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Iowa Land values survey shows nearly 24% increase over last year

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 12th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The annual survey from Iowa State University shows farmland values increased almost 24-percent over last year to a new record high of an average cost of eight-thousand-296 dollars an acre. I-S-U economist, Mike Duffy compiles the numbers from the survey. “Basically what we found was higher-quality ground moving at a pretty good level, and lower quality ground not increasing so much,” Duffy says. “For example northwest Iowa was up almost 34-percent, where southeast Iowa was up only nine percent.” Duffy says record corn and bean prices are part of the reason for the increase.

“The commodity prices were a primary driver, another driver was the very low interest rates that we have. People also said lack of alternative investments was another reason,” according to Duffy. The faster increase in the price of the better quality ground goes hand-in-hand with the amount of money to be made with the higher commodity prices.  “I think the higher quality ground is going to be less susceptible to weather problems for the most part, it’s a more stable return if you will than some of the lower quality ground. And people are perceiving it to be a better buy than the lower quality,” Duffy says.

O’Brien County had an estimated 12-thousand-862 dollar average value, the highest average county value. O’Brien County also had the highest percentage increase and highest dollar increase in value, 35-point-two percent and three-thousand-348, respectively. The 23-point-seven-percent increase marks the third straight year the land values have increased by 15-percent or more. Duffy doesn’t agree with those who say the high price bubble of ag land is going to eventually burst. “I don’t think that it’s going to be a bubble pop. I think it would either be be more akin to a tire getting a nail in it, where we’ll gradually adjust down. Or it may even be that we don’t adjust down much, but the rate of increase will either slow or slightly go down,” Duffy says.

He does think the double-digit increases in land prices may not last much longer. “I don’t see any way that we can maintain the rate that we’ve had,” Duffy explains. “The last three years we’ve increased almost 64-percent, and that’s just not sustainable.” He says the supply and amount of corn and soybeans that are grown will make an impact on the land prices moving ahead.”The world is already responding by planting more, so we’re going to see adjustments,” Duffy says. “Now all that said though, the drought that we’re experiencing right now is very serious. And what it portends for next year is kind of anybody’s guess right now. But if we don’t get rain, we’re not going to have a crop. So it doesn’t matter how high prices are.”

In Cass County, the value of Ag land increased $1,426 over last year, to $7,984 per acre. In Audubon County, land increased just $25 shy of $2,000 per acre, to $9,215. In Adair County, land prices increased a little more than $1,100, to $6,425. In Adams County, the value of land went up a little more than $800, to $5,094. In Pottawattamie County, the price of land went up $1,600 from last year, to $9,142 per acre. Land went up nearly $1,800 in Shelby County to $9,262. In Guthrie County, the price went up just over $1,600 to $8,220. And, Montgomery County realized a $1,058 dollar price increase, to just over $6,710 per acre.

This is the highest state land value recorded by the survey and the first time county averages have reached levels over 10-thousand dollars an acre.

(Radio Iowa) (more info. at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/article/farmland-value-reaches-historic-8296-statewide-average)

USPS offers $500 reward for Adair County mailbox vandals


December 11th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The United States Postal Inspection Service said Tuesday, it is offering a reward of up to $500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the theft of mail in Adair County, which occurred on December 6th, 2012. As we mentioned last weekend, Adair County Sheriff Brad Newton stated about 40 mailboxes were hit between Greenfield and Stuart, to the northeast late last week.

Investigators believe the thief or thieves are taking all the contents from mailboxes, rifling through them for the items they want, then dumping the rest. Newton says he believes the thieves are looking for Christmas cards with cash in them.  The sheriff said they don’t have a lot to go on, but they’re looking for two white males driving a mid-sized white vehicle.

If you have any information concerning this crime please contact the U. S. Postal Inspectors at 1-877-876-2455 or the Adair County Sheriff’s Department at 641-743-2148.

