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Iowa DOT opens bids on three emergency, flood-related highway repair projects

News

October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT), Wednesday, opened bids on three emergency, Missouri River flood-related highway repair projects that totaled $5,221,938.75. The contracts included:

  • The grading and replacing paved sections of Iowa 2, from the Missouri River east to east of Interstate 29 in Fremont County. The low bidder was C.J. Moyna & Sons Inc. of Elkader, Iowa, with a bid amount of $4,078,756.57; the Iowa DOT received two bids for the project.
  • Repairs to the Iowa 333 bridge approach and roadway from I-29 east one mile, located near Hamburg in Fremont County. The low bidder was M.E. Collins Contracting Co. Inc. of Wahoo, Neb., with a bid amount of $249,940.50. The Iowa DOT received five bids for the project.
  • TrapBag removal and repairs to the foreslopes of U.S. 30 in Harrison County, west of Missouri Valley. The low bidder was Peterson Contractors Inc., of Reinbeck, Iowa, with a bid amount of $893,241.68. The Iowa DOT received six bids for the project

Official say the goal for the projects is to expedite repairs and get the roadways safely reopened to traffic as quickly as possible.

USDA approves ag disaster declaration that covers 60 counties

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The U-S Department of Agriculture approved a request from the governor for ag disaster designation Wednesday for 27 Iowa counties that were hit by severe weather that ranged from flash flooding to drought. Iowa Ag Secretary, Bill Northey, says the federal designation will allow farmers to apply for federal help.  Northey says it offers the chance for them to be eligible for disaster payments through what’s called the “SURE” program. Northey says the rules for the federal aid make the counties bordering the disaster counties to be eligible too. He says there are 33 counties that qualify as “contiguous counties” under the disaster declaration. Northey says farmers need to check to see if they qualify for assistance. Northey says they need to go into the U-S-D-A Farm Service office and find out how the program will work for them as he says each case will be a little different.

The 27 counties included in this declaration are: Clarke, Jones, Mahaska , Montgomery, Van Buren, Davis, Keokuk, Marshall, Page, Wapello, Decatur, Lee, Mills, Polk, Washington, Fremont, Linn, Monona, Tama, Wayne, Henry, Louisa, Monroe, Taylor ,Woodbury, Jefferson and Lucas. The 33 contiguous disaster counties are: Adams, Cedar,Dubuque,Jasper,Pottawattamie, Appanoose, Cherokee,Grundy,Johnson,Poweshiek, Benton, Clinton, Hardin, Madison, Ringgold, Black Hawk, Crawford, Harrison, Marion, Story, Boone, Dallas, Ida, Muscatine, Union, Buchanan, Delaware, Iowa, Plymouth, Warren, Cass, Des Moines and Jackson. Farmers in the eligible counties have eight months from the date of secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loan assistance.

Cass Co. IA website now available in 64 languages

News

October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Cass County Auditor Dale Sunderman, on behalf of the Cass County Board of Supervisors, announced Wednesday, that the Cass County website is now available in 64 languages.  The Cass County website can be accessed at http://www.casscountyiowa.us .

Using the new Google Translate Technology, implemented by Inukshuk Technologies, (Cass County’s web consultant), the county website can now be instantly translated into 64 languages.  This new technology can translate words, sentences and web pages instantly.  This service will help Cass County government personnel assist residents regardless of their primary language.

How does it work?  According to Max Elg of Inukshuk Technologies, “When Google Translate generates a translation, it looks for patterns in hundreds of millions of documents to help decide on the best translation for the viewer.  By detecting patterns in documents that have already been translated by human translators, Google Translate can make intelligent guesses as to what an appropriate translation should be.  This process of seeking patterns in large amounts of text is called “statistical machine translation”.  Since the translations are generated by machines, not all translation will be perfect.  The more human‐translated documents that Google Translate can analyze in a specific language, the better the translation quality will be.  This is why translation accuracy will sometimes vary across languages.”

“Cost to Cass County was minimal since the Translation service is now FREE from Google and implementation on the website took approximately 10 minutes,” said Elg.  “This is a win/win situation for everyone and shows Cass County’s ongoing commitment to open and accessible government!”

(Press Release/Cass Co. Auditor)

Western IA toddler injured after being kicked by horse

News

October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a western Iowa boy was injured after he was kicked in the face by a horse. The Pottawattamie County sheriff’s office says 2-year-old Maxx Danker, of Minden, was injured Wednesday morning. Officials say the boy followed his father into a pen with a drafting horse. The toddler, who had ducked under the fence, was kicked and received bruises on his neck, face and upper chest area.

Authorities say the boy was taken to Jennie Edmundson Hospital in Council Bluffs. He was alert and responsive. The hospital says Wednesday afternoon that the child was treated and released.

Iowa will seek to opt out of No Child Left Behind

News

October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Department of Education officials have notified their federal counterparts that the state will seek a waiver from requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. State officials have criticized the law as being too rigid and argued it relied too heavily on standardized test scores. They also said it’s one-dimensional and doesn’t accurately measure how well schools are  performing. Education Department Director Jason Glass said Iowa officials have developed their own rigorous standards and can implement them in a way that ensures students make progress each year. “We expect our schools to meet high standards, but we need to do it in a reasonable way that focuses on students making strong progress every year,” Glass said Wednesday. “The bar has to be reasonable.” Iowa officials announced details of that plan earlier this month.

