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Emotions run high over Cass County courthouse space and reorganization

News

December 1st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The possible relocation of the Cass County 9-1-1/Communications Center from the basement of the courthouse in Atlantic to the third floor does not sit well with some elected officials whose offices would be affected by the change. Constantly changing technology in methods of communicating with 9-1-1 is the main reason for the County Public Safety Commission (PSC) is  exploring the option. Supervisors Mark Wedemeyer and Gaylord Schelling serve on the County PSC. Schelling said during the Supervisor’s meeting Friday afternoon, that they want to explore the feasibility of moving the Comm Center to the Third-Floor, which would have involved a cost-study.

Cass County 9-1-1 Director Rob Koppert said the 9-1-1 Board has about $12,000 set aside in its budget to conduct any necessary study. He said also two architectural firms who have provided a tentative inspection of the 3rd floor facilites seem to think it would be more than capable of handling the infrastructure changes needed to facilitate the necessary an expansion of the Comm Center, which has been the topic of discussion for more than a year.

Koppert said during the PSC’s last meeting, the commission agreed to request the Supervisors formally approve moving the Comm Center upstairs, with the idea a study on the costs would be conducted AFTER the Supervisors approve. At that point in the conversation, Auditor Dale Sunderman, whose voting machines are stored in climate controlled conditions on the 3rd floor, told Board Chair Duane McFadden, approval could not be given until the courthouse department heads had a chance to discuss the matter. He said there are issues with the voting machines, as well as with other offices on the 3rd floor to contend with.

Sunderman said that a long-range plan should be made and approved by all elected officers in the courthouse, before any thought is given to conducting a feasibility study. Koppert then stressed the importance of not waiting too long to get the ball rolling on any possible move. He said they are coming up against some serious timelines for the installation of “Next Generation” 9-1-1 equipment. He said they can’t keep pushing-off decision on what to do with the Comm Center, because the new technology they’ll have to deal with requires more equipment and space to operate it, along with additional personnel.

The FCC, he says, has issued a recommendation that the County be “Next-Gen capable,” by no later than 2015. Cass County Attorney Dan Feistner, whose offices are on the 3rd floor, was upset he was never consulted about the possible move, and because he needs space for office expansion and renovations, as well. Feistner says the County Treasurer’s and Auditor’s Offices already have storage issues, in addition to his own office, and those spaces are continuously being “encroached upon.” Supervisor Mark Wedemeyer seemed surprised Feistner and others were angry over the concept of moving the Comm Center, since the issue has been in the news,  and discussed during various board and committee meetings,  for more than a year. Feistner and Cass County Recorder Joyce Jensen begged to differ.

Feistner said it was “unfair” to blame elected officials such as himself, Sunderman and Jensen for seemingly complaining “all of the sudden,” when they weren’t prithee to information from those meetings and discussions that had taken place. Jensen said it is “unfortunate” the County is being “re-active” to concerns, because that she says “Is the worst kind of government.” Wedemeyer said both he and Schelling had spoken with Jensen, but admitted neither had spoken with Feistner about the matter, because “It didn’t occur to us.”

In the end, the Supervisors said a meeting of all elected officials in the courthouse and department head will take place 3-p.m. December 5th, to “diplomatically” hash out the issues and solutions to the problem.

Governor seeks two-year pay freeze for state workers

News

December 1st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Governor Terry Branstad is asking state workers to accept a pay freeze for the next two years — and to cover more of their own health insurance costs. Governor Branstad’s lead negotiator in contract talks presented the pay and benefit proposal Friday. In mid-November AFSCME — the union that represents the largest share of state workers — launched the latest round of contract talks by asking for wage increases of one percent next year and two percent the following year. Not only is the Republican governor asking for a two-year pay freeze, he wants employees to give up four holidays and pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums. The governor’s lead labor negotiator says union leaders have done “an outstanding job” in the past decade in bargaining, but he suggests state worker pay is too high and state workers have too much power when it comes to workplace grievances and “bumping rights” during layoffs. Long-time employees who’re laid off can take jobs still held by workers with less seniority. The governor is seeking changes in those areas, too. AFSCME’s leader calls the governor’s proposal “appalling” and an attack on “basic union rights.”

