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Hospital in Jefferson gets $20M federal loan


May 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

JEFFERSON, Iowa (AP) — The Greene County Medical Center in Jefferson is getting $20 million in federal government loans to help expand and renovate the 75-year-old hospital. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s community facilities program is offering an $18 million direct loan and a $2 million guaranteed loan for the project. The hospital is the area’s largest employer with over 250 workers on staff. It has a payroll of more than $9 million. Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager announced the grant on Monday during a visit to the area. He says it’s part of the Obama administration’s effort to advance technology in rural health care. The USDA administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local rural development offices.

Accident in TX involving IWCC bus claims a life


May 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

An accident Wednesday morning in West Lubbock, Texas involving a bus from Iowa Western Community College has taken the life of  one person. According to Lubbock NBC affiliate KCBD, 21-year-old Emily Leatherwood, of Brownfield, TX, died, after the car she was driving crashed IWCC bus, which was transporting athletes to the NJAA National Outdoor Track and Field Championship in Lelleland, TX. 11 people were on the bus. Two of them reportedly suffered minor injuries, but refused medical treatment. Authorities in Texas said the bus was stopped at a railroad crossing when Leatherwood’s car hit the back of the bus. Under Texas law, buses are required to stop at railroad crossings. Failure to do so could cost the driver a fine amounting to as much as $500. Officials are trying to determine if something distracted Leatherwood, since there were no skid marks. The woman was not wearing her seat belt, as required by Texas law.

Iowa early News Headlines: Thursday, May 17th 2012


May 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

MANCHESTER, Iowa (AP) — The Delaware County attorney says a Manchester couple found dead in their home on Mother’s Day were shot to death. The couple’s grandson, 17-year-old Isaiah Sweet, is charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree murder. He remains jailed on a $1 million bond.

TOLEDO, Iowa (AP) — A Tama volunteer firefighter has been arrested for allegedly setting a series of fires in the area. Eighteen-year-old Justin Anderson was charged on Monday with seven counts of arson. The Tama County sheriff’s office says he’s accused of setting fire to at least seven different rural properties, including two vacant homes and a barn, from March to May. Sheriff Dennis Kucera says Anderson is the son of Tama Fire Chief Ron Anderson.

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — Soy Energy officials believe an explosion at the company’s biodiesel plant in Mason City originated in a tank inside a restricted area. No one was injured in the blast that happened Tuesday evening. Jeff Oestmann, CEO and general manager of Soy Energy, says the investigation is ongoing. He says authorities are focusing on the tank, which had only minimal damage.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Lawyers representing a disgraced egg industry titan, his son and one of their company’s officers say their clients are potential targets of a criminal investigation into the 2010 salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands of Americans. In recent documents filed in a civil case in California, lawyers for Jack and Peter DeCoster and Quality Egg Chief Financial Officer Patsy Larson say a federal grand jury has been meeting to determine whether fraud or other crimes were committed in the production and testing of eggs in Iowa. Larson’s attorney says his client has been subpoenaed to testify next week.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Lawyers representing black job applicants turned down for positions with Iowa’s executive branch are appealing a ruling that dismissed their class-action lawsuit. Attorney Thomas Newkirk announced yesterday that he had filed a notice of appeal, and would ask the Iowa Supreme Court to reinstate the lawsuit. The high court could hear the case, or send it to the Court of Appeals.

STORM LAKE, Iowa (AP) — A 43-year-old woman has been sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for stealing money from the northwest Iowa city of Storm Lake. Lee Martin was sentenced Monday for felony theft. A second felony charge was dropped as part of Martin’s plea deal with prosecutors.

SIBLEY, Iowa (AP) — Authorities are still trying to round up some wayward buffalo that escaped from a ranch in northwest Iowa. About 200 buffalo broke out of their pen at the Frick and Joe Buffalo Ranch in Sibley on Sunday. The animals have since been spotted in five counties Lyon, Osceola, Sioux and O’Brien counties in Iowa and Nobles County in Minnesota. No injuries have been reported, but motorists are asked to be careful while driving through the area.

Atlantic City Council approves budget amendment & hears about downtown revitalization


May 16th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday evening, passed a resolution amending the Fiscal year 2012 Budget. The move followed a public hearing on the matter, during which no comments were received or heard. As mentioned earlier during our previous report on KJAN, City Administrator Doug Harris summed up the areas where the changes were to be made. They included Public Works, Culture and Recreation, Community and Economic Development, and Enterprise, which includes Storm Water and Sanitary Sewer cost overruns and unanticipated expenses.

