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Pre-trial conference continued in Lee Nelson sexual exploitation case

News

January 8th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

There’s been yet another delay in the court proceedings for a former Harlan teacher facing sexual exploitation and assault charges. During a hearing held Monday (Jan. 6th, 2014), Judge James Richardson continued the Pre-Trial Conference date for 73-year-old Lee Gordon Nelson, who has waived his rights to a speedy trial. The pre-trial conference has been rescheduled to take place January 21st, in Shelby County District Court. Nelson’s jury trial is still slated to begin at 9-a.m., on March 4th.

Nelson faces charges of sexual exploitation by a school employee and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. A 17-year-old female claiming to be a victim and her parents contacted police on May 30, 2013, and reported that Nelson had allegedly been saying rude and inappropriate things to the female, as well as touching her inappropriately.

The incidents allegedly occurred at school, on band trips and at his residence.

Iowa State Fair cashless plan draws some criticism

News

January 8th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A plan to eliminate cash sales at food vendors and other Iowa State Fair attractions has drawn criticism from some longtime fairgoers.  Patrons will no longer buy items with cash. Instead, they will buy tickets at about 50 fairgrounds spots and pay for food and beverages with those tickets. Fair officials said in announcing the system Tuesday that it will be more secure and speed up food purchases because vendors won’t have to make change.

Some fairgoers say the hassle of lines or figuring out how many tickets they’ll need could be enough to make them stay home.  Seventy-one-year-old Andi Blume told The Des Moines Register that “it’s just all an inconvenience.” She says she and her husband don’t attend other events that use a similar ticket system.

Shenandoah man arrested Wed. morning on an OWI charge

News

January 8th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Police in Red Oak report the arrest early this (Wednesday) morning of a Shenandoah man on an OWI charge. 31-year old Jonathan Lynn Gray was pulled over at around 1:20-a.m.near the intersection of Highway 48 and 200th Avenue in Red Oak, and subsequently charged with OWI/3rd offense. Gray was being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $5,000 cash bond.

Shenandoah woman arrested following a traffic stop

News

January 8th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reports a traffic stop Tuesday afternoon resulted in an arrest. Kristen Marie Hughes, of Shenandoah, was pulled over at around 4-p.m., and was allegedly intoxicated. She was arrested on a charge of OWI/2nd offense and brought to the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Center, where Hughes was being held on $2,000 bond.

Neighbor thwarts attempt by thieves to steal an a/c unit from a Bluffs church

News

January 8th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

An inquisitive neighbor helped to thwart the theft of an air conditioning unit from a Council Bluffs church Monday morning. The Omaha World-Herald reports at around 9:30-a.m. Monday, two white men in their 20’s pulled up in a silver SUV to the Lighthouse Temple Church at 1430 Avenue E, and attempted to steal an a/c unit. A neighbor heard the vehicle and went outside to investigate, and police say the men fled when they spotted the neighbor. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call the Bluffs police at 712-366-2172.

Fire at a Bluffs heavy equipment dealer starts in paint booth

News

January 8th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Fire officials in Council Bluffs say a spark in a paint booth was the cause of a fire Tuesday at a company that refurbishes and sells heavy equipment.  Authorities told the Omaha World-Herald that an employee at Midwestern Equipment on 35th Avenue was painting equipment inside a booth designed to contain flammable vapors, when a spark caused the paint chemicals to ignite. The incident happened at around 9-a.m.

An extinguishing system inside the booth was activated but was unable to stop the spread of the flames.
Fire crews had the blaze contained within about 10 minutes. No one was injured, and the business’ owner described damage as minimal.

Raising Iowa’s minimum wage to $10.10 an issue for 2014 legislature

News

January 8th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Democrats in D.C. — like Senator Tom Harkin — are pressing to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and Democrats at the state level are championing the issue, too. Senator Tom Courtney, a Democrat from Burlington, has already filed a bill to raise the state’s minimum wage to 10-10 an hour. “I just think it’s time for this bill. I think it’s got a shot,” Courtney says. “We’ll see what happens.” The current Iowa minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, set above the national rate in 2007 by Democratic Governor Chet Culver and Democrats in the legislature, but now it’s identical to the national rate of $7.25.

