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Five cuddly-looking lion cubs born at Omaha zoo, first since 1994


January 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

There’s a big fuss being made over four tiny, fuzzy critters at one of the region’s largest tourist attractions.

Lions cubs at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha.

Four lion cubs are being seen by the public for the first time at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. Zoo director Dennis Pate says a total of five lion cubs were born there late last month. “It’s exciting for us because it’s been 18 years since we’ve had (newborn) lions, 1994,” Pate says. “It’s been a long, long time and a lot of work on the part of the animal department to get the right male in, bring two females in. The females came from Idaho. Not sure where the male came from — Mr. Big — he’s a really big African lion.”

Four of the cubs are on display in the zoo’s Cat Complex with their mother. One female cub was smaller and is receiving extra care. So far, she’s thriving in the zoo’s hospital and will be introduced back with her mother and siblings once she is strong enough. Pate says the litter of five cubs — three females and two males — were born on December 29th.  “They’ll be here for quite a while,” Pate says. “As they grow, I imagine we’ll move them over so they have the outside yard, a lot of room to run and play. They should be a lot of fun to watch as they grow up. By the time they’re 16 weeks old, they’re going to be moving around a lot. Come spring, summer, it ought to be the joy of Omaha to come down and watch these cubs play.”

The four cubs that are on public view now are very healthy, Pate says, as is the new mother. The zoo also has four African lion adults, one male and three females. African lions are listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. More information is available on-line at www.omahazoo.com

(Radio Iowa)

Atlantic Southern Heights II proposal discussed


January 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The City of Atlantic’s Planning and Zoning Commission discussed Tuesday, a proposal pertaining to a housing development, “Southern Heights II,” between 22nd and 19th Streets, west of Redwood.The discussion included the future of Plum Street, versus Southern Heights Drive, along with storm water runoff and drainage issues.

City Councilman Shaun Shouse is the Council’s liaison. He reported to the Council Wednesday evening there was ample information about why the developer thought the project was needed, and representatives from the Cass-Atlantic Development Corporation (CADCO) were on-hand to offer their support.

Shouse said some residents in the area also offered their input, which included their support for the project, and concerns about traffic flow from 19th to 22nd.   He said also, that John Lund, Assistant to City Administrator Doug Harris, reported to the P-and-Z Commission at the meeting, that he would look into other options to alleviate some of the traffic issues, and report back on those options during the next meeting. And, the developer indicated their intention to request the area be re-zoned in order to accommodate multifamily housing. If that is approved, additional details will be released concerning the site plan at a future date.

Vehicle break-ins under investigation


January 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Montgomery County are investigating numerous incidents of the theft. Officials with the Red Oak Police Department say a little more than half a dozen complaints have been received from residents of the community, with regard to vehicles being broken into, and items stolen from inside those vehicles.

One of the residents reported on Wednesday, that two  of her vehicles had been broken into. While that incident was under investigation, six other residents filed complaints about vehicle thefts. Authorities say they later received a call from a resident near Griswold who observed a black and gray plastic box on the Nishnabotna Bridge north of Red Oak on Highway 48.  Several items in the box were found to have been taken from one of the burglarized vehicles in Red Oak. Those items are being examined to see if they can reveal any evidence of who may have committed the crime.

Anyone with information into these thefts is urged to call Red Oak Police at 712-623-6500 or The Montgomery County Crimestoppers at 800-432-1001.

Bluffs Boil Advisory could expire at Noon today (Thursday)


January 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A Boil Advisory for the City Council Bluffs will run until at least Noon today (Thursday), according to a Water Works official. The advisory was put into effect for Council Bluffs and a handful of communities which are served by its water system, early Wednesday morning, following break in a 24-inch water main on the City’s east side. Water Works Director Doug Drummey told the Council Bluffs Daily NonPareil, that water samples taken from the system will be checked at the plant’s laboratory for any dangerous pathogens or disease-carrying organisms.

The water main break created a huge hole, which officials estimated was about 50 feet wide. Drummey said anywhere from 2 to 3 million gallons of water poured out of the system in the hour immediately following the incident. He told the newspaper it was the biggest main break he has seen in his career.

And, while the incident happened on the City’s east side, at 9th Street and Avenue E., residents throughout the west end of the city lost water pressure. Crews were able to isolate the pipe by 4 a.m. and water service was returned to normal pressure by late in the day Wednesday. However, because of the drop in water pressure, Drummey said it was possible that pathogens or disease-carrying organisms could have seeped into the water system. Because of this possibility, the city has advised residents to not drink water or use it during food preparation.

If using water for either purpose, it needs to be boiled first. Let it come to a full boil and remain that way for at least one-minute before cooling (if used as drinking water or brushing your teeth). Health officials say that because it s flu season, people should continue to wash their hands and dry them completely. If you are unable to pre-boil hand wash water, wash hands as usual with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, dry hands, and follow with use of a hand sanitizer.

