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N.W. IA call center adding 400 jobs

News

June 11th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A company which operates a call center at the Pioneer Mall in Sergeant Bluff is expanding and adding 400 new jobs. Barry Belcher is the site director of the facility. “We’re really excited, we recently entered into a partnership with a leading national wireless provider, and as a result of that partnership, we’ll be increasing the team here,” Belcher says. He says they have 80 people already in training at the facility and they hope to fill the rest of the jobs by the end of the year.

“It’s inbound customer support — taking care of our wireless customers — and then along with that we need staff and leadership to help manage the business,” Belcher says. “We’ll have about 350 of those positions will be entry-level positions, taking care of customers, and the rest of the positions will make up our training and our leadership and our staff positions.” Sergeant Bluff Mayor Jon Winkel help found the facility when it was owned by Long Lines Wireless.

He says there are a lot of employees left from the original company, but he says it is also like having new life breathed into it with the expansion. Winkel says both Sergeant Bluff and the Siouxland area will benefit from the expansion.

(Radio Iowa)

Ernst announces new office location in D.C

News

June 11th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Republican Senator Joni Ernst has announced her U-S Senate office in Washington, D-C, has a new location. Correspondence to her office can be addressed to:

Sen. Joni Ernst

111 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C 20510

Her phone numbers are: 1-202-224-3254; Fax – 1-202-224-9369.

Ernst also has an office in Council Bluffs located at 221 Federal Building, 8 South Sixth Street, Council Bluffs, IA, 51501.  Ph: 712-352-1167; Fax: 712-352-0087.

Former Clarinda M.S Teacher hired as Treynor H.S. Principal

News

June 11th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Treynor Community School District have announced the hiring of Gary McNeal their next High School Principal.

Mr. Gary McNeal (Photo from the Treynor School District website)

Mr. Gary McNeal (Photo from the Treynor School District website)

According to the district’s website, McNeal has been serving as the principal at Clarinda Middle School for the last six years, and has also served as a high school principal in Texas.

Gary McNeal will take over as High School Principal in Treynor, effective July 1st. In addition to his principal experience, Mr. McNeal has worked as an assistant principal, dean of students, activities director, classroom science teacher (chemistry, physics, etc.) and served in a variety of coaching roles throughout his career.

McNeal earned a Bachelor’s degree from Wartburg College and later earned a Master’s degree from the University of Houston.  His wife Tammi, is also an educator and has been teaching science at Clarinda for the last six years. Mrs. McNeal has accepted the Middle School Science position at Treynor Community Schools and brings with her 20+ years of teaching experience in the science content area.

Together they have three grown children that all reside within a few hours of Treynor.

(Podcast) KJAN News, 6/11/2015

News, Podcasts

June 11th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

More area and State news from KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.

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Creston man arrested in connection w/burglary

News

June 11th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Police in Creston report the arrest Wednesday at the Union County Law Enforcement Center, of 20-year old James Arthur Franke, of Creston. Franke was taken into custody on a Union County warrant for Probation Violation, the original arrest for which was based on a charge of 2nd degree Burglary. Franke was later released from the jail on $1,000 bond.

(Podcast) KJAN Morning News & funeral report, 6/11/2015

News, Podcasts

June 11th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The 7:07-a.m. report w/KJAN News Director Ric Hanson

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Council Bluffs/Omaha may get a 2nd pedestrian bridge

News

June 11th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

City leaders in Omaha have, for years, been working on ways to make it easier for pedestrians wanting to cross over the river from Council Bluffs to the northern downtown area of the metro, and now as the city renews focus on developing the riverfront and north downtown, officials are finalizing a bridge’s design and funding. The Daily NonPareil reports a second pedestrian bridge would cement the link between Omaha and Council Bluffs, providing a pathway from Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park to Omaha’s north downtown area.

As it stands now, if you’re next to TD Ameritrade Park for a College World Series game, you can see the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. But getting to it, and to Council Bluffs, is difficult. You can walk all the way up to Abbott Drive or all the way down to Capitol Avenue to connect to Riverfront Drive. Then those streets wrap around to the bridge.

In the works is a connector bridge that would run from Mike Fahey Street in north downtown, cross railroad tracks and tie in with the pedestrian bridge. Derek Miller, Omaha’s transportation planner, said the $3.5 million to $4.5 million bridge is set to be built in 2018 and 2019. Some of the money will come from a federal grant and city capital improvement funds. Miller said the city plans to solicit private donations for the rest — about $1.5 million.

Officials from Council Bluffs and Omaha both have made the riverfront a renewed priority. In the past six months, groups of outside experts from the Urban Land Institute have twice come to Omaha to study the riverfront and north downtown. Those experts said they were impressed with the pedestrian bridge — but noted its inaccessibility. Miller said the city has intended to build the connector as long as the bridge has been in place. Officials on both sides of the river say they’re excited.

