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County auditors open May 31 for early voters


May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — County auditors are opening their offices Saturday May 31 for voters who want to cast ballots early for the June 3 primary. Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz says voters not yet registered may register at their county auditor’s office using election day registration procedures and cast their ballot. The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is 5 p.m. Friday, May 30. Absentee ballots received in the county auditor’s office by 9 p.m. on June 3, are eligible for counting.

Schultz says his office also has developed a smart phone app that allows voters to check voter registration information, fill out the Iowa voter registration form, find the correct polling place, and request and track an absentee ballot.

SW IA teen seriously injured in Page County crash


May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa State Patrol says a teenager from southwest Iowa was injured during an accident Wednesday evening between his motorcycle and a pickup. 16-year old Payton Montana Casteel, of Coin, was flown by Mercy One helicopter to Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha following the collision, which happened at around 6:25-p.m. in the Page County town of Coin.

Authorities say a 1998 Dodge pickup driven by 47-year old Patricia Cherie Wray, of Coin, was traveling eastbound and slowing to turn left into a residential driveway at 608 Main Street. When Casteel attempted to pass on the left side, the 1989 Honda motorcycle he was driving hit the left side of the pickup. He told authorities he was not wearing a helmet.

Page County Sheriff’s Deputies and Coin Fire and Rescue assisted the State Patrol at the scene.

Report: Iowa 13th in nation for senior health


May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Iowa has dropped a few spots in an annual ranking of the states on the health of adults aged 65 and older. The United Health Foundation’s report places Iowa 13th in the nation for senior health, down from 7th last year. Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) medical director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says there’s plenty of positive news in the report, such as Iowa’s best-in-the-nation influenza vaccination rate among seniors.

“This means we do a pretty good job at protecting our seniors against one of the top 10 causes of death and that’s influenza and pneumonia,” Quinlisk says. The report shows just over 70-percent of Iowans 65-and-older got the flu vaccine last year. Nearly 30-percent of Iowa seniors are listed as being obese, placing the state as one of the worst in the nation in that category.

“This is an issue, obviously, because obesity can lead to other issues like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and other things that can very significantly impact our seniors and their health,” Quinlisk says. She notes the IDPH has several programs in place that are designed to improve older Iowans’ health. “We have quite a few programs that are trying to encourage people to get out there and move,” Quinlisk says. “Movement is basically anything that gets you up and off the couch, so you’re moving. It could be anything from walking around the block to gardening. It doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym, wearing workout clothes, and things like that.”

Volunteerism among Iowa seniors ranks 6th in the nation, according to the America’s Health Rankings Senior Report. You can view the report in its entirety at www.americashealthrankings.org/senior

(Radio Iowa)

Farmers Market Vouchers for Seniors 2014

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Connections Area Agency have announced that the state is continuing the Farmers Market voucher program for senior citizens. With this program, seniors meeting income requirements can obtain vouchers that they can use at participating area Farmers Markets to buy $30.00 worth of fresh, locally grown produce. If you have questions about eligibility, check with your local senior center. Applications for the vouchers will be available at your local senior center by May 28th.

Your completed application guarantees you a booklet, but there is a limited number, so contact your local senior center if you are interested in this program. Once you have a completed application, you can return to your local Senior Center on June 9th or thereafter, to pick up your vouchers. Seniors (age 60 and older) in Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie and Shelby counties will receive their vouchers through their local senior center.

Program Criteria:
· Must be at least 60 years of age or older
· Annual income must be less than
$21,590 Single
$29,101 Married
· Only one original application allowed per individual. No photocopies or duplicate applications allowed

Dates to Remember:
· May 28, 2014: Applications will be available at all local Senior Centers and in Council Bluffs at The Center, 714 S. Main
· June 9, 2014: Vouchers will be available for seniors with completed application forms at all local Senior Centers outside of Council Bluffs
· June 17, 2014: Council Bluffs Farmers’ Market voucher distribution at The Center, 714 S. Main from 9am – Noon for seniors with a completed application.

Iowa early News Headlines: Thu., May 22nd 2014


May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

FOREST CITY, Iowa (AP) — Dozens of workers are readying a field in Forest City for a weekend country music festival featuring Brad Paisley and Toby Keith. The Mason City Globe Gazette reports the TreeTown Music Festival is set to begin Friday evening and continue through Sunday. Crews plan to set up the 106-foot-wide main stage today.

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — A former Dubuque school board member has been given two years of probation for getting into an argument with a bus driver in a country club parking lot. The Telegraph Herald reports Dubuque District Court Senior Judge Lawrence Fautsch sentenced 51-year-old George Davis yesterday to probation with a deferred judgment. Davis was accused in October 2012 of pounding on the hood of a bus at the Dubuque Golf and Country Club. He later apologized for the confrontation.

CHARLES CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Charles City man faces federal weapons charges in connection to a high-speed chase in April. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports 21-year-old Franklin Foster faces multiple state charges in connection to the April 12th chase that cut through the city of Waverly. They include assault on a peace officer and trafficking stolen weapons.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A task force established by the Environmental Protection Agency to curtail farmland pollution that flows into the Mississippi River has reached an agreement with 12 universities, including Iowa State. The EPA says the agreement announced Wednesday brings additional expertise to develop farm runoff reduction strategies.

Health mandate halted at Iowa, Michigan schools


May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A judge has granted a temporary injunction to two Christian colleges in Iowa and Michigan that halts a federal mandate requiring them to provide insurance coverage for certain contraceptives.

