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Western IA kindergartener tests positive for meningitis


December 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — A kindergartener at a Council Bluffs school has tested positive for meningitis. Longfellow Elementary spokeswoman Diane Ostrowksi says that the girl felt ill when she came to school Wednesday and was soon sent home.

Council Bluffs Health Department director Donn Dierks says families of students in the girl’s class were notified Friday by letter after tests confirmed she had meningitis. Dierks says the illness isn’t highly contagious but parents were urged to seek antibiotics from their doctors.

Symptoms of meningitis include high fever, headaches, vomiting and stiff neck. If untreated, it can cause death.

The school has since been cleaned to limit further illnesses.

Oversize load movements restricted in parts of Iowa


December 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – Dec. 3, 2011– The Iowa Department of Transportation is reminding commercial motor carriers that movement of permitted oversize loads is only allowed when the roadways are clear of ice and snow, and visibility is at least 1/4 mile.

Presently, roadways in the western part of the state are partially or completely covered with a mix of slush, snow and ice. A wintery mix of freezing rain, freezing drizzle and snow is possible across the northwest part of the state through the day and evening.

For the latest road conditions, visit: www.511ia.org or call 511 (within Iowa) or 800-288-1047 (nationwide).  For oversize, fuel and trip permit information, call: 515-237-3264.

First of two deer shootgun hunting seasons opens this morning

Ag/Outdoor, News, Sports

December 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Rural Iowans may hear the distant pop of shotgun blasts from the forests and fields this (Saturday) morning as the state’s shotgun deer hunting season opens. Iowa D-N-R deer biologist Tom Litchfield says he’s expecting about 60-thousand hunters for this first season. Litchfield says the two shotgun seasons on deer are Iowa’s most popular hunting seasons, when the most hunters are hunting and when the majority of deer are harvested. Up to 60-percent of the state’s deer are harvested in the two seasons. The first season runs today (Saturday) through December 7th and again from December 10th through the 18th. Litchfield says there will be plenty of targets.

He says the deer population was around 450-thousand pre-season while this spring, the numbers were around 290-thousand post-season. Litchfield says there will be no changes in hunting regulations for this deer season and he says the hunting will be good or more challenging, depending on where you go in the state.

He says hunters in northwest and north-central Iowa should see similar deer numbers compared to last year, though populations elsewhere may be down. Overall, Litchfield says the Iowa deer population has fallen about 12-percent compared to a year ago. Learn more at: “www.iowadnr.gov”.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)

New tool helps Neb., Iowa veterans talk with docs


December 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A new tool available to Nebraska and Iowa veterans will help speed communication with health care providers. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System says its “secure messaging” feature allows veterans to communicate electronically with their doctors. It can be used to ask about appointments, prescriptions and non-urgent health issues.

The VA Department says the tool will help veterans avoid long waits to speak with providers over the phone. The tool is available through an online account at http://www.myhealth.va.gov/

Bluffs Police work to curb scrap metal thefts


December 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Detectives with the Council Bluffs Police Department are making routine checks of area scrap yards, looking for items of metal which were stolen and may have been unwittingly purchased by the scrap yard operators. Every Friday, Detective Joe Hothersall of the Council Bluffs Police Department stops by the yards and picks up a stack of cards with the identification information and fingerprints of those who that week sold metals to the scrap yard. Hothersall makes sure the cards are filled out correctly. The owners tell him if anyone has dropped off anything suspicious. Police on both sides of the Missouri River say most companies are eager to cooperate.

Most of the scrap yard owners don’t mind the checks, because they don’t want buy stolen scrap metal, a crime which has grown immensely over the past few years. Thefts of copper have been most prominent. A typical air conditioner, according to Hothersall, has about $60 worth of copper inside, that can be ripped out, and sold for scrap.

Omaha and Council Bluffs both have ordinances mandating that recyclers document those who sell them metals. There is interest in both the Iowa Legislature and on the Pottawattamie County Board to require the same thing.