Iowa early News Headlines: Thu., June 11 2015

News

June 11th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Republican Party officials are pondering the future of the state’s traditional straw poll for presidential favorites. Iowa GOP spokesman Charlie Szold confirms that a conference call has been set up for Friday, but declines to provide further details. The call was first reported in the Des Moines Register. Critics say the August 8th poll has become a costly sideshow.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Four Democratic presidential hopefuls will appear at an Iowa Democratic Party event next month. The state party organization announced Wednesday that their “Hall of Fame” dinner will be attended by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb on July 17th in Cedar Rapids.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A West Des Moines man who served with the Iowa National Guard in Iraq has returned there on his own to help train Kurdish troops. Federal officials say the actions of Ryan O’Leary, a former National Guard corporal who served in Iraq in between 2007 and 2008, are legal. But they’ve urged against them over concerns of him being put in danger.

OXFORD, Iowa (AP) — Camping at a wildlife area in eastern Iowa has been halted after state officials say visitors were hosting parties and damaging the space. The state Department of Natural Resources says the temporary camping ban at Hawkeye Wildlife Management Area in Johnson County will be in place to give officials time to address problems with littering, drug use, underage drinking and unattended bonfires.

ISU researchers say there’s little evidence of “skills gap” in workers

News

June 11th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Researchers at Iowa State University say the common complaint that companies in Iowa and elsewhere they can’t find enough skilled workers doesn’t seem to hold up. Liesl Eathington says they found several factors contributing to hiring challenges, but a widespread lack of skilled workers is not one. “I think the take away from out study is that a lot of the evidence that’s being thrown to substantiate that there’s a skills gap, we think is pretty flimsy, because we really don’t have a lot of good data to describe the skills of workers. And we’re mostly stuck with rating them on the terms of their educational attainment. And that really isn’t descriptive enough,” Eathington says.

“Using the data available to us, we just couldn’t find a systematic shortage of middle-skilled or middle-educated workers in Iowa or nationwide,” she says. Eathington says it seems to be more of a problem of figuring out what businesses are really looking for in workers. “What our research concluded was that we need to do a lot better job of describing the particular skills that are needed and not just base it on secondary data. Even though the data are readily available, they are not very useful for policy purposes,” Eathington says. There’s been a push to get more training for Iowans to fill the so-called gap.

“The educational level that is most often talked about with the middle-skill gap debate is people with some college or associate degree. And we’re just not finding evidence that the number of those people in Iowa or in the nation is out of whack with what’s being demanded. Eathington and fellow researcher Dave Swenson in the I-S-U Economics Department, found that the amount of money employers are willing to pay is a factor in the lack of workers.

“Because if there was high demand for a kind of worker that wasn’t being met, wages should get bid up,” Eathington explains. “And then there should be a response to that by the supply — people would either move in or they would acquire the skills necessary to take advantage of that higher wage.” Eathington says researchers have looked for evidence of the wages being bid up and haven’t found it. She says the urban-rural factor also impacts the issue in Iowa.

“A lot of times we have trouble in some of our rural areas of getting people willing to live in these areas. Firms just simply can’t provide the wages that are competitive with urban areas,” according to Eathington. “And so that’s another part of it. We might kind of a rural-urban issue in Iowa.” With the continued increase in technology, Eathington says firms may have higher expectations than what the workforce can immediately meet.

“It’s possible that some of the skills that are required are a lot less transferable from one firm to another. And so, maybe firms used to be able to just hire somebody and have them up to speed pretty quickly, that may not be the case any more,” Eathington says. “So, expectations about the level of the on-the-job training that may be required — those might have to change.”

(Radio Iowa)

Iowans vow to disable AMBER Alert feature on smartphones after 2nd early morning alert

News

June 10th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Hundreds of thousands of smartphone users in Iowa were jolted awake around 2 o’clock this (Wednesday) morning by an AMBER Alert. It’s the second time in two weeks the emergency warning system has gone off in the wee hours and it’s left some Iowans vowing to disable the feature. Sergeant Nate Ludwig, of the Iowa State Highway Patrol, says those cell phone alerts are vital and he hopes people will reconsider.

“I would advise them not to disable them,” Ludwig says. “If this was one of their kids or someone they knew or someone they might have clues about, they’re not going to be notified by this wireless alert.” The incident involved a father abducting his young son in Urbandale, both of whom are presumed to have died in a vehicle fire last night in northern Missouri. While the outcome in this case was tragic, Ludwig says he’s confident in how the AMBER Alert system is working.

“The two previous AMBER Alerts we had before that, the one up in Clay County and the one in Jefferson, as soon as the AMBER Alert goes out, they reach as many people as possible and the end result was, these kids were returned safely and they were returned quickly, within an hour after the AMBER Alert went out,” Ludwig says. The alerts are also going out in several other venues, like on Iowa Lottery ticket machines, the Iowa D-O-T’s roadside message boards and over weather radios. Still, people’s frustrations with the notifications early today were compounded by word the father and son were killed in the fire several hours before Iowans were even alerted to the abduction.

“In this case, people are jumping to conclusions,” Ludwig says. “They hear the child was missing since 11 o’clock yesterday and then the AMBER Alert goes out at 1:45, but they don’t hear the whole story. Like with anything, you’ve gotta’ hear the whole story before you realize what happened.” In this case, the father wasn’t expected to return the child until 8 P-M and it wasn’t until later that the mother reported the possible abduction. He says all procedures were followed and the alert was issued as quickly as possible. Ludwig notes, since the AMBER Alert program was initiated in 1996, a total of 767 children who were subject of the alerts have been safely returned to their homes.

(Radio Iowa)