U.S. District Judge Mark W. Bennett’s ruling Wednesday is in response to a lawsuit filed in October by Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The schools argue the mandate violates their religious freedoms.

Gregory S. Baylor is an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian law group representing the schools. He says in a statement that Christian colleges should “remain free to operate according to their defining beliefs.”

The Justice Department has said the lawsuit is meritless and an attempt to prevent female employees from obtaining coverage.

Atlantic School Board approves new hires and resignations


May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

In addition to approving a $2.2-million budget amendment during their special meeting Wednesday evening, the Atlantic School Board approved recommendations for new personnel, and resignations. Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstein said High School Principal Heather McKay recommended the hiring of Marcus Upchurch to fill one of the existing openings in the English Department.

McKay also recommended CCEOC/Special Ed teacher Karen Vogl for the eight-day Summer Program working with the CCEOC (Cass County Educational Opportunity Center) students, which allows them to earn credit. She also recommended Lori Parrott to facilitate the ALEKS Math Program (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces). The program is used extensively at the EOC, and will serve as a “Math Recovery” program for the summer.

District Technology Coordinator Roger Warne requested the Board approve Kyle Beemer as an assistant to fill vacancies created by an employee who is scheduled to have knee surgery, while another is on vacation. Kyle has worked with the district in the past in a similar position.

Maintenance Director Russell Peck, recommended recommend the hiring of Craig Lukehart for a summer groundskeepers/maintenance position. Washington Principal Stacey Hornung recommend the Board approve Marsha Vonseggern. She would be utilized in a junior Kindergarten position.

Resignations approved by the Board include Schuler Para-Educator Linda Shafer, and Kathleen Blake, Central Office Secretary to the Business Manager. High School Social Studies Teacher Trace Petersen is resigning from the Assistant Varsity Basketball Coaching position. Daniel Vargesen is resigning as Assistant Freshman Football Coach. Maria Oltmans, High School English Instructor is resigning to take a position in a school district closer to her family. There were also staffing changes in the Food Service Department.

Administrators in the district noted there are still some teaching and/or coaching positions left to fill in the coming weeks.

Atlantic School Board approves 2.2-million budget amendment


May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic School Board held a special meeting Wednesday evening at the high school and after much discussion, voted to approve a $2.2-million budget amendment for the 2013-2014 school year. The action came after the Board held a public hearing, during which there were no comments. Business Manager Mary Beth Fast explained there are four areas where a budget could be exceeded that would require a budget amendment. They include Construction, Support Services, Non-instructional programs and Total “Other” expenditures.

Atlantic School Board acts on Budget Amendment. (Ric Hanson/photo)

Atlantic School Board acts on Budget Amendment. (Ric Hanson/photo)

She said if a district exceeds expenses in any one of those areas, the budget should be amended. Fast said nearly 50-percent of Iowa’s school districts amend their budget at some point in time, some more than once. It is especially common she said, when a construction project is underway or was recently completed. The bulk of the Atlantic School District’s budget amendment comes in the area of Support Services.

Mary Beth said the biggest expenses came as the result of the installation wireless system at the Middle School, the Access Control System, Auditorium repairs/lights and sound, and the purchase of two new buses. Those items total around $303-thousand.

Board member Rod Hartwig was concerned about the 42-percent adjustment in the budget and wanted to know where the other $1.9-million is coming from. Fast says she’s “Hoping that’ll more than cover” what the district will need, but she “Would rather err on the side of certifying too much or amending too much, than to cut it close and have that area be exceeded.”  She went on to describe other expenses, much of which were computer-related.

The $2.2-million she said, would cover any additional expenses (bills) that arrive before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1st. Board President Kristy Pellett said she too, was concerned with the large amendment. She said if they failed to sufficiently plan for it 18-months ago, they need to make sure the plan for what they can spend, in the future.

Districts have until May 31st to amend their budget and submit it to their county auditor, or as late as June 30th, but if there was a protest from members of the community, there wouldn’t be enough time for the Iowa State Appeals Board to review render a decision, therefore the amendment would be void. Mary Beth Fast answered the question of “Why do you wait so long to amend your budget?,” by saying  districts are sometimes faced with unexpected expenditures, such as when the purchase of a bus is billed in one fiscal year instead of another, the timing of construction project and payments, curriculum materials being delivered before the end of the current budget year, and damages caused by severe weather that are not immediately reimbursed by insurance.

AMU Scam Alert


May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Police Department is warning area citizens about a phone scam that is occurring in the Atlantic area. Officials say several customers of the Atlantic Municipal Utilities have been called and told that their electrical service will be disconnected unless the customer provides the caller with bank information.

Officials say if you receive a call from someone claiming to be from AMU who is requested financial information, hang up immediately. Atlantic Municipal Utilities will not call its customers requesting that type of information over the phone.

AMU says if your account is past due, you will be contacted by an individual who will provide their name and indicate that they are with Atlantic Municipal Utilities. In addition, prior to being disconnected for a delinquency, you would receive a written notice from AMU. Also, any calls from AMU staff will come from a local number, not a 1-800 number.

If you receive one of the scam calls or have a question about the status of your account, contact AMU directly at 243-1395.

Boom truck accident victim identified


May 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Dallas County have identified a man who died after falling from a boom truck Tuesday morning, while installing a power line. According to the Sheriff’s Office, 39-year-old David Denger, of Panora, died at the scene of the accident located about two-miles north of Dexter. Denger was working on installing power lines at around 10-a.m., when he fell about 50-feet to the ground, from the bucket of a boom truck.

The incident remains under investigation.