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Open House set to discuss major road work in the Bluffs area


January 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

An open house will be held next Tuesday at the Mall of the Bluffs in Council Bluffs, to explain to the public what changes they can expect to see on the Council Bluffs interstate system. The Daily NonPareil reports by the end of this year, drivers will be able to take advantage of some of the improvements now under construction, including new flyover bridges at the Interstate 80-29 interchange near the Mid-American Center. The biggest change to the system will be on I-29/80 on the south side of Council Bluffs. That stretch of interstate will be rebuilt into a “dual divided freeway” to create new express lanes.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has signed off on $120 million in projects over the past five years in Council Bluffs. Now it hopes to spend that amount every year for the next decade to update the interstate system to accommodate growing traffic counts. The federal government will pay 85 percent of the costs, with the rest coming from the state. By speeding up the project, the DOT expects to save $33 million, mostly in inflation costs. The expedited timetable is pending approval from the Iowa Transportation Commission. If approved, planners expect to wrap up construction on most of the projects in 2020 or 2021, instead of 2024.

Some future work, such as the I-480/29 interchange and the I-80/U.S. Highway 6 interchange, has not yet been scheduled. With those projects included, the total price tag for the project is estimated at $2 billion.

The public open house on the project is set for Jan. 28th at the Council Bluffs Interstate System Improvement Program Office at the Mall of the Bluffs. It will be held from 4-until 7-p.m. No formal presentations will be made. The public is invited to stop by anytime during the hours of the open house to look at the projects, information and timetable.

City of Atlantic-owned truck parking lot to remain closed


January 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A tractor-trailer parking lot on Commerce Street in Atlantic will remain closed, following a motion passed Tuesday night by the Community Protection Committee. The Committee, comprised of Councilpersons Bob Cord, Ashley Hayes, and Chris Jimerson, along with Mayor Dave Jones, met at City Hall to discuss the future of the site. City Administrator Doug Harris was also in attendance.

The committee concluded it would be better to have the lot utilized by the City and County governments until such time as the need for a City-owned truck parking lot is expressed more, by those it was originally intended to serve. Doug Harris agreed a cooperative agreement between the City and County would be in the best interest of both entities, if the County is willing to agree. Harris said the City should approach County Engineer Charles Marker and ask if they have a need for storage on the lot, or take a small portion of the lot and allow the metal recycling company next door to use some of the lot for expansion, with the provision some sort of a screen be put in place to shield it from view of the Schildberg Recreation Area.

Mayor Jones suggested that while the lot could be used for the storage of some City and County-owned equipment in the short-term, nothing permanent be established or installed. That would leave the option of using the area for truck parking again, if a need is demonstrated by those who might need it, in the future. The City wouldn’t charge the County for use of the land, if the government resources could be shared.

No one from the public objected to the Committees decision. The issue of truck parking arose several years ago when the City received complaints about semis parked on City streets. The City poured a concrete slab and allowed the trucks to temporarily park there, but the site soon became an eyesore, with trailers being left for long periods of time and the area becoming more like a junk yard. The City cleaned-up the site and then closed it off until a decision could be made on its future. Meanwhile, other, private entities have stepped-up and offered to rent lots for truck parking. The Mayor has said the City should not be in competition with those individuals if the need is being filled.

Barefoot woman found wandering after crash near C. Bluffs


January 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A single-vehicle accident near Council Bluffs early Sunday morning is under investigation, after authorities found a woman wandering barefoot not far from the scene. According to the Daily NonPareil, Council Bluffs Police responded to a crash near the 57-mile marker of Interstate 29 southbound a little after 3-a.m., Sunday.Officers found an unoccupied 2005 Nissan Quest minivan wedged among the trees, in the ditch.

Authorities say the van had hit a fence with a metal pole, which went through the two rear windows. Passenger side air bags had deployed and the passenger side doors wouldn’t open, with the handles broken off. Officers eventually located the registered owner of the vehicle, Angela Hussman of Ashland, Neb., a few hundred yards down the interstate. Hussman was uninjured, though she was walking barefoot and told police she had no idea how she got to Iowa.

Hussman said she had been a passenger in the Nissan, with a man who had been driving her home from a bar, but she could not identify him. She said she woke up in the passenger seat of the vehicle and got out after grabbing the pole for support to escape out the driver side. No other individuals were located in the area. Hussman told police she was unable to account for the time from when she left the bar around 2 a.m. to when the accident occurred, around 2:55 a.m.

