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Plans would cut HR, IT jobs at 3 Iowa universities

News

October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa (AP) – A consultant says Iowa’s three public universities could save tens of millions of dollars in the coming years and eliminate up to 250 jobs by restructuring their administration. Recommendations released Thursday by Deloitte Consulting LLP call for changing or eliminating many individual departments’ human resources, information technology and finance positions. Instead, many of their functions would be handled at a college or university-wide level by more centralized teams.

Deloitte says the jobs would be cut over two years through attrition and perhaps an early retirement initiative. It cautioned the figures were broad estimates. The Iowa Board of Regents is meeting in Ames to discuss the proposals. Regents plan to gather feedback next week at town hall meetings on the university campuses before potentially taking action on the plans next month.

Health officials say Ebola “scary” but chances of contracting “extremely unlikely”

News

October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Officials in the Iowa Department of Public Health say it’s “understandable” that Iowans may find the recent news about an Ebola patient in Texas “scary,” but Dr. Ann Garvey, the assistant medical director for the agency, says the U.S. has health care systems in place to handle such cases. “Ebola is only spread if an infected person is actively having symptoms and it’s spread through direct contact with bodily fluids,” Garvey says. “Ebola is not spread through the air.”

Garvey says public health officials are ready to respond if an Ebola case is identified in Iowa. “Hospitals have been preparing for diseases like Ebola for a very long time. They have procedures in place,” Garvey says. “There is a significant amount of guidance that the CDC has put out recently related to Ebola specifically and that addresses all the procedures and steps that health care providers should keep in mind, many of which they’re already doing on a daily basis for other diseases that are infectious in nature.”

The president of Sierra Leone and the ministers of agriculture in Liberia and Sierra Leone are due to visit Des Moines in mid-October for World Food Prize festivities. Dr. Garvey says there’s no reason for concern. “Again, to get Ebola you have to have direct contact with bodily fluids from someone who is ill and actively having systems. Again, it’s not an airborne disease,” Garvey says. “And the recommendations for individuals coming from parts of the world where their is ongoing Ebola activity are really based upon the exposures that they’ve had, but people who have not had contact with anyone who is ill from Ebola, the recommendation is to just take their temperature daily.”

Dr. Garvey says it would be “extremely unlikely” one of those visitors would come down with symptoms, but if they get a fever, there is “appropriate care” available here. One of four medical missionaries from the U.S. who got Ebola in Africa was treated at an Omaha hospital. Dr. Richard Sacra was released last week and he’s not ruling out a return to Liberia.

(Radio Iowa)

CWD found in captive deer herd

News

October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship today (Thursday) announced that the test results from the depopulation of a quarantined captive deer herd in north-central Iowa showed that 284 of the 356 deer, or 79.8% of the herd, tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The owners of the quarantined herd have entered into a fence maintenance agreement with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, which requires the owners to maintain the 8’ foot perimeter fence around the herd premises for five years after the depopulation was complete and the premises had been cleaned and disinfected

CWD is a progressive, fatal, degenerative neurological disease of farmed and free-ranging deer, elk, and moose. There is no known treatment or vaccine for CWD. CWD is not a disease that affects humans.

On July 18, 2012, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) National Veterinary Services Lab in Ames, IA confirmed that a male white tail deer harvested from a hunting preserve in southeast IA was positive for CWD. An investigation revealed that this animal had just been introduced into the hunting preserve from the above-referenced captive deer herd in north-central Iowa.

The captive deer herd was immediately quarantined to prevent the spread of CWD. The herd has remained in quarantine until its depopulation on August 25 to 27, 2014. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship participated in a joint operation to depopulate the infected herd with USDA Veterinary Services, which was the lead agency, and USDA Wildlife Services.

Once the depopulation was complete and the premises had been cleaned and disinfected, indemnity of $917,100.00 from the USDA has been or will be paid to the owners as compensation for the 356 captive deer depopulated. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship operates a voluntary CWD program for farms that sell live animals. Currently 145 Iowa farms participate in the voluntary program. The above-referenced captive deer facility left the voluntary CWD program prior to the discovery of the disease as they had stopped selling live animals. All deer harvested in a hunting preserve must be tested for CWD.

