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Mills County landfill to dispose of birds w/Avian Influenza

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 21st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The remains of chickens killed by the avian flu will be buried in a Mills County landfill as soon as next week, weather permitting. The Daily Non Pareil reports the United States Department of Agriculture has reached a deal with Iowa Waste Systems, owner of the Loess Hills Sanitary Landfill near Malvern to serve as one of several statewide sites to received the dead birds.

Robert Glebs, CEO of Iowa Waste Systems said they have told the USDA they would like to accept 10 loads of dead chickens as a ‘test run’ for the first burial, which amounts to about 200 tons in weight. The test run was supposed to have taken place Wednesday, but Glebs says rain, which could have allowed excess water into the ground as a leachate, prevented it from taking place. He said the landfill will try to bury the chickens next week, weather permitting.

The plastic bags with chickens inside are placed deep in the ground before being covered with waste and soil within five minutes.State Senator Mark Costello, a Republican from Imogene, says hehas received more than a few grievances from people in the area with worries about diseased animal remains coming to their neck of the woods. However, Costello said the protocols and regulations to keep the diseased remains safe and contained are stringent and detailed. The Iowa Department of Transportation will figure out a safe route for the trucks, which are purified after carrying the remains to the site, he said.

According to Costello, the remains are placed in bags, which are heated to destroy the flu germs, before being buried and do not leak. He said he was unsure how many trucks carrying remains could be coming to Mills County, but he heard recent estimates put 25 million birds have died from the flu. The outbreak in the upper Midwest could cost producers nearly $1 billion, according to the Associated Press.

Dustin Vande Hoef, public information director for the Iowa Department of Agriculture, said the landfill will follow special waste-handling criteria. Vande Hoef said previous animal disease outbreaks have been handled in similar fashion in the past.

Iowa House passes bill to legalize fireworks

News

May 21st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

It would be legal to sell and set off fireworks in Iowa if a bill that cleared the Iowa House last night (Wednesday) becomes law. Representative John Wills, a Republican from Spirit Lake, was among the 53 House members who voted “yes.” “We need to have people understand that what they do and how they do it is their responsibility,” Wills said. “This bill gives freedom back to the people and I’m in favor.”

Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, was among the 43 who voted “no.” “This bill does not make Iowa a safer place to live,” she said. “In fact, it does the opposite.” Critics cited concerns about fires started by the sparks of fireworks, as well as complaints that veterans with post traumatic stress disorder suffer from the sounds of fireworks. Representative David Maxwell, a Republican from Gibson, says he doesn’t have P-T-S-D, but couldn’t watch fireworks for several years after he got out of the military.

“I still don’t enjoy them,” Gibson said. “And I’m not a kill joy, believe it or not, but I know a number of people that really do not look forward to summertime and the 4th of July because what happened to them 40 or 50 years ago or even longer. I think we’re being a little bit shortsighted for a few bucks here.” That would be because the bill legalizes the sale of commercial fireworks in Iowa. Representative Matt Winschitl (WIND-shit-ull), a Republican from Missouri Valley, says he didn’t support the bill because of the tax revenue the state might collect.

“It’s about letting Iowans make the choice for themselves,” Windschitl says. “You’ve got 43 other states out there that allow one degree of fireworks or another beyond what Iowa does.” If the bill becomes law, it would be legal to set off fireworks between the hours of 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day. Representative Dave Heaton, a Democrat from Mount Pleasant, says his dog, Molly, isn’t a fan of the fireworks that go off in his community over the 4th of July holiday.

“She gets through that, but I’ll be darned if I want to vote for a bill that makes the 4th of July year round,” Heaton said. Representative Walt Rogers, a Republican from Cedar Falls who voted for the bill, says he has “nothing but good memories” of setting off fireworks. “I can remember lots of 4th of July where we had a lot of fun with fireworks,” Rogers said. “And I remember doing the same thing with my own kids, in Cedar Falls.” A few legislators like Representative Mary Gaskill of Ottumwa admitted they were conflicted on the issue.

“I have young people in my district who really want me to vote yes on this bill,” Gaskill said. “And then I listen to the veterans and the fire fighters and those people who would be directly affected with the bill and I have changed my mind and I have decided I’m a no on this.” Representative Mike Sexton, a Republican from Rockwell City who voted for the bill, says far more Americans are injured by dog bites than by fireworks.”Folks, whatever happened to apple pie and baseball and Chevrolet and hot dogs and fireworks?” Sexton asked. “We are not talking about blowing up the state of Iowa.”

If the bill becomes law, cities and counties would be allowed to pass local ordinances restricting fireworks, plus the bill calls for a 250-dollar fine for improper use of fireworks. It would also be illegal to sell fireworks to a minor. A similar bill cleared a senate committee earlier this month and is eligible for senate debate.

