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Auditor’s review prompts Rx inventory changes at Cherokee MHI


November 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A spot check by the state auditor’s office has led to changes in how staff at the Mental Health Institute in Cherokee handle prescription medications. The auditor’s review raised concerns about the inventory of prescription drugs kept at the Mental Health Institute in Cherokee. It cited a “lack of segregation.” Officials say the pharmacist and pharmacy technicians at the M-H-I were not routinely following established procedures, but now, one technician receives the prescription drugs and someone else logs it into the pharmacy’s inventory.

The auditor’s review also raised concerns about bookkeeping at the Mental Health Institute in Clarinda. Cash deposits were being made, but they were not within the 10-day window required by law. Staff in Clarinda started to make deposits once a week after the auditor flagged the problem. Governor Branstad closed the facility this summer.

(Radio Iowa)

State spending on residents of MHIs evaluated by auditors


November 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A review from the state auditor’s office shows just how much the state has been spending to care for mentally ill patients who’ve been residents of the state-run hospitals in Clarinda, Cherokee, Independence and Mount Pleasant. Only two of those Mental Health Institutes are open today. Governor Branstad closed the M-H-Is in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant this summer.

According to the auditor’s calculations, it cost more than 160-thousand dollars a year to care for a resident in Mount Pleasant’s M-H-I. It cost about twice that much to care for a patient in the M-H-I in Clarinda. The state spent 440-thousand dollars per resident at the M-H-I in Independence. Cherokee’s costs were highest, at more than half a million dollars per patient.

However, the auditor’s report says that figure includes some of the out-patient services provided by Cherokee’s M-H-I, but the data wasn’t available to auditors to separate how much was spent on in-patient care and on out-patient care at Cherokee.

(Radio Iowa)

Absentee ballots available for Dec. 8th Special Election in House D-21


November 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Auditor’s Office reports requests for Absentee Ballots in advance of the December 8th Special Election to fill a vacant Iowa State Representative District 21 Seat, may be sent or brought to the County Auditor’s office. Last day to request an absentee ballot to be voted by mail is December 4th, 2015.

An Absentee Ballot is one cast prior to ‘election day’ by mail or at the County Auditor’s office. If you need to vote by mail: A written request may be mailed or hand delivered to the County Auditor’s office. (Absentee request forms are available at the auditor’s office and on the Secretary of State’s web site: sos.state.ia.us). A ballot along with instructions on how to complete the ballot will be mailed to the requester.

For the ballot to be counted the completed ballot then must be returned either by personal carrier to the office of County Auditor before close of polls on December 8 or returned by mail postmarked no later than December 7. All ballots must be returned whether voted or not voted.

In order to vote in Iowa a person must be registered in the person’s current county of residence, under the person’s present name, and at the person’s current address. Registration forms are available at the county auditor’s office, many State of Iowa service offices and on the Secretary of State’s web site: sos.state.ia.us.

The county election commissioner recommends that persons not currently registered or who have moved since last registering and are planning to vote in the December Special General Election, pre-register in the office of the County Auditor as soon as possible. You may register or re-register and vote absentee on the same day. Last day to pre-register for this special election is Monday, November 30.

Persons choosing to vote at the Cass County Courthouse prior to December 8 may come to the Cass County Courthouse during the regular office hours of 8-a.m. and 4:30-p.m., Monday thru Friday, up through the day before the election, complete a request form, and then cast a ballot immediately. In addition to regular office hours, the office of Cass County Auditor will be open Monday, November 30, 2015 from 8-a.m. to 5-p.m., and Saturday, December 5, 2014 from 9-a.m. to 5-p.m.

Community Study Group Formed to Recommend Location and Scope for New Police Headquarters in Council Bluffs


November 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Council Bluffs Police Chief Tim Carmody reports eleven community members from across Council Bluffs are coming together to study the facility needs of the Council Bluffs Police Department, and to assist technical consultants in preparing an analysis that will help the city determine the best possible option for an adequate home for the police department.

