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Iowa Finance Authority Awards more than $7.3 million to 27 Local Housing Trust Funds to Move Local Affordable Housing Priorities Forward


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

(DES MOINES) – The Iowa Finance Authority Board of Directors today (Wednesday) approved a total of more than $7.3 million in grants to 27 Local Housing Trust Funds to support local affordable housing initiatives, which will assist 2,336 Iowa families.

In the KJAN listening area, the following entities received grants:

  • The Council Bluffs Housing Trust Fund, Inc. – $180,234, for the City of Council Bluffs.
  • Council of Governments Housing, Inc. – $283,273. Area served: Audubon, Carroll, Crawford, Greene, Guthrie and Sac Counties.
  • Southern Iowa COG Housing Trust Fund – $275,217; Area served: Adair, Adams, Clarke, Decatur, Madison, Ringgold, Taylor and Union Counties
  • Southwest Iowa Housing Trust Fund, Inc. – $350,669; Area served: Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie (excluding the city of Council Bluffs) and Shelby Counties.

The funding is provided from the State Housing Trust Fund’s Local Housing Trust Fund program. Iowa Finance Authority Executive Director Dave Jamison says  “The Iowa Legislature created the Local Housing Trust Fund program to allow certified Local Housing Trust Funds the ability to efficiently fulfill unique local affordable housing needs throughout the state and these awards will do just that. The grants are leveraging an additional $4.1 million in local contributions, which is a testament to the shared dedication of meeting these vital needs.”

The grant funds will be used for initiatives such as preserving aging housing stock, subsidizing local down payment assistance programs, providing low-interest loans or grants to assist Iowans in home rehabilitation, financing construction of new single-family housing for low-income Iowans and supporting housing for persons with disabilities and homeless assistance programs.

Five New Containers Across State to Help Combat Clandestine Labs


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Des Moines, IOWA – The Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Division of Narcotics Enforcement (DNE) continues to be a leader in illegal narcotics investigations.  With the help of the DEA, five new large containers have been installed and strategically placed across the state, where methamphetamine production is more prevalent.ContainerPic The containers are 7’x7’x9’ and include an exhaust system and are under 24/7 supervision and in locked and secured areas.  The containers are housed at the following locations:

  • Montrose, Iowa
  • Clinton, Iowa
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Council Bluffs, Iowa

DEA requires that all law enforcement officers utilizing these containers have a minimum 40 hour clandestine lab certification and complete a 3-day DEA container course. All local agencies that have signed agreements with the DNE will have to follow the DEA and DNE protocols to be able to utilize the container located nearest to them.

The Iowa DNE recognizes the extremely toxic chemicals with methamphetamine labs pose a serious safety risk to the public. These containers allow for safe disposal, greatly minimizing the safety risks to the public.

The Iowa DNE also recognizes the growing concern of local agencies and task forces across the state meeting budgets and having to deal with the costs of disposing of methamphetamine laboratories.  To properly dispose of methamphetamine labs, it can cost several thousands of dollars per lab. For this reason, the Iowa DNE felt these containers would be a great resource to our law enforcement partners and take the burden off of Iowa taxpayers.

“We greatly value our partnership with our local agencies and task forces, and the work they do to bring an end to illegal narcotics in our state.  Safety of the citizens of our state is our number one priority. With these containers in place, the DNE, along with local agencies, will be able to safely and properly dispose of all materials from Clandestine Labs, and they’ll be able to do that at no cost,” stated Paul Feddersen, Assistant Director of the Division of Narcotics Enforcement, Iowa Department of Public Safety.

The Iowa DNE is eager for this continued partnership with the DEA and Iowa law enforcement agencies as we work together to reduce Clandestine Labs and illegal narcotics in our state.

More containers may be placed across the state in the future, after the five initial containers are evaluated.

