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Distracted driver causes accident in Atlantic Thu. afternoon

News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A distracted driver caused a chain reaction accident in Atlantic Thursday afternoon. Atlantic Police say Madison Wookey, of Red Oak, was traveling south on Highway 6 on the west side of town at around 2:10-p.m., when she reached down to adjust her car radio. As she did so, Wookey failed to notice two vehicles in front of her had stopped, while the first vehicle was waiting to turn left into a church driveway.
Wookey’s 2010 Dodge Avenger ran into the rear of a 2006 Ford Taurus, driven by Venus Dreyer, of Harlan, which was pushed into the rear of a 2004 Toyota Camry, driven by Anthony Smith, of Atlantic.

Dreyer suffered minor injuries in the crash and was transported by Medivac Ambulance to the Cass County Memorial Hospital, for treatment. Smith also went to the hospital and complaining of pain. Damage from the crash amounted to $9,900.

Police cited Wookey for Failure to Stop in an Assured, Clear Distance.

2 arrests in Montgomery County late Thu. night

News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reports two people were arrested on separate charges late Thursday night. At around 11:20-p.m., 33-year old Carlton John Dolph, of Villisca, was arrested for Driving While Suspended, with seven withdrawals in effect. Dolph was being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $566 bond.

And at around 10-p.m. Thursday, Red Oak Police arrested 27-year old Erik Gomez Gonzalez, of Red Oak, following a traffic stop. Gonzalez was taken into custody on a warrant out of Adams County for Driving While Suspended. He was also cited for Driving without a valid driver’s license. Gonzalez was being held in the Montgomery County Jail pending pick up by Adams County deputies.

Slain officer’s family fund continues to grow

News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Donations continue to pour in for the family of slain Omaha Police Officer Kerrie Orozco. According to the Omaha World-Herald, the Omaha Police Foundation had collected more than $150,000, as of Thursday. At the same time, a college fund for Orozco’s infant daughter, Olivia Ruth, had brought in $19,000. The college savings account was set up by the foundation and First National Bank of Omaha.

Dr. Jack Lewis, the foundation’s president, said checks have been coming in from all over the country. The 29-year old Orozco was working on a fugitive task force the afternoon of May 20th, when Marcus Wheeler, a man wanted on a felony shooting warrant, opened fire on police trying to apprehend him near 30th Street and Martin Avenue. Police Sgt. Jeff Kopietz returned fire, fatally wounding Wheeler. One of Wheeler’s shots hit Orozco, who died shortly afterward at the hospital.

The community response to her death began immediately, as people expressed grief and support for Orozco, who also was widely recognized for her volunteer work, especially with at-risk youths. Most of the contributions at first were from individual donors, a foundation spokeswoman said. Now, many of the contributions are coming from community organizations and businesses.

Next week, the La Vista, Nebraska, Volunteer Firefighters Association plans to give the foundation a check for $6,600. The group collected the money from its beer tents sales at the city’s Salute to Summer festival over Memorial Day weekend. An Omaha painting studio is hosting a benefit for the family as well. The business already has donated the event’s registration fees — $1,470 — to the Orozco fund.

People who still wish to donate to the family can visit omahapolicefoundation.com. To donate to baby Olivia’s college fund, visit any First National branch.

Legislators advance bill to boost broadband, cell towers

News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Action at the statehouse might speed up broadband service and speed the placement of new cell phone towers around the state. The legislature has approved uniform state rules to govern how local government manage applications for cell phone tower sites. The bill also establishes property tax breaks for companies that either speed up extremely slow broadband service or extend broadband to areas where it’s not available today.

Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, raised concerns about previous proposals, but supports the final version which limits the property tax abatement to a total of 10 years, but requires companies to ask for it by 2020. “We’re giving the industry a carrot to invest,” Petersen says. “We want them to get going on it.”

The proposal also creates a state-run program to hand out grants to companies that expand broadband access in Iowa, but there’s no money set aside for it.

(Radio Iowa)

Omaha district considering giving free meals to all students

News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Officials in the Omaha School district are considering providing free meals to all students, regardless of the children’s ability to pay. The Omaha World-Herald reports that it would be an expansion of a pilot program the district kicked off in January at six elementary schools. In Iowa, participating districts included Council Bluffs and Des Moines.

Omaha was one of two districts in Nebraska to participate in a federal initiative this year that pushed for schools with high concentrations of low-income students to serve free meals to all. Schools can participate in the program if many of their students already were receiving public benefits, such as food stamps or welfare.

Iowa early News Headlines: Fri., June 5th 2015

News

June 5th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — There are no additional bird flu cases in Iowa, giving hundreds of state and federal workers and hired contractors a chance to catch up with the backlog of birds to be euthanized. Iowa Department of Agriculture officials say they expected to have all turkeys exposed to the H5N2 virus euthanized and composting by the end of the day Thursday. Disposal using composting, on-site burial, incineration and placement in landfills, continues.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter says tuition will be frozen at state universities for the fall semester, but he is not detailing what will happen in the spring. At a board meeting Thursday, Rastetter said a tuition freeze would continue at the three public universities for the fall. But he said officials will need to assess if the institutions have enough state funding to maintain the freeze in the spring.

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State President Steven Leath says he’s “open minded” about how much the university is willing to pay its next basketball coach, adding that the school is looking for a return on its investment. Leath spoke to reporters Thursday for the first time since Fred Hoiberg left to take over the NBA’s Chicago Bulls. Leath says he intends to interview all the finalists identified by athletic director Jamie Pollard and weigh in with his opinion before Pollard makes the final decision. Leath says the next coach’s contract would likely be loaded with performance incentives tied to the team’s success in the Big 12 and nationally.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is wasting little time getting to Iowa after announcing his candidacy for the 2016 presidential nomination. According to JebAnnouncement DOT com, a website established to explain Bush’s announcement plans, the Republican plans to make his first Iowa campaign stop in Pella on June 17th.