Iowa Representative Clel Baudler, a Republican from Greenfield, said such a measure will likely be introduced early in the 2012 session. Baudler, a former State Trooper, told the Omaha World-Herald  “These thieves will absolutely steal anything. I assume there would be several sponsors, including myself.” Nebraska already has a statewide law, though it may be strengthened this year with a bill to specifically outlaw the sales of sewer grates and manhole covers.

Loren Knauss, member of the Pottawattamie County Board of Supervisors and former Bluffs police officer, said there is interest in passing a county ordinance similar to the city ordinance that requires the documentation of sellers. The board members have considered such a measure in the past.

Pott County man convicted of sexually abusing a child


December 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A jury in Pottawattamie County deliberated for more than 10 hours Friday, but ultimately handed down a guilty verdict against a man accused of sexually abusing a child. The trial of 47-year Martin Hiatt, from Carter Lake, lasted only two-days. Hiatt was charged with five counts of second-degree sexual abuse and four counts of indecent contact with a child. He was found guilty on three of the second-degree sexual abuse counts and all four counts of indecent contact with a child. Second-degree sexual abuse is a Class B felony and carries a mandatory prison sentence of 25 years. Because the crime is a forcible felony, 70 percent of the sentence – or 17½ years – must be served before Hiatt will be eligible for parole. Hiatt is scheduled to be sentenced March 7, 2012.

Assistant Pottawattamie County Attorney Dan McGinn said the encounters occurred with the child over a four-year period between 2007 and February 2011. The child — who was not identified because of her age, testified that Hiatt “did bad things” to her, including touching her thigh, breasts and buttocks; the girl said that Hiatt touched her inappropriately on more than 50 occasions.

Bluffs/Omaha Task force nabs 2 men in attempt to find theft suspect – officer nearly run over


December 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A fast food restaurant in Council Bluffs became the scene of a fast take down of two suspects wanted by authorities, Friday. Council Bluffs police, Iowa State Patrol troopers and members of the Metro Area Fugitive Task Force all converged on a Burger King restaurant on West Broadway Street just before 1:30-p.m.

According to Council Bluffs Police Capt. Todd Weddum, members of the Metro Area Fugitive Task Force saw a stolen Dodge Ram truck as they were driving around the city looking for wanted subjects. Team members believed a wanted man – Keith Baker – was in the stolen vehicle. As they followed the truck, it turned into the drive-thru at the Burger King. As the driver was ordering, a Council Bluffs police cruiser – driven by Officer R.G. Miller – pulled in front of the truck.

Weddum told the Council Bluffs Daily NonPareil “As the cruiser attempted to block the truck, the driver put it in gear.” Offcier Miller was unable to exit his vehicle before the truck drove onto the hood of the cruiser. Weddum said the passenger side front wheel came to rest inches away from where Miller was sitting, shattering the windshield.

The driver of the truck, 28-year old Roger Madsen, of Council Bluffs, and a passenger in the truck – 27-year old Jeffrey Vosler – left the vehicle and took off running. Weddum said additional officers in the parking lot caught Madsen immediately. Vosler was apprehended a few blocks away.

Ironically, neither of the men was the individual Task Force members were looking for: Keith Baker, but Weddum said Baker and Madsen are “known associates” of the suspect. Madsen had an outstanding warrant for probation violation. He was also arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer, aggravated assault on a peace officer, first-degree theft and possession of meth. Vosler was arrested on suspicion of eluding and interference with official acts.

Officer Miller was checked out by paramedics at the scene, but refused transport to a hospital. Weddum said the man was shaken up, but otherwise OK.  Metro-area officers are still searching for Baker, who is wanted on felony theft charges. He’s described as a white male, 38 years old, 5 feet, 10 inches tall, weighing 200 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information on Baker’s whereabouts is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at (712) 328-STOP. Callers may remain anonymous and might be eligible for a cash reward.

Winter weather creates need for winter driving skills in northern Iowa today

News, Weather

December 3rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – Dec. 3, 2011 – Along with the hats, mittens and boots, dig out your winter driving skills today as light rain and drizzle is already creating some icy patches on northeast Iowa roadways this morning. Weather conditions are expected to deteriorate in northern Iowa as the day goes on and a wintry mix moves through that part of the state. Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) crews will be monitoring weather conditions throughout the anticipated winter storm. Log on to www.511ia.org for the latest road conditions or http://www.weatherview.dot.state.ia.us for updated weather and travel information.

