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DeSoto and Boyer Chute refuges to re-open

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 16th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Missouri Valley, Iowa (AP) – Federal wildlife reuges that straddle the Missouri River north of Omaha, in Iowa and Nebraska, have been scheduled to re-open to the public next month. The DeSoto and Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuges will re-open on January 2nd. Much of the flood damage at DeSoto has been repaired, but the visitor’s center will remain closed for more work. Some hiking trails will not be available.

DeSoto will be closed for the Jan. 11th-Jan. 18th deer hunt, and people will need to use the U.S. Highway 30 entrance to reach the refuge. Visitors to Boyer Chute will have to park at the main entrance gate and enter the refuge on foot. Silt deposited by the floodwaters will prevent driving access to Boyer Chute, indefinitely.

Cass Co. Compensation board approves 2.5% across the board pay increase


December 16th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Members of the Cass County Compensation Board met Thursday night at the courthouse in Atlantic, and voted unanimously to approve a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, for a 2.5-percent across the board increase in pay for County officers (Attorney, Auditor, Recorder, Sheriff and Treasurer). The Compensation Board also voted to give Board of Supervisor’s Chair Duane McFadden a $1,000 salary increase. The Board of Supervisors, however, have the final say in the matter, and may act to adjust the percentage and figures as they see fit.

Prior to approving the increase, the Compensation Board discussed current statewide salary increases, which Board Chair Erich Wickman said ranged anywhere from zero to three-percent. They also considered the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which Wickman said indicated the economy was not “real strong,”  and was not a “real surprise.”

Last year, the Compensation Board approved a 2-percent across the board increase, but none was allowed in the year prior.

Harlan man charged with theft of scrap metal


December 16th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Police in Harlan say 26-year old Elijah Fecht, of Harlan, was arrested last Saturday (Dec. 10th), on two-counts of 2nd Degree Theft, and one count of Trespassing, in association with scrap metal and equipment reported missing from Superior Midwest Foods. Officials say Fecht was observed allegedly taking stainless steel scrap and equipment from the business. When he was found, Fecht was in possession of the allegdly stolen pieces. Authorities were also called to S.M.F. four days earlier, when employees became aware of the missing items.

And, the Harlan Police Department reports two other men, 45-year old Darvin Grant, of Sumrall, MS, and 37-year old Brian Ramaker, of Central City, NE, were arrested December 10th. Grant was charged with Public Intoxication, while Ramaker faces charges of indecent exposure and urinating in public. The charges were the result of an investigation into a disturbance in front of 1022 6th Street, in Harlan. Both men were brought to the Shelby County Jail. Ramaker was later cited for his offenses and released.

Cass Co. Salvation Army Bell Ringing Campaign doing well so far this year


December 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Cass County’s Salvation Army Bell Ringing Campaign is at the half-way mark, and so far, donations are running ahead of last year at this same time. County Chair Duane McFadden said Thursday night the bell ringers had raised a little over $4,500 since the Grand Lighting Ceremony in downtown Atlantic, on November 17th. He says last year they raised a little more than $5,300 altogether. Donations started coming in slowly at first this year, because of the weather on the first Saturday of the effort, but things began to pick up from there, and McFadden hopes they will finish with a fine effort as well.

McFadden says the familiar Red Kettle’s will be in place at Fareway, Hy-Vee, and Wal-Mart in Atlantic, through Christmas Eve. He encourages anyone who wishes to volunteer their time to help ring the bells, to call him as soon as possible, as there are still some open shifts. The two-hour shifts run from 10-a.m. to Noon, Noon until 2-p.m., and from 2-until 4-p.m.  McFadden says for many people, the experience has proven to be very rewarding. He says you can call him at 249-0939. One man who volunteered for the first time, told McFadden afterward that he wanted to volunteer again for the following year. Duane says it’s something you’ll treasure when you volunteer your time for a good cause.

The funds raised by the campaign stay in Cass County.  Over the course of past year, the funds were made available for such programs as the “Shop with a Cop” program, gift cards to local schools, to assist students in meeting various needs, assisting stranded motorists and transient individuals,  fans for distribution by West Central Community Action Center, and, back packs to be distributed by the administrative staff.

This year the Cass County Salvation Army unit also partnered with the Parents as Teachers Program, to purchase car seats for the program’s use.

King defends Maricopa County, AZ, Sheriff Joe Arpaio


December 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

PHOENIX (AP) — A scathing U.S. Justice Department report released Thursday found that Maricopa County, AZ, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s

Joe Arpaio (file photo, AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

office carried out a blatant pattern of discrimination against Latinos and held a “systematic disregard” for the Constitution amid a series of immigration crackdowns that have turned the lawman into a prominent national political figure. Arpaio struck a defiant tone in response to the report, calling it a politically motivated attack by the Obama administration that will make Arizona unsafe by keeping illegal immigrants on the street.

The government found that Arpaio’s office committed a wide range of civil rights violations against Latinos, including unjust immigration patrols and jail policies that deprive prisoners of basic Constitutional rights. Arpaio has built his reputation on jailing inmates in tents and dressing them in pink underwear, selling himself to voters as unceasingly tough on crime and pushing the bounds of how far local police can go to confront illegal immigration.

Western Iowa 5th District Congressman Steve King said in a statement Thursday evening “I defend Joe Arpaio. I think he needs to continue with the tent city. And I think that the Department of Justice should not be using themselves as a tool, a political tool, to push back against people that are working to enforce the law.”

