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7AM Newscast 01-19-2012

News, Podcasts

January 19th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

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Man convicted of attacking woman at western IA rest stop

News

January 19th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A 23-year-old man has been convicted of attacking a 19-year-old woman a little over 13-months ago, at a rest stop off Interstate 29 near Onawa. The Monona County Attorney’s Office says Mark Bitzan was accused of taking the woman into a stall in the women’s restroom, threatening her with a knife and sexually assaulting her. The crime occurred on Dec. 17th, 2010. A jury convicted Bitzan on Tuesday. His sentencing has not been scheduled yet. Bitzan was also convicted in 2006, of a sexual assault in Natrona County, Wyo.

Bluffs convenience store robbed

News

January 19th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Police in Council Bluffs are looking for a man who robbed a convenience store early this (Thursday) morning. Officials say at around 1:15-a.m., a man entered the Kwik Shop store at 3632 Avenue G, and confronted the clerk. The suspect produced a black handgun and demanded money before leaving the store on foot with an undetermined amount of cash. No injuries were reported.  The man was described as being in his early 20’s, about 5-feet 4-inches tall, and weighing about 150-pounds. He had hazel eyes, wore a gray hooded sweatshirt and baggy red sweatpants. He also wore a dark stocking cap, a face covering, and dark gloves. The incident remains under investigation by the Council Bluffs Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division.

3 men convicted for burglary in Malvern were sentenced this week

News

January 19th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A Council Bluffs man faces a 5-year prison term for his role in a burglary which occurred in Malvern last Summer.  According to the Omaha World Herald, 31-year-old Miguel Martinez was sentenced Tuesday in Mills County District Court to five-years in prison, for attempted burglary. Prosecutors say Martinez was one of three people convicted as a result of an investigation into the incident, during which he was the ringleader of the trio, and the one who breached a door when he was confronted by 66-year-old farmer Don Hopp during the August 17th incident. 19-year-old Patrick Hover, who prosecutors said was the “wheelman,”  and 33-year-old Yosvani Galindo, of Omaha, plead guilty to charges of 2nd degree burglary, and were given suspended prison sentences of 10 years each. Both were sentenced to two years of supervised probation.  Hover was ordered to reside at a Council Bluffs half-way house.

Prosecutors say the three men had been smoking methamphetamine in the countryside near Malvern when they hatched a plot to burglarize a nearby farmhouse. During the incident, Martinez was shot by Hopp, who said the shooting was an accident. He said he was outside his home after confronting the burglars when he fell, discharging the weapon.  In December, a grand jury decided not to indict him. In an interview Monday at his Council Bluffs home, Martinez, who has a wife and seven children, said he and the other two were only looking for a place to stay overnight. He told the paper, “I just thought it was an abandoned house.”

Number of home sales, home prices, change little between 2010 and 2011

News

January 19th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Both home sales and home prices held fairly steady in Iowa last year compared to 2010. That’s according to the latest report from the Iowa Association of Realtors. Association president Dale Gross, of Atlantic, says 2,430 homes were sold last month – 154 more than in December 2010. Gross said it marked the fifth consecutive month of increased home sales. In all 12 months of 2011, 31,089 homes were sold – just 135 more than 2010. The median sale price of an Iowa home in 2011 was $122,000, a one-point-two-percent (1.2%) decline from 2010. “There’s been an increase in the lower end of the housing sales numbers and that’s probably being driven by a lot of the foreclosed or distressed properties. They’re selling for much, much less,” Gross explained. Average prices in Iowa should increase as more of those distressed properties are taken off the market. Gross said he’s already seeing signs that prices will rise based on inventory. “This last month, we had 7.4 months (worth) of homes available to sell – based on the average monthly sales. That happens to be down from nine (months) a year ago,” Gross said. “So, that inventory is slacking off, which means there is a likelihood of higher prices in the future because inventory is dropping.”

