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Corps: flooding risks along Missouri River remain high as water levels drop


August 24th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

While water levels on the flooded Missouri River are dropping, officials want safety awareness to remain high. This week’s rain prompted flash-flooding in southwest Iowa which led to building collapses, evacuations and daring rescues of trapped residents in the Council Bluffs area. Brigadier General John McMahon, of the U-S Army Corps of Engineers, says the public can’t let down its guard.

“I would caution everybody that we have to continue to be very vigilant in so far as the risks associated with this flooding,” General McMahon says. “The water is still high, it’s moving fast and there’s erosion and other effects. We’ve got to be vigilant in terms of how the levees, both the temporary and the permanent ones, are performing. We’re not out of the woods yet.” Releases of water from upriver reservoirs, like Gavins Point Dam near Yankton, South Dakota, are being cut back daily. That process started last Friday and will continue through month’s end. Still, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard (DO-guard) warns that significant danger lurks as the release levels drop. He says the next week or so will be crucial.

“If there is going to be a catastrophic failure of any levee, it probably could occur during that time,” Governor Daugaard says. “We want to urge our citizens not to become complacent, which is easy to do, because they see the end in sight, the light at the end of the tunnel.” Daugaard says residents in all states along the Missouri River need to remain at the ready for potential risks.

“We really have to be careful as the subjacent weight of the water draws away, the super-saturated soils that make up those levees could slough,” he says. “It’s very important that we have vigilance on those levees during this next ten-day period and not allow our citizens to become complacent.” Iowa’s Governor Branstad met in Omaha last week with his counterparts from a half-dozen other Missouri River states to discuss avenues to prevent a repeat of the summer-long flooding. While the water has been high more than two months already, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon says it could be October before the flooded waterway returns to normal.

“When you have a system this charged, it’s important for the public to know they always need to be careful,” Governor Nixon says. “We’ve lost a National Guardsman coming back from duty, we’ve lost a trooper that we’re still searching for. It’s a very dangerous river. Everybody out there should be well aware of the danger and the power of this much water moving this quickly. No, this is not over, not until it gets back inside its banks and it’s a long way from getting there.”

Releases from Gavins Point topped out around 160-thousand cubic feet per second (CFS) — or around one-point-one million gallons per second. By month’s end, the releases should be down to 90-thousand C-F-S. Those reductions will halt on September 1st, allowing the Corps to inspect the system’s levees and dams.

(Radio Iowa)

Branstad and Reynolds stop in Harlan


August 24th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad was in Harlan Tuesday, touting his administration’s accomplishments on the jobs front, and telling locals what else needs to be done to get more Iowans back to work. His visit was part of Branstad’s “Jobs for Iowa” tour, and are a continuation of the theme he and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds began before they were elected.

Speaking to a crowd of about 50 people at the Petersen Family Wellness Center in Harlan, Tuesday, Branstad said he wants to reduce commercial property taxes. He and Reynolds spelled out their accomplishments since taking office, such as getting a two-year budget passed during the contentious 2011 legislative session. But commercial property taxes were not reduced, and that’s something Branstad long has said he wanted done in order to stimulate economic development.

While the focus of Tuesday’s Town Hall meeting essentially focused on jobs and the economy, when it came time for questions from the audience, the first two pertained to education, and allowed the governor to promote his plans to attract better entry-level teachers and pay the best teachers more. He acknowledged it will cost more, especially in terms of teacher salaries, but Branstad added the state will make it harder to get into the teaching profession.

62-year old Paul Leinen, of Harlan, the former owner of a farm supply store in Portsmouth, asked Branstad about government regulations. Branstad said he had replaced many of the top people in state government departments, such as the Department of Natural Resources, and expects them to work in a more collaborative manner than their predecessors had. Leinen told the Omaha World-Herald afterward, that he was pleased with the governor’s response, because it’s a “Step in the right direction.”

Branstad and Reynolds are scheduled to tour western Iowa through Thursday, with “Jobs for Iowa” public meetings scheduled for today in Rock Rapids, Sibley and Primghar; and tomorrow (Thursday) in Cherokee, Storm Lake, Pocahontas and Rockwell City.

Red Oak woman arrested on warrant


August 24th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A Red Oak woman was arrested this (Wednesday) morning on a warrant for probation revocation. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department says 49-year old Kelly L. Beaver was taken into custody without incident a little after 2-a.m., at her residence in Red Oak.

