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Vehicle stolen from Brayton


October 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in western Iowa are on the lookout for a vehicle reported stolen sometime overnight from a residence in Brayton. According to the Cass County Communications Center, the stolen, white 2003 Toyota Camry, was observed at the Stuart 66 Food Mart at around 2:30 this (Thursday) morning. The vehicle has Iowa license plate number 484 TNL.

If you see this vehicle, contact your local law enforcement agency.

Grants awarded to enhance specialty crops production

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Wednesday, announced that the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will award more than $260,500 in grants to Iowa organization, to help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in the state. The department received more than $276,500 through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, to support the program.

Among the grant recipients, was Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development, which was awarded $18,343 for building capacity for southwest Iowa local food producers, to increase specialty crop competitiveness in the region. And, Southern Iowa Resource Conservation and Development was awarded a $24,000 grant for “Farm to where you are: Creating and Enhancing Markets for Southern Iowa Specialty Crop Producers.” In addition, the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship was awarded a little more than $55,000, to support connecting growers and schools through the “Farm to School Program.”

Bill Northey says “Specialty crops are a very important part of Iowa agriculture, as they allow farmers to diversify and give customers access to locally grown products.” He says the federal funds will support food safety, research and marketing efforts, that will encourage Iowans to choose fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers, that are produced in the state. Iowa agricultural non-profit organizations, cooperatives, specialty crop industry associations or organizations, along with producer groups, were eligible to aplly for funding, to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

Omaha family of six injured in I-29 rollover accident


October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa State Patrol says six members of an Omaha family, three adults and three children, were injured Wednesday evening when the SUV they were in rolled over on Interstate 29, about three-miles north of Council Bluffs City limits. Authorities said 26-year old Lucia Barrera, of Omaha, was driving a 1996 Ford Explorer when a back tire blew out.  When Barrera lost control of the SUV, it rolled multiple times before coming to rest facing southbound, in the southbound lane of travel.The accident happened just before 5-p.m.

The children, identified as one-year old Edgar Berrera, 9-year old’s Steffany Fernandez and Bryan Brito, were ejected from the vehicle during the crash. Two of the children were not wearing their seatbelts.  Lucia Barrera, along with her passengers, 34-year old Octavio Barrera and 32-year old Catalina Barrera, were also injured. All of the victims were transported to Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha.  One of the children was flown to the facility by medical helicopter.The rest were transported by Council Bluffs Medics or Crescent Rescue.

Details on the extent of their injuries was not immediately available. A section of the interstate was closed for more than an hour Wednesday, while emergency crews took care of the injured and cleaned-up the crash scene.

Atlantic City Council to hold public hearing on local property


October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A public hearing will be held during the October 19th meeting of the Atlantic City Council, with regard to the disposition of property at 706 Walnut Street. The Council Wednesday evening voted 4-to-2 to pass a resolution terminating a purchase agreement the City had with resident Ed Leistad for the parcel. In August Leistad asked the Council to consider terminating a contract he signed earlier in the Summer, when he paid $5,000 for the property. Leistad claimed he misunderstood how small the property was, and that it would not serve his needs as he anticipated. The termination comes in exchange for his making $1,000 payment to the City as a of penalty.

Councilmen Dana Halder and Kern Miller voted against the resolution to terminate the contract. Miller said Leistad should be held accountable for his decision to buy the property in a sealed bid.  Halder said the City held up it’s end of the deal, and Leistad should do the same.  He said cancelling the contract would set a precedence for future sales of City-owned property that may cost the City money.

Councilperson Kathy Somers disagreed. She was one those who voted in favor of terminating the contract. Somers said Leistad’s paying $1,000 to the City and getting nothing in return, after admitting his mistake, is an acceptable form of apology. Miller urged the citizens of Atlantic to attend the hearing on October 19th to voice their concerns over the deal, and help determine what the City should do with the property.

Update 8-p.m. Oct. 5th: Search of Atlantic High School: no explosive devices found


October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Firefighters Steve Curtis and Bob Reynolds stand-by outside the high school Wednesday night.

With firefighters standing by outside the Atlantic High School, Atlantic Police conducted a thorough  search Wednesday night of the premises and found no evidence of any explosive devices or materials associated with a bomb threat which was discovered earlier in the day.

Atlantic Police Chief Steve Green said prior to the search, his office contacted experts who doubted the validity of the threat. He says they contacted the State Fire Marshall’s Office and discussed the possible scenarios. The Fire Marshall’s Office said the threat was deemed “not credible.” Even so, Green said they’re taking precautions to ensure the safety of students and the staff at the high school. He says they will be “proactive over the next couple of days so parents can rest assured that their kids can come to school safely,” and not have to worry. Green says students will not be allowed to bring backpacks, large purses or duffle bags to school Thursday or Friday.

Students who do bring those items to school Thursday will be asked to put those items in their vehicles or leave them with a parent. In extenuating circumstances, the packs and purses will be searched. He says absolutely no backpacks or large purses will be allowed at school Friday. Chief Green says security at the school will be maintained during the next couple of days. Atlantic School District Superintendent Mike Amstein told KJAN News earlier in the day, Wednesday, that a student had discovered a written bomb threat on a restroom stall, and reported it to school officials. Administrators then notified law enforcement and sent out a press release designed to inform parents about the situation. The note scribbled on the stall indicated an explosive device would go off on Friday, October 7th.