(Pat Curtis/Radio Iowa)

GREENFIELD MAN SENTENCED ON FEDERAL CHARGES FOR FAILURE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT

News

January 18th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The U-S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa said Wednesday, a New Zealand Osteopathic physician whose children live in Greenfield, was sentenced last week to five-years probation for willingly failing to pay child support. Dr. Greg Michael Singer, D.O. of Napier, New Zealand, a former Rock Island, Illinois resident, was also ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Longstaff to pay $209,000 in restitution to the Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit for past due payments owed to his ex-wife for the support of their four children and herself.

In an amended child support order of August 2006, the Iowa District Court for Adair Country ordered the 50-year old Singer to pay child support of $2,142 per month until his oldest child turned 19, $1,932 when three children were eligible for support, $1,626 when two children when two children were eligible for support, and $1,104 as long as his last child was under 19. During the divorce, Singer was also found guilty of criminal contempt of court for willfully disobeying the court’s order to promptly return a vehicle to his wife for her use and that of the children. As special conditions of his probation, Singer, who is listed as a physician for “The Doctors,” an accident and medical centre in Napier, New Zealand, was ordered to find employment, surrender his passport, limit his travel to the states of Iowa and Illinois, and start making the court-ordered child support payments for the two remaining children who still reside at home with their mother.

According to the court, it chose five years of probation over sending the defendant to jail for six months in order to monitor Singer’s compliance with its restitution order and Singer’s duty to pay ongoing child support. The court warned Singer he could still be sentenced to some form of incarceration if he violates the terms of his probation by failing to fulfill these duties. Singer’s request to renew his passport was denied by the United States Department of State because the State of Iowa reported he owed more than $2,500 in past due child support. The passport sanction means the State Department can deny an application for a passport, refuse to renew a passport, restrict or limit the use of a passport, or revoke a passport. The passport sanction is not removed until the overdue support is paid.

The Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit sends updates to the U.S. State Department every month. The Iowa Board of Medicine suspended Dr. Singer’s medical license on July 14, 2011 “for failing to pay a debt owed to the Iowa Department of Revenue.” His Illinois medical license was also recently suspended for tax problems. The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the State of Iowa, and was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

New Wastewater Superintendent to begin work in Atlantic

News

January 18th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic City Administrator Doug Harris says while’s been busy working on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, he’s also been working to fill the City’s Wastewater Superintendent position, which was created by the announcement last year, current Superintendent George Evans would be retiring this year, effective February 29th. Harris announced at Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, the position has been filled. Harris says he’s hired Mark Farrier, who’s worked for the past 5-years as treatment plant operator in North Liberty, IA.

Farrier has a Grade 3 Treatment Plant license and a Grade 2 Collection System license. He has attended the University of Iowa. Ferrier and his wife have three children, whom they home school. Harris says an extensive process was undertaken to screen applicants for the Wastewater Superintendent’s position. Farrier will begin his duties on February 27th.

Teacher evaluation changes concern Iowa lawmakers

News

January 18th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Some Iowa lawmakers are concerned about details of the governor’s education reform plan. During a House Education subcommittee meeting Wednesday evening, lawmakers were particularly concerned about how teachers would be evaluated under the bill from Gov. Terry Branstad. Representatives agreed teachers should be evaluated annually as the bill calls for, rather than the current minimum of every three years. But they questioned how administrators struggling to keep up with their workload would do that, and what those evaluations would consist of. The committee got to just four sections of the 17-section bill during the two-hour meeting. The committee will continue discussion of the legislation Monday morning. Committee Chairman Greg Forristall, a Macedonia Republican, hopes to bring the bill before the full committee on Feb. 15th.

Atlantic City Council to take bids on CIP’s

News

January 18th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday, set February 15th as the date for a public hearing on bids to be received for several Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) valued at just over $4-million. In the plan, $3.4 million dollars will be spent on streets, while almost $634,000 is budgeted for the Parks and REC Department. The move followed a public hearing on the details of those projects, which include Hot Melt Asphalt (HMA) resurfacing on specific roads, Portland Cement Concrete (PCC) paving and Storm Sewer work, PCC patching on Linda Drive and 14th/Olive Streets, and work on the City Park sidewalk project, Phase 2. Snyder and Associates Engineer Dave Sturm ran down the list of roads residents can expect to see crews working on this Summer. The first part covered the various concrete projects.

