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Spring corn planting still sputters in key states

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Efforts by the nation’s corn growers to get their crops planted in key grain states continue to sputter. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says just 6 percent of this year’s corn crop is in the ground. That compares to the average of 14 percent over the previous five years and 4 percent a year ago, when one of the wettest springs on record got farmers in many states off to the slowest start in decades.

The sluggish start to corn season is especially pronounced in key farming states. Illinois growers have planted just 5 percent, while Iowa is at just 2 percent and Nebraska is at 4 percent. The USDA says corn planting traditionally is in full swing from this time through May 23.

Interim Council Bluffs police chief swears in son

News

April 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — The interim police chief in Council Bluffs has been given a unique opportunity to formally welcome his son as an officer. Capt. Ray Mabbitt swore in his son, Christopher Mabbitt, on Monday as the newest member of the Council Bluffs Police Department. The elder Mabbitt, who took the interim role in March, called the situation one of his most memorable on the job.

Christopher Mabbitt is a third-generation officer, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He is a former corrections officer for the Pottawattamie County Jail. The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil reports a 14-week stint at the state police academy is up next for the younger Mabbitt, followed by 17 weeks of on-the-job training.

USDA awards $6 million for climate change study

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

April 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture will award $6 million to 10 universities to finance the study of what climate change means to agriculture and strategies for helping farmers and ranchers deal with weather changes. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the grants Tuesday during a conference about climate change held at Drake University in Des Moines.

Vilsack told the audience the grants would lead to information and developments that would be essential to farmers. The grants were made through the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The grants will go to the University of Colorado, Cornell University, Florida International University, Iowa State University, Michigan State University, the University of Minnesota, Montana State University, Oklahoma State University, Pennsylvania State University and West Virginia University.

 

3 Indiana men arrested on drug charges in Cass County

News

April 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A traffic stop on Interstate 80 Monday in Cass County resulted in the arrest of three men from Indiana on drug charges. The Sheriff’s Office says 21-year old Zachary Allen Bushong, of Hamlet, IN., 21-year old Jason Robert Bazemore, of LaPorte, IN, and 21-year old Shane Matthew Reiter, of South Bend, IN, were taken into custody.

Bushong and Bazemore were each charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana, Failure to Affix Drug Tax Stamp, Prohibited Acts, and Interference with Official Acts. Reiter was charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana, Failure to Affix Drug Tax Stamp, and Prohibited Acts. All three were taken to the Cass County Jail where Bushong and Reiter were released on $5000 bond; Bazemore is currently being held on $12,000 bond.

Iowa State says data breach could affect thousands

News

April 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa State University has reported a data breach that exposed the Social Security numbers of nearly 30,000 people enrolled at the school over a 17-year period. The university said Tuesday that five information technology servers on the Ames campus were hacked. They contained the Social Security numbers of people who took certain classes at the school between 1995 and 2012. The servers also had university ID numbers for nearly 19,000 additional people.

Officials say an unknown person or persons intended to generate enough computing power to create the virtual currency bitcoin. But officials do not believe the personal information was a target. There is no evidence that any of those files were accessed.

Officials have notified law enforcement. Individuals with exposed Social Security numbers will be offered free credit monitoring.

$110,139 Granted to Audubon County Nonprofit Agencies

News

April 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Last week we told you the Cass County Community Foundation had awarded $110,139 to eligible non-profit organizations who had submitted grant applications request funds for various projects. This week, Brett Irlmeier, Chair of the Audubon County Community Foundation, has announced grants totaling $110,139 have also been awarded to Audubon County nonprofit agencies.

Nonprofit representatives receiving grant awards.  1st row, left to right: Maddie Christensen, Bradley Nissen, Sandy Nissen, Audubon Tennis Association; Jenny Smith, Audubon Recreation Foundation; Genelle Deist, Friendship Home Association; Jill Hermansen and Bob Gust, Audubon Youth Softball/Baseball.  2nd row: Sandy Bauer, Exira Public Library; Pat Curtis, Audubon Downtown Revitalization Committee; Tom Nielsen, Secretary/Treasurer, Audubon County Community Foundation; Jonnie Meislahn, Vice Chair, Audubon County Community Foundation; Troy Wessel, Audubon Youth Softball/Baseball.

Nonprofit representatives receiving grant awards. 1st row, left to right: Maddie Christensen, Bradley Nissen, Sandy Nissen, Audubon Tennis Association; Jenny Smith, Audubon Recreation Foundation; Genelle Deist, Friendship Home Association; Jill Hermansen and Bob Gust, Audubon Youth Softball/Baseball. 2nd row: Sandy Bauer, Exira Public Library; Pat Curtis, Audubon Downtown Revitalization Committee; Tom Nielsen, Secretary/Treasurer, Audubon County Community Foundation; Jonnie Meislahn, Vice Chair, Audubon County Community Foundation; Troy Wessel, Audubon Youth Softball/Baseball.

