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City Election Results, Nov. 3rd, 2015: Cass County Contested races/Public Measures


November 3rd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

* winner(s) – FINAL (results unofficial until canvassed) (I=Incumbent)

City of Atlantic

Public Measure B – Bond for 2nd floor City Hall renovation
Yes 282 (35.29%)        No 517 (64.71%) requires majority to pass

City of Anita

Ben Daugherbaugh 57
Timothy Miller (I) 160*

City of Griswold

Public Measure C – change Mayor’s term from 2 years to 4
Yes 86 (60.14%)     No 57 (39.86%)

City of Lewis

City Council (3)
Duane Scott Anderson (I)  55*
Kristy Bassett 52*
Marvin Bradfield 74*
Leroy Easter 29
Nona Erickson 50

Public Measure D – Library levy
Yes 41 (46.07%)  No 48 (53.93%) (majority required to pass)

City of Marne

Public Measure E – Unified Law Enforcement District Levy
Yes 21 (63.64%)    No 12 (36.36%) (requires majority to pass)

City of Wiota

City Council At-Large (2)
Jim Fischer 23*
Steven R. Havens 23*
Jon Schwarte (I) 6

Democratic effort to stall Medicaid privatization fails


November 3rd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Democratic effort to delay privatization of Medicaid in Iowa has failed in a legislative oversight hearing. Democratic lawmakers on the bipartisan Health Policy Oversight Committee proposed a motion Tuesday asking Gov. Terry Branstad to hold off on implementing the privatization plan by six months. But Republicans opposed it and the proposal did not move forward.

Branstad’s plan to move Medicaid to private management is scheduled to start January 1. It has drawn scrutiny over the projected cost savings, how contracts have been awarded and how the change would impact patients. Officials from the Department of Human Services say they are working to ensure a smooth transition to the new program. But Democratic lawmakers and health care providers questioned the speed of the transition.

Finally Open! 7th Street/Highway 6 in Atlantic!


November 3rd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

After more than five months of detours and inconvenience to businesses and motorists in Atlantic, the Highway 6/7th Street reconstruction project is finished and the road is once again open to traffic. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held this (Tuesday) afternoon at 7th and Olive Streets in Atlantic, before traffic was allowed to make its way through the corridor that’s been blocked off and torn-up from the intersection of 7th and Olive east, to just past Burger King, since May 26th.

Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones conducted the ceremonial ribbon cutting.

Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones cuts the ribbon to open 7th Street/Hwy 6.

Atlantic Mayor Dave Jones cuts the ribbon to open 7th Street/Hwy 6.

Iowa Department of Transportation District 4 Coordinator Scott Suhr, based in Atlantic, said “It’s been a long year, and obviously the rain hasn’t helped us out much.” He said also, there are some touch-up projects left to complete, such as pavement markings on the east end of 7th Street, and he says they have to work with the City of Atlantic to coordinate the traffic signals and get them timed-out for smooth traffic flow.

But in the end, Suhr says motorists and pedestrians alike will benefit from all the improvements that were long overdue. There’s pavement, new, ADA compliant sidewalks and driveways. There’s 10 inches of concrete on the road, 12-inches of rock sub-base underneath that, a sub-drain underneath the sub-base to help remove water from under the concrete slab to prevent problems with cracking and pot holes. There are also new storm water intakes, and new video traffic signal detection systems at the intersection of Plum and Olive Streets.

Officials had hoped the project, which was paid for through State and Federal funding, would be completed before school started in late August, but heavy periods of rain and other, unanticipated issues kept pushing the completion date further and further behind.

Group confronts state officials about manure plan oversight

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 3rd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Members of the citizen action group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement are meeting with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to file a complaint demanding improved accountability and oversight of livestock farms.

The group studied livestock waste management plans from five counties and found plans with missing pages and indications of multiple farmers dumping manure on the same field. The manure management plans are required by state law for farms with at least 1,250 hogs. The DNR is responsible for oversight.