Restaurants and convenience stores in Council Bluffs that use city water for cooking or for coffee, pop and ice machines have been told not to use the water in their operations. Once the boiling advisory is lifted, equipment will need to be cleaned. The city website, at councilbluffs-ia.gov, has instructions for cleaning commercial ice makers to tips for commercial establishments after the ban is lifted. The city has left it up to individual restaurants to make the decision about remaining open. Anyone with questions about the water advisory is asked to call (712) 328-4672.

Iowa early News Headlines: Thu., Jan. 10th 2013


January 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A legislative committee is looking into a proposed new rule that establishes a process for removing voters from registration rolls if they can’t prove citizenship. Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz is pushing the rule saying it’s needed because he believes people who are not U.S. citizens are registering to vote in Iowa. The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and other civil rights groups oppose the rule saying it intimidates minority voters especially Latino immigrants.

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — A Wisconsin-based printing company plans to close its facility in northeast Iowa. Quad Graphics of Sussex, Wisconsin announced yesterday it will close its printing plant in Dubuque. The move will impact 215 jobs at the plant, though it’s unclear if the jobs will be offered somewhere else.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A former University of Iowa student accused of sexually assaulting a woman who was showing him an apartment now faces new charges in a separate incident. Twenty-two-year-old Peng Tang is accused of stealing a laptop and multiple bras and underwear from his former residence in March. He faces second-degree theft and third-degree burglary.

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Freshman Ben McLemore had a career-high 33 points, and Number 6 Kansas rallied to beat Iowa State 97-89 in overtime last night. The Cyclones poured on fourteen 3-pointers, and had forged a 79-76 lead with 8.4 seconds left in regulation before losing in Lawrence.

Cass County Supervisors approve 1st reading of Amended Zoning Ordinance

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 9th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

After more than 75-minutes worth of discussion about an amendment to the County’s Zoning Ordinance that would change the Zoning Districts’ Permitted Principal Uses, the Cass County Board of Supervisors Wednesday approved the first vote on the matter. However, their approval came with the caveat that the Cass County Attorney review the wording as it stands, and comment on whether the words “Light Industrial” needs to be added to one sentence in the amendment. The question also remains, whether those two words will cause a conflict between the County, and Fagen, Incorporated, which has already purchased the former Amaizing Energy Ethanol site, and looks to use the property for renewable energy production.

Last Fall, Kathy Schowalter with PlanScape Partners, presented to the Board a proposal from Ron Fagen, CEO of Granite Falls, Minnesota-based Fagen, Incorporated, which pertained to the possible creation of a 25-million gallon Cellulosic ethanol plant on the Amaizing Energy site. During Wednesday’s meeting, Schowalter said while they had hoped a cellulosic ethanol plant would be operating on the site, that is by no means a certainty.

She said Fagen doesn’t have a buyer lined up for the site he purchased just yet, so it could become almost anything ag related, including a seed corn processor. But it would not become a CAFO – Confined Animal Feeding Operation. She said they simply don’t know what will “Come down the pike.”

Cass County Engineer Charles Marker expressed his concern that two words apparently left out of the amended ordinance may leave a loop hole for heavy industrial operations to locate in a Light Industrial Zone, not just at the Amaizing Energy site, but anywhere in the County. He said he ordinance as worded does not specifically say a site will be used for “Light Industry.” Instead, it says “Industry which uses renewable energy,” which he says, becomes an “Administrative problem.” That means any industry, heavy or not, which uses renewable energy as a means of production, could apply under article 17 of the ordinance.

Zoning Administrator Rich Hansen said the Zoning Commission, which forwarded its recommendation to the Supervisors for their approval, would have no problem with a slight re-wording to the amendment, prior to next week’s second hearing and vote by the Supervisors. But Supervisor Chuck Rieken questioned whether the Board has the right to delete or add language to an amendment without making sure the legalities are taken care of. That means consulting with County Attorney Dan Feistner.

The Board then approved the Zoning Commission’s initial recommendation, with the stipulation legal counsel provide input for the next hearing.

Atlantic City Council approves Personnel Policy resolution amendment


January 9th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday evening, approved an amendment to the City’s Personnel Policy. City Administrator Doug Harris explained one part of the amendment pertains to how close the city’s police officers must live with regard to their response time. The current requirement calls for officers to live within five-miles of the City limits, but after consulting with Police Chief Steve Green, and looking at other, legal requirements, it was determined the officers may live within a 25-minute response time.

The second change to the Personnel Policy, pertained to the parity between Union and Non-Union contracts, with regard to Personal Holiday time. The current contract allows non-union employees two-personal holidays per year. The proposal called for that to increase to three days per year, which would make the total number of holidays 11. That matches what Union personnel employed by the City, receive. The amendment was approved unanimously.

