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Breaking News: Body in Sac County house was kidnapping suspect’s mom


January 4th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

EARLY, Iowa (AP) — A prosecutor says the woman found dead in a western Iowa farmhouse during a kidnapping investigation is the kidnapping suspect’s mother. Sac County Attorney Ben Smith said Friday that 21-year-old Kirk Riley Levin’s mother, Marilyn Schmitt, was the woman found dead in the farmhouse in Early, 100 miles northwest of Des Moines. Sheriff Ken McClure says a 21-year-old woman told investigators that Levin assaulted her and told her he was kidnapping her after showing up at her home Thursday morning asking for a ride to the house. He says she managed to get away and get help from a local resident.

Levin was released from prison Tuesday after serving more than two years for burglary. Investigators found him hiding in a barn Thursday and arrested him. Levin remained jailed Friday on preliminary charges of assault with intent to commit sexual assault, assault while participating in a felony, and third-degree kidnapping.

Levin was released New Year’s Day from the prison in Mount Pleasant after serving a little more than two years of a five-year sentence for third-degree burglary, Iowa Department of Corrections spokesman Fred Scaletta said. Iowa prison terms are frequently reduced if inmates stay out of trouble while incarcerated.

Iowa officials: Deadline soon on foreclosure claim


January 4th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa officials are reminding some homeowners affected by foreclosure to submit a claim for compensation from a national settlement. Attorney General Tom Miller says borrowers have until Jan. 18 to file a claim under a national mortgage settlement worth $25 billion. More than 11,000 Iowa homeowners who lost their property between 2008 and 2011 are likely eligible. Miller says more than half of the qualified borrowers that were notified in September have filed claims.

Eligible borrowers had mortgages with the five largest servicers in the country. The settlement sets aside money for borrowers whose foreclosure proceedings may have been mishandled.

Western IA kidnapping suspect was recently released from jail


January 4th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

EARLY, Iowa (AP) – A man arrested in western Iowa on charges of assault and kidnapping had been released from prison just two days earlier.  Sac County Sheriff Ken McClure said his office received a call about 8 a.m. Thursday after someone encountered a 21-year-old Storm Lake woman who claimed she had been kidnapped. After talking with the woman, officers searched the area and found 21-year-old Kirk Riley Levin hiding in a barn.

Levin is in the Sac County Jail on charges of assault and kidnapping.  While investigating the kidnapping, officers found a woman’s body at the rural Early farmhouse where Levin lived and are investigating how she died. McClure says her death is suspicious.  The Iowa Department of Corrections says Levin was released from prison on Tuesday after serving a sentence or burglary.

State to offer all GED testing online within a year


January 4th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

By this time in 2014, all Iowans who take the G-E-D to complete their high school education will be taking it on a computer. Three Iowa community colleges have launched a pilot project to test and implement the new technology. Rick Carpenter, director of program development for the Des Moines Area Community College, says five students were the first in Iowa to take the computerized G-E-D tests. It happened a month ago, on December 3rd, at a  classroom in Des Moines.  “In the year’s past, we’ve been doing the tests just by paper, but we have transformed over to computer-based testing and for all new students who take the GED, it will be on the computer,” Carpenter says.

Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs and Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa are joining D-MACC in the first wave of converting to computerized G-E-D tests. Classes for students who want to get a G-E-D — which stands for General Education Degree — are held at the state’s 15 area community colleges and the tests are taken on the community college campuses. It takes up to 10 weeks for a student to find out if they’ve passed the G-E-D when they take the paper exam. Carpenter says there’s a much quicker turn-around for the computer exams. “The students instantly get their feedback results when it’s on computer-based testing,” Pennington says.

The state’s 15 area community colleges have been administering G-E-D tests since 1966. The G-E-D test was first devised in 1942 to help returning World War II veterans finish high school, without having to go back to classes inside a high school. Five years later the state of New York began offering the G-E-D as an alternative method of earning a high school education. In 2009, 99 percent of the Iowans who took the G-E-D exams passed and almost four-thousand adults earned an Iowa High School Equivalency Diploma.

(Radio Iowa)

Walnut City Council approves “Jake Brake” ordinance


January 4th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Walnut City Council, Thursday, adopted upon the first reading, a new section to the Code of Ordinances, prohibiting the use of compression brakes (commonly referred to as “Jake Brakes”).  The Council waived the second and third reading of the ordinance, which means tractor-trailer drivers will not be able to use their engine brake system to slow their rig. Most communities have enacted a similar “No Engine Braking” Ordinance, to prevent the annoying and disruptive sound the systems make, within city limits.

In other business, the Walnut City Council took no action on a proposal by the fire department, to purchase a new “Quick Attack” vehicle. City Clerk Terri Abel says department officials will hold a meeting with leaders of the Layton, Lincoln and Monroe Townships on January 15th, to discuss the matter. The meeting takes place during the Fire Board meeting at 5:30-p.m. Jan. 15th, in the Walnut Fire Station.

The Council also took no action on a recommendation of a replacement for the Zoning Commission.

“Rachel’s Challenge” takes place Jan. 10th at CAM Schools


January 4th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

CAM School District Pre-K through 8th Grade Principal Larry Hunt says as part of a statewide effort to reduce or eliminate bullying and harassment in Iowa schools, the CAM (Cumberland-Anita-Massena) School District, in cooperation with First National Bank, and Cornbelt Insurance, will host a special program for Middle- and High- School students, on Thursday, January 10th. The program “Rachel’s Challenge,” is a series of student empowering programs and strategies which equip students and adults with the mental tools to combat bullying, while at the same time allaying feelings of isolation and despair, by creating a culture of kindness and compassion.

