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Governor signs school start date bill into law


April 10th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad has signed a bill that says Iowa schools can start the academic year no earlier than Aug. 23rd. Branstad signed the legislation into law Friday. The bill represented a middle ground between those seeking to give school districts total control over their calendars and others — including Branstad — who argued that early start dates hurt tourism.

Under the legislation, schools could start no sooner than Aug. 23, though some school districts with year-round calendars would be exempt from the new rules. The bill excludes high schools from seeking such exemptions. The state announced plans late last year to stop issuing automatic waivers to allow districts to bypass the previous start date rules.

Council Bluffs Police investigate child’s death


April 10th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Police in Council Bluffs are investigated the death of a child. Sgt. Chad Meyers reports that at around 10:30-a.m. today (Friday), officers were dispatched to an apartment in the Featherstone apartment complex at 901 North 35th Street, to assist the Fire Department with an unresponsive 18-month old boy. The child was transported to Jenny Edmundson Memorial Hospital by ambulance, where he was pronounced dead.Bluffs Badge

A preliminary investigation shows that the child and his three year old brother were playing in an upstairs bedroom, when the child fell from a bunk bed ladder. The children’s father was home at the time of the incident. At this point, foul play is not suspected, however an autopsy is scheduled for this weekend.

The child’s name will not be released until the family has an opportunity to notify relatives

Harlan Police report: drug,theft, assault & harassment arrests


April 10th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Police Department today (Friday) issued a report on recent arrests. Authorities say on April 4th, two women were arrested on drug charges, following a traffic stop. 40-year old Billie Jo Thompson, of Dow City, and 35-year old Lisa Briggs, of Harlan, were both transported to the Shelby County Jail where Thompson was charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and prohibited acts penalties. Briggs was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.

That same day, 32-year old Katherine Hayes, of Harlan, was arrested following a traffic stop. Hayes was charged with driving while suspended. Hayes was cited and released.

On March 31st, two subjects were charged when officers were called by Harlan Municipal Utilities employees, to investigate an electric meter that had been tampered with. 60-year old James Todd, and 58-year old Patrice Turner, both of Harlan, were charged with theft of utilities, 5th degree.

On March 29th, 18-year old Javon Miranda, of Harlan, was arrested following an investigation into the alleged assault of Eric Sorensen, also of Harlan. Sorensen sustained injuries to his eye and face, including a missing tooth. Miranda was cited for assault with bodily injury.

On March 28th, 25-year old Lance O’Brien, of Santy, UT, was arrested in Harlan, following a traffic stop. O’Brien was taken to the Shelby County Jail where he was charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, open container and careless driving. That same day, two subjects were taken into custody following a report of numerous tires taken from the Harlan Auto Mart. Officials say 26-year old Brittney Dollen and 36-year old Zachariah Sorensen, both of Harlan, were arrested and taken to the Shelby County Jail where they were charged with theft, 2nd degree.

And on March 27th, charges were filed against 56-year old Michael Garrison, of Harlan, when officers were called to investigate allegations that Garrison made harassing phone calls to several branches of the Bank of the West. Complaints were filed with the Shelby County Clerk of Court.

Pre-trial conference set for Monday in Ericksen case


April 10th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A pre-trial conference will be held Monday morning in Atlantic, in the case of 55-year old Roger Allen Ericksen, who faces felony 10 counts of Sexual Abuse in the 2nd Degree. A pretrial conference for the Underwood man that had been scheduled to take place last Monday (April 6th), was instead continued until this coming Monday, to give attorneys more time to prepare for the case.

A pre-trial conference is may be conducted for several reasons, including: To expedite disposition of the case; Help the court establish managerial control over the case; Discourage wasteful pretrial activities; Improve the quality of the trial with thorough preparation, and facilitate a settlement of the case.

Last month, Ericksen entered a written plea of Not Guilty to the charges. He was arrested in connection with acts that allegedly happened with a minor child in 2011. Ericksen remains in the Cass County Jail on $25,000 cash bond. His trial is still set for May 27th.

In December 2012, Ericksen pled guilty in a prior case in Cass County District Court to Sexual Abuse 3rd Degree.

Court upholds Iowa natural gas tax reviled by ethanol plants

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 10th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – Rejecting a challenge from the ethanol industry, the Iowa Supreme Court says the state’s tax on the use of natural gas is constitutional. Several ethanol plants argue the law is unfair because it requires them to pay higher taxes than many competitors for natural gas, which is heavily used in the manufacturing process.

The affected plants are those that obtain natural gas directly from interstate pipelines rather than local utilities. They are assessed the tax based on the amount they use and their geographic location. Little Sioux Corn Processors, which operates an ethanol plant in Marcus, argued the tax was unconstitutional because it treats similar plants differently and punishes consumers who buy gas from out-of-state suppliers.

