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Investigators: Harlan woman killed in I-80 crash Jan. 13th near Avoca, was texting

News

January 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A Harlan woman who died January 13th when her vehicle crossed the median of Interstate 80 and was hit broadside by a semi near Avoca, was apparently texting her boyfriend just moments before the crash. Investigators with the Iowa State Patrol say texting and driving was likely the major contributing factor in a crash that killed 22-year-old Nikki Johnston.

The woman’s family told authorities she had texted her boyfriend at 12:53 p.m., asking him what she wore on their first date. Minutes later, her boyfriend texted her a picture from their first date. Johnston received that text at the same time as the first 911 call from the scene of the crash near Avoca. That call came from the driver of a vehicle which was directly behind Johnston.

Investigators said Johnston lost control of her car and went through a grass median before a semi-truck heading east broadsided her at about 70 mph.Johnston died on impact. Family members said she was on her way to work at Tac Air in Omaha at the time of the crash.Her phone was found intact.Investigators said they conducted several tests and ruled out a mechanical malfunction as an explanation for the crash. They said texting was likely the major contributing factor.

Johnston’s family told Omaha television station KETV, they don’t want to believe texting caused the crash that killed their oldest daughter, and they think there’s more to the crash than distracted driving.

88 dogs rescued from squaller in Sac County

News

January 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) say 88 dogs living in deplorable conditions were removed from a property near Kiron, in Sac County, Wednesday.

Cocker Spaniel w/matted hair before being treated (Courtesy ARL)

 The conditions caused the dogs, most of which were Cocker Spaniels, to suffer from severely matted hair and other health problems. The animals have since been moved to ARL shelters in Des Moines, Carroll, Boone, Cedar Rapids and Sioux City.

Officials say six of the dogs may be pregnant. A total of 18 will remain with the Animal Rescue League in Des Moines to undergo veterinary care and grooming, officials said. Once healthy, the dogs will be put up for adoption. League officials say donations of money and dry dog and puppy food will help cover veterinary expenses.

Same dog, after hair trimmed and cleaned up (Courtesy ARL of IA)

West Harrison H.S. Principal accused of de-panting female student

News

January 26th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Harrison County have been called to investigate an alleged incident involving a teenaged girl and the principal of the West Harrison High School, in Mondamin. Sheriff Patrick Sears said school officials called his office after a  freshman at the high school accused her principal of pulling her pants down to her knees in front of fellow students. School officials are not talking about the Friday afternoon incident.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, the incident involved 15-year old Callie Merriman,  who plays guard on the girls basketball team, and Principal Mike Loftin, who coaches the varsity squad. Merriman told the paper the team was about to board a bus for a game when the incident allegedly took place. The teen was wearing warm-up pants but had forgotten her shorts at home that day. She said she went home to grab them, but they were still in her purse. Merriman and some teammates were leaving the girls locker room, and she says when she came out, she was standing by the boys locker room, the coach was talking, and she said – quote – “I guess he meant it as a joke and just yanked at my warm-up pants.” The girl says she screamed she wasn’t wearing any pants underneath the warmups, which went down to her knees. She said she immediately went to the ground try to hide her underwear and pulled her pants back up. On the bus after the incident, Merriman said Loftin apologized repeatedly and offered to buy her candy.

Superintendent Joel Foster would not comment and declined to say whether Loftin was still employed or had been suspended, describing the incident as a personnel matter. He did tell The World-Herald that Loftin had worked for the district for about a year and a half. The district’s website indicates Loftin is principal of grades 7-12. Merriman said Loftin has not been seen at the school since the incident. Loftin reportedly told an Omaha television station school officials suspended him pending while an investigation into the alleged incident is being conducted by the sheriff’s office. He said the allegations were blown out of proportion.

No charges have been filed.

Worker injured in backhoe accident in Iowa

News

January 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

CRESCENT, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say the operator of a backhoe was injured when the machine tipped over and landed in a small body of water near Crescent in western Iowa. The Pottawattamie County sheriff’s office reports two men were working with the backhoe Wednesday morning when the accident happened. Officials say one man was trapped inside the water-filled cab and his co-worker had to break to glass of the cab to get him out. The operator was taken to a hospital to be treated for hypothermia and cuts to his hands from the glass.

County still dealing with Council Bluffs levees

News

January 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Pottawattamie County supervisors are starting over on the nagging question of who’s responsible for repairing the levees north of Council Bluffs. The levees had about a dozen breeches during summer flooding on the Missouri River. However, since the county doesn’t own them and didn’t provide maintenance before the flooding, just who can apply for federal or state funding to fix the problems remains up in the air. Supervisor Scott Belt told the board Tuesday that after the county was told it can’t receive help, government agencies are still asking for information. County Engineer John Rasmussen says he continues to gather information, and if agencies request it, he sends it. The county continues to explore developing a levee district to deal with the repairs.

Harrison County man takes plea deal in Nebraska murder case

News

January 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A 29-year-old Iowa man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Omaha after making a deal with prosecutors.    Online court records say Justin Reinders, of Persia, Iowa, made the plea Tuesday in Douglas County, NE.,  District Court. He’d been charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Milton Jackson.  Police say Reinders shot Jackson, of Omaha, on Jan. 6th, 2011,  at a lubrication business on the city’s west side.  Reinders also pleaded guilty to a felony firearms charge.  Reinders faces 25 or more years in prison when he’s sentenced on April 4th. The other murder charge carries either the death penalty or mandatory life in prison.

