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Labor Dep’t agrees to rethink rules on kids working on farms

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Federal officials have agreed to modify a plan that’s designed to protect children from dangerous jobs on family farms. The U-S Labor Department has been under fire from farm groups because the proposed rules were seen as too restrictive. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says he’s encouraged to see the rules are being reconsidered by labor leaders. Harkin says, “They need to get additional information in, go back to the drawing table and write a better regulation.” The original proposal spelled out that children younger than 16 would be banned from using most power equipment, while those under 18 would be barred from working in locations like grain bins and feed lots. The new version will reportedly contain more exemptions for kids whose parents own or run the farms on which they’re working.

“I hope they’ll reach agreement on a regulation that protects kids but also recognizes family agriculture,” Harkin says. “It’s one thing to say that kids shouldn’t be operating fork lifts or humongous tractors or combines and to say they can’t even drive a garden tractor.” Harkin, a Democrat, says he agrees with those who’ve spoken out against the proposed regulations which would tear down generations of farm family traditions. “There has to be some balance, some rational thinking,” Harkin says. “Some of what they’re proposing, fine, but I talked to Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack about this. He says it would go so far to say kids couldn’t even drive a tractor across the road, well, kids have been driving tractors for years.” Labor department officials say they’ll work with the Ag department and others to make sure the new rules reflect rural communities’ concerns.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)

Toughest gun rights defense in country

News

February 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A proposal to add an amendment to the Iowa Constitution that would ensure Iowans have the right to keep and bear arms has cleared an initial hurdle in the Iowa House. Representative Matt Windschitl, a Republican from Missouri Valley, says Iowa is one of just six states with a constitution that does not provide “gun rights” to its citizens. “I’ve gotten a lot of people who have talked to me about stuff like this. Why don’t we have that protection in our constitution?” Windschitl says. “There’s a great unease out there.” If adopted, this proposal would be the toughest constitutional defense of gun rights in the country.

Representative Deborah Berry, a Democrat from Waterloo, says she supports the “second amendment rights” spelled out in the U.S. Constitution.  “You know my father was a hunter and so I know all that, but I think sometimes there are some consequences to some of the things we do related to guns and what have you and I’m concerned about that,” Berry says. Berry says she wants to know more about the proposal before she’ll decide whether to support or oppose it.

Richard Rogers of the Iowa Firearms Coalition says there’s nothing in the state constitution to “guarantee” gun rights in Iowa. “As our constitution states, you have an inalienable right to defend yourself from threats, but to say that you have that right but that you do not have the right to possess an effective means of doing so, a tool — doesn’t have to be a gun, by the way — that’s nonsensical,” Rogers says. Supporters like Rogers say the modern-day U.S. Supreme Court has narrowly ruled on gun rights issues and it’s important to enshrine those rights in the state constitution. The right to keep and bear arms….despite the fact that it’s an inalienable right, it seems to be one that people try to figure out ways around the constitutional guarantee, to kick it to the curb, sweep it under the rug and so we’ve learned by experience,” Rogers says, “and that’s why this is worded somewhat differently.”

If Iowans approve this constitutional amendment, Representative Windschitl says it would be possible for advocates of gun rights to sue to to get rid of some gun-related laws, like the state law which requires Iowans to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon. “The intent of this is not to cause controversy,” Windschitl says. “The intent of this is to protect Iowans second amendment rights and it’s meant to do that with the strongest language possible because there have been so many judicial abuses, in my opinion, of our second amendment rights. We’ve come so close to losing those fundamental rights. This is why we have the language crafted as we do.” The process of amending the state constitution isn’t easy. This proposal must pass the Iowa General Assembly this year, and then sometime in 2013 or 2014 before Iowans could vote on the proposed amendment in November of 2014. Early this morning (Thursday), a three-member House committee gave its approval to setting that process in motion. The proposal — it’s not a bill but a resolution — will next be considered by the House Public Safety Committee.