The student sessions take place from 8:45-a.m. until 9:45-a.m. Thursday, at the CAM Middle School, and from Noon until 1-p.m. at the CAM High School. There will also be student training at the High School in Anita, from 1:30 until 3-p.m., Thursday. In addition to the student program, a parent/community session will be held Thursday evening.

The “Rachel’s Challenge” program is based on the writings of 17-year old Rachel Scott, who was the first student to die at Columbine High School, in 1999.

Rachel Scott

The core component of the program, is a school assembly that tells her story, and serves as the inspiration for change, among students. Hunt says the CAM Board of Directors and district administrators believe the program will bring “Real life meaning” to their students and community, on the problem students face when it comes to bullying and harassment. For more information, go to www.rachelschallenge.org.

Adair County Supervisors to hold Special Session on Monday


January 4th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Adair County Board of Supervisors will hold a “Special Session” Monday morning, in Greenfield. During their 9-a.m. meeting at the courthouse, the Board will discuss and possibly act on some administrative matters, including: Taxable Mileage; the Area 14 Agency on Aging Fiscal Year 2012 Financial statement; and, a Travel Policy resolution.

At 9:15-a.m., the Adair County Board will review Valuation and Insurance information, and at 9:30, they’re schedule to hear a Fiscal Year 2014 funding request from the Adair County Historical Society, followed at 9:45, by a funding request as well, from the Adair County Tourism Bureau representative.  And, at 10-a.m., the Supervisors in Adair County, will receive a FY 2014 funding request from Chad Schrek, with Midwest Partnership.

Iowa School Bus Safety Study Released


January 4th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa departments of Transportation and Education, Friday (today) announced the release of the School Bus Safety Study to the Iowa legislature, as required by Senate File 2218, “Kadyn’s Law.” In response to the findings, Steve Gent, director of the Iowa DOT’s Office of Traffic and Safety said “The study conducted by researchers at Iowa State University and The University of Iowa evaluated school bus safety measures as required by the legislature. This report states that parents should be encouraged to have their children ride the bus to and from school because buses are one of the safest forms of transportation available. Yet, the safety of our children is still a real concern, primarily due to vehicles illegally passing stopped school buses.”

Max Christensen, state director of school transportation with the Iowa Department of Education, said “Ensuring the safety of Iowa’s school children is a top priority for this department and all of Iowa schools and districts. Taking actions at the local level, such as evaluating the feasibility of home-side loading/unloading of students, and working with area law enforcement agencies, is essential.” The study addressed three specific safety elements:

  • Use of cameras mounted on school buses to enhance the safety of children riding the buses and aid in enforcement of motor vehicle laws pertaining to stop-arm violations.
  • Feasibility of requiring school children to be picked up and dropped off on the side of the road on which their home is located.
  • Inclusion of school bus safety as a priority in driver training curriculum.

Some of the key findings of the study were:

  • Twenty Iowa school districts confirmed they are currently using stop-arm cameras as a deterrent.
  • Stop-arm cameras do aid in the enforcement of motor vehicle laws and enhance safety if there is an effective and sustainable process to turn a camera image into a traffic citation and ultimately a court conviction.
  • The present method of identifying stop-arm violators captured on school bus cameras and subsequent issuance of citations by law enforcement agencies is a laborious task for all parties involved.
  • Although Kadyn’s Law imposes a mandatory minimum fine of $250 for the first offense, records show that 65 percent of fines imposed between Aug. 15 and Oct. 31, 2012, were less than the minimum. As with any new law, enhanced awareness within the judicial system of the changes in the Iowa Code resulting from Kadyn’s Law should result in an increased alignment of convictions and sentencing to the present Iowa Code provisions.
  • School districts should continue to be encouraged to consider home-side loading as a matter of best practice and discretion; but researchers stopped short of recommending this be a specific requirement.
  • As a best practice, inclusion of illustrations in driver training curriculum may improve driver comprehension of school bus stop requirements.

The study also mentioned that installation of a second stop sign at the rear of the school bus is a low-cost traffic control solution that enhances safety by increasing the visibility of the stop sign for vehicles approaching from the rear, thus preventing some motorists from overtaking a school bus when children are loading or unloading. A second stop sign is an option already available to Iowa school districts and is presently being exercised by some.

The study, sponsored by the Iowa DOT and Federal Highway Administration, was co-authored by Neal Hawkins, principle investigator and director, Center for Transportation Research and Education at Iowa State University; Shauna Hallmark, co-principle investigator and interim director, Institute for Transportation, Iowa State University; Dr. Susan Chrysler, co-principle investigator and director of research, The National Advanced Driving Simulator, University of Iowa; Dr. Dan McGehee, research scientist and director, Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research Program, Public Policy Center, The University of Iowa; and graduate students Elizabeth O’Neal and Roderick Hoover of the National Advanced Driving Simulator at The University of Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety also played a key role in the study by sharing their valuable insights into the enforcement and educational aspects of this issue.

The report is available at: http://www.iowadot.gov/schoolbus/default.html

(Iowa DOT Press Release)

Red Oak teen arrested on drug charges Friday


January 4th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Montgomery County say a teenager from Red Oak was arrested early Friday morning, on drug charges. According to Red Oak Police, 17-year old Nikolus Brenton Schooling was taken into custody at around 4-a.m, on charges that include unlawful possession of prescription drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Schooling was released to the custody of his father, and referred to juvenile court.

8AM Newscast 01-04-2012

News, Podcasts

January 4th, 2013 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson