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Interstate Bus Crash on I-80 in NE


October 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

GIBBON, Neb. (AP) – Officials say a crash on an interstate in south-central Nebraska has injured more than 30 people on a Denver-bound bus. Communications supervisor Craig Schoneberg of the Nebraska State Patrol office says the bus rammed into an overturned semitrailer that was blocking westbound lanes of Interstate 80. He says the accident occurred around 2 a.m. Thursday, two miles east of the Gibbon exit. Schoneberg says another semitrailer clipped the overturned trailer and ended up in a ditch. The bus ran into the median. He says no fatalities were reported. Dan Ronan of the American Bus Association, speaking for the bus company, Burlington Trailways, says 33 people on the bus were hurt. He says two of them, including the driver, were critically injured.

Ballots Available For Nov. 8th Regular City, & Cass Co. Special Elections


October 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Cass County Auditor Dale Sunderman reports that ballots for the November 8th, 2011 CITY ELECTIONS (in Anita, Atlantic, Cumberland, Griswold, Lewis, Marne, Massena and Wiota) and the November 8th, 2011 COUNTY SPECIAL ELECTION are available at the Cass County Auditor’s Office. Absentee ballots may be requested by registered voters not going to the assigned voting site on election day, when the polls will be open from NOON to 8 p.m. for all cities in Cass County except for ATLANTIC WARD 2/GROVE 2 TOWNSHIP PRECINCT and the ATLANTIC WARD 3 PRECINCT, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (hours for the county special election).

Voters unable to go to a voting site on election day may vote prior to election day by paper ballot either BY MAIL or IN PERSON AT THE OFFICE OF THE CASS COUNTY AUDITOR during regular office hours at the Cass County Courthouse.  The Cass County Auditor recommends that a person unable to go to a voting site on election day, request or go to the auditor’s office as soon as they know they are aware of that fact.  For all polls that open at noon on election day, absentee ballots may be cast at the county auditor’s office on election day between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.  Deadline for voters to request an absentee ballot to be mailed is Friday, November 4th, per Iowa Code.


TO VOTE AN ABSENTEE BALLOT BY MAIL, A request for an absentee ballot must be made.
1. Deliver an OFFICIAL ABSENTEE BALLOT REQUEST FORM by mail or personal carrier to the auditor’s office. Request forms are available at the auditor’s office or on the internet at http://www.sos.state.ia.us<http://www.sos.state.ia.us/>  The request must be signed to be valid.
2. When a request is received by the auditor, a ballot will be mailed if the person is a registered elector.  A request for a ballot to be mailed must be received by the county auditor no later than 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4. (If a request is received from a person not registered to vote in Cass County, the person will not be sent an absentee ballot until he/she has registered to vote and has completed a new absentee ballot request form.  The auditor will send the person a registration form and an absentee ballot request form.  Note: the registration form must be received by the county auditor no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28, 2011.
3. Upon receipt of the ballot, the voter completes the ballot, seals it in a special envelope and signs on the outside of that affidavit envelope.  The affidavit envelope is to be placed in the STAMPED/PREADDRESSED RETURN ENVELOPE and returned by mail or hand delivered to the county auditor no later than the close of election polls on Nov. 8, 2011.

TO VOTE AN ABSENTEE BALLOT IN THE OFFICE OF THE CASS COUNTY AUDITOR you may stop in and request a ballot over the counter. The ballot must then be voted immediately in a voting booth located in that office.  The ballot will be sealed in an affidavit envelope by the voter, will be left at the auditor’s office, and will be retained with all other absentee ballots that are cast by mail or in person.  Last day to vote absentee in the office of the county auditor is Tuesday, November 8, 2011 no later than 11 a.m. (except for Atlantic Ward 2/Grove 2 Twp. and Atlantic Ward 3: the deadline is Monday, November 7, 2011 no later than 5 p.m.)

On election day a counting board will process/tabulate all absentee ballots.  Office hours for the Cass County Auditor are Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. thru 4:30 p.m.  (Auditor’s office will be open until 5 p.m. on Oct. 28th, Nov. 4th and Nov. 7th). In order to vote in this election you must be a resident of the respective city and be registered to vote. A person must re-register if that person has moved or has changed his/her name since he/she last registered.  Deadline for mailed registration forms to be delivered to the County Auditor’s office for this election is no later than 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28, 2011 unless postmarked on or before Mon., Oct. 24.

