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Hamburg hopes to launch viral video to raise $$ for levee


June 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

For the price of a latte, you can save a town. That’s the message being touted in Hamburg. The southwest Iowa town is launching a major fundraiser to keep the levee built last year just outside of the city at its current height. Hamburg-area residents are preparing to record a “Flash Mob”-type dance which they’ll post on the internet to raise awareness of their need for funding. Hamburg Mayor Cathy Crain says the current levee did the job.

Hamburg Levee (IA State Patrol photo)

Mayor Crain says, “We had an 11-foot levee to protect us from the west ditch and the Corps (of Engineers) and our people added eight feet to that levee, so combined, the levee is 19 feet and has held as much as 17 feet of water for 120 days.” But now, she says, there’s a problem that puts the levee at risk.  “After the Missouri River levees are completed this September, Hamburg will be forced by federal regulations to either remove that eight feet of dirt for $1.3-million or raise $5.6-million to make (the levee) permanent,” she says.

Crain says the levee project requires money the town simply doesn’t have. “We’ve aggressively sought funding and the state of Iowa has contributed $1-million and we need $4.6-million more,” she says. “Our city and the businesses have already exhausted their funds fighting the flood.” She says they’ve tried to get grants for eight months and there’s just not a lot of money out there for secondary levees. “There’s money out there for the Missouri levees,” she says, “and we want them to get those levees fixed, but we haven’t found any money for us.” After a series of rehearsals today and through the weekend, Hamburg’s Main Street will be closed Monday morning at 11:30 for shooting the video. She says the dance steps and movements will be very simple but they’ll make people take notice.

Hamburg Levee (IA Dept. of Public Safety photo)

“The words are very clever and it will be very charming,” she says. “We’re going to have people of all ages doing this and the volunteers involved in this are really good at what they do. It’s gonna put a smile on your face and you’re going to walk away and say, ‘They’re a small town but they sure are resourceful and they have a lot of talent.’” Crain says the video will be posted to Youtube, Google+, Facebook and another video site. They’re also requesting that everyone forward it on whenever they can. A Paypal link to donate will be listed with the video or a check can be made to the City of Hamburg Iowa Flood Recovery. “Our business strategy is to use email addresses from businesses, citizens and friends and get the message out,” the mayor says. “We need 1.5-million people to donate $3.00 each.”

(Radio Iowa)

2 charged in vandalism to Flight 232 Memorial


June 22nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Two men face felony charges for allegedly vandalizing a memorial to the 1989 crash of United Airlines Flight 232 in Sioux City. Scott Coleson of Lehigh, and Felipe Sebastian of South Sioux City, Nebraska are suspected of pushing over a boulder at the memorial at a park early Wednesday. Both are charged with criminal mischief. The city says it will cost $3,000 to replace the cracked boulder. It’s one of eight leading up to a statue commemorating the accident. United Flight 232 was en route from Denver, Colorado to Chicago, Illinois when it crashed at the Sioux City airport, killing 112 people. Online court records show the state public defender’s office is appointed to the men’s cases, but lists no specific attorneys.

3rd Thursday Summer Concert premieres in Atlantic


June 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A sizable, appreciative crowd showed up in the Atlantic City Park Thursday evening, for the first of three, free,  “Third Thursday” Summer Concert events, sponsored by the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce.

Dirt Road Acoustic Rehab performs in the Atlantic City Park (Ric Hanson photo)

Taking to the stage was “Dirt Road Acoustic Rehab,” with their renditions of some popular Country, Blues and Rock songs.

One of the Dirt Road Acoustic Rehab band members

(For more information about the band, surf to http://dirtroadacousticrehab.com/index.html).

The next Third Thursday event will take place July 19th, from 5:30-7:30pm, also in the Atlantic City Park.  The concert will feature the Travelin’ Light Band, with 60’s & 70’s music, along with a little variety.

For more information about the concert series, check out the Chamber’s website at http://www.atlanticiowa.com/

OPPD defends Fort Calhoun as safe nuclear plant


June 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha Public Power District officials remain confident in their plan to improve the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant, and they disagree with an environmental group’s petition to revoke the plant’s license. OPPD spokesman Jeff Hanson said Thursday that the utility believes the nuclear power plant 20 miles north of Omaha is safe. The utility also says the plant is an important part of its power-generating portfolio. The Sierra Club of Iowa filed a formal petition with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Thursday asking regulators to revoke Fort Calhoun’s license. David Lochbaum, nuclear safety director at the advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists, says the NRC probably receives a similar petition about once a month. Most of the petitions are denied, but he said they can force changes at nuclear plants.

Feds deny Iowa No Child Left Behind waiver


June 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. Department of Education has denied Iowa’s request for a waiver from key provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind rules. Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass says the state’s application was denied because lawmakers in a bill passed this year requires any changes in teacher evaluations to be first approved by the Legislature. Glass says he warned lawmakers that such a requirement would mean rejection. He says it’s a missed opportunity for Iowa schools to find relief from the 2002 law. Glass says the law holds schools to unrealistic measures and then blames them for failure. Gov. Terry Branstad says responsibility for the denial lies squarely at the feet of the Iowa Legislature, which did too little to improve schools despite repeated warnings.

IWCC selected to receive $200k in job training funds


June 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Kansas City, KS, Thursday, announced Iowa Western Community College (IWCC) has been selected to receive $200,000 in workforce development and brownfields job training funds from the EPA, to train unemployed and underemployed residents in Council Bluffs and Omaha. IWCC is one of only 15 workforce development organizations in the nation to receive the funding this year. Its project will specifically serve residents of the environmentally impacted neighborhoods of the South Main Brownfields Site in Council Bluffs and northeast Omaha. 

