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Jury finds Akron man guilty of making bomb threat

News

February 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

LE MARS, Iowa (AP) – A jury has found a western Iowa man guilty of making a bomb threat on a government building and attempting to fight law enforcement officials while naked in his living room.
The Le Mars Daily Sentinel reports 37-year-old Jeremy Hebert of Akron was found guilty Wednesday of making a threat to use an explosive or incendiary device. He also was convicted of three counts of assaulting law enforcement officers.

Hebert was arrested in November, and authorities say he told them he would drop a bomb on the White House and kill George H.W. Bush, who hasn’t been president since 1993. He has been taken to Plymouth County jail where he awaits a sentence hearing that’s scheduled for March 27.

Audubon P-D warns against computer scams

News

February 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A computer-oriented scam is once again making the rounds in the KJAN listening area. Officials with the Audubon Police Department say they’ve recently received multiple reports about a computer repair scam. The victims receive a phone call from a person identifying themselves as a computer technician. The technician indicates that they are calling due to the victim having computer problems and tricks the victim into letting them remote access their personal computer.

The technician then advises the victim that they have multiple viruses and demands payment. If the victim refuses, the technician then changes passwords on the computer and locks out the victim until the amount is paid. This is a scam and is a reminder to everyone to never allow someone to remote access onto your computer unless you can CONFIRM it is a reputable company and you initiated the contact.

Contact your local law enforcement agency if you have become a victim of this scam.

Legislators still debating state funding for schools

News

February 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

There was angry debate yesterday (Wednesday) in the Iowa House Education Committee as Republicans and Democrats battle over how much state money to spend on K-through-12 schools next year. Republicans say the state cannot afford the four percent increase approved by Senate Democrats. Representative Greg Forristal, a Republican from Macedonia, suggests a salary freeze for teachers would free up more money for new textbooks and other school initiatives.

“The federal government is telling us that farmers will make 3 percent less in this coming year,” he says. “…Maybe this is the year that teachers could just accept last year’s salary.” Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, is a retired school teacher and she accused Republicans of trying to “get rid of public education” in Iowa.

“Asking teachers to accept last year’s salaries I find quite interesting because there are places in our state budget that we haven’t even talked about cutting,” Steckman says. The Republican-led committee then voted, again, for increasing general state aid to public schools by one-and-a-quarter percent for the next academic year.

(Radio Iowa)

Bridge over East Nish. at Avoca means more trail traffic & more business

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A new pedestrian bridge in Avoca connecting to a trail system was completed last month, giving residents of the community a connection from East Thomas Street to Edgington Memorial Park over the East Nishnabotna River. Anna Hoegh, director of Avoca Main Street, told the Daily NonPareil in 2007, the city council worked to establish the foundation of a prosperous future through a financial comprehensive plan.

The downtown master plan was a part of that idea, with a facade program to improve the aesthetics of the city’s downtown. Hoegh said the improvements will help the city attract more business while retaining what is already there. The pedestrian bridge cost $243,850 and was constructed to create a quicker route of travel for those who live on the east side of Avoca. It is 120 feet long and 12 feet wide, made of steel with a wooden deck.

The city only spent $72,358 on the project, however, thanks to grants by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for $75,000 and another grant from Regional Planning Area 18, which was for $171,492. The grant from the IDNR was devoted to the construction of three connecting trails from the bridge to the town.

Pott. County jury awards injured truck driver $25-million

News

February 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A Pottawattamie County jury has awarded a former semi truck driver $25 million in punitive damages in a civil case filed against his workers compensation insurance company. According to the Daily NonPareil, 37-year old Toby Thornton, of Monona, was paralyzed from the chest down in a semi crash in June 2009. At the time, he was an employee of Clayton County Recycling. American Interstate Insurance Company of DeRidder, La., the recycling company’s insurance provider, delayed and fought paying worker’s compensation benefits for years after the accident, denying Thornton was disabled and leading to the civil suit. The jury found that American Interstate Insurance acted in bad faith in its dealings with Thornton.

According to the initial civil suit filed by Thornton, the man started at Clayton County Recycling in March 2008 and spent about 70 hours per week on the road, driving a tractor-trailer. Thornton picked up scrap metal from salvage yards and other locations throughout Iowa and Wisconsin, returning the scrap metal to the recycling center for processing. While on the road on June 25-26, 2009, Thornton was involved a wreck that left him paralyzed.

After the wreck, Clayton County Recycling fired Thornton, who began receiving Social Security disability benefits in December 2009. Iowa law allows flexibility in choosing what jurisdiction to file for workers compensation benefits, according to Karen Keeler with Omaha law firm Erickson Sederstrom, which represents Thornton. With both his attorney and a brother in Omaha, Thornton filed for benefits in Pottawattamie County.

The move established Pottawattamie County as the jurisdiction in all matters moving forward in the case. In his petition that American Interstate Insurance acted in bad faith in its dealing on the matter, Thornton asserted the insurance company accepted his workers compensation claim but did not voluntarily begin making payments. With the company not paying disability benefits, Thornton pursued litigation with the Iowa Industrial Commissioner to obtain his benefits.

Thornton filed a petition for benefits in May 2012 before the Iowa Workers Compensation commissioner, seeking benefits under the Iowa Workers Compensation Act. American Interstate Insurance denied Thornton’s assertion that he was permanently and totally disabled, saying the Monona man could still work. The commissioner found that Thornton was disabled and ordered the company to pay out benefits. American Interstate appealed the decision.

