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Iowa mother testifies about crash that killed her only daughter


April 19th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

A southwest Iowa woman testified before a Congressional panel today (Tuesday) about how her daughter was killed in Omaha by a drunk driver who was in the U-S illegally. Michelle Root, of Modale, told how a matter of hours before the crash, her 21-year-old daughter had graduated from Bellevue University with a four-point-oh G-P-A. Sarah Root, who lived in Council Bluffs, wanted to go on and earn a master’s degree in criminology.

“The night of January 31st, 2016, as she was coming home, she was rear-ended by Eswin Mejia who was 19 years old, here illegally, drunk driving, street racing,” Root says. “My daughter died instantly.” Bond was set by the judge on the suspect at $50,000 and Mejia was released after posting the standard 10-percent, or $5,000. Mejia, a native of Honduras, hasn’t been seen since and is feared to have fled the country.

Michelle Root testifies before a Congressional Panel, Tuesday (Radio IA photo)

Michelle Root testifies before a Congressional Panel, Tuesday (Radio IA photo)

“The local law enforcement did their job,” Root says. “They detained him, went to ICE, tried to get a hold on him, ICE refused. I don’t know why that was, with everything that happened, but he is on the loose now and our family does not have closure.” Police say Mejia’s blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit and he was driving on a suspended license when he was speeding and caused the accident.

“We probably never will have closure, even if he is found,” Root says. “I just hope that he will be, someday, found to pay for the crime he did against my daughter.” Root appeared before the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security while wearing a t-shirt that read: Strong Adorable Remarkable Amazing Heavenly. The first letters from each word spell out Sarah. In her statement, Root blamed Obama administration guidelines for deeming the suspect in the case to be no threat to public safety.

“We are not against immigration,” Root says. “Sarah’s grandmother was an immigrant from Vienna, Austria. She did it legally. She did it the right way. That’s all we’re asking. It’s the illegal immigrants that are already breaking the law once they come over here and they continue to break our laws.” Representative Trey Gowdy, a Republican from South Carolina, chairs the subcommittee and addressed the Root case directly.

Gowdy says, “How in the hell somebody here illegally who operates a vehicle at a high rate of speed and three times the legal rate of impairment and kills a 21-year-old girl doesn’t meet priorities of ICE is precisely why so little people have confidence in this administration’s policies and priorities and precisely why so many people are angry and fed up with the current state of immigration enforcement.” Gowdy blames the Obama administration and ICE for the tragic circumstances.

Gowdy says, “If killing a young woman while racing in an impaired state and being here illegally in the first place does not meet priorities, then perhaps your priorities are wrong.” In her statement, Root noted that her daughter was the “hero” of the story as she was an organ donor and “unselfishly saved the lives of six individuals through her donation and helped another four dozen through her donation of tissue and bone.”

A similar case has surfaced in Omaha. A Honduran man who officials say is in the U-S illegally is charged in a deadly hit-and-run. Police report 27-year-old Edwin Elvir-Palma is charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, suspicion of reckless driving, not having a driver’s license, and his fourth DUI. Elvir-Palma is accused of running over 34-year-old Margarito Nava-Luna early Saturday morning in Omaha.

(Radio Iowa)

Tabor man arrested on assault charge Tuesday


April 19th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Police in Tabor responding to a reported assault in progress arrested one person, Tuesday. 19-year old Marcus Pierce, of Tabor, was taken into custody for Going Armed with Intent, Domestic Abuse 2nd Offense, and Domestic Abuse (Strangulation,). He was being held at the Fremont County Jail pending an initial appearance with the Magistrate.

Pierce’ arrested followed an investigation into an incident in the 200 block of Orange Street, in Tabor. Officers discovered a female with minor injuries at the scene, who advised Pierce was armed with a knife prior to law enforcement arrival.

The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Tabor Police Department with the investigation.

Marcus Pierce

Marcus Pierce

Atlantic City Council to act on matching grant funds & hear about Bull Creek project


April 19th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The City Council in Atlantic will meet in a regular session 5:30-p.m. Wednesday, at City Hall. During their meeting, the Council will act on approving a Resolution pledging $46,500 in matching funds for a Vision Iowa grant application. The grant application for the second phase of the Schildberg Recreation Area, requires matching funds.

