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Tough choices ahead for pair of SW Iowa school districts following failed merger


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The leader of the regional agency serving southwest Iowa public schools says the Farragut and Hamburg districts are facing major decisions. A proposal for merging the two small districts failed a little over week ago. Green Hills Area Education Agency Chief Administrator Lane Plugge says the two districts will be asking state administrators for extra spending authority or they’ll need to make drastic cuts.

“In fact, the workout plan in Farragut talks about reducing half of their certified staff and they also are having some corrective action plans for an accreditation visit, and there’ll be a follow-up one after the first of the year,” Plugge said.

Even though the merger, designed to create a new district with more than 300 students, fell seven votes short of passing — Hamburg and Farragut are continuing whole grade sharing. A recount of the votes is scheduled for Thursday.

(Radio Iowa)

Early winter could mean more cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder in Iowa


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Cold weather rolled into Iowa weeks early this fall and lingered, forcing many people indoors much sooner than usual. Kevin Gabbert, a social worker and counselor at the Iowa Department of Public Health, says being deprived of exposure to the sun can bring on the blues and make people feel moody and lethargic. Gabbert says the early onset of winter -may- bring an uptick in cases of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.  “It really kind of depends,” Gabbert says. “If it’s a longer winter, if there’s less sunlight, those types of things tend to play a role in SAD and we could experience more cases. It’s a little early for us to say yet.”

On the plus side, Gabbert says a little counseling can go a long ways for SAD sufferers. “Talking about what’s going on with you, talking about your feelings,” Gabbert says. “It may be to the point where counseling would be beneficial. For those symptoms that are a little more advanced, it may be something you want to talk about with your physician. It may be that medication would be beneficial for you. Also, light therapy or phototherapy could be very helpful as well.”

Dr. David Towle, a Cedar Falls psychologist and director of the University of Northern Iowa Counseling Center, says light therapy is a simple solution that really helps some people get through the Midwestern winter.  “We typically think about exposure of about 30 minutes per day of a full spectrum light,” Dr. Towle says. “Often, people will get up in the morning and sit and read the newspaper, listen to the radio, drink their coffee, and sit in front of a light for 20 or 30 minutes and that’s a pretty effective intervention.”

Towle says another option is what’s called “negative air ionization,” which uses a device like an air purifier.  “It is like that and it’s something that people use while they’re sleeping,” Towle says. “It seems not to be quite as effective as the full-spectrum light exposure but it’s pretty effective for a lot of people.”

Studies find that between ten and 20-percent of Americans report feeling tired or sad when there are fewer hours of daylight during the winter months.

(Radio Iowa)

Deer harvest in Iowa’s 1st shotgun season increases over 2013

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A wildlife research supervisor with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says hunters have reported harvesting 19-percent more deer in Iowa during the first shotgun season compared to last year. Willy Suchy credits the relatively mild weather. “Last year was a tough shotgun opener with really cold weather and strong winds,” Suchy said. Today (Wednesday) is the final day of the first shotgun deer season. Suchy anticipates the first season’s harvest will be around 37,000 deer.

“We’re similar to where we were in 2011-2012,” Suchy said. “We’re down substantially from the peak in 2006. Deer numbers are down.” Around 150,000 deer were killed in Iowa in 2006, the first year of so-called “mandatory harvest reporting” in the state. Prior to 2006, the DNR conducted a harvest “estimate” which was calculated based on a postseason postcard survey. Last year, hunters in Iowa killed fewer than 100,000 deer for the first time since the mid-1990s. Suchy isn’t sure yet if the harvest will be below six-digits again this year.

“A lot will depend on this next weekend, the second shotgun season. We still have a lot of licenses to be issued,” Suchy said. “Sometimes, when we have a good opener in the first season, a lot of hunters don’t go the second season so maybe there are (fewer deer killed). But, if we have good weather like we’re looking at, we may have somewhere around 100,000 animals reported.” The deer harvest during the first shotgun season increased over last year, despite 3,000 fewer licenses being sold this year compared to 2013. Suchy notes the license sales decline was primarily due to fewer antlerless licenses being available, which was by design.

Iowa’s second shotgun deer season opens this Saturday (December 13) and runs through Sunday, December 21.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa falls from 18th to 24th in national health rankings


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Iowa has dropped several more notches on the latest report that ranks the states for their health and wellbeing. Dr. Rhonda Randall, spokeswoman for the United Health Foundation, says the list is compiled by comparing 30 different criteria in four main categories: behaviors, community environment, public policy and the clinical care system. “This year, Iowa is ranked 24th,” Dr. Randall says. “Last year, they were ranked 18th, so a decrease by six ranks. In 1990, when we started this report, Iowa was ranked number-six, so over the course of the 25 years, it’s an 18-rank decrease and it’s been a fairly slow, steady decrease over the last 25 years.”

She says Iowa had poor showings in several categories this year. “You’re ranked 47th in the nation for binge drinking, where 22% of the adult population is reporting that they binge drink,” Randall says. “You’re also ranked 46th for access to primary care physicians, and then a high incidence of infectious diseases, ranked 41st in the country there.” Iowa also had a poor showing in rates of smoking, obesity and inactivity. While Iowa now ranks in the middle of the national pack at 24th overall out of the 50 states, she says Iowa still did very well in some categories.