Cong. Steve King (R), IA

The findings will force Arpaio’s department to make major changes to carry out new policies against discrimination and improve training of staff and officers. Arpaio faces a Jan. 4 deadline for saying whether he wants to work out an agreement to make the changes. If not, the federal government will sue him, possibly putting in jeopardy millions of dollars in federal funding for Maricopa County.

The fallout from the report was swift. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced it is severing its ties with Arpaio, stripping his jail officers of their federal power to check whether inmates in county jails are in the county illegally, a move that was meant to speed up deportation. Homeland security officials also are restricting Arpaio’s office from using a program that uses fingerprints collected in local jails to identify illegal immigrants.

Corps searching for ways to avert flooding repeat


December 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told Missouri River governors Thursday that it is trying to find more room in its reservoirs to avoid a repeat of this summer’s flooding that caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to states along the Missouri River. Corps Brig. Gen. John McMahon said his agency has so far tallied $630 million worth of flood damage to the levees, dams and channels built to control the river. “I anticipate that number will continue to creep up a bit,” McMahon said.

McMahon said he is awaiting funding from Congress to complete repairs. He said unrepaired damage to the control infrastructure would leave the drainage susceptible to flooding in 2012 if another unusually wet spring hits the region. He told governors or representatives of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas that the agency is looking for more storage room for floodwater for 2012. McMahon said a report due next week is likely to have specific recommendations. “We are setting ourselves up for a much better outcome,” McMahon told the governors. Some of the governors have been asking for more aggressive flood control. McMahon said the agency will have to weigh the impact of such measures against the other uses for the river, such as barge traffic and wildlife concerns.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, for instance, has said the more aggressive flood control measures would infringe on his state’s wildlife and recreation industries, and lead to water shortages when drought hits. He has resisted the other Missouri River governors’ efforts and predicted they will have little impact on whatever the Corps decides to do. “It is going no direction,” Schweitzer said of the governors’ group. “These governors have no authority. They have less authority than a single member of Congress, who at least have a vote and hold the purse strings.”

Nebraska and Iowa recently pulled out of a separate group called the Missouri River Association of States and Tribes, citing the dispute with Montana over how to manage the river and what they viewed as the group’s unresponsiveness to their concerns.

CAM School District to Hold Public Forum about On-Line school


December 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The CAM Community School District’s Board of Directors have scheduled a public meeting to be held on Monday, December 19th at 6:30 pm at the CAM High School.  The Board is exploring the opportunity to partner with Connections Education to form a free K-12 online learning center within the district.  The center would operate independently of the CAM District’s educational program and would serve students statewide in the open enrollment process.  

The meeting will provide information in reference to the benefits a partnership would create for our current CAM students and the CAM District.  Superintendent Steve Pelzer says this is a new concept in the state of Iowa, but similar programs are currently available in over 20 states.  

Pelzer and the School Board invites the public to take this opportunity to learn more about the program, and share your thoughts with the Board.  A decision by the Board on whether or not to pursue this program will be made very soon to meet the March 1st deadline for open enrollment applications.

Survey shows economic strength of Midwest & Plains states

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A survey of bankers in 10 Midwest and Great Plains states reflects continued economic growth in the region, which boasts strong agricultural performance and rising commodity prices.The Rural Mainstreet Index rose to 59.7 in December, the highest survey figure since June 2007. The index hit 58.4 in November, 52.9 in October and 52.2 in September. Survey organizers say that whenever the index, which ranges from 1 to 100, is above 50, it suggests the economy will grow.Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, says growth in U.S. regions tied to agriculture and energy are outpacing urban areas.The survey covers Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

6 women arrested in prostitution sting


December 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil is reporting six women were cited or arrested on suspicion of prostitution after a sting at an area hotel. Members of the Southwest Iowa Narcotics Task Force performed the prostitution sting Wednesday at an undisclosed location.

Five women from Omaha were cited for prostitution, including 22-year old Jessica Haley, 41-year old Laura Cox, 45-year old Regina Garcia, 23-year old Brandi Jordan,  and 20-year old Mary Brammann. Jordan was also cited for possession of marijuana. A sixth woman, 24-year old Alexandra Clausen,  of Minneapolis, was taken into custody on suspicion of prostitution and possession of marijuana.

Police reports indicated the women agreed to participate in a sex act with an undercover officer for money, ranging from $100 to $250.

State awards $119,000+ in marketing grants to 13 projects


December 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Vision Iowa Board has approved grants totaling just over $119,000 to help 13 tourist attractions around the state with advertising. An $8,000 grant was awarded to the Pottawattamie County Conservation Board, to market the Hitchcock Nature Center and Mid-America Center. And, The Manning Heritage Foundation received a grant amounting to slightly more than $1,000, for marketing of the Manning Hausbarn-Heritage Park. Grant recipients are required to match at least 50 percent of their request. 

Vision Iowa spokesperson Jessica O’Riley said four projects were awarded the maximum marketing grant of 15-thousand dollars ($15,000) — including the Dubuque County Historical Society for promotion of the National Mississippi Museum and Aquarium.  Another $15,000 marketing grant was directed to the City of Storm Lake, to promote the indoor/outdoor water park at King’s Pointe Resort. 

The Mason City Chamber of Commerce Foundation was awarded a marketing grant of nearly seven-thousand dollars ($7,000) to promote the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Park Inn Hotel. The other marketing grants are directed at projects in Des Moines, Ellsworth, Cedar Rapids, DeWitt, Waterloo and Garner.

(Radio Iowa)