(O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)

Lewis Central Spanish Teacher to be arrested on sexual exploitation charges

News

February 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A Spanish teacher at the Lewis Central High School has resigned, and is scheduled to turn himself-in today to authorities in Pottawattamie County, after a warrant was issued for his arrest. 30-year old Daniel Pantoja, of Omaha, NE, faces a felony charge of with Sexual Exploitation by a School Employee, and a Serious Misdemeanor charge of Lascivious Conduct with a Minor.

Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker says the warrant for Pantoja’s arrest was issued after authorities conducted an investigation into his activities, following a complaint filed on Wednesday, by a 17-year old female student at the Lewis Central High School, and her father. The complaint alleges the juvenile received inappropriate text messages from Pantoja.

Danker says in December, Pantoja obtained the girls’ cellular phone number in class, because she was working at the Mall of the Bluffs as Santa’s Elf. Pantoja reportedly told the girl that he wanted to get his picture taken with Santa while the juvenile was on the job. Soon thereafter, she began to receive text messages from Pantoja, consisting of statements indicating if he were her age, he would ask her out, and other, similar statements.

The girl alleged Pantoja took her phone during class and without her consent, had searched the picture folder, where he discovered pictures of her wearing a sports bra and shorts. She said after he discovered the pictures, he texted her, asking her to send him that photo. The juvenile agreed to send Pantoja the picture in exchange for a better grade in class. Pantoja also reportedly sent the girl a nude picture of an adult male torso, with the genitalia covered by the left hand. The picture was allegedly sent from Pantoja’s cell phone, the same phone from which the text messages originated. He then allegedly requested she send him two more pictures of herself, one with more clothing, one with less.

Pantoja’s bond was set at $5,000. The man has made arrangements with his attorney, to turn himself-in.

Blizzard feared as storm heads for US midsection

News, Weather

February 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A powerful winter storm system that could dump a dozen inches of snow in blizzard conditions has been forecast for Nebraska and portions of adjacent states.  A blizzard warning has been issued for three southwest Nebraska counties and nearby portions of Kansas and Colorado.  The National Weather Service says the warnings take effect at 11 p.m. MST Thursday. A blizzard watch extends to the northeast.
 
Winter storm warnings and watches have been issued to take effect later Thursday or on Friday for the rest of Nebraska and much of southeast Wyoming, northeast Colorado, northwest Kansas and western Iowa.  The Weather Service says the storm is expected to move into Nebraska late Thursday night and last into Saturday. Rain is expected to precede the snowfall in many areas.

Here in western Iowa, snowfall amounts through 6-p.m. Saturday, are expected to range anywhere from 2-inches in Page County, to more than 7-inches in Pottawattamie County. Cass County looks to receive just under 5-inches of snow, according to the latest estimates.

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/dmx/?n=winter_monitor

2 injured in Harrison County crash

News

February 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Harrison County say two people were injured during a two-vehicle crash Wednesday afternoon, about two-miles east of Missouri Valley. Authorities say a 2011 Ford Fusion was traveling east on Highway 30 at around 2-p.m, Wednesday, when the car crossed the center line of the road and hit a 1991 Honda. The driver of the Honda, 54-year old Jennette McGraw, of Magnolia, suffered life threatening injuries, and was transported by LifeNet helicopter to the trauma center at Creighton University Hospital, in Omaha.

The driver of the Ford Fusion, 31-year old Kerri Collier, of Woodbine, was transported by ambulance to Alegent Hospital in Missouri Valley. The crash resulted in Highway 30 being closed for about 2-hours, while an investigation was conducted and the vehicle removed.

The Harrison County Sheriff’s Office was assisted at the scene by the Iowa State Patrol, Missouri Valley Police Department, and Missouri Valley and Logan Rescue squads.

Atlantic City Council honors City Clerk & passes stop sign ordinance

News

February 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones and the City Council surprised City Clerk Deb Wheatley Field during the Council’s meeting Wednesday night, by passing a Resolution in Honor of her more than two decades of service to the City. The Resolution expresses the City Council’s appreciation to Field for her service to the City over the past 30-years. The Mayor then brought out a large, rectangular cake, which he and the Council served to members of the public who attended the meeting.

