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7AM Newscast 11-04-2011

News, Podcasts

November 4th, 2011 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

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Candidate Forum Held in Atlantic Thursday

News

November 4th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A little more than a dozen people attended Thursday night’s candidate forum in Atlantic. Those who spoke and answered questions at the event, sponsored by the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce, included all five candidates for a vacancy position created by the death in August of Cass County Supervisor Chuck Kinen, two candidates for two open positions on the Atlantic Parks and Recreation’s Board of Directors, and candidates for the Atlantic City Council.

Each of the candidates was asked their opinion on the current property tax rates in the County. All of the candidates said the taxes are neither too-high or too-low, with the exception of Supervisor candidate at Pat McCurdy. McCurdy, a life-long resident of Cass County who farmed for over 40-years before becoming semi-retired and a landlord of rental properties, said commercial property taxes are too high. McCurdy says commercial property is taxed at 100-percent valuation. Residential properties, he says, are taxed at 50-percent, and should not be taxed any higher, because they cannot generate any income. McCurdy says Ag property taxes, are too low.

The two Atlantic City Council candidates were asked what their top goals would be, if elected to fill the two open seats on the Council. Chris Jimmerson, who is running unopposed for Councilman Kern Miller’s 1st Ward seat, said keeping the recreational areas, such as parks, up-to-date are important to him. Jimmerson said he wants to make the roads are maintained, and the downtown area is a “hub” of activity where people want to come to go shopping. Ashley Hayes, who is unopposed in her bid for Councilperson Pat Simmons’ 3rd Ward Atlantic City Council seat, said as a young person, she wants to make sure opportunities are available for young people and families. She says improve the recreational scene, bringing in more jobs and promoting the downtown area will bring young people back to the community after they attend college.

Each of the Board of Supervisor candidates said their main priorities if elected would be to keep the budget under control while trying to maintain the essential services, such as mental health care. Don Lappe, who has served in local law enforcement for more than 40-years, said he understands what it would mean to lose the Behavioral Health Unit at the Cass County Memorial Hospital, if it falls to the budget axe. He says it will cause a burden and affect other agencies within the county, including the Sheriff’s Department, whose deputies will have to transport persons with mental health issues to other counties. That he says, will cost the county money. Supervisor candidate Jeff Richter says he will work to bring jobs to the county, to keep people here instead of having them drive out of the county for employment.

Bluffs Kum and Go robbed Thursday night

News

November 4th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Police in Council Bluffs are looking for a suspect connected to the armed robbery Thursday evening of a Kum and Go store at 2024 5th Avenue, in Council Bluffs. According to Bluffs Police Sgt. David Dawson, at around 8:30-p.m., a white man in his 30′s entered the store, selected a drink from the cooler and approached the counter. He displayed a black handgun and demanded money while at the same time grabbing the arm of the sales clerk.

Dawson said the suspect reached into the cash drawer, pulled it onto the counter and took an undetermined amount of cash. He then left on foot and remains at large. The suspect was described as being about 5-feet 10-inches tall and weighing about 185-pounds. He had a mustache and goatee, and unshaven face. His hair was reddish brown. The man wore a black “Hoodie”-type sweatshirt with a zipper, black baseball cap with an unknown logo on the front, blue jeans and white tennis shoes.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to contact the Council Bluffs Crime Stoppers line at 712-328-7867.

Atlantic Middle School Bomb Threat suspect Identified

News

November 4th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Police Chief Steve Green late Thursday afternoon identified a juvenile suspect allegedly involved in the making of a bomb threat at the Atlantic Middle School earlier in the day, Thursday. In a statement released to the media Green said at approximately 10:55-a.m., “The Atlantic Police Department responded to a call at the Atlantic Middle School for a bomb threat. All students were evacuated from the building. After a search of the building, no bomb was found. After a short investigation with the help of the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, a suspect was located and questioned.”

