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Foul weather expected in part of Plains during weekend

News, Weather

June 6th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – Forecasters are warning that severe weather could hit parts of the nation’s midsection this weekend. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma said there is a risk for tornadoes and very large hail in northeastern Colorado on Friday, with severe storms developing in Nebraska and Iowa during the day today (Saturday).

By Sunday, the storms could stretch from near the Oklahoma Panhandle into the Ohio Valley. The threat of tornadoes during the day Saturday in the mid-Missouri River Valley is expected to evolve into a mass of storms with high winds.

Red Oak man arrested early Saturday on an assault charge

News

June 6th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Police in Red Oak report the arrest early this (Saturday) morning of 33-year old Ryan Michael McDougall. The Red Oak man was taken into custody at around 12:25-a.m. in the 700 block of East Washington Avenue, on a charge of Domestic Abuse Assault. McDougall was being held without bond in the Montgomery County Jail.

Denison man gets 2 life terms for killings at trailer home

News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DENISON, Iowa (AP) — A judge sentenced a Denison man to life in prison without parole for killing an elderly couple last year and then lighting their home on fire. The Sioux City Journal reports Judge John Ackerman on Friday sentenced 20-year-old Jayden Chapman to consecutive life terms without parole. A jury convicted Chapman last month of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of 80-year-old Marvin Huelsing and 81-year-old Alice Huisenga at a trailer home. He also was convicted of reckless use of fire.

Trial evidence shows Chapman and another man convicted in the case, 27-year-old Michael Schenk, of Denison, were stealing scrap metal when the elderly couple arrived. Chapman and Schenk shot them and set their trailer on fire.

Chapman still faces charges related to an attempted escape from jail.

Iowa lawmakers adjourn 2015 legislative session

News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa lawmakers have adjourned the 2015 legislative session, approving a $7.3 billion spending plan that includes modest increases for education, funding to maintain mental health institutions and a tax-break for broadband Internet infrastructure.

The Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-controlled House concluded their work Friday afternoon. Their budget bills move to Gov. Terry Branstad, who must decide whether he will sign off.

Under the compromise spending deal, the state will spend about $7.3 billion for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The deal represents only a slight increase over the current spending and includes $7.17 billion in ongoing spending, plus $135 million in one-time payments for items like schools, universities and Medicaid. Those payments will come from the surplus fund dollars left at the end of the current fiscal year.

Warmer weather means mosquitoes are already swarming

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Summer will arrive June 21st and already Iowans are being buzzed and bitten by mosquitoes. Brendan Dunphy, an entomology researcher at Iowa State University, says he’s been studying the habits of these tiny flying pest for years and spotted his first mosquito of 2015 in Boone County back in March. “What was happening was, they were simply coming out of their winter hiding places,” Dunphy says. “Now that we’re in the time of year when we’ll have consistently high temperatures, we have the type of environment that could sustain mosquito activity for months to come.”

Dunphy said the mosquito bites can make people sick but the bugs are much worse on other continents. “They are capable of transmitting human disease agents, plenty of viruses, West Nile virus would be the best example here in Iowa,” Dunphy says. “Also, a number of other things that are even more pathogenic and cause death in other parts of the world. Thankfully, in a place like Iowa, we have it relatively easy compared to sub-Saharan Africa.”

He urges Iowans to police their yards to make it harder for mosquitoes to find a home “Getting rid of sources of standing water on your own property,” Dunphy says. “Bird baths, tires, buckets, children’s swimming pools, turned-over truck toppers, anything that can collect water can essentially be a reservoir or a breeding ground for future generations of mosquitoes, including ones that can transmit viruses.”

Another recommendation is to wear long-sleeve shirts and use insect repellant when outdoors and staying indoors around dawn and dusk when mosquito activity is often the highest.

(Radio Iowa)

Board of Corrections provided update on effort to reduce recidivism

News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Around 96-percent of the men and women in Iowa’s prison will eventually be released and corrections officials are hoping a federal grant will help them reduce the number of inmates who return to prison. Beth Skinner is the Recidivism Reduction Coordinator with the Iowa Department of Corrections (DOC). She came to Iowa from New York earlier this year, shortly after the DOC was awarded a $3 million Second Chance Act grant from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“We’re looking at areas we’ve done work in and kind of upgrading them, enhancing them, and building upon that to reduce recidivism,” Skinner said. Last year, Iowa’s prison recidivism rate dropped to 29.7-percent. That’s down from 45-percent 15 years ago. Iowa’s prisons are currently holding 8,267 inmates. That’s more than 13-percent over the design capacity of the facilities. Skinner is certain the recidivism rate can be further reduced, ultimately decreasing the overall prison population.

