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January 28th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

with KJAN News Director Ric Hanson….


State officials say mental health overhaul likely


January 28th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – State officials are moving ahead with the most fundamental change in the state’s mental health system in more than a century.  Department of Human Services director Chuck Palmer says in an interview with The Associated Press that he expects legislators to approve the change, which will lead to a uniform system rather than services that now vary from county to county. Palmer says that should mean improved services that are available across the state. The five-year cost of the effort is projected to be about $133 million, with a big first-year bill of $47 million. 

Sen. Jack Hatch, a Des Moines Democrat who helped devise the new system, says funding should be available, even at a time when lawmakers are face with a tight overall state budget.

West Harrison Superintendent confirms investigation into H.S. Principal’s alleged actions


January 28th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The superintendent of the West Harrison Community School District on Friday, released a statement involving one of his principals. Joel Foster confirmed earlier reports that both the district and the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Principal & girls basketball coach Mike Loftin’s alleged actions, at the West Harrison High School in Mondamin. The investigation was launched after an incident allegedly took place on January 20th. A 15-year old freshman girl claimed Loftin pulled off her breakaway pants down to her knees in front of fellow students, leaving her exposed in her underwear.  The teen, who is a guard on the West Harrison girls basketball team,  told authorities the incident took place outside of a locker room, just before the team was about to board a bus for a game. The superintendent said once the investigation is complete, the school board will take appropriate action.

Here is the text of Superintendent Joel Foster’s statement to the media:

On Saturday January 21st, 2012, it was brought to my attention that there might have been an incident between a staff member and a student on Friday evening January 20th. I immediately began investigating this incident and the West Harrison Community Schools responded to the allegations in an appropriate manner. This incident continues to be actively investigated by West Harrison Community Schools and the Harrison County Sheriffs Department.At the conclusion of this investigation, the West Harrison Community Schools Board of Education will respond in a manner that is appropriate to the findings of the investigation.

Joel Foster Superintendent, West Harrison Community Schools

Dogs rescued from Sac County face long road to recovery


January 28th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

It’s unlikely the 88 neglected dogs, removed this week from a property in northwest Iowa, will be available for adoption anytime soon. Authorities say the dogs, mostly Cocker Spaniels, were living in filthy conditions with their coats matted in dried feces.

Cocker Spaniel found on Sac Co. property (Photo by ARL of IA)

Employees and volunteers at animal shelters in Carroll, Boone, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Sioux City have spent hours grooming the dogs and treating them for tooth decay and skin, ear and bladder infections. Bob Citrullo, executive director of the Cedar Valley Humane Society in Cedar Rapids, says the dogs will remain in the shelters for a while.

“Either the owners of the facility need to turn them over, which is what we would suggest, or if it becomes a legal battle we have to wait for the outcome of that,” Citrullo said. A press release from the Siouxland Humane Society identified the owner of the dogs as Mary Brodersen, of rural Kiron. Officials say Broderson is a non-licensed dog breeder. The release also states five dogs were found dead on the property. Charges in the case are pending. Josh Colvin, with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL), says donations are needed to help improve the dogs’ health.

He said anyone making monetary donations to the ARL can indicate they’d like the money to help the “Sac County dogs.” The ARL also accepts donations of dry dog and puppy food.

Link to ARL: www.arl-iowa.org

(Radio Iowa)

Farmers angry missed dealine causes them to miss out on fed disaster pgm,

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 28th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Farmers whose land was damaged by Missouri River flooding expressed frustration Friday that a missed deadline will keep them from sharing in $215 million from one federal disaster program. Farmers and communities had to apply for the aid by June 30th, but many still had land under water then and couldn’t do a required damage assessment. Water didn’t recede from many farms in Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri until late September or early October. The money is part of $308 million in funding the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week. It is distributed through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, which requires a sponsor such as a city, county or drainage district. The money is meant to be used to clear drainage ditches, fix levees and structures and reshape eroded banks. Officials couldn’t say Friday how many farmers missed the chance to apply for help.

The flooding started in June when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began releasing massive amounts of water from upstream reservoirs filled by melting snow and heavy rains. The deluge continued for months, overtopping levees and turning farms into lakes. When the water finally receded, farmers found tree limbs, trash and, in some places, a 2- to 3-feet of sand covering their land. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the application deadline set by Congress led to the money being primarily focused on disasters that happened earlier in 2011 but that didn’t mean farmers who suffered later damage wouldn’t get help. The deadline for the next round of funding is Jan. 31, but it’s unclear how much money will be given and whether it will come in time to help farmers and communities make repairs before this spring’s planting season. The farmers’ and communities’ best chance of getting some of the $215 million already allocated will be if other communities don’t use all the money they requested. Unused money is placed in a pot that could be redistributed, and about $452,000 leftover from past storms already has been used to help farmers in northwest Missouri, where 207,000 acres flooded last year.David Sieck, who has about 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans near Glenwood, Iowa, said it really bothered him that an arbitrary deadline was keeping some farmers and communities getting immediate access to the money. About half of land is in river bottoms and about three-fifths of that flooded last year. “Never ever do I remember a prolonged flood for 3 ½ months,” he said.

