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Cass Supervisors discuss Division of Land process

Ag/Outdoor, News

March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

County officials, surveyors and other members of the public met Thursday during the Cass County Board of Supervisor’s meeting, to discuss the County’s Division of Land Process which was implemented after the passage of a resolution in January of 2012. According to the Minutes of the meeting prepared by Auditor Dale Sunderman, surveyors and land owners commented that the process was more complicated than the previous process and sometimes increased the cost of surveying and the time needed to complete the process.

The main item of concern was the requirement to survey the remainder of a rural tract (most often 40 acres) when the tract is divided into more than two parcels. County Engineer Charles Marker said he believed Iowa law (Code and Administrative Code) required the survey of the remainder of the tract when that tract was subdivided into more than two parcels. Surveyors disagreed. At the end of discussion: Consensus was that the review part of the process (to check for accuracy, etc) was a positive step and the process should be left in place; county officials will work to complete the process as quickly as they can; and the issue of whether or not the survey of the remainder parcel is required will be researched.

The matter was taken under advisement.

Dr. John Mark Nielsen Awarded Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Danish Immigrant Museum in Elk Horn are pleased to report Dr. John Mark Nielsen, Executive Director of  the museum, was recently awarded “Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog,” by Ambassador Peter Taksøe-Jensen, representing Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

Ambassador Peter Taksøe-Jensen presents The Danish Immigrant Museum Executive Director John Mark Nielsen with the badge of the Order of Dannebrog in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

The ceremony took place at the Danish Embassy in Washington, D.C. on February 27th, while Nielsen was there representing the Iowa Museum Association at Museum Advocacy Day 2013. The Queen bestowed the award upon Nielsen on December 19, 2012, however he wasn’t notified of the honor until his trip to Washington had been confirmed.

The Order of the Knight of the Dannebrog was instituted in 1671 by King Christian V.  The Order is used to decorate a select group of people who, through selfless deeds, have helped advance the interests of Denmark.  Nielsen’s award is based on almost 90 letters of support from both Danish and American citizens who felt that Nielsen merited official recognition for his work on behalf of Denmark.  The process was initiated by his colleagues at The Danish Immigrant Museum and coordinated by the Danish Consul for Iowa and former board member, Lynette Rasmussen of Johnston.

The letters all describe his professional success as well as his volunteer work for a number of Danish and Danish-American organizations.  Many of the letters echoed similar statements that Nielsen is “always willing and enthusiastic about sharing his great knowledge of all things Danish” and “impresses all with his warm and friendly personality.”

A celebration in honor of the award will be held on June 22nnd in Elk Horn, concurrent with the museum’s 30th anniversary and Sankt Hans Aften festivities. For more information about the museum, call 712.764.7001 or visit www.danishmuseum.org

Harlan Water Treatment Plant changes approved


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Municipal Utilities, Thursday, approved another change order to the new Water Treatment Plant. In a regular board meeting, the HMU board heard from Dale Sorensen of Veenstra and Kimm, Inc. on the change order and complete schedule. The change order had four additions and four subtractions amounting to an increase in the contract by slightly more than $15,340. With regard to the completion schedule, Sorenson told the board the contractors are a little behind schedule, but are doing great work. He said the Water Treatment Plant was originally scheduled to be up and running by June 19th, 2013. However, the start-up date has been moved to June 24th and the project completion is July 15th.

Sorensen said even after the completion, they will still need to work the bugs out. He said “Basically the plant will be automated. There are always bugs in the programming. Once we get the plant running in hand then switch over to automatic and what happens we have some problems. What I’ve experience it takes about 6 months to get the wrinkles out of it.”

The board did mention the contractor could face some liquidated damage penalties but those are unlikely to be charged by HMU. In other business, CEO Darrel Wenzel reported to the board on the new Collective bargaining agreement. He said the contract was a fair outcome. The new contract had very minimal changes to it including salary wages. Wenzel again mentioned the possibility of drought conditions at the water wells.