2 injured when semi driver falls asleep and crashes in Adair County


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The driver and a passenger in a semi tractor trailer were injured this (Wednesday) morning, when the rig entered a ditch of Interstate 80 in Adair County, and crashed into an embankment. The Iowa State Patrol said 41-year old Alan Martin Johnson, of Milwaukee, WI, was traveling west on I-80 at around 7:50-a.m. about 4-miles east of Adair, when he fell asleep at the wheel of the 2014 Freightliner semi.

The truck left the road and entered the north ditch. It continued down the ditch, jumped a deep creek and crashed head-on into the embankment. Johnson, who was wearing a seat belt, and a passenger in the cab, 51-year old Rigoberto Deleon Quiles, of Chicago, who was not buckled-in, were trapped in the vehicle, and had to be freed by mechanical means.

Johnson was transported to the Adair County Hospital in Greenfield by Adair Fire and Rescue. Quiles was taken by Stuart Rescue to Mercy Hospital, in Des Moines. A report on their conditions is not available.

2015 Sponsor Program will help fund Emergency Management in Adair & Guthrie Counties again in 2015


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

For a third year, members of the private sector (business & industry) in Adair & Guthrie Counties are joining with the public sector (city and county governments) to support the budget needs of the Adair & Guthrie County Emergency Management Programs. Adair & Guthrie County Emergency Management Coordinator, Robert Kempf says, “Emergency Preparedness is not just the responsibility of our local governments. Emergency Management and Preparedness are a team sport; everyone has a part to play. The participation by the private sector is critical to accomplishing our planning and response goals and objectives.”

Kemp said “We have large areas in our counties that are not covered by storm sirens, our emergency notification system provide timely and address specific weather warning information to residents that have signed up.” Officials can also send out emergency information based on geographical location about evacuations & shelter in place incidents, drinking water issues and resource needs during a major disaster. Individuals and Businesses can sign up landline phones, cell phones, text messaging and email addresses as ways to receive emergency information.

The agencies maintain a Hazardous Materials Response Contract to help provide response information and assistance to emergency responders and industry in the case of a chemical spill or leak.  According to Kempf, “Our emergency services cannot afford the equipment and training required to maintain a local hazardous materials team. Our contract with the Council Bluffs Fire Department allows our first responders 24/7 access to the information and expertise that might be needed for this type of incident.”

The Emergency Management Program provides preparedness and recovery information to the public in many ways throughout the year. Kempf said ” We have a booth at both county fairs with information available to speak to different civic groups and business throughout the year”.

The Sponsorship Program includes four support levels: Bronze up to $100.00, Silver up to $250.00, Gold up to $500.00 and Platinum over $500.00.

The 2014 Sponsors included:
Bronze Sponsors: Adair Feed & Grain of Adair, 21st Century Coop of Fontanelle & Greenfield, Guthrie County State Bank of Guthrie Center & Panora and Union State Bank of Bridgewater & Greenfield
Silver Sponsor: West Central Coop of Adair, Casey & Guthrie Center
Gold Sponsors: Adair County Health Systems, First National Bank of Fontanelle & Greenfield, Guthrie County Public Health
Platinum Sponsor: Lake Panorama Association

Any businesses, industry or groups in Adair & Guthrie Counties that would like to learn more about the program or become a sponsor or would like a presentation about preparedness can contact Kempf at 641-332-3030 or gcema@hotmail.com.

Tough choices ahead for pair of SW Iowa school districts following failed merger


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The leader of the regional agency serving southwest Iowa public schools says the Farragut and Hamburg districts are facing major decisions. A proposal for merging the two small districts failed a little over week ago. Green Hills Area Education Agency Chief Administrator Lane Plugge says the two districts will be asking state administrators for extra spending authority or they’ll need to make drastic cuts.

“In fact, the workout plan in Farragut talks about reducing half of their certified staff and they also are having some corrective action plans for an accreditation visit, and there’ll be a follow-up one after the first of the year,” Plugge said.

Even though the merger, designed to create a new district with more than 300 students, fell seven votes short of passing — Hamburg and Farragut are continuing whole grade sharing. A recount of the votes is scheduled for Thursday.