Beaver was brought to the Montgomery County Jail, where she was being held on $5,000 bond.

Syngenta sues grain elevator over biotech corn ban

Ag/Outdoor, News

August 23rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — Seed maker Syngenta is suing a grain elevator operator that has banned the company’s biotech corn. Bunge North America, which operates grain elevators across North America, including one in Council Bluffs, recently posted notices that it would not accept corn planted with Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera seed. In the lawsuit filed last week in U.S. District Court in Sioux City, St. Louis-based Bunge said the seed has not been approved for export to China.

“We are surprised and disappointed that Syngenta has taken an action which could put at risk a major export market for U.S. corn producers,” St. Louis-based Bunge said in a statement Tuesday. Minnesota-based Syngenta claims Bunge violated federal and state laws and that the seed has been approved for shipment to other international markets, including Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico and Korea.

Syngenta spokesman Chuck Lee said only 1 percent of the nation’s corn crop will be exported to China this year. Bunge said it will accept Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera seed once it is approved by China.

“Until this approval occurs, we must protect the integrity of our export supply chain by not accepting Agrisure Viptera and other varieties that do not have major export market approval,” the company said in its statement. “Our obligation to our farmers is to provide access to the global marketplace and the price benefits of that access. Syngenta’s decision to commercialize Agrisure Viptera should not foreclose our ability to sell to a major market – China,” the company said.

China is currently the seventh largest importer of U.S. corn, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Basement collapses from flooding reported in Council Bluffs


August 23rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Monday morning’s storm that dumped 4 to 7 inches of rain across western Iowa is causing more trouble for residents of Council Bluffs. Public Information Officer Don Gross says several homes are not livable right now due to collapsed basements. “As of today (Tuesday) , seven homes have had basement collapses that have been severe enough that they have had to evacuate their homes,” Gross said. All of the affected homes are on the west side of Council Bluffs, which was hit the hardest by the flash flooding. The city is also dealing with a collapsed sanitary sewer, which could take up to two weeks to repair. There is some good news – most of the streets that were closed by the flooding are back open.

“There are a few spots that still have a little bit of water on them, but most of the water has receded,” Gross said. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin toured the flood stricken area of Council Bluffs Tuesday. The Council Bluffs recycling center is accepting tree debris free of charge to city residents until further notice.

(Radio Iowa)

Citizens voice their concerns over CCMH Behavioral Health Center’s Future


August 23rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A handful of people requested to speak before the Cass County Memorial Hospital’s Board of Trustees during the meeting today (Tuesday), in Atlantic. Before the board discussed for nearly two-hours, their options for keeping the Behavioral Health Unit open or closing the unit entirely, they heard from individuals who’ve dealt with mental health issues in their families, educators, and health care professionals. One of those who spoke was Chuck Smith, who said the hospital has met, and should continue to meet, both the physical and mental health needs of the community. He says to stop providing behavioral health services in Cass County would be a “step backwards.”

Atlantic Parks and Recreation Director Roger Herring, who served as Principal of the Atlantic High School for 20-years, said he always tried to promote the community to prospective teachers, doctors and others who were considering locating here with their families. One of the selling points, is the fact Atlantic has a full, comprehensive medical facility. Herring says if the BHU were to be eliminated, there would be a void in the programs that we are able to offer. He says we need to be able to provide both physical, and mental health. Herring said the BHU, and other psychiatric services offered to students at CCMH, the Link Center and Behavioral Health Department, have saved the lives of some of his former students. He says it’s the hospital’s business to save lives, whether it’s teen suicide or families who are in crisis, they need to have somewhere to turn to. Herrings says sending them 60-miles away to Des Moines or Omaha, or further, could mean people’s lives will be lost.

Patty Koontz, a Behavior Disorder Teacher, says 106 students had their mental health needs met at the facility, last year. She says no other school district in Iowa has a Board Certified Psychiatrist on-call, available, like the Atlantic School District does. She says sending students elsewhere, would result in a disruption in the “continuity of care” the students currently receive.

The CCMH Board of Trustees Chair Steve Sisler said regardless of what happens to the BHU, they will find a way to provide mental health services to students. The question remains however, whether it will be on the CCMH campus, or elsewhere.

