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SFM Division Investigating Suspicious Fires in Missouri Valley; Fire Chief Charged


March 19th, 2015 by Jim Field

MISSOURI VALLEY, Iowa (AP) — A former Iowa fire chief has been accused of lying to investigators about a fire that could be arson. Court documents show 44-year-old Johnnie Walker, the Missouri Valley fire chief, is charged with interference with official acts and reporting false information. Mayor Clint Sargent says Walker resigned from his post after he was arrested earlier this week.

The charges stem from a March 7 fire at a vacant house. The Iowa State Fire Marshal Division says Walker provided false information to police who later investigated the fire, an exchange that court records show occurred on March 12.

Authorities say the fire is likely tied to others nearby. All are being investigated as arson.


Update on Elliott death – woman ID’d


March 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Authorities say no one is actively being sought in connection with the death of a woman whose body was found near Elliott early Monday morning. Officials say 47-year old Carman M. O’Dell was discovered in a grassy field on the northern edge of Elliott, at around 4:40-a.m., Monday. According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety, her death did not appear to be suspicious.

Carman O'Dell (Photo from Duhn Funeral Home website)

Carman O’Dell (Photo from Duhn Funeral Home website)

An autopsy was performed by Dr. Dennis Klein of the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner in Ankeny. The cause and manner of her death are being withheld until the full autopsy report is complete. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner assistied with the investigation.

No further information will be released until the autopsy reports are complete. Funeral services for Carman O’Dell will be held 10:30-a.m. Friday, at the Central Church of Christ, in Griswold.

Prescribed burns planned in Pott. County

Ag/Outdoor, News

March 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Council Bluffs Fire Department report Pottawattamie County Conservation officials will be conducting some prescribed burns within the City limits of Council Bluffs. The controlled fires will take place between March 20th and the end of April, to reduce the amount of fuel and threat of a potential wild land fire, along with promoting better hydrology for the environment.Bluffs FD

The burns are expected to take place in two locations: The area north of 25th Street and south of Narrows Park along the Missouri River; In the Vincent Bluff area northeast of Harry Langdon Blvd, southwest of Madison Avenue, north and west of Woodbury Avenue.

The prescribed burns will only take place if weather conditions are conducive to ensuring a safe environment. Due to the ever changing forecasts, the decision to conduct the burns will be made only 24-hours in advance. If you live in the affected neighborhoods, you should contact the Council Bluffs Fire Department with any health concerns, such as a respiratory condition, that will require a “day of” notification.

If you have any questions or concerns, call the Council Bluffs Fire Dept. at 712-328-4646.

Officials confirm ID of body pulled from western Iowa lake


March 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

SOLDIER, Iowa (AP) – Officials have confirmed that a body recovered from a lake in western Iowa is that of a farmer reported missing in November. Monona County Sheriff Jeff Pratt says the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office identified the body as 68-year-old Walter Ordway, of Soldier. His body was pulled from a lake at Oldham Recreation Area near Soldier on Saturday.

In December, hunters found a pickup owned by Ordway near the recreation area. The Monona County Sheriff’s Office says it’s believed that Ordway took his dog for an outing on Nov. 17 and that the dog fell through the like ice into the freezing water. Officials say Ordway must have fallen into the water while trying to rescue his dog. The dog’s body was found nearby.

Iowa board cites teacher for unsupervised dental clinics


March 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – A citation has been upheld against a dental hygiene professor at Iowa Western Community College for allowing students to perform dental work unsupervised.
The Daily Nonpareil reports that dental hygiene students performed several services, including applying fluoride varnishes, without the supervision of a licensed dentist as part of Family Inc.’s I-Smile program, which offers free clinics at schools and other sites across Pottawattamie and Mills counties.

The professor was fined $75 on Feb. 25 by the Iowa Dental Board. The professor has an active license with the dental board, and is in good standing, according to the board’s online database. A spokesman for Iowa Western’s Dental Hygiene Program said that the school inadvertently did not follow a standard in the Iowa Dental Code, and has taken steps to make sure that their clinical activities follow the standards of the dental profession.

Meeting planned to discuss cell network dedicated to public safety


March 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A summit is scheduled today (Thursday) in Des Moines to discuss the creation of a wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. Ric Lumbard, executive director of the Iowa Communications Network, says it’s part of the federal initiative know as FirstNet.  “The general background for FirstNet was in the backdrop of the Boston Marathon bombing, where during major crisis events like this, the commercial cellular systems were unable to support public safety use of cellular during that time,” Lumbard told Radio Iowa. The FirstNet system would create a nationwide public safety communications network.

