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Iowa News Headlines: Thu., Jan. 23rd 2014


January 23rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Senate panel is giving preliminary backing to a bill that would exempt military pensions from the state income tax. A Senate subcommittee approved the legislation during a brief hearing yesterday. The military pension exemption is a top priority for Republican Governor Terry Branstad, who has made support for veterans a key part of his budget plan this year.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former residents and employees of the Iowa Juvenile Home testified before a legislative panel and urged lawmakers to support a measure that would force officials to reopen the facility that closed last week. Those testifying Wednesday before the Senate Human Resources Committee told lawmakers they tried to create a safe environment for teens at the Toledo, Iowa home which closed January 15th.

AMES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Board of Regents is appealing a district court’s decision to reinstate Iowa State basketball player Bubu Palo to the team. The Des Moines Register reports the Iowa Attorney General’s Office filed a motion yesterday on behalf of the board that seeks an immediate stay of a Webster County district judge’s recent order to let Palo rejoin the team.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Nik Stauskas scored 26 points, and Number 21 Michigan held off 10th ranked Iowa 75-67 last night to remain unbeaten in the Big Ten. Aaron White scored 14 of Iowa’s points in a row down the stretch, but it wasn’t enough to rally the Hawkeyes from an 11-point deficit.

3 arrests in Montgomery County, Wednesday


January 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Montgomery County report three arrests on Wednesday. The Sheriff’s Department says Connie Williams, of Villisca, was arrested at around 10:20-a.m. on a Montgomery County warrant for Theft in the 5th Degree. And, at around 12:30-p.m., Zach Holland, of Red Oak, was arrested on a warrant out of Red Oak, for Theft in the 5th Degree and Trespass. Both subjects were transported to the Montgomery County Jail and held on $300 bond, each.

And the Red Oak Police Department reports the arrest at around 2:40-p.m., of 58-year old Kevin Kay Fish, of Red Oak. Fish was arrested on a Red Oak P-D warrant for Domestic Abuse Assault and was being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $300 bond.

Atlantic City Council fails to pass rezoning ordinance


January 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council overwhemingly voted down the first reading of an ordinance which would eventually have allowed the rezoning of a 50-foot lot on the southwest corner of 7th and Olive Streets, from Residential to Highway Commercial. Prior to their 7-0 vote, the Council had received a petition from residents in the immediate area opposed to the request from Plummer Investments to have the lot rezoned.

The owner has said he would tear down a 133-year old dilapidated home on the lot he owns because it hasn’t been kept up according to the City’s Minimum Maintenance Code, but he didn’t say what the lot woud be used for. That was still a mystery during Wednesday night’s City Council meeting. Mayor Dave Jones said “We have no plans from the person requesting the variance about what he’s gonna do. I’m not sure what the motive is behind it.”

The City Zoning Board recommended the rezoning be approved, but City Administrator Doug Harris pointed out the proposal doesn’t conform with the intentions of the City’s Comprehensive Plan for residential zoning in that area. Harris said he would be reluctant to rezone the lot unless the City receives more specific plans that would show how it would benefit the neighborhood and conform to the Comprehensive Plan.

The only access to the lot is through an alley, which the Council agreed is not conducive to parking or the flow of traffic in the area, if a commercial structure were to be built on the lot. David Riedeman, real estate agent for the property owner, tried to speak to the Council’s concerns over plans for the property. He said Plummer also owns an adjacent property to the west of the lot in question, and is willing to sell that property as well, if a potential commercial buyer needs parking. Reideman says his client intends to sell the lot for commercial development.

Atlantic City Council votes down Tobacco Free Policy at Sunnyside Park


January 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A Tobacco Free Policy for Sunnyside Park in Atlantic failed to advance past the first reading Wednesday night, during a meeting of the Atlantic City Council. Council members Jimerson, Somers, Hayes, Hartkopf, Halder and Cord voted against it. Councilperson Lori Stuart was the only yes vote. The action came after nearly 45-minutes of discussion during a public forum, which included comments and a Power Point Presentation on a report from the Cass County Public Health Task Force which included Cass County Public Health Community Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Karla Akers, Teddi Grindberg, with Healthy Cass County, and Atlantic Parks and Rec Board Member Jolene Smith.

As part of the presentation, the Task Force brought up the Smoke Free Air Act, which regulates smoking in public places. Grindberg quoted a section of the SFAA (IA Code 142.D) which spells out areas where smoking is prohibited outdoors. It includes bleachers or seating areas in outdoor sports arenas and other entertainment venues where the general public is gathered. Public transit stations, platforms and shelters are also prohibited under the Act.

Former Atlantic City Councilman Steve Livengood, a non-smoker, was opposed to the proposed ordinance. He offered a rebuttal to Grindberg’s comments with regard to the Iowa Smoke Free Air Act, several parts of which he said were taken out of context. He said a “Public Place” uses the term “enclosed space,” which by definition, would not include a park shelter, since it has to have “A roof, a ceiling and 4 walls”. He says the shelter Grindberg spoke of pertained to public transportation, not park shelter.

Akers said the bottom line is that the ordinance “Isn’t about the Smoke Free Air Act.” She says that they brought that to the Park Board, to show the basic requirements and that they weren’t complying with the Act. She said they want the City needs to set a good example for children and that the City cares about the health of those youth. Prior to their vote on the first reading, the Council was in agreement it is not the City’s responsibility to send a message to kids not to smoke or use tobacco. Councilperson Kathy Somers said that’s something that needs to comes from families. She said also “It would be a shame to limit the privileges of our citizens, just to be an example to the children who already hear it plenty of ways.”