The DATE FOR THE REGULAR CITY ELECTION and the COUNTY SPECIAL ELECTION is TUESDAY, Nov. 8, 2011.  The polls open at NOON for all cities in Cass County and all polls close at 8 p.m. except for ATLANTIC WARD 2/GROVE 2 TWP and ATLANTIC WARD 3.  Hours for the latter two are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Additional information for the November 8, 2011 CITY ELECTION and COUNTY SPECIAL ELECTION:

ALL POLLING/VOTING CENTERS for all cities in Cass County will open at 12 noon and close at 8 P.M. except ATLANTIC WARD 2/GROVE 2 TWP and ATLANTIC WARD 3.  Hours for the latter two are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
ANITA:  The polling precinct is located at the Anita Community Center, 805 Main St and will open at 12:00 o’clock noon and close at 8:00 o’clock P.M.
ATLANTIC:  The polling precincts will open at 12:00 o’clock noon and close at 8:00 o’clock P.M. for FIRST WARD  -  Zion Lutheran Church, 9th St between Linn St and Oak St; FOURTH WARD -  United Church of Christ, 1607 Hazel; FIFTH WARD  -  Heritage House, 1200 Brookridge Circle.
ATLANTIC:  The polling precincts will open at 7:00 o’clock A.M. and close at 9:00 o’clock P.M. for SECOND WARD/GROVE 2 TWP – Atlantic Public Library, 6th & Poplar St THIRD WARD  -  Cass County Community Center, 805 West 10th St
CUMBERLAND:  The polling precinct is located at the Cumberland Community Building, 200 W 2nd St and will open at 12:00 o’clock noon and close at 8:00 o’clock P.M.
GRISWOLD:  The polling precinct is located at the Griswold Community Center, 601 2nd St  and will open at 12:00 o’clock noon and close at 8:00 o’clock P.M.
LEWIS:  The polling precinct is located at the Lewis City Hall, 416 W Main St and will open at 12:00 o’clock noon and close at 8:00 o’clock P.M.
MARNE:  The polling precinct is located at the Marne City Hall, 402 Washington and will open at 12:00 o’clock noon and close at 8:00 o’clock P.M.
MASSENA:  The polling precinct is located at the Massena Public Library, 122 Main St and will open at 12 noon and close at 8:00 o’clock P.M.
WIOTA:  The polling precinct is located at the Wiota City Hall, 311 Center St and will open at 12:00 o’clock noon and close at 8:00 o’clock P.M.

Atlantic looks to become a “Blue Zone” community


October 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council Wednesday, heard a presentation by a local health official regarding efforts to have the City designated as a “Blue Zone” Community. Cass County Public Health Coordinator Denise Coder said a “Blue Zone” is where residents live a healthy, happy and long life. It’s part of Governor Terry Branstad’s plan announced in August, to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation, by 2016, as measured by the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index. Coder says Iowa currently ranks as the 19th healthiest state. Hy-Vee and Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield are the corporate sponsors for the initiative. The corporations have pledged between $15-and 25-million toward the project. Coder says some of the funding will be used to survey Iowan’s about their health behaviors and how much progress is being made. The rest will be designated toward the “Blue Zone Project.”

She says research by Dan Buettner into what makes a healthy community began several years ago. The results of the research helped to determine common elements for persons being healthly, happy and having a long-life. Those elements were developed into an initiative to try and get communities to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Iowa will choose 10 communities to transform into “Blue Zone Communities.” In Addition, all Iowans will have access to tools and information, to help them take action, regardless of whether their community is selected or not as part of the program. Coder says “bedroom communities” – those comprised mostly of commuters – are not likely to be chosen, because officials want to involve those towns where a majority of the people live and work in the community.