The grant will help to cover an estimated $353,000 in construction for the campgrounds restrooms in the shelter house facilities. That includes $250,000 in construction costs. The City has budgeted $80,000 plus a project fund balance of $11,918 for the project. The City originally budgeted $20,000 for the project, but received $25,000 from the County, which leaves the Project Fund with what City Administrator John Lund says is “A strong balance.” Aside from this project, Lund will recommend to the Council the City NOT appropriating any additional funds outside the normal budgeting process.

The Council will discuss financial support for the Ann W. Wickman Childcare Center. The Personnel and Finance Committee, last week, recommended the City offer $15,000 per year in Operational Support of the Center. Their options include offering a matching amount up to $15,000, or to issue the funds without condition. Lund says there may be value in using the grant match proposal to leverage support from private donors, as the primary supplemental support to the YMCA, which runs the Childcare Center. If the Council approves, it would likely get the money from the Local Option Sales Tax Progress Fund.

In other business, the Council will hear from Snyder and Associates Engineers’ Kyle Riley, with regard to the Bull Creek Storm Water Projects, and, they’ll hear an annual report from Animal Control Officer Kris Erickson. And, in his report to the Atlantic City Council, City Administrator John Lund will discuss inquires he’s had with regard to bee keeping within the City Limits, and an ordinance regulating such businesses.

Atlantic Rotary Seeks Nominations for Outstanding Teacher Award


April 19th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Rotary Club is seeking nominations for the 3rd Annual Rotary Club of Atlantic Outstanding Teacher Award. The award, designed to recognize excellence in education in the Atlantic Community Schools, can be given to any certified, full-time teacher who spends at least 60% of his/her time instructing students. The teacher selected will receive recognition at a school employee event, and will also receive a $3000 cash award.

The award may be used to enhance the educational resources of the teacher, further the teacher’s education, or for any other purpose which the selected teacher deems appropriate. This is the third year for the award, which has been a “long-time goal” for the Atlantic Rotary Club, according to Kate Olson, 2016 Rotary Teacher Award Project Chair.

“The Atlantic Rotary Club has been a dedicated supporter of education in the community for many years through senior scholarships, and annual events such as senior recognition and new teacher welcome. In addition, they are frequent contributors through funding for many school needs such as updating technology in the classroom, supporting curriculum for local preschools, and a number of other school requests. Members of our club have been continually insistent that we also recognize and support the talented educators that are the heart of our schools, and we are very happy we have been able to get this program off to such a successful start in the first few years.”

Margo Magill, an educator at Washington Elementary School was the first teacher to be recognized at the Rotary Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2014. DeLana Harris, from Schuler Elementary School, was the 2015 award winner. Both teachers had “exceptional nomination forms and letters of support from the community,” according to Olson. “We are hoping to continue the tradition of a strong pool of applicants this year. The selection process is always difficult, but we love seeing the dedication to students and the art of teaching that comes through in each of the nominations.”

For teachers to be considered for the 2016 award, completed nomination forms, including letters of support, must be received by Friday April 29th. Nominated teachers will be evaluated based on their skill with students, classroom management, parent communication, peer interaction and community involvement. Teachers must be nominated by three individuals- they can be current or former students, parents of students, co-workers, or any combination thereof.

Forms were sent via email to all current parents through from the Atlantic Community School System in late March/early April. Hard copies of nomination forms may also be picked up from any school administration office, or at the Cass County Extension Office. Completed nominations may be dropped off, or mailed, to the Cass County Extension Office, Attn: Kate Olson, 805 West 10th Street in Atlantic.

It is the intention of the Atlantic Rotary Club, through this award, to recognize and reward outstanding educators in our public school system who exemplify the Rotary motto of “Service Above Self” through their continuous dedication to students, parents, peers and the larger community, as well as the art and practice of education. The award is funded by proceeds from the Atlantic Rotary Club’s annual auction, which is made possible by the generous donations of local businesses and community members.

IRS phone scam involving the Pott. Co. Sheriff’s Office


April 19th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker has issued a warning about an IRS phone scam that refers to the Sheriff’s Office. Danker said information was received today (Tuesday) that indicated a subject telephoned an intended victim claiming to be a representative of the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office. The caller said there was an issue with the IRS. The Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office main telephone number (712) 890-2200 has been reported to have shown on caller ID displays.