Monday evening accident in Atlantic


August 23rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A crash between two vehicles Monday evening in Atlantic resulted in two people being sent to the hospital. Atlantic Police report the driver of one of the vehicles, Thomas Sandbothe, of Griswold, and an unidentified passenger in his vehicle were injured, and transported to the Cass County Memorial Hospital.

The accident happened at the intersection of Highway 71 and 14th Street, at around 6:50-p.m. Officials say a vehicle driven by Brandon Cook, of Bridgewater, was eastbound on 14th Street, as Sandbothe was traveling south on Highway 71. Cook told police he thought Sandbothe was going to turn right onto 14th Street, and proceeded into the intersection, where the vehicles collided.

Cook was cited for failure to obey a stop or yield sign. Damage from the crash amounted to $10,650.

CCMH BHU stays open for now


August 23rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A conference room at the Cass County Memorial Hospital was packed this (Tuesday) morning, with onlookers and persons voicing their concerns over the possible closure of the Behavioral Health Unit at CCMH. A special meeting of the CCMH Board of Trustees had been called to discuss the future of the unit, which reportedly cost the hospital nearly one-half million dollars last year, due to un-reimbursed Medicare and Medicaid expenditures. After nearly two-hours, no decision was made on closing the facility. Instead, the board will look into other options, including downsizing costs associated with remodeling of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to accommodate the BHU.

CCMH Administrator Pat Markham said architects who are working on the current remodeling project, also drew-up a draft for remodeling the ICU to make room for a downsized BHU unit. She says it wouldn’t be an ideal situation, but it would be functional. It would have four beds instead of the current eight. Rough estimates put the cost at $240- to $250,000.

That doesn’t include mechanical and electrical costs. Markham says they didn’t look at having a separate building on the CCMH campus for a Behavioral Health Unit when they came up with the original remodeling plans, because they anticipated losses associated with the unit. The prospect of downsizing the BHU instead of eliminating it entirely, was a bit easier for the board to accept, but they reached a stalemate, when a vote was taken on a motion to reduce the number of beds from eight-to four.

Board Members John Molgaard, Steve Sisler and Leanne Pellet voted against the motion, while members Ned Brown, Phyllis Stakey and Lois Casey voted in favor. The board was short one member due to a vacancy. Pellet said she voted against the motion, because she doesn’t know where the funding would come from to keep the unit functioning.

After the meeting, Cass County Supervisor Chuck Rieken said the reason the CCMH Board of Trustees reached a stalemate, is because they want the hard numbers crunched on how much a remodeling of the ICU would cost, and the possible revenue alternatives that are available, before any decision is made. He says the Board is on the right track, but both the CCMH Board, and the Board of Supervisors need to know the hard numbers before any consideration can be given to funding or not funding the BHU in the future.

One option that was raised to fund the BHU, involved an increase in the hospital’s tax asking, which is currently at 46-percent. Rieken said the county can’t pursue that, and neither can the CCMH Trustees, without sound legal advice.

CCMH Trustee Ned Brown said during the meeting, that if they should eventually increase the tax asking, it would have nothing to do with the current construction project. Instead, it would only be to keep the BHU “alive.”

Three from NE injured in Shelby County crash


August 23rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Four people, two adults and two teens were injured, one of them critically, during an two-vehicle accident Monday afternoon, in Shelby County. Sheriff’s officials say the driver of one of the vehicles, 50-year old Scott Sholtz, and his passengers 16-year old Olivia Sholtz and 17-year old Rhett Sholtz, all from Hampton, NE, were hurt in the crash. All three were transported to Myrtue Medical Center in Harlan. Olivia Sholtz was later transferred by helicopter to Creighton Hospital in Omaha. The driver of the other vehicle, identified as 70-year old Carol Schimerowski, of Earling, was also hurt and treated for her injuries at the hospital in Harlan.

Authorities say Scott Sholtz’ 2008 Saturn was traveling south on Highway 59 at around 3:30-p.m., when a northbound 2007 Ford Taurus driven by Schimerowski, attempted to turn left onto Highway 37. The resulting collision totaled both vehicles.

The accident remains under investigation.

9AM Newscast 08-23-2011

News, Podcasts

August 23rd, 2011 by admin

w/ Jim Field