Iowa early News Headlines: Wed., Jan. 22nd 2014


January 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — West Des Moines police arrested a man suspected in a bank robbery after a witness photographed the man’s vehicle. Police say in a news release that they were called to a robbery at First Bank in West Des Moines just before 2 p.m. The suspect had fled, but a witness photographed a minivan he climbed into and then followed the vehicle for several miles and directed police. Officers finally stopped the minivan at a motel parking lot and arrested a man.

TIPTON, Iowa (AP) — An environmental commission has rejected an Iowa pet cemetery owner’s request to throw out a $10,000 fine over controversial horse burials. The Des Moines Register reports the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission recently rejected Steve Johnson’s appeal. Johnson’s attorney, Jeff Bittner, says he will appeal the decision in district court.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad has received big campaign contributions from Iowa business leaders, special interest political committees and from celebrity businessman Donald Trump. Branstad filed his campaign finance report for 2013 yesterday. It shows that he has about $4.1 million in cash on hand for his re-election campaign.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A consultant for Jack Hatch’s gubernatorial campaign has been reinstated to practice law after a brief suspension for failing to respond to an inquiry from regulators. Chief Justice Mark Cady signed an order yesterday reinstating Des Moines attorney John Hedgecoth, whose license was temporarily suspended Jan. 16.

Atlantic City Council to hold 1st readings of tobacco free policy & rezoning


January 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Two public hearings will be held Wednesday evening during a meeting of the Atlantic City Council. The first hearing is with regard to an Ordinance pertaining to the Sunnyside Park Tobacco Free Policy. The second pertains to the rezoning of a property at the southwest corner of 7th and Olive Streets from Residential to Commercial.

With regard to the Tobacco Free Ordinance, the Atlantic Park and Recreation Department’s Board of Directors approved the policy at their meeting on Nov. 18th. The ordinance was drafted by the City Attorney and modeled after a similar ordinance in Adel. If approved, the ordinance would prohibit the use of tobacco  “In designated areas of Sunnyside Park: the trails, the outdoor recreational facilities, and all public building and grounds restrooms, athletic fields, spectator areas of athletic facilities during a sporting event, tennis courts, basketball courts, skate park, pavilions, and within 25’ of the playground equipment areas and picnic shelters.”

Violations would be punishable as follows: For a first violation, a monetary penalty not to exceed one hundred dollars. For a second violation within one year, a monetary penalty not to exceed two hundred dollars. For each violation in excess of a second violation within one year, a monetary penalty not to exceed five hundred dollars for each additional violation.

Afterward the public hearing on the tobacco free policy, the Council will hold a hearing on an amendment to the Zoning Map to reclassify a section of land at the southwest corning of 7th and Olive Streets, from R-3 (High Density Single Family) to C-1 (Highway Commercial). The Planning and Zoning Board approved the rezoning request from Plummer Investments during their meeting on Jan. 14th, even though the City Comprehensive plan shows that the area in question should be zoned medium density residential. The Board said “The rezoning proposal conforms to the Comprehensive Plan.”

It’s still not clear what Plummer Investments plans to do with the lot once a 133-year old home sitting on the property they own, is demolished. There are concerns about whether the house would be removed in a timely manner, and whether or not new construction would “improve the general condition of the neighborhood. Safety at the heavily traveled intersection, is also a concern that will need to be addressed.

The Atlantic City Council meeting will be held in the Council’s Chambers at City Hall, beginning at 5:30-p.m., Wednesday.



Hosts Needed for 10 State Park Campgrounds

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the opportunity to spend the summer in an Iowa state park is available for individuals who serve as campground hosts. Campground hosts receive free camping at a designated site while they help state parks staff by assisting campers, explaining park rules, helping with registration and serving as an impromptu local tour guide. Hosts help park staff to keep the park clean and with light maintenance.

Hosts are needed for the season at Clear Lake, Geode, Lake Wapello, Nine Eagles, Pikes Peak, Pleasant Creek, Prairie Rose, Springbrook, Viking Lake and Wapsipinicon. The camping season is April 1st to October 31st. Applications are available online at www.iowadnr.gov/volunteer then click on the campground hosts link in the column on the left.  Or, call 515-242-5704 to have an application mailed.

Applicants will have a federal criminal history and drivers’ license check as part of the process. Officials say the would like to get hosts placed in parks by mid-March so they are ready to go in April.

