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(Update) Residential Fire reported in Anita – 1injured


June 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

An Anita woman is lucky to alive after a fire occurred at her home this (Monday) morning. Firefighters from Anita and Wiota responded to the call about smoke and flames coming from the home at 306 Elm Street just before 8:30-a.m.

Fire at 306 Elm St. in Anita (Ric Hanson photo)

Anita Fire Chief Duane Murphy says when they arrived there was a large amount of smoke venting from the windows on the north side of the building and up in the attic. Murphy says firefighters were able to get control of the situation “pretty quick.” He said while the cause remains under investigation, there was a report of a “boom” or a “bang” ahead of their arrival. He says they suspect the air conditioner may have burned through and vented into the home, but natural gas was not immediately thought to have been to blame. The initial investigation leads them to believe that it started on the inside of the home in the attic area, which is where most of the damage occurred. The Chief said there was extensive damage to the home.

306 Elm St. Fire (Ric Hanson photo)

A woman believed to be in her 50′s was in the home, along with her dog. Murphy said the woman had some injuries, but is “very lucky.” She showed indications she had taken in a lot of smoke and soot. She was transported by Anita Rescue to the Cass County Memorial Hospital in Atlantic for treatment, before being flown by helicopter to a burn unti in Nebraska for additional treatment. Chief Murphy said her refusal leave the home to try and find the dog, could have cost her her life. He says it’s hard to get across to people that their health is more important than their pets. He says they spent 25-minutes trying to convince her to go to the hospital. He says if a human’s health is in jeopardy, the health of the animal isn’t going to matter if there’s no one around to take care if it. Firefighters and neighbors were still searching for the animal late this morning.

Minor injury accident and an arrest reported in Clarinda


June 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Clarinda Police Department says only minor injuries were reported following an accident late Saturday morning near the intersection of Lincoln and 16th Streets. Officials say a 2004 Chevy Impala driven by 60-year old Carol Jean Shipley, of Clarinda, was traveling east on Lincoln approaching 16th Street at around 11:35-a.m., when she failed to stop at the posted stop sign. Shipley’s car hit a northbound 2000 Dodge driven by 19-year old Kaytlynne Jo Gregory, of Clarinda. The collision caused the Gregory vehicle to spin around.  Shipley’s car continued northeast at the intersection and came into contact again with the Gregory vehicle before it jumped a curb and came to rest in a yard. Gregory was transported to the Clarinda Hospital by Clarinda EMS. A passenger in her car, and Shipley, both refused medical treatment. Damage from the crash amounted to $8,000. Officials say Shipley was cited for Failure to Obey a Stop Sign.

Clarinda Police report also an  arrest Saturday night following a domestic disturbance. Officers were called to the Meadow Run Apartments at around 11:15 p.m. Following an investigation, they arrested 29-year old Edward Dawayne Mays, of Clarinda, for violation of a domestic violence protection order that was issued pursuant to a domestic altercation earlier in the month. Mays was being held in the Page County Jail without bond, pending an appearance before a Page County Magistrate.

Atlantic’s Transit System honored by I-DOT


June 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Transit systems in Atlantic and Burlington have been honored by the Iowa Department of Transportation for their accomplishments during the 2011 fiscal year. In Atlantic, the Southwest Iowa Transit Agency (SWITA), also known as Region 13, provides demand-response and subscription services in Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie and Shelby counties. SWITA, based in Atlantic, received the award for “Most Improved Regional Transit System of the Year.” 

Steve Andersen - SWITA Transportation Director (Photo from swipco.org)

 SWITA, headed by Transit Director Steve Anderson, posted a 14.26 percent gain in ridership. This helped reduce the cost per ride by 5.63 percent during fiscal year 2011. Anderson explained that ridership increased due to expanded transit usage in sheltered workshop programs, service to and from Cass County Memorial Hospital during a remodeling project, and service to and from the Glenwood Resource Center. This is the third time SWITA has received the award. The last time was in 2009. 

In Burlington, the Burlington Urban Service (B.U.S.), owned and operated by the city of Burlington, received the award for “Most Improved Urban Transit System of the Year.” It was the third time Burlington has received the award, the first time being in 2009. 

The awards were presented in Waterloo during the annual awards banquet, cosponsored by the Iowa Public Transit Association and Iowa DOT.Each year at the Iowa Public Transit Association Conference and Annual Meeting, the Iowa DOT recognizes one regional transit system and one urban transit system for the highest percentage increase in ridership, coupled with a decrease in cost per ride.

