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Iowa early News Headlines – Thu., Nov. 8th 2012


November 8th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

OSAGE, Iowa (AP) — Mitchell County voters have rejected a bond sale to build a new courthouse in Osage. Voters on Tuesday turned down a proposal to allow the sale of $6.5 million in bonds to demolish the courthouse and build a new one. The courthouse was built in 1858.

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — A Black Hawk County jury has convicted a Waterloo man of first-degree murder in the shooting death of another man whose body was found slumped over the steering wheel of a parked car on a street in Waterloo. The jury found 22-year-old Montez Caples guilty yesterday. His trial started last week, and the jury got the case on Tuesday. Caples was charged with killing 34-year-old Robert Shannon on December 14th.

SAC CITY, Iowa (AP) — Sac City police say human remains discovered in the basement of a recently purchased house could be those of the previous homeowner who disappeared in 2009. Police Chief John Thomsen says “all signs point” to Mark Koster. He was last seen with a friend on July 4th, 2009. He was 58. The remains were found Monday by the new homeowner while remodeling the basement.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A bonobo considered one of the best at communicating with humans has died at an ape sanctuary in Des Moines. Ken Schweller, the chairman of the Great Ape Trust Bonobo Hope, says Panbanisha died Tuesday night, likely from complications from a cold. The 26-year-old female bonobo lived at the trust since 2005.

Atlantic City Council passes Tax Increment Financing Policy


November 7th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

After nearly 30-minutes of discussion and a tweaking of the wording, the Atlantic City Council, Wednesday evening, passed a resolution establishing a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Policy, which has been in the works for months. Councilman Shaun Shouse, said the process involved input from a Citizen Task Force, the Community Development Committee, suggestions from the City Attorney and Bonding Attorney, along with local developer Don Sonntag. Shouse said Bond Counsel Bob Josten suggested the City specifically state in the policy that preference be given to the use of property tax rebates when considering TIF projects, since that results in lower costs to the City by eliminating the bonding process. He said it doesn’t prohibit the City from doing “up-front” grants bonded, or otherwise.

Another suggestion puts the burden on the developer to demonstrate financial assistance is necessary in the amount as warranted, based on “public benefit.” He says that refers to a “Cost-benefit analysis” type of reasoning being used for the TIF. It means people need to be aware that not everyone who requests TIF will receive the maximum amount, and that the City will consider whether the project warrants public input, and that the amount requested is reasonable, considering the benefits back to the City and its residents.

Josten also suggested the City be very clear in how it words “Incremental Taxable Value,” so that any future rollbacks would not result in modifications to the wording to account for that. Instead, the City would consider increased taxable value. There was also a section on what is classified as “Qualified Expenses.”

After the Council unanimously approved the resolution, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Livengood said the fact they were able to come up with a final policy was “amazing,” considering how long the process took, and the amount of paperwork it involved that was reduced to just a few pages at the end of that process. Developer Don Sonntag commended the Council for establishing the policy, which he said might be used in the near future to develop a property subdivision for rental and for-sale homes that would come in two phases, and result in the construction of some 40 homes. The homes that would be offered for rent, would be priced at about $750 per month.

The project, if it comes to fruition,  would cost anywhere from $1.4-to $2-million, and would be built in the vicitinity of East 22nd Street, near the Sundance Apartments. In order for the project to be viable, Sonntag said he would likely need a TIF of up to $250,000. He said there are a lot of hoops to go through before he approaches the City with a TIF request, however.

Atlantic still being considered for high speed passenger rail route


November 7th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The City of Atlantic is still under consideration as a possible stop for a high-speed, Chicago-to-Omaha passenger rail route. City Administrator Doug Harris told the City Council during their meeting Wednesday evening he spoke recently with Amanda Martin, IA DOT freight and policy coordinator and Liaison to the Iowa Passenger Rail Advisory Committee. He says Atlantic is still in the running as one of the communities the train might pass through, but Martin wanted to know if the City was given further consideration, would the Rock Island Depot, which currently serves as the Chamber of Commerce’ Headquarters, be available as a possible stop?

Harris said there would have to be further discussion among the various entities, such as the group responsible for restoring the depot, the Chamber, and others, before a firm answer could be given. He said it was “exciting that they’re not only looking at this as a rail line, but also as a possible stop.”

