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Cass Co. Supervisors to act on appointment of Mental Health/GA Director

News

April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors are expected to act Wednesday on the Appointment of a full-time Mental Health/General Assistance Director. Deb Schuler has filled the position in the interim, following the termination of employment in February, of former long-time MH/DD/GA Director Teresa Kanning.

The Board will also act on: The appointment of an additional member to the Cass County Food Policy Council; An amended appropriation for the Medical Examiner’s Department, and on authorizing Board Chair Frank Waters to sign a Planning Grant Agreement with the Iowa Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, for a Multi-jurisdictional  Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) Update

The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) is funded by FEMA to provide grants to State and local governments to implement long-term mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration. The purpose of the program is to reduce loss of life and property resulting from natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during the recovery from a disaster. Cass County’s current plan
continues through mid-2015. Cass County’s application is for 2015 through 2020. The grant request is was for $53,000 ($39,750 Federal match; $5,300 State match; and $7,950 County {in-kind} match).

In other business, the Supervisors will review the bids and possibly award a contract for, a concrete box culvert project. The meeting begins at 8:30-a.m. in the Supervisor’s Board Room at the Cass County Courthouse.

Mills County arrest report

News

April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Mills County Sheriff’s Office reports four arrests over the past week. On Monday, 40-year old Heath Kaleb Vanegas, of Glenwood, was arrested on Highway 275 for OWI/2nd offense. His bond was set at $2,000. Last Saturday, 37-year old Sadie Jeanine Renander, of Omaha, was arrested for OWI/1st offense, and, 35-year old Dayton Ernest Tuper II, of Malvern, was arrested in Malvern, for Disorderly Conduct. Tuper’s bond was set at $300, while bond for Renander amounted to $1,000.

And, on Friday, 47-year old Heather Leigh McCord-Bennett, of Glenwood, was arrested on a Mills County warrant for Failure to Appear in court. Her bond was set at $300.

Mills County Sheriff’s Deputies also investigated two, non-injury accidents, one of which occurred late Monday night on Highway 34, the other happened late Friday morning on 284th Street.

Pott. County Trail system moving forward

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Pottawattamie County Trails Board is preparing the next steps for developing county-wide trails. In a press release, the board says they are engaging an engineering firm to begin surveying, designing and preparing cost estimates for Phase 1. The board continues to talk with private citizens asking for donations of any size including cash donations and gifts of grain or land and applying for various grants as they come available.

The Pottawattamie County Trails Board has been meeting regularly for the past few years to develop trails throughout the county and a small group of regular participants have been working hard to create a county-wide network to benefit all residents. Based on the plan, which was developed by the committee through public participation with assistance from the National Park Service RTCA program, the board has begun working to raise money and finalize the Phase 1 route from Council Bluffs to Neola and a second route from Council Bluffs to Hitchcock Nature Center. Both of the routes total nearly 27 miles and will be 10’ wide poured concrete trails.

The trails board has raised nearly $1 million toward their goal with the help of grants, local funding efforts and the Pottawattamie County Board of Supervisors support. The committee has also partnered with the Pottawattamie County Conservation Foundation as a way to receive donations until the board receives their 501©3 status. The plan going forward is to begin building phase 1 as early as spring 2015.

If you would like to donate to the project or volunteer to assist, contact the Pottawattamie County Trails Board members through their Facebook page by search “Pottawattamie County County-wide Trail Plan.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)

CAM and Nodaway Valley School Boards hold shared superintendent’s position

News

April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A joint meeting of the CAM and Nodaway Valley Community School Districts was held Monday evening at the Nodaway Valley Middle School, in Fontanelle. The meeting was designed to gauge the thoughts of both school boards and gather input, with regard to the possibility of the two districts sharing a superintendent.

CAM Superintendent Steve Pelzer told KJAN News that the boards discussed moving forward, that’s about as far as it got. He says there were no decisions made, it was merely conversation. Pelzer said both boards will likely discuss the matter separately during their respective meetings next month and made a decision on whether to proceed.

Pelzer was not ready to reveal whether there was any sort of consensus following Monday night’s meeting, on if the two districts are on the same page and want to continue moving forward. He said he doesn’t want to speak for either board as to how they feel about laying the groundwork for a possible future sharing option.

Pelzer did acknowledged that discussions have ceased with the Coon Rapids-Bayard School Board over a proposed sharing agreement, and he said there are currently no other districts courting CAM over the possibility of sharing, other than Nodaway Valley.

Districts typically explore a Superintendent sharing agreement with a neighboring school district because of the financial incentives offered by the State of Iowa. The Iowa Legislature passed operational sharing incentives equaling eight students for each district that is sharing a superintendent. The districts would be eligible for the incentive for five years. That amounts to about $50,000 per year.

8AM Newscast 04-29-2014

News, Podcasts

April 29th, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Iowa Assessment scores for Atlantic School District

News

April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Administrators with the Atlantic Community School District, Monday, presented the results of the 2014 Iowa Assessment of basic skills before the Board of Education. The results, summarized by Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstein, showed the work teachers and administrators did this past summer with regard to curriculum, made a difference in how the scores improved, in this, the second year of the Iowa Assessments, which replaced the Iowa Test of Basic Skills as a means of gauging student learning and achievement.

Amstein said “The toughest nut to crack here in our district…it’s gotta be the Middle School students, because they have so many things going on.” He says regardless of which test form is used, going up 20-points in a subject such as math, is attributed to the kids being better prepared in order to do that well. Amstein said “The good news is (The students) did well this year. The challenge is to maintain, and do better next year, and I think we have the capabilities to do that.”