Bluffs BadgeThe study group members come from all walks of life and reside or work in areas that cover all sectors of the community. They will meet several times over the next three months to tour the current police station, tour modern law enforcement centers, scout potential locations throughout the community, and forward their recommendations to the city officials. Meetings began this week at the Council Bluffs Public Library.

The meetings are open to the general public to observe, but space is limited. The city recently retained Hoefer Wysocki Architects of Leawood, Kan. to perform the formal technical analysis to determine appropriate space and functional needs for the police department, as well as conduct a site location analysis with the assistance from a local engineering firm, JEO Consulting Group. The all-volunteer community study group will work closely with the technical project team to inform the technical analysis efforts and also to gain any information they require to provide non-binding recommendations to the city.

The study group will have a neutral facilitator to assist their research and with forming their recommendations to the city. An extensive public information effort will be centered on the study group’s work, culminating in an open house public meeting in mid-February to gain public comment on the group’s recommendations before those recommendations are provided to the city.

Additional information will be available at the study group’s kick off meeting and throughout the analysis process.

Traffic changes near I-29 and the U.S. 275/IA 92 interchange to begin Nov. 24


November 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – Nov. 20, 2015 – Local motorists and holiday travelers should be aware of several traffic changes in the area of Interstate 29 and the U.S. 275/Iowa 92 interchange beginning Tuesday, Nov. 24, weather permitting, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.IA DOT

Traffic impact

  • Construction crews will shift northbound traffic on I-29 to the newly constructed northbound lanes after the morning commute.
  • Motorists should continue to be cautious throughout the construction area as additional minor changes and shifts will occur over the next few weeks on I-29, in both directions, north and south of the interchange.
  • The on-ramp to northbound I-29, which has been closed since April, will be reopened on Monday, Dec. 7, weather permitting.
  • The northbound I-29 off-ramp will remain closed until spring 2016.

Iowa DOT is in the process of reconstructing I-29, I-80, and I-480 in the Council Bluffs metropolitan area. This comprehensive interstate redesign will modernize the highway system and improve mobility and safety of approximately 18 miles of interstate. Motorists are encouraged to allow for extra travel time while this interstate improvement takes effect. If you would like more information about detours and traffic impacts visit the program website, www.CouncilBluffsInterstate.IowaDOT.gov.

DPS to Donate Thanksgiving Meals in All 99 Counties


November 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

On Monday, November 23, 2015, the Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS), will package full Thanksgiving meals that will be donated to one family in need in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.  The Iowa DPS recognizes that there are many families in need this holiday season and organized a collection within the Department raising over $5,000.

DPS_2011_150Fareway Stores, Inc. offered their assistance by gathering a full-sized turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, a five pound bag of potatoes and a pie for each of the 99 families.  The remaining funds will be distributed to 15 food banks around Iowa.

“Our Department serves this entire state through our six divisions and several bureaus.  We are in all 99 counties working on a daily basis. We felt this would be a great way to give back to the communities we live in and serve, especially when they are in need this holiday season,” DPS Commissioner Roxann Ryan said.

Iowa State Patrol Troopers, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) Special Agents and other Iowa Department of Public Safety members will hand deliver the meals to the families, as well as the checks to the food banks that afternoon.

The Department of Public Safety would like to thank Fareway for their assistance in making this project possible.

Harvest Market offers you a chance to stock-up for Thanksgiving, & more!

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce and Atlantic Community Promotion Commission have teamed-up to bring you a one-day chance to buy local baked goods and more, just in-time for your thanksgiving festivities. Emily Ullerich-Paulsen is one of the many area resident/vendors who will be working hard this weekend in order to prepare for the Harvest market, set to take place from 3:30-until 7:30-p.m. Monday, Nov. 23rd, at the Cass County Community Center, in Atlantic. She says there’ll be a wide variety of crafts, produce and baked goods on hand.

