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Last-minute deal may mean future for MHI facilities in Clarinda, Mount Pleasant


May 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Two Republican legislators from southern Iowa today (Friday) announced they’ve reached a deal with Governor Branstad that will hopefully mean the state-run Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant will reopen next year under private management. Since January, Branstad has repeatedly vowed to close what he calls “antiquated” facilities by June 30th, but today (Friday) it appears Branstad has agreed to temporarily keep parts of the facilities open through mid-December, with the goal of reopening both on January 1st under private ownership.

“I convinced the governor that our campuses needed to remain open to provide these vitally needed services that we had done so well in our community and that were much needed.” That’s Representative Dave Heaton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant. He says says this proposal will be presented for a vote in the House next week.

“The governor’s agreed to take this plan,” Heaton says. “It’s not everything I think that we would want — all of us, both sides of the aisle on this issue, but I think this is the best thing that we can get.” May 18th has been the target date for closure of the Mount Pleasant M-Hi and some furniture already has been removed from the facility. May 31st has been the target date for closing down the Clarinda M-H-I. Representative Cecil Dolecheck, a Republican from Mount Ayr, says this is a “solid agreement” with the governor and it means vital services for mentally ill Iowans will be available in southern Iowa.

(Radio Iowa)

Bluffs P-D to host National Law Enforcement Mem. Day Svc.


May 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Council Bluffs Police Department have announced that the department, in partnership with the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office and District 3 of the Iowa State Patrol, will hold the National Law Enforcement Memorial Day Service on Thursday, May 14th, beginning at 6:30-p.m.Bluffs bade wblack

The service will begin with the memorial flag ceremony on the east side of the Pottawattamie County Courthouse in Council Bluffs, near the flag pole. During the ceremony, Deputies with the Sheriff’s Department, Iowa State Patrol Troopers and Council Bluffs Police Officers who have fallen, will be honored.

Immediately after the ceremony, the Law Enforcement Memorial Service will move to St. John’s Lutheran Church at 633 Willow Avenue, where a Memorial Service will be held in the sanctuary, followed by a reception in the Fellowship Hall.

During the reception, officials will recognize the graduates of the 2015 Council Bluffs Citizens Police Academy. In addition, the Officer of the Year award will be honored, along with the good work of other Council Bluffs staff. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Four law officers honored in memorial ceremony


May 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Four Iowa law officers who died between 1917 and 1945 were honored today (Friday) as part of the annual ceremony at the Peace Officer Memorial south of the capitol. Department of Public Safety Commissioner, Roxann Ryan, addressed dozens of officers and family members attending the event. “At this peaceful location, we take the opportunity to recognize the sacrifices that these four officers made in Iowa. They are typical of the kinds of things that officers do every day,” Ryan says. Ryan says the dangers faced by officers also weigh on others.

Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker attended the Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony, Friday

Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker attended the Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony, Friday

“For those of us who personally know officers who have given their lives or their loved ones who survived them — the risks that the officers face each and every day are a stark reality for all of us,” according to Ryan. She says losing an officer in the line of duty is something that also impacts those outside of the officer’s family and the department.

“Every loss of an officer is a loss to every one of us. Even when it is someone that we have never met, we feel the loss because we know the dangers that arise every day on the job, and often on the days off as well,”Ryan explains. “And our sworn personnel knowingly take on that risk with professionalism, dedication and determination,” Ryan says. Ryan says the ceremony is one way the state can say thanks to officers.

“The annual recognition is one small but very important way for us to acknowledge the sacrifice that each officer has given, and to recognize their bravery and commitment when they have given their for the job, ” Ryan says. “And to salute the valor of those left behind to carry out the law enforcement mission.”

Governor Terry Branstad also spoke about the things officers face. “I know this is a difficult and challenging time to serve in law enforcement in uniform. And there are many unfortunate situations where the police are attacked and put in a very difficult situation,” Branstad says. The governor assured the officers their work is not forgotten. “I want you to know that as the governor of this state that I respect and appreciate what you do, day in and day out, and that you risk your lives on behalf of the people of this state,” Branstad says.

Branstad presented a flag to the family members or department representatives of each of the four officers. Those honored are: Knoxville Police Officer Albert Conrey, who died in 1938 after being beaten by an intoxicated couple; Cedar Falls Police Officer Everett Dutcher, who died in in 1945 an accident when the fire truck he was on was struck by a train; Pottwattamie County Sheriff’s Special Deputy Claude Dail, who died in 1932 while training to use a weapon; and Osceola Police Deputy Marshal Richard Eggleston who died in 1917 when a wall fell on him at a fire.

(Radio Iowa)

Ernst to retire from Iowa National Guard


May 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

First-term Republican Senator Joni Ernst is pondering retirement — from the Iowa National Guard. “This will be breaking news, probably, to my chain of command,” Ernst said. Ernst made the announcement this morning (Friday) during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that airs tonight (Friday) on Iowa Public Television. Ernst says it’s been “very hard” to balance her work as a senator, her obligation to the Guard and her desire to spend time with her husband and teenage daughter.

“I had drill last weekend, so spent a day on the road visiting a number of counties on Friday. Saturday and Sunday reported to drill to do my normal duties with Camp Dodge, so it is very difficult to do that,” Ernst said today. “And of course I have a wonderful family that I like to spend time with.”

Ernst enlisted in the Iowa National Guard in 1993. After her election last November, Guard leaders moved Ernst from command of a unit to a position at Iowa Guard headquarters in Johnston. She’s likely to retire within the next year and coordinate her exit with superiors, to ensure there is someone in place to take over her duties.

There is no prohibition against members of the Guard serving in the U.S. Senate. Half a dozen Guard members are currently serving in the House and the freshman Senator from Alaska is in the Marine Reserve.