(Radio Iowa)

Three illegal immigrants get prison time

News

December 1st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

An illegal immigrant from Mexico who was caught in Iowa has been sentenced to a year and a half in federal prison. On November 30th of 2009 Juan Cardona-Tinajero was convicted of a drug crime in Iowa District Court in Woodbury County and deported. This past May Cardona-Tinajero was a passenger in a vehicle that was stopped in western Iowa by a state trooper and he’s been in federal custody ever since. He’s now 23 years old. This summer he admitted to reentering the country illegally. In late November he was sentenced to 30 months in a federal prison.

Forty-seven-year-old Javier Garnica-Rodriguez, a Mexican citizen, was sentenced to six months in federal prison. Garnica-Rodriguez was being held in the Webster County Jail for driving without a license when federal authorities picked him up. Another man, 38-year-old Jose Bautista-Perez of Mexico, has also been sentenced to six months in federal prison. He was caught by Homeland Security agents doing a records check to see if deported immigrants had returned to the U.S. Both Bautista-Perez and Garnica-Rodriguez had been deported once before.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Sat., Dec. 1st 2012

News

December 1st, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

WASHINGTON, Iowa (AP) — Jurors have convicted a former Iowa public official of second-degree murder for shooting his girlfriend while she was riding a lawn mower behind their home. The jury returned its verdict yesterday in the case of Thomas Lee Hansen after a weeklong trial. Hansen acknowledged that he shot and killed 54-year-old Sharon Gerot on May 1, 2011, outside their home in Riverside, but says he didn’t aim at Gerot.

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — The Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office says an anonymous donor is offering to add up to $100,000 to a reward for information leading to the return of two missing cousins and the arrest and conviction of those responsible for their disappearance. In a statement released last night, Captain Rick Abben expressed hope the donation would aid in the return of Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins. The girls disappeared on July 13th.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A shaggy brown sheep successfully dodged police, his handlers and a few cars while trotting through downtown Des Moines after escaping from his trailer. But the ram’s freedom only lasted about an hour yesterday before he was cornered and tackled by about a half dozen of his pursuers not far from the state capitol.

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Richard Carter scored 16 points, leading five Drake players in double-figures, as the Bulldogs beat Nevada 76-66 last night in Reno. Carter, who was 6 of 12 from the field, also led the team in rebounds with seven.

Southwest Iowa Youth Chorale featured at Holiday Concert Dec. 8th

News

November 30th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce’s Holiday Concert and Angels of Christmas presentation is set to take place Saturday, Dec. 8th. The concert will be held at the First United Methodist Church at 800 Poplar Street. Chamber officials say the seats traditionally fill up fast for what has become a holiday tradition for many. The concert begins at 7-p.m., however those who arrive early will hear a violin prelude by local instructor and performer Pat McCauley.

Coordinated by Guy Somers of Somers Guitar, the Holiday Concert will officially begin with the Atlantic First United Methodist Joy Ringers Bell Choir directed by Sheryl Sunderman. Adults and teens comprise this well-seasoned group of ringers. The finale  features area youth who represent the Wilson Performing Arts Center’s Southwest Iowa Youth Chorale, directed by Terra Marsden. The choral consists of nearly 20 auditioned third to eighth graders from around the Southwest Iowa region.

The Holiday Concert is once again sponsored by two local business women, Jan Kinnison and Rebecca Power, whose ventures include Aunt B’s, Bonnesen’s, J&R Tax Service and Unique Salon and Spa. The concert is free and open to the public. Another part of the evening is Stifel Nicolaus’  “Angels of Christmas” presentation. The recipients of the award embrace the true meaning of giving and holiday spirit, according to Stifel Nicolaus branch manager Larry Turner. Two recipients are selected each year. The announcement will come a surprise, during the Concert, with the winners recognized in front of the audience and honored with a special gift from Stifel Nicolaus representatives and the Chamber.

More information about the Holiday Concert, Angels of Christmas presentation and other holiday happenings can be found at ChristmasInAtlantic.com or by contacting the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce at 712.243.3017.