(Radio Iowa)

Agreement should make it easier to correct errors on your credit report

News

May 21st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A spokesman for Iowa’s Attorney General says getting errors removed from your credit report is going to get easier under an agreement reached with the top three credit reporting agencies. Spokesman Geoff Greenwood says 31 states are a part of the agreement to improve the accuracy of the reports. “For years we’ve been getting complaints about all of the credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax and Trans Union — so for the last couple of years, attorneys general have tried to address this problem,” Greenwood says.

Credit reports assign credit scores based on a variety of factors, including how well you pay your bills, how much money you’ve borrowed. Under this agreement the credit reporting agencies must implement an escalated process for handling complicated disputes, such as those involving identity theft, fraud, or cases where one consumer’s information is mixed with anothers’.

A credit report is really important, in some respects it’s a life story of your finances,” Greenwood says. “And others read those reports when they are thinking about extending you credit for a car, or a house, or maybe even hiring you.” Greenwood says this agreement also addresses one particular area of concern — the payment of medical bills. “In some cases consumers were still working things our with their insurance company, didn’t get enough time and it ends up being a blemish on their credit report. This institute some changes that we think will reduce those types of reports on people’s credit reports,” Greenwood says.

The credit reporting agencies now cannot place medical debt on a credit report until 180 days after the account is reported to the credit reporting agency to gives consumers time to work out issues with their insurance companies. Greenwood says you can get a free credit report from each of the three agencies by going to the website www.annualcreditreport.com. Then you can act to clear up any wrong information.

“If you see an error, contact the credit reporting agency and let them know about the error,” Greenwood says. “As part of this agreement, they are going to make it easier for consumers.” The agreement is sending six million dollars to the states, with 106-thousand dollars coming to Iowa for Iowa’s consumer education and litigation fund. Greenwood says credit reporting agencies will implement the changes in three phases to allow them to update their I-T systems and procedures with data furnishers. All changes must be completed by three years and 90 days following the settlement’s effective date.

(Radio Iowa)

Omaha Police Officer killed in the line of duty was a 2004 Walnut HS Grad

News

May 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

An Omaha police officer and a suspect involved in a shootout Wednesday afternoon have died. A statement from Omaha Police said 29-year old Kerrie Orozco, a gang unit officer, was serving a warrant on the Metro Area Fugitive Task Force when she was shot. The Daily NonPareil reports Kerrie Orozco (Kerrie Holtz) was the daughter of Ellen, and the late Kevin Holtz of Walnut. Kerrie attended Walnut High School, where she played basketball and volleyball. She graduated from Walnut in 2004.

Officer Kerrie Orozco (Omaha P-D Facebook page image)

Officer Kerrie Orozco (Omaha P-D Facebook page image)

Orozco is the 25th officer – and first female – in the department killed in the line of duty. She had been taken to Creighton University Medical Center in extremely critical condition after being shot about 1 p.m. near Read Street and Martin Avenue. Omaha police had responded to a “Help an officer” call at 30th Street and Martin Avenue.

Deputy Police Chief Dave Baker said officers were serving a felony arrest warrant about 12:55 p.m. During the process of serving the warrant, shots were fired. Orozco and the suspect, 26-year old Marcus D. Wheeler, were taken to the Creighton hospital in extremely critical condition, with CPR in progress. Despite the efforts of doctors at the hospital, the officer and suspect died.

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said Orozco was a seven-year veteran of the department and had worked in the gang unit since March 2012.She had coached baseball since 2009 at the North Omaha Boys and Girls Club, volunteered with the Special Olympics, took in rescue dogs, mentored Girl Scouts and frequently spoke at Girls Inc.

Orozco was sworn in as an Omaha police officer in May 2008 in a class of 36. The former Kerrie Holtz married Hector Orozco Lopez in April 2011. Kerrie Orozco had two stepchildren, 8-year-old Natalia and a stepson, Santiago, who is 6. Kerrie had a newborn baby who was born Feb. 17, Olivia Ruth. She was set to be released Thursday from the neonatal intensive care unit at the Nebraska Medical Center.

BBB warns of paving scams

News

May 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Iowa homeowners are warned to be wary of road construction crews that pull up unannounced and offer to spread a new asphalt driveway for you on the cheap. Jim Hegarty, with the Better Business Bureau, says folks in the region are already reporting cases of this familiar scam and he says, don’t be fooled.

“They’ve got trucks that look sort of legitimate,” Hegarty says. “They’ll claim they have leftover asphalt from a state job and they need to have cash and they’ll get it done for you before day’s end. Sometimes, they’ll actually start tearing out the driveway. They’ll take the cash, or if you give them a check before banking hours close, they’ll hit the local bank, cash the check and you’ll never see them again.” It’s always a risk when someone comes to your door offering a deal, Hegarty says, and if you’re not careful, you could get taken by one of these fast-talking crooks.

“These are travelers, sort of like gypsies, and they have encampments all over the South,” he says. “Whenever the weather breaks, they start to move up towards our area.” The best bet, Hegarty says, is to just say “no” and to contact a reputable, local company if your driveway needs repairs.

