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Change costs stores more to accept SNAP benefits

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

It now costs Iowa grocery stores and other businesses more to accept payments through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Merchants now have to pay for their own equipment and processing services whenever SNAP cards are used. Kevin Concannon, the U-S-D-A’s Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services and a former Iowan, says the change was designed to prevent the illegal use of the program.

Concannon says, “We found that in some locations where a manual machine was used to record the expenditure on the SNAP benefit, there was a higher rate of fraud or trafficking.” About 421-thousand Iowans now receive SNAP benefits, or about 13-percent of the population. Concannon says the goal is to make the use of those benefits more secure.

“There are now 257,000 locations across the United States where one can use or spend your SNAP benefits,” Concannon says. “The requirement will be now that all of those outlets will be required to use electronic benefit capacity.” Iowans who make part of their living at the 230 farmers markets across the state will be glad to hear that there are a few exceptions to the rule.

“Those exceptions are basically farmers markets because it recognizes the nature of a farmers market is often on a vacant lot or in a rural area,” Concannon says. “It’s part of our effort to really reach out and support local agriculture and to encourage people to purchase healthier foods.” Other exceptions include military commissaries, direct marketing farmers and non-profit food cooperatives. Concannon is the former director of the Iowa Department of Human Services.

(Radio Iowa)

Central and Western Iowa vets prepare for honor flight


September 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A group of Iowa veterans are preparing to fly to the nation’s capital Tuesday from central Iowa on an Honor Flight. The chairman of the Central and Western Iowa Honor Flight organization, Jeff Ballenger, says they will leave early. “Wheels up around 6:30 a-m. And we’ll be taking 395 World War Two and Korean veterans for an opportunity to see their memorial,” Ballenger says. The veterans were checking-in Monday in Des Moines, and then will board buses for a trip through Des Moines to Prairie Meadows in Altoona for a dinner.

“The pre-flight dinner will start at 6 p-m and will last about an hour-and-a-half. And we anticipate having around 950 people at the pre-flight dinner as the veterans are each able to bring somebody with them, and of course, we have our guardians who take care of the veterans,” Ballenger says. Many World War Two veterans have already taken an Honor Flight from the area, and Ballenger says this flight catches up on those who couldn’t make past flights.

“The folks who are going on this trip from World War Two, what they’re telling us is they were scheduled to go on an earlier flight and for health reasons just weren’t able to make that particular date,” Ballenger explains. “One interesting tidbit, we do have a World War Two veteran who is 101-years-old who is going on the flight with us.” Ballenger asks everyone to show their support for the veterans and to pray for a safe trip.

“These flights, while they are a lot of fun and there’s a great interest in them, they are not easy to do,” Ballenger says. “You’ve got men and women in their 80’s, some cases 90’s, and we just want to pray for their safety. We’ve got doctors on board, we’ve got E-M-Ts, and we’ve got firemen.” He says their goal for each flight is simple.

“We really want to make sure each flight gets out there and back as safely as possible. And that the veterans have an enjoyable day in D-C,” Ballenger says. He says with this flight they will have taken nearly three-thousand World War Two and Korean veterans to Washington, and raised just under three million dollars. Ballenger says the sponsorships of Hy-Vee, Caseys, Polk County, Knapp Properties and the Rassmussen group made this trip possible.

(Radio Iowa)

EPA rep to talk about contamination at former dry cleaning site in Atlantic


September 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday, will be hearing from a representative with the U-S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with regard to about a below ground contaminated site in Atlantic.  During their 5:30-p.m. meeting, the Council will hear from Susan Fisher, who also made a presentation to the Atlantic Municipal Utilities (AMU) Board of Trustees  during their meeting on September 22nd.

AMU General Manager Steve Tjepkes says the EPA is conducting a Removal Assessment of a site in Atlantic contaminated with Tetrachloroethylene (PCE). PCE is a manufactured chemical typically used in dry cleaning solvents. The source of the contamination is believed to be the former Norge Dry Cleaners Facility near the area of 1205 E. 7th Street. Based on historical data, the building that housed the former dry cleaners was demolished sometime after 1982.

PCE was originally detected in 1980. EPA is currently reassessing the area to ensure that contamination levels at the site are protective of human health and the environment. Atlantic Municipal Utilities has operated and maintained an interceptor well since 1980 to keep the resulting underground plume migrating from the contamination site from impacting the municipal water supply well field.

Tjepkes says AMU continues to perform regular testing to monitor the public drinking water supply wells to ensure that drinking water does not become contaminated with PCE. He says also AMU is working closely with the EPA and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) as they continue their assessment, to encourage cleanup efforts for the site.

Creston woman reports vandalism


September 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Union County say a Creston woman reported early Sunday morning that someone had damaged a garage door at her resident in the 1400 block of 170th Street. The damage was estimated at $2,500. There are no suspects at this time and an investigation into the incident continues.

Lab returns tests on capsules found at Iowa prison


September 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

ROCKWELL CITY, Iowa (AP) — Lab results show hundreds of capsules found at a northern Iowa prison tested negative for any controlled substances. The state Department of Public Safety made the announcement Monday about the 300 to 400 capsules found earlier this month at the North Central Correctional Facility in Rockwell City. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Criminalistics Laboratory completed an analysis of the capsules.

The pills contained an unknown substance, prompting a state drug investigation. Initial field testing indicated they contained cocaine and the pain killer Demerol, but later testing came back negative for controlled substances. State officials have not said how the capsules got inside the prison.