Curriculum Director and Schuler Elementary School Principal James Northwick was excited at the trends, which showed Reading scores in grades three through 11 overall, were 79-percent, which was an increase of 10-percent over last year. Math was up 7-percent, to 83-percent overall. Science was up three-percent from last year to 81-percent. Middle School Principal Josh Rasmussen said his teachers and staff were “Very excited about the scores” they got back, because those students demonstrated the most improvement.

At the High School, Principal Heather McKay said the Junior-level Class of 2015, which she says has been their “Class of concern,” has made the least amount of growth in Reading, “But they still had growth.”  She said there’s more than can be done to improve the reading scores and that they’re anxious to see how some of what is currently happening in the elementary grade levels as far as improved reading skills will translate into scores once those students reach high school.

The district’s overall proficiency improved in all areas. In the Green Hills AEA survey, preliminary data indicates Atlantic will rank at least in the top third of schools tested in the AEA’s coverage area. The district will continue to strive for 85-percent proficiency.

7AM Newscast 04-29-2014

News, Podcasts

April 29th, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

House vote of 79-16 sends greyhound deal to governor

News

April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa House has given final legislative approval to a bill that will end greyhound racing at “Bluffs Run” in Council Bluffs and shift management of the Dubuque Greyhound Park from the casino in Dubuque to the Iowa Greyhound Association. The deal was negotiated by the dog owners and representatives of the two casinos who complained they’ve been spending 13-million dollars a year to subsidize a dying industry. Representative Mary Ann Hanusa is from Council Bluffs, where the Horseshoe Casino and community leaders have complained the property where the track sits now is needed for other development.

“This is a bill which represents joint agreement between the casinos and those representing the dog interests,” Hanusa said. Representative Vicki Lensing of Iowa City was the only other House member who spoke when the bill came up for a vote. “Over the years this has been something that we’ve worked on and in the last few months all of the parties have come together and agreed to the bill we now have before us, so it’s been an amazing journey,” Lensing said.

The deal will see the Council Bluffs casino pay 65 million dollars over the next seven years and the Dubuque casino will pay a million dollars a year. Half of that money will go into a retirement fund for greyhound owners and breeders who plan to get out of the business. The rest can be used by those who remain in the industry to run the Dubuque Greyhound Park.

The bill passed the House on a 79 to 16 vote and goes to Governor Branstad for his review. Lawmakers spent a great deal of Monday afternoon and early evening at the statehouse in private meetings, trying to come up with final agreements on key legislation so the work of the 2014 session can be concluded this week.

(Radio Iowa)

Legislature votes to create new tax credit for adoptive parents

News

April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The legislature has voted to establish a new tax credit for Iowa parents who adopt a child. If the governor signs the bill into law, Iowans could claim a credit of up to 25-hundred dollars per child for adoption-related expenses. Representative Chip Baltimore and his wife adopted a daughter and he urged his colleagues to pass the bill.

“I can personally attest due to the situation in my own family that adoption expenses can be very, very high,” Baltimore says. “We spend a lot of time in this chamber talking about human services and providing for families. We spend a lot of time in this chamber talking about the rights of unborn children and I think it behooves all of us as we sit here and we talk about all these other areas to rally behind this bill, to make sure that those children that are born under circumstances which may be less than favorable in a biological or birth family, that we do all we can to provide them with a loving, caring home.”

The bill would allow the credit for expenses like legal fees and the medical bills for the birth mother. “And home studies and all the other things that are out there that we try to do to make sure that children are placed into safe, loving homes — it is oftentimes a very expensive proposition,” Representative Baltimore says. Baltimore’s wife, Diana, was adopted and she founded the National Center for Adoption, a non-profit organization that promotes adoption and helps parents navigate the adoption process. The Baltimore family lives in Boone.

The Iowa Senate voted 48-to-zero on Monday afternoon to approve the new 25-hundred-dollar income tax credit for adoptive parents. The Iowa House approved the bill on a 95-to-one vote on April 15th.

(Radio Iowa)

Atlantic School Board approves teacher recommendations

News

April 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Community School District’s Board of Education Monday evening, approved recommendations from the District’s Principals for the hiring of new teachers. Superintendent Dr. Mike Amstein presented the names for approval to the board. First up was recommendations from Washington Elementary Principal Stacey Hornung.

She recommended, and the Board approved, the hiring of Jessica Larsen, who currently serves as a teacher for the Exira-EHK Schools, Ellie Hirschner, and Macy Silliman, of Winterset, a Drake University graduate with endorsements in Reading and Elementary Special Education. Hornung said they have not decided where those teachers will be placed within the district until the hiring process is complete. She did says those candidates were told it will be somewhere within the 2nd through 4th grades.

In addition, the Board approved a short list of teacher transfers to different positions within the district. The transfers include: Sheryl Hinzemann, Title I Math; Lisa Krogman, Small Group K-1/ Literacy; Steffani Tarrell, Title I Reading/ K-1; Stacy Johnson, second grade, and Lindsey Benning, third grade.

Atlantic High School Principal Heather McKay recommended, and the Board approved, Morgan Peterman as a new high school teacher. Peterman is a graduate of Northwest Missouri State University. They also approved Brielle Cerven as freshman ELL Support for Student Summer School. She currently serves as ESL Coordinator for the Atlantic School District.

There are still a handful of positions left to fill in the district, which is looking to replace a dozen educators who took advantage of an early retirement incentive designed to save the district nearly $1.8 million over the next five years, with a $385,000 saving the first year alone.