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4 people from NE arrested on drug-related charges Tues. morning in Villisca


March 11th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Four people were arrested early this (Tuesday) morning in Montgomery County, on drug-related charges. The Sheriff’s Dept. reports a vehicle was pulled over at around 1:30-a.m. in Villisca for a traffic violation, and following an investigation, deputies arrested 22-year old Ronald William Lessner, of Omaha, and 20-year Evan Edward Endrise, of Bellevue, NE, on charges of Possession of Marijuana, Distribution to a person under legal age, and gathering. Lessner was also charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Both men were being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $2,000 bond, each.

In addition, 21-year old Matthew Kanji Kelly, of Omaha, and 17-year old Christopher Orion Barbee, of LaVista, NE, were charged with Gathering where controlled substances are used. Kelly was being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $1,000 bond. Barbee was released to the custody of a parent.

Red Oak man arrested on warrant for assault


March 11th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Montgomery County say a Red Oak man was arrested Monday afternoon on a warrant for Assault/Willful Injury. Jason Ray Cornelison was taken into custody at around 1-p.m., and brought to the Montgomery County Jail, where he was being held on $20,000 cash bond.

Pott. County Atty. to run for re-election


March 11th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber has announced plans to seek re-election. The Daily NonPareil reports Wilber, who’s currently in his third term, filed papers Monday morning with the Pottawattamie County Auditor’s Office. Wilber beat out a handful of candidates to win the position in 2002 and took office in January of 2003. He ran unopposed in 2006 and 2010.

Wilber grew up in rural Macedonia and graduated from Carson-Macedonia High School before the towns consolidated with Oakland to create the Riverside School District. He received his undergraduate degree from Graceland University in Lamoni and went to law school at Pacific University in Sacramento, Calif.

He’s on the board of directors of the Iowa County Attorneys Association, of which he was the president in 2011, and is on the board of governors for Leadership Iowa. He’s also a member of the for National District Attorney’s Association

SUPCO decision doesn’t affect 2 southwest IA rails-to-trails

Ag/Outdoor, News

March 11th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A decision Monday by the U-S Supreme Court to turn abandoned rail lines which have been granted easements from the U-S, over to property owners on either side of the right-of-way, won’t affect two popular southwest Iowa trails that run on former railroad rights-of-way.  The Daily NonPareil reports that neither the Wabash Trace Nature Trail, which runs from Council Bluffs to the Missouri state line, nor the Old Stone Arch Nature Trail near Shelby will be forced to turn over ownership of the paths to adjacent landowners.

According to Marianne Fowler, senior vice president of federal relations for the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, southwest Iowa’s pair of trails were exempted from the ruling for different reasons. The 63-mile Wabash Trace, which runs through four counties, is safe because it’s part of the “railbank” system. Becca Castle, president of Southwest Iowa Nature Trails told the paper that since the former Wabash Railroad purchased the land from the government, it wouldn’t have been affected by the ruling. Out-of-service railroad lines are sold, leased or granted to agencies that oversee a trail.

Ownership never changes hands, however, because the rail company reserves the right to one day reopen a railroad line on the land if need be. More than 4,400 miles of railroad corridors in 33 states are operated as part of this system, according to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. If abandoned, ownership of that land would ordinarily have reverted to neighboring landowners.

Lisa Hein, program and planning director for the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, which oversees the Wabash Trace and much of the state’s converted rail trails, said most Iowa rail trails are railbanked, and those weren’t affected by the ruling because the railroad company could still operate a line on the land.

Renee Hansen of the Shelby County Auditor’s Office, told the NonPareil that the Old Stone Arch trail – a small portion of the former Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad right-of-way in Pottawattamie and Shelby counties – was privately granted easements in 1867 and 1968, therefore, the four-mile stretch of trail now owned by the city was also not affected by the decision.

As a whole, Iowa – which has nearly 1,000 miles of trails on converted railroad property – looks to see little or no effects by the 8-1 Supreme Court decision. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the lone dissenter.

USDA announces initiative to help smaller farm operations

Ag/Outdoor, News

March 11th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is launching what it calls “a concerted effort” to help small and mid-sized farms. The announcement from Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack comes after a recent census pointed to a reduction in the number of smaller farming operations. Speaking on Monday with reporters from the National Farmers Union Convention in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Vilsack said his department is working to assist these farmers in finding markets for their products.

“We’re going to broaden the national farmers’ market directory to include community-supported agriculture activities, on-farm stores and food hubs,” Vilsack said. “This will provide an opportunity for you, as a producer, to know precisely what opportunities exist within your region.” In addition, the USDA plans to expand the popular Farm-to-School Program.

“We know there’s a tremendous demand in schools for locally produced product, we had more than 355-million dollars in sales last year…we anticipate and expect that this is only going to grow,” Vilsack said. An additional seven Farm-to-School coordinators will be placed across the country to help forge relationships between farmers and school districts, according to Vilsack. The former Iowa governor said the USDA will also work to make it easier for small and mid-sized farmers to gain access to capital by expanding loan programs and increasing funding for such things as hoop houses, which enable longer growing seasons.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Tue., March 11th 2014


March 11th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa City man has been sentenced to 17 years in prison in connection to crashing an SUV through a store at Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville. A judge sentenced 24-year-old Joseph Moreno on Monday to 10 years for first-degree criminal mischief. He was given five years for intimidation with a dangerous weapon and two years for reckless use of a firearm.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A man charged with killing his parents on the Meskwaki Settlement in central Iowa has made a court appearance. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the northern district of Iowa says 25-year-old Gordon Lasley Jr. appeared Monday in federal court in Cedar Rapids. A criminal complaint filed Friday says Lasley killed Gordon Lasley Sr. and Kim Lasley at their home in early February on the Meskwaki Nation Settlement near Tama.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A bill that that would have required employers in Iowa to tell workers at hiring what they’ll earn and outline any deductions in writing will not survive this year. Committee Chairman Greg Forristall, a Macedonia Republican, says he doesn’t expect the subcommittee to meet again this session, which effectively kills the bill. Forristall says the bill won’t solve the problem and will only drive up costs for honest businesses.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A bill giving victims more power to report sexual abuse and other crimes involving state military personnel has received the approval of the Iowa Senate. Under the bill, state military forces would have to file an annual report with the governor and the Legislature detailing sexual abuse allegations within the forces.

