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Suspect in 2011 Audubon Co. fatal crash pleads not guilty to charges

News

October 18th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A south central Iowa man who was extradited from North Dakota to face a vehicular homicide charge in Audubon County, entered a written plea of Not Guilty to the charge Tuesday, in Audubon County District Court. The statement also said 56-year old Kendall Ware, of Lineville, plead not guilty as well, to a charge of Serious Injury by Vehicle. The charges against him were the result of the crash of between an SUV and a pickup in Oct. 2011 near Brayton, that claimed the life of 17-year old Kristopher Crawley, and caused serious injuries to his passenger, 22-year old Jason Rattenborg. Both of the crash victims are from Audubon.Ware, and a passenger in his truck, were also injured.
A report filed by the Iowa State Patrol and cited by the Omaha World-Herald, says Ware had a blood-alcohol content of .205, following the crash, or more than 2½ times the legal limit. During the months since an investigation into the crash was being conducted, Ware fled the area. A warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service last week, in North Dakota.

Arrest made in Bluffs home invasion & assault

News

October 18th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Council Bluffs Police say one person is in custody, while two others are still on the run, in connection with a home invasion incident that resulted in injuries to two brothers. According to the Council Bluffs Daily Non Pareil, 30-year old David Bergantzel, was arrested last week on first-degree kidnapping, second-degree kidnapping, and first-degree burglary charges, along with three counts of assault while participating in a felony, two counts of willful injury causing serious injury and going armed with intent. Bergantzel was being held in the Pottawattamie County Jail on $250,000 bond. If convicted on the felony kidnapping charge, he faces a mandatory term of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The charges stem from his alleged role during the incident on the city’s west side on October 5th. Police reports said at the time, that intruders burst through the door of a home owned by 70-year old Marcella Doss, sometime between 7:15-a.m. and 7:30-a.m.  Doss’ sons, 41-year old Rodney,  and 49-year old Raymond, were injured in the attack.

The paper cites court documents that says Rodney Doss heard something at the backdoor of the residence and assumed it was his dog. As he walked toward the door, it was kicked in, and a man pointed a gun at his face.  The weapon turned out to be a pellet gun.  All three intruders wore ski masks. One of them repeatedly shot Rodney Doss with the pellet gun.  Rodney attempted to hold the men off at his mother’s bedroom door, before he was tackled to the ground. Once on the ground, he was hit with a crowbar and a jack handle. During the fight however, he was able to pull the ski mask off of one of the men before suffering a wound to his head from the crowbar.

After he was treated at the hospital. Doss identified Bergantzel as one of the suspects, in a photo lineup. He also said the man was the same one who used the crowbar against him. Bergantzel is also alleged to have struck Raymond Doss with the crowbar causing an open wound on his shoulder and two injured ankles.

Police say the incident remains under investigation.

Western Iowa “earthlodge” designated a National Historic Landmark

News

October 18th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Iowa is now home to a newly-designated National Historic Landmark, but you can’t see it. “The Davis Oriole Earthlodge Site” is estimated to be nearly a thousand years old — and it’s buried under a few feet of Iowa soil. Jerad Getter, director of the Mills County Conservation Board, says it’s in a park, near the town of Pacific Junction. “You cannot see anything from the site,” Getter says. “It’s all underground. The common person driving by will not know what it is. It doesn’t look any different than the rest of the ground. It’s the significance that’s underground.” Getter says what’s underground was a home that was part of a village.

“An earthlodge is basically a lodge that was built above ground. It was basically built with sticks, but it had earth over it and grass was growing on top of it,” Getter says. “So it’s like a domed house.” Experts who’ve examined the site estimate it was inhabited as early as the year 900, and perhaps until the 13-hundreds. Getter says the site won’t be open to the general public. “Since it is an Historical Landmark Site, they don’t want people to know where exactly it’s at so people aren’t out there with their shovels, digging,” Getter says. “But there will be a plaque that goes up in the office here.” His office is in Pony Creek Park.

The U.S. Department of the Interior describes “The Davis Oriole Earthlodge Site” as an outstanding example of the “physical features of lodge habitations” that were built across the Great Plains. The National Park Service will now work with local officials to develop a plan for preserving the site. An aboveground replica of the Earthlodge has been built in nearby Glenwood, across the street from the Mills County Museum. Artifacts collected in the area by an amateur archeologist are on display at the museum.

At the time the now-buried Davis Oriole Earthlodge Site was constructed, archaeologists say a group of Native Americans were living on the east and west sides of the Missouri River basin, constructing hundreds of earthlodges that were part of thriving communities where farming and buffalo hunting were the main occupations.

(Radio Iowa)

Man says his clenched hands caused an accident in Mills County, Wednesday

News

October 18th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

An Omaha man claims an accident on Interstate 29 in Mills County Wednesday evening, was the result of a medical condition. 64-year old Mark D. Makowske, told the Iowa State Patrol he was traveling north on I-29 at around 6:10-p.m. near Pacific Junction, when his hands suddenly clenched up. The condition caused him to swerve to the right and lose control of his 2009 Chevy Aveo.

The vehicle hit a cable guard rail and traveled down the guardrail before coming to a stop. The guardrail sustained extensive damage, while the vehicle was considered a total loss. Makowske, who was transported to Creighton University Hospital by Pacific Junction Rescue, was cited for Failure to Maintain Control. The Patrol says he was wearing his seat belt.

Atlantic man arrested on drug charges

News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office says an Atlantic man was arrested Wednesday, on drug charges. 22-year old Jeremy Michael Petersen was taken into custody for Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Marijuana, Prohibited Acts, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Petersen was brought to the Cass County Jail and subsequently released $7,500 bond.

