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OPPD reiterates Fort Calhoun nuclear plant is safe

News

June 28th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

BLAIR, Neb. (AP) — The Omaha Public Power District is going to great lengths to show that its Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant remains safe even though the main buildings are surrounded by floodwater from the Missouri River.

OPPD offered tours of the plant Monday to the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, members of Congress and the media to show off the measures they’ve taken to keep the plant dry inside.

Workers use an elevated catwalk to access Fort Calhoun because the parking lot is covered with at least 2 feet of floodwater.

Plant manager Tim Nellenbach says there is little chance of a serious problem at Fort Calhoun because the plant still has all of its electrical power sources and it remains shut down.

Update: Temporary closure of I-29 northbound near Blencoe, and other restrictions

News

June 28th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – June 27, 2011 – Flood mitigation work will continue along Interstate 29
near Blencoe through the end of this week, according to the Iowa Department of
Transportation (DOT). 

Northbound I-29 is closed between exits 105 (Monona County Road E-60 interchange
near Blencoe) and 112 (Iowa 175 interchange near Onawa). Follow the detour on Monona
County Road K-45. 

When the northbound lanes of I-29 reopen, a flood barrier wall will be in place on
both the outside and inside shoulders of the highway.

Work on the flood barrier wall along the southbound lanes of I-29 in this same area
is near completion. A width limit restriction of 12 feet has been imposed.

U.S. 30 in Harrison County to close temporarily to install flood barrier wal

News

June 28th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – June 27, 2011- The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is
announcing plans to temporarily close U.S. 30 between Missouri Valley, Iowa, and
Blair, Neb., beginning Wednesday, June 29, at 8:30 a.m. 

The purpose of the closure is to install a Trapbag® flood-control barrier along the
south side of the roadway. The urgency of getting the barrier wall installed will
require a number of workers, many trucks and heavy equipment, and will take the
entire roadway area to perform the work. 

The Iowa DOT’s plan is to run an around-the-clock operation to expedite reopening of
the road.  The road could possibly be reopened as soon as 48 hours after the start
of the project. Timing of completion of the work is dependent on a number of
factors, including equipment reliability, rising flood water levels, weather
conditions, and other issues. 

The Iowa portion of the detour, established for persons traveling from Missouri
Valley, Iowa, to Blair, Nebr., is: I-29 south to I-680E, take I-680E to I-80W, and
then take I-80W to the Iowa/Nebraska state line at Council Bluffs/Omaha. 

The public will be notified when the roadway is reopened to travel. 

When the roadway is reopened, work on a barrier wall on the north side of the
roadway will begin. This work may result in brief temporary closures, a lane closure
and use of pilot vehicles or flagging operations. 

Drivers must exercise additional caution while traveling on the roadway during
installation of the barrier wall. Workers and equipment will be in close proximity
to the travel lane. Slow down for conditions and obey all signs and instructions.

Portion of Iowa 175 and Missouri River bridge closed in Monona County

News

June 28th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – June 27, 2011 – The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is
reporting that Iowa 175 is closed from Interstate 29 west across the Missouri River
into Nebraska due to flooding. This is the river crossing between Onawa, Iowa, and
Decatur, Neb.

Severe river bank erosion caused by flooding along the east abutment of the Decatur
bridge has prompted the closure. 

The Iowa DOT, Burt County [Nebraska] Bridge Commission (operator of the toll bridge)
and Nebraska Department of Roads will be conducting an assessment of the situation
to determine what, if any, measures can be taken to prevent further erosion and make
the bridge safe for travel.  

The public will be informed as additional information becomes available. The
duration of the closure is unknown at this time. 

The Iowa portion of the detour for this closure, for persons traveling from Onawa,
Iowa, to Decatur, Neb., is: I-29 north to Sioux City, I-29 west to the U.S. 77 exit,
then south on U.S. 77 into Nebraska.

3rd man arrested in death of Omaha man

News

June 27th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A third suspect in the shooting death of an Omaha man has been arrested in Iowa. Police say Omar Martinez was found in a Council Bluffs hotel Monday. Martinez faces charges of second-degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony in connection with the death of Blaise Benscoter. Benscoter was found wounded Thursday in an apartment and died a short time later at a hospital.

Twenty-year-old Sean Collins and 38-year-old Donald Bridgeford have also been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. Police say they’re still looking for a fourth man, 48-year-old, Donald Krisor, 48, in connection with the case.

President Obama Authorizes Presidential Disaster for Six Iowa Counties

News

June 27th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad today received notification that President  Obama has authorized a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for six counties impacted by ongoing flooding conditions along the Missouri River since May 25, 2011.

“I am pleased to see the Presidential Major Disaster Declaration for these six counties came through,” Branstad said. “As we are still actively fighting the flood, this declaration provides a much needed financial boost to our local governments.”

The declaration by the President will provide federal funding to Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie, and Woodbury counties under the Public Assistance Program. This funding will be available to eligible public entities and select nonprofit agencies to cover costs incurred for implementing emergency protective measures and for the anticipated need for removal of debris.

In addition, the declaration makes available Direct Federal Assistance, which may include sheltering supplies and swift-water rescue teams if needed. “Communities along the Missouri River have exhausted their budgets in responding to the flood,” said HSEMD Administrator Brigadier General Derek Hill. “This declaration not only provides Direct Federal Assistance to aid in the response, but also provides the funding to replenish local budgets and assist with debris removal when the flood waters recede.”

The Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division continues to evaluate the flood’s impact on Iowans. This most recent declaration does not include aid to individuals and businesses. However, the Division is working with local emergency management agencies to determine the number of homes impacted by the flood and the damages these impacted homes have sustained.