Jess Mazour, community organizer for Iowa CCI, says inadequate manure management is contributing to water pollution problems. DNR Director Chuck Gipp says the agency will review the complaint and respond. He says the agency is working with farmers to improve water quality but it takes time.

GA woman sentenced to probation in connection with Orozco shooting


November 3rd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A Clayton County, Georgia woman was sentenced to a year of probation for lying about the gun she purchased for her boyfriend, a convicted felon who used the Glock to kill Nebraska police officer and Walnut, IA., native, Kerrie Orozco. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, citing U-S Attorney John Horn’s office, reports 26-year old Jalita Jenera Johnson, must also complete 40 hours of community service and serve 180 days of home confinement. Johnson pleaded guilty in August.Kerrie

In April, Johnson bought a Glock semiautomatic firearm, a 50-round drum magazine and ammunition from a pawnshop near her Jonesboro, GA., home, according to investigators. Johnson claimed she was buying the gun for herself, but she later admitted purchasing it for her boyfriend, Marcus Wheeler. As a convicted felon, Wheeler could not purchase the gun himself.

In May, Wheeler got into an armed confrontation with City of Omaha police in Nebraska, and he used the Glock to shoot and kill Officer Orozoco. Wheeler also was killed during the shootout.

Officials: 3-year-old boy dies in fire at Sioux City home


November 3rd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say a 3-year-old boy has died in a fire at a Sioux City home. The Sioux City Journal reports that Nicholas Torres died of smoke inhalation Friday night. Fire Marshal Mark Aesoph said at a news conference Monday that Torres’ parents were outside on a back porch at their home when the fire broke out.

Firefighters arrived and found the structure engulfed in flames, but they could not immediately enter the home due to the intensity and size of the fire. Officials say the child was found in the living room, where they believe the fire started. Aesoph said both parents sustained burns in their unsuccessful attempt to save their son.

According to authorities, the home did not have any working smoke alarms. An investigation is ongoing.

State tax collections down 2.9 percent in October


November 3rd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

State tax revenues continue to lag. The state collected nearly three percent less in overall taxes in October compared to the same month a year ago. Jeff Robinson, an analyst for the Legislative Services Agency, says “General fund revenues were a little bit disappointing in October and that’s kind of been a trend lately.” Individual income tax payments to the state were up five percent last month, but corporate income tax refunds were pretty large. “That provided quite a drag on revenue,” Robinson says.

Sales and use taxes account for a big chunk of tax collections, but sales and use tax payments to the state were down one-point-three percent in October. “Sales and use tax has been weak for a number of months now,” Robinson says. “…That is a disappointment, particularly given the price of gasoline.” According to the Triple-A, gasoline prices in Iowa are about 70 cents per gallon cheaper today (Tuesday) than they were a year ago.

Robinson says Iowans don’t appear to be spending the money they may be saving on energy costs, however. Experts had predicted overall state tax revenue would be growing at a four percent clip, but there’s been just a slim, tenth-of-a-percent increase since July 1st. “The trend for the first four months of this cash fiscal year has not been positive other than personal income tax and, unfortunately, what we’re finding so far is that personal income tax can’t hold the revenue stream together if all the rest of them are declining,” Robinson says, “so hopefully what comes in the future months is that what is happening in personal income tax are just transient things that disappear.”

A three-member panel of financial experts will meet in December to review the data and set an official estimate of state tax collections. That estimate must be used by the governor and lawmakers as they draft next year’s state budget.

(Radio Iowa)

(More info.) Audit details theft by former Defiance city clerk


November 3rd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

(Update to our earlier story) A report from the State Auditor details the misuse of thousands of dollars of city money which led to the firing of the Defiance city clerk. Auditor Mary Mosiman says the city’s bank raised concern’s about a cash withdrawal attempt by former city clerk Kristen Wagner, and that then led to the discovery of other issues. Mosiman says the city has a daily withdrawal limit of 250 dollars, and attempt was made to withdraw 300 dollars was made in April. “So, the bank notified the mayor.