(Radio Iowa)

Early winter could mean more cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder in Iowa


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Cold weather rolled into Iowa weeks early this fall and lingered, forcing many people indoors much sooner than usual. Kevin Gabbert, a social worker and counselor at the Iowa Department of Public Health, says being deprived of exposure to the sun can bring on the blues and make people feel moody and lethargic. Gabbert says the early onset of winter -may- bring an uptick in cases of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.  “It really kind of depends,” Gabbert says. “If it’s a longer winter, if there’s less sunlight, those types of things tend to play a role in SAD and we could experience more cases. It’s a little early for us to say yet.”

On the plus side, Gabbert says a little counseling can go a long ways for SAD sufferers. “Talking about what’s going on with you, talking about your feelings,” Gabbert says. “It may be to the point where counseling would be beneficial. For those symptoms that are a little more advanced, it may be something you want to talk about with your physician. It may be that medication would be beneficial for you. Also, light therapy or phototherapy could be very helpful as well.”

Dr. David Towle, a Cedar Falls psychologist and director of the University of Northern Iowa Counseling Center, says light therapy is a simple solution that really helps some people get through the Midwestern winter.  “We typically think about exposure of about 30 minutes per day of a full spectrum light,” Dr. Towle says. “Often, people will get up in the morning and sit and read the newspaper, listen to the radio, drink their coffee, and sit in front of a light for 20 or 30 minutes and that’s a pretty effective intervention.”

Towle says another option is what’s called “negative air ionization,” which uses a device like an air purifier.  “It is like that and it’s something that people use while they’re sleeping,” Towle says. “It seems not to be quite as effective as the full-spectrum light exposure but it’s pretty effective for a lot of people.”

Studies find that between ten and 20-percent of Americans report feeling tired or sad when there are fewer hours of daylight during the winter months.

(Radio Iowa)

Deer harvest in Iowa’s 1st shotgun season increases over 2013

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A wildlife research supervisor with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says hunters have reported harvesting 19-percent more deer in Iowa during the first shotgun season compared to last year. Willy Suchy credits the relatively mild weather. “Last year was a tough shotgun opener with really cold weather and strong winds,” Suchy said. Today (Wednesday) is the final day of the first shotgun deer season. Suchy anticipates the first season’s harvest will be around 37,000 deer.

“We’re similar to where we were in 2011-2012,” Suchy said. “We’re down substantially from the peak in 2006. Deer numbers are down.” Around 150,000 deer were killed in Iowa in 2006, the first year of so-called “mandatory harvest reporting” in the state. Prior to 2006, the DNR conducted a harvest “estimate” which was calculated based on a postseason postcard survey. Last year, hunters in Iowa killed fewer than 100,000 deer for the first time since the mid-1990s. Suchy isn’t sure yet if the harvest will be below six-digits again this year.

“A lot will depend on this next weekend, the second shotgun season. We still have a lot of licenses to be issued,” Suchy said. “Sometimes, when we have a good opener in the first season, a lot of hunters don’t go the second season so maybe there are (fewer deer killed). But, if we have good weather like we’re looking at, we may have somewhere around 100,000 animals reported.” The deer harvest during the first shotgun season increased over last year, despite 3,000 fewer licenses being sold this year compared to 2013. Suchy notes the license sales decline was primarily due to fewer antlerless licenses being available, which was by design.

Iowa’s second shotgun deer season opens this Saturday (December 13) and runs through Sunday, December 21.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa falls from 18th to 24th in national health rankings


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Iowa has dropped several more notches on the latest report that ranks the states for their health and wellbeing. Dr. Rhonda Randall, spokeswoman for the United Health Foundation, says the list is compiled by comparing 30 different criteria in four main categories: behaviors, community environment, public policy and the clinical care system. “This year, Iowa is ranked 24th,” Dr. Randall says. “Last year, they were ranked 18th, so a decrease by six ranks. In 1990, when we started this report, Iowa was ranked number-six, so over the course of the 25 years, it’s an 18-rank decrease and it’s been a fairly slow, steady decrease over the last 25 years.”