They include: 22nd Street, from Chestnut to Palm [widening of pavement w/granular shoulder]; 1 block each of Hickory, Cedar and Locust Streets [complete reconstruction w/storm sewers added]; the addition of a storm sewer to Laural Street, from 7th to 8th; and curb and gutter work on 8th Street, between Laural and Palm. Sturm said the HMA work covers 15 sections of town, and involves minor patching, curb repairs, milling in some locations, and asphalt overlay: Birch, from 4th to 7th St.; Chestnut St., from 7th to 18th St.; 18th Street, Chestnut to Bryn Mahr; Cass Avenue; Waddell Dr.; Oak St., from 4th to 7th, and from Ridge Rd. to 21st; 17th St., from Olive to Lomas Circle, including the cul-de-sac; Mulberry St., from 9th to 10th St.; Lois Circle cul-de-sac by Redwood Dr.; Pine Street, from 3rd to 7th; 11th St., from Linn to Olive; 3rd St., from Walnut to Pine; Hazel St., from 3rd to 9th; & Elm St., from 3rd to 9th.

A storm sewer will also be added on Elm Street, near Akin Building Center. Sturm said plans for all projects should be ready to submit to contractors by sometime next week, with bids being opened on February 15th, prior to the public hearing on that date. He said the contractors for those projects will be required to begin work no later than June 1st, but regardless of when they start, there will be a deadline for completion, which by DOT standards, is no more than 50 days.

Engineer Ken Coffman, of Atlantic, talked about the projects he’s in charge of overseeing, including the milling of asphalt on 29th Street, from Highway 6 just to the west of Palm Street, and the overlaying of hot melt asphalt. His other projects include the City Park sidewalk, Phase 2, which involves the widening of the northwest spoke, from 4-to 6-feet, the replacement of the west sidewalk with a two-foot wider sidewalk, along with necessary grading, and patch work on the southwest spoke, which is already 6-feet wide.  There will also be seeding done on a portion of the City Park which wasn’t done after last year’s sidewalk work was finished.

Another project, is a PCC patching project which covers 14th St. and Linda Drive, and from Olive St. to Roosevelt. Some sewer intakes in that area will also be replaced. And, PCC patch work is scheduled to take place on Olive Street, from about the KJAN studios on south, to near the north side of the Troublesome Creek bridge, as well as from just south of the bridge, to about Commerce Street. Traffic lights will be in-place once work begins to control through traffic on Olive. Work on Coffman’s portion of the CIP projects is slated to begin no later than April 2nd.

City Administrator Doug Harris said they won’t have a good idea on what the total cost of the projects will be, until the bids are received, but if there’s enough money left over from the bonding and other funds for those projects, other street repairs and/or projects that were scheduled for upcoming years, could be moved forward.

Capital Improvement Projects in Atlantic will likely mean an increase in tax rate

News

January 18th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic City Administrator Doug Harris says the various, proposed Capital Improvement Projects the City hopes to have completed this year, will mean an increase in the tax rate, by as much as 35-cents per thousand dollars valuation, or about 2%. Most of the projects will be paid for through the issuance of bonds, while others will come out of the Local Option Sales Tax.

He says the City is looking at a $3.9-million bond issue. It was hoped the bonds could be paid for with “modest increases in the tax rate,” but the final figures aren’t yet known. It could add 12-cents to the tax rate, or as much as a 35-cent tax rate increase. The issuance of bonds, according to Harris, would account for about one-third of that increase.

Harris said the City needs to catch-up on backlogs to the repair of the streets, but he says they understand “These are difficult times, and people can’t afford to catch everything up.”  He says the City will do the most modest repairs possible, without putting undue pressure on the tax rate, yet keep it well within or below what it was in 2005.