Jack Hatch, a state senator from Des Moines who’s a Democratic candidate for governor, supports raising the minimum wage above 10-dollars an hour. Courtney says raising the minimum wage would benefit the local businesses who complain about the impact of higher wages. “That money doesn’t get spent, you know, on vacation trips to Tahiti or something — or even new Cadillacs. That money gets spent locally,” Courtney says. “Those folks have a little more money, now all of a sudden they can take their families out for a meal once in a while, maybe go buy some clothes for their kids or something like that.”

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia now have minimum wage rates that are above the national rate of 7-25 an hour. Eleven states adjust their minimum wage annually, based on a cost of living formula. Courtney would like legislators to vote to make that kind of yearly adjustment to Iowa’s minimum wage, too. “No one yet has shown me a nationwide statistic that raising the minimum wage actually hurts the economy. It always helps,” Courtney says, “and I believe it will help the people I represent.”

The minimum wage in Washington state is currently highest in the country, at nine-dollars-and-19 cents an hour. Business groups say higher minimum wages lead to job losses, as businesses get squeezed by higher pay for entry-level workers as well as salary hikes because workers already on the job expect higher pay when they see new employees earning more.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa News Headlines: Wed. Jan. 8th 2014

News

January 8th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa City students are set to return to school after 18 days off. The students were last in class December 20th before leaving for Christmas break. They were to return to school Monday, but then classes were canceled because of subzero temperatures. They were called off yesterday, too. School will now end June 3rd instead of May 30th.

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — A water pipe burst at a downtown library in Dubuque due to frigid temperatures, and officials shut the building down for much of yesterday. The damage at the Carnegie-Stout Public Library was confined to a staff lounge area and maintenance space. A city spokesman says officials received at least 30 reports of frozen water meters or pipes.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Federal prosecutors have dropped a lawsuit against Des Moines and MidAmerican Energy after the city changed an ordinance so a fee was charged to the utility and not the government. The federal government sued last year, arguing a franchise fee levied against the Department of Veterans Affairs violated a constitutional provision against cities taxing federal agencies.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa State Fair will shift to a new ticket system for buying food and drinks this summer instead of cash. A fair spokeswoman says it will be a more secure system that will make it quicker to buy food because vendors won’t have to make change. The fair begins August 7th.

Atlantic City Counil to act on administrative matters Wednesday

News

January 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council will hold its first meeting of the new year Wednesday evening, at City Hall. The Council will take care of numerous administrative matters during their session, which begins at 5:30. Among them, is: a Proclamation recognizing Diane McFadden for 25-years of service with the Atlantic Public Library; Approval of – the City’s bank for checking accounts in 2014, and the local paper as the City’s official newspaper for legal publications.

The Council will also act on re-appointing Deb Field as City Clerk (2-year term) and David Wiederstein as City Attorney (2-year term). In other business, the Atlantic City Council will act on approving an engineering agreement with Snyder and Associates, for mapping of the Atlantic Municipal Airport, for a lump sum fee of $2,300, and, act on authorizing Mayor Dave Jones to execute a Warrant Agreement by and between the City, and Hawkins Construction, Inc., with regard to warranty work that Hawkins will perform to correct the settling of the blower building foundation at the wastewater treatment plant.

Fourteen Communities Selected for Project Awards

News

January 7th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Tuesday announced that $951,000 in Main Street Iowa Challenge Grants will be awarded to 14 Iowa communities to complete projects estimated to have a total project cost of more than $3.6 million. The funding will be distributed in the form of grants to the selected Main Street programs including those in Dunlap, Manning and Woodbine.

In Dunlap, the Dunlap Legion Hall Building project received a $75,000 grant toward the $389,700 cost of the project. In Manning, the Cliff’s Place Interior Renovation project received a $75,000 grant award toward the total project cost of $91,242.  In Woodbine the 413 and 415 Walker Street projects received a $75,000 grant toward the $425,250 total project cost. MainStreet Iowa State Coordinator Michael Wagler  said “Each project must provide at least a dollar-for-dollar cash match. Overall, these projects will leverage almost three times that amount of private investment.”

Representatives from the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Main Street Iowa program made the announcement during a special check presentation ceremony held at the Des Moines Botanical Center. The grants will benefit local improvement projects such as façade improvement and restoration, stabilizing buildings devastated by fire, upper floor rehabilitation and stabilizing and rehabilitating severely deteriorated buildings.

This year, the Challenge Grant program will be funded through an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature. Previous Challenge Grants were funded through a federal appropriation. Since the first federal appropriation in 2002, approximately $4.9 million in grants leveraged over $36 million in private reinvestment in 83 projects throughout 41 Main Street Iowa districts.