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More Social Security recipients get direct deposit

News

September 11th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – More recipients of government payments in the Midwest are signing up for direct deposit, but officials say 1.8 million people are still counting on paper checks. That could be a problem because the federal government plans to end paper checks for Social Security and other benefits in March 2013. The Treasury Department says 88 percent of the benefit payments in the Midwest are now being made electronically. That’s up from 85 percent seven months ago. Officials hope the number of people using direct deposit will continue to grow. So reminders will be sent to benefit recipients in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Anyone needing help with the change can call 1-800-333-1795 or visit www.GoDirect.org.

Irwin man arrested on Public Intoxication in Montgomery County

News

September 11th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Montgomery County said Sunday, a Shelby County man was arrested at around 9-a.m. Sunday on a charge of public intoxication. 20-year old Dustin William Martz, of Irwin, was taken into custody on Highway 71,  about one-half mile north of the intersection with Highway 34. Martz was brought to the Montgomery County Jail and held on $300 cash bond.

Area Health Care providers speak at Rural Health Roundtable (follow-up to earlier posting)

News

September 10th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A Rural Health Roundtable held at the Cass County Memorial Hospital in Atlantic, Friday, gave area health care providers a chance to speak about issues affecting how they do their jobs and how the Obama administration’s new initiatives might affect them.

Dr. John Bigelow

One of those who spoke was Dr. John Bigelow, Executive Director of the Southwest Iowa Mental Health Clinic in Atlantic. Bigelow mentioned  the Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) which is in danger of  closing because a lack of reimbursement from Medicaid and Medicare has cost the hospital nearly $500-million dollars. He said the Affordable Care Act policies are looking to make behavioral health care part of primary care, which is important, because many of the patients he treats have significant health issues. He says statistics show there are a significant number of people who are dealing with depression and anxiety disorders, due in-part to the economy. The economy he says also creates a hardship for those who have to travel about 40-miles or more to receive the limited amount of services they BHU can provide.

A number of surrounding counties he says, don’t have community mental health centers because they weren’t being funded appropriately. Bigelow says the SWIMC is doing better than similar facilities because of Medicaid cost reimbursement, but that only covers about 35% of the clients they serve. CCMH he says, has provided cash flow during times of financial shortage, and the County subsidizes services to individuals who don’t have insurance, but some policies have high deductibles or don’t cover mental health. Bigelow said he was pleased to learn the Health and Human Services Administration (HRSA) has expanded eligibility of the National Health Corps, because it should help to attract mental health professionals to rural communities. He says it took more than seven months to fill the last two positions in his department, because some applicants weren’t qualified to take advantage of financial programs which would allow them to work and repay their loans.

Ed Friedman, a rural health Physician’s Assistant (P.A.) at the Redfield Medical Clinic and an administrator for 26-years, said good legislation, along with reasonable enforcement of those regulations andreimbursement are critical to the delivery of rural health care.  Friedman said the funding of a P.A. education  program by HRSA has made a big difference in bringing licensed P-A’s to Iowa. He says 40-years ago, there were none, now there are 800. Rural Health Clinics he says, have also made a huge difference. Still, he says RHC’s and Community Health Centers need guidance from HRSA on how to collaborate on policies which are confusing, and out-of-date, and those policies need to be integrated into the Affordable Care Act.

P.A. Ed Friedman

 

 

Rural Health Roundtable held in Atlantic

News

September 10th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A gathering of health care professionals and persons with an interest in rural health care participated in a Rural Health Roundtable held in Atlantic, Friday.

Dr. Mary Wakefield, HRSA Administrator

Keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Mary K. Wakefield, R.N., Administrator of the U-S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) under the Health and Human Services Division (HHS). Wakefield, who was appointed to HRSA by President Obama in 2009, spoke with regard to the Obama Administration’s Rural Council, which was created in June, 2011, and  is led by U-S Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, the former Governor of Iowa.  Wakefield said its new initiatives are aimed at strengthening rural health care infrastructure across the U-S.

She says when he was in Iowa earlier this Summer for a Rural Economic Summitt, President Obama announced two initiatives. An expanded eligibility of the National Health Service Corps, which offers an opportunity for those who are willing to work in under-served rural and urban areas, to have their loans repaid or receive scholarships. She says that will allow hospitals to recruit primary care physicians, practitioners, physician assistants, psychologists and others.

The other initiative, is with regard to Health Information Technology and Jobs Training.  It focuses on the way the use HIT can be expanded in rural areas. She says this past week, $12-million was awarded in rural HIT development nationwide, through HRSA.  $300,000 of that went to two providers in Iowa: Van Buren County Hospital, and the Wright Medical Center. Wakefield also spoke with regard to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). She said there are a number of new provisions relevant to small communities, which are designed to improve the health work force infrastructure, help support access to health care services that target chronic illness, and focuses on illness prevention.”

Wakefield said since 2009, Iowa has received $114-million in direct funding, primarily through the ACA. She says of that, $56-million is directed to community health centers. $15-million out of that is for construction and critical renovation of those facilities.  $19-million dollars has been targeted towards the health of women, infants and children. $11.4-million has been allocated to support the next generation of health care providers through partnerships with education. $8-million is coming into the state to support rural health grants. Another $7-million is in the form of Health Information Technology grants to the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care. $8.4-million is for the Iowa Department of Public Health for its Information Health Exchange program.