The court says the tax may not create uniform results, but it is constitutional.

Southern Celebrity Chef Coming to Griswold


April 10th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A celebrity chef is coming to Cass County later this month. Chef Rory Schepisi will be in Griswold on Saturday, April 25th, as part of the “Diabetes Academy.” Schepisi is well known from being a finalist on the popular reality tv series, “The Next Food Network Star.”

Chef Rory Schepisi

Chef Rory Schepisi

Chef Schepisi will show how to make a low-carb, full-flavor dish and share favorite healthy recipes. Attendees will be able taste samples of her recipes at the event. Barb Petersen, RN, CDE and Director of the Cass County Memorial Hospital Diabetes Center, says “We’re thrilled to have a nationally recognized chef come to our community. There will be delicious food samples and practical information and tips you can use at home.”

Also during the event, Diabetes Educators will teach “Diabetes 101” and “Staying Healthy.” Anyone diagnosed with diabetes, prediabetes, or who has a friend or family member with diabetes is encouraged to attend.

The event takes place 2-p.m. on Saturday, April 25th, at the Griswold Community Building. The event is being held in collaboration with Novo Nordisk, Myrtue Medical Center and Montgomery County Memorial Hospital. Attendees should RSVP by Tuesday, April 21st. To reserve your place at the event, call 712-243-7834.

Urbandale man accused in Madison County bank robbery charged


April 10th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

WINTERSET, Iowa (AP) – An Urbandale man accused of robbing a central Iowa bank at gunpoint has turned himself in to authorities. The Des Moines Register reports 35-year-old Hussam Fayiz Abusharkh turned himself in Thursday to the Madison County Sheriff’s Office. He is charged with first-degree robbery. Abusharkh could also face federal charges in the case. He is being held at the Madison County Jail on $100,000 bond.

Sheriff Jason Barnes says deputies were dispatched March 25th to Farmers and Merchants State Bank in St. Charles on a report of a man with a handgun ordering employees to fill a bag with money.

Red Oak Superintendent announces resignation


April 10th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The superintendent of the Red Oak Community School District announced his intent Thursday evening to resign at the end of the school year. The Daily NonPareil reports Superintendent Terry Schmidt told the school board, which was meeting during a special meeting for other personnel matters, that he would resign effective June 30th. Formal action on his letter of resignation will be considered at Monday’s regular board meeting.

Schmidt declined to be interviewed, asking media requests be made to school board president Lee Fellers. Fellers declined to comment on the reason for the resignation. Fellers said the district appreciated Schmidt’s eight years of service, including progress on several fronts for the school district. He said, based on conversations he had previously, he was not shocked by the announcement, which was not listed as an action item on Thursday’s agenda.

2 arrested on warrants


April 10th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Two people were arrested on warrants for separate charges, Thursday. The Union County Sheriff’s Office reports 31-year old Tara Anne Squibbs, of Corning, was arrested in Adair County on a Union County Warrant for failure to appear on an original charge of controlled substance violation. Squibbs in being held for Union County without bond, in the Ringgold County Jail.

And, 17-year old Dyrrel Malik Thornton Culbertson, of Lorimor, was arrested at the Union County Law Enforcement Center on two Department of Probation warrants for violation of his release. He is being held for Union County in the Ringgold County Jail on $10,000 bond.

‘We elect a governor, not an emperor’ key Democrat says, blasting Branstad


April 10th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A top Democrat in the Iowa Senate is angered by Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s declaration this past Monday that as the state’s chief executive he has broad authority to close state institutions without legislative approval. Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque, is president of the Iowa Senate. “The last time I checked, we elect a governor, not an emperor,” Jochum told reporters Thursday. According to Jochum, Branstad has shown a “pattern” of abusing executive power since he returned as governor in 2011.

“We just, out of the blue, closed a Juvenile Home for young women and then we start closing two Mental Health Institutes,” Jochum said. “And now, out of the blue, we’re privatizing an entire Medicaid system.” The Branstad Administration is in the process of hiring managed care companies to handle the state’s Medicaid program.

Branstad says he was elected by the people of Iowa to reduce the size and cost of state government and he intends to make “tough decisions” like closing two of the state’s four Mental Health Institutes to do it. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says the governor’s comments on Monday were “a bit over the top.”

“I don’t think the governor meant that he had unlimited power,” Gronstal says. “I’m pretty sure he wishes he had unlimited power, but I don’t think he really meant that. I think it’s time to calm this stuff down, look for common ground, work together.” The top Republican in the legislature is House Speaker Kraig Paulsen. Paulsen says he’d like to see exactly what Branstad said about executive branch authority before commenting on behalf of the legislative branch.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Branstad overstepped his authority in closing regional Workforce Development offices a few years ago, but the court challenge of Branstad’s decision to close the Iowa Juvenile Home without legislative action is pending before the Supreme Court.

(Radio Iowa)