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7AM Newscast 05-15-2012

News, Podcasts

May 15th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson


Task force looks at teacher pay, quality


May 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Department of Education has assembled a taskforce on teacher leadership and pay to come up with recommendations on ways to improve schools in Iowa. Taskforce member Kent Mick, who teaches history in the Corwith-Wesley-LuVerne school district, says they need to look at how to get and retain better teachers.  “We recruit football players and basketball players but we don’t recruit the best teachers out of high school,” Mick says. Mick says the profession of teaching needs to be elevated. Iowa Department of Education Director, Jason Glass, agrees. He says teachers should be treated more like doctors – from training to salary. 

“The medical profession has a lot of esteem, respect for it, so that’s where we are trying to move this conversation around the teaching profession in Iowa, how could we do that same thing for teachers?,” Glass explains. But Jessica Gogerty of the Des Moines School District, says improving teacher performance is not just about a paycheck. “That we are still falling short isn’t because we didn’t pay them enough,” according to Gogerty. She says teachers are not holding back and saying “oh gosh I would do a better job if you just paid me an extra.” Gogerty says that teachers need better support systems. The taskforce will continue to meet throughout the summer. They will take their recommendations to the legislature in the fall.

(Dar Danielson/Radio Iowa)

MidAmerican Energy warns of phone scam


May 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Officials with MidAmerican Energy, Monday, issued a statement warning its customers about “Past Due” account, phone scams. The company says it has responded to several scams involving persons who call its customers, posing as MidAmerican Energy customer service associates or attorneys. The caller says the customer’s account is past due, and payment is needed immediately to avoid disconnection. The caller will follow-up by asking for your credit card number.

MidAmerican Energy says credit card numbers and any personal information should NOT be provided to suspicious callers. Customers are advised to end the conversation and call MidAmerican Energy’s Customer Service line at 1-888-427-5632. There, a company representative will confirm whether the call was from MidAmerican’s Energy call center, or a scam artist. The CSR’s can also confirm your bill payment, service or an appointment at your home or place of business.

If you receive a suspicious call, or other unusual type of contact from someone claiming to be with the utility company, contact your local law enforcement agency, immediately.

Blown tire causes straight truck accident


May 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reports a Nodaway man was sent to the hospital following an accident Monday morniong on a county road about two and a-half miles northwest of Stanton. 62-year old Gary Dean Poe was transported by private vehicle to the Montgomery County Memorial Hospital, where he was checked for possible injuries.

Officials say Poe was traveling east on 200th Street at around 9:25-a.m., when the left front tire blew out on the 1979 Kenworth straight truck he was driving. The incident caused the truck, which was loaded with gravel, to cross the center line of the road and enter into a ditch, where it hit a fence and came to rest upright. No citations were issued.

The truck, registered to David Hart, of Stanton, sustained $15,000 damage. The fence, owned by Ronald True, of Villisca, sustained about $150 damage.

Oakland woman arrested


May 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Police Department reported Monday afternoon, that a Pottawattamie County woman was arrested Sunday. 42-year old Theresa Reynolds, of Oakland, was arrested in Atlantic on a charge of OWI/1st Offense. Reynolds was brought to the Cass County Jail and held pending an appearance before the magistrate.

Home sales in Iowa continue to climb


May 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The number of homes sold in Iowa increased again in April. The Iowa Association of Realtors (IAR) reports two-thousand-606 (2,606) homes were sold last month. That’s just 22 more than in April of 2011, but association president Dale Gross, of Atlantic, says it marks the “eighth or ninth” consecutive month of increased sales. “It’s not up much, but it continues in the same direction,” Gross said. He noted the first four months of 2012 marked the strongest first quarter in terms of homes sold in Iowa since 2007. The median sale price of a home in Iowa last month was $124,375. That’s an increase of 8.2% over the previous year.

“People are beginning to think that the dream of home ownership is affordable with our low interest rates, so they’re stepping up and buying a home,” Gross said. The April report from the IAR shows the average home stayed on the market for 112 days before being sold. That’s up just one day over last year. The inventory of homes being sold, statewide, dropped from roughly 23,000 in April 2011 to just over 21,000 this year.

(Pat Curtis/Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Tue., May 15th 2012


May 15th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — Police have arrested a 17-year-old boy charged in the slayings of his grandparents in their home in Manchester. Larry Hedlund of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation says police captured Isaiah Sweet on Monday night in a wooded area of Cedar Rapids after a short chase. Earlier Monday, the teen was charged with two counts of first degree murder in the death of his grandparents, Richard and Janet Sweet. Their bodies were found Sunday afternoon when relatives arrived for a Mother’s Day gathering. Police say their grandson had been living with them.