The civil suit called the company’s numerous appeals and delays “particularly reprehensible in light of the fact that it is undisputed that Mr. Thornton is permanently and totally disabled and suffers from catastrophic injuries, including the loss of his extremities and extreme depression.” The jury awarded Thornton $284,000 in damages, along with the $25 million in punitive damages.

Defense attorney Melvin Hansen said an appeal is likely.

Iowa early News Headlines: Thu., Feb. 19th 2015

News

February 19th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Senate committee has approved bills that would increase Iowa’s minimum wage and create a more detailed system for preventing wage theft. The committee on labor and business relations voted Wednesday to advance both bills. The full Democratic-controlled Senate can now debate them. The committee yesterday voted largely on party lines.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A high school wrestler from southwest Iowa has been hospitalized after collapsing during a state tournament. The Register reports Creston/Orient-Macksburg wrestler Tayler Pettit doubled over during the state tournament yesterday in Des Moines. Hospital spokesman Gregg Lagan told the Associated Press last night that Petit remains in critical condition.

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Authorities have confirmed that one person died following a house fire in Waterloo. The Police Department tells the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier the identity of the elderly woman who was found dead at the residence hasn’t been released. Officials say the flames were contained to the living room, where the woman was found.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — An undercover investigation in Council Bluffs has resulted in the arrests of 14 Nebraskans on suspicion of prostitution. The Council Bluffs Police Department says the Southwest Iowa Narcotics Enforcement Task Force staged an undercover operation at a hotel Tuesday. The Daily Nonpareil reports that the 14 arrests occurred over a period of more than nine hours.

Atlantic City Council approves Lake #2 trail funding

News

February 18th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday evening, agreed to commit $26,800 toward the construction of a trail around Lake #2 at the Schildberg Recreation Area. That’s $4,200 less than what they had expected to be asked to commit. Atlantic Parks and Rec Director Roger Herring said that was because the original calculations had figured-in the cost of a 600-linear foot section of the trail that the Nishna Valley trails group has agreed to cover.

Proposed additional trail around Lake #2 at the Schildberg Rec Area.

Proposed additional trail around Lake #2 at the Schildberg Rec Area.

Herring said the City’s commitment of 20-percent of the estimated $134,000 cost of the project would fulfill a requirement that  makes the City eligible for a TAP (Transportation Alternatives Program) Grant from the State of Iowa, to complete a large portion of the trail, which will eventually become part of the Troublesome Creek Connector Trail Project. The City’s portion can consist of the local match can consist of labor used to build a portion of the trail around Lake #2, in addition to or in lieu of funding.

In other business, the Council will held a Public Hearing on the sale of Lot A, in the Southern Heights Subdivision 2nd Addition.  The land was appraised at, and after a public hearing, sold for, $1,620 to local developer Don Sonntag, who originally had donated the land to the City for development of a street, the plans for which was later shelved. Iowa Code requires the land to be sold, and not returned to a private party free of charge.

The Council also set March 4th as the date for: a Public Hearing on the adoption of the proposed Fiscal Year 2016 Capital Improvement Plan; A hearing on the proposed sale of $1.58-million in General Obligation bonds for the CIP, and, adoption of the proposed FY 2016 budget.

Iowa Senate committee OKs bills on minimum wage, wage theft

News

February 18th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Senate committee has approved bills that would increase Iowa’s minimum wage and create a more detailed system for preventing wage theft. The committee on labor and business relations voted Wednesday to advance both bills. The full Democratic-controlled Senate can now debate them.

The minimum wage bill would increase the state’s $7.25 minimum wage to $8.75 by 2016. Democrats previously pushed to raise Iowa’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, but they now say this new bill could have more bipartisan support. Leaders in the Republican-majority House say they want to focus on skilled job training instead of the minimum wage.

The committee Wednesday voted largely on party lines. The wage theft bill would require businesses to be more direct with workers about employment terms. Similar legislation failed last session.

State releases vaccination rates for public schools in Iowa

News

February 18th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa Department of Public Health report shows more than 90 percent of students have been vaccinated at the majority of public schools across the state. The immunization audit report for the 2013-2014 academic year depicts the percentage of kindergarten through 12th-grade students who have received the vaccines required by Iowa law. Schools with enrollment of less than 100 students were not included in the report.

According to the report, 37 schools in Iowa reported 100 percent compliance with Iowa immunization requirements. The Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment, located in Fairfield, ranked the lowest in the state, with just more than 47 percent of its students vaccinated.

The percentages included in the report were calculated by dividing the number of students with valid immunization certification by total enrollment.

More than 45,000 in Iowa sign up for coverage on exchange

News

February 18th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Federal officials say that over 45,000 people in Iowa have signed up for health care coverage on the federal exchange. The second open enrollment period under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul — known as the Affordable Care Act — ended Sunday. In a Wednesday news release, federal officials say over 45,000 people in Iowa signed up or were automatically re-enrolled in a plan.

That’s more than the roughly 29,000 who signed up during the first enrollment. Over 2,000 people who shopped on the exchange are still enrolled in plans with an insurance cooperative that the state plans to liquidate. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart is urging them to seek new coverage before the end of the month so they can maintain federal tax credits to help pay premiums.