EPA: Pipe company had violations at Iowa facility


September 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Environmental officials say a pipe company must pay $950,000 for air and water violations at its former Council Bluffs facility. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 7 says Griffin Pipe Products must pay the civil penalty after multiple violations.

The company is accused of illegally discharging untreated process wastewater to the city’s wastewater collection system between 2007 and 2008. It is also accused of violating its storm water permit in 2011. The EPA says the company also discharged zinc, lead, copper and other pollutants in violation of its permit levels.

Griffin Pipe Products has ceased production at the Council Bluff facility. It says it is now in compliance with the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

SWIHTF purchases Red Oak home for remodeling for low income home buyers


September 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A non-profit corporation in southwest Iowa has purchased a home in Red Oak, with the intention of remodeling it, and selling to a person who meets the 80-percent county median income requirements. Officials with SWIPCO (The Southwest Iowa Planning Council) says the Southwest Iowa Housing Trust Fund (SWIHTF), created to improve housing in southwest Iowa, purchased the home at 1200 Miller in Red Oak for the Purchase/Rehab/Resell (PRR) program.

SWIHTF bought the property September 24th from a private estate. The home was purchased with funds from the sale of previous PRR homes and a local housing trust fund grant. When the home is sold, the funds will revolve back into the revolving loan fund for the purchase of another house to rehab. The home rehabilitation will be put out to bid to local contractors this fall. The most qualified contractor with the lowest bid price will be selected for the remodeling.

1200 Miller is the fifth home purchased through the PRR program. Previous houses in the program were located in Shelby, Clarinda, Atlantic, and Stanton. SWIPCO recently completed a housing study for the city of Red Oak, which showed a need for quality affordable housing within the city, making Red Oak a high priority for a PRR house.

For more information on the purchase/rehab/resell program, or any other SWIHTF/SWIPCO program, visit www.swipco.org or contact SWIPCO Housing Director Jeremy Middents at 866-279-4720.

Young and Grassley to visit Atlantic, Friday


September 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

(Per Party Chair Dave Wiederstein: Corrects meeting time to 11:30…not noon)

Iowa Republican Congressional candidate David Young and U-S Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) will be in Atlantic this Friday (Oct. 3rd). Young will speak in the Activity Room at the Heritage House beginning at 11:30-a.m., Friday. The event is planned as part of a whistle stop tour David Young and Senator Grassley are making to every county in the 3rd District. The public is invited to attend.

Young served with Grassley in the past, and is now running against Democrat Staci Appel to fill the seat of retiring Congressman Tom Latham in the 3rd Congressional District.

Young’s Schedule early this week:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
7:30 a.m. – David Young and Sen. Grassley hold Council Bluffs Breakfast – HyVee Conference Room
2323 W Broadway
Council Bluffs, IA

11:45 a.m. – David Young and Sen. Grassley hold Corning Meet and Greet
Southwest Iowa Rural Electric Coop
1801 Grove Ave.
Corning, IA

2:30 p.m.
David Young and Sen. Grassley hold Creston Meet and Greet
Hy Ve e
600 Sheldon St.
Creston, IA

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
7:30 a.m.
David Young and Sen. Grassley hold Winterset Breakfast
Northside Café
61 E Jefferson St.
Winterset, IA

(Update): Pott. County authorities still reviewing evidence in teen’s death


September 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Council Bluffs met this (Monday) morning with Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilbur to review evidence in the case of a student from Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln High School who died this past weekend from injuries he suffered during a fight Thursday morning.  Bluffs Police Sgt. Chad Meyers said “Based on that meeting, we have additional follow-up to complete, in order to have a complete picture of this incident.” Meyers said a press conference scheduled for Monday afternoon had been cancelled until work on the case is complete.
The community of Council Bluffs came together Sunday night to remember 17-year-old Dakota Escritt, who died from a head injury suffered during a fight at school. His friends released balloons at a memorial Sunday night. Eskritt died Saturday at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, two days after he hit his head on the tile floor at Abraham Lincoln High School.
Authorities have filed a felony charge of Assault Causing Serious Injury, against 16-year-old Gregary Teer, who was suspended from school. Superintendent Martha Bruckner told KETV-TV the fight appeared to be a random, isolated incident that no policy could have prevented. The teen’s friends say he enjoyed hanging out and looking at Japanese animation and comics, but some students had teased him because of his interests and hobbies. Authorities have not said what led to Thursday’s fight.

Carroll man faces drug charges in Guthrie County; Grand Junction man faces more charges


September 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Guthrie County say a traffic stop early Sunday morning on Highway 4 resulted in the driver arrested on drug charges.  Deputies stopped a vehicle driven by Mark Edward Dugan, II, of Carroll, at around 1-a.m.  During the course of the traffic stop, Dugan was found to allegedly be in possession of a small amount of methamphetamine and marijuana. He was also found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia. Dugan was taken into custody on three drug charges: Possession of Methamphetamine 1st Offense, Possession of Marijuana 1st Offense and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. The man was released the following morning after an appearance before the magistrate.

And, the Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office filed an additional charge Sunday, against 37-yearold David Michael Cannon, of Grand Junction, for Aiding and Abetting – 28-year old Jesse Lynn Crawford, of rural Jamaica. Cannon was charged with assisting Crawford in the commission of possessing marijuana as a third offense.

The charges arise from the August 30th incident in which Crawford was arrested on numerous charges for assaulting Deputy Kent Gries and possessing a large quantity of methamphetamine and 5.8 grams of marijuana. Cannon had already been charged with possessing a dangerous weapon from the incident on August 30th.