Ullerich-Paulsen says there’ll be varieties of squash, sweet potatoes and even tomatoes at the Harvest Market, plus honey, organic soaps and lotions, some of which are made from goats milk. The event also offers you a chance to purchase handcrafted items for those hard-to-please persons on your Christmas shopping list, including jewelry.  She says you’ll probably be able to find scarves, Christmas wreaths and more.

Emily plans to bring homemade baked goods, including hand-and regular-sized pies, raspberry Danishes, cinnamon rolls and more. She and the more than two-dozen other vendors will also be taking orders for their baked goods.

There’s also kids activities, tasting samples, and much more at the Harvest Market. There’s no charge for you to check out all that’ll be offered.

Stocking up for Thanksgiving? Expect to pay 6% more overall


November 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The upcoming weekend is typically a very busy one for Iowa grocery stores as consumers stock up on supplies for next week’s Thanksgiving dinner. Despite fears turkey prices would skyrocket due to this spring’s bird flu outbreak, U-S-D-A economist Annemarie Kuhns says turkey prices have actually dropped in the past week and are only up a few cents a pound from a year ago.

tgivs_dins“This is the main attraction for your Thanksgiving meal and retailers tend to offer deep discounts on their turkeys to bring people into the store,” Kuhns says. Iowans may find frozen turkeys selling for as low as 59-cents a pound, however, many of those beloved side dishes may cost more to prepare. Sweet potato prices are up nearly 28-percent from a year ago while russet potatoes are up more than eight-percent.

Egg prices are up significantly from 2014, in large part, due to the bird flu outbreak. She says a dozen eggs will run you a full dollar more. “On average, $2.97,” Kuhns says. “They cost $1.97 at this time last year.” Kuhns says the price of green beans, milk and cranberries are all down this year. Iowa remains the nation’s number-one hog producer and Kuhns says now is a good time to buy ham as prices are down a half-a-dollar. “Per pound ham prices are about $4.13 this year,” she says. “Last year, they cost about $4.63.”

Overall, it’s estimated the Thanksgiving dinner will cost about six-percent more than last year’s big meal.

(Radio Iowa)

Are you ready for some winter driving?


November 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Ready or not, here it comes. Iowa Department of Transportation officials remind you that the first snowfall each year provides a new learning experience when it comes to winter driving skills. First off, evaluate the need for your trip during poor winter driving conditions. If you have no other choice but to venture out, monitor weather forecasts and road condition reports before you leave.

6a00e552358ec4883401b7c7ef20fe970bSince the weather has been relatively warm, the ground under the road is likely not going to be frozen. When the snow hits, it will probably turn to slush, that could be deep in places.

  • Slush on the road can “pull” your vehicle, so keep a good grip on the wheel.
  • Make sure you have filled the windshield washer fluid in your vehicle.
  • Stopping distance is going to be longer than on dry pavements – keep your distance
  • SUVs and four-wheel drive vehicles have no advantage over other vehicles when driving in slush.

Other winter driving tips to remember:

  • Focus your attention on the driving task and slow down.
  • Do not use cruise control.
  • Put your cell phone away so you are not tempted to talk or text while driving, but make sure you have a charger in the vehicle in case you become stranded.
  • Keep a safe distance from vehicles in adjacent lanes as strong wind gusts could push a vehicle outside its lane of travel.
  • Take extra care if driving a high-profile vehicle such as a truck, van or sports utility vehicle, or when towing a trailer, as these vehicles are more prone to be pushed or even flipped by wind gusts.
  • Turn on your headlights to see and be seen.
  • Keep your windshield clear.
  • Allow extra travel time.

Winter driving is always unpredictable, so be prepared for the unexpected.

Log on to http://511ia.org/  and download the 511 app for the latest road conditions.

Bookmark trackaplow.iowadot.gov to see photos directly from Iowa DOT snowplows to get a feel for the conditions.

(Podcast) 8-a.m. KJAN News, 11/20/2015

News, Podcasts

November 20th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

More area and State news from Ric Hanson.