Beginning next Monday, October 10th, a road show informational meeting will be held in Harlan, from 9-to 10-a.m. Blue Zone founder Dan Buettner will participate in the event, which is designed for community and business leaders, along with other interested Iowans, to learn first-hand about the project, and how to transform their towns into Blue Zone Communities. It’s also being held to determine the level of interest in the program. Coder asked the council for two representatives to attend the round-up meeting in Harlan, along with other local community and health officials. Efforts to show Atlantic’s interest in the Blue Zone Community program will include a formal letter of application of commitment which will be sent to program officials, and, 25-percent of the population must indicate their intention to participate in the effort. Coder says the effect of becoming an active participant in the program, was exemplified by Albert Lea, MN, where the city’s health insurance costs dropped by 40-percent. She says a similar effort in Atlantic, would be a huge economic benefit for some of the top employers in the community, not just individuals’ health.

For more information, visit www.bluezonesproject.com

Vehicle stolen from Brayton


October 6th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in western Iowa are on the lookout for a vehicle reported stolen sometime overnight from a residence in Brayton. According to the Cass County Communications Center, the stolen, white 2003 Toyota Camry, was observed at the Stuart 66 Food Mart at around 2:30 this (Thursday) morning. The vehicle has Iowa license plate number 484 TNL.

If you see this vehicle, contact your local law enforcement agency.

Grants awarded to enhance specialty crops production

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, Wednesday, announced that the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will award more than $260,500 in grants to Iowa organization, to help enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in the state. The department received more than $276,500 through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, to support the program.

Among the grant recipients, was Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development, which was awarded $18,343 for building capacity for southwest Iowa local food producers, to increase specialty crop competitiveness in the region. And, Southern Iowa Resource Conservation and Development was awarded a $24,000 grant for “Farm to where you are: Creating and Enhancing Markets for Southern Iowa Specialty Crop Producers.” In addition, the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship was awarded a little more than $55,000, to support connecting growers and schools through the “Farm to School Program.”

Bill Northey says “Specialty crops are a very important part of Iowa agriculture, as they allow farmers to diversify and give customers access to locally grown products.” He says the federal funds will support food safety, research and marketing efforts, that will encourage Iowans to choose fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers, that are produced in the state. Iowa agricultural non-profit organizations, cooperatives, specialty crop industry associations or organizations, along with producer groups, were eligible to aplly for funding, to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops.

Omaha family of six injured in I-29 rollover accident


October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa State Patrol says six members of an Omaha family, three adults and three children, were injured Wednesday evening when the SUV they were in rolled over on Interstate 29, about three-miles north of Council Bluffs City limits. Authorities said 26-year old Lucia Barrera, of Omaha, was driving a 1996 Ford Explorer when a back tire blew out.  When Barrera lost control of the SUV, it rolled multiple times before coming to rest facing southbound, in the southbound lane of travel.The accident happened just before 5-p.m.

The children, identified as one-year old Edgar Berrera, 9-year old’s Steffany Fernandez and Bryan Brito, were ejected from the vehicle during the crash. Two of the children were not wearing their seatbelts.  Lucia Barrera, along with her passengers, 34-year old Octavio Barrera and 32-year old Catalina Barrera, were also injured. All of the victims were transported to Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha.  One of the children was flown to the facility by medical helicopter.The rest were transported by Council Bluffs Medics or Crescent Rescue.

Details on the extent of their injuries was not immediately available. A section of the interstate was closed for more than an hour Wednesday, while emergency crews took care of the injured and cleaned-up the crash scene.

Atlantic City Council to hold public hearing on local property


October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A public hearing will be held during the October 19th meeting of the Atlantic City Council, with regard to the disposition of property at 706 Walnut Street. The Council Wednesday evening voted 4-to-2 to pass a resolution terminating a purchase agreement the City had with resident Ed Leistad for the parcel. In August Leistad asked the Council to consider terminating a contract he signed earlier in the Summer, when he paid $5,000 for the property. Leistad claimed he misunderstood how small the property was, and that it would not serve his needs as he anticipated. The termination comes in exchange for his making $1,000 payment to the City as a of penalty.

Councilmen Dana Halder and Kern Miller voted against the resolution to terminate the contract. Miller said Leistad should be held accountable for his decision to buy the property in a sealed bid.  Halder said the City held up it’s end of the deal, and Leistad should do the same.  He said cancelling the contract would set a precedence for future sales of City-owned property that may cost the City money.

Councilperson Kathy Somers disagreed. She was one those who voted in favor of terminating the contract. Somers said Leistad’s paying $1,000 to the City and getting nothing in return, after admitting his mistake, is an acceptable form of apology. Miller urged the citizens of Atlantic to attend the hearing on October 19th to voice their concerns over the deal, and help determine what the City should do with the property.