“There’s some areas to be very proud of,” Randall says. “(Iowa) ranked 4th in immunization coverage for children, that’s great to see many preventable illness and infectious diseases with vaccinations. Also, a high rate of high school graduation, ranked 5th in the nation there. Those two together show you’re doing right by the kids.” Iowa also had the 5th highest rank in the country for people with health insurance. See the full list of the rankings at: www.americashealthrankings.org

(Radio Iowa)

Crews installing ‘Big Mo’ sculpture in Iowa city


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – Residents in a western Iowa city are celebrating the installation of a large steel sculpture on the Missouri River bank. The Daily Nonpareil reports a ceremony was held Tuesday at a Council Bluffs park to mark the installation of “Big Mo” by 81-year-old Mark di Suvero. The nearly 76-feet high piece painted in “spacetime orange” has three legs and two moving parts on top that rotate in opposite directions.

Di Suvero says crews should finish setting up the sculpture either on Wednesday evening or Thursday. The work is the latest addition to the Iowa West Foundation Public Art collection for Council Bluffs.

Mayor Matt Walsh says Council Bluffs is privileged to be involved in a partnership with the foundation to bring world-class art to the city.

Cass County Supervisors approve FY 2015 Budget Amendment


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors today (Wednesday), approved an amendment to the County’s Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Budget. The move came after a public hearing was held, during which there were no written or oral objections to the published amendments. Cass County Auditor Dale Sunderman explained the majority of the amendments are with regard to transfers of flow-through funds.

That includes: 4-million dollars in Community Development Block Grant [CBDG] as a result of flooding, rounds five and six of the funding; $100,000 for County Case Management [reimbursed expense]; an increase in General Basic transfer to Capital Projects by $350,000 [with regard to the County Public Safety Annex building, or PSAP]; an increase transfer from the Local Options Sales Tax [LOST] by$150,000 and decrease the PSAP project expense by $150,000; Capital Projects: Increase by $500,000.

The Supervisors also received a report from West Central Community Action (WCCA) Executive Director Joel Dirks, along with an annual request in funding for Fiscal Year 2016. In the past, WCCA has requested $3,500. This year, the request is for an additional $500, or $4,000 altogether. The Board took the request under advisement.

In his report, Dirks said West Central provided a little more than $1.7-million in services last year for Cass County. He says they assisted 678 households in Cass County last year, which represented 1,582 persons. Demographically, that included many single-parent households, or 57-percent of the persons WCCA works with. He said 57-percent of the households they work with have income at 100-percent of poverty or below. For example, that would mean a family of four living on $23,850 per year.

Dirks said they received an Iowa Insurance Division grant that helped to reduce the number of people without health insurance, by assisting with applications for insurance. Last year, 49-percent of WCCA’s clients had no health insurance. This year, that’s down to 24-percent.

Dirks said also, two-percent of the persons they worked with had no income last year. This year it’s down to one-percent. He says they’ve been trying to assist as many persons as possible in obtaining rental assistance and employment services. They also worked with more than 460 households with regard to LIHEAP (the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program).

One area Dirks asked the Supervisors for help with regard to referrals to the Senior Aid Program. If anyone is age 55 or older and is at 125-percent of the poverty level or below, in need of a job, or help finding a job, please refer them to WCCA by calling (712) 243-5421.

Creston Police investigate vandalism & theft


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Creston are investigating recent incidents on vandalism and theft. Officials say on Tuesday, a resident in the 100 block of north Maple Street in Creston, reported two tires on her vehicle had been slashed. The incident, which occurred sometime between 10-p.m. Dec. 8th and 8:45-a.m. Dec. 9th, resulted in a loss estimated at $160.

And at around 5-p.m. Tuesday, a resident on north Elm Street in Creston reported to police someone had taken several items from her garage. The incident happened sometime between 7-a.m and 5-p.m. on Tuesday. The items, which included a 3,500-watt yelllow generator, a blue, 5-gallon air compressor, a socket set, and and Eden Pure heater, were valued at $1,350.

Villisca man arrested on drug charges in Creston


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Creston Police Department reports a man from Montgomery County was arrested Tuesday night, on drug charges. 31-year old Jonathan Renner, of Villisca, was arrested at around 8:10-p.m. on charges of Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Possession of a Controlled Substance/2nd Offense. Renner was being held in the Union County Jail awaiting a bond hearing.

Also arrested Tuesday in Creston, was: 25-year old Bradly St. Pierre, of Des Moines.  The man was taken into custody at the Union County Law Enforcement Center (LEC) on a Polk County warrant for Theft in the 2nd degree. St. Pierre was later released into the custody of Polk County deputies;  27-year old Levi Cameron, of Diagonal, was arrested in Creston on a Ringgold County warrant charging him with Domestic Abuse Assault. Cameron was transported back to Ringgold County; 23-year old Dakota Weeks, of Creston, was arrested Tuesday at the Union County LEC on a warrant for Assault. He was later released on $300 bond; and, 51-year old Jeffrey Armstrong, of Loveland, CO., was arrested Tuesday at the Creston Amtrak station. Armstgrong was charged with Public Intoxication and held in the Union County Jail on $300 bond.

Missing person case in western Iowa


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Monona County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating a missing person case involving 66 year old Walter Harold Ordway, of Soldier. Relatives last heard from him on November 16th. At the time, he was to expected to attend a funeral in Pennsylvania in late November. Ordway’s pickup was seen by hunters on December 7th, parked in a parking area at Oldham’s recreational area near Soldier.

A search of the area by Monona County deputies and County Conservation officers was done in the park area and several items belonging to Ordway were found near the vehicle and in the park. At this time, the sheriff’s office is investigating the man’s disappearance as a missing person’s case.

Anyone with information about Walter Ordway is asked to contact the Monona County Sheriff’s office at 712-433-1414 or 800-859-1414. Oldham’s recreational area is temporarily closed to the public while the investigation continues. Monona County Sheriff’s office has been assisted by the Iowa DNR, Monona County Conservation and Monona County EMA.


(Podcast) 7:07-a.m. KJAN News & funeral report, 12/10/2014

News, Podcasts

December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

With KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.