Targeted populations include Trade Adjustment Assistance individuals displaced from their jobs due to the competition of foreign imports or due to work activity moving out of the U.S.; unemployed and underemployed individuals, with priority given to veterans, long-term unemployed, residents of the identified contaminated communities; and populations underrepresented in the green and environmental fields, including minorities and women. 

IWCC plans to train 100 students, place 80 graduates in jobs, and track graduates for one year.  The core training program includes 152 hours of instruction on hazardous materials, lead and asbestos abatement, storm water management, underground storage tank leak prevention, construction debris recycling, green remediation, and environmental health and safety.  Participants will also be offered additional training in Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) construction and mold contractor remediation. 

EPA’s Annual Environmental Workforce Development and Brownfields Job Training Grants allow nonprofit and other organizations to recruit, train, and place predominantly low-income and minority, unemployed and under-employed people living in areas affected by solid and hazardous waste.  Typical applicants include community colleges, universities, vocational-technical colleges, workforce development organizations, non-profit organizations and others with an interest in the program. 

Nationwide, as of January 2012, approximately 10,275 individuals have completed training, and 7,155 have been placed in full-time employment in the environmental field, with an average starting wage of $14.12 per hour.

Rural Midwest, West growth slowing, report says


June 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A June survey report says growth in rural areas of 10 Midwestern and Western states has slowed. The report released Thursday says the Rural Mainstreet Index hit its lowest level of the year, 56.7, compared with 58.5 in May.  But survey organizers say any survey index score above 50 on the 100-point scale suggests growth in the months ahead.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey of rural bankers. Goss says the global economic slowdown, combined with a stronger U.S. dollar, have pushed agriculture and energy prices lower. He says downward pressure that weakens overall growth for rural parts of the 10 states.  The states are Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Woman injured & cited following accident southwest of Adair


June 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa State Patrol says an Adair woman injured during a single-vehicle rollover accident was later cited for Failure to Maintain Control. 73-year old Rosalie Jessen suffered non-incapacitating injuries following the crash which occurred Tuesday morning in northwestern Adair County.  The woman was transported by private vehicle to the Cass County Memorial Hospital in Atlantic, for treatment.

Officials say Jessen was traveling west on County Road G-30 at around 8:20-a.m., when the 2008 Toyota Corolla she was driving went off the road, to the north. When Jessen over-corrected, the car entered the north ditch where it rolled over and came to rest on its wheels, near a utility pole. Damage to the vehicle was estimated at $10,500.

Farmer in NW Iowa reports 4″ of rain in 90 minutes

News, Weather

June 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Dry, wilting crops may have prompted some Iowa farmers to pray for rain in recent weeks, but some of them may’ve prayed a little too hard. Parts of northwest Iowa were drenched in Wednesday’s thunderstorms, as parched areas quickly became lakes. James Oberreuter is a farmer from Danbury in Woodbury County. “We got around four inches of rain here,” Oberreuter says. “It came out of the fields pretty good. Luckily, the crop was pretty tall and it didn’t do a lot of damage.” Four inches of rain wouldn’t be so bad over a few weeks, but he says this deluge was a bit too much of a good thing. “It came in about an hour and a half period of time,” Oberreuter says. “It just kept coming. One thunderstorm would go over and another one would take its place.” He says rainfall was spotty, as the four inches that fell on his field was a rare amount.  “You didn’t have to go more than about four or five miles away and they only got about two or two and a half (inches),” he says. “It’s a summertime rain. We got a whole bunch and you didn’t have to go too far and they didn’t get hardly any.”

In the KJAN listening area, rainfall amounts varied widely, from .45″ in Malvern, to as much as 1.6-inches near Avoca. In Atlantic, we received just under eight-tenths of an inch of rain (.79″). Up at “The Valley” (near the Hwy 71/I-80 interchange), a listener reported 1.00″.  A listener in Audubon reports 1.5-inches. Other reports include: Harlan – 1.1o”; Massena – 1.01″; Oakland – 1.00″;  Red Oak – 1.05″; Villisca – .83″; and in Clarinda, .82″.

Forecasters say more rain is expected this weekend, especially Saturday.

(Radio Iowa/rainfall amounts reported from various sources)

Applications being accepted for IWCC Nursing Scholarships


June 21st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Ann Pross, Director of Iowa Western Community College’s Cass County Center, says applications are currently being accepted for nursing scholarships being offered by the Don and Lois Sonntag Endowment Fund. All students from Atlantic and surrounding communities are encouraged to apply for the available funds. The actual amount awarded to each student will depend upon the number of qualified applicants.

Applications can be found on the Iowa Western website at www.iwcc.edu/es/financial/scholarships.asp, and must be received by July 6th, 2012. IWCC officials will make the final determination of who is qualified for the scholarships, based on need and certain scholarship criteria. All funds from the effort will be used only for those students enrolled in nursing prerequisite courses, or the nursing program.

In addition, the Sonntag Endowment Fund is offering a Challenge Grant of up to $5,000, for matching funds to benefit students attending Iowa Western Community College. The Atlantic couple has already committed $2,500 to nursing scholarships, and a gift from Pat McCurdy brings the current scholarship total to $3,500. Additional funds are still being accepted to match the $5,000 challenge, and have $10,000 available for area students who are pursuing a career in nursing.

Matching funds under the endowment program can be in any amount, and should be submitted directly to the Iowa Western Community College Foundation, a 501-c-3 tax deductible entity. For more information, contact Don Sonntag at 712-249-1906, or Ann Pross at IWCC in Atlantic, at 712-243-5527.