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Atlantic City Council passes 1st reading of amended zoning ordinance

News

February 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council Wednesday evening, passed the first reading of an amendment to the City’s Zoning Ordinance, which would allow changing the Zoning classification of some lots in the Southern Heights 2nd Addition, from R-2 (Low Density/Single Family) to R-4 (Multi-family). The vote followed a public hearing, during which there were comments from Don Sonntag, the local developer who proposes the construction of multi-family homes, with half of them being upscale rental units, running about $750 to $800 per month.  Sonntag says there are still numerous steps remaining before construction could begin, even if the Council does approve the Zoning change.

One of those steps would be his application to the City for a TIF – Tax Increment Financing- District, to make the project “Cash Flow.” The second, and next step, is an “Official” approval of the site plan. The City’s Planning and Zoning Commission has provided a verbal approval of the plan, but Sonntag said he needs to invest $7,500 to nail down the grade, elevation, sewer and water, and other such details.

Sonntag, who spoke in the third person when referring to concerns about what would happen if his health deteriorated and he wasn’t able to follow-through with plans to construct in an R-4 zone, or, if there is enough objection to the rezoning.  He said he would be willing to stipulate in the agreement, that it could be rezoned back to R-2. And, if he wasn’t able to move forward, the ground could still be used for someone who wishes to construct a 24 or 30-unit apartment house. Properties to the east and west of the proposed development are already zoned R-4.

Earlier in the meeting, the Council discussed traffic flow concerns on 19th Street, west of Redwood Drive, as it pertains to the rezoning of the parcel. Mayor Dave Jones says the concerns were addressed at a couple of recent meetings of the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission. He says prior to word getting out about the proposed zoning change, there were no known problems with 19th Street, and that includes issues affecting police, and/or fire and rescue.

Jones said he wants the Community Development Committee to review the recommendations from the Police and Fire Chief, along with Medivac Ambulance and others, before any decision is made on the future of 19th Street, including whether it should be made a thoroughfare, and connected to Olive Street to alleviate any real or perceived traffic problems.

Head of veterans home seeks better PTSD treatment

News

February 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The head of a state veteran’s home says vets need better access to treatment for post-traumatic stress disorders coupled with substance abuse. Last session, the Legislature asked David Worley, head of the Iowa Veterans Home, to study the need for a treatment program for veterans diagnosed with disorders related to post-traumatic stress disorder , or PTSD.

Worley told House lawmakers Wednesday there is a need, and he stressed that many veterans have difficulty getting to Marshalltown to seek treatment. Legislators didn’t discuss how much a new program would cost, but Worley says federal and state grants might be available. Worley says on average, 20 percent of all combat veterans are eventually diagnosed with PTS which leads to illegal substance abuse.

Iowa GOP lawmakers back bill restricting abortions

News

February 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican lawmakers are introducing legislation that would outlaw abortion and allow prosecution of doctors in Iowa. Rep. Tom Shaw, of Laurens, says he’s trying to protect human life, whether “you’re a zygote, an infant, a teenager or an adult.” The bill he introduced Wednesday would prohibit abortion from the moment of conception. Doctors who perform abortions could be charged with murder. Shaw says he believes the bill wouldn’t violate the U.S. Constitution, but Jill June, president of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, disagreed. She calls the bill an extreme attempt to restrict abortion and says it would clearly be unconstitutional. The bill’s prospects in the House are unclear, and it likely would face problems in the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority.

Audubon woman charged with assault

News

February 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Audubon County Sheriff’s Office reports one person was arrested early this (Wednesday) morning, on an assault charge. 19-year old Samantha Christine Malloy, of Audubon, was taken into custody at around 1-a.m., following an investigation into an incident which allegedly occurred in the 200 block of south Fairview, in Exira. Malloy was charged with Assault, and brought to the Audubon County Jail where she was later released on a signature bond. She’s scheduled to appear in court Thursday at 9-a.m.

Shelby County BOS waiting on Hotel-Motel tax funding from Shelby Co. Chamber

News

February 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Shelby County Board of Supervisors is exploring options for use of the Hotel/Motel Tax Money. During their regular meeting on Tuesday, Supervisor Roger Schmitz reported that the new Hotel/Motel Tax Fiscal Agent, the Shelby County Auditor, has not received the funding from the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce. Back in January 8th, the Supervisors and Harlan City Council agreed to a resolution to make the Shelby County Auditor the fiscal agent of the Hotel/Motel Tax Money. According to Schmitz, the Chamber was supposed to transfer the money on January 9th. However, during the meeting, Schmitz said that has not happened.

He said “According to their rules, they have to have a Chamber meeting to transfer the money. They had the meeting on the 28th. And what I get out of it, [is that Shelby County Chamber Director Dawn Cundiff] did not have the necessary paper work to do that so they did not transfer the money.” Schmitz asked Shelby County Attorney Marcus Gross if the chamber could write out a check from the tax money. Gross said “We’ve notified their bank that the fiscal agent has changed and that they honor any checks made out by the Chamber at their peril. We don’t know whether there have been any. I guess we will see. I think from an audit standpoint…hey couldn’t write a check out. From a legal standpoint…because they are still the signatory of the account, they probably could. That is why we sent the letter to their bank.”