If you must travel during this winter weather event, please consider the following recommendations….

If you are driving focus your attention on the driving task and slow down. Do not use cruise control. Put your mobile phone away so you are not tempted to talk or text while driving. Keep a safe distance from vehicles in adjacent lanes as strong wind gusts could push a vehicle outside its lane of travel. Put a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead in case sudden driving maneuvers are necessary.

Take extra care if driving a high-profile vehicle such as a truck, van or sports utility vehicle, or when towing a trailer, as these vehicles are more prone to be pushed or even flipped by wind gusts. Your vehicle’s headlights are a valuable asset when driving in winter weather. Turn them on to see and be seen.

If conditions are severe enough to prevent safe driving, postpone your trip; or if en route, identify the nearest safe place to pull off the roadway, such as a rest area, truck stop, motel or other traveler service until the wind subsides and road conditions improve.  Keep your windshield clear of ice. Allow extra travel time.

If the roads are icy, and if your vehicle begins to slide, take your foot off the gas pedal and shift into neutral, or if you have a manual transmission, depress the clutch. While it may be a natural instinct to slam on your brakes, this may cause your vehicle to slide further and result in loss of vehicle control. Tap the brake pedal lightly.  If you have an idea that there may be ice ahead (if you see vehicles ahead of you sliding, for example), downshift to a lower gear before you come onto the ice. The lower gear will force you to drive more slowly and give you better control of your vehicle.

If your vehicle does begin to skid on the ice, turn the wheel in the direction of the skid. This should help to steer your vehicle back on the right track. Stay well behind the vehicle in front of you – this is definitely not the time to tailgate. Even if you feel confident that you know how to drive safely on ice, that does not mean the driver in front of you does. Be prepared in case other vehicles start to slide. Do not think you are invincible just because you drive a four-wheel drive truck or sports utility vehicle. Four-wheel drive vehicles have no advantage over other vehicles when it comes to driving on ice.

Make sure you and your passengers are wearing their seatbelts or other safety restraints.  Winter driving is always unpredictable, so be prepared for the unexpected.

Corps maintains release to increase flood storage


December 2nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers is extending the current release from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota to increase flood control storage heading into the spring runoff season on the Missouri River, which had record flooding this year because of heavy rain and melting snowpack. The corps planned to cut the release on Thursday from 40,000 cubic feet per second to 20,000 cfs. The corps says Friday it will maintain the current release through Dec 7. It will then gradually decrease the rate until it reaches 20,000 cfs.

The corps’ Jody Farhat says the adjustment could provide an additional 500,000 cfs of storage by the start of the runoff season. Farhat says precipitation this fall is below normal over most of the basin, but that could change.

Deter Motor & Chamber accepting ATHENA nominations


December 2nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Deter Motor Company and the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce have announced they are currently accepting nominations for the Annual ATHENA Award.

Athena Award

The award has been presented over the past 10-years to women who are an inspiration to other women by demonstrating professional excellence, community service, and assisting women in realizing their true leadership potential. Nominations are due to the Chamber of Commerce by Friday, Dec. 16th at Noon. Former recipients and Deter Motor representatives serve on the selection committee.

The ATHENA Award was first presented in 1982 in Lansing, Michigan and has grown to include presentations to more than 5,000 individuals in hundreds of cities in the United States as well as in Canada, China, Russia and the United Kingdom. The award takes the form of a hand-cast bronze sculpture symbolizing the strength, courage and wisdom of the recipient. The ATHENA Award Program is nationally underwritten by KPMG.

Chamber Executive Director Megan Roberts said other awards will be given in conjunction Chamber Annual Dinner January 21sy, 2012, with the ATHENA being the capstone for the evening. Atlantic is the only Iowa community to partner with ATHENA International to host the program.

For more information contact Megan Roberts, Executive Director of the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce, at 712.243.3017 or email megan@atlanticiowa.com