Missouri and Utah shared the bulk of the $308 million in disaster aid announced last week. Missouri received $50 million, while Utah got $60 million to deal with two rounds of flooding.

Harlan man charged with stalking his Ex


January 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A Harlan man was arrested last week on a charge of stalking his ex-wife twice in one week. According to the Harlan Police Department, a complaint was filed against 40-year old Anthony Thraen on January 17th, after he allegedly stalked his ex-wife Rebecca Schaben, by repeatedly parking across the street from her home, following her around town, and driving past her place of employment. On January 20th, Thraen was found to be in violation of a No Contact Order between him and Schaben. He was taken into custody and brought to the Shelby County Jail on a charge of violating the no contact order, and a second charge of stalking.

The H-P.D. says also, 41-year old Troy Gerard Smith, of Harlan, was arrested on a charge of Domestic Abuse Assault, after he allegedly assaulted his girlfriend at a residence on 5th Steet, January 21st.  That same day, 18-year old Matthew Scheuring, of Harlan, was arrested on a charge of Public Intoxication, after Harlan Police investigated a report of a person beating on a door, in the 2100 block of 8th Street.

Teens cited in Harlan for alcohol/tobacco violations


January 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Police Department reports four teens were arrested recently in connection with tobacco or alcohol-related violations. On January 19th, 17-year old Conrad Heilig, of Shelby, and 16-year old Derek Anderson, of Harlan, were cited for being minor’s in possession of tobacco, after officers investigated a suspicious vehicle at J-J Jensen Park.  The next day, 17-year old’s Evan Schaben, of Harlan, and Joseph Koke, of Woodbine, were cited for being minor’s in possession of alcohol, after officers patrolling the parking lot of the Harlan High School during a basketball game, observed the teens in a vehicle, with several empty beer cans nearby.

And, 16-year old Ryan Hedglin, of Shelby, was arrested January 24th, after officers were dispatched to the Fareway Food Store for a person who had allegedly taken a carton of cigarettes without paying for them. Hedglin was charged with 5th degree theft, and cited for being a minor in possession of tobacco.

All of the teens were cited for the alleged offense and released.

Drug arrest reported in Atlantic


January 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

An Atlantic man was arrested Thursday on drug charges. The Atlantic Police Department reports 51-year old Ricky Dean Anderson was taken into custody on a warrant for a Controlled Substance Violation, and on a felony charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance. Anderson was being held in the Cass County Jail, pending a court appearance.

SW IA Authorities searching for arson/burglary suspect


January 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Iowa Department of Public Safety said today (Friday), investigators with the State Fire Marshal Division and the Mills County Sheriff’s Office are looking for 30-year old Jason Anthony Vasquez.

Arson/burglary suspect Jason Vasquez

  Vasquez is wanted on an arrest warrant for 2nd Degree Arson and 2nd Degree Burglary, after an incident that occurred on February 12th, 2011 at approximately 7:06 AM.

On February 12, 2011, a manufactured home located at 516 Indian Avenue in Hastings, Iowa was broken into, and its contents intentionally set on fire.  The investigation revealed that two subjects, brothers 32-year old Domingo Ace Vasquez, and Jason Vasquez, were involved in an argument with family members in Council Bluffs in the early morning hours of February 12, 2011.  The brothers then returned to the home in Hastings where those family members were storing personal belongings, and ignited the personal items.

Warrants for the arrest of both Domingo and Jason Vasquez were issued in Mills County on Thursday, January 19, 2012.  On Friday, January 20, 2012, Domingo Ace Vasquez was arrested by the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office.  He is now in custody at the Mills County Jail, facing charges of 2nd Degree Arson and 2nd Degree Burglary.

Jason Vasquez remains at large and is believed to be in the Council Bluffs/Omaha area.  Anyone with information on Jason Vasquez’s whereabouts should immediately contact 911.

Iowa high court to review open records case, re: Atlantic Strip Search


January 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the details of disciplinary cases against public employees should be available to citizens who ask.  The court on Thursday said it would review an October decision from the Iowa Court of Appeals, which ruled 2-1 that the Atlantic Community School District did not have to release the level of discipline taken against high school employees responsible for improperly strip-searching several teenage girls.   The court ruled that discipline cases were exempt from the state’s public records law except in the case of firings, dismissing a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.  The group had argued the public’s need to know how an assistant principal and a guidance counselor were punished outweighed their privacy interests.

Atlantic School District Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstein told KJAN News today (Friday), that if the Iowa Supreme Court determines the matter needs to be determined at that level, he would “Certainly defer to the wisdom of the State Supreme Court to make that decision.” Amstein says “Other than that, all of arguments have already been made,” and right now they’ll just have to “Wait and see. I think that it’s an important case, but I think the district still stands on the orginal merits of that case, and we believe that employee discipline records are confidential.”

In August 2009, several girls were strip-searched in a locker room at the school after a classmate reported the theft of $100 from her purse. No money was found.  The district later issued a statement, saying, “After the investigation of all the facts involving the searches of several girls at the Atlantic High School several years ago, the Atlantic Community School District has determined that the searches violated the school’s policy and state law regarding school searches. The school district acknowledges that the involved girls did nothing wrong.” The district also paid $300,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the families of three girls who were subject to the strip search.