(Radio Iowa)

Report: Iowa 3rd highest rate of structurally deficient rural bridges

News

May 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A new report shows 22-percent of Iowa’s rural bridges are “structurally deficient.” That’s the third highest rate in the nation according to the National Transportation Research Group. The report states 4,815 of Iowa’s 21,939 rural bridges are structurally deficient. Scott Neubauer, bridge maintenance and inspection engineer with the Iowa Department of Transportation, says most of the bridges at issue carry very few vehicles.

“Over 3,800 of them have less than 50 vehicles a day and about 4,500 of them have less than 500 vehicles a day,” Neubauer says. Most of the old bridges in Iowa deemed structurally deficient have weight restrictions posted. Neubauer says many counties don’t have enough money to fix those bridges and choose to focus on the structures that carry the heavy trucks and traffic volume.

“That’s why some of these stay deficient for so long,” Neubauer says. “It’s just on such a low volume road and carries such a small amount of traffic and the traffic it is carrying, the bridge is adequate…and it’s not really a hindrance to anybody, so the county just does the bare minimum to maintain it.” Neubauer notes the term “structurally deficient” does not necessarily mean the bridge is unsafe.

“You know, just because it’s structurally deficient doesn’t mean that it can’t last in that current condition for many years,” Neubauer says. According to the report, only Pennsylvania (25%) and Rhode Island (23%) have higher rates of rural bridges that are structurally deficient. Neubauer says it’s possible many Iowa counties in the coming years will direct more money toward repairing or replacing old bridges from funds generated by this year’s increase in the state’s gas tax.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa lawmakers spar over education funding

News

May 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — As lawmakers struggle to resolve the state budget, a new conflict has sprung up about how much new money to give schools in the 2016-2017 school year. The Appropriations Committee in the Republican-led House on Wednesday approved a plan that would provide about $125 million in new dollars in that year, with some of the money going to a teacher leadership program. But Democrats say the funding level is inadequate.

Republicans had previously supported spending more money, but Rep. Chuck Soderberg, a Republican from Le Mars, said they didn’t want to “overcommit and under-deliver.” The Republican-controlled House and Democratic-majority Senate are still at odds over how much new money to provide in the upcoming school year, with Democrats wanting to offer more than Republicans.

Medical condition causes accident in Pacific Junction

News

May 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Authorities say an accident Tuesday morning in Pacific Junction was the result of a woman suffering from a medical condition. The Mills County Sheriff’s Office says Kathlein Bacon, of Pacific Junction, was traveling east on Lincoln Street at around 11:05-a.m., when her 2006 Pontiac left the road and entered a ditch before hitting an embankment. Bacon was transported by Glenwood Rescue to a hospital in Council Bluffs for treatment.

Sheriff’s officials said also, a Pacific Junction man was arrested Tuesday evening. 49-year old Brian Keith Konfrst (Con-first) was taken into custody on a warrant charging him with Violation of Probation. Konfrst was being held in the Mills County Jail on $5,000 bond.

Short meeting for the Cass County Supervisors

News

May 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors had a light agenda this (Wednesday) morning, and therefore a brief meeting. The Board continued discussion with regard to the bidding process for the courthouse HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) replacement project, but made no decision on the matter.  Auditor Dale Sunderman said he visited with various vendors, one of whom was trying to put together a cost estimate. Sunderman says since the cost is expected to exceed $135,000, Iowa Code requires there to be a competitive bid process.

The Board said that there are still too many questions with regard to efficiency, and about what kind of system should be installed, or for that matter, if the current room radiators should be retained or replaced. There also needs to be an inspection to make sure the pipes aren’t insulated with asbestos.

Supervisor Chuck Rieken said they have to decide if they’ll use independent room heating and cooling, a boiler or whatever, before they can issue an RFP – a Request for Proposal.) Board Chair Frank Waters said it looks like they have a way to go before any changes are made to the courthouse system.  He said it’s shaping up to be a project for next year, at this point.

And, in his report to the Board, Cass County Engineer Charles Marker said there currently is no road rock available from the local quarries, but they still have some available for the worst roads. Road crews are being kept busy in the mean time, cleaning out road ditches and taking care of mowing. He said also officials with the City of Lewis had inquired about placing a tornado warning siren within the County road right-of-way by the Lewis School on the south side of town, near where County Roads G-43 and M-56 form a triangle.

He said he sees no problem with the position of the pole and siren, but the Supervisors need to approve the request during their meeting next week. The Board also reminds Cass County residents that if they see people tearing-up the dirt roads when they are soft and muddy, to call the Sheriff’s Department with a description of the vehicle and direction of travel. Offenders will be fined if they are caught.

Glenwood P-D reports 2 arrests

News

May 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Police in Glenwood report two arrests this (Wednesday) morning. 53-year old Shari Baker, of Glenwood, was arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. And, 23-year old Theodore Brayman, of Council Bluffs, was arrested for Theft in the 5th degree. Both subject’s bonds were set at $300.