Emergency access to the “Rock Cuts” at Cold Springs State Park improved

News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Access to a popular Cass County recreation area has been improved, thanks to work by crews with the County Conservation Department. The “Rock Cuts” at Cold Springs State Park near Lewis is over three-quarters of a mile from the nearest access road, which makes entry to the area by emergency responders, problematic.

That fact was made evident on July 4th of this year, when a 31-year old Lewis woman drowned in the waters of the Nishnabotna River. The turbulent river winds its way through the Rock Cuts. It was the second time a person had drowned in the area since July 2005.

Cass County Conservation Department Director Micah Lee says after the most recent drowning, they found out access to the area by emergency responders was extremely difficult, so the access road was cleared and widened for vehicles and personnel. He said there shouldn’t be an issue with access, for the foreseeable future. Lee said they will be able to keep the road clear, thanks to the recent acquisition of a new machine capable of clearing brush.

Cass County presents its initial bargaining proposal to Roads Dept. Union

News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors today (Wednesday), through County Attorney Dan Feistner, presented in an open session, the County’s initial bargaining proposal to the Public, Professional and Maintenance Employee’s Union (PPME), for Fiscal Year 2014-through 2016. The Union represents the County’s Secondary Roads Department.

Last week, the Supervisors received the Union’s initial bargaining proposal, which the County rejected. The next step, according to Cass County Engineer Charles Marker, is for the Union to review the County’s proposal. He says from here, negotiated will be conducted in closed session. If an agreement cannot be reached, the matter will be handled through a mediator.

Contract proposals of the type presented by both entities are typically not approved at first glance, and counter-proposals are not unusual. Union representative Craig Meyer quipped afterward that the County’s proposal “Looks Good.” Meyer said he’d go for it, but he doesn’t think the rest of them (Union members) will. That drew laughs from the Supervisors, who will continue working with the Union on a collective bargaining agreement.

More Iowa education task forces weigh in

News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The members of four of six state task forces studying how to improve education have released their final reports. The task force looking at the school calendar is recommending that local school districts should set the length of the school day while encouraging after school programs for students. They also said state law should be changed to require one-thousand-80 hours instead of 180 days, and said the current law on the start of the school year needs clarifying. The task forces looking at teacher and administration evaluation both recommend new systems to conduct those evaluations. A task force that looked at how much teachers should be paid released its recommendation last week. Education Department director, Jason Glass, said at that time that the recommendations of all six task forces will play a role in improving the quality of education.

“We need to hold people accountable, we need to be defining what an effective teacher is, determining what that looks like, and if it is not happening, we need to have systems and plans in place to ensure that, because were are talking about our children here, and they deserve the best educator that our system can put in place,” Glass says. The director was asked at the time about the link between the evaluation and the increase in compensation for teachers.

“I don’t think at least any member of the task force that released this report today, nor my administration at the Department of Education believes that we are going to use evaluation by itself as a way to dramatically improve the teaching profession,” he says, “or dramatically improve the performance of our system. We really need the right balance of pressure and support.” Two other state task forces are continuing to work on their recommendations. A final report from the task force on Early Childhood Assessment is due November 15th, while the Competency-Based Instruction Task Force’s preliminary report is due January 15th.

(Radio Iowa)

Home sales down, prices up across Iowa in September

News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The number of homes sold in Iowa dropped last month while prices rose. A total of 2,671 homes were sold in the state in September, according to the Iowa Association of Realtors. That’s down from 3,007 homes sold over the same month last year. Iowa Association of Realtors president Dale Gross, of Atlantic, notes sales had been increasing for many months in a row and overall 2012 year-to-date sales are still up by 11.6% compared to last year. The median price for a home sold in Iowa last month was $127,000. That’s up 5.8% from the $120,000 median sale price in September 2011. Gross said there just under 21,000 homes on the market across the state at the end of last month. That compares to nearly 24,500 homes on the market at end of September last year.

(Radio Iowa)

Harlan City Council approves blending of two economic development entities

News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan City Council, Tuesday, approved by a vote of 4-to1, with one member absent, a motion designed to encourage the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and Shelby County DevelopSource to work together, and  blend into one county-wide entity. In his motion, Harlan Mayor Gene Gettys said “The City has been a longtime supporter of the Harlan and now Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and also the county wide economic development organization now called Shelby County DevelopSource. Because I believe the two entities have similar functions and fulfill similar county wide developmental goals, the two entities should be merged.”

Shelby County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dawn Cundiff told the Council, “Our Chamber members don’t want the city controlling or telling them what to do in a business climate. It can be a great opportunity to work on projects but DevelopSource should find their way. The Chamber has theirs.”

The Harlan City Council also unanimously approved a second motion which said that the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce should be requested to submit to an analysis of the Hotel/Motel tax revenues generated and the allocation of those tax proceeds since its inception. The motion, as read by Mayor Gettys, said “The analysis of the revenue/expenditures should be done by the City of Harlan, Auditors, Williams and Company of LeMars, IA with the next 30 days with their report of findings submitted to the Chamber and City Council.”

It caused quite a stir among the guests in attendance. Cundiff told the board, quote — “I have made a report. There’s been a report every year. We have met that requirement.” She continued, “We feel if we don’t join DevelopSource then you will pull this money (Hotel/Motel Tax). It’s political blackmail.” She also said the Chamber has nothing to hide and would be fine with an audit.

Council member Dave Miller responded, “The funds have to be spent on tourism. Whatever the plan is, the funds will be spent on tourism, that’s the ordinance. The City doesn’t want to put their thumb on managing the Chamber.” Mayor Gettys commented “This does cut into a deeper issue. I encourage the Chamber, city and DevelopSource to look at the opportunity.”

(Joel McCall/KNOD)