Update 8-p.m. Oct. 5th: Search of Atlantic High School: no explosive devices found


October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Firefighters Steve Curtis and Bob Reynolds stand-by outside the high school Wednesday night.

With firefighters standing by outside the Atlantic High School, Atlantic Police conducted a thorough  search Wednesday night of the premises and found no evidence of any explosive devices or materials associated with a bomb threat which was discovered earlier in the day.

Atlantic Police Chief Steve Green said prior to the search, his office contacted experts who doubted the validity of the threat. He says they contacted the State Fire Marshall’s Office and discussed the possible scenarios. The Fire Marshall’s Office said the threat was deemed “not credible.” Even so, Green said they’re taking precautions to ensure the safety of students and the staff at the high school. He says they will be “proactive over the next couple of days so parents can rest assured that their kids can come to school safely,” and not have to worry. Green says students will not be allowed to bring backpacks, large purses or duffle bags to school Thursday or Friday.

Students who do bring those items to school Thursday will be asked to put those items in their vehicles or leave them with a parent. In extenuating circumstances, the packs and purses will be searched. He says absolutely no backpacks or large purses will be allowed at school Friday. Chief Green says security at the school will be maintained during the next couple of days. Atlantic School District Superintendent Mike Amstein told KJAN News earlier in the day, Wednesday, that a student had discovered a written bomb threat on a restroom stall, and reported it to school officials. Administrators then notified law enforcement and sent out a press release designed to inform parents about the situation. The note scribbled on the stall indicated an explosive device would go off on Friday, October 7th.

Green said threats such as the one found at the high school Wednesday, are usually an attempt by a student to disrupt classes for one reason or another, and nothing more. School will be held as usual both Thursday and Friday. Green says if the intent of the person responsible was to disrupt classes, they won’t be happy with the results of their effort. He says they’re not going to be rewarded with a day off, or a 3-day weekend for pulling this stunt.

He says parents and students should not be taken in by fear and panic, because the situation is being handled at a much higher level than is recommended by the experts.

Mental Health: A Mother’s Story, & Conversation on Mental Health Care to take place in Atlantic.


October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The mother of a young man who shot and killed Aplington-Parkersburg Football Coach Ed Thomas in June 2009 will be the guest speaker during a Conversation on Mental Health in Atlantic, later this month. A jury found Joan Becker’s son Mark guilty of 1st degree murder in March 2010, after rejecting his insanity defense. He was later sentenced to life in prison. Joan Becker, who has two other sons, is making her way around the state to hold conversations about mental health issues.

Joan Becker speaks in Orient Sept. 8th (courtesy Wallace Center)

She spoke last month at the Wallace Country Life Center in rural Orient, about her son‘s struggle with paranoid schizophrenia . Her visit to Atlantic will take place 7-p.m. October 20th, at Iowa Western Community College. Cass County Mental Health Coordinator Teresa Kanning told the Board of Supervisors during their meeting this (Wednesday) morning, that Becker will discuss what parts of the mental health system failed her son, and which parts were helpful.

She says a local mental health panel discussion will follow her presentation about how the system works or doesn’t work, in Cass County. The event is open to the public, but seating is limited. Kanning says she’s very excited to have Mrs. Becker speak in Cass County. To reserve your seat, call 712-243-4424.

Bomb threat at Atlantic High School (updated 4-p.m.)


October 5th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic School District Superintendent Dr. Mike Amstein said today (Wednesday), that the Atlantic High School has received word of a possible bomb threat. A statement said the threat would occur this Friday, October 7th. Amstein says once they became aware of the threat, they immediately contacted law enforcement.  Based on their advice, he says the district will abide by their suggestions, in order to be proactive in keeping the students and staff safe.

He says the threat was discovered in one of the high school restrooms. The note was written on bathroom stall. A student saw the threat and reported it to the office. Amstein said there is no significance that he’s aware of pertaining to the date the threat was assigned to. He says extra security precautions are being put into effect. Law enforcement were expected to clear the building this (Wednesday) evening. Students will also noticed a stepped-up effort to secure the premises on Thursday and Friday, as well.

He says bookbags will be search both days as students and individuals enter the school.