(Podcast) 8-a.m. News, 10/2/2014

News, Podcasts

October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

With KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.

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Double-wide trailer destroyed in early morning blaze

News

October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A double-wide mobile home was destroyed by fire early this (Thursday) morning, west/southwest of Portsmouth, in rural Harrison County. According to Persia Firefighter Bob Simon, the department was dispatched at around midnight to the fully engulfed structure at 3832 260th Street, and was on the scene until about 3-a.m.  Crews from Persia and Panama provided mutual aide to Portsmouth Fire.

A couple living in the mobile home was in the process of moving. The cause of the blaze was not immediately known.

Creston man arrested for Public Intox

News

October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A Creston man was arrested Wednesday evening on a Public Intoxication charge. Authorities say 54-year old Thomas Mullins was taken into custody just before 6-p.m., and brought to the Union County Jail where he was held on a $300 bond.

(Podcast) 7:07-a.m. News & funeral report, 10/2/2014

News, Podcasts

October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

With KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.

Play

Iowa teen to plead insanity in Atlantic foster brother’s death

News

October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

LOGAN, Iowa (AP) – An Iowa teen charged with murdering his 5-year-old foster brother plans to use an insanity defense when his case goes to trial this month. Court documents filed in September indicate the defense plans for 18-year-old Cody Metzker-Madsen, who was declared competent to stand trial in April. He is charged with first-degree murder in the August 2013 death of Dominic Elkins, of Atlantic. Metzker-Madsen pleaded not guilty to the charge and opted to have his case decided by a judge.

Authorities say Elkins was killed while the boys were playing outdoors at their home near Logan, in western Iowa. He died as a result of blunt-force head injuries and drowning. Psychology experts who examined the teen say he has developmental problems.

Metzker-Madsen’s mother used methamphetamine while she was pregnant with him.

Atlantic City Council approves former dry cleaner site for priority clean-up

News

October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday, moved to support plans by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to include a former dry cleaner site as a “National Priorities List (NPL)” site, making it possible for the agency to use Superfund monies for the cleanup costs. Susan Fisher, with the EPA’s Region 7 office in Kansas City, says for the past several years, the agency has been assessing the groundwater in Atlantic, and found one area in particular to be contaminated with Tetrachloroethylene.

PCE, as it’s called, is a manufactured chemical typically used in dry cleaning solvents. The chemical PCE was originally detected in 1980. The source of the contamination is believed to be the former Norge Dry Cleaners Facility, which was located in a lot on the southeast side of 7th and Plum Streets.
Neither the City of Atlantic nor Atlantic Municipal Utilities will have any financial obligation costs for the removal of the contamination, which flows in an underground plum north toward Troublesome Creek.

Fisher says in the first phase, or “Removal,” the EPA wants to use technology at the source of the contamination that causes the PCE to heat up and vaporize prior to being collected from the soil. The next phase – called “Remedial” – is to remove the PCE from the groundwater, by dissolution. The remediation process will take several years.

The cost of the cleanup is estimated at $1.5-million dollars. Atlantic Municipal Utilities has operated and maintained an interceptor well since 1980 to keep the resulting underground plume migrating from the contamination site from impacting the municipal water supply well field. Earlier this week, AMU General Manager Steve Tjepkes says the utility continues to perform testing on a monthly basis to monitor the public drinking water supply wells to ensure that drinking water does not become contaminated with PCE.

He says also AMU is working closely with the EPA and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) as they continue their assessment, to encourage cleanup efforts for the site.

Iowa regents to consider restructuring IT, HR

News

October 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa (AP) — A consultant is expected to release plans detailing how Iowa’s three public universities could cut costs by restructuring how employees perform routine administrative functions. Deloitte Consulting LLP is expected to tell the Iowa Board of Regents about potential changes to streamline human resources, information technology and financial operations. The plans are expected to lead to job cuts over time, but also potentially save millions of dollars.

More details are expected to be released Thursday, when the regents meet at Iowa State University in Ames. Regents are expected to discuss the proposals, but not take any action on them. They say they will gather feedback from employees before voting on whether to implement changes next month.

The regents hired Deloitte to look for ways to run the universities more efficiently.