PLATTSMOUTH, Neb. (AP) — Authorities are treating the case of a missing Nebraska woman and her 11-year-old son as a kidnapping but they say there’s no evidence of a crime. Charlotte and Owen Schilling were last seen Thursday morning in the Plattsmouth area, when she checked her son out of elementary school. They haven’t responded to cellphone calls from relatives. Schilling’s vehicle was found Friday near Lake Manawa near Council Bluffs, Iowa. Her cellphone and wallet were in the car. Police say the two were spotted at a Kohl’s department store in Council Bluffs before her car was found. Investigators say they’re proceeding as if the boy was kidnapped, but they don’t believe anyone is in danger and the mother doesn’t face any charges.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Postal Service spokesman Richard Watkins says the agency is stalling plans to close 600 urban and suburban postal branch offices and satellite stations. Watkin’s announcement yesterday follows the agency’s decision last week to halt the planned shutdown of hundreds of rural post offices.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is planning his first trip to Iowa since effectively locking up the presidential nomination. The former Massachusetts governor will give a speech today about debt and government spending at Drake University in Des Moines.

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The maker of the beef product dubbed “pink slime” by critics says it’s laying off 86 employees from its South Dakota corporate office, and company officials are blaming what they call a “campaign of misinformation.” Beef Products Inc. announced earlier this month it was closing its three plants in Kansas, Texas and Iowa.

New documentary airs on PBS tonight on Iowan Johnny Carson


May 14th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A documentary debuts tonight (Monday) on Iowa native Johnny Carson, who was once the king of late night television. Carson was born in Corning in 1925 and his family moved to Norfolk, Nebraska, when he was eight.

Corning native Johnny Carson

Emmy-winning filmmaker Peter Jones worked for 20 years to get permission to do the documentary. Jones says the two-hour film shows Carson at his best — and his worst.

“America, when they see this, may even love Johnny Carson more because they see he is a flawed man, just as everyone is in various ways,” Jones says. “I think they’ll come away feeling, perhaps, a connection to him in a way they didn’t when he was the host of ‘The Tonight Show.’” Carson hosted the program for three decades, from 1962 to 1992, and he died in 2005.

The documentary includes interviews with 45 individuals and family home movies of Carson’s childhood. Jones says it explores the life, career, complexities and contradictions that were Johnny Carson. Jones first proposed the idea to Carson more than 20 years ago and wrote to him every year, asking for an on-film interview. He says every year he got a letter or call from Carson’s assistant, denying his request.

“In 2003, I wrote my annual letter and received a call at my office from Johnny Carson,” Jones says. “He said, ‘I admire your persistence and style but I’m not going to do anything because I’m going to let the work speak for itself.” Jones says he was finally able to convince the Carson family that Johnny would be forgotten if something was not done to preserve his memory. The documentary, “American Masters – Johnny Carson: King of Late Night,” can be seen tonight at 8 on P-B-S.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)

Update: no sign of missing woman/child after search of Council Bluffs lake


May 14th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in western Iowa are now helping with the search for a missing woman and one of her children from eastern Nebraska. The last anyone heard from 41-year-old Charlotte Schilling and her 11-year-old son Owen was last Thursday when Schilling drove to her son’s school and picked him at 10 a.m. The elementary school is located in Plattsmouth, a town on the Missouri River about 20 miles south of Omaha. Plattsmouth Police Chief Steve Rathman says, so far, there no evidence of foul play or suspicious activity.

“It is a mystery at this point,” Rathman says. “Hopefully, with the agencies partnering together, we can get an answer for the family real soon.” Schilling’s husband and their 20-year-old daughter say the situation is “very out of character,” but police say there’s no evidence of a crime. Charlotte’s car was located Friday at Lake Manawa, just south of Council Bluffs. Schilling had been known to fish in the lake. Rathman says Council Bluffs police searched the land surrounding the lake this (Monday) morning.

“In addition, I had the Plattsmouth Water Rescue go down with their boat and sonar equipment and get out on the lake and check in the lake to see if there was any evidence of suspicious activity or foul play. Both of those searches came back negative,” Rathman says. Schilling’s cell phone and wallet were found in the car’s trunk. Rathman says, right now, investigators have few leads.

“We have investigators out doing follow up interviews. We’re looking for any surveillance videos we can find from gas stations, restaurants or fast food places that the mother and son may have visited so we can get a timeline as to when the last time they were seen and where they were at,” Rathman said.

(Pat Curtis/Radio Iowa)

Nishna Valley Trails work day and ride

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 14th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Nishna Valley Trails association said Monday the organization is sponsoring it’s second “Friends of the T-Bone” trail work day this coming Saturday, May 19th , from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.  Organizers say interested members of the public are invited to come to the trail crossing at Lorah, one mile west of US Highway 71, about a mile south of “The Valley” truck stop.

The goal is to once again clear out dead branches from the right-of-way, and stack them by the trail for the County Conservation staff to run through the chipper. Persons interested in volunteering are advised to wear a good pair of shoes, long pants, some sturdy gloves, and a hat to ward off sun and bugs. Bottled water will be provided so you can stay hydrated. If it rains that morning, the event will be postponed to a later date.

At 11:00-a.m., or when the work is done, whichever comes first, there are tentative plans for the work group to gather at the Valley trailhead and take a bike ride together. Volunteers can travel along with the group to Darrell’s Place in Hamlin for lunch. Or, if you prefer not to go so far, you can stop at the Little Red Barn in Exira, or Big T’s Bar and Grill in Brayton.

Cass County Conservation Director Micah Lee said he was very pleased with what the groups’ efforts accomplished on the last clean-up day, May 5th .  Lee and his crew plan to be out on the trail this weekend to chip the branches volunteers work to pile-up along the trail.