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City of Griswold takes over Conklin Fish Farm Rec area

Ag/Outdoor, News

September 22nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Maintenance and care of the Conklin Fish Farm near Griswold will soon no longer be under the auspices of the Cass County Conservation Service. During Wednesday’s meeting of the Cass County Board of Supervisors, CCCS Director Micah Lee said the Griswold City Council recently accepted a resolution to take control of the maintenance duties at the farm, which is a public attraction and camping site. Lee said the City thinks it can do a better job of making progress at the park, and with the Conservation Services’ budget being as tight as it is, the staff have a hard time moving as fast as people would like, as far as getting major projects finished. The current contract is only for a management agreement, which has a 30-termination clause if either side feels the other is not fulfilling the terms specified in the agreement. 

He says last Thursday, the Conservation Board voted to accept the resolution as presented, and allow the City of Griswold to seize the management agreement, for a number of reasons. He says their reasoning for that is because there’s not enough manpower, money, or time available for his staff to handle all of the county’s parks and recreational areas. Lee says the camping receipts also indicate the farm is not profitable for the Conservation Service to operate. He also said well-intended efforts by a local group to take care of the area actually ended-up costing the CCCS money, that wasn’t budgeted for. 

With the Conservation Boards’ approval of the City-prepared resolution, the City of Griswold will assume full responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep at the Conklin Farm, beginning January 1st, 2012. The resolution does not need the approval of the Cass County Supervisors, but will need to be reviewed by the Cass County Attorney before it becomes official. Lee said as much as he’d like to keep the farm, there’s just too much for his staff to handle right now, trying to maintain the rest of the County’s parks.

7AM Newscast 09-22-2011

News, Podcasts

September 22nd, 2011 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

IWD kiosks and terminals not available as promised in Cass County

News

September 22nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A little over three-weeks ago, 37 Iowa Workforce Development Offices closed due to a decision made earlier this year by Governor Terry Branstad, including the office in Atlantic. IWD Officials late last month tried to put a positive spin on the situation, by touting their work to set up an “access point system” to replace those offices, but during Wednesday’s meeting of the Cass County Board of Supervisors, County Mental Health and General Relief Coordinator Teresa Kanning said the promise has fallen through, mostly due to technology issues. She says the information she’s received from IWD and what’s happening in Cass County “Isn’t matching up.” Kanning says she was told there were several access points the unemployed could go to seek help in finding work or filing claims, including the local substance abuse prevention office, but the service is not available because the software support is not available or compatible with current computer systems. She says one of her staffers checked with the Zion Substance Abuse Treatment Center, who said the software was dropped off at the agency, but their staff was not told what to do with it. Yet IWD is still telling people they can access the internet there to check job postings and apply for unemployment.

In fact, this week IWD officials asserted terminals were available for those purposes at a location at the courthouse, but that’s not the case. She says none of the offices in the courthouse has even been contacted about being an access point. Kanning says she’s “Very disappointed in how Iowa Workforce Development has handled (the situation) in Cass County, and concerned about individuals needing to file unemployment claims or check for jobs, who are without computer access.  Another site IWD said was available in Cass County, is the Atlantic Public Library. At last night’s Atlantic City Council meeting, Councilman Dana Halder mentioned at a recent Library Board meeting, the topic of the IWD access point was brought up. He said it isn’t available because the software is incompatible with the library’s computers. Kanning said the same thing during the Supervisor’s meeting earlier in the day. Kanning said someone with IWD remarked those persons needing to file claims or look for jobs could use the computers in her office, but she said that’s NOT an option, because her computers have personal information on clients, that is subject to HIPPA rules and regulations.

The Cass County Board of Supervisors are set to meet with Iowa Workforce Development officials next week, to discuss Kanning’s concerns and related matters.

Latham only Iowan to vote for House bill that would’ve provided disaster relief money

News

September 22nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Republican Congressman Tom Latham was the only member of Iowa’s delegation to vote for a bill that would have provided federal aid to Midwesterners hit by this year’s Missouri River flooding. The bill not only provided federal aide for a wide range of disasters, it was designed to provide enough money to keep the government operating past September 30th. The new federal fiscal year begins October 1st, but the two parties in congress haven’t agreed on a spending plan yet. However, in a surprise to House Republican leaders, the bill failed to pass last night. Too many Republicans — like Iowa Congressman Steve King — objected to the measure, saying it didn’t make deep enough cuts. Democrats objected to the part of the bill that made deep cuts in a program that boosts the manufacture of electric vehicles and said it didn’t provide enough money for disaster relief. Iowa’s three Democratic congressmen — Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack and Leonard Boswell — all were no votes, along with Republican Steve King.