$190,000 in Quality Improvement grants has also been given to the Cass County Memorial Hospital in Atlantic from HRSA‘s Office of Rural Health Policy.  Wakefield said input from ongoing roundtables such as that which was held in Atlantic,  will help HRSA compile a report for the President’s Rural Council. The report will be submitted to him in October, along with a copy for Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U-S Department of Health and Human Services.

A report on some of the preliminary work that has been accomplished “Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America,“ can be found at www.whitehouse.gov.

Direct link:
www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/08/16/president-announces-new-jobs-initiatives-rural-america

$1-million “Calling All Communities” campaign underway

News

September 10th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Officials with U-S Cellular, based in Chicago, have announced voting has begun for the company’s $1-million “Calling All Communities” campaign, which will award 18 schools across the country with some much needed funding. The school with the most votes wins $150,000, while the next 17 schools each receive $50,000. The winnings may be used in any manner needed to enhance students’ learning experiences.

Now through October 6th, anyone 18-years or older can visit a U-S Cellular store and ask an associate for a code that will allow them to vote for their favorite school at www.uscellular.com. Each online voting code gives the person an opportunity to vote online once per day during the campaign. Each voting card also features a pee-off sticker that gives thousands of school supporters a chance to cast two votes per day, or win a prize.

Public and private schools, kindergarten through high school, are eligible to win. No purchase is necessary, and you don’t have to be a U-S Cellular customer to vote. The winning schools will be announced in October and November.

Since the program began in 2008, $2 million has been awarded to schools across the country.

Homicide suspect eludes authorities in Council Bluffs

News

September 10th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A man authorities believe is connected to a homicide has eluded capture in Council Bluffs. According to Omaha television station KETV, officers with the Council Bluffs Police Department and Metro Area Fugitive Task Force set up a perimeter Friday afternoon at a house near 16th Street and 5th Avenue, thinking the unidentified suspect was inside.

As it turned out, the man was not at the home, and authorities continue to look for the suspect.

CA man sentenced to more than 20-years in prison for Meth distribution

News

September 10th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The U-S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa said Friday, a California man was sentenced Thursday to nearly 22-years in prison for leading a conspiracy to distribute multiple kilograms of Methamphetamine in the Southern District of Iowa and elsewhere, for at least seven-years. 44-year old Elfego Ignacio Cid, of Visalia, CA, admitted he conspired to deliver of 15 kilo’s of meth to the Des Moines area from California.

According to testimony at his sentencing, Cid’s network actually delivered hundreds of kilo’s of meth and crystal meth, or “ice”, to Des Moines and four other cities, located in California, Colorado, Utah, and Georgia. Witnesses testified he provided his couriers with cars equipped with secret compartments used to deliver meth.

U-S Attorney Nick Klinefeldt said Cid’s 262 month prison sentence should quote — “Serve as a warning to those tempted to profit from the Methamphetamine addictions of others, that their cost of doing business will include years in prison should they head down that path.” He said also, that Cid’s conviction is due to years of hard work and perseverance by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Chase of stolen pickup & camper ends in crash and arrest

News

September 9th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A Council Bluffs man faces numerous charges after allegedly stealing a pickup truck, leading an Iowa State Patrol Trooper on a high-speed chase, and then collided with the Trooper’s car. The Patrol says 25-year old Jesse Charles Adams was charged with Reckless Driving, Eluding and speeding, with numerous other charges not listed.

Officials say 43-year old Trooper James Bullington pursued a stolen 1999 Dodge Dakota pickup with an attached stolen camper southbound, on Interstate 29 in northwestern Mills County at around 12:45-a.m., Friday. Both the pickup and camper were taken from a man in Council Bluffs. At one-point, the pickup was clocked doing 104-miles per hour in a 70-mile per hour zone.

When the vehicles exited the interstate heading east on Bungee Avenue, the Trooper drove along side the pickup in his 2009 Dodge Charger in an attempt to prevent Adams from re-entering the interstate northbound. As he did so, Adams turned the pickup left as if to head onto the I-29 northbound ramp, and collided with the Patrol vehicle.

After the Charger became lodged between the truck and camper, both vehicles came to rest on the on-ramp. The pickup sustained minor damage. The camper sustained $1,000 damage, and the Patrol car sustained what was termed “Functional Damage.”

Missouri River flood damage recounted at meeting

News

September 9th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Farmers, businessmen and local officials affected by this year’s record Missouri River flooding recounted the damages they suffered and urged Iowa officials to make rebuilding a priority. Gov. Terry Branstad and an assortment of top state officials gathered in Council Bluffs Friday afternoon to hear about millions of dollars of damage caused by the flood. The people who live and work along the river say they want to know how soon repairs will be made and what will be done to limit future flooding.

Doug Palmer had to shut down his barge and rail terminal business in Sioux City in June. He says the flood has been economically painful. Several other business leaders said they hope they won’t have to remove expensive levees they built to protect their facilities.

Western Iowa man sentenced for sex crimes in NE.

News

September 9th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An Iowa man has been sentenced to up to 140 years in prison for sexually assaulting two women in Omaha. 46-year-old Todd Mills, of Shelby, was sentenced on two counts of first-degree sexual assault and one count of using a weapon to commit a felony. He pleaded no contest in June. Authorities say the attacks took place in September 2008 and August 2010. A Douglas County judge sentenced Mills to 110 to 140 years in prison.

Police say Mills, a father of five children, picked up women in his car, assaulted them at gunpoint and left them in remote areas. Mills is suspected in similar attacks in Pottawattamie County in Iowa.