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Iowa DOT begins traffic information collection in southwest Iowa

News

April 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Iowa Department of Transportation said Friday they’ll be working across the state this summer to determine how many cars, trucks and other vehicles are using the state’s roadways. This year’s efforts are concentrated in southwestern Iowa, but occasionally crews will work elsewhere in the state.

Many employees will spend peak hours between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. at one location counting the morning, noon and evening traffic. They will count and classify vehicles, record vehicle turning movements, tally helmet usage by motorcyclists, and gather other data necessary to plan the future of Iowa’s roadway systems. During off-peak hours when they are not counting vehicles, those same employees may be seen around the community.

The DOT says other employees will be placing and checking portable traffic recorders in the same general areas. When the recorders are set, they usually record data for one or two days and are checked periodically. Employees responsible for the recorders work various shifts, so their vehicles may be seen at local motels while most of us are going about our regular daytime activities.

Another data collection method involves capturing images of the state highways. The program covers half of the state yearly and utilizes a van with two mounted cameras that collect 200 images per mile. At the same time, precise location information is collected through a global positioning system. That data is stored along with the images on the van’s onboard computer system. The van may be seen operating on the state’s highways in the southern half of Iowa as well as all the interstates this year. Other statewide work scheduled for this summer includes the installation, upgrading and maintenance of permanent, automatic traffic recorders and weigh-in-motion equipment.

Officials say all of the work is critical to the future of the state’s transportation system. The information gathered allows transportation officials to better predict traffic trends, and allows them to plan improvements that they say will give Iowans the most benefit for each dollar spent.

Iowa reviews energy SynGest exec’s background

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY (AP) — Iowa economic development officials are reviewing whether to continue a $2.5 million investment in a startup company pitching a groundbreaking fertilizer technology in Menlo, after learning jurors once found its chairman had misused investor money in another energy project. Court records reviewed by The Associated Press show SynGest Chairman Serge Randhava was found in 2008 by a jury in Illinois to have committed civil racketeering and fraud with associates in connection with $500,000 invested to develop a fertilizer technology. A judge vacated the verdict in 2009 when the case was settled. Randhava denied wrongdoing and said the case was one part of a messy, high-stakes business litigation. Two Iowa Power Fund Board members who voted to invest in SynGest say they were unaware of the case and would have investigated the details.

In January, Iowa economic development leaders notified Syngest that it won’t get a $2.5 million grant unless it successfully lands investors in a proposed $130 million biomass-to-ammonia plant to be located in Menlo. The company seeks to make fertilizer using corn cobs and other corn residue. Company leaders promised huge returns: hundreds of jobs in Menlo, a new revenue source for farmers selling corn cobs and cheaper, more sustainable fertilizer. Eventually, they envisioned 20 such plants in Iowa.

The California-based company had pledged to attract $3.5 million in investment in the plant by Oct. 1st, 2011 in the plant, but by Jan. 17th, 2012, had failed to do so. The company cited difficulties attracting investors amid a slow economy. In January, state officials gave SynGest 30 days to raise the money or lose the aid. SynGest soon said it had the funds, and provided proof of their deposit in a bank account. SynGest says it will soon begin engineering and design work and start asking for reimbursement from its state aid, although it hasn’t yet.

Prostitution sting nets arrests in Iowa, Nebraska

News

April 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS (AP) — An undercover operation has netted more than a dozen arrests for prostitution in Council Bluffs and Omaha, Neb., and officials say the investigation isn’t over. Authorities say those arrested include both prostitutes and their customers. They were taken to the Pottawattamie County jail in Council Bluffs. Police in both cities are assisting the FBI in the investigation. Last week, federal authorities indicted four people who prosecutors say used spas as fronts for a prostitution operation in Omaha.

Iowa evening News Headlines: April 27 2012

News

April 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

COUNCIL BLUFFS (AP) — An undercover operation has netted more than a dozen arrests for prostitution in Council Bluffs and Omaha, Nebraska. Authorities say those arrested include both prostitutes and their customers. They were taken to the Pottawattamie County jail in Council Bluffs.

IOWA CITY (AP) — Iowa economic development officials are reviewing whether to continue a $2.5 million investment in a startup company pitching a groundbreaking fertilizer technology. The Associated Press reports Illinois jurors found its chairman had misused investor money in another energy project. Two Iowa Power Fund Board members who voted to invest in SynGest say today they were unaware of the 2008 case against SynGest Chairman Serge Randhava and want more details.

HINTON (AP) — The Iowa attorney general’s office is investigating a natural gas pipeline explosion near Hinton to see if workers followed a state law requiring utility companies to be notified before digging begins. The One Call law requires workers to call a hotline 48 hours before digging so utility companies can mark the location of underground lines or pipes. Violators face a $10,000 fine per day of digging if they fail to call.

Onawa mom charged with murder in son’s drowning

News

April 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

ONAWA, Iowa (AP) — A western Iowa woman charged with drowning her 15-month-old son has been formally charged with first-degree murder. The Monona County attorney’s office filed the charge against 24-year-old Ashley Cameron, of Onawa, on Thursday. She’s scheduled to be arraigned May 14th. Cameron is charged in the Feb. 11 death of Markis Dahms. She was arrested on April 18. Police say Cameron held the toddler under a running faucet in the bathtub in their home until he drowned. The boy was found dead after officers responded to an emergency call about a child who wasn’t breathing. An autopsy later determined the boy had drowned and his death was a homicide. Cameron is represented by the state public defender’s office in Sioux City.