(Radio Iowa)

Some buildings may be salvaged from Missouri River floodwaters

News

September 22nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

As the flooding Missouri River slowly returns to its normal level, Iowa property owners are beginning to get a look at their homes and businesses — and the challenges they’ll face in restoring them. Bob Arritt owns an environmental, health and safety consulting firm in Omaha-Council Bluffs. Arritt says some people will be able to save the skeleton of the building and not have to start over. “If you just get it opened up and dried out as soon as possible, you can sand and treat the stud walls and the frames and so forth, hopefully keep as much of the building as you can,” he says. “It’s just not an automatic decision.” Unfortunately, Arritt says some buildings will be a complete loss and the only option will be to tear them down. He says it will still be some time before many homeowners and business owners know the extent of water damage.  “We haven’t really seen a lot of the assessments because the water hasn’t come down that far and people aren’t ready yet,” he says. “I don’t think the insurance companies, or anybody, has quite assessed it.” Some homes have sat in floodwater for several months, virtually all summer. Arritt says that doesn’t necessarily mean the property is a total loss.  “Not the whole building itself, but some of the porous materials that are in the building, the drywall, carpets and all of that obviously has gotta’ go,” he says. The river has been below flood stage at Sioux City for a few weeks, but it may not be back to “normal” in Omaha-Council Bluffs until October. Arritt’s company, B-2 Environmental, specializes in industrial clean-ups.

(Radio Iowa)

Braley says Midwest disaster victims now endangered political “pawns”

News

September 22nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley accuses Republicans of using disaster victims as “pawns” in the fight over the federal budget. Fifty Democrats and 10 Republicans in the U.S. Senate have passed a bill that provides the stop-gap spending for the nation’s disaster recovery programs, but the Republican-controlled U.S. House is poised to insist on making deep cuts in a program Democrats support to pay for that disaster relief.  “Flood recovery has, like most things, become a partisan bargaining chip in Washington and will be used as a pawn in the budget negotiations,” Braley says. “There’s even been threats of another government shut-down and this is deplorable.” Congress has not passed a budget for the next federal fiscal year, which begins October 1st.   Braley says federal disaster aide for this summer’s flash-flooding in Dubuque and Jackson Counties as well as the Missouri River flooding is at stake, along with federal funds for disaster-related projects that date back to the flooding in Iowa back in 2008.

“Helping people get back on their feet after a disaster is one of the basic functions of government,” Braley says. “It shouldn’t be a political issue bogged down in Washington politics. It needs to get done and it needs to get done now.” Braley says while most Americans are well aware of the flooding which struck the east coast because of the recent hurricane, few realize Midwesterners who live and work along the Missouri River have been dealing with flood woes since June.

“(It’s) probably the longest-sustained flooding event in the history of the United States,” Braley says. “It shouldn’t be subject to political gamesmanship…and that’s why I’m calling on my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to find a way to get it done and not make it another political football which is why…people in the United States have become so disenchanted with the way things work here in Washinton.” Braley’s Aunt Mary has been out of her home in Percival, Iowa, for three and a half months because of the Missouri River flooding. Braley visited the area on August 31 and posted some photos on Twitter. Braley described Percival as a “ghost town” with “water and mold everywhere.”

(Radio Iowa)

Corps names Mo. River flooding review panel

News

September 22nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has named the four members of an independent panel that will review this year’s flooding on the Missouri River. The corps said Wednesday that the panel members include three hydrologists – Bill Lawrence of the National Weather Service, Darwin Ockerman of the U.S. Geological Survey and Cara McCarthy of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The fourth member is Neil Grigg, a professor at Colorado State University. The corps manages the Missouri’s flow through a series of dams and storage reservoirs and has faced intense criticism over the flooding. The agency says the panel will help determine if anything could have been done to prevent this year’s flood and provide recommendations for improving future operations. Among the issues that will be examined is whether climate change played a role in this year’s record runoff.

Lappe nominated by petition for Cass County Supervisor’s seat

News

September 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Cass County Auditor Dale Sunderman reports three men’s names will be included on the November 8th Special Election for the Cass County Supervisor District 2 seat. The latest addition, is Cass County Sheriff’s Deputy Don Lappe, who has been nominated by petition. Lappe joins Gaylord Schelling, who was nominated by Republican convention, and Jeff. J. Richter, who was nominated by petition, on the ballot. All three men are from Atlantic.

Nomination papers to fill the seat on the Board of Supervisors, which was left vacant by the death of Chuck Kinen, must be filed by no later than 5-p.m. Friday, September 23rd.

Neb. woman in Iowa shooting faces federal charge

News

September 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – An Omaha woman once believed to be the victim of a home invasion and now charged with first-degree murder in the 2001 shooting in her western Iowa home faces a new federal charge of passport fraud. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Omaha says 45-year-old Tracey Ann Richter – also known to authorities as Tracey Richter-Roberts – made false statements in early 2009 in an application for a passport, which she intended “for her own use or the use of another.” In an affidavit, a U.S. State Department special agent said Richter applied for the passport in Omaha claiming her name was Sophie Corrina Terese Edwards. The federal indictment was unsealed Wednesday. In July, Iowa authorities charged Richter with first-degree murder in the 2001 shooting death of 20-year-old Dustin Wehde.

Crews rush to repair flood-damaged Iowa roads

News

September 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Crews are assessing damage to Iowa highways and beginning repairs now that the Missouri River has dropped to lower levels after a summer of flooding. Sections of the Interstates 29 and 680 are largely rubble, leaving workers with a daunting number of repairs and little time as winter approaches. Officials say they’ll fix as many roads as possible this fall and hope to have at least single lanes open on damaged stretches of interstate by December, but some work will have to wait until next year. Iowa Department of Transportation spokeswoman Dena Gray-Fisher says in some spots, “there isn’t any road left. You’ve got to start from scratch.” Gray-Fisher says a contract for bids will go out Friday to rebuild a badly damaged three-mile stretch of I-680.