In other business, the Atlantic City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance amending the speed limit on 22nd Street, from Highway 71 to Olive, and from Chestnut Street, to Highway 6. The ordinance, when approved after the 3rd and final reading, calls for the speed limit to be reduced on that stretch of road, from 45- to 35-miles per hour, following concerns over the hilly terrain and reduced visibility of residential driveways.  And, the Council passed the second reading of an ordinance establishing a Stop sign at the intersection of Pine Ridge Road and 22nd Street. The Council waived the third reading and adopted the ordinance as written.

They also received an annual report from Cass Atlantic Development Corporation (CADCO) Executive Director Russell Joyce, who mentioned the unemployment rate in Cass County is 4.8%, which he says is much lower than in previous years, and better than in some surrounding counties. He says local manufacturers are keeping busy, and the other sectors appear to be doing as well as can be expected. Joyce says having a diversified employment field in Cass County has helped to keep the local economy moving.

8AM Newscast 02-02-2012

News, Podcasts

February 2nd, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Atlantic City Council passes housing resolution

News

February 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

After a lengthy period of discussion, the Atlantic City Council, Wednesday, passed a Resolution of Support for the development of an affordable housing project on the City’s south side. The City’s Finance Committee has discussed the matter twice, and recommended the Council approve the resolution, which does NOT commit the City to any financial package or incentives, but will serve to lower the developers’ operating costs, by allowing them to qualify for Low Income Housing Tax Credit through the Iowa Finance Authority (IFA). Councilpersons Kathy Somers and Shaun Shouse are the Council’s liasons on the Finance Committee. Somers said last night, the developer, Cohen-Esrey, has lowered the construction costs of its planned single-family homes in the area of 22nd and Olive Streets, to $100,000, including the land. That means the homes would cost approximately $88,500, wih an assessed value of $85,000.

The original proposal called for the City to offer, in the developers’ application to the IFA, a level of financial support of up to $160,000, but the Council voted to have the amount of $65,692 written into its resolution, which equates to about $4,105 per unit. The resolution also calls for a 10-year, $65,000  Tax Increment Financing proposal, instead a 17-year Tax Rebate, as originally proposed. A number of hoops remain before the City actually commits any funds for the project, including: public hearings, a minimum assessment agreement, and completion of a development agreement.

Cohen-Esrey says if their IFA application is approved, they will move forward with plans to build 16, 3-bedroom, 12-hundred square foot, single-family homes. Somers says studies have shown Atlantic could use some more Low Income Housing.  Councilmen Dana Halder and Steve Livengood expressed concern about the quality of the homes…their energy efficiency and the types of studs used, for example…especially in light of how much they will sell for. Many questions still remain about the details of the construction elements, but one thing is known: the homes will be built on concrete slabs, and will not have basements, because of water drainage issues in the area.

Somers said the idea behind the project is that the homes will be rental properties for 15-years, but at the end of the 15-years, the homes will be sold. The renters will contribute $50 each month toward a maintenance fund/downpayment on home ownership. In 15-years, the renter could buy the home for about $65,000.

7AM Newscast 02-02-2012

News, Podcasts

February 2nd, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Record setting temps end in Atlantic

News, Weather

February 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The first three days of this week saw record breaking temperatures set in Atlantic, but there’s little liklihood today will come close to the record high for this date. Wednesday’s high in Atlantic was 60, which broke the old record of 58, set back in 1987. Today’s record high was 66, in 1992, but the forecast only calls for a high of around 56-degrees.

A major change in the weather is set to take place late Friday night into Saturday night, as a snowstorm sets its sights on Nebraska and Western Iowa. Right now, it appears snowfall amounts will range from 4-to 7-inches, but that could change, depending on the track of the storm, and how late the rain we get on Friday, changes to snow.

A Winter Storm Watch will be in effect for most of the listening area, from late Friday night into Saturday night. Travel conditions are expected to deteriorate Friday night, with reduced visibilities due to blowing heavy snow, and slushy road conditions.