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New statement billing look and payment options coming for AMU customers


December 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Customers of the Atlantic Municipal Utilities will see a new statement effective December 26th, that replaces the postcard-style billing we are used to seeing.

Sample of new AMU billing statement (Front view)

New statement (Sample) reverse view

AMU letter to customers explaining statement changes.

AMU officials announced the change during their Board of Trustees meeting Monday night. AMU General Manager Steve Tjepkes said letters will be going out to their customers explaining the change and options available for payment.

AMU says while the postcard billing statements have served them well for many years, it is becoming more cumbersome to maintain. The new statements (which resemble those of other utilities, such as Alliant Energy), are said to be less likely to get lost in the mail, because they are business envelope sized. Officials say the new statement is also: Easier to read; Have a more detailed level of information; Gives AMU the capability of adding multiple accounts to one billing statement; Will allow for better tracking of information and processing payments; and, better protects customer information.

Jennifer Saathoff, Board Secretary, said additional features being offered to their billing system in 2013 include customers’ being able to access their bill through AMU’s website to make a payment or check a detailed statement history, which is especially beneficial to the “Snow Bird”-type customer, who resides out of state during the Winter months. There will also be a feature to set-up recurring credit card payments and debit transactions.

All of those features will be rolled out sometime early next year.

Record High temperatures reported Monday across Iowa

News, Weather

December 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The National Weather Service says Iowa experienced unseasonably warm temperatures on Monday, as southwesterly winds increased ahead of an approaching cold front. Many locations broke their daily high temperatures, and several tied their records for the highest temperature ever recorded on that date, in December. Among the locations where the high was tied, was in Atlantic, where we hit 63-degrees at 11-a.m., here at the KJAN studios, the Official NWS reporting site for Atlantic. Our high tied the record first set 50-years ago (1962). Today’s predicted high of 58 would fall about 8-degrees shy of tying the record for December 4th.

High temperatures Monday ranged from 62-degrees in Omaha to 72 in Burlington. Des Moines topped out at 69-degrees, which tied the record set in 1984. The highest temperature ever recorded anywhere in Iowa during the month of December is 74-degrees in Thurman, on Dec. 6th, 1939, a day on which many areas of western Iowa established December warmth records that still stand today. On that date, Atlantic hit 69 degrees.

AMU Board approves rate increases


December 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Municipal Utilities’ Board of Trustees Monday evening approved published electric and water rate increases amounting to a 10-percent increase in water rates and a 7.5-percent increase in electric rates to make up for wholesale increases in the cost to obtain electricity and other related expenses. AMU’s residential customers will see an average $6.60 monthly increase for their combined electric and water bill. Commercial (Business) users of AMU’s electric and water service will see their average bill increase by about $24.45 per month. The new rates become effective with the February 1st, 2013 billing.

During a public hearing prior to the Boards’ vote, there were no spoken objections from the public with regard to the proposed rate increase. There was one letter written by two Atlantic citizens regarding the City’s Christmas lights being on overnight, past the time when most downtown businesses are closed. In the letter, Eleanor and Leslie Becker questioned why AMU doesn’t try to save the taxpayers money by turning the lights off when the business district is closed.

AMU General Manager Steve Tjepkes explained the way the lights are wired makes it difficult to shut them off. He said the Christmas lights are wired into the street lights, which are on a photo-electric cell. When conditions are dark enough, the street lights, and anything tied into them, such as the Christmas lights, will turn on together. Tjepkes said he wasn’t aware of that until he received the Beckers’ letter and looked into it.

Tjepkes estimates the Christmas lights are on about 50-days during the season, for about 14-hours per day. He says based on the cost of energy, the cost to provide electricity for the LED lights is about $500 per year. Tjepkes noted the new Christmas lights are more energy efficient than the old lights. He acknowledged that AMU could work to switch the lights to separate circuits from the street lights, which would save at best “A couple of hundred dollars per year,” but Board Chair Larry Turner pointed out the cost to switch those circuits would “Be very expensive.”

Iowa early News Headlines: Tue., Dec. 4th 2012


December 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A record number of Iowans cast their vote this year in the presidential election. More than 1.5 million people in Iowa voted in the 2012 election for president and vice president. That includes another record for early or absentee voting, which brought in more than 688,000 votes.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A judge has ordered a Des Moines teen convicted in his friend’s October shooting death to first go to a residential treatment facility for counseling. Sixteen-year-old Dontavius Sharkey then must undergo a 30-day evaluation to determine where he heads next. He will stay in the juvenile system until he’s 18 and be sentenced in adult court in 2014.

WEST UNION, Iowa (AP) — A former school district administrator in Iowa has avoided prison time for a theft scheme. Ex-Starmont district business manager Vicki Vanter has been ordered to serve up to five years of probation. She was arrested after an audit alleged she wasted $229,000 paying off personal expenses and improperly inflating her salary and benefits.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa City landlord accused of spying on his tenants is scheduled to go on trial in February. Elwyn Miller faces nearly a dozen counts of invasion of property. He’s accused of spying on several nude female tenants in their bathrooms or bedrooms.

No School today (Tuesday) at Adair-Casey: Funeral for rural Exira boy


December 4th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

No classes will be held today (Tuesday) in the Adair-Casey Community School District. School officials say instead, the staff and classmates of Austin Vais are being given the chance to say goodbye to the 12-year old, who died following a single-vehicle rollover accident last Thursday afternoon, east of Exira. Funeral services for Vais will be held at 1-p.m., in the Adair-Casey High School. Austin began attending the Adair-Casey Elementary School at the beginning of the school year.