Atlantic “Scrooge” contest winner announced

News

November 30th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce said Friday, that their “Scrooge” contest, which serves to raise funds and collect non-perishable good for the Atlantic Food Pantry, is over, and the winner of this year’s contest is Melanie Petty, representing the Trevor Frederickson Memorial Fund, who collected 6,367 donations.  Oddly enough, her donations represented the lowest cash total of all the candidates, with 6,017 of her points coming from food items. Each food item counts as one unit and each dollar counts as one unit. Overall, the Scrooge contest brought in a total of 17,542 donation units. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans donated supplemental funds to each candidate for the benefit of the food pantry.

Atlantic’s 12th Scrooge will take her place at the head of the Lighted Christmas Parade on Saturday (Dec. 1st) at 6 p.m. on Chestnut Street. Petty will be leading Saturday’s lighted parade as Grand Marshal on the Wal-Mart sponsored float. The other four Scrooge candidates (Frank Rizzo, Mark Jacobsen, Greg Franken and Bruce Kreutzer) will also be featured behind her in a limousine. Eleanor Hoover, Scrooge contest coordinator, said many thanks go out to the five candidates for their tireless efforts in the contest which benefits the Atlantic Food Pantry and many community members throughout the whole year.

Prior to the parade on Saturday, there will be carriage rides, Santa will be in his cabin at the City Park, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and there will be living window displays, which are available for viewing beginning at 5-p.m., in downtown Atlantic.

 

Ram on the lam captured

News

November 30th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A thickly coated sheep has been captured after an hour of freedom in downtown Des Moines.  The Navajo-Churro ram jumped from a trailer near the Capitol on Friday morning and led police, Animal Rescue League officials and Capitol workers on a chase.  It finally was cornered and controlled near the power plant south of the Capitol.

Authorities say the ram was being taken from Creston to Cedar Rapids.

Branstad, Reynolds visit every Iowa county: Cass is last

News

November 30th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

His visit Friday morning to Cass County marks the 99th county visited this year for both Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who visited Plastic Professionals in Atlantic, and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who wraps up her tour with a STEM Community Conversation at the Rock Island Depot in Atlantic on Tuesday, December 11th at 11 a.m.

The Governor says “Each year, I am committed to visiting every Iowa county because I want to hear directly from Iowans.: He said also, “When I put together my legislative proposals for the upcoming legislative session, I rely upon these visits to truly understand what Iowans wish to see in moving this state forward. I am grateful for each and every Iowan who turned out for our events, and I look forward to starting all over again this January.”

Lt. Gov. Reynolds’ travels this year included a number of town halls with Gov. Branstad, dozens of solo STEM appearances and joint STEM presentations with University of Northern Iowa President Ben Allen, and visits to dozens of Iowa small businesses throughout the state.

Branstad and Reynolds have each committed to all of Iowa’s 99 counties every year.

Funeral services set for fallen Algona soldier

News

November 30th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa National Guard says funeral services have been set for a 23-year old Algona native who was killed in the line of duty earlier this month, in Afghanistan. Sgt. Joseph A. Richardson died while serving on active duty in the U.S. Army on Nov. 16th, during a patrol in Paktika province, Afghanistan. His unit was attacked by enemy forces using an Improvised Explosive Device and small arms fire.

Also killed in the attack was Sgt. Channing B. Hicks, age 24, of Greer, S.C. Both men were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan., as infantrymen. Richardson was assigned to the 1st I-D in October 2008 and had previously served a tour in Iraq with them. This was his first deployment to Afghanistan.

Visitation for Sgt. Richardson will be held from this (Friday) evening, from 5-to 8, at the Oakcrest Funeral Home (218 S. Moore Street), in Algona. The funeral service will be held 10:30- a.m., Sat., Dec. 1st, at the St. Cecilia Catholic Church, (715 E. North St.,) in Algona.

Thursday morning accident in Atlantic causes $4k damage

News

November 30th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A collision Thursday morning in Atlantic caused $4,000 damage altogether, but no one was injured. According to the Atlantic Police Department, a vehicle driven by Ruben Weirich, of Atlantic, was turning right onto 8th Street from the Iowa Western Community College parking lot, when Weirich failed to yield to a westbound vehicle driven by Ethan Nachtman, of Atlantic. During the collision, the Weirich vehicle hit Nachtman’s vehicle on the right front corner. Weirich was cited for Failure to Yield upon entering a through street. The accident happened at around 9:30-a.m., Thursday.