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — A 62-year-old Mason City man has been accused of using a hammer to beat his dog. Police say George Harrington is charged with animal torture and other misdemeanor violations. Harrington didn’t immediately return a message yesterday from The Associated Press

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. attorney says an eastern Iowa man who caused a fire the damaged six mobile homes while attempting to manufacture meth has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Linda Reade on Thursday sentenced 27-year-old Michael Lala to prison after he pleaded guilty in January to attempting to manufacture meth.

New legal protections for county landfills accepting bird flu carcasses

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 4th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The legislature is passing new liability protections for county landfills that accept the dead carcasses from poultry operations that have been hit by bird flu. Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm, a Democrat from Cresco, says it’s a protection for county taxpayers who would have to pick up the tab if their local landfill is sued. “If they take on the responsibility of accepting these birds, that if they follow Homeland Security, DNR, federal regs, if somebody wants to sue them for whatever reason, they’re not going to be held responsible because they’re following all the rules,” Wilhelm says.

The issue is being addressed in a budget bill that outlines spending for the Iowa Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Legislators are also asking landfills to submit a report to the state next year, detailing the volume of bird carcasses buried and the fees charged by the landfill. Wilhelm says it’s a check against excessive landfill charges. “The feds are paying for the tipping fees,” Wilhelm says, “and so we don’t want to have them take advantage of, drastically increasing the tipping fees.”

More than 30 million chickens and turkeys have had to be killed in Iowa due to the bird flu outbreak. All of the turkeys and some chickens are being composted in their barns. Some dead chickens are being buried just outside on the farms. Some are being burned and others are being shipped to landfills. A large incinerator at a landfill near Cherokee is currently burning about seven loads of dead birds a day, with plans to increase capacity in the coming days.

A privately-owned landfill near Malvern and a county landfill near Sheldon are burying “bio-secure” bags of the dead chickens. Officials with Polk County’s landfill have indicated a willingness to make bird burials, too, but to date none have been taken there. The legislature’s new liability protection for landfills would not apply to the landfill near Malvern, but would apply to the other two county-owned landfills.

(Radio Iowa)

Council Bluffs officials say donation will aid bell project

News

June 4th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Fire department officials in Council Bluffs say a $2,000 donation will help them plan for the restoration of an old bell that once tolled for fire calls. The Daily Nonpareil reports the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation made the donation to aid planning for the bell, which will be placed at the city’s headquarters station.

The bell, which was forged in St. Louis in 1876, was rung when fire calls came in. It also tolled for firefighter funerals. The bell was moved to many stations over the years but has been in storage for a few years. Fire officials want to restore the bell and place it in a tower. Project estimates range from $80,000 to $120,000.

Omaha man arrested Thu. morning on Montgomery County warrant

News

June 4th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s Deputies in Montgomery County arrested an Omaha man this (Thursday) morning, on a warrant charging him with Contempt of Court – Resistance to a Judicial Order or Process. Christian T. Leming was transported from the Douglas County, Nebraska Corrections facility to the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Center. Leming appeared before the Magistrate and had his bond set at $800.

Governor not indicating support/opposition to MHI deal

News

June 4th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Branstad Administration is not yet indicating whether the governor will accept or reject the legislature’s attempt to undo Branstad’s order to close the state-run Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant. A bill that cleared both the House and Senate yesterday (Wednesday) with bipartisan support calls for keeping the Mount Pleasant facility open for another year. The Clarinda M-H-I would remain open until mid-December, with hopes of finding a private company that would run the unit there that cares for elderly patients who are too frail or aggressive for other facilities. Clarinda Economic Development Director John Greenwood says that would be victory for his community.

“Like in anything, you’re hoping to get more, but you have to work with the powers that be on both sides,” Greenwood says. “And, you know, if you’ll remember back when Branstad brought out his budget, Clarinda would have been essentially closed right now, so for us it definitely is a positive thing.” A spokesman for the governor said this morning that Branstad “will carefully review the bill while also continuing to consider how the state provides the highest quality of care to individuals in need.” Clarinda’s economic development director says the legislature’s proposal gives employees at the M-H-I more time to figure out their next step and it his community a chance to try to find a private company that will come in and keep the facility operating.

“Probably, most importantly, it gives us another six months to continue to provide services for the folks out there that need them,” Greenwood says. Senator Rich Taylor, a Democrat from Mount Pleasant, is also hoping the governor accepts the legislature’s plan. “What the governor was trying to do in shutting down the Mental Health Institution was just wrong,” Taylor says. The M-H-I in Mount Pleasant would continue to offer inpatient treatment for those with the “dual diagnosis” of substance abuse and mental illness if the governor accepts the legislature’s proposal. Senator Taylor worked at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison for 27 years and Taylor says he saw many inmates who wound up behind prison walls because they hadn’t gotten mental health treatment.

“And to shut down even more of our state institutions was just totally unacceptable to me. It just broken my heart,” Taylor says. “It just is not the right place for these people. It’s not what we should do to these most vulnerable citizens.” State officials have said about a third of the inmates in Iowa prisons are “severely mentally ill” — hearing voices, seeing things and often unable to comprehend prison staff orders. The legislature’s vote on the future of the two Mental Health Institutes in southern Iowa is among the many decisions lawmakers are rushing to make this week, in hopes of concluding the 2015 legislative session — perhaps as soon as today (Thursday).

(Radio Iowa)