Counselors were brought in Friday to talk with the students about their classmates’ death on Friday. The boy was not wearing a seat belt when he lost control of the 2003 Ford F-150 on a gravel road. Vais was ejected as it rolled over after sliding sidways.  Sheriff’s officials have said it appears the boy had taken the truck for a drive while his father was away from home.

2 teens arrested for alcohol in possession


December 3rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Clarinda Police arrested two individuals early Sunday morning for possession of alcohol under the legal age. Chief Keith Brothers says at around 3-a.m., officers arrested 18-year old’s Jordan Nicole Landess, of Clarinda and Scharely Dawn Reynolds, of Stanton. Landess and Reynolds were ticketed and cited to appear in Page County Magistrate Court at a later date. Their arrests occurred in a business parking lot located at 318 East Washington Street in Clarinda.

Data: Record turnout in Iowa for presidential race; Fremont County lowest turnout


December 3rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A record number of Iowans cast their vote this year in the presidential election. The Quad-City Times  reported Monday that more than 1.5 million people in Iowa voted in the 2012 election for president and vice president. That includes another record for early or absentee voting, which brought in more than 688,000 votes. The data shows more people voted on Election Day for Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s ticket, but President Barack Obama had an early voting edge over the former Massachusetts governor.

Fayette County had the highest turnout in the state with more than 84 percent of registered voters casting a ballot. Fremont County had the lowest with just over 61 percent.



December 3rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors is taking applications for various county board and commission appointments for next year. The majority of the appointments are made at the organizational meeting held on the first working day of the calendar year: January 2nd, for 2013. Cass County appreciates diversity in these appointments and welcomes all applicants at least 18 years of age. Terms and dates of appointments vary. These are unpaid positions.

A brief description follows: (Zoning) Board of Adjustment: Five member board to review county zoning ordinance and hear requests for variances or special exceptions to the ordinance. (2013- one to be appointed); Planning & Zoning Commission: Five member commission to review and enforce county zoning ordinance and make recommendations on any proposed changes to same. (2013- one to be appointed); Airport Zoning Board of Adjustment: Five member board (two appointed by Board of Supervisors, two appointed by City of Atlantic, and fifth by those four) to review airport zoning ordinance and hear requests for variances or special exceptions to the ordinance. (2013- one to be appointed); Compensation Board for the Condemnation of Private Property: 28 member commission representing realtors, farmers, bankers, auctioneers and city property owners to be available to the chief judge of the judicial district to assess damages to property taken by eminent domain. (2013- twenty-eight or more to be appointed: at least seven for each of four categories- Owner-operators of agricultural property; City property owners; Knowledge of property values; and Licensed Real Estate Persons); Board of Health: Five member board to provide guidance and oversee operations of county Public Health department. (2013- two to be appointed); Veteran Affairs Commission: Three member commission to provide guidance and oversee operations of Veteran Affairs department. (2013 beginning July 1- one to be appointed); Conservation Board: Five member board to provide guidance and oversee operations of county Conservation department. (2013- one to be appointed); Civil Service Commission: Three member commission to oversee examinations, promotions, and discipline issues relating to Deputy Sheriffs. (next appointment 2014); and, Township Trustee/Clerk: Four member board (three trustees and one clerk) to oversee operations of a township. (2013- one clerk and one trustee for each of the townships of Bear Grove, Brighton, Cass, Franklin, Grant, Grove, Lincoln, Massena, Noble, Pleasant, Pymosa and Washington)

The above list is not all inclusive. The Board of Supervisors is always looking for people interested in serving their community. Applications are required and can be obtained at the office of the Cass County Auditor and are also available on the county website: http://www.casscountyiowa.us. Additional information may be obtained by calling the office of the Cass County Auditor: 712-243-4570.

(Presss Release from Cass County Auditor’s Office)

Mills County arrest report


December 3rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Mills County Sheriff’s Office, Monday, issued a report on recent arrests. On December 3rd, 32-year old Shelly Jean Logeman, of Council Bluffs, was arrested at the Pottawattamie County Jail at around 7:15-a.m., on a warrant for Failure to Appear on charges of Unlawful Possession of Prescription Drugs and Driving While Barred. Her bond was set at $5,000. Also arrested Monday, was 20-year old Austin Keith Kelly, of Pacific Junction. Kelly was arrested at around 7:40-a.m. in Pacific Junction, for Unlawful Possession of Prescription Drugs. His bond was set at $1,000.

On Sunday, 49-year old Scott Wade Fisher, of Malvern, was arrested by Mills County deputies for Possession of Controlled Substance and Domestic Abuse Assault. He was being held without bond in the Mills County Jail on the assault charge, with the bond for PCS set at $1,000. Also arrested Sunday in Mills County, was 23-year old Sara Ann Young, of Glenwood, for OWI/1st Offense, and 37-year old Darren Douglas Bartley, of Malvern, of 2nd offense OWI. Their bonds were set at $1,000 and $2,000 respectively.

And, on Saturday, Mills County deputies arrested 28-year old Nicole Ann Crom, of Plattsmouth, NE, for OWI/1st Offense. Bond was set at $1,000.

1 person injured during Mills County rollover accident


December 3rd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

One person was sent to the hospital following a rollover accident Sunday morning, in Mills County. According to the Sheriff’s Department, 31-year old Carol Backus, of Shenandoah, was transported to the Montgomery County Memorial Hospital by Red Oak Rescue, following the accident on Highway 59, about one-half miles south of Emerson. Officials say Backus was traveling north on the highway at around 1-a.m. Sunday, when her 2005 Cadillac crossed the center line, and went out of control.

The car dropped off the shoulder and continued down a hill before rolling twice in an open field and coming to rest on its wheels 35-feet from a power substation.