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7AM Newscast 12-14-2011

News, Podcasts

December 14th, 2011 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Santorum to visit Atlantic, Sunday, Dec. 18th

News

December 14th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Republican Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, from Pennsylvannia, will be in Atlantic Sunday evening (Dec. 18th),  on a campaign stop. Santorum will hold a “Cup of Coffee and Questions and Answers” session with area residents at the Farmer’s Kitchen Restaurant (319 Walnut Street), from 5:30- to 6:30-p.m.  Light refreshments will be served. The event is free, and open to the public.

Santorum is making the stop in Atlantic as part of his tour across the State this month. For more information on the Santorum and his position on the issues, visit www.ricksantorum.com.

Council Bluffs man arrested in Red Oak on drug-related charge

News

December 14th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Police in Red Oak report one person was arrested Tuesday on a drug-related charge. 21-year old Mykal Jesi Keith, of Council Bluffs, was taken into custody in the 1100 block of East Coolbaugh Street, on a Simple Misdemeanor charge of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Keith was cited for the offense and released on $300 bond.

Homeland Security Representative to provide risk assessment for Atlantic Schools

News

December 14th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic School District Superintendent Mike Amstein said Tuesday, Atlantic Police Chief Steve Green has arranged for an official with the U-S Department of Homeland Security to tour the district’s schools and conduct a risk assessment for the various buildings. He says they are fortunate to have the representative come to the district, as it will give school officials a better idea of what’s working and what needs to be improved, with regard to security. The official will tour the district’s main buildings, along with those that are off-campus, like the Educational Opportunity Center (EOC), and Atlantic Head Start. It’s not clear when the assessments will take place.

On the same topic of security, the Atlantic School Board Tuesday, approved the first reading of a policy pertaining to the use of video cameras on school premises. Amstein said the idea for the policy came about after he spoke with the Board’s attorney, and based upon an article he read in a recent School Administrators of Iowa (SAI) newsletter. The school board currently has in-place a policy for video-taping on board the district’s buses, but there was no policy in-place for video surveillance in the schools, even though the cameras have been in use for some time.

Amstein says the article provided some specific guidelines the district can use when it comes to the handling of video evidence if an incident occurs in one of the school buildings or on school property.
He provided an example of how effective video surveillance can be to a district legally, by referring to an “incident” earlier this year, between a student and a faculty member. A surveillance camera caught the incident and recorded it. The video was requested by the police department as evidence in the case.

Atlantic School Board faces tough budget decisions

News

December 14th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic School District’s Board of Education will have some tough decisions to make early next year when it comes to the 2012-2013 budget. Superintendent Mike Amstein said during Tuesday night’s Board meeting, the two-percent allowable growth tentatively approved by the Iowa Legislature may be eaten up by cuts in Federal Funding. A two-percent allowable growth for the Atlantic District amounts to about $140,000. But because the Congressional Super Committee failed to do its work at the federal level, the district could stand to lose up to $120,000 in funding due to automatic spending cuts. Some of the cuts he says, will affect Special Education, and Title Program, which is essentially a literacy program for at-risk children, such as free-and reduced lunch.

He says they could be looking at an 8-percent cut in entitlement programs, based on funding. Title One would lose about $20,000 in federal funding. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – IDEA – Part B, would stand to lose $6,000, and, Special Education funding would lose about $95,000, for a total of about $121,000. In addition to the federal cuts, Amstein says there will be an increase in the cost of IPERS of .07-percent, which will become effective July 1st, 2012, and an increase in the amount the district pays for insurance, but how much that will be isn’t yet known.

Amstein says when the Board takes a look at their upcoming budget, they need to look at ways to watch their spending. The good news he says, is that the District has done some things this year to try and recover funds they have missed out on in previous years, which will help to buffer the costs. The Iowa Legislature may also end up passing additional funding for schools, but it’s too early to know for sure. Amstein says also, talks are progressing with the teacher’s association for a reasonable salary and benefits settlement.

He says the district is still in pretty good shape, but the Board needs to give some direction on what areas of the budget they want to protect, and areas where they can save, by the time their January meeting rolls around. He says they should also have a better idea of what the teacher’s union proposal will look like at that time.

Iowa post office closures delayed after Gov. Branstad calls for moratorium

News

December 13th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

(DES MOINES)- Gov. Branstad today (Tuesday) released a statement praising the United States Postal Service for heeding his advice and delaying the closure of Iowa post offices. “I am pleased to learn that the United States Postal Service has reconsidered their consolidation and closures of Iowa post offices,” said Branstad. “I would like to thank Postmaster General Donahoe for his attention and thought. I look forward to continuing our discussion and coming up with a solution that will reduce the Postal Service’s costs while continuing to serve Iowans.”