The mayor requested banks statements and that’s when he noticed electronic payments, none of them which should have been able to take place,” Mosiman says. The 37-seven-year-old Wagner was called into the sheriff’s office on April 27th and after an interview was charged with second-degree theft. The city later fired her. Mosiman says her office was called in to try and track down the money taken by Wagner.

“Our investigation identified 10-thousand-821 dollars of improper disbursements, and 10 dollars, 27 cents of unsupported disbursements,” according to Mosiman. “The improper disbursements were a little over six-thousand dollars to MidAmerican Energy and Verizon Wireless, as well as other vendors,” Mosiman says. She says the cellphone payments were a second indication that something wasn’t right.

“The city does not provide cellphones to its employees — so that was one of the big red flags when city officials became aware of these electronic payments,” Mosiman says. Mosiman says Wagner paid her own utility bills with city funds and also paid for the cellphone of someone in her household. The audit also found 16-hundred dollars in cash withdrawals from the city account, 12-hundred dollars in improper payroll, and 17-hundred dollars in late fees, penalties and interest. Wagner was a part-time city clerk who handled the finances of the small town without much oversight. Mosiman says that’s one of the changes they recommended.

“The governing body needs to provide oversight, needs to be looking at the bank statements, needs to be looking at the documentation for the disbursements,” Mosiman says. “I am certain it will take place from this point forward in this particular city, but it is something that every government entity needs to provide on a regular basis.” Wagner has pleaded not guilty to the theft charge and is scheduled to go on trial January 12th.

(Radio Iowa)

Fatal motorcycle accident among 3 in Pott. County, Sunday


November 3rd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Pottawattamie County today (Tuesday), released additional details about three separate motorcycle accidents that took place Sunday, one of which resulted in a fatality. Lt. Rob Ambrose, with the Pott. County Sheriff’s Office, told KJAN News 67-year old Daniel Barnes, of Carter Lake, died in a crash that took place at around 2:50-p.m. Sunday about three-miles north of Council Bluffs on L-34, north and west of Railroad Highway.

Ambrose says Barnes was driving a 2007 Yamaha pulling a trailer, when he lost control of the cycle and went into a ditch. Barnes, who was wearing a helmet, later died from his injuries at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), in Omaha. A witness told deputies said a group of motorcyclists was passing another vehicle, and Barnes lost control when he came up on the group as they slowed up. He hit the brakes, causing the trailer to go sideways, resulting in the crash.

Another accident happened at around 2:26-p.m. near Walnut, at approximately 510th Street and Sumac. Lt. Ambrose said 40-year old Gary Stephens, of Red Oak, was driving a 1999 Harley Davidson eastbound on Sumac, when the cycle went out of control on an S curve in the road. Stephens locked up the brakes and skidded about 200-feet. Stephens and his passenger, 42-year old Tiffany Palmer, of Red Oak, were transported to the Cass County Memorial Hospital before being flown to the UNMC in Omaha. The pair was not wearing their helmets. Their injuries were not considered to be life threatening. Ambrose says Stephens was cited for Failure to Maintain Control.

And, at around 4-p.m., an accident took place in the 23000 block of 205th Street near Crescent, when 66-year old Rodney VanScoy, of Omaha, lost control of the 1999 Harley Davidson he was driving as he was traveling north on 205th and attempting to make a left turn. The cycle went into a ditch. Speed appears to have been a factor in the crash, according to Ambrose. VanScoy was also cited for Failure to Maintain Control.

Audit details improper spending by official accused of theft


November 3rd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DEFIANCE, Iowa (AP) – The state auditor’s office says it’s identified nearly $11,000 in improper spending by a city clerk in Shelby County, who’s now charged with theft. The report released Tuesday by the office of State Auditor Mary Mosiman said Kristin Wagner used money from the town of Defiance‘s bank account to buy personal items and pay some bills. The report says the disbursements were made from March 12, 2013, through April 30, 2015.

Online court records say Kristin Wagner was charged on April 27 with theft and has pleaded not guilty. Her Shelby County trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 12th.