Glass noted that federal officials have encouraged states to seek a waiver from the federal law, as long as they develop their own systems for measuring the progress students are making. Glass said the formal waiver request will be filed in February. President Barack Obama’s administration announced in August that states were being encouraged to seek a waiver from the law, which requires states to show that a higher proportion of students are reaching proficiency in math and science.

The plan that Glass announced called for linking teacher pay to performance in the classroom as well as setting new testing standards for students, along with developing other methods of measuring student performance. He said measuring performance of a healthy and active child involves more than a single test score, though testing is part of the measurement.

Pioneer announces new Iowa research center

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Pioneer Hi-Bred is expanding its seed research in central Iowa. The company announced plans Wednesday for a new research facility in Dallas Center. The company says in a news release that it will support corn breeding, corn and soybean product testing and help farmers in western and central Iowa, eastern Nebraska and northwest Missouri. Pioneer has had a research location in Dallas Center since 2004. Construction is to begin this month and be finished in the spring.

The new facility is the latest in a series of projects by Pioneer, including a $40 million research facility in Johnston that is expected to create 400 jobs. Pioneer, which is headquartered in Des Moines, is a subsidiary of Wilmington, Del., chemical maker DuPont Co.

2 injured in I-80 crash near Adair

News

October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa State Patrol now says two people were injured during a collision involving two semis on Interstate 80 westbound early this (Wednesday) morning, about a mile west of Adair. The accident was reported at around 5:45 a.m.

According to Trooper Ryan DeVault, a westbound semi went of the road near exit 75, entered the south ditch and came back onto the roadway before it rolled onto its side, blocking both westbound lanes of traffic. A second semi approaching the scene crested a hill and collided with the overturned semi.

Both drivers suffered minor injuries. Their names have not yet been released. The accident resulted in the interstate being closed for a little more a little more than three-hours. Traffic was rerouted through Anita while the wreck was being cleared and investigated.

Omaha’s Mayor wants IA DOT to elevate I-680 to prevent damage from future flooding

News

October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

I-680 torn-up by Missouri River Flooding, Summer 2011 (IA-DOT photo)

The Mayor of Omaha, Nebraska says Missouri River flooding that decimated Interstate 680 in western Iowa demonstrates the need to have that stretch of road elevated, to avoid future devastation caused by floodwaters. Jim Suttle, addressing the Iowa Transportation Commission Tuesday, in Council Bluffs, also asked officials to consider doing the same thing for parts of flood-affected Interstate 29.

Suttle said western Iowa relies on Eppley Airfield in Omaha, just as Omaha relies on the Interstate system in Iowa. According to the Omaha-World Herald, Suttle said “Let’s figure out how we can work together so that we can deal with the flooding situations in the future, but also assuring that our transportation system stays in place if we do have another catastrophic event like the flood of 2011.”  Suttle’s remarks were part of the public comment portion of the meeting. No action was taken on his request, and the commission members did not respond during the meeting.

A 3.1-mile stretch of Interstate 680 between Omaha and Crescent, Iowa, was massively damaged during the summer’s Missouri River floods and remains closed. The Interstate runs perpendicular to the flow of the Missouri. Floodwaters undermined the roadway, and caused it to collapse.

Suttle, a civil engineer by training, suggested raising parts of the Interstates to 1 foot above the so-called 100-year flood level, but Commissioner Barry Cleaveland of Council Bluffs, who works in Omaha, expressed skepticism. Cleaveland said it would be cost-prohibitive, to the tune of several billion dollars, at least. .He also didn’t know how high I-680 would have to be raised, in order to meet Suttle’s request.

Omaha television station KETV reported Tuesday, 100 construction workers are on the job 24/7 to repair I-680, and they’re just days away from pouring cement.  The $20 million effort has those crews, working 16 to 24 hour shifts. They’ve already removed hundreds of thousands of tons of damaged interstate.  Peterson Contractors and Reilly Construction started work a week and a half ago, and almost all the torn up freeway has been recycled into the new construction. In fact, work has progressed so well, the westbound lanes of I-680 are nearly ready for paving.  Construction officials say they hope to have traffic flowing again by December 23rd.

I-80 now open near Adair

News

October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

(update 9:17-a.m.) The Iowa Department of Transportation reports Interstate 80 westbound is now open near Adair. Both lanes had closed earlier this morning, due to a crash involving two semis. One person was injured. Additional details are not available at this time. The accident was under investigation by the Iowa State Patrol.

Arrests reported in Adams County

News

October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Two people are being held in the Adams County Jail in Corning, following their arrests Tuesday night on unrelated charges. Sheriff’s officials say 34-year old Michael Welling, of Corning, was taken into custody at around 11:15-p.m. on charges of Domestic Abuse, 3rd offense, and Disorderly Conduct. His arrest followed an investigation into a noise complaint at a residence in Corning.  When deputies arrived on the scene, they heard a fight allegedly taking place inside the home at 909 7th Street, Apartment number three. Shortley thereafter, Welling was arrested and brought to the Adams County Jail.

And, 25-year old Elizabeth Ann Holt, of Des Moines, was arrested at around 10:45-p.m. Tuesday, in Woodbury County. Holt was wanted on a warrant for Conspiracy to Commit Felony Forgery, and Identity Theft. She was transported from Woodbury County to Adams County, where she was being held on a $25,000 cash only bond.