(Radio Iowa)

Idea to turn Onawa airport into drag strip takes wing

News, Sports

May 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

ONAWA, Iowa (AP) – Onawa officials plan to turn their little used municipal airport into a drag strip. City administrator Bradley Hansen told the Sioux City Journal that officials are hoping to have at least one racing date this year.

The Onawa City Council voted in April to close the airport, which is used primarily by private pilots, aerial sprayers and traveling doctors. Hansen says four of its five hangars are occupied. Its closure is scheduled for July 1.

Officials have not determined whether the drag strip would be funded privately or with local taxes.

Pottawattamie County Resident Sentenced to 120 Months in Prison for Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine and 60 Months in Prison for Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking


May 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The U-S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa said Friday (Today), 50-year old Jeffrey Scott Gibler, of Council Bluffs, was sentenced Thursday to serve 10-years (120 months) in prison for conspiring to distribute methamphetamine, and 5-years (60 months) consecutive in prison for carrying and possessing a firearm in relation to and in furtherance of drug trafficking.

Gibler was also ordered to serve ten years of supervised release following imprisonment, and to pay $200 towards the Crime Victims Fun. Gibler pled guilty to the charges on January 1st (2015). The charges were the result of an investigation by law enforcement of drug trafficking that occurred in Pottawattamie County.

Beginning as early as March of 2013, continuing through October of 2013, Gibler
conspired with others to distribute over approximately two kilograms of methamphetamine in the Southern District of Iowa. Gibler was also found to have carried and possessed a .22-caliber revolver in relation to the methamphetamine distribution.

The investigation was conducted by the Southwest Iowa Narcotics Task Force, and the case was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.

Police: 25-year-old son says he killed mother of missing NE boy


May 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

LA VISTA, Neb. (AP) – Omaha police say the 25-year-old son of a woman whose body was found in southeast Omaha has been arrested after turning himself in, saying he was involved in her death. The body of the woman, 45-year-old Jesus Ismenia Marinero, was found Wednesday night in a ditch. Hours earlier, her 11-month-old son was found alive in a dumpster near a suburban Omaha apartment complex. Other than some bruises, he was uninjured.

Authorities continue to search for Marinero’s missing 5-year-old son, Josue Ramirez-Marinero. Police officials say they have reason to believe that Josue was thrown into the Elkhorn River. Police say Roberto Martinez-Marinero was arrested Thursday night after walking into the Douglas County Department of Corrections and telling jail staff that he was involved in the death of his mother.

Community Benefits from “Tell Your Story, Grow Your Community” fundraising campaign


May 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce say they recently completed their most successful Total Resource Campaign (TRC). A four week fundraising campaign supported by the professional fundraising consulting firm YGM, and lead locally by Chamber staff, business professionals and dedicated volunteers.

This year’s campaign surpassed the announced goal of $82,000.00, by more than $10,000.00, resulting in the most successful in the history of the Total Resource Campaign in Atlantic.

The 2015 “Tell Your Story, Grow Your Community” Total Resource Campaign was a major success. Ouida Wymer, Chamber Executive Director, says the additional investments of Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce businesses allows the organization to continue to enhance great membership programs and community events.

Cass County teen receive national honor for her art work


May 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A teenager from Cass County was honored Thursday afternoon as the winner of an art competition. Jessica Marshall, a Junior at the Griswold High School was recognized during a special ceremony held in the Griswold High School Auditorium. Iowa Republican Congressman David Young announced during the event that Marshall as the winner of a 3rd Congressional District Art Competition. Jessica says the sketch “Word Art: The Young Child,” was part of an assignment.

Jessica Marshall's award winning sketch.

Jessica Marshall’s award winning sketch.

She says the assignment was to choose a picture and add a 10 word description. Instead, she chose the words first and then the photo, which depicted despair, sorrow, helplessness and vulnerability. She created a pencil sketch of the photo that incorporated the words she chose. The award came as a complete surprise to Marshall, because she thought one of her classmates was getting an award. The chance to submit art work for the contest was optional for students in the class.

Despite receiving the award, she says she doesn’t see herself making a career out of being an artist. Marshall has received other awards and honors, but the Congressional award was by far the most prominent she’s received, so far. Congressman David Young said he’s thrilled to recognize people in the 3rd District for their efforts, talents and contributions to society.

Young says Jessica’s work will be displayed alongside works from students in much larger districts from across the country, in a hallway between the U-S House Buildings and the Capitol in Washington, D-C. Every time a member of the U-S House prepares to vote, they’ll walk by Marshall’s art and those of other students.

In addition to winning the award, Jessica Marshall will take a round-trip trip for two to Washington, D.C., on June 24th, for a special awards ceremony to honor all the competition winners. She may also be eligible to receive a $1,500 art scholarship. High school students from all 16 counties in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District submitted artwork. Jessica had the highest score from the judges, making her the winner. The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982, to provide an opportunity for Members of Congress to encourage and recognize the artistic talents of their young constituents. Since then, more than 650,000 high school students have participated in the nationwide competition.

Emerald ash borers detected at 2 spots in Polk County

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 8th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Officials have found emerald ash borders in Polk County, home of the state capitol in Des Moines. A news release from the Iowa Agriculture Department said Friday that the tree-killing pests were found in Urbandale and West Des Moines. The department says the confirmation brings to 22 the number of Iowa counties where the insects have been found.

The larva of an emerald ash borer cuts off an ash tree’s flow of nutrients when deposited below the bark. Once infected, trees typically die within five years. The insects are native to Asia and were first spotted in the U.S. in 2002, when they showed up in the Detroit area. They devastated ash trees in Michigan and have spread to at least 21 other states.