Audubon City Councilman acknowledges the City faces “Serious financial problems”


March 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A public hearing was held in Audubon Monday night with regard to the proposed Fiscal Year 2015 City Budget, which was eventually approved, but not without some reservations. During the hearing, Barb Jacobs asked several questions. She pointed out, and City Clerk Lora Hansen confirmed, that in the worst case scenario, the City would be operating at a nearly $500-thousand dollar loss. The re-estimated FY 2014 budget shows an estimated loss of revenue amounting to approximately $388,517.

The budget summary provided by Hansen, and read by Jacobs, also says the City will be operating in the red for FY 2016, if it stays on its current course. Those figures also raised the eyebrows of  Councilman Tom Nielsen. The beginning balance at the start of the new fiscal year on July 1st will be $976,704. The City will have an operating loss of $497, 400, which leaves a beginning the following year of $479,400. Nielsen said if they “Don’t do some radical changes,” the City “Probably cannot get through Fiscal Year 2016.”

Nielsen said the City has some “Serious financial problems.” He said the only reason he voted for it was so that it could be submitted to the State by the March 17th deadline. After that, the budget can be amended downward, but in the mean while, he suggested the City seek help in getting it’s financial house in order. Nielsen said he doesn’t know how the City could possibly find the half-million dollars it needs before the budget deadline. He suggested the City meet its auditing firm in a work session and get the “Very scary” situation corrected. Nielsen said “It sucks” to be $500-thousand dollars in the hole.

He said he’s also bothered by the fact the City’s obligation bonds are 5-percent of taxable assessed valuations, and they’re current outstanding to the tune of 3.434-percent, so they’ve used up most of the available funds from the bonds. To top it off, he says the town needs to get serious about fixing its crumbling infrastructure in terms of streets, sewer lines and water lines.

Cass Co. Democrats to host candidate event March 27th


March 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Cass County Democratic Party Chair Sherry Toelle says a “Spring Fling” event will be held in Atlantic on March 27th, sponsored by the local Democratic party. The event will feature eleven candidates who will be appearing on the June primary ballot, and includes games, a silent auction, and a pie/cake auction in addition to a “picnic” dinner.

The candidates who will be attending the event include Congressional candidates Staci Appel and Gabriel De La Cerda and gubernatorial candidates Jack Hatch, Paul Dahl and Jonathan Narcisse. Other candidates who plan to attend are Brad Anderson (Secretary of State), Jon Neiderbach (State Auditor), Sherrie Taha (Secretary of Agriculture), and Tim Ennis (Iowa House District #21). Attorney General Tom Miller and State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, both incumbents, will also speak.

The event will held at the Saints Peter and Paul Parish Center, beginning at 6-p.m. March 27th. The cost per adult is $20 if paid before March 26th. Tickets are available at the door for $25, with children under 14 admitted for $10 each. RSVP’s are requested by March 21st. Tickets can be purchased from Dale Whittaker, 1409 E. 17th St., Atlantic, IA 50022.

For more information about the evening’s activities, contact Sherry Toelle at 712-243-4861.

Audubon City Council tables action on City Clerk applications


March 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Audubon City Council Monday evening tabled action on the discussion and consideration of applications for their City Clerk or Interim City Clerk’s position, because they weren’t ready to do so, according to Mayor Sam Kauffman. In addition, the Council directed the Mayor to correct an error on the published notice calling for applications and resubmit the ad, because it left out important legal terminology, according to former city councilperson Linda Weston, who researched the process through the Iowa League of Cities.IMG_20140310_185834_075

Weston said the advertisement left out a statement with regard to EEO – Equal Employment Opportunity – which is required by law. The EEO statement typically says that a company or governmental body “Provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, marital status, amnesty, or status as a covered veteran in accordance with applicable federal, state and local laws.”

Mayor Kauffman admitted he made an error when drafting the advertisement for publication, and made then a comment that drew laughs of disbelief from the audience and caused numerous eyes to roll.  He suggested City Clerk Lora Hansen – who he admitted is much more knowledgeable about such things – be the person to write the ad. The comment was ironic, because it would have meant Hansen would have been writing an ad seeking her own replacement for a position she did not wish to leave.

She currently serves as the “Hold over” clerk after a series of mis-steps taken by the Council that drew the threat of legal action and several requests for e-mails under the Open Records and Open Meetings law. Hansen has served as City Clerk in Audubon for more than 30-years.

Iowa lawmakers OK anti-bullying plan for schools


March 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa lawmakers are continuing their efforts to fund an anti-bullying measure that would create an office to coordinate efforts and establish a grant program for schools across the state.  A three-member Senate appropriations subcommittee voted 2-1 on Monday in favor of the legislation, which goes to the full Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.

The bill calls for a $1 million appropriation to establish an office within the Department of Education, charged with coordinating and implementing bullying prevention and response efforts. The bill also would develop a grant program to help schools carry out new anti-bullying policies.

Adam Gregg, legislative liaison for Gov. Terry Branstad, says such a large appropriation is unnecessary. Sen. Robert Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says he’s sure an agreement on funding can be reached.