Gross says that is not the only letter he wrote out as he sent one directly to the Chamber. He said “I also wrote a letter to them to give them a short time to transfer those funds to the Auditor. You’ve previously indicated that you were not going to collect any monies owned to the fund by the chamber: That would be something you could reconsider if you do not receive the current funds in the account. There are other legal options as well that you could consider.”

If the money has not been transferred by Friday, the Shelby County Supervisors will be taking action on the Hotel/Motel Tax money at their next meeting on Tuesday, February 12th.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)

Post Office to end Saturday delivery in August

News

February 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The U-S Postal Service announced today (Wednesday) that it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays starting in August, in a plan to save two-billion dollars a year. It’s unfortunate, but not a surprise to Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, who says the financially-struggling, quasi-governmental agency has been hemorrhaging billions.  “There are some things that we can do here,” Grassley says. “We could modify their health benefits plan, their unemployment plan. We can allow them to raise postal rates at more than the CPI.”

That’s the Consumer Price Index, the benchmark that’s used in determining the fairness of price hikes. The Postal Service reported nearly 16-billion dollars in losses for its last budget year and expects even larger losses in 2013. The losses last year were triple the losses from the previous year. The problem isn’t just the popularity of e-mail, but also the costs for future postal retirees’ health benefits, which made up for 11-billion dollars of the near-16-billion in losses.

The post office is a business and they have to seek their own revenue and if Saturday delivery is part of their efficiency,” Grassley says. “They’ve already got their employment down below a half a million. How much further it has to go down, I don’t know.”

While Saturday mail delivery to homes and businesses across Iowa and nationwide will end in August, the Postal Service will continue to deliver packages six days a week. P-O boxes will still get mail on Saturdays and post offices that are now open Saturdays will remain open on Saturdays.

Theft-related arrest in Shenandoah Wednesday

News

February 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Shenandoah Police Department report the arrest this (Wednesday) morning of Jeff Ponton. The 35-year old from Shenandoah faces a misdemeanor charge of Theft in the 3rd degree. Ponton was being held at the Page County jail.

Panel OKs plan to send money back to taxpayers

News

February 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – State lawmakers continue to debate what Iowa should do with surplus budget dollars. Should they put the money into services and programs or give it directly to taxpayers? A House subcommittee today (Wednesday) discussed Republican-sponsored legislation that would use the state’s surplus funds to provide credits to taxpayers.

Rep. Peter Cownie of West Des Moines says individual taxpayers would get $369 income tax credits. He says the plan would cost over $500 million and calls it the fairest way to deal with the money.  But Democrats and advocates questioned whether this was the best use of state funds, saying it would be better to spend the money on services and infrastructure.

The subcommittee approved the bill. It now goes to the full committee for deliberation.

Hillaker talks about the climate and chances for rain

News, Weather

February 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Climatologist Harry Hillaker paid a visit to Atlantic, Tuesday, speaking to a group at the Cass County Community Center. He also sat down with KJAN’s Jim Field, to discuss the drought, and chances for rain this year. Hillaker says last Summer, Atlantic made the record books for the least amount of precipitation in one month. The trace of rain we received at KJAN…the official National Weather Service reporting site for Atlantic…tied the record for the lowest rainfall in July.

He says following a good start to the growing season, with above normal precipitation in June, July was a terrible time for the crops. Still, he says overall Iowa’s crops weathered the hot dry Summer without much difficulty. He said “It wasn’t a great year by any means, but not as bad as, in most cases, what people would have guessed.” Hillaker says the concern now is with what this year has in store. He said “Iowa is kind of blessed, in that it has such good soils,” with a high-capacity to hold any moisture it receives. Eastern Iowa he says, fared better than the southwest part of the state precipitation-wise over the Fall and Winter, but the picture doesn’t look all that bad for us for now, anyway.

He said things were in the “ballpark of normal” last Fall…dry, but not extremely dry…certainly not as bad as 2011. Hillaker says any moisture we did get made its way into the ground. And, there’s still the months of March and April ahead of us, as well as parts of May, before the soil starts to use up the moisture it has stored. He says there’s a 50-50 chance we’ll be in “pretty good shape” locally, for soil moisture to start off the season. Hillaker says far northwest Iowa, northwest of a Sioux City to Mason City line, has had an extremely dry fall, and it would be a stretch for even a “normal” amount of precipitation to turn that situation around this Spring.

He says looking back at the drought records, they’ve found 20 other occasions where there was an unusually strong combination of heat and dryness. The records also indicated a pattern. And it’s not a very nice pattern, according to Hillaker, in that the season following a drought in Iowa, has also been on the “dry side of normal.” He says the rainfall may not be as low as in the previous year, and the temperature may not be as hot, but we can still expect it to be warmer than normal, and drier than normal.

He says people need to be prepared for a possible water shortage this Summer.

NW Iowa woman charged with 2 Nebraska crash deaths

News

February 6th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DAKOTA CITY, Neb. (AP) – A woman from northwest Iowa has been charged with vehicular homicide for the Nebraska crash deaths of a 57-year-old woman and her 3-year-old granddaughter.  Twenty-seven-year-old Heather Reisdorph, of Sioux City, has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts.

Authorities say her vehicle ran into the back of one that was waiting to turn left off U.S. Highway 75/77 south of Dakota City on Jan. 6. The impact pushed the vehicle into oncoming traffic, where it was struck by another vehicle.   Patricia Oldenburg, of Homer, Neb., and her granddaughter, Regan Coenen, of Sioux City, Iowa, died. Eight-year-old Braden Coenen was injured.