Harlan City Council news


January 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan City Council heard several updates on different projects during their meeting Tuesday. The first update was from John McCurdy from SWIPCO on the Harlan housing rehabilitation project. The city received grant funding of $373,000 with the city funding $25,000.  McCurdy told the council 5 houses have already been completed through the process and another five are continuing the study. He also gave an update on the SWIPCO housing study. The purpose of the study was to find out where the additional need was in the city of Harlan for certain types of housing mainly rental properties. McCurdy said he was surprised by the vacancy rate in the city.

“Generally in a community, a five percent vacancy rate is healthy because it shows you have some homes available. The vacancy rate is not necessarily a home that is inhabitable. It is a vacant home available for sale. In yours in 2010 was 1.1 percent which shows an incredible need. If you had 5 to 6 percent vacancy rate I would still say there is an incredible need.”

McCurdy said SWIPCO will be in Harlan today (Wednesday) to conduct the housing study so if residents see a SWIPCO vehicle in town staring at a house, they are accessing the properties. The new housing study figures will come to the Harlan city council sometime in the spring.

In other business, City Administrator Terry Cox reported to the council on a change order from Leinen Construction for the Harlan Police Department construction project. The city approved the change order on structural work on the basement and other items for $32,972.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)

Unattended car jumps a curb and hits bank building in Atlantic


January 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

An Atlantic bank sustained $1,000 damage Tuesday evening, when an unattended vehicle  jumped the curb and hit the structure. Atlantic Police say the mishap at the Wells Fargo Bank on Chestnut Street, occurred at around 6:45-p.m. Officials say  the vehicle, owned by Cherese Smith, of Atlantic, somehow slipped out of park, jumped a curb and  knocked over a parking sign before hitting the east side of the building. Smith was at the ATM inside the bank and returned to find the accident had occurred. Damage to her vehicle was estimated at $500.

Bone fragments discovered in burned out Glenwood home


January 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

An official with the Council Bluffs Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division says law enforcement personnel discovered bone fragments during a search of a burned out Glenwood home on New Year’s Eve. Sgt. Chad Meyers told the Daily NonPareil today (Wednesday), there is no confirmation the bones are human, however. Authorities transported the bones to the state lab in Ankeny for testing.

The mother of 26-year old Travis Bach had said earlier she feared her son’s remains would be found in the home owned by 69-year old Gerald Nibbe, who was away the evening of Dec. 31st, when the fire broke out and destroyed the structure. Colleen Bach said she believes her son was near the scene of the fire, because a suspicious vehicle was found parked on the property the night of the fire. The vehicle’s owner, who lives in Council Bluffs, told sheriff’s deputies that he lent the vehicle to Travis Bach. When Travis never returned home that evening, the family filed a missing person report with the Council Bluffs Police Department. Sgt. Meyers confirmed that authorities have not located Travis Bach since the fire. Authorities said Travis Bach knew Nibbe and had done “odd jobs” for him in the past.

Investigators with the Iowa State Fire Marshal Division were not able to determine what caused the fire.

IA Board of Social Work sets hearing for a Creston Social Worker


January 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Board of Social Work has set May 12th as the date for a hearing in the case of a Master Social Worker from Creston who is charged with “Violating the terms of an impaired practitioner recovery contract with the Impaired Practitioner Review Committee” (IPRC).

On Dec. 3rd, 2012, Kenneth Hayes self-reported to the IPRC due to possible substance abuse issues. According to Board documents, Hayes signed an initial agreement with the IPRC on Jan. 29, 2013, and a monitoring contract on April 13, 2013. The contract requires abstinence from drugs and alcohol, and daily call-ins to a lab, and to meet with an aftercare provider.

On Aug. 28, 2013 and twice in Sept. of that year, Hayes tested positive for alcohol. In Oct. 2013, Hayes stopped making the required lab calls. He was discharged from his aftercare provider in Nov. 2013, due to non-compliance. As a result of his actions, the IPRC voted to nullify Hayes’ contract and refer him to the Board of Social Work for a possible hearing. On Jan. 16th, the Board found probable cause to file the hearing notice and Statement of Charges.

If the allegations against Hayes are proven, the Board may take disciplinary action as allowed by the Iowa Code and Iowa Administrative Code.

Lawmakers back military pension bill


January 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A Senate panel is giving preliminary backing to a bill that would exempt military pensions from the state income tax.  A Senate subcommittee approved the legislation during a brief hearing Wednesday. It is expected to soon receive committee-level approval and move to the full Senate for a vote.

Sen. Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, says he is pleased to support legislation that helps veterans and may bring more military retirees to the state. The military pension exemption is a top priority for Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who has made support for veterans a key part of his budget plan this year.

According to the Branstad administration, the pension exemption would cost the state a projected $10 million in lost annual revenue.

Public Hearing in Cass County over Radon Mitigation


January 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A public hearing will take place on Monday, Jan. 27th in Cass County, with regard to the proposed rules requiring passive radon mitigation in new home and small business construction. The hearing is set to take place at the Cass County Memorial Hospital’s Conference Room 1, beginning at 1-p.m.