Lumbard offered some examples of how the network could benefit first responders in Iowa. “The easiest one is something very unique to Iowa, RAGBRAI, where we have a moving city of 25,000 to 30,000 people moving through rural Iowa where most of the commercial cell infrastructure is not built for that level of capacity,” Lumbard said. The system dedicated to public safety could also be important if there were a crisis situation at the Iowa State Fair or a large sporting event.

“Even a major weather event, such as flooding or tornadoes, those are not the times that public safety needs to contend with the private sector for commercial broadband space,” Lumbard said. FirstNet (short for “First Responder Network Authority”) has agreed to pay for the deployment of the nationwide system, but would likely recoup those costs through subscriptions to the service, according to Lumbard. Today’s meeting is scheduled for 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. at the Iowa Utilities Board headquarters in Des Moines.

(Radio Iowa)

Learn more about the Iowa FirstNet project here: http://www.connectiowa.org/

Moderate fire danger today in Shelby County – Extreme danger this weekend

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

March 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Shelby County Emergency Management Agency says today (Thursday) will be a day of Moderated Fire Danger, with the risk still High due to abundance of fuel, and access issues. Drying conditions, with low relative humidity’s, poor overnight humidity recoveries, and winds will return Friday through Tuesday seeing a return of High to possibly Extreme conditions next week.

Authorities say residents should remain vigilant as there could still be some large fires. Other surrounding counties have been experiencing large fires, but officials say they are proud of Shelby County residents, as they have been helping keep firefighters safe by limiting burning, and being responsive to the fire danger announcements.

Atlantic CC approves TIF bond for housing project


March 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council has approved an economic development agreement with Sonntag Development L.L.C., for a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) grant pertaining to the Southern Heights View development project. The agreement, which passed by unanimous vote Wednesday evening, stipulates the local developer will $360,000 in three incremental payments of $120,000 each, to be paid at the time each of three phases of the project are completed. The 28-unit condominium project includes 16 to be built along 19th Street, with 12 additional units along or near 22nd Street. The project is expected to cost anywhere from $3-to 4-million.

Prior to the Council’s vote, a public hearing was held on the bond purchase that amounts around to $405,000, when the cost of the bond is figured-in. Despite some comments from the public over whether the City should grant a TIF for the project, Bond Underwriter, Chip Schultz said the project would not happen without a commitment from the City.

He said “To be very clear, that debt service on this bond issue is more than supported by the minimum assessment valuations. I’m not speaking to the street project costs in that area and what the City might have to spend…but the debt service of this particular bond issue is more than supported by the three and a-half million this stages in over a number of three-years, of assessment valuations. In fact, there’s about $240,000 left over after the payment of debt, when you take into account the tax increment dollars. The City won’t need that to pay the debt, so then that gets dispersed back to other political sub-divisions..the County, the schools, and so forth.”

Those funds also can support the City’s General Fund, according to Schultz, who said “The City has a really modest use of TIF, less than 2% of [it’s] taxable valuation.” Some cities over-use TIF, but Schultz said Atlantic is “No where near” the 20-to 30% to as much as 40% use other cities have, which can cut into the General Fund and Employee benefits. The agreement guarantees the TIF will be paid back by the developer or whomever takes over the land, if the developer declares bankruptcy or has other financial issues.

Mayor Dave Jone says “We have yet to lose money on a TIF.” He said when Skyjack manufacturing closed, they still paid their TIF off. He said also, “We [The City will] have first rights to the property if anything happens.”

(Podcast) 8-a.m. KJAN News, 3/19/2015

News, Podcasts

March 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

More area news from Ric Hanson.


Weakening economy seen ahead for rural parts of 10 states

Ag/Outdoor, News

March 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A monthly survey of bankers suggests a weakening economy lies ahead for rural parts of 10 Midwestern and Western states. The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index for March sank to 43.6, its lowest level since February 2010. Last month’s figure was 46.4.

Creighton University economics Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says “the stronger U.S. dollar is undermining the farm and energy sectors by weakening agricultural exports, crop prices, livestock prices and energy prices.” The index ranges from 0 to 100. Any score above 50 suggests growth while a score below 50 suggests decline.

Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.