Gov. Branstad had been an early opponent to the post office closures because they were disproportionate and put too much of the burden on rural Iowans. In September, Gov. Branstad co-authored a letter with Lohrville Mayor Donny Hobbs and a letter with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn calling for the Postal Services’ reconsideration. Branstad continued, “This is about the economic vitality of rural Iowa, and I am glad the United States Postal Service has moved forward with this decision.”

The Postal Service announced that the closures and consolidations would be delayed until May 15, 2012. Under the Postal Service’s previous plan, Iowa would have seen 17.9 percent of the state’s post offices closed, compared to 11 percent nationally.

Iowa Transportation Commission approves additional highway work

News

December 13th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Transportation Commission today (Tuesday) approved an amendment to the 2012-2016 Iowa Transportation Improvement Program (Program) that will advance the letting of some highway projects into fiscal year (FY) 2012 and add others to the Program. One of the projects being added is in Cass County, another is in Adair County, while four others are in Pottawattamie County.

In Cass County, in addition to a project already in the works for Highway 148 from Highway 92 to Anita, the DOT plans to rehabilitate and widen Highway 83, from Wiota to Highway 148 in Anita. The project will cost about $2.1-million. In Adair County, a new project involves the rehabilitating of pavement on Interstate 80 eastbound, from the Cass County line to just west of Highway 25, at a cost of $500,000. And, in Pottawattamie County, in addition to an already planned for project to rehabilitate and widen Highway 59 from Highway Six to County Road G-30, there are three pavement rehab- and one guardrail- projects, in the works for Interstate 29 in 2012. The latest projects come with a pricetag of more than $5.4 million.

The DOT says the program amendment was possible because of additional funding becoming available after the Program was approved in June. The additional funding is the result of favorable construction project lettings (bid prices were lower than programmed amounts for some projects), Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) budget savings and receipt of federal funding that exceeded forecast amounts. It is projected that the amendment will result in FY 2012 being the largest program year in the Iowa DOT’s history.

Due to the timing of the additional funding, projects were selected that can be developed and scheduled for bidding this fiscal year, and begin construction in 2012. The DOT cautions that, while the amendment provides much needed funding to improve the state roadway system, there remains significant uncertainty in future funding. In particular, federal funding could be significantly reduced in federal FY 2013 because federal revenue flowing into the Highway Trust Fund is not sufficient to sustain existing funding levels.

The Iowa Transportation Commission continues to closely monitor funding and will make any necessary changes during the development of the 2013-2017 Iowa Transportation Improvement Program next spring.

Hamlin woman arrested for domestic assault

News

December 13th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Audubon County Sheriff’s Department says a Hamlin woman was arrested Monday night. 32-year old Brooke Marie Hines was charged with Domestic Abuse/Assault, following an investigation into an incident which allegedly occured at her home. Hines was brought to the Audubon County Jail and released after appearing before the magistrate.

Cass County Compensation Board to meet Thursday

News

December 13th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The seven-member Cass County Compensation Board is set to gather Thursday evening in the basement meeting room at the Cass County Courthouse. After electing their officers, the Board will discuss and act on Fiscal Year 2013 compensation recommendations for the ten, elected County officials. The Board’s meeting begins at 7-p.m.

Last year, the Cass County Compensation Board approved a 2-percent in increase for the Auditor, Treasurer, Attorney, Sheriff, Recorder, and the County Supervisor’s.

Two injured during weekend accident in Cass County

News

December 13th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Two people were injured during a single-vehicle accident Saturday night, in Wiota. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office says deputies responded to the scene at Main and East Streets in Wiota, at around 10:45-p.m.  Officials say a 1997 Chevy Cavalier owned and driven by 18-year old Bradley William Herring, of Atlantic, was southbound on East Street when Herring lost control of the car, which ramped the railroad tracks and came to rest in the west ditch. 

Herring complained of head, chest and hand pain, and was transported by private vehicle to the Cass County Memorial Hospital, in Atlantic. A 17-year-old female passenger was transported to CCMH via Anita Rescue. A second passenger in the car, 18-year-old Anthony Jessen, was not injured. Damage to the vehicle was estimated to be $3500.00. Following an investigation, Brad Herring was cited for Failure to Maintain Control. 

A second accident occurred last Saturday, in Griswold. The Sheriff’s Department says an investigation into a minor collision in the 800 block of Whitney Street resulted in the arrest of 56-year old Boyd Eugene Lewis, of Griswold. Lewis faces a charge of OWI/2nd Offense. He was taken to the Cass County Jail where he was released Sunday, on his own recognizance.