The suspect was 12-year old Austin Koma Mualia, of Atlantic. Green said “The juvenile was taken into custody and charged with Terrorism, a Class-B Felony. He is currently under the supervision of the juvenile authorities. “

Atlantic Middle School to resume classes Friday following bomb threat

News

November 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Police Chief Steve Green says a student from the Atlantic Middle School is in custody for allegedly making a bomb threat that forced the evacuation of the school and cancellation of classes today (Thursday). Green says his department received notice about the threat late this (Thursday) morning. The threat indicated an “explosive event” would take place at the Middle School at a specific time. The State Fire Marshall’s Office was contacted, and it was determined the threat was not credible. Students and staff meanwhile evacuated next door, to the Nishna Valley YMCA. Green said a suspect was identified and approached, but they ran and were found at their home and brought in for questioning. Green says the suspect has admitted the threat was not credible.

He says while any charges against the suspect have not been determined, any such incident is considered a “Terroristic Threat,” and the suspect will be charged as the law allows. He has his own idea on how future incidents might be prevented, also. Green says when somebody disrupts the school system like that, perhaps classes should be made up on Saturday’s. That might make it less popular to make bomb threats. He says also, he hopes if the district does institute a policy to hold school on Saturdays to make up for threats, peer pressure will serve to prevent future incidents.

Atlantic School District Superintendent Dr. Mike Amstein said aside from the legal ramifications of making a Terroristic Threat, the student faces severe disciplinary action from the school district itself. He said “Any type of behavior like this is a pretty severe violation of (school) board policy, and the board has the authority to expel a student for an entire school year (365 days).”from the State Fire Marshall’s Office and Atlantic Police Chief Steve Green.

Amstein says the threat happened during the lunch hour, which disrupted classes and the lunch period, but the evacuation went as planned. Some questions were raised though, as to why the Washington Elementary School, which is just up the hill from the Middle School, was not evacuated. Amstein said they based their evacuation on recommendations

He says classes are expected to resume tomorrow (Friday) at the school.

Breaking News: Middle School Bomb Threat suspect in custody!

News

November 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Police Chief Steve Green says a student from the Atlantic Middle School is in custody for making a bomb threat that forced the evacuation of the school and cancellation of classes for today. Green says the district received word an “explosive event” would take place at the Middle School. Students and staff were evacuated next door, to the Nishna Valley YMCA. Green said a suspect was identified and when approached for questioning an from authorities but was caught. Green says the suspect has confessed to making the threat, which he confirmed was not credible.

Atlantic School District Superintendent Dr. Mike Amstein said aside from the legal ramifications of making a Terroristic Threat, the student faces severe disciplinary action from the school district itself. He said “Anytype of behavior like this is a pretty severe violation of (school) board policy, and the board has the authority to expel a student for an entire school year (365 days).”

Amstein says the evacuation went as planned, noting that any threat is handled as authentic until proven otherwise. The threat which occurred today he says, happened during the lunch hour, which disrupted classes and the lunch period. Amstein says the evacuation was orderly and each student was accounted for at all times.

Some questions were raised as to why the Washington Elementary School, which is just up the hill from the Middle School, was not evacuated. Amstein said they based their evacuation on recommendations from the State Fire Marshall’s Office and Atlantic Police Chief Steve Green.

He says classes are expected to resume tomorrow at the school.

Urgent: Bomb Threat at Atlantic Middle School

News

November 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

For the second time in just under one month, authorities in Atlantic are investigating a bomb threat at a local school.  Officials with the school district announced late this (Thursday) morning that all students and employees had been evacuated from the Atlantic Middle School to the Nishna Valley YMCA. Because the school cannot be thoroughly searched until later today, classes have been cancelled for the remainder of the day.

Classes at the Middle School were dismissed at 12:30-p.m. The school district says it will work with local law enforcement to ensure the safety of all students in the district. No other details concerning the nature of the threat have been released.