Iowa’s “Move over” law changes take effect July 1st


June 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Transportation says beginning July 1st, motorists in Iowa who are ticketed and convicted of a violation of Iowa’s “move over” law will face increased penalties. House File 2228, signed into law by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad April 12th, 2012, takes effect Sunday, July 1st. It includes a provision requiring mandatory suspension of a person’s driver’s license/operating privileges if convicted of a violation of the move over law that results in property damage, injury or death.  Iowa’s move over law, originally enacted in 2009, prescribes the rules of the road when it comes to driving on an Iowa roadway where there is a stationary, authorized emergency, tow or maintenance vehicle displaying flashing yellow, amber, white, red, or red and blue lights.

The DOT say by following a couple of simple rules, you can help save lives, avoid receiving a traffic ticket and prevent the potential loss of your driver’s license. Iowa law requires motorists to:

  1. Change lanes or slow down when approaching a stationary emergency, tow or maintenance vehicle that has its flashing lights activated.
  2. Yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights or giving an audible signal by moving over to the right, stopping and waiting until the vehicle has passed before proceeding.

The scheduled fine for a conviction for violating thos Iowa Codes is $100, plus any surcharge and court costs. Upon receiving a record of a person’s conviction for a violation of the move over law that resulted in a crash causing damage to the property of another person or bodily injury to or death of another person, the Iowa Department of Transportation will suspend the person’s driver’s license/operating privileges, upon 30 days’ notice and without preliminary hearing, as follows.

  • For a violation causing damage to the property of another person, but not resulting in bodily injury or death of to another person, the Iowa DOT shall suspend the violator’s driver’s license or operating privileges for 90 days.
  • For a violation causing bodily injury to another person, the Iowa DOT shall suspend the violator’s driver’s license or operating privileges for 180 days.
  • For a violation causing death, the Iowa DOT shall suspend the violator’s driver’s license or operating privileges for one year.

A person convicted of a violation that resulted in a crash causing bodily injury to or the death of another person may be subject to an additional fine, beyond the scheduled fine for a violation of the move over law and any other penalties allowed by law. The additional fine is $500 for a violation causing bodily injury to another person and $1,000 for a violation causing death.   

The laws are designed to protect motorists, persons being transported in emergency vehicles and personnel at high risk while performing their duties on Iowa’s roadways. A good rule of the road is to change lanes or slow down anytime you are approaching a vehicle that is slow moving, stopped or stranded on the shoulder, if you can safely do so. For more information, log on to:http://www.iowadot.gov/rules/rulesoftheroad.htm

Bluffs pedestrian hit-and-run victims improving


June 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Two women who suffered life-threatening injuries when they were struck by a vehicle early Sunday morning in Council Bluffs are still in the hospital, but their injuries are no longer considered to be life-threatening. Police identified the women as 35-year old Misty Rocha, of Council Bluffs, and 31-year old Shannon Miller, of Arlington, NE.  A third victim, 33-year old Jeremy Vaughn, of Omaha, suffered lesser injuries during the incident.

Bluffs Police said just before 2-a.m., Sunday, the victims were hit by a vehicle that left the scene, but was located a few blocks away. The suspected driver, a white female with blonde hair, took off on foot. Officials said this (Monday) morning, that the driver has been identified and located, but her name was not released.  The incident remains under investigation by the Council Bluffs Police Department’s Special Operations Traffic Unit.

Branstad to make stops in SW IA this week


June 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Republican Governor Terry Branstad will make a couple of stops in the southwest part of the State this week. Branstad is scheduled to be in Lenox at 4-p.m. Tuesday, for a tour of Michael’s Foods, Inc., and on Wednesday, he’s scheduled to attend the Governor’s Volunteer Awards Ceremony at the Western Historic Trails Center (3434 Richard Downing Ave.) in Council Bluffs, beginning at 3-p.m.

Details about the Council Bluffs events are available at www.volunteeriowa.org/awards.

Fiery, fatal crash in Shelby County Sunday evening


June 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Two people were killed, another was injured during a fiery crash between an SUV and a semi Sunday afternoon, in Shelby County. The Iowa State Patrol says a 1998 GMC Envoy driven by 63-year old John Veral Smith, of Portsmouth, was pulling a boat on a trailer west along Highway 44 at around 4:35-p.m., one-mile east of Portsmouth, at the same time a 2011 International semi driven by 64-year old Dennis Johnson, of Luverne, MN, was traveling east.