The subject will then instruct the intended victim to call a number and provide personal information. The Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office does not provide notifications on behalf of the IRS. If you or someone you know has been the victim of this type of scam, contact the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office or your local law enforcement agency. As a personal safety reminder, please be wary of providing your personal information over the telephone to strangers.

Car reported stolen from Good Samaritan in Red Oak.


April 19th, 2016 by Chris Parks

Red Oak Police received a report of a stolen car from Good Samaritan Nursing Home in Red Oak.  The officers spoke to the victim on scene on Tuesday and she stated she was at the facility from 11:30am to 11:50am.  When she came out to get her car it was missing.  The vehicle is a blue 2005 Chrysler PT Cruiser, with Iowa license plate AYS 252.  The car was locked, and the victim had the keys at the time it went missing.  If you see a vehicle matching this description, call your local law enforcement agency.

Reconstruction of Council Bluffs street to start next year


April 19th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – City officials say reconstruction of the main east-west thoroughfare in central Council Bluffs will begin next year. City Engineer Matt Cox says that it’ll take five to six years to completely rebuild a stretch of West Broadway at a cost of no more than $26 million. The project will include installing the street’s first storm sewer system.

The Daily Nonpareil reports that Council Bluffs will take over ownership of the street from Iowa’s Department of Transportation, which is giving the city $20 million for maintenance costs and future reconstruction.

Cox and Mayor Matt Walsh held a press conference Monday to discuss project updates before Tuesday evening’s public meeting on the plan. Cox says that public input is appreciated even though not much planning has been done.

Nebraskan accused of stealing cellphones from Iowa employer


April 19th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – A former U.S. Cellular employee has been accused of stealing nearly $30,000 in merchandise from the company in Council Bluffs. Iowa online court records say 21-year-old Sayeg Moreno Padilla, who lives in Omaha, Nebraska, is charged with felony theft and ongoing criminal conduct. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 9th.

Prosecutors say Moreno Padilla opened fraudulent accounts and stole 44 cellphones and $1,500 in gift cards between May 6th and June 16th last year.

Loessfest 2016 lineup announced


April 19th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The City of Council Bluffs, Iowa West Foundation and American National Bank have announced the full lineup of events for Loessfest 2016 (pronounced “Luss-fest”). Beginning Memorial Day weekend, Loessfest showcases Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park, located at the foot of the Iowa side of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. The park is a regional amenity and Loessfest was created to celebrate all that it has to offer. Loessfest has drawn more than 100,000 people to the park in its first three years.untitled

This year, American National Bank joins the City of Council Bluffs and the Iowa West Foundation as a presenting sponsor of Loessfest. In addition to the support of the three presenting sponsors and 36 additional generous sponsors, Loessfest will host a full lineup of free events beginning May 28:

