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Atlantic to add E-Notify texting service for emergency responders


March 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday, approved the use of an “E-Notify” text message notification system for firefighters and emergency responders. While some firefighters in the community already receive text messages about fires and other emergencies on a test basis, the remainder are expected to be integrated into the system within a couple of days, according to Atlantic Fire Chief Mark McNees. The text message system would supplement, and NOT replace the pagers carried by all firefighters and emergency responders.

Cass County 911 Coordinator Rob Koppert appeared before the Council to explain the how the system works, its drawbacks and advantages. He says the current computer system at the Cass County Communications Center is capable of automatically pushing text messages out to those who need to receive them. Koppert said one area of concern is the amount of time it takes for responders to actually get the message.

He said his research shows when the E-Notify system was used by some fire departments in the eastern U-S, firefighters weren’t their pagers anymore and relied only on their cell phones for text message alerts. The result was that some missed their text messages and failed to respond to fires or other emergency calls. Koppert said the same thing could happen here, if firefighters rely only on their cell phones for notifications.

He says there is a time delay factor in getting the message to firefighters. Koppert says 98-percent of the time, the system worked just fine. Sometimes, he said, the messages were received within a couple of minutes, sometimes hours, and in some instances, not at all. He said because of the liability issue, they don’t want firefighters to rely strictly on text messages.

He said the system is great as a “Secondary means” of communication, and it serves to provide a written description of the address of an incident. The agreement approved by the Atlantic City Council, and some other City Councils within the County, stipulates that the 9-1-1 Center is not responsible for any liability, should the fire department elect not to carry their pagers. He said most of the fire departments within the County are going to carry their pagers in accordance with the agreement.

2 men arrested on drug charges Thursday in Red Oak


March 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Two people were arrested this (Thursday) morning on drug charges in Red Oak, following the execution of a search warrant at a residence in the 1500 block of North 2nd Street. 22-year old Devin Alexander Davis, of Red Oak, was arrested on three counts of delivery of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, two counts of a drug tax stamp violation and possession of a schedule II narcotic with intent to deliver. 38- year old Anthony Dean Gregory, also of Red Oak, was arrested for possession of marijuana/3rd offense, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Gregory was being held in the Montgomery County Jail on$5,000 bond, while Davis’  bond was set at $10,000.

Nishna Valley YMCA Director reports to Atlantic City Council


March 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Director of the Nishna Valley YMCA in Atlantic gave his annual report to the City Council Wednesday night. Dan Haynes spoke before city leaders at the Senior Center, while renovations continue at City Hall. He said the YMCA staff are keeping busy and they’re still pleased with things that are going on there, in the areas of programming, membership, and facility usage. As far as usage, the numbers show the Atlantic YMCA had the lowest number of visits last year (140,257) since 2004, when there were 122,511. The number of visits peaked in 2008 at 158,465.

Haynes says there were 1,973 membership units in 2012, which was down from 2,090 due to software conversion and cleanup issues, and drop-off’s by clients holding Humana Insurance. The  Y served 253 households on various types of scholarships in 2012. 505 people were served with direct scholarships, while hundreds more kids served by other, subsidized programs. The bulk of the Y’s members in 2012 were women (2,435), but the men weren’t far behind, at 2,331 members. The facility is most popular among persons ages 30-to 54, followed by the 12-to 17 age group and those 65 and up.

The facilities’ Fiscal Year 2013 budget is just under $1.36-million, including revenue from the Ann Wickman Childhood Development Center, the budget is $1.83-million. A standard annual audit report will be released later this Spring. Haynes said volunteers raised $95,000 for scholarships and subsidies for programming, from community members and businesses. The fundraising campaign for this year, according to Haynes, has just gotten underway.

As far as programming is concerned, Haynes said more than 100 second graders went through the Y’s free water safety course over the past year, the Jack and Jill preschool program is still “going strong,“ and that the Nishna Valley YMCA’s “Flying Sharks” Division 2 swim team won the State Championship among Iowa YMCA’s. last weekend, in Marshalltown. The team will be involved in regional competition this weekend, in the Minneapolis area.

Haynes said also, more than 120 children were registered at the Ann Wickman Center, and new this past year, is a collaboration with the Atlantic Public Library, Cass County Extension, and school system to provide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and literacy after school programs. The Y has 14 volunteer board members, led by President Christina Bateman, seven full-time and 123 part-time staff members, along with City Council representative Ashley Hayes.

Atlantic City Council approves Park Maintenance bldg & Street Improvement projects


March 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday, approved the final plans and specifications, along with the authorizing of bids for, the Park Maintenance building. Bids for the project are slated to be received by no later than March 28th, for review. The contract will be awarded during the Council’s meeting on April 3rd. The project is expected to cost around $311,00.

In other business, the Council approved the plans, specs, form of contract and estimated costs for the 2013 Street Improvement Project. The bid opening was held Wednesday afternoon. Snyder and Associates Engineer Dave Sturm said there were four bids for the project. He recommended, and the Council approved, an awarding of the contract to Precision Concrete Services, in Atlantic, for 1.75-million dollars, which was just under the engineer’s estimated project cost of a little more than $1.8-million. The project includes reconstruction of four blocks of 4th Street.