Neb. man charged with killing ex-girlfriend, man


December 11th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

EWING, Neb. (AP) — A northeast Nebraska man was denied bail on two counts of first degree murder in connection with the death of his ex-girlfriend and the man she was living with. The Norfolk Daily News reports Matthew Hinrichsen of Ewing appeared Tuesday in Antelope County Court. Prosecutors say Hinrichsen killed Victoria Lee of Missouri Valley, Iowa, and Gabino Vargas of Omaha before setting fire to their mobile home last weekend. Court documents say Hinrichsen had been having problems recently with Lee, who was his ex-girlfriend. He also faces firearm charges and an arson charge. Officers arrested Hinrichsen early Saturday morning at his parents’ home after he admitted to his father that he had killed two people.

Cass County arrests


December 11th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office today (Tuesday) reported three arrests over the past week. On Tue., Dec. 4th, 54-year old Timothy Dayle Meyer,  of Massena, was arrested on a Probation Violation charge. Meyer was taken to the Cass County Jail where he is being held on $5000 bond.

On Wed., Dec. 5th, 28-year old Laura Lynn Madden, of Atlantic, turned herself in at the Cass County Jail on a Sheriff’s Office warrant for Aiding and Abetting regarding violation of a no contact order. Madden pled guilty and was released the following day.

And, on Saturday, Dec. 8th, Cass County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 22-year old Clayton Varel Schmidt,  of Massena, on a charge of OWI 1st Offense. Schmidt was taken to the Cass County Jail where he was released on his own recognizance later that day.

(12-p.m. News 12/11/12)

Shelby County BOS approve dollars for Myrtue Med Center


December 11th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Shelby County Board of Supervisors approved to increase Public Health dollars to Myrtue Medical Center. In a board of Supervisors meeting this (Tuesday) morning, CEO of Myrtue Medical Barry Jacobsen approached the board to discuss the recently requested increase by Public Health Director Jennifer Muff. Jacobsen said for the past 18 years, the County has been contracted with the hospital to provide public health services. He told the board the contract amount beginning in 1994 hasn’t matched the expenses for the program.

The fee we have received for the services started at $35,000 in 1994 and increased to $45,000. Two years ago, it went to $57,000. The contract amount hasn’t really come anywhere close to keeping up with the cost to run the program. In fact, the hospital lost $180,000 in 2011 and in 2012 $125,000. That is after we have received the subsidy from the county supervisors.”

Jacobsen went on to say the past increases were inadequate.

We think it needs to go up significantly from where we are right now. We don’t think the increase in the past have been adequate. Basically, we are offering to continue this service until 2013-2014 year for the $100,000 that was requested at the previous meeting.”

After more discussion, supervisor Burmeister made the motion for a 3 year $100,000 annual base going to Myrtue Hospital for Public Health Services. With the new agreement, Myrtue will still have to pay a substantial amount in subsidized money to pay for the services. Jacobsen said the Myrtue Board of Trustees will review the actions at their next meeting. If the hospital and supervisors were unable to make some sort of an agreement, the County would have had to provide the services to the 10,000 people receiving public health services in the county.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)

Cass County Supervisors to hear tourism report


December 11th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors, Wednesday (Dec. 12th), will hear a report on area tourism. The report, during their meeting at 9-a.m., comes from Kenner Baxter, with the Western Iowa Tourism Council, Region 1. In other business, the Board will hold the first of two hearings on removing parcels from the Amaizing Energy TIF District. The second hearing will take place on Dec. 19th.

They’ll also act on approving an Amendment to Ordinance 28 (Division of Taxes Levied on Taxable Property in the Amaizing Energy Urban Renewal Area), after the first public hearing is held, and prior to the announcement regarding the second public hearing.

The Cass County Board of Supervisors meeting takes place at the Courthouse, in Atlantic.

Iowa Guard leader says fewer soldiers being deployed


December 11th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The leader of the Iowa National Guard says fewer Iowa soldiers and airmen are being deployed overseas at this time, and that trend should continue for at least the next two years. Major General Timothy Orr updated Governor Branstad and his advisors on the status of the guard at a budget hearing at the statehouse. General Orr said some 218 guard members are currently deployed, most of them in the Middle East.