The Division, along with FEMA, the Small Business Administration, and local authorities will be conducting preliminary damage assessments next week to determine if the damages that have occurred thus far are sufficient to warrant the inclusion of the Individual Assistance Program in this Major Disaster Declaration.

The Governor also received notification that the Presidential Disaster Declaration includes funding to conduct hazard mitigation activities for the entire state. With this funding, Iowa will be able to minimize the impact of future natural disasters by taking steps now to strengthen existing infrastructure.

This Presidential Disaster Declaration is the 12th Major Presidential Disaster Declaration Iowa has received since March 2007.

FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR WATER QUALITY AND FLOOD PREVENTION PROJECTS

News

June 27th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

August 5 Deadline to Apply for Grants through Watershed Improvement Review Board

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today encouraged eligible groups to apply for grants to support projects that will improve water quality or help prevent flooding in the state.  Between $743,000 and $1.2 million in grant funds are available to local watershed improvement committees, soil and water conservation districts, public water supply utilities, county conservation boards, cities and counties.

“These funds are available to support projects that address specific water quality problems or that can help reduce flooding in our state,” Northey said.  “Protecting and improving water quality is central to the work of the Department and these funds support projects that make documented improvements in our state’s water quality or address potential flooding.”

Projects eligible for funding include, but are not limited to, those addressing agricultural runoff and drainage, flood prevention, stream bank erosion, municipal discharge, storm water runoff, unsewered communities, industrial discharge and livestock runoff.

Each project can request up to $500,000 in funding over five years.

Potential applicants should review the RFA in full at  www.iowaagriculture.gov/IWIRB.asp to make sure their proposal qualifies.

All applications are due on Friday, August 5, 2011 and will be reviewed Friday, September 9, 2011 by the Watershed Improvement Review Board.  The Board is comprised of representatives from agriculture, drinking water and wastewater utilities, environmental organizations, agribusiness, the conservation community along with two state senators and two state representatives.  A funding announcement is expected to be made in September.

Application materials can be downloaded from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship website at www.iowaagriculture.gov/IWIRB.asp.

To receive more information or ask questions, contact Jerry Neppel at 515-281-3599.

Fire destroys farm tractor near Atlantic

News

June 27th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

No injuries were reported after a fire destroyed a farm tractor Monday afternoon, southwest of Atlantic. The call about the fire at 60435 585th Street came in at around 4-p.m.

Atlantic Fire responded to the scene and found a John Deere 7520 tractor fully engulfed in flames. The tractor is owned by Bill Pellett, of Atlantic. Pellett told KJAN News Brett Pellett was cleaning out a grain bin with a vacuum/auger attachment on the rear of the tractor in preparation for the fall harvest, when flames erupted from the front end of the tractor.

Pellett said he thinks an electrical problem may be to blame for the fire.

USDA Rural Development Hosting Rural-Issues Listening Posts in Elk Horn, Greenfield and Corning Tuesday, July 12th

News

June 27th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa, will be in Elk Horn, Greenfield and Corning on Tuesday, July 12th to listen to local community and economic development leaders, as well as the general public, discuss issues and opportunities they encounter in their ongoing efforts to keep rural Iowa vibrant and prosperous.
The sessions will take place at 9 a.m. at Elk Horn Town Hall, 4212 Main Street – Elk Horn, at 1:00 p.m. at Greenfield City Hall, 202 South 1st Street – Greenfield, and at 3:30 p.m. at the Adams County Fair Grounds in the Pavilion (north side of the 4-H Exhibit Building) – Corning. All three are open to the public.

In the last 10 years, 66 of Iowa’s 99 counties have seen a population decline.  While rural communities and areas are home to 1.7 million Iowans, more than half of Iowa’s nearly 950 cities now have fewer than 500 residents.
USDA Rural Development currently administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility loan and grant programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.

During the past year the agency helped a record number of Iowans receive funding for economic development projects and quality of life improvements. The agency’s investment in Iowa helped create or retain more than 2,200 jobs, aided 2,500 families in buying their own homes and assisted more than 250 communities as they made improvements to their facilities, services and infrastructure.

What:   Rural-Issues Listening Posts – hosted by USDA Rural Development
When and Where:
Tuesday, July 12th
9:00 a.m. – Elk Horn Town Hall – 4212 Main Street – Elk Horn
1:00 p.m. – Greenfield City Hall, 202 South 1st Street – Greenfield
3:30 p.m. – Adams County Fair Grounds – The Pavilion – Corning

For more information about finance programs through USDA Rural Development, please call the office located in Atlantic at (712) 243-2107 Ext. 4. This office serves communities, businesses and residents in Adams, Audubon, Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie, Shelby and Taylor Counties.
Further information on programs available through USDA Rural Development is available by visiting the agency’s web site at www.rurdev.usda.gov/ia.

Independence weekend STEP

News

June 27th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

As travelers hit the road en-masse for the Independence Day holiday weekend, law enforcement agencies across the state will be out in force as well, watching for alcohol or drug-impaired drivers, and other traffic violations. Officials with the Iowa Department of Public Safety say a Special Traffic Enforcement Project, or “STEP,” will take place July 1st thru the 4th, with a special emphasis on taking impaired drivers off the road, and making sure motorists are buckled up.

Last year, Iowa recorded five traffic-related fatalities over the July 4th weekend. That was two more than in 2009. Fortunately, none of the deaths over the past four-years were alcohol-related.

During a similar STEP effort in 2010, 214 law enforcement agencies, local and across the state, had contact with a total of 353 alcohol and/or drug impaired drivers. There were also slightly more than 1,000 citations or warnings issued for seatbelt violations, and nearly 5,000 tickets issued for speeding. In all, over 11,228 violations were recorded in 2010.

Officers also assisted 965 motorists, investigated 366 crashes, and apprehended 107 persons wanted on warrants.