In other business, City Administrator Doug Harris said the Airport Commission has submitted their Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to the State of Iowa. He says if approved, the local share for the projects, the total cost of which is $2.62-million, the local share would end up being $875, 953. And, if it’s approved by the State, the Commission would have to request the Council consider a bond issue to finance some of the improvements, which by the way, were not included in the CIP Harris presented to the Council last month.

He said also, renovations on the Atlantic City Hall will begin next week, with the lobby area. Eventually, work will proceed into the Council Chambers, which will result in one of the regular council meetings in February having to take place at another location.

Atlantic’s CPC looking for downtown beautification proposals


January 9th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Atlantic Community Promotion Commission (CPC) report they would like anyone interested in doing the downtown beautification project…which includes planting, mulching, weeding, watering, and other maintenance of the flower beds on Chestnut Street…to write a proposal, and send it to city officials by noon on Jan 30th. The CPC will discuss the proposals during its meeting in February.

Those who make the proposals are invited to attend the meeting February 7th, at noon, to answer questions from the CPC about the proposal. CPC members said they have requests from other parties about overseeing the project, and decided to ask for proposals from those interested this year. The project consists of flower beds in Chestnut Street median between Sixth and Seventh Streets and on the Chestnut Street corners from Second to Sixth Streets, however, $7,500 has been budgeted, and if funds remain after the Chestnut Street area is complete, other areas (for example, the corner at Seventh and Olive Streets) could be considered.

The CPC also notes that the flower bed in the median on Chestnut Street is irrigated. Proposals should detail plant types, color schemes, plant heights (keep drivers’ visibility in mind), maintenance schedule, volunteer involvement, and a breakdown of costs, and in addition to annual plantings, CPC members would like proposals to expand the use of perennials to save money in the long run. Because types of plantings aren’t specified, the project will be considered based on the overall value (bang for the buck) rather than lowest cost.

Maintenance should be ongoing with special attention given to downtown events – Customer Appreciation Days, Crazy Daze, Atlanticfest, Coca-Cola Days, Harvest Fest, etc., and proposals should include all labor, materials and equipment. Those submitting proposals are responsible for their own insurance. Volunteer involvement is not required, but there has been a volunteer planting day in the past. Those submitting proposals may want to continue with that, utilize volunteers to assist with maintenance instead (such as coordinating businesses or groups to “adopt” corners to weed), or eliminate volunteers all together.

Use of volunteers is at the discretion of those submitting proposals. Volunteers would be coordinated and overseen by those submitting proposals. For more information, contact Caryn Barbero-Just at 254-0989.

Trial delayed for 2 Atlantic arson suspects


January 9th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The trial for two Nebraska residents charged in connection with an arson fire in Atlantic in Dec. 2010 has been delayed until March. According to online court records, 27-year old William Kautter, of Omaha, faces a felony 1st degree arson charge, and six felony charges of Attempt to Commit murder. His wife, 29-year old Elizabeth Kautter, also of Omaha, faces a felony 1st degree arson charge. All charges stem from a Dec. 2010 residential fire at 601 E. 6th Street, in Atlantic.

The homeowners, Myron and Jolynne Gill, along with one of their adult children and three juveniles, were in the home at the time, but all escaped without injury. Investigators determined gasoline was splashed across the front door and porch of the house and then set aflame.
Complaints and Affidavits filed in coordination with the arrest of William and Elizabeth Kautter said prior to the fire, William Kautter had made several harassing phone calls, threatened physical harm and death to the Gill family. In addition, cell phone records showed the Kautter’s had traveled to Iowa from Omaha the night of the fire, and, Elizabeth Kautter was seen purchasing gasoline at an Atlantic area gas station on December 14th, 2010.

The Kautter’s have plead not guilty to the arson charges. Both trials were set to have begun Tuesday, Jan. 8th, but on Monday, Judge Jeffrey Larson agreed to extend the pre-trial conferences until Feb. 25th, with the both trials slated for March 26th. The couple remains free on bond. William Kautter had also been charged with Making Terrorist Threats, but he instead plead guilty to a reduced charge of 1st Degree Harassment.

Iowa officials warned of inmate’s troubling behavior before his release


January 9th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Documents show Iowa prison officials had confiscated a notebook with drawings depicting rape made by an inmate charged with fatally stabbing his mother and kidnapping a female acquaintance hours after being released. A search warrant affidavit made public Wednesday shows Iowa Department of Corrections officials told the Sac County sheriff about Kirk Levin’s troubling writings and drawings shortly before his release from prison Jan. 1st. The document says the 21-year-old’s notebook contained explicit writings “and drawings depicting the sexual assault and rape of a female.”

Prosecutors say Levin repeatedly stabbed his mother at her farmhouse in Early on Jan. 3. They say he then kidnapped a 21-year-old woman who he tied up and put in the trunk of a car. The woman eventually escaped after he drove into a ditch.