A two-million dollar study is underway, to evaluate potential route alternatives, evaluate levels of service and ridership, analyze environmental impacts, and determine a preferred Chicago to Council Bluffs-Omaha passenger rail route alternative for intercity regional passenger rail service.  The study includes a Tier 1 Service Level Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  Half of the funds used to pay for the study is coming from the State of Iowa, with another million matched by the federal government. Open house public hearings on the Draft Tier 1 EIS are anticipated to be held in December. Online meetings are available from now through January 2013.The next steps would include submitting the final Tier 1 EIS to the the Feds, in order to be considered for approval.

Among the routes that were initially being considered, were those that ran from Chicago through: Dubuque, Waterloo and Ft. Dodge; Clinton, Cedar Rapids, and Ames; Cedar Rapids and Huxley; Moline, Iowa City, Des Moines, and possibly Atlantic; or, through Burlington, Osceola and Council Bluffs, which is essentially the existing AMTRAK route.

$22.5-million Iowa Western Bond Election set for Dec. 4th


November 7th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Voters in western Iowa will head to polls again in December. Polling sites will be open on December 4th for a special Iowa Western Community College Bond Election. The Public Measure asks:  “Shall the Iowa Western Community College (Merged Area XIII) in the Counties of Adair, Adams, Audubon, Cass, Crawford, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie and Shelby, be authorized to remodel, erect and equip buildings at the main campus and other enrollment locations, contract indebtedness therefor, and issue its school bonds in an amount not exceeding $22,500,000 for that purpose?”

In order to keep the costs of conducting the election down, the minimum number of voting places will be opened for this election. Any voter who will not be going to the designated voting place on election day may request an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots should be requested as soon as a person decides to vote using this process.


1. The two VOTING CENTERS for the ATLANTIC COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT are: No. 1: Voters living in Wards 1, 4 and 5 of the City of Atlantic will vote at Heritage House, 1200 Brook Ridge Circle in Atlantic. No. 2: Voters residing in the remainder of the Atlantic Community School District, being those voters residing in Audubon and Pottawattamie counties; Bear Grove, Benton, Brighton, Cass, Franklin, Grove, Pymosa and Washington townships of Cass County; the City of Marne; the City of Wiota; and Wards 2 and 3 of the City of Atlantic will vote at the Atlantic Public Library (507 Poplar), Atlantic, Iowa.

2. The two VOTING CENTERS for the CAM COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT are: No. 1- in ANITA: Voters residing in that portion of the CAM Community School District lying in Adair and Audubon counties; Benton, Franklin, Grant and Lincoln townships of Cass County; the City of Anita; and the City of Wiota will vote at the ANITA COMMUNITY CENTER (805 Main St). No. 2- in MASSENA: Voters residing in that portion of the CAM Community School District lying in Adams County; Bear Grove, Edna, Massena, Noble, Union and Victoria townships of Cass County; the City of Cumberland; and the City of Massena will vote at the MASSENA PUBLIC LIBRARY in Massena (122 Main St).

3. The VOTING CENTER for the GRISWOLD COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT is: In GRISWOLD- Griswold Community Building, 601 2nd St, Griswold and all voters of the School District will vote there.

Corning man arrested in Cass County on alcohol and weapons charges


November 7th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office reports the arrest on Friday, of 32-year old Walter Douglas Brown, of Corning. Brown was taken into custody on charges of OWI/2nd Offense and Carrying a Weapon. He was arrested following a traffic stop, and transported to the jail in Atlantic before later being released on $3,000 bond.

Last Thursday, 44-year old Fletcher Lee Nichols, of Anita, was arrested on a warrant out of Polk County pertaining to an Assault without intent/causing serious injury charge. Nichols was taken into custody and was transferred to Polk County later that day.

Last Saturday, 23-year old Ted Allen Mills, of Cumberland, was arrested in Cass County on a charge of OWI 2nd Offense. Mills was taken to the Cass County Jail where he was released the following day on his own recognizance.

And, on Tuesday (Nov. 6th), 34-year old Michael Lee Moller, of Griswold, was arrested on a District Court warrant for Parole Violation. Moller was taken to the Cass County Jail where he is being held without bond.

Iowa man gets jail for shooting at bicyclists


November 7th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

LE MARS, Iowa (AP) — A Sioux City man accused of shooting at two bicyclists has been placed on probation and must serve 90 days in jail. The Sioux City Journal says 23-year-old Terry Oliver Jr. pleaded guilty in Plymouth County District Court in Le Mars to two counts of misdemeanor assault with a firearm and OWI. Oliver was accused of firing several rounds of two bicyclists as he drove past them on Iowa Highway 12 near Stone State Park in August. The cyclists weren’t hurt. Oliver was sentenced on Monday.

