street. One resident, Tamera Ploen  told the council the sidewalks are an issue in the whole city.

“So it’s not just Hawkeye Avenue or the houses surrounding me that have sidewalk problems in the city. We have a lot of sidewalks that need to be redone.” She said her main concern was safety for the children.“The parking is on my side of the street right now. If you put the sidewalk on my side of the street, I am afraid children going in and out of parked cars. We already have cars going by super fast. And when you have a parked vehicle, the other thing is you have people coming around that vehicle and you don’t have access for two vehicles coming down that street.”

Councilman Dave Miller offered a rebuttal. He said “We have been discussing sidewalks in the city of Harlan since the early ‘90’s or late ‘80’s when the first ordinance was enacted. We have discussed all the streets of Harlan that don’t have sidewalks and the areas/homes that don’t have sidewalks will be getting letters also. A timeline we can’t put to it but it is an on going project.”

A motion was made to extend the timeline for completion on the sidewalk agreement for the Harlan Country Club Estate to November 1st, 2015. The motion was passed on a 5 to 1 vote. Councilman Mike Kolbe (Colby) said he would like to bring the topic back up to discussion at the next city council meeting. “I personally would like to see us come back on the June 3rd council meeting and take action on the entire city once we get this done tonight. Give everybody in town the same deadline of November 1st, 2015.”

(Joel McCall/KNOD)

Roar into Harlan continues this summer


May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The creators of “Roar into Harlan” are gearing up for a strong summer with several events planned on the square in downtown Harlan. Mike and Pat Wohlhutter from Metal Ink in Harlan spoke at the city council meeting Tuesday, to give an update on the Roar into Harlan events for the rest of the summer. The bike night on the square takes place on the 3rd Thursday of the month from May through September. The first Roar into Harlan was held on May 15th featuring the Westside Bar. Mike Wohlhutter said the next event is June 19th with The Rocking Chair as the featured business.

“There will also be a dunk tank. Some of the people sitting behind there (the council table) are participating in it. The Mayor will be, City Administrator Terry Cox, Police Chief Frank Clark, Superintendent Justin Wagner, Don from the Lounge and Harlan Fire Chief Roger Bissen. We have a lot of willing volunteers. Well I think mostly because any and all the money taking in from the dunk tank stays in town and goes to the American Legion to support them.”

The couple plans to make July 17th a kid’s night on the square, ladies night will be in August and an open mic night will happen sometime during the Roars. Pat and Mike said the volunteers have been very generous.  “We’ve had a great group of volunteers too, in particular Luke Clark. We couldn’t do it without Luke. He loves doing it and we have a great time with him. The girls at Iowa Wines they have been incredibly helpful and the guys on the street department and Ron Buck. As I said all the people that has anything to do with the city and there that lies within have been very supportive and helpful. Thank you.”

The Wohlhutters also received a considerable amount of funding from the Shelby County Hotel/Motel Tax Committee to help promote the upcoming events for the year. You can find more information on the Roar into Harlan nights on Facebook by searching Roar into Harlan Bike Night.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)

Rollover accident in Mills County


May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

No injuries were reported following a rollover accident Tuesday afternoon, in Mills County. Sheriff’s officials say Joseph Baughman of Bellevue, NE, was driving a 1996 Ford westbound on Highway 370 at around 3:45-p.m., when a white car…possibly a Ford Taurus…attempted to pass him at high rate of speed.

At the same time there was a vehicle traveling eastbound on Hwy 370. Baughman told authorities he had to take evasive actions to keep from all vehicles striking each other. He said the white car would not have had time to get over into the westbound lane without causing an accident.

When Baughman’s car hit the northbound shoulder, he over-corrected and lost control. The vehicle entered the south ditch where it rolled at least once before coming to rest on its top. Baughman refused Rescue, and said he was not hurt.

Cass Supervisors approve Tax Suspension & receive Secondary Roads report


May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors held a short meeting in Atlantic, today (Wednesday). The Board approved a Tax Suspension for a resident in Anita who is eligible for it since they are a recipient of certain types of supplemental support other than Medicaid. A person’s eligibility status must be ascertained each year from Human Services before the month of June.

Cass County Auditor Dale Sunderman and Treasurer Tracey J. Marshall explained a Tax Suspension is different from a Tax Abatement. Sunderman said it means the taxes will be exempt from penalty, interest and tax sale, if monthly payments are made on-time and if taxes aren’t delinquent or owed when the house is sold, otherwise they will be due at that time.

The property in question is within the City Limits of Anita, in Section 28. In other business, the Board heard a report from Cass County Engineer Charles Marker, to request Board Chair Frank Waters’ signature on the final pay vouchers for Murphy Construction, with regard to the completed Nishnabotna River bridge project, and, Henningsen Construction, for work on the Lewis Road.

Marker said on Tuesday, they opened the bids up for Bridge Deck Patching. He says three bids were received. The low bid for the maintenance project was from Denco Highway Construction Corporation in Mingo, $234,092.50, which was under the engineer’s estimate. The company was awarded the project based on their experience and bid.

Marker says also part of the County is out of “Contract Rock” for maintenance of some gravel roads. The Stennett Quarry, which services the southwest corner of the County including the Griswold area, and the Jefferson Quarry, just north Greenfield along Highway 25, no longer have crushed rock available, but Marker says the Secondary Roads Department can make do with what it has on-hand.

He says there’s only 20-miles of road left to rock, six-miles of which is near the Anita area, 10-miles is near Massena. Some of the needed rock can come from the Corning site, according to Marker. And, Marker said they are starting their Project Pipe installation projects, which includes large cross-road pipes and culverts, and tearing up some roads as needed for the installation of those pipes and culverts.