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(Podcast) 7:06-a.m. News/Funeral announcements, 3/11/2014

News, Podcasts

March 11th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

With KJAN News Director Ric Hanson….


Atlantic Fire Dept. called to a brush fire


March 11th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Fire Department  was called to the scene of a reported large brush fire near the Schildberg Quarry Recreation Area this (Tuesday), morning. Atlantic Police Lt. Dave Erickson was first on the scene at around 7-a.m.  He told KJAN News the blaze, which was in a muddy area off of north Chestnut Street, on the northeast side of the quarry, was likely accidental. Erickson said a fisherman probably started the fire and smoldering embers caught the nearby brush on fire. Erickson and the firefighters weren’t able to directly access the fire due to the extremely muddy conditions.  The flames were put out and fire personnel were back at the station within about 45-minutes.

Atlantic School Board approves early retirement incentive


March 11th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic School Board, Monday night approved an early retirement incentive for teachers, that could reportedly save the district about $1.8-million over the next five years. District Business Manager and Board Secretary Mary Beth Fast told KJAN News the offer is being made available to those teachers who are age 55 or older, and have served the district full-time, for at least 10-years. Fast said the district will provide $25,000 for each eligible employee, over a 3-year period. The money will be paid to a third-party administrator, to cover eligible medical expenses.

That includes medical premiums, out-of-pocket co-pays, prescriptions, Medicare supplement premiums, which in-theory, could last much longer than 3-years, depending on how fast the money was used-up. The funds she says are not taxable to either the employee or the district. The first payment would be made on behalf of the teachers, on July 1, 2014. Interested teachers have until March 31st to submit their application for the Early Retirement plan.

According to Fast, the district has never offered anything like this before. In the past, they’ve usually just offered cash, which is taxable. The current incentive offers retirees the opportunity to remain on the district’s medical insurance plan or they can find their own. The incentive addresses concerns people may have, with regard to health care reform

Fast says there are, at present, 14 teachers who have expressed an interest in applying for the incentive. A meeting will be held this Friday afternoon beginning at 3:45 in the High School Media Center for all interested persons, where additional information will be presented on the offer.

In other business, the Atlantic School Board approved the termination of Head Tennis Coach Shawn Petersen, and the 2014-2015 School Calendar, which will be based on 1,080 hours of instruction instead of 180-days. They also approved May 22nd, 23rd and 27th as make-up days for snow-day class cancellations this year.

SW IA man dies in WI snowmobiling accident


March 11th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A Taylor County man died over the weekend during a snowmobiling accident in northern Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says 51-year old Mike Garner, of Lenox, was killed when the snowmobile he was operating on a trail in Namakagen, WI., went out of control prior to entering a curve, and hit a tree. The crash occurred at around 5:10-p.m., Sunday. Garner died at the scene.

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.