  • Saturday, May 28: Run Loess Half Marathon and 5K – The Run Loess Half Marathon and 5K, organized by the Council Bluffs YMCA, will kick off Loessfest at 8 a.m. The route starts and ends at the park, explores the trails, and ends with a celebration at the park complete with food and bounce houses. Registration is required for the race, but there is no cost for spectators. Thanks to presenting sponsor Warren Distribution, supporting partners Triple Crown Sports and Olsson Associates, supporter Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital and media partner the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil.
  • Saturday, May 28: Riverfront Block Party – This is not your average block party – it’s a family block party on the river! Bring the family to the park at 5 p.m. for food and entertainment, bounce houses, train rides, face painting, and other fun activities, and at 7 p.m., Disney Junior’s Imagination Movers takes the stage for a free concert! At dusk, it’s time for the first movie in the park of the year: Disney Pixar’s Inside Out. Thanks to presenting sponsor Red River Service Corp, supporting partners Mulhalls, Carley Construction and
  • Sunday, May 29: Kool and the Gang with special guest Atlanta Rhythm Section – It’s the night we wait for all year to kick off summer: it’s a celebration with Kool and the Gang! Thanks to songs like Celebration, Cherish and Jungle Boogie, they’ve earned two Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, 25 Top Ten R&B hits, nine Top Ten Pop hits and 31 gold and platinum albums. Opening for Kool and the Gang is country rock band Atlanta Rhythm Section whose top 10 hits include So Into You and Imaginary Lover. The free concert begins at 7 p.m. Thank you to presenting sponsor American National Bank.
  • Monday, May 30: Fireworks for Freedom Omaha Symphony Concert – Back for the fourth year by popular demand, the Omaha Symphony with Ernest Richardson, principal pops conductor, will present a free patriotic concert, Fireworks for Freedom, at 8 p.m. A fireworks show set to music will follow the performance. Thanks to presenting sponsors of the Omaha Symphony concert: HGM Associates Inc., Noddle Development and supporting partners Roloff Construction and Heartland Properties. Thanks to presenting sponsors of the Fireworks display: Doll Distributing, HDR, supporting partners J & M Displays, D & D Construction and media partner Omaha World-Herald.
  • Tuesday, May 31: Bike the Bluffs – Loessfest is hosting a 22-mile bicycle ride beginning at the river at Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park. The ride starts at 6 p.m., and will venture through the trails and through downtown Council Bluffs and back, with several optional stops along the way. Thank you to presenting sponsors Council Bluffs Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and Pottawattamie County Tourism and supporting partners Arby’s Panda Inc., Hamilton Associates, Eriksen Construction and supporter Alley Poyner Macchietto.
  • Wednesday, June 1: Movie in the Park: Raiders of the Lost Ark – It’s been 35 years since our hero, archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones first hit the big screen to find the Ark of the Covenant. Ranked 36th among the top rated movies of all time by IMDb, this four-time Ocsar Winning film will hit the big, big screen at Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park at 9 p.m. Thanks to supporting partners Kiewit Building Group, Snyder & Associates, Inc. Sherbondy’s, Sapp Brothers and Mid-America Center.
  • Thursday, June 2: #ThrowbackThursday featuring The Return of Sprite Night – This year we have TWO throwbacks for twice the fun in TWO decades: First, Sweet 98 DJs Hot Scott and Rockett will take us back to the 90s, then we’ll hop back two decades to the 70s with a free concert by The 70’s Show featuring all your favorite 70s music. The show begins at 7 p.m. Thanks to presenting sponsor Broadmoor and 5 and supporting partners Coca-Cola and Judds Brothers.
  • Friday, June 3 through Sunday, June 5: Taste of Omaha on the Riverfront – Taste of Omaha has established itself as the annual event bringing together a dazzling selection of great foods and culinary delights for people from throughout the region to taste, relax and enjoy as a family activity on the Riverfront.
  • Sunday, June 5: GOLFFEST – This unique event will offer prizes galore as golfers will play 27 holes on both Dodge Riverside Golf Course and Westwood Golf Course — registration fee required, call 712-328-4660 — includes lunch and dinner. Spectators are welcome to watch the fun. Thank you to presenting sponsor Harrah’s and supporting partner Leach Camper Sales.
  • Every Night: Rays Interactive Light Environment – Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park features a “one-of-a-kind” interactive light display – Rays by artist Dan Corson – part of the Iowa West Public Art collection. Rays is a permanent exhibit at the Park with nightly displays – thanks to the Iowa West Foundation. Thanks supporting partner ABC Electric for their support of Rays during Loessfest.

Parking is available on both sides of the river for all Loessfest events, including the parking lot just north of Harrah’s Casino and in Harrah’s parking garage. Please note, due to construction, there is no longer parking available or access to the park from the old Playland Park area off Avenue B, just east of the Great Lawn. To avoid traffic delays and to reserve your spot on the Great Lawn in the park, please consider carpooling and arrive early for Loessfest events.

For more information, please visit Loessfest.com.

Sidney School Board rejects 3-way sharing agreement


April 19th, 2016 by Ric Hanson

The School Board in Sidney, Monday night, has rejected a proposed three-way sharing agreement between the district, South Page, and the Griswold School District. According to reports, the Sidney School Board rejected the proposal by failing to take action on the agreement, which means Superintendent Gregg Cruickshank will continue to serve as superintendent for those two districts only, during the next school year.

The board’s decision was said to have been based on the vacancy in the elementary principal’s position, with Linda Spencer stepping down at the end of the current school year. The Sidney School Board also voted to hire a part-time elementary principal for next school year, with the intent of hiring a full time principal for the 2017-2018 school year.

The decision by the Sidney Board leaves the Griswold District to consider its next step to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Superintendent Dana Kunze. The Griswold Board will hold a special meeting this evening at 6:30, to discuss the options.