She says Iowa had poor showings in several categories this year. “You’re ranked 47th in the nation for binge drinking, where 22% of the adult population is reporting that they binge drink,” Randall says. “You’re also ranked 46th for access to primary care physicians, and then a high incidence of infectious diseases, ranked 41st in the country there.” Iowa also had a poor showing in rates of smoking, obesity and inactivity. While Iowa now ranks in the middle of the national pack at 24th overall out of the 50 states, she says Iowa still did very well in some categories.

“There’s some areas to be very proud of,” Randall says. “(Iowa) ranked 4th in immunization coverage for children, that’s great to see many preventable illness and infectious diseases with vaccinations. Also, a high rate of high school graduation, ranked 5th in the nation there. Those two together show you’re doing right by the kids.” Iowa also had the 5th highest rank in the country for people with health insurance. See the full list of the rankings at: www.americashealthrankings.org

(Radio Iowa)

Crews installing ‘Big Mo’ sculpture in Iowa city


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – Residents in a western Iowa city are celebrating the installation of a large steel sculpture on the Missouri River bank. The Daily Nonpareil reports a ceremony was held Tuesday at a Council Bluffs park to mark the installation of “Big Mo” by 81-year-old Mark di Suvero. The nearly 76-feet high piece painted in “spacetime orange” has three legs and two moving parts on top that rotate in opposite directions.

Di Suvero says crews should finish setting up the sculpture either on Wednesday evening or Thursday. The work is the latest addition to the Iowa West Foundation Public Art collection for Council Bluffs.

Mayor Matt Walsh says Council Bluffs is privileged to be involved in a partnership with the foundation to bring world-class art to the city.

Cass County Supervisors approve FY 2015 Budget Amendment


December 10th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors today (Wednesday), approved an amendment to the County’s Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Budget. The move came after a public hearing was held, during which there were no written or oral objections to the published amendments. Cass County Auditor Dale Sunderman explained the majority of the amendments are with regard to transfers of flow-through funds.

That includes: 4-million dollars in Community Development Block Grant [CBDG] as a result of flooding, rounds five and six of the funding; $100,000 for County Case Management [reimbursed expense]; an increase in General Basic transfer to Capital Projects by $350,000 [with regard to the County Public Safety Annex building, or PSAP]; an increase transfer from the Local Options Sales Tax [LOST] by$150,000 and decrease the PSAP project expense by $150,000; Capital Projects: Increase by $500,000.

The Supervisors also received a report from West Central Community Action (WCCA) Executive Director Joel Dirks, along with an annual request in funding for Fiscal Year 2016. In the past, WCCA has requested $3,500. This year, the request is for an additional $500, or $4,000 altogether. The Board took the request under advisement.

In his report, Dirks said West Central provided a little more than $1.7-million in services last year for Cass County. He says they assisted 678 households in Cass County last year, which represented 1,582 persons. Demographically, that included many single-parent households, or 57-percent of the persons WCCA works with. He said 57-percent of the households they work with have income at 100-percent of poverty or below. For example, that would mean a family of four living on $23,850 per year.

Dirks said they received an Iowa Insurance Division grant that helped to reduce the number of people without health insurance, by assisting with applications for insurance. Last year, 49-percent of WCCA’s clients had no health insurance. This year, that’s down to 24-percent.

Dirks said also, two-percent of the persons they worked with had no income last year. This year it’s down to one-percent. He says they’ve been trying to assist as many persons as possible in obtaining rental assistance and employment services. They also worked with more than 460 households with regard to LIHEAP (the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program).

One area Dirks asked the Supervisors for help with regard to referrals to the Senior Aid Program. If anyone is age 55 or older and is at 125-percent of the poverty level or below, in need of a job, or help finding a job, please refer them to WCCA by calling (712) 243-5421.