This is the lowest since the beginning of the war. We don’t see it getting much higher than that. This is a trend nationally tied to the president’s strategy to come out of Afghanistan and coming out of Iraq,” Orr said. He expects a slight bump up in the number of soldiers deployed to over 300 next year to support the U-S withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“As you look at that chart, you will see there engineers, transportation, aviation and what you’re seeing is really a movement piece,” Orr explained.”It’s typical of what we saw in Iraq in downsizing as we move people and equipment out of Afghanistan. General Orr is asking for a minimal increase in state funding next year, including money to fully fund tuition assistance for returning soldiers. He also wants to hire a deputy adjutant general, a position that’s been left unfilled during tight budget times.

(Radio Iowa)

Local talent to perform Big Band and holiday music Dec. 22nd in Atlantic


December 11th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Local talent will take to the stage at the Elk’s Lodge in Atlantic Dec. 22nd, for an evening of free, Big Band music and dancing. The 3rd annual Holiday Ball features “Popcorn Button, a 16-piece swing band performing a large range of hits from the big band era. The group will also perform a set of traditional holiday favorites re-arranged in the big band tradition. Popcorn Button includes student and alumni musicians from Iowa State University, the University of Iowa, Atlantic High School, and the Atlantic community.

And, Jake and Pam Auerbach will be back in action on the dance floor, helping anyone wanting to learn how to dance the waltz, swing, polka, and two-step. Dancers of any level of experience are welcome and encouraged to attend. The couple will be available throughout the evening to help any dancers get started while the music continues.

Even Santa Claus has taken time out of his busy schedule to make an appearance with Popcorn Button. An optional free will donation will be taken at the door to cover the band’s expenses, with all excess proceeds going to the Atlantic Food Pantry.

Once again, the Holiday Ball is a free public event. All ages and dancing abilities are invited and encouraged to attend from 7-10 PM Saturday, December 22nd at the Elks Lodge in Atlantic.  For more information, visit www.popcornbutton.org, or contact Curtis Ullerich at info@popcornbutton.org or 424-242-2878.

Exira-EHK School Boards to meet Tues. evening


December 11th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Exira and Elk Horn Kimballton Boards of Education will hold a joint meeting this evening in Elk Horn, to discuss matters pertaining to reorganization of the districts. On the agenda for the 7-p.m. session in the Lunch Room at the High School in Elk Horn, is a presentation from Piper Jaffray’s Travis Squires, action on approval of a petition for Reorganization, and approval of joint committees, which includes: SIAC, Pre-School, District Leadership Team and Teacher Quality.


Atlantic School Board discusses Athletic Facilities needs

News, Sports

December 11th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic School Board Monday, heard a report from High School Assistant Prinicipal/Activities Director Josh Rasmussen, with regard to the condition of the district’s athletic facilities. Rasmussen showed the board pictures of conditions at the Trojan Bowl, Baseball Field, Softball Field, Middle School and Schuler Gyms, the Middle School practice field and wrestling/multi-purpose room.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstein asked Rasmussen to take pictures of the areas district administrators and others have noticed are in need of repair or renovation. Rasmussen said at the Trojan Bowl, some of the issues brought up include: No restrooms for visitors except portable-style facilities, and the need to expand current restrooms; the need for a bigger concessions stand away from the exit and entrance; need for additional storage space, and no handicapped accessibility to the bleachers.

Rasmussen also talked about the baseball and softball fields. He said there is no ticket booth, the field is not level, there is no handicapped accessibility, which is something that must be addressed. Others concerns with both fields, include: No permanent bleachers; parking issues; drainage issues at the softball field; and safety improvements to the dugouts. As for the Middle School Gym, Rasmussen says the bleacher need to be replaced for safety reasons, new scoreboard are needed because the current boards are becoming obsolete, and the weightlifting area needs to be updated and equipment replaced.

New scoreboards are needed in the Schuler gym, along with new bleachers and an activity divider curtain. And, Rasmussen says in the Wrestling/Multi-Purpose room, there should be an enclosed breezeway connecting the room to the main building, an expansion of the multi-purpose room to include a locker room, and the addition of more storage space.

The school board agreed the next step would be to make “Requests for Proposals” (RFP’s), so experts can come in and offer an assessment of the situation, offer solutions to any problems with the athletic facilities, real or perceived, and what the costs might be.