Green said threats such as the one found at the high school Wednesday, are usually an attempt by a student to disrupt classes for one reason or another, and nothing more. School will be held as usual both Thursday and Friday. Green says if the intent of the person responsible was to disrupt classes, they won’t be happy with the results of their effort. He says they’re not going to be rewarded with a day off, or a 3-day weekend for pulling this stunt.

He says parents and students should not be taken in by fear and panic, because the situation is being handled at a much higher level than is recommended by the experts.

Mental Health: A Mother’s Story, & Conversation on Mental Health Care to take place in Atlantic.


October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The mother of a young man who shot and killed Aplington-Parkersburg Football Coach Ed Thomas in June 2009 will be the guest speaker during a Conversation on Mental Health in Atlantic, later this month. A jury found Joan Becker’s son Mark guilty of 1st degree murder in March 2010, after rejecting his insanity defense. He was later sentenced to life in prison. Joan Becker, who has two other sons, is making her way around the state to hold conversations about mental health issues.

Joan Becker speaks in Orient Sept. 8th (courtesy Wallace Center)

She spoke last month at the Wallace Country Life Center in rural Orient, about her son‘s struggle with paranoid schizophrenia . Her visit to Atlantic will take place 7-p.m. October 20th, at Iowa Western Community College. Cass County Mental Health Coordinator Teresa Kanning told the Board of Supervisors during their meeting this (Wednesday) morning, that Becker will discuss what parts of the mental health system failed her son, and which parts were helpful.

She says a local mental health panel discussion will follow her presentation about how the system works or doesn’t work, in Cass County. The event is open to the public, but seating is limited. Kanning says she’s very excited to have Mrs. Becker speak in Cass County. To reserve your seat, call 712-243-4424.

Bomb threat at Atlantic High School (updated 4-p.m.)


October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic School District Superintendent Dr. Mike Amstein said today (Wednesday), that the Atlantic High School has received word of a possible bomb threat. A statement said the threat would occur this Friday, October 7th. Amstein says once they became aware of the threat, they immediately contacted law enforcement.  Based on their advice, he says the district will abide by their suggestions, in order to be proactive in keeping the students and staff safe.

He says the threat was discovered in one of the high school restrooms. The note was written on bathroom stall. A student saw the threat and reported it to the office. Amstein said there is no significance that he’s aware of pertaining to the date the threat was assigned to. He says extra security precautions are being put into effect. Law enforcement were expected to clear the building this (Wednesday) evening. Students will also noticed a stepped-up effort to secure the premises on Thursday and Friday, as well.

He says bookbags will be search both days as students and individuals enter the school.

Possible Bomb Threat at Atlantic Schools


October 5th, 2011 by Jim Field

Atlantic High School administrators released a short notice to local media Wednesday afternoon that they were made aware of a possible bomb threat for Friday, October 7th.  School administration is working with the local law enforcement in the investigation of the threat.  No other details are available at this time, including how the alleged threat was made.  We will keep working to get you more information soon.

Firefighter loses home…to fire


October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A western Iowa man who has fought to save many homes from fire over the years, had to face the loss of his own home, Tuesday. Mondamin Fire Chief Norm Wallis, from rural Mondamin, was on his way back from lunch Tuesday afternoon, when he saw smoke coming from Interstate 29. The 55-year old volunteer firefighter dialed 9-1-1, and when he reached his mobile home, quickly reacted to cut power to the structure and move his vehicles and equipment away from the flames, just as he would have done if he was working to save any other property in danger of being consumed by fire.

Area firefighters from Mondamin, Modale, Magnolia and Little Sioux helped extinguish the blaze. Wallis told the Omaha World-Herald, he had worried the entire summer about the Missouri River flood waters but those stopped about 100 feet from his place. Wallis’ mobile home and its contents were a total loss, but no injuries were reported.

The cause of the blaze was under investigation continues, but officials said it did not appear to be suspicious in nature.

Constitution lithograph dedicated


October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

1934 Lithograph of US Constitution

A handful of local veterans and members of the Cass County Board of Supervisors were on-hand this (Wednesday) morning, for the presentation of a framed, 1934 lithograph copy of the U-S Constitution at the Cass County Courthouse. Gary Stephenson, from Fort Dodge, had spoken with the Board in August, and asked permission to look for local sponsors for the large print, which will be mounted on the wall in the corridor, outside of the Treasurer’s Office.

The lithograph, which has also been put in place in 34 other courthouses across Iowa, was made possible through the Supervisors’ support, and more than a half-dozen local sponsors. They include: Atlantic Motor Supply; the Cass County Abstract Company, Incorporated; McAtee Tire, Incorporated; Brocker, Karns and Karns Insurance; Hockenberry Family Care Funeral Home; the Atlantic Rotary Club; Ed & Debbie Liestad and Family; Tom and Wendy Cappel, ReAnn and Trey; and, W and S Appliance.

Plaques commemorating those sponsors, along with those in Memory of Cass County Supervisor Chuck Kinen, and all who sacrificed their lives in service to our country, will be included on the wall beneath the lithograph. The print was originally printed in 1934, but not discovered until 50-years later. It recognizes the Founding Fathers for their wisdom, and remembers those who fought to preserve our liberties.