Brosam honored for safe recovery of abducted teenager


January 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa State Patrol reports Trooper Wayne Brosam, of Atlantic, received honorable mention for the “Looking Beyond the License Plate Award” that 3M Corporation sponsored at the 2013 International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference.

Commissioner Noble, 3M Corporation Government Services Manager Tom Pugh, Trooper Brosam (Center) and Colonel Garrison are shown in the photo provided by the ISP.

Commissioner Noble, 3M Corporation Government Services Manager Tom Pugh, Trooper Brosam (Center) and Colonel Garrison are shown in the photo provided by the ISP.

Trooper Brosam was nominated for a traffic stop that he initiated for speed and registration violations that resulted in the recovery of an abducted 14 year old female. The award is to recognize law enforcement officers whose observations of a license plate resulted in the apprehension of a suspect or the solution of a crime.

The state of North Dakota was preparing to issue an AMBER Alert for the juvenile, but stopped when they were notified that the Iowa State Patrol already had recovered her unharmed. Trooper Brosam said that while talking to the driver he felt that the man’s story did not add up. He continued to question the occupants of the vehicle until he had sufficient grounds to take the driver into custody.

In a letter from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, they wrote, “This award is indicative of both Trooper Brosam’s individual excellence and dedication to highway and public safety as well as the excellence of the Iowa State Patrol which has supported him in providing outstanding service to the citizens of your state.”

Colonel Robert Garrison said that this is what the citizens of Iowa have come to expect from the Iowa State Patrol and Trooper Brosam is a great example to all law enforcement that there is no such thing as a routine traffic stop.

Support grows to end greyhound racing in Iowa


January 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – City and business leaders are backing an effort to end greyhound racing in Dubuque and Council Bluffs.  The Mystique greyhound track in Dubuque and Bluffs Run Greyhound Park at Horseshoe Council Bluffs are the last two remaining in the state, and attendance has been falling for years due to casinos. Gambling profits at the tracks have plummeted from a combined total of $186 million in 1986 to $5.9 million in 2012.

The Des Moines Register reports about $14 million in annual subsidies from Iowa casino profits help keep greyhound racing operations afloat. Some lawmakers believe the money could be better spent. Other lawmakers, expressing concern over job losses, say they want the greyhound industry and casino industry to reach an agreement before a bill is formally on the table.

2 injury accidents in Harlan last week


January 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Police Department says two people were injured during separate accidents last week. On Friday, vehicles driven by Julie Schneider, of Portsmouth, and Jacob Wilderding, of Neligh, NE, collided at 10th and Durant Streets, after Wilwerding failed to yield upon entering a through highway. Schneider was transported by private vehicle to Myrtue Memorial Hospital for treatment of back pain. Damage from the crash amounted to $11,000.

And on Jan. 13th, vehicles driven by Helen Schmitz, of Harlan, and Michael Fisher, of Council Bluffs, collided at the intersection of 19th and Chatburn, in Harlan. A passenger in the Fisher vehicle was transported to Myrtue Hospital for treatment of minor injuries. The accident caused $4,500 damage. The report did not indicate any citations were issued.

Harlan Police report (1/21/2014)


January 21st, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Police Department released a report today (Tuesday) on recent incidents, investigations and arrests. Officials say on Sunday, a Harlan resident reported that someone had broken the window out of her 2000 Toyota Sienna while parked at her residence in the 800 block of Court Street. A cable receiver was also missing from her garage, and graffiti spray painted on the garage. The estimated cost of repairs and replacement amounted to $950.

Authorties say last Friday, Theft charges were filed by Dana Lauritsen, Harlan, against Daren Lauritsen, Exira, for allegedly removing a playhouse and swing set from the property in the 1600 block of West Park. Charges were filed with the clerk of court.

On January 16th, Express Lube and Tire in Harlan reported to police the theft of a blue 1997 Chevrolet. The vehicle was taken from the business at 1101 Chatburn Avenue. Authorities continue to investigate the incident.

On January 14th, a Harlan man reported to police the theft of a custom dirt bike. The bike was taken from a residence in the 1700 block of 6th Street. There are no suspects and the case remains under investigation.

On January 11th, 39-year old Victoria Gonzales, of Harlan, was arrested following an investigation. Gonzales was taken to the Shelby County Jail where she was charged with child endangerment. Officials say two minor children were transported to Children’s Square in Council Bluffs.

And on January 10th,  a female in Harlan reported the theft of an iPod taken from her vehicle parked at Dollar General. There are no suspects and the case remains under investigation.