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Cass Co. Board discusses ditch maintenance issues

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

As Cass County officials consider the role its secondary roads crews play in the removal of trees from roadside ditches and the clearing of ditches near County Right-of-Ways, to allow for better water flow and fewer obstructions along the roadways, the Board Supervisors were told by County Attorney Dan Feistner, Wednesday, that the County has the responsibility to handle the task, but the costs to do so can be levied against the property owner. Feistner cited Iowa Code Section 311.32, which pertains to the Administration and maintenance of roads in spelling out the County’s role. The Code says the fact that a right-of-way is donated by property owners for the establishment of a road or a portion of the cost of a road improvement is paid by property owners, does not preclude the Board of Supervisors from exercising its responsibility over the roads as secondary roads.

Questions have recently been raised recently over the responsibility private property owners have in clearing roadside ditches, versus what the County’s responsibility is, and whether or not the County can assess the costs to the affected property owners. Supervisor Chuck Rieken said when the County has cleaned the ditches in the past and removed trees, there was an understanding it would also take care of the initial spraying for noxious and obstructive weeds. Rieken says from that point on, the County intended for the property owner to take responsibility for taking care of the ditch. If the property owner allows re-growth of trees and weeds, he says it should be their responsibility to take care of it.

Rieken says the same thing applies to soil erosion. The County, he says, has never assessed individual property owners for the cleaning-up of soil erosion that fills ditches and creates problems, but it might need to take a look at that, as well. He says in previous years, the County has forked over up to $200,000 per year to clean-up the ditches on a recurring basis, because some landowners aren’t taking care of the problem. He says it would be nice if people would take care of their own ditches, and lessen the burden on their fellow taxpayers. Supervisor Frank Waters said part of the problem is with absentee land owners and their tenants, who don’t feel it’s their responsibility to clean the ditches.

Feistner says more research needs to be done on what ordinances other counties may have in place to deal with the ditch issues, before any action is taken in Cass County.

8AM Newscast 04-26-2012

News, Podcasts

April 26th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

7AM Newscast 04-26-2012

News, Podcasts

April 26th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/Ric Hanson

Play

Atlantic woman to serve as international ambassador for student volunteers

News

April 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

An Atlantic woman selected to serve as an international ambassador of the United States to volunteer this summer with International Student Volunteers (ISV), is looking for sponsorships to help cover the program and transportation costs. Laena Frederickson says sponsorships will help defray the nearly $7,000 in costs associated with ISV, a U.S. based non-profit organization that’s internationally recognized.

ISV appoints university students from the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. to various countries around the world in an effort to impact entire communities and endangered habitats in need. Laena is finishing up her Junior year at the University of Nebraska/Omaha, and will graduate in 2013 with a degree in Family Science. She works two jobs while attending school and volunteers monthly at an organization which assists grieving children and teens with the death of a loved one. She has also volunteered with the open door mission in Omaha, helped collect food for the food pantry in Atlantic and helps plan and organize the Trevor Frederickson Memorial Golf Tournament every year.

A fundraiser for Frederickson will be held at the Super Bowl in Atlantic, on Friday, April 27th, from 6:30pm until close. She’ll be working for tips only, along with a 50/50 raffle. Persons interested in supporting her efforts can mail their donations to Frederickson at 56535 Jasper Road, Atlantic, IA 50022. Checks should be made out to Laena Frederickson. All donations are tax deductible. For more information about ISV, visit www.isvolunteers.org

Iowa News Headlines: Thu., April 26th 2012

News

April 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

     CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) – A 41-year-old sex offender is accused of trying to solicit two boys for sex at a Cedar Rapids motel. Authorities say Scott Share is charged with two counts of lascivious acts with a child. Share was arrested after officers learned he didn’t properly report his change of address.
 
     CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) – Two more people have been arrested in connection with a shooting near Kirkwood Community College. Cedar Rapids police yesterday arrested Raymond Sellers of Chicago and Shantres Johnston of Cedar Rapids. Teran Huff of Des Moines is also charged in last Friday’s shooting that left three people wounded.
 
     DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Jurors have convicted a 30-year-old man in the death of a seven-month-old baby. A Polk County jury yesterday found Matthew Elliott guilty of charges related to the January 2008 death of Alexis Gilbert. Elliott faces up to 35 years in prison.

    CLINTON, Iowa (AP) – A 48-year-old visitor from Vermont has been injured in a fall off a cliff in the eastern Iowa city of Clinton. The woman was injured when she fell in Eagle Point Park shortly after 8 a.m. yesterday. Clinton police say the woman fell about 50 feet. She was flown to a hospital. Her name has not been released.
 
     CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) – The University of Northern Iowa has been ordered to stop using all student assessments to determine merit pay for professors. A state arbitrator sided with the United Faculty union in a ruling released Tuesday. The union had complained the university required philosophy and world religions faculty members to have a student evaluation for each course during every semester prior to merit pay being awarded.
 
     DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Outdoor enthusiasts and business groups are forming a new group to promote hunting in Iowa. State Retail Federation President Jim Henter says hunters spend more than $288 million statewide every year. Statistics from the state’s Department of Natural Resources show the number of hunting licenses issued in Iowa has dropped for 10 straight years.

