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Petitioners object to Branstad plan to shut down MHIs in Clarinda, Mt Pleasant


May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Opponents of Governor Branstad’s push to close the two state-run Mental Health Institutes in southern Iowa delivered 25-hundred petitions signatures to the governor’s office Thursday morning. Matt Sinovic is executive director of Progress Iowa, the group that organized the online petition drive. “This happened over the last week or so, so it’s been a very quick turn-around for these signers and we expect more to sign,” Sinovic told reporters. “But we saw Governor Branstad was signing this proclamation today and thought this would be an appropriate time to make these voices heard.”

Branstad held a brief midday ceremony to sign a “Mental Health Month” proclamation. “Frankly, the governor signing this proclamation is laughable,” Sinovic says. “He’s putting these policies in place that hurts Iowans and now he’s taking a curtain call, pretending to be in favor of quality mental health care. I mean, it’s ridiculous.” Sinovic says there is currently no plan in place to care for the acutely ill Iowans who depend upon the state-run Mental Health Institutes for care they cannot get elsewhere at privately-run facilities.

Branstad says his critics just want to “protect the status quo.” “What we’re doing in Iowa is really long overdue,” Branstad says. “Many other states have done it before.” Branstad’s state budget plan released in January did not include any operating funds to keep the Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant open past June 30th.

Legislators are still wrangling over budget details, but it’s unlikely Branstad will accept any plan that keeps the two facilities open indefinitely.

(Radio Iowa)

Bluffs man arrested Thu. in Red Oak on burglary warrant


May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Police in Red Oak report a man from Pottawattamie County was arrested Thursday on a Red Oak P-D warrant for Burglary, stemming from an incident that took place in Sept., 2013. 22-year old Timothy Gene Humphrey, of Council Bluffs, at a residential correctional facility in Council Bluffs. Humphrey was brought to the Montgomery County Jail and held on $5,000 cash bond.


Villisca man arrested on a moving violation Thu. evening


May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A traffic stop Thursday evening in Villisca, resulted in the driver of the vehicle being arrested for Driving While Revoked. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department reports 39-year old Jason William McCollum, of Villisca, was pulled over at around 7:30-p.m. and following an investigation, was taken into custody. McCollum was being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $1,000 bond.

Villisca woman arrested for slashing tires


May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Adams County Sheriff’s Office says an investigation into tires slashed Wednesday afternoon on a vehicle at the Southwest Valley High School in Corning, has resulted in an arrest. 18-year old Jaden Deanna Lynn Baker, of Villisca, was taken into custody at around 8:20-p.m. Thursday, and charged with Criminal Mischief in the 3rd degree. Baker was arrested after security camera video showed her allegedly punching holes in all four tires of a vehicle. Her bond was set at $1,000.

Public info. campaign coming to Mills Co., re: Bird carcasses

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Mills County officials are putting together a campaign to educate the public on the avian flu as the county prepares to bury chickens affected by the disease. The remains of chickens killed by the flu will be buried in a landfill outside Malvern. The County said in a news release “Any risk to humans from this influenza is very low. No human infections have been detected, and there are no food safety risks for the consumer.”

The Mills County Planning Group for the avian flu has offered educational information, available at birdflu.millscoia.us, while there will also be a town hall meeting in Malvern on the issue. Officials said the county will release more information on the town hall meeting once details have been confirmed.

Residents seeking more information are also able to call the state avian flu concern hotline at (800) 447-1985.

AEA approves Walnut-AHST consolidation vote


May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Green Hills Area Education Agency have approved a vote on consolidating the AHST and Walnut community school districts during the September school board elections. The Daily NonPareil reports residents of Avoca, Hancock, Shelby, Tennant and Walnut will be able to vote Sept. 8th on merging into one school district, potentially finishing a process of coming together that began in 2012 with partial-day sharing and combined athletics.

Two objections were filed with the AEA, both by Ardythe and Neal Smith of Walnut, who own two properties within the Walnut school district. One of the properties is split with 160 acres in the Harlan school district and 80 acres in Walnut, and the Smiths asked for the entire property to be made part of Harlan, which is where they said they do their shopping and receive professional services.

The board voted 7-0 to approve the petition without any additional discussion. Walnut, which has been an independent school district for 143-years, was last reorganized back in the 1950s. AHST was created in 1995 during a reorganization. Walnut has been whole-grade sharing its secondary students since 2014 with AHST while maintaining its Walnut Community School for elementary students.

The Green Hills AEA board received petitions with 222 signatures from Walnut and 501 from AHST, which exceeded the requirements to move forward with the proposal. The Walnut district is roughly a third the size of the AHST district, with a combined enrollment of 770 students. Under the proposal, the reorganized AHSTW school board would be made up of two members of the Walnut board and five of the AHST board. The board would then create five districts and have two members elected at large, which would allow for balanced representation of AHSTW’s territory.