On October 5th, a bomb threat was discovered written on a restroom stall at the Atlantic High School. The note threatened a bomb would go off two days later, on October 7th. A thorough search of the school failed to turn up any evidence of a bomb. No arrests have been made in connection with the incident.

Arrests and vandalism reported in Harlan

News

November 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Police Department reports two people were arrested over the past week on public intoxication charges, and one incident of vandalism remains under investigation. On October 27th, 34-year old Randall Price, of Harlan, was arrested after Police were called to the Dream Playground following a report of a person causing a disturbance. Price was charged with Public Intoxication and brought to the Shelby County Jail. He later pled not guilty. A trial date has not yet been set.

On October 31st, 55-year old Marty Schulte, of Sioux City, was arrested on charges of public intoxication and interference with official acts, after Harlan Police were called to the Forrest Lodge. Schulte has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a trial date.

And, Harlan Police say they’re investigating the egging of a car. The incident took place this past Tuesday (Nov. 1st), in the 1400 block of Grand Avenue. No dollar amount of damage was available.

Fatal crash in Mills County

News

November 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

One person was killed, another injured during a crash Wednesday afternoon, in Mills County. The Iowa State Patrol says the driver of one of the vehicles, 71-year old William Kinard, of Red Oak, died in the crash. Officials say Kinard was traveling east on Highway 370 at around 2:20-p.m., when his 2007 Hyundai Accent crossed the center line of the road and collided with a 2010 Honda Element driven by 46-year old Luci Branyan, of Jefferson City, MO.

Brayon was injured in the crash and transported by Pacific Junction Rescue to Creighton University Hospital, in Omaha. Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts. The accident happened about a mile east of the Missouri River, just across from Bellevue, NE.

Walnut School Board to meet w/ Atlantic & AHST boards next week

News

November 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A crowd of about 75 people attended a meeting earlier this week in Walnut, to discuss the future of that district’s athletic and academic programs. Superintendent Jim Hammrich told KJAN News,  school administrators discussed with parents of the district Wednesday night, why they have the current sharing agreements with area schools, current curriculum and transportation issues, along with declining enrollment. Last year, the district’s certified enrollment was 200 students, but the actual number of students served was 170. This year, the actual number was 145.

Hammrich says they showed the parents enrollment trends for the past 10-years. The data shows double-digit declines for the past 6-years. The continued decline in enrollment means a loss of dollars from the State.  Hammrich says the school board wanted to get input from the public at Wednesday’s meeting, to determine what the district should do for the next five-years, especially with regard to the sharing of athletic programs. He says the parents were most concerned about a lack of plan for the short-term.

He says they want a plan in writing. Other meetings have been held over the past few years on a plan, but nothing has been set in stone. The parents want that to change.  Hammrich says the future of sharing both academics and athletic programs with neighboring school districts AHST and Atlantic, will be determined after the Walnut School Board meets next week with both of those district’s Boards of Education.  The meeting with the Atlantic School Board in Atlantic, takes place 6-p.m. Monday, Nov. 7th. A meeting with the AHST School Board will be held Tuesday in Avoca, beginning at 7-p.m.

Hammrich says the Walnut School Board hopes to make a decision on which district they will commit to by their meeting on November 21st or no later than December 1st. He says the board understands there’s bound to be conflicts either way, but they want to make a decision that’s in the best interest of the students, and feel good about that decision.  Sharing arrangements between districts are nothing new. In some cases and the experiments haven‘t always produced the best results, according to Hammrich.

He says Walnut shared with Avoca about 6 or 7 years ago for a period of about a year. He said he was told “That didn’t go well…for whatever reasons.” Hammrich wasn’t the Superintendent during that time frame. The board then decided to begin a sharing arrangement with Atlantic, which has held for the past four or five years. Uncertainty over which district Walnut should share with, according to Hammrich, has contributed to a large decline in open enrollments in the district, on a yearly basis.