Volunteers wanted for “Spring Park Blitz”

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is calling on volunteers to help cleanup a dozen state parks this weekend. Ashley Anderson, with the DNR, says Iowans will be asked to perform a variety of tasks to prepare the parks for another busy summer. The work will include trail cleanup, collecting litter and trimming of trees and bushes. The DNR has been relying more on volunteer help in recent years to maintain state parks as the agency’s budget has declined. The so-called “Spring Park Blitz” scheduled for this weekend is organized by DNR AmeriCorps members.

“The volunteers will work right along side our AmeriCorps members,” Anderson said. “The AmeriCorps members will be there to supervise or manage the volunteers.” In the event of inclement weather this weekend, some of the park cleanup events could be postponed to a later date. Iowans who are interested in volunteering are encouraged to contact Anderson by phone at 515-281-8300 or email: ashley.anderson@dnr.iowa.gov

Area “Spring Park Blitz” times/locations:

April 28th -

Lake Anita State Park: 9-11 a.m.
Lake of Three Fires State Park: 10 a.m.-noon

(Pat Curtis/Radio Iowa)

Hitchcock House Pioneer Festival coming up on May 5th

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Have you ever wondered how the pioneers made their own rope or dipped their own candles?  Maybe you have even thought about trying your hand at spinning wool.  If so, you should come to the Hitchcock Pioneer Skills Festival. The Festival will be held on Saturday, May 5th at the Hitchcock House, which is located 6 miles south of Atlantic and 1.5 miles west of Lewis, IA.  The festivities will begin at 1:00 p.m. and end at 4:00 p.m.  You will have an opportunity to visit the historic Hitchcock House and see many of the skills and crafts that people of the late 1800’s used in daily living.

You could begin your visit with a tour of the Hitchcock House that is also a National Historic Landmark.  This two-story home was built in 1856. It features thick sandstone walls, window seats, native hard wood trim and a secret room that hid runaway slaves.  The secret room is located in the basement where there is also a stone fireplace where the slaves could cook food and keep warm.  It is said that the famous John Brown preached around this fireplace. Head to the barn, where the hub of the festival activities will take place.  Once you make it to the barn you will be able to observe the skills and crafts of the past and even try your hand at a few of them.  There will be rope making, candle dipping, tin punching, and woodcarvings.  

Don’t miss out on this exciting day!  The festival will be held rain or shine.  Families are encouraged to come and share the day together as they might have in the 1800’s.  There is a $5 fee for a tour of the Hitchcock House.  All activities in the barn are free of charge; donations to the Hitchcock House will be accepted.

(Press Release/Lora Kanning, Naturalist with Cass County Conservation)

Record High Temperature broken in Atlantic!

News, Weather

April 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Temperatures across western Iowa are soaring this afternoon. Here in Atlantic, we hit 91-degrees at 2-p.m..  The old record for this date was 90, in 1981. The National Weather Service says temps are in the upper 80′s to low 90′s.

At 2-p.m. in Carroll, Harlan, Red Oak, Shenandoah and Cherokee, it was 90-degrees. The temps in central Iowa, were only in the mid-to-upper 70′s and low 80′s.

New Iowa group hopes to reverse decline in hunting

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Outdoor enthusiasts and business groups are forming a new group to promote hunting in hopes of reversing declining interest in the activity. Iowa Retail Federation President Jim Henter says hunters spend more than $288 million in Iowa every year and have a big impact on the state’s economy. Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Roger Lande says part of the hunting decline has been because the state has had a series of harsh winters that cut into wildlife population. Last year’s mild winter could help that population. 

Lande says a loss of habitat also has contributed to the wildlife decline.  Statistics from the DNR bear out the trend, with the number of hunting licenses issued in Iowa dropping for 10 straight years.

Plans to bring rural water to SW Cass County dry up due to lack of interest

News

April 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Plans for the Southern Iowa Rural Water Association (SIRWA) to bring a dependable supply of water to parts of southwestern Cass County have dried up, at least for now, because of wetter weather over the past couple of years, a fairly good supply of private wells, and because of a general lack of interest in the project. That was the word today (Wednesday) from SIRWA officials, who spoke before the County Board of Supervisors.

SIRWA inspector Max Crawford said the $7-million dollar project is on-hold for now, because they weren’t able to acquire enough participation in two separate studies which began late last Spring.

In order to qualify for a $5.4-million USDA grant to make the project feasible, Crawford said there needed to be a good majority of the people participating. He says there were 335 customers in the second area they studied, with 166 indicating they were interested in hooking-up to rural water, or 49.6-percent. Crawford said that wasn’t good enough. He says they needed at least 277 sign-up’s or 70-percent participation from the approximate 385 rural homesteads in the area. Follow-up efforts included door-to-door contacts, publishing meetings in local papers, and phone calls. Still, Crawford says the response was not what they’d hoped for. 

Beth McDermott, who lives in the area, said meetings which were held on the project were not sufficiently publicized, and therefore resulted in low turnout. Crawford said it wasn’t for a lack of trying to get the word out through print and broadcast media. McDermott, who would like to subscribe to rural water, mailed out more than 300 letters herself, to area residents trying to spur interest. Crawford said SIRWA also tried repeatedly to contact residents, but it got to the point where some people who had been contacted multiple times and refused, were getting annoyed. He said after reviewing the amount of time and money spent on pre-engineering land options for water tower sites and the conducting of surveys…nearly $120,000…and only receiving 49% interest from the residents and land owners, the SIRWA Board said no more money would be invested in the project. 

He said efforts to find other ways to bring dependable water to residents of the area, some of whom desperately want it, will proceed, but it may not be SIRWA who provides that service, and it may take up to 10-years for any progress to be made.