“We are going to be looking at how we do business. We’re going to be looking at the practices we use and the programs we use with offenders. We’re going to be ensuring that we’re using evidence-based practices, practices that we know reduce recidivism. So, of course we’re going to make an impact on that (the overall prison population),” Skinner said. The $3 million grant from the DOJ is spread out over three years. Skinner delivered an update on the program before an Iowa Board of Corrections meeting today (Friday) in Fort Dodge.

(Radio Iowa)

Supreme Court rules on divorce and property settlement

News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled marriages in the state can’t be ended without all the property involved being divided up. The case involved Susan and Ronald Thatcher, who were married in 1984. Susan was diagnosed with terminal cancer in January 2013 and filed to end the 29-year marriage, saying their relationship had broken down. Ronald resisted the ending the marriage.

The Linn County District Court ruled in favor of Susan one day before her death, and ordered the property to be divided at a later date. The ruling was upheld on appeal. The Iowa Supreme Court says Iowa law does not directly address the issue known as bifurcation. The court says there are some advantages to a bifurcated divorce, but also many disadvantages in separating the property of those involved.

The court says the Iowa legislature is the appropriate body to make the policy judgments on whether to allow bifurcated divorces and under what conditions. The Supreme Court vacated the appeals ruling and reversed the district court ruling and says the probate court will now decide how the property is divided.

(Radio Iowa)

Ernst hosts “Roast & Ride” this weekend

News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — GOP presidential hopefuls are taking a break from the hotel ballrooms and church basements where they usually campaign. Several are going to the “Roast and Ride” event in Iowa this weekend. It features a pig roast, motorcycles rides and speeches. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry are expected to ride.

It’s a new event in Iowa. The big draws used to be a straw poll that is becoming less relevant and the annual Democratic steak fry that ended last year. The “Roast and Ride” event is being held by freshman Sen. Joni Ernst.

Also attending are Sens. Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

Phone Scam Targeting MidAmerican Energy Customers

News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS) has received reports from MidAmerican Energy Company regarding a recent surge in scam phone calls to customers throughout Iowa. Since late May 2015, MidAmerican has documented a significant increase in calls from customers reporting fraudulent phone scam attempts in the Des Moines, Council Bluffs, Fort Dodge, Iowa City, and Davenport areas. MidAmerican anticipates customers in additional Iowa cities are being targeted but not reported.

  • MidAmerican has made efforts through media channels to warn business owners and the public of the scam targeting their customers. Despite these efforts, scammers have been successful in retrieving Personal Identifying Information (PII) or collecting money via credit cards or pre-paid (Green Dot) cards from the scam victims.
  • From the reports, an estimated 4-5% of the customers have provided money and/or PII to the scammers.

The scammers generally apply the same tactics by calling residential or business customers, claiming association with MidAmerican, and demanding payment with threats to disconnect their utility service immediately. Scammers are said to be persistent and use sophisticated devices that make it appear to the victim’s Caller ID system that the phone call is coming from the utility company. The scammers insist on direct payment on the phone via a credit card or they direct the customer to callback a specific number and pay with a pre-paid (Green Dot) card.

MidAmerican wants customers to know that they do not threaten immediate disconnection or demand payment over the phone. The company advises customers receiving such a call to hang up immediately and call 1-888-427-5632 to verify the authenticity of the call.

Rural Summit in Atlantic June 17th

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Residents, business owners and community and economic development leaders in Cass and surrounding counties can share their thoughts about opportunities and challenges facing rural Iowa when Bill Menner, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa, visits Atlantic on Wednesday, June 17th. A rural summit will take place starting at 10-a.m. at Southwest Iowa Planning Council’s office, 1501 SW 7th Street in Atlantic.USDA Rural Development  logo

USDA Rural Development’s funding continues to have a dramatic impact on rural communities across Iowa. Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has invested more than $3 billion on essential public facilities, small and emerging businesses, water and sewer systems, and housing opportunities for Iowa families. Today, more than 1.7 million Iowans live in rural communities and areas, and nearly half of the state’s communities have fewer than 500 residents.

This past year USDA Rural Development’s investment in rural Iowa helped create or retain more than 1,000 jobs, aided 2,400 families in buying their own homes and assisted more than 50 communities as they made improvements to their facilities, services and infrastructure.

For more information about the event, contact the Southwest Iowa Planning Council at (712) 243-4196 or email swipco@swipco.org.