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McCain, Ernst, et al. to travel to Vietnam & Singapore this week


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, will lead a Senate delegation visit to Vietnam and Singapore this week at a critical time for U.S. interests in the Asia-Pacific region. The delegation visiting Vietnam, which is marking the 20th anniversary of the normalization of relations with the United States – an effort in which Senator McCain played a leading role – will include Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK). In Singapore, the delegation will be joined by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

In Vietnam, senators will meet with top government officials and civil society leaders in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to discuss a range of vital security and economic issues. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam and the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.

In Singapore, senators will participate in the The Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual conclave of Asia-Pacific defense ministers and policy makers, including U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

4 escape serious injury after going over spillway in eastern IA


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

MUSCATINE – Four people escaped serious injury when the boat they were in went over the spillway at Lock and Dam 16 near Muscatine late Saturday evening. Officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said Sunday, the fiberglass runabout boat being operated by 41-year old Kevin Mundt, of Orion, Ill., went over the spillway shortly before 11- p.m. on Saturday at a high rate of speed landing in about two feet of water. Both Mundt and 20-year old Jenna Bundy, also of Orion, Ill., were transported to Trinity Hospital in Muscatine where they were treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The other passengers in the boat, 31-year old Daniel Dick, 31, and 33-year old Amanda Dick, both of LeClaire, were ejected from the boat, but uninjured. None of the occupants of the boat were wearing life jackets at the time of the incident, but did put them on before swimming and wading to shore.

The incident remains under investigation by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Atlantic Police Chief: Lock your homes & cars (re: burglaries)


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Police Chief Steve Green, Sunday afternoon, issued a statement to the media with regard to a set of burglaries that occurred early Sunday morning in the vicinity of 9th and Birch Streets. Green said “Atlantic Police would like to encourage citizens to lock their cars and houses.”

Green said “While Atlantic enjoys an unusually low rate of crimes of this type, the recent incidents are a reminder that all citizens should observe common security measures.” About 10 days ago, Green says there were a number of unlocked cars entered, and items stolen. A number of local juveniles are currently being investigated for the offenses, however, according to the Chief, “The case is not complete, so no further details will be released at this time.”

Green says “One of the best defenses against theft and burglary is the common door lock, couple with the neighborly act of reporting anything unusual or suspicious in your neighborhood. Citizens do not need to be alarmed by these occurrences” according to Green, but rather this is “A call to be observant, and practice what should be normal, daily security measures.”

Stolen vehicle crashed into 3 vehicles & a house in C. Bluffs Sunday morning


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The driver of a stolen vehicle was injured and faces numerous charges after the suspect crashed the vehicle into a total of three vehicles and a house in Council Bluffs early this (Sunday) morning. According to Bluffs Police, 22-year old Mark E. Wilke, Jr., suffered minor injuries during the crash and was transported to Jennie Edmundson Hospital for treatment. When he’s released, he’ll be arrested for Reckless Driving, Theft in the 1st degree of  a stolen vehicle, and OWI.

Police and Council Bluffs Fire and Rescue Personnel were called to the area of the 3500 block of Avenue A at around 4:25-a.m., after they received word a vehicle hit a house at 3515 Avenue A. The vehicle, owned by Terry Hanson, of Council Bluffs, was damaged when it hit two parked vehicles and the home of Scott Mohr, of Council Bluffs. The vehicle was located in the intersection of Avenue A and 35th Street.

Police say the suspect vehicle was apparently traveling at a high rate of speed on Avenue A westbound. At the intersection of 35th Street and Avenue A, it collided with a mini-van before continuing west and hitting the two parked vehicles in front of 3511 Avenue A and then hitting Mohr’s home.

Upon further investigation, it was determined the suspect vehicle was stolen out of Treynor, and that Hanson didn’t know it was missing. A City of Council Bluffs building inspector was called to check the structural stability of the home.

SW IA educators receive Outstanding Teacher Awards


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Four teachers in southwest Iowa were recognized recently by the Charles E. Lakin Outstanding Teacher Awards. According to the Daily NonPareil, Joy Best, who teaches fifth grade at AHST in Avoca, and Rhesa Leiding, who teaches sixth through eighth grade social studies at Nishnabotna Middle School in Hamburg, both won the award. They received $10,000 as well as earning $2,500 for their respective schools.

Paul Hart, band instructor at Tri-Center High School, was named as runner-up and received $5,000. A fourth teacher, Cynthia Bachman, an elementary art teacher and counselor at Corning Elementary School, was inadvertently omitted from a previous article in The Daily Nonpareil. She was also a runner-up, earning a $5,000 prize from the awards.

This year, the Lakin awards surpassed $200,000 given to educators who live within a 40-mile radius of Emerson, which is Lakin’s hometown. Teachers in Council Bluffs aren’t eligible but are recognized by a different program. Last Thursday, the Atlantic Rotary Club presented its Outstanding Teacher Award to Schuler Elementary School 5th Grade teacher DeLana Harris.

Hamburg District among Iowa schools to select a new Superintendent


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Hamburg has joined the list of southwest and western Iowa school districts that will have a new superintendent this year, while Red Oak hopes to announce its selection for a new superintendent on Wednesday evening. According to the Daily NonPareil, Terry Kenealy announced this past week that he would step down as superintendent so he can take a similar job at Odebolt-Arthur and Battle Creek-Ida Grove community school districts.

Kenealy was hired by Hamburg last May after the school board voted not to renew its contract with Jay Lutt, who was a shared superintendent with Farragut. Members of the Hamburg school board will meet Tuesday at 10 a.m. to accept Kenealy’s resignation and release him from his 2015-16 contract. The board will also discuss finding a replacement superintendent and principal for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade at that special meeting.