Councilman Shaun Shouse clarified what the amendment really boils down to. He said “We have to amend the budget to have the authorization to spend the money.” Most of the areas are items where there will be income to offset the expenses. Shouse said it is not “all new tax revenue…the money is there, but (they) didn’t anticipate having to spend the money,” during the current Fiscal Year. Therefore they have to amend the budget in order to have the spending authority.

In his report to the Council, Doug Harris said he was pleased to announce progress was being made on the S.F. Martin House on Poplar Street (a local bed and breakfast) the exterior of which has been an eye sore for many years, and other properties within the city. Harris said the City has been encouraging property owners to take care of their property, under the Minimum Maintenance Code, which the Council approved last November, and is designed to: preserve the quality of buildings in Atlantic; to help preserve property values; and to prevent the spread of “Urban blight.” It requires property owners to keep structures in reasonably good repair.

Harris said also, he’s been working with several entities, including the Southwest Iowa Planning Council (SWIPCO), the Chamber of Commerce and USDA, to try and find funds to revitalize the downtown area, especially with regard to business facades, many of which are beginning to show wear due to age. He says there may be CDBG – Community Development Block Grant – funds available for those types of improvements. Another source of funding might be available to provide housing in the upper levels of downtown businesses, that would make those buildings “more viable,” according to Harris.

A meeting will be held at Noon on June 12th at SWIPCO in Atlantic, for downtown business owners, Chamber and other City leaders or officials, to explain what funds are available, how the process works, and how it could increase public and private investments. Darren Smith, Project Manager in the City of Woodbine, will be on-hand at the meeting as well, to explain the requirements and other related matters. A couple of years ago, Woodbine was awarded a $500,000 Downtown Revitalization Community Development Block Grant as part of a $900,000 Façade Master Plan to renovate 23 buildings in the City’s Main Street District.  (For more information on that project, go to http://www.woodbineia.org/main-street-chamber)

Harris said grant applications aren’t due until January 2013, so there is time to take a close look at how to proceed with any possible plans for downtown revitalization.

Red Oak Man Arrested Wednesday


May 16th, 2012 by Chris Parks

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reports the arrest of a Red Oak man Wednesday afternoon.  At about 2:00 PM Wednesday, 55-year-old James Piunti of Red Oak was arrested on a valid warrant for probation violation out of Pottawattamie County.  Piunti was being held on $10,000 cash bond and waiting transportation to Pottawattamie County.

Report: Bad storms are getting worse and more frequent in the Midwest

News, Weather

May 16th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A report from a non-profit environmental group says extreme storms are hitting the Midwest more frequently and the flood damage they’re causing is getting worse. Stephen Saunders, president of the Denver-based Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, says their research covered records from more than 200 weather stations in Iowa and seven other Midwestern states from the years 1960 through 2011. The lead author of the report, Saunders says, “We found the total precipitation from all the storms in the Midwest went up at a rate of 23% over that 51-year period.” Scientists point to global climate change, he says, as the culprit behind the rising severity of storms over the five decades. During that time, there was no change in the pattern of minor storms, while they found the nastier storms appeared much more often.

Saunders says, “The frequency of storms that dumped 1-2″ of precipitation in a day went up by 34%, storms of 2-3″ went up by 81% and what we call the extreme storms, those that had 3″ or more of precipitation in a day, went up by 103%.” Incidences of the most severe downpours doubled over the last half century. “The last decade, the last dozen years, has been particularly tough,” Saunders says. “Of the first 12 years of this century, seven of the nine worst years for extreme storms in the Midwest occurred in those 12 years.” The study found the two most destructive years for flooding in our region during the five decades were 1993 and 2008, years that hold foul memories for many Iowans.

“As people who lived through those floods in the Midwest know, those were two years of the worst flooding the Midwest has had in more than 80 years,” Saunders says. “In 2008, the flooding caused $16-billion in damages and in 1993, the flooding caused $33-billion in damage in the Midwest.” He says global studies already blame human-caused climate change for driving more extreme precipitation, and if emissions keep going up, Saunders says the forecast is for even more extreme storms in the region. One of the group’s recommendations is: enacting comprehensive mandatory limits on global warming pollution to reduce emissions by at least 20-percent below current levels by 2020 and 80-percent by 2050. The report is called, “Doubled Trouble: More Midwestern Extreme Storms.” Learn more at the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization website: www.rockymountainclimate.org

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)


Ice cream reward certificates ready to distribute


May 16th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Trevor Frederickson Memorial Fund recently presented Acting Atlantic Police Chief Dave Erickson with ice cream reward certificates to be distributed to kids who are caught wearing their bicycle helmets during the month of June, as part of an effort to promote safe biking. 

Office Dave Erickson accepts certificates from Darrin Petty

The two organizations have teamed up with Atlantic Kiwanis Club, Nishna Valley Trails, Atlantic’s Burger King and West Side Diner to bring back the program, which was popular in the 1990’s.  The certificates include safe riding tips and a coupon for a free ice cream cone.

Shelby County plant goes out business


May 16th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A meat cooking facility in Shelby County has closed its doors. Superior Meats out of California purchased Jim’s Meat Market in February 2008. Since that time, the plant went from a raw plant to a cooking plant. Owner and operator Hank Mayhue said it was because of the price of raw buffalo going from $1.70 per pound of a-trim to $5.73 per pound. The company renovated the building, purchased equipment and turned it into a cooking plant, distributing hamburgers and meatballs. The product was sold to schools, prisons and retailers. The company was shut down for months and cost millions of dollars to get the company up and running. 

Mayhue said it was their own inability to get the machine working properly that led to the company closing its doors along with the cost of testing the meat extensively. The company at their peak had close to 30 employees. They have paid their vacations and treated their employees’ right. Mayhue says he hopes someday the plant will be successful. Mayhue says they can’t say enough good things about the people of Harlan. He says they are so sad that the money is gone and lost, and they wanted to see people be successful. 

The plant was shut down last Friday, May 11th. Kohler Company in Lincoln, NE will host an auction for everything in the plant and the 5 acres sometime in the middle of July this year. Superior Meats is hoping someone in the meat industry will purchase the building because it is ready for production right away.

(Joel McCall/KNOD – Harlan)

Board votes to retain Behavioral Health Unit at CCMH


May 16th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Memorial Hospital’s seven member Board of Trustees this (Wednesday) morning voted to keep the Behavioral Health Unit at the hospital, even though the bids to remodel a portion of the facility for a scaled down version of the BHU came in at a greater than anticipated cost. The Board approved the remodeling project and to retain the BHU by a vote of 4-to 2, with board members Lois Casey, Jerry Putnam, Phyllis Stakey and Ned Brown voting in favor, and Leanne Pellett, John Molgaard voting against.

The plan is to move forward with the remodeling of the special care unit to house a four-bed BHU. It was just last week that the hospital board opened bids for the electrical, mechanical and general construction portions of the project. Hospital officials said while the electrical and mechanical bids came in at around projected costs, the general construction bid was higher than expected, primarily due to certain specifications pertaining to the type of glass used, and other such issues.

Arrests made in Copper theft from Pott. County


May 16th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Two men from Omaha were arrested Tuesday morning in connection with the theft of copper from Center-Point Irrigation systems in the northwest part of Pottawattamie County. According to Sheriff Jeff Danker, the arrests followed a call early Tuesday morning from a farmer who received an alarm at around 4:40-a.m., from his two CPI units in the vicinity of 145th and Treasure Lane (about 3-miles south of the Interstate 29/I-680 split). Danker says deputies quickly responded and found a 1994 Dodge Intrepid with Nebraska plates, but no one around the vehicle.

The deputies discovered the Center Pivots had copper stripped-off. After a search of the area revealed no suspects, the vehicle was towed. About 3-hours later, deputies located an individual walking on the railroad train tracks in the same area, at about 145th and Desoto. Clifford Krings, 38, of Omaha, was brought to the Sheriff’s Office for questioning. A little more than 90-minutes later, 41-year old Scott Mohr, also of Omaha, the owner of the car, was located in the same area as Krings. Danker says a comparison of the mens’ footwear with impressions left in the area where the thefts occurred were similar. Both men were arrested on charges of Theft in the 2nd Degree and Criminal Mischief in the 2nd Degree.

Krings was being held this (Wednesday) morning in the Pott. County Jail on $5,300 bond, while Mohr was later released on a $5,000 bond. The Sheriff says the theft of copper from the Center Point irrigation system is just the latest in a string of such occurrences in the area devastated by last year’s flooding. He says there are no residences nearby, and the remote location makes it an easy target for thieves looking to steal copper wiring any chance they get. Danker said it costs about $5,000 to replace the wiring in just one of the CPI units, which is why the farmer who called them had an alarm system installed.