Voters will also be asked to approve a revenue purpose statement, aligning funding for the new district to avoid another special election if the reorganization is approved in September. The districts’ shared Superintendent Jessie Ulrich, said the reorganization, if it’s approved, would mean lower taxes for AHSTW residents. With the incentives provided by the state, he said a $2 per $1,000 of taxable valuation reduction in taxes in the near term would be possible.

Omaha officer killed by gunman shot above protective vest


May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The police chief of Nebraska’s largest city says an Omaha police officer killed in the line of duty was shot just above the top of her protective vest. Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer gave more details Thursday of the shooting that killed 29-year-old Officer Kerrie Orozco on Wednesday. The chief said Orozco, a native of Walnut (IA) and another officer, had responded to a call for backup from officers who came under fire from the heavily-armed suspect.

Schmaderer says 26-year-old Marcus Wheeler fired on police who tried to arrest him Wednesday afternoon. Orozco and another officer soon arrived and chased after Wheeler, who turned and fired on them, too. Orozco was hit, and died at a local hospital. Wheeler was also shot and killed. Schmaderer says Orozco did not fire her gun.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has ordered flags in city to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Officer Kerrie Orozco. Stothert says flags should remain at half-staff until dusk Monday on Memorial Day. Stothert said Thursday the move is a sign of respect for Orozco and her service to the city. The city also plans to turn lights at the Heartland of America Fountain and on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge blue beginning Thursday night through Memorial Day.

Officer Orozco will be laid to rest Tuesday. Visitation will be held Monday at St. John’s Catholic Church at Creighton University, in Omaha. Omaha police officers and close friends will be invited from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friends and the public will be invited from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The vigil will follow at 7 p.m.

The funeral will be held at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday at St. John’s Church. Additional seating will be provide at the CenturyLink Center with a large-screen video feed. Burial will be at St. Joseph Cemetery in Council Bluffs.

Iowa cancels bird shows at Iowa State Fair, county fairs

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — There will be no chickens or ducks at the Iowa State Fair this summer and no poultry shows at county fairs in Iowa this year as the bird flu continues to infect birds. Iowa Department of Agriculture officials on Thursday prohibited all live bird exhibitions at fairs and live bird sales at livestock auctions and swap meets. The order lasts through the end of the year.

Iowa has more than 25 million birds and more than 60 farms infected with the H5N2 virus. Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says the scale of the current outbreak is unprecedented and it’s important to take every step possible to limit the spread of the disease.

Other states to take similar steps include Minnesota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Iowa early News Headlines: Friday, May 22nd 2015


May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A farm equipment manufacturer in Sioux City is shutting down its two plants, eliminating more than 50 jobs in the area. The Sioux City Journal reports Soo Tractor, which has been doing business as Radius Steel Fabrication, will shut down production at its two Sioux City plants between the end of May and the end of June.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Another chicken farm in Buena Vista County has tested positive for bird flu, the 17th farm in that northwest Iowa county to get the virus. Iowa Department of Agriculture officials on Thursday did not have an immediate count on the number of chickens housed at the egg-laying facility. Across the Midwest, the U.S. Department of Agriculture puts the bird loss at nearly 39 million.

RENVILLE, Minn. (AP) — The largest Minnesota farm to be hit by bird flu is temporarily laying off 39 full-time employees. The outbreak at the Rembrandt Enterprises egg farm in Renville was confirmed last week. All 2 million chickens there will have to be killed to ensure the complete eradication of the H5N2 virus. The Spirit Lake, Iowa-based company said Thursday that layoffs will start around June 1st.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — A kennel club in western Iowa has donated pet oxygen mask kits to help cats and dogs in fire emergencies. The Daily Nonpareil reports the Council Bluffs Kennel Club’s seven kits will go to the local fire department.

Grab for a cup lid causes Crawford Co. accident


May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A woman who became distracted when a lid fell off her cup while driving, ended-up in an accident Thursday afternoon, in Crawford County. The Iowa State Patrol reports 49-year old Michele Renae Ertz, of Manilla, was injured when the 2006 Chevy Cobalt she was driving, rear-ended a 2013 GMC Acadia SUV. Ertz, who was wearing her seat belt, was transported by ambulance to the Crawford County Hospital for treatment of her injuries.

The driver of the SUV, 36-year old Sara Kay Gaul, of Earling, was not hurt. Officials say the accident happened at around 4:15-p.m. at Highway 59 and Crestview Drive. The driver of a non-contact vehicle was waiting for traffic to clear so she could turn. Gaul’s SUV stopped behind the first vehicle. As Ertz was traveling south on Highway 59, she reached down to grab a drink lid and looked up to see the vehicle in front of hers, had stopped. She slammed on the brakes but was unable to stop in-time.

Her car was disabled at the scene, while Gaul managed to move her vehicle onto the shoulder of the road.