Remains in Sac City home could be ex-homeowner


November 7th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

SAC CITY, Iowa (AP) – Sac City police say human remains discovered in the basement of a recently purchased house could be those of the previous homeowner who disappeared in 2009.   Police Chief John Thomsen says “all signs point” to Mark Koster.

Mark Koster

He was last seen with a friend on July 4, 2009. He was 58.  The remains were found on Monday by the new homeowner, who was remodeling the basement.

Police searched the house in 2009. Thomsen says there was no indication of foul play, and it appeared Koster left. He was declared legally dead in October 2011. No one lived in the house after Koster disappeared. Family members sold the house in May.

Copper wire theft under investigation


November 7th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Montgomery County are investigating the theft of copper wire from a cell phone tower. The Sheriff’s Department said today (Wednesday), they received a report indicating someone had stolen 160-feet of copper wiring from the Chat Mobility tower at 1926 Ironwood Avenue, in Red Oak. The wire is valued at $2,000. The theft occurred sometime between October 25th and November 7th. Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Montgomery County Crimestoppers at 1-800-432-1001.

Gas prices jumped overnight but it has nothing to do with politics, says motor club


November 7th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Gasoline prices in some Iowa cities took a big leap last night (Tuesday), in some areas bounding more than a dime a gallon shortly after the polls closed at 9 o’clock. Gail Weinholzer, spokeswoman for Triple-A-Iowa, maintains gas prices have nothing to do with politics and she says Iowa’s overall average has dropped a long ways in the past month. “We’ve seen prices decline from just under four-dollars a gallon to just over three-dollars a gallon,” Weinholzer says. “In many places, they’re seeing relief anywhere from 60 to 80 cents, which is rather significant.”

Iowa’s average price for gas is three-32 a gallon, that’s fallen from three-38 a week ago and down from three-75 a month ago. She says there are essentially three reasons pump prices have been in a free-fall. “We finished the switch-over from the summer to the winter-grade fuel and as a result, prices declined,” Weinholzer says. “Secondly, crude oil is selling significantly below $100 a barrel, which is where it was at in August. Third, we’re past the summer driving season and as a result, demand has slackened off quite a bit.”

Despite the overnight bounce — like in Des Moines, where prices rose 12 to 14 cents a gallon in one swoop — she says gas prices should continue falling in Iowa for another few weeks. “We continue to see a decline and will until Thanksgiving,” Weinholzer says. “We’ll probably plateau around that time and then perhaps drop again a bit before we get to the holiday season.”

Iowa’s current statewide average price for self-serve unleaded is three-32, that’s 14-cents below the national average.

(Radio Iowa)

Harlan City Council discusses economic merger & tax usage


November 7th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan City Council, Tuesday, welcomed a group of Shelby County citizens to discuss the Shelby County DevelopSource and Chamber merger along with the Hotel/Motel tax. During the Council’s regular session, Citizens for Betterment of Shelby County, led by business owners Ruth Ann Grimsley, Teresa Coenen and Judy Schroeder presented the council with a petition signed by current chamber members, non-members and other business owners supporting the merger. Schroeder read the letter to the board, which included comments about the merger.

The letter said the group applauds efforts to combine DevelopSource and Chamber. It said while the two organizations have different short term goals, the long term goal is to grow the county’s economy, and to that end, a pooling of resources and ideas, they said, would result in many positive outcomes on projects that are undertaken. Marty Burchett, another Shelby County business owner and current Chamber board member issued a rebuttal to the council. She said he didn’t think it’s a decision that should be rushed into. Burchett said that’s because DevelopSource has a new person and there are new board members that are not up to speed on the topic. Another reason he said was that “Some of the people that are pushing for this thought it was okay to split it up 10 years ago.”

Shelby County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dawn Cundiff reported that the Hotel/Motel Tax was being used for projects such as signage, vision Iowa and brochures. She also said the tourism committee has been working hard. The discussion then drifted from the merger and hotel/motel tax to discussion about Chamber ambassador visits, dues from members and other topics.  At a previous City Council meeting, it was suggested an audit should be completed on the Hotel/Motel tax. Since that time, an audit has been done and will be reported to the council at the next meeting on Tuesday, November 20th.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)