The Odebolt-Arthur & B-C-I-G schools in Ida Grove recently conducted a superintendent search as well, with one of the three unsuccessful candidates being Tom Messinger, who is one of two finalists to be superintendent of the Red Oak Community School District. He also was a named finalist last month in a superintendent search in Osage.

Messinger is the principal of Burlington High School, where he has been for the past 11 years. He grew up in Casey on the Adair-Guthrie county line. The other Red Oak finalist is Debra Rodenburg, who is the director of elementary curriculum and Title I for the Papillion-La Vista School District in Papillion, Neb. She was an elementary teacher in Nebraska for 10 years as well as a former principal of West Elementary School in Glenwood.

Red Oak plans to conduct interviews early this week, with a “probable vote” listed on the agenda following a dinner and interview with Rodenburg during a special meeting of the school board on Wednesday evening. In addition to Hamburg and Red Oak, Shenandoah also recently hired Kerri Nelson as its new superintendent after firing its previous superintendent during a fraud inquiry that was initially disputed and then dropped.

Iowa schools in wait and see mode as budget debate drags on


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — As budget talks drag on in the state Capitol, educators are growing increasingly frustrated. School funding has been a central point of conflict throughout the legislative session, with the Democratic-led Senate seeking to provide more new dollars than the Republican-controlled House for the 2015-2016 academic year. The two sides are about $50 million apart on funding.

Paul Gausman, superintendent of the Sioux City Community School District, says his district removed about 20 instructional assistant jobs from its payroll as it waits for word about additional money. David Benson, superintendent for the Cedar Rapids Community School District, says the impasse has forced his district to keep about 30 teaching jobs on hold.

Legislative leaders say they are making progress on reaching a budget deal. They’ll resume negotiations this week.

Iowa early News Headline: Sun., May 24th 2015


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

MORAVIA, Iowa (AP) — An Oskaloosa man was killed when the boat he was operating rolled at a southern Iowa lake. The Department of Natural Resources says 50-year-old Gregory Alan Williams died Saturday morning after he and a passenger were in a boat that overturned, throwing them into the water at Rathbun Lake, west of Moravia in Appanoose County. The passenger wasn’t seriously injured. The DNR says investigators believe the 33-foot boat rolled after making a sharp turn.

LOGAN, Iowa (AP) — A former Missouri Valley fire chief accused of lying to police about two suspected arsons has been given a suspended jail sentence. The Omaha World-Herald reports that Johnnie Walker pleaded guilty to providing false information to authorities. In return, prosecutors dropped a charge of interfering with official acts. On Friday, Walker was given a 30-day suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay $120 in court costs.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A state board has approved $13.2 million worth of tax incentives for a proposed $264 million pork processing plant in Sioux City. The Sioux City Journal reports that the plant is a joint venture between Merriam, Kansas-based Seaboard Foods and St. Joseph, Missouri-based Triumph Foods and will provide at least 1,100 jobs.

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Police are crediting a teenage girl with saving her younger brother from being kidnapped from the family’s home in Ames. The Des Moines Register reports that police responded to a report of attempted child abduction at the home just before 1 a.m. Friday. Family members told police that a male suspect came into the home while the family was sleeping and pulled the child out of a basement window. Police say the suspect also hit the boy in the face. A 17-year-old boy who lives in the neighborhood into custody and to hospital for a mental health evaluation.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says millions of Iowa birds killed or destroyed in the wake of a bird flu outbreak should be disposed of or incinerated within the next week. The dead birds are piling up at poultry facilities. Vilsack told The Des Moines Register that the disposal by next week will happen barring another large outbreak. In the past week, two landfills — one in northwest Iowa, the other in southwest Iowa (near Malvern) — have agreed to take some of the estimated 25 million birds either stricken by avian influenza or killed to stop the spread of the disease.

Head of Iowa BBB urges research before charitable giving


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The president of the Greater Iowa Better Business Bureau is urging Iowans to do their research before contributing to a charitable organization. Chris Coleman’s advice is in response to a federal lawsuit involving all 50 states against four phony cancer charities. The complaint states the organizations collected $187 million in donations over a five-year period and very little of the money actually went to help cancer victims.

Coleman said “It gives all of us real heartache because of all of us know family members or friends who are victims of cancer or have suffered through that disease.”  The defendants in the lawsuit include Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America, and the Breast Cancer Society. Most donors, upon hearing the charity’s name, probably felt comfortable making a donation. “They borrowed a name of a good charity, I’d say they hijacked it,” Coleman said. “They steal the good reputation of many charities.”

The complaint claims a large majority of the contributions to the sham charities benefited only the defendants, their families and friends, and professional fundraising groups.”If this causes consumers to do more research to verify the legitimacy of charities before they make a contribution, that will help all good charities and we feel confident about that,” Coleman said. “We want our information to spotlight the best charities so people know where to contribute and where their gift can make the most difference.”

Charities can be checked out at the Better Business Bureau’s “Wise Giving” site: www.give.org.

(Radio Iowa)

Leahy, Grassley back bill on humanitarian patents


May 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy is joining with his Republican colleague Chuck Grassley of Iowa to back patent legislation designed to encourage developers of technologies for use in poor nations. This week’s bill introduction comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to consider broader patent legislation. Leahy and Grassley say the Patents for Humanity Improvement Act expands an existing program to encourage small businesses to participate.

The broader legislation also tries to crack down on patent trolls, who critics say shake down businesses by threatening them with lawsuits based on often spurious allegations of patent violations.