Sturm said it is likely Henningsen Construction, of Atlantic, will be the subcontractor for the project through Precision Concrete, since the two companies worked hand-in-hand with each other on last year’s street projects, with Henningsen having won the low bid that time around as the prime contractor. Construction is expected to begin early next month.

The Council referred to the Community Development Committee, a request for a $250,000 Tax Increment Financing (TIF) grant from Don Sontagg. If the Committee deems the request fits the new TIF Policy, it will recommend the Council approve the application. Sonntag says he needs the financial assistance to construct of a 10-duplex condominium complex in the area known as Southern Heights II. If built, it’s expected about half the units would be sold, the other half rented.

Cake designers from Neb., Iowa compete in contest


March 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Cake designers from Nebraska and Iowa are using whipped frosting to put their creativity to the test. The designers will meet today (Thursday), in Council Bluffs for an annual cake challenge hosted by grocery store chain Hy-Vee. Organizers expect a large crowd to watch competitors quickly decorate cakes, cookies and cupcakes based on a theme of their choice. It’s the last of six regional contests to determine who will be the “Ace of Cakes” for 2013. The top three designers win cash prizes and a change to compete in a final competition at the end of March in Des Moines.

Iowa early News Headlines: Thu., March 7th 2013


March 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa lawmakers have decided not to change state law dealing with traffic cameras that ticket motorists for speeding or running red lights. The chairman of the House transportation committee yesterday decided against allowing a vote on a measure introduced by Republican Representative Walt Rogers of Cedar Falls. The proposal would have required cities and counties to get a permit from the Department of Transportation before installing new traffic cameras.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Dozens of Federal Aviation Administration employees in Iowa could be forced to take up to 11 days without pay due to automatic budget cuts. FAA Administrator Michael Huert emailed most agency employees Tuesday about the proposed furloughs this spring and summer. A representative for the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists in Waterloo says notices were sent to a dozen workers in Waterloo and Dubuque, and 14 in Cedar Rapids.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Des Moines-based Meredith Corporation is confirming the company held discussions with Time Warner about combining their magazines, but the deal has fallen apart. Instead, Time Warner announced yesterday it would split off its magazine unit into a separate, publicly traded company by the end of the year.

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Senior Will Clyburn scored 20 points and Iowa State beat Number 13 Oklahoma State 87-76 last night to bolster its NCAA tournament hopes. Georges Niang added 18 points for the Cyclones, who notched just their second victory over a ranked opponent this season.

Authorities: Fugitive from Creston, IA shot by Kansas farmer


March 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

WELLINGTON, Kan. (AP) — Authorities have identified a 42-year-old Iowa fugitive who was fatally shot by a farmer in south-central Kansas. Sumner County, Kansas Sheriff Darren Chambers says Joseph Lamasters, of Creston, Iowa, was wanted in that state for a probation violation stemming from drug charges. KSNW-TV reports Kansas authorities began searching for Lamasters after he left his ID at a Kansas Turnpike tollbooth Monday, apparently to retrieve money to pay the toll. That’s when authorities learned he was wanted in Iowa.

Lamasters ran into a wooded area and was spotted by a farmer. The farmer says he opened fire after Lamasters jumped out from a pile of feed sacks and threatened to kill him. The sheriff says the shooting was in self-defense, and he does not expect the farmer to be charged.

Large cache of explosives and weapons seized in rural Guthrie County Wednesday


March 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Several law enforcement agencies cooperated in the execution of a search warrant Wednesday in Guthrie County. Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Guthrie County Sheriff’s Department, Stuart Police, Iowa State Patrol and Iowa Fire Marshal’s Office seized several illegal firearms — including military-style weapons – and a large amount of explosive material, from a house in rural Guthrie County near Stuart.

An official with the ATF in Des Moines refused to comment on the investigation, and instead referred KJAN’s inquiry to the U-S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa. A spokesman for the U-S Attorney’s office contacted by KJAN News has confirmed ATF agents executed the search warrant, but he would not elaborate on the location or other details concerning the case while it is under investigation.

News of the raid was initially posted on the Stuart Police Department’s Facebook page.

(Updated 10:54-a.m.)

SUV slams into Dollar General store in Clarinda


March 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

No injuries were reported after an SUV slammed into a store Wednesday in Clarinda. According to the Clarinda P-D, 81-year old Neva Humphrey, of Clarinda, was driving a 2010 Ford Escape, when her foot slipped off the brake and onto the accelerator. The mishap resulted in her SUV slamming into a brick wall of the Dollar General Store at 200 East Glenn Miller Drive. The accident, which happened at around 1-p.m. Wednesday, caused just $1,000 damage to the SUV, but an estimated $14,000 damage to the store’s wall. No citations were issued.

House panel OKs bill keeping gun records private


March 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gun permit records would be kept private under a bill that has cleared a state House committee. The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved the measure, which would make the name, address and other personal information on gun permit records private. The records of people seeking to buy or carry guns now is public in Iowa.

The issue came up after a suburban New York City newspaper published an interactive online map listing the names and addresses of thousands of permit holders. Republican Rep. Matt Windschitl, of Missouri Valley, says the bill would protect Iowans who don’t own guns from criminals who could seek the information and then target them.