Nonprofit organizations which submitted applications to the Audubon County Community Foundation by the February 1st deadline, were awarded grants by the ACCF Board of Directors. They include:

  • The Audubon Recreation Foundation, $50,000, for the construction of a recreation center.
  • The Audubon County Downtown Revitalization Stage Committee, $20,000, to complete the stage structure in the John James Audubon City Park.
  • The Audubon Youth Softball/Baseball League, $14,864 for facility improvements, including batting cages, bleachers, a backstop, dugout benches and concession stand.
  • The Friendship Home Foundation, $10,000 toward a Capital Campaign for a new Memory Care Unit.
  • The Exira Park Committee, $7.775 for an LED programmable sign for the town park.
  • The Audubon Tennis Association, $5,000, for repairs to four courts.
  • And, the Exira Public Library, $2,500, for equipment to focus on teens & children.

All grantees met the criteria as Audubon County nonprofit agencies or organizations with charitable missions in the areas of civic, cultural, health, education and social services. Only organizations providing services in Audubon County were eligible. Audubon County agency representatives received their checks on April 18th.

Bill proposes new state hiring, firing practices

News

April 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Senate Government Oversight Committee is proposing a bill that would make sweeping changes in some state government practices. The bill would make all personnel settlement agreements subject to review by the attorney general, prohibits confidentiality provisions, and posts all agreements on a state website. It requires the state auditor to conduct an examination of all settlement agreements issued since Gov. Terry Branstad began his current term.

It also requires the state to disclose any bonuses over $200 paid to executive branch employees and offers new whistleblower protections for state workers reporting abuse of authority or other issues. It also would revise state hiring and firing practices requiring job openings to be posted publicly. Fired workers would have new appeal options if they’re placed on a do-not-hire list.

No sharing with CR-B, but CAM may opt for a Nodaway Valley agreement

News

April 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

There won’t be a Superintendent sharing agreement between the CAM and Coon Rapids-Bayard School Districts, but school officials say they are open to a similar arrangement with the Nodaway Valley District in Greenfield. As we mentioned following the CAM School Board meeting on March 31st, Superintendent Steve Pelzer and Board President Gary Dinkla told the Board they had been approached by the Coon Rapids/Bayard School District to see if there is any interest in sharing a superintendent starting the next school year. CR-B was interested in a 60-40 split of that person’s time.

Since then, officials with Nodaway Valley also indicated they would also be interested in exploring a sharing agreement. According to Superintendent Steve Pelzer, the CAM School Board decided Monday that the distance between CR-B and CAM was too much of a hurdle to overcome, and that they were therefore not interested in pursuing that arrangement. The Board was however, open to continued discussions with Nodaway Valley.

Reasons for exploring a Superintendent sharing agreement with a neighboring school district boils down to financial incentives. The Iowa Legislature has 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.

Groundbreaking held for Merrill Field project

News

April 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Community School District’s Board of Education and Harlan Community Education Foundation met for the ground breaking ceremony at Merrill Field Monday, prior to the regular school board meeting. Construction is slated to begin on Tuesday, April 29th. Superintendent Justin Wagner said at the ceremony the education foundation has raised a total of $1.7 million for the project. Wagner said the increase in funding will go towards the three alternatives for Merrill Field.

“We had the upgrade to the bleachers. So we have the I-beam bleachers which were an upgrade, the safety lane which will go around the entire track and the sidewalk as well.” The ceremony on Monday was to honor the Education Foundation along with the city and other entities that have worked together on getting the funding for the project. The completion date for the Merrill field is August 22nd and Wagner says that’s when a ribbon cutting will take place. “And it will be a big deal because we are going to invite the Vision Iowa folks down and other partners such as city of Harlan, Shelby County Supervisors and the athletic booster club. There’s just a lot of great partners that on August 22nd, we will take a moment to honor them.”

During the school board meeting, the board approved Thomas Cronin as a 5th through12th grade music teacher. Wagner said the position is a combination of a half-time position, a quarter-position, and a quarter- new position. Cronin comes from the Sioux City Heelan School District. And, the Harlan School Board discussed further, options on drugs and alcohol issues in the school district. The board is looking into adding classes in the Middle School with regard to drugs and alcohol, but nothing was approved. Wagner said further discussions are being held and the board will take action on the matter at a later date.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)

Public hearing in Atlantic Wed. morning on zoning change

News

April 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A public hearing will be held during a meeting of the Cass County Board of Supervisors Wednesday morning, with regard to a zoning classification change. If approved, the change would affect a parcel of land 260-feet by 225-feet, near the southwest corner of a section of Noble Township, and would mean that parcel would become a Light Industrial District instead of General Agricultural. Following the hearing, which begins at 8:40-a.m. in the Supervisor’s Board Room at the Courthouse, the Board will vote on approving the zoning change.

In other business, the Cass County Supervisors will act on approving a construction contract for renovation of the building at 707 Poplar Street (the future home of the Cass County 9-1-1 Center), and the appointment a member to the Cass County Food Policy Council, and hear scheduled reports from the County Engineer and Mental Health/General Relief Coordinator, as well as quarterly reports from the County Conservation and Veterans Affairs Directors.

The meeting begins at 8:30-a.m.