Officials at HMU recently took a lot at 3 of the wells and compared them to the drought in 2002. Wernzel said “In 2002, well number 2 was down 26 feet. Currently well number 2 is at 24 feet 9 inches. So we are 1 foot one inch above what we were in 2002. We are sitting pretty well. Well #3 was at 23 feet 2 inches, currently it’s at 22 feet. Well #4 the water was at 23 feet 6 inches. Currently the well is at 21 feet 8 inches.”

No board action was taken but Wenzel did say HMU is monitoring the situation every week.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)

(Update 11:10-a.m.) Pott. County chase and arrests


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office says two men were arrested early this (Friday) morning, following a chase that began near Neola. 31-year old Jeffrey A. Haines, of Council Bluffs, and 40-year old Allen S. Belback, of Neola, were taken into custody and charged with Possession of a Stolen Vehicle. Haines, who was identified as the driver of the vehicle, was also charged with Eluding and Reckless Driving, while Belback, who was a passenger, faces an additional charge of Interference with Official Acts.

Authorities say at around 1:50-a.m., a deputy on patrol noticed a vehicle at the Kum and Go Store at 298th and Sycamore Road in Neola. He also observed the driver was acting suspiciously. When he ran the vehicles’ license plate through the communications center, the deputy was informed the plate did not match the vehicle’s description.

The deputy attempted to stop the vehicle, but it took off northbound on 285th Street, with speeds reaching 80-miles per hour as it entered the City of Neola. As the vehicle was pursued through town, the driver attempted to elude officers by driving through a back yard of a residence at 407 Bardsley, but the vehicle became stuck in the snow.

A short foot pursuit began, with both suspects being taken into custody.

Cass & Audubon County authorities ask for help in burglary investigations


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Cass and Audubon County Sheriff’s Offices are asking for the public’s help in their investigation of a couple of burglaries. The incidents occurred Thursday, Feb. 28th, during the daylight hours. Both took place at residences located within about one-mile off of Highway 148, between Exira and Massena. Cass County Sheriff Darby McLaren told KJAN News an inventory of what was stolen was not immediately available, but there’s generally a common theme. He says they’re usually after TV’s and jewelry.

McLaren said they really don’t have a whole lot of information to go on right now. He says if you have had contact with anyone asking for help or directions at their residence on Thursday, please call the Audubon or Cass County Sheriff’s Office. McLaren says it’s hard for authorities to believe the thieves stopped at both residences, and no one was home. He says “We’ve gotta think they’re knocking, asking for stupid directions,” or some stupid ploy, like asking for a pond the person could fish in. He said they will break into a home if no one answers the door. If they are home, they will come up with a nonsensical excuse for knocking on the door.

Bill approved by House committee would allow parole after 45 years for juveniles convicted of first degree murder


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A bill discussed at the statehouse Thursday would set new sentencing guidelines for juveniles convicted of first degree murder. It’s in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in June that mandatory life sentences without parole are unconstitutional for those who committed first degree murder as juveniles. Elizabeth Reynoldson is with the Iowa Bar Association, which drafted a bill that would give district courts two options.  “Sentence a juvenile to either life without the possibility of parole or life with the possibility of parole after serving 45 years,” Reynoldson said. The Association of County Attorneys is also behind the bill. Supporter say it gives the courts two clear options. Representative Mary Wolfe, a Democrat from Clinton, was the only one of the three representatives at Thursday’s hearing who voted against moving the bill forward.

“Juveniles have not had the opportunity to actually form into whatever adult it is that they’ll be,” Wolfe said. Wolfe is especially concerned that the measure gives the courts the option to still sentence juvenile to life without parole. Under the Supreme Court ruling, Wolfe believes life without parole should be rare. “They’re so bad that it’s clear that this person…they’ll never be able to be rehabilitated,” Wolfe explained. Deputy Attorney General Thomas Miller said he appreciates hearing from those who know the criminals serving time, but he added there is voice missing at the table.