The SUV crossed the center line of the road and into the eastbound lane as it was rounding a curve. Johnson saw the SUV approaching and tried to avoid the collision by braking and steering toward the south ditch, but the semi and SUV collided head-on. Both vehicles were then engulfed by fire. Both drivers, and a passenger in the GMC, 68-year old Mary Louise Smith, of Portsmouth, were transported by Medivac Ambulance to Myrtue Hospital in Harlan, where the drivers of the vehicles where pronounced dead. The Patrol says all three of the crash victims were wearing their seatbelts.

The crash resulted in a stretch of Highway 44 from Highway 191 to Shelby County Road M-16, being closed for more than five-hours Sunday, while the accident was investigated, and the wreckage cleared from the scene.

3 pedestrians injured during Bluffs hit & run accident Sunday


June 24th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Police in Council Bluffs are looking for the female driver of a vehicle involved in a pedestrian hit-and-run accident early Sunday morning that injured three people, two of them critically. Officials say the accident happened just before 2-a.m, at South 21st Street and 8th Avenue.

According to the Police report, the victims included a 34-year old man from Omaha, a 27-year woman from Council Bluffs, and a 31-year old female from Arlington, NE. The two women suffered life-threatening injuries and were taken to Creighton University Medical Center. The names of the victims were being withheld pending notification of relatives.

The vehicle fled the scene, but was located a few blocks away. The suspected driver, a white female with blonde hair, took off on foot and at last report, had not been found. The crash remains under investigation by the Council Bluffs Police Department’s Special Operations Traffic Unit. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Bluffs’ Police at 712-328-4948.

Identity and credit card thefts on the rise in Iowa, but convictions aren’t keeping up


June 24th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

An investigation by the Des Moines Register reveals that while complaints about identity and credit card theft is in the rise in Iowa, the number of convictions for the crime are few and far between, especially outside the metropolitan areas. Identity theft ranks as the number one consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, but it often ranks low as a law enforcement priority according to the paper, because it’s difficult to catch those responsible, and many of the losses are absorbed by banks and credit card companies. 

The Register’s analysis of data from Iowa’s Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning shows of the 558 crimes related to identity theft resulted in felony or misdemeanor convictions during a three-year period covering 2009 to 2011. Sixteen Iowa counties had no convictions for identity theft or unauthorized credit card use, from 2009 to 2011. 46 counties had anywhere from one-to five-convictions, 37 had six or more convictions. In the KJAN listening area, there were two convictions reported in Cass and Mills Counties, according to the data; Pottawattamie County reported 78 convictions…the most for any southwest Iowa county; Guthrie County reported three convictions for ID theft, Shelby, Harrison and Union Counties each had one conviction over the three-year period. 

One of the ways thieves can get your information and steal your money, is through the use of a skimmer device, which attaches to the card slot of an ATM, allowing thieves to copy debit and credit card numbers. A vehicle pulled over on Interstate 80 in Cass County last year by Trooper Jaerod Clyde, contained a skimmer, wrapped in a garment bag, Inside the trunk of the vehicle, the Trooper also found a Micro SD card, a card reader and USB cord, along with other items used to copy and transfer financial data to fake credit cards. The driver of the vehicle is set to stand trial September 10th. He faces up to 15-years in jail if convicted on the felony charge of “Unauthorized access devices.”

A computer crime expert and professor in information systems at ISU in Ames predicts identity crimes will become a greater problem in Iowa and the rest of the country, as criminals stay ahead of law enforcement in their understanding of technology. For tips on keeping your identity safe, visit the Iowa Attorney General’s website. http://www.iowaattorneygeneral.org/consumer/brochures/avoid_identitytheft.html

Restaurant burglary reported in Villisca


June 24th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Montgomery County are investigating a break-in and theft which occured Saturday night or early this (Sunday) morning in Villisca. Authorities report the investigation began just before 4-a.m. at T-J’s Cafe, located at 307 East 4th Street, in Villisca.

Officials say someone forced entry into the business by shattering a window. An undisclosed amount of merchandise and money were taken from the restaurant. Damage to the restaurant’s window was estimated at $225. Anyone with information about the crime should contact the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office or Montgomery County Crimestoppers.