Backhoe theft under investigation in Pott. County

News

April 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Pottawattamie County are investigating the recent theft of a backhoe from a property east of Hancock. Chief Deputy John Reynolds said the theft of a Case 480-E backhoe occurred at a location in the 16000 block of 450th Street, sometime between 4-p.m. April 17th and this past Thursday. The machine is yellow, with a brown cab. The back window is also missing.

The bachoe’s owner, Larry Pracht, has been the target of thefts before. Past reports to the Sheriff’s Office indicated Pracht had two trailers and scrap metal take during separate incidents. Pracht is offering a $1,000 reward for the return of the machine, and an additional $1,000 reward if the other stolen equipment is returned. He says also, he won’t press charges if the thief returns one or more of the items, or provides a tip as to where they are located. Pracht can be reached at 712-355-1566.

Authorities are reviewing surveillance video to try and obtain clues as to the thief’s identity. Anyone with information regarding the thefts should call the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office at 890-2200 or Sergeant Dwayne Ritchie at 890-2233.

Wind Advisory until 6-p.m. for western/SW IA

News, Weather

April 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The National Weather Service has issued a Wind Advisory in effect for the entire western half of Iowa. The Advisory is in effect until 5-p.m. for: MONONA-HARRISON-SHELBY-POTTAWATTAMIE-MILLS-MONTGOMERY-FREMONT and PAGE Counties, and until 6-p.m. for CRAWFORD-CARROLL-GREENE-BOONE-AUDUBON-GUTHRIE-DALLAS-CASS-ADAIR-MADISON-ADAMS-UNION-TAYLOR-and RINGGOLD Counties.

EAST SOUTHEAST WINDS OF AROUND 30 MPH ARE  EXPECTED,WITH GUSTS TO 40 TO 45 MPH AT TIMES. STRONG AND GUSTY WINDS WILL CAUSE LOOSE OBJECTS TO BLOW AROUND…AND POSSIBLY SMALL BRANCHES TO COME DOWN. IT WILL   ALSO MAKE DRIVING DIFFICULT ESPECIALLY ON NORTH SOUTH ROADS, AND FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. USE EXTRA CAUTION

Harlan woman arrested last week on drug charges

News

April 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Police Department said today (Friday), a Harlan woman was arrested April 20th on drug-related charges, after officers were called to assist a woman at a residence in the 500 block of Main Street. 38-year old Vicki Garrison faces a trio of felony charges, including 2 counts of Possession of a Controlled Substance (Marijuana & Methamphetamine), Possession of a Controlled Substance with the intent to Deliver, and Bribery. She remains in the Shelby County Jail on $50,000 bond.

And, on April 21st, 21-year old Kipp Christen, of Hastings, NE, was arrested in Harlan following a traffic stop. Christen was charged with OWI and Careless Driving. Christen made his initial appearance in court this (Friday) morning.

Dancing man arrested in Harlan

News

April 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Police Department reports 38-year old Curtis Baldwin, of Harlan, was arrested Tuesday on disorderly conduct and public intoxication charges. The arrest occurred after officers responded to a report a man was “dancing in the street and running out in front of on-coming cars.” Baldwin plead not guilty to the charges. A date for his trial has not yet been set.

Authorities in Harlan also report the arrest on Wednesday, of 53-year old Michael Garrison, of Harlan. Garrison was charged with public intoxication and interference with official acts, after officers were called to assist with a man who was allegedly out of control and threatening suicide. He plead not guilty to the charges and was being held in the Shelby County Jail on $300 bond.

And, on Sunday (April 22nd), two Harlan men were arrested following a traffic stop. The driver of the vehicle, 26-year old Zachary Scheffler was charged with Driving While Barred, while his passenger, 21-year old Cody Lister, faces Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Open Container charges. Both men were brought to the Shelby County Jail. Lister plead not guilty to the charges.

Iowa DOT approves “Choose Life” specialty license plate

News

April 27th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Abortion opponents may soon be able to buy specialty license plates in Iowa.

"Choose Life" new IA license plate design

 The state Department of Transportation has approved a plate that will read “Choose Life” below a drawing of two smiling kids’ faces. DOT spokeswoman Dena Gray-Fisher says the group Iowa Right to Life is sponsoring the effort. “Their application for that plate has been approved,” Gray-Fisher says.

“Now they have to gather 500 paid applications before the DOT will take any further action and actually issue the plate.” The group has a deadline of one year to get those 500 applications. While the agency would not allow license plates that support a political candidate, for example, she says the DOT does not judge viewpoints on issues like this. “It is an organization,” Gray-Fisher says. “They can submit an application. As long as the emblem itself is not in some way a sexual connotation, vulgar, profanity, then the DOT will issue them if they can qualify and gather the 500 applicants.” It’s part of a national effort by an anti-abortion group, Choose Life America. Iowa is reportedly the 29th state to approve a “Choose Life” plate.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)