New Timeline feature of Facebook to soon be mandatory

News

January 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Some users of the popular social networking website Facebook are being told the new Timeline format will become mandatory in another week. While some of us are hesitant to depart from our familiar profile page, central Iowa social media expert Drew McLellan has already made the leap and says it was a simple, step-by-step process. “The one thing you do need to think about is one of the main features on the Timeline,” McLellan says. “That cover photo, that long horizontal photo becomes the header to your Facebook page. You’re going to want to think about what photo you want to have and have that ready to upload.” The new Timeline feature re-arranges items on the page and orders posts, pictures and everything else based on reverse chronological order. Most recent items are at the top with the ability to scroll all the way back to the year a person was born.

“There are parts of it I do like,” McLellan says. “I like the layout of it, but I’m not so sure that I’m going to spend a lot of time on my friends’ profile pages, flipping back to their birth years and all of that sort of stuff.” While it may take some Iowans a little time to get the hang of the new format, McLellan says it’s a masterful way for Facebook to give itself staying power, especially for younger users. “Imagine a kid is 14 or 15 and they just opened a Facebook page,” McLellan says. “Fast forward ten years. Literally, their entire life is going to be chronicled and easy to find on Facebook. It really does become almost like a scrapbook of your life.” The website claims to have 700-million members globally and McLellan says he doesn’t see anything else on the horizon that could challenge Facebook — though he admits, something new could come out tomorrow.

“For a lot of people, Facebook has become ‘the’ place that they have the widest connection of old friends and new friends and work friends and college friends,” McLellan says. “It’s hard to imagine unraveling that and starting all over again somewhere else, but in the social media world, you never say never.” Iowans need to get used to the Timeline structure of Facebook, as it will be forced upon all users within another few weeks, some sooner than others. Privacy settings sometimes get jumbled with this sort of major shift in the program, so he recommends taking a close look at all of your settings, and for parents, especially those of your child’s page.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)

Cass Supervisors appoint Pymosa Township Clerk and Conservation Board Mbrs

News

January 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors today (Wednesday) approved the appointment of Kristy Pellett, of Atlantic, as Clerk for the Pymosa Township, effective immediately. The position of Trustee for the Township has yet to be filled, however. The Board also approved the immediate appointment of LuAnne Beth Steffens, of Griswold, to the County Conservation Board.  Supervisor Chuck Rieken said Steffens’ appointment will help the County in its mandated efforts at Gender Balancing the various County Boards.

In other business, the Supervisors heard a report from County Veterans Affairs Commissioner Mitch Holmes, who said the number of claims filed for assistance in the 2nd Quarter of Fiscal Year 2011-2012 were down slightly less than 30 from the previous quarter, primarily due to the reduced number of applications for energy assistance, thanks to the warmer weather we’ve been experiencing. Holmes said there’s a positive sign for veterans who might be looking for work. He says his office has been receiving calls from local employers looking to hire veterans, and while he’s helped to put some vets in contact with those employers, he doesn’t know what the results of any interviews were. 

And, Joel Dirks, with West Central Community Action (WCCA) provided his agency’s Annual Report. The organization serves to administer several programs in the County as alternatives to General Relief, including Head Start, Child Care Resource and Referral, the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program, and Emergency Food and Shelter (EFS) Programs. Dirks says WCCA provided a little more than $2-million in services to residents of the County last year. They worked with 750 households, made up to a little more than 1,700 individuals. Many of those persons include Single parent/female heads of households, and single-person households, which is attributed in-part to LiHeap – the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. 

59-percent of those households had an income below 100-percent of the poverty guideline. 32-percent have a household income between 101- and 150% of the poverty guideline. The annual federal poverty guideline (100%) during the reporting period for a family of four, was $22,350. Dirks said 22% of their individual clients in Cass County have no health insurance, and 20% are disabled. Last year, the Supervisors appropriated $3,000 to WCCA. When Dirks asked for the same amount from them for the upcoming fiscal year, his request was unanimously  approved by the Board.

Celebration to mark CAM’s “Blue Ribbon School” Award today (Wednesday)

News

January 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here’s a reminder from “The Station Where Your Friends Are”: A celebration will take place this afternoon at the CAM High School in Anita, to honor the former staff, teachers, board members and students of CAM North Elementary School, which received a 2011 “Blue Ribbon School” award in Mid-September. CAM North was formally known as the Anita Elementary School. The celebration along with a recognition ceremony and speech from a returning Anita High School alumna, will take place at 1-p.m., at the high school.

A reception and open house will continue at the elementary building after the ceremony, until 4-p.m. (Students will be dismissed at 2:30-p.m.) Invitations were sent to former staff and board members from recent years at the school, but all former teachers, staff and board members are welcome to attend.

The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and non-public elementary, middle, and high schools where students achieve at very high levels and/or where the achievement gap is narrowing. The Program sets a standard of excellence for all schools striving for the highest level of achievement.

8AM Newscast 01-25-2012

News, Podcasts

January 25th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

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