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U. of Iowa to launch newly designed web site

News

December 18th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The University of Iowa says it will launch a new design for its home web page for the first time since 2008. The university says the changes aim to improve a site that has been visited 11 times by 2.4 million people this year. University official Lin Larson offered a preview of the changes in a university article posted online Tuesday. He says the redesign “isn’t just a facelift, but a fresh start.”

He says the new site should make menus simpler to navigate and work better on mobile devices. Larson says the designers chose to make information for new users one central focus of the page, www.uiowa.edu.

Idle Neb. nuclear plant cleared to restart

News

December 18th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska nuclear plant that has been idle for nearly three years because of flooding and a series of safety concerns has been cleared to restart. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Tuesday that the Omaha Public Power District’s Fort Calhoun nuclear plant is safe to restart. Fort Calhoun, which sits across from Iowa on the Missouri River about 20 miles north of Omaha, has been offline since April 2011.

Fort Calhoun initially shut down for routine maintenance, but significant flooding in 2011, a small fire and a number of violations forced it to remain closed.

Iowa News Headlines: Wed., 12/18/13

News

December 18th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Lottery officials say winning ticket tickets have been sold in California and Georgia for the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot, the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history. The winning numbers were: 8, 14, 17, 20, 39; Mega Ball: 7. California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said Tuesday night that one ticket was sold at Jennifer’s Gift Shop in San Jose, Calif. Otto didn’t know yet where in Georgia the ticket had been sold. The jackpot resets to $15 million for the next drawing, which is on Friday night.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Rep. Tom Latham has confirmed he won’t seek re-election in 2014. The 10-term Iowa Republican will have spent 20 years in Congress and is Iowa’s senior U.S. House member. Latham is a member of the Appropriations Committee and chairman of the transportation subcommittee. He’s known for his friendship with House Speaker John Boehner and his love of golf.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A long-idled Nebraska nuclear plant has been given clearance to restart. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the Omaha Public Power District’s Fort Calhoun nuclear plant is safe. Fort Calhoun has been offline since April 2011. Fort Calhoun initially shut down for routine maintenance, but significant flooding in 2011, a small fire and a number of violations forced it to remain closed.

AMES, Iowa (AP) — A livestock specialist at Iowa State University says falling corn prices are generating some optimism that cattle farmers can again make money. Historically high corn prices during the last several years drove up the cost of feed and many producers cut herd numbers as drought intensified. But Lee Schulz, a livestock specialist and assistant professor of economics, says producers who have been in survival mode are beginning to talk about expansion.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The University of Iowa is launching a new design for its home Web page for the first time since 2008. University official Lin Larson offered a preview of the changes in a university article posted online Tuesday. He says the redesign “isn’t just a facelift, but a fresh start.” He says the new site should make menus simpler to navigate and work better on mobile devices.

2 winners in $636M Mega Millions drawing

News

December 18th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa(AP) — Lottery officials say winning ticket tickets have been sold in California and Georgia for the $636 million Mega Millions jackpot, the second-largest lottery prize in U.S. history. The winning numbers were: 8, 14, 17, 20, 39; Mega Ball: 7.

Paula Otto, the Virginia Lottery’s executive director and the lead director of Mega Millions, said that $336 million in tickets were sold for Tuesday drawing — they had projected $319 million. California Lottery spokesman Alex Traverso said Tuesday night that one ticket was sold at Jennifer’s Gift Shop in San Jose, Calif. Otto didn’t know yet where in Georgia the ticket had been sold.

The jackpot resets to $15 million for the next drawing, which is on Friday night.

US Rep. Tom Latham won’t seek re-election in 2014

News

December 17th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — U.S. Rep. Tom Latham announced Tuesday he won’t seek re-election in 2014, creating a potentially competitive race for a seat that likely would have favored the 10-term Iowa Republican. The 65-year-old Republican from Clive will have spent 20 years in Congress and is Iowa’s senior U.S. House member. The decision creates an open seat that includes the Des Moines area in central Iowa and the vast rural tracts of southern and western Iowa.

The news, coming late Tuesday, took Iowa’s GOP senior strategists by surprise. “It’s a bombshell politically in Iowa because he was so strong,” said Doug Gross, a longtime aide to Republican Gov. Terry Branstad and former nominee for governor. “It throws open a congressional seat in a very, very important district I think you’ll have a scrum on both sides. I think you’ll have lots of interest.”

Democrat Staci Appel, a former state senator from Ackworth, had already announced her plans to seek the seat before Latham’s decision. Latham was heavily courted this year by Iowa Republicans, especially Branstad, and the national GOP to seek Iowa’s open Senate seat in 2014, but he turned that down in February. Five-term Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin announced in January that he would retire, and several Republicans have announced their candidacies.

Latham is a member of the Appropriations Committee and chairman of the transportation subcommittee. He’s known for his friendship with House Speaker John Boehner and his love of golf.

Atlantic City Council to act on resolutions approving the sale of real estate

News

December 17th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council has four resolutions to act on during their meeting Wednesday evening at City Hall. The first two serve to recognize departing Councilmen Steve Livengood and Shawn Shouse for their years of service on the Council. Both men had opted not to seek re-election.