“I’ve been involved in a number of these cases, and I’ve maintained contact with the surviving relatives of murder victims and one of the things that affects them the most adversely is the lack of finality they see in our criminal justice system,” Miller said. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee expects the bill to eventually make it out of the full Iowa House. A bill in the Senate would allow parole after 25 years. Back in July, Governor Branstad commuted the punishment of 38 inmates to 60 years in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Critics say that still amounts to life in prison.

(Radio Iowa)

Branstad announces Board and Commission appointments


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Gov. Branstad today (Friday) announced his appointments to fill Iowa’s boards and commissions. The appointees’ term begins on May 1st, 2013.

Among the appointees from western Iowa, is:

(Board or Commission and area appointee)….

Early Childhood Iowa State Board

Tracy Erlandson, Onawa

Economic Development Authority

Theodore Crosbie, Earlham

Iowa Great Places Advisory Board

Barbara Determann, Early

Massage Therapy Board

Christina Michael, Earlham

Mental Health and Disability Services Commission

Richard Crouch, Malvern

Mental Health Risk Pool Board

Eugene Meiners, Templeton

Natural Resources Commission

Phyllis Reimer, Crescent

Board of Nursing Home Administrators

Karol Dammann, Manning

Board of Podiatry

Denise Mandi, Winterset

School Budget Review Committee

Gina Primmer, Council Bluffs

ACCF announces Godwin Endowed Scholarship


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Audubon County Community Foundation is issuing a reminder to students, that the deadline for submitting applications for the Exira Lions Club/Harold and Beverly Ann Godwin Endowed Scholarship is March 31st.  The Fund will award one scholarship for $1,000 and is open to any high school senior from the Exira-EHK School District pursuing a two or four year degree, full-time, at any accredited vocational/technical or educational institution or a college or university.

Applicants are asked to complete the application form; submit a copy of your current transcripts as directed in the scholarship’s fact sheet.  Scholarship applications are available from your guidance counselor.

CCCF announces McCurdy Scholarship applications


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Cass County Community Foundation have announced that applications are currently being accepted for the Dustin McCurdy Endowed Scholarship Fund.  The McCurdy Scholarship provides two scholarships of approximately $500 each to high school seniors from Cumberland Anita Massena High School (C-A-M).

Applications are available from your high school guidance counselor.  Applications are due to your guidance counselor no later than March 31st.   The scholarship was created to honor the memory of Dustin McCurdy, a Broadcasting major who died from cardiac arhythmia due to an overwhelming viral infection in January 2001, during his Senior year, while attending college at Northwest Missouri State University, in Maryville.

Underwood High School to host Red Cross blood drive in honor of former student


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the American Red Cross say a Blood Drive will be held March 19th at the Underwood High School Gym, in honor of Alexandra “Alex” Peterson, of Neola. Peterson had recently graduated from the Underwood High School and was looking forward to going away to college, when a multiple-car accident in Council Bluffs on July 23rd, 2012 nearly cut the 18-year-old’s life short.

During the accident, Alex’s car was thrust into oncoming traffic and she was broadsided. Her injuries were numerous and life threatening. She stopped breathing and had no pulse for a short time, at the scene of the accident. Emergency surgeries were performed at Alegent Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Neb. and Alex received at least 14 pints of blood as doctors worked to repair her broken body.

Now, after months of rehabilitation, Alex’s family says she is nearly recovered. Alex started taking classes at Iowa State University in January. Alex’s family credits blood donors for their role in her recovery and now encourages others to give blood. The Peterson family is partnering with Red Cross and Underwood High School to help host blood drive in Alex’s honor. Alex and her family will be in attendance to thank those who give.

The Blood Drive will be held from 8-a.m. until 2-p.m. March 19th, at the Underwood High School Gym, 629 North St. in Underwood. To make an appointment, please contact the Underwood High School office at 712-566-2703. Blood collected at the blood drive in honor of Alex Peterson may be used for trauma victims – due to accidents and burns – heart surgery patients, organ transplant patients, premature babies, patients with complications during childbirth, and for patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or other diseases, such as sickle cell disease.

You can donate blood elsewhere, as well. To find more information, simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in.  Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.