The other resolutions pertain to authorizing the sale of real estate located at 807 Elm and 203 Locust Streets. Sealed bids for both properties will be opened prior to the Council’s 5:30-p.m. meeting and a bid tabulation sheet prepared for presentation to the Council for its review and approval. The successful bidder will have to comply with the requirements set forth under a schedule requiring a performance guarantee that the buildings will be demolished and removed from the site in a timely manner.

In other business, the Council will act on authorizing Mayor Dave Jones to execute a retainer agreement for 2014 legal services with City Attorney Dave Wiederstein. The City’s Personnel and Finance Committee has recommended approval of the agreement, which, among other things would increase the fee for his services to approximately $15,000 per year, or an average annual increase of 2.5-percent. The rate has not been changed since 2008.

And, upon a vote and recommendation by the firefighters of Atlantic, the Council will act to approve the re-election of Mark McNees as Fire Chief for 2014. The meeting will conclude with a closed-session for a performance evaluation of City Administrator Doug Harris.

Council Bluffs man charged in Glenwood woman’s death

News

December 17th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Iowa says a Pottawattamie County man has been charged in connection with the death of a Mills County woman. 24 year-old Chad Fortner of Council Bluffs was charged today (Tuesday) with 2nd Degree Murder in the death of 47 year-old Carol Meston, of Glenwood.

On October 12th, emergency responders were called to Meston’s home where Fortner was also staying.  It was initially reported that an altercation had taken place between Fortner and a male acquaintance.  Fortner had reported that during the altercation, Meston was knocked to the ground where she hit her head on a piece of furniture and was rendered unconscious.  Meston never regained consciousness and ultimately died of her injuries the next day.

An autopsy was conducted by the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner and it was determined that Meston’s death was ruled a homicide due to the rupture of a vertebral artery.  Fortner is currently in the Mills County jail being held under a $50,000.00 bond.

Pickup hits power pole and a building in Shambaugh

News

December 17th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

An accident Saturday night in Shambaugh caused at least $5,000 damage, but no one was hurt. The Page County Sheriff’s Office says 45-year old Jeffrey Gray, of Shambaugh, was attempting to make a left turn into an alley at around 8:30-p.m. Saturday, when his 2005 Chevy Colorado pickup hit a power pole. The pole snapped off at the ground before breaking in half and pulling the electrical wires from a building owned by Frank McCoy. After hitting the pole, Gray backed his truck up, and in the process struck McCoy’s metal building.

Gray was cited for Failure to Maintain Control.

Shelby Co. Supervisors approve wage increase

News

December 17th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Shelby County Board of Supervisors have approved a wage increase for county employees. In a regular meeting this (Tuesday) morning, Tim Meyer, chairman of the compensation board, reported to the supervisors, the compensation board met on Tuesday, December 3rd, and was requesting a 5 percent increase for employees in the county.

The compensation board started out two years ago with an aggressive campaign to raise the percentages of salaries in the county near the population rank of the county. In 2011, the county was in the 84th in pay scale and 65th in population. At the time, a 5 percent increase was approved by the board of supervisors and the same percentage was approved in 2012. Meyer said the compensation board discussed in great length and felt the 5 percent increase was appropriate. He proposed another 5 percent increase, 2 percent cost of living and 3 percent as a “catch up.”

Meyer said depending on what the state does, this increase would move Shelby County much closer to their population rank. “So based on the assumption they are going to do what they have done in the past, we would hope we would again climb 4, 5 maybe 6 spots to be in the 67, 68 range comparison to our population of 65. That would be a long ways in three years from where we were.”

Supervisor Steve Kenkel said some county officials are in the population range and the supervisors cannot choose individual employees. Kenkel said the recorder, auditor and treasurer are in the 75 range but the supervisors and sheriff are already near the population rank. After further discussion between Kenkel and Meyer, the supervisor made a proposal. It called for a two percent for the cost of living for everybody but then one and half percent for everybody else but the supervisors.”

The Shelby County Supervisors approved Kenkel’s motion for the 3.5% overall raise for the county employees and a 2 percent for the supervisors. In other business, four representatives from the Elk Horn Trails Committee gave a report to the supervisors about the ongoing efforts for the Elk Horn trail from Kimballton to Elk Horn. The committee has a total of $168,000 raised for the $500,000 project. The Elk Horn Trails requested $5,000 from the Supervisors. The Board approved half the request, $2,500. The same amount was granted to the West Central Community Action non-profit agency, which was the same amount given last year.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)

Mega Millions jackpot soars to $636 million

News

December 17th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Mega Millions estimated jackpot has soared to $636 million, making it the second largest jackpot in U.S. history. The jackpot had been $586 million, but lottery officials increased it Tuesday morning because of strong ticket sales ahead of the evening drawing.  The jackpot now trails only a $656 million Mega Millions pot in March 2012.

Mega Millions changed its rules in October to help increase the jackpots by lowering the odds of winning the top prize to about 1 in 259 million. Paula Otto, lead director for Mega Millions, says officials expect about 70 percent of the possible number combinations to be purchased. The cash option is $341 million, before taxes.  Mega Millions is played in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.