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State monitors impact of flow increase on the Missouri River


June 23rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

State officials are preparing for the impact of increased water flow on the Missouri River from the Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota. Emergency Management and Homeland Security director, Derek Hill, says the increase is expected to raise the water levee in Sioux City from one half to one foot, while in Council Bluffs and points south, it will go up only inches. Hill says they do expect other impacts from the rise in water. 

He says the increase flow will create more backup in the tributaries, as there has already been some backup. Hill says it is particularly a concern if there is more rain. Hill says the increase flow also increases the pressure on, and water flow around structures that they are already monitoring. 

Hill says the most obvious concern are the levees as the increased flow and pressure could cause boils to form. He says they will continue with patrols looking boils on the levee. Hill says that’s not the only concern. 

Hill says they are also watching to see how the increased flow impacts the embankments against the bridges and the culverts and the roads that have gone under water. Hill was asked which tributaries that flow west cause the most concern.

He says “basically all of them” as he says the Nishnabotna floods periodically anyway and it backs up for several miles, the Floyd River, the Big Sioux and Perry Creek which flows into Sioux City. Hill says residents around those rivers should be prepared for possible flooding. 

Hill says their advice for people on the tributaries or areas that could be inundated with heavy rain, is they should be prepared for flooding. He says people living near levees should also be alert to the changing conditions. The Fremont County emergency manager ordered mandatory evacuations Wednesday for resident who live west of Interstate 29. Hill says that’s a precaution mainly because the levee there is new. 

Hill says the dirt was settled the best it could be, but he says it has not like an older levee where the earth as had the opportunity to naturally compact. Hill says they are monitoring all the levees in the area and do not have a particular concern about one over the other. Hill says the impact of the increased Gavins Point output will be less downstream of Sioux City as the water has gone down some there and that will be offset by the increase flow. Hill made his comments during an update Wednesday afternoon.

Emergency call centers face deadline for upgrading


June 23rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Iowa’s emergency call centers are facing a deadline to upgrade their equipment, or pay big federal fines, but their major source of the money for the upgrades has been disappearing. Phone users are required to pay a 9-1-1 surcharge, but the surcharge paid on cellphones is less than that paid on land lines, and more and more people are no longer using land lines. Bob Sievert is emergency management director in Shelby county, and he heads an association of similar officials.

“Sixty-five of Iowa’s 99 counties are experiencing a decrease in revenue because of the migration of people from traditional wire line phones in their homes to either wireless technology, a cellphone or and I-P based phone,” Sievert says. Sievert explains that most Iowans pay a one dollar 9-1-1 surcharge on their land line phones every month which all goes to counties to pay for the service.

A cellphone bill has a monthly 9-1-1 surcharge of 65 cents, and only 25 cents of that goes back to local governments. The F-C-C is cutting in half the bandwidth public safety radio systems use and that will require all new equipment by December 31 2012. Sievert says it’s not likely federal officials will change the deadline.

He says the F-C-C mandate has been pushed back many times, and they have now “drawn a line in the sand” and said the change has to be made by the end of 2012. Senator Tom Hancock, a Democrat from Epworth in Dubuque County, tried to get the legislature to raise the mandatory surcharge on cellphone bills to the dollar most landline users pay. The extra 35 cents would go to local governments to let them make the mandated upgrade, but Hancock says cellphone companies fought the bill.

 “You call it what you like, a user fee, a tax increase, it was considered a tax increase and I think that’s why it didn’t get a bunt in the Iowa Senate,” Hancock says. Hancock is a retired firefighter, and is worried about how local agencies, especially volunteer fire departments can raise the money.

 He says there are only so many bake sales and pancake breakfasts you can have to pay for things. Cellphone companies are urging lawmakers to help counties out with infrastructure funds instead of raising the surcharge. Hancock says local governments may have to raise taxes to pay for the upgrades. Or in a kind of ironic twist, voters have the option of raising the monthly surcharge on land lines to two-dollars-and-50 cents ($2.50). Linn county voters rejected that. Shelby county voters approved it.

(Dar Danielson/Radio Iowa)

Residents Impacted by Missouri River Flooding Urged to Report Damages


June 22nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

(DES MOINES) - The Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division is
asking residents and businesses in counties along the Missouri River to begin
estimating the amount of flood damage to their property. Damage information may be
used to assist in the preparation of a request for federal disaster aid.

Flood-impacted residents in Woodbury, Monona, Harrison, Pottawattamie, Mills and
Fremont counties, are asked to contact the Iowa Concern Hotline at 1-800-447-1985.
Calls will be taken 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Callers to the Iowa Concern Hotline should be prepared to provide information and
answers to the following questions:

*         Name

*         Current address and phone number

*         Address of flood-affected home or business

*         Is this a rental property?

*         Is this a primary or vacation home?

*         Is the business currently open or closed due to flooding?

*         Have you lost your job because of flooding?

*         Do you have flood insurance?

*         How many floors are flooded, including the basement?

*         How deep is the water on the topmost floor that is flooded?

Flood damage to farm residences may be reported to the Iowa Concern Hotline. Damage
to other agricultural buildings, equipment and property should be reported to the
local office of the Farm Service Agency.

provided to the Iowa Concern Hotline will be kept confidential.
For more information, visit http://www.governor.iowa.gov

Iowa DOT to deploy Missouri Valley area flood mitigation efforts


June 22nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – June 22, 2011 – The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) will be deploying flood mitigation strategies for Interstate 29 and U.S. 30 near Missouri Valley. The effort is to address a specific flood inundation scenario. The work is expected to begin this week. Meanwhile, some limited sandbagging was performed today to prevent water from reaching the travel lanes of U.S. 30.

The Iowa DOT recognizes that U.S. 30, I-29 and the Missouri River crossing between Missouri Valley, Iowa, and Blair, Nebr., are important to personal mobility and commerce. They serve as a critical transportation lifeline for citizens living, working and conducting business in this area between the two states, as well as other parts along the I-29 corridor.

The Iowa DOT has examined the unique characteristics and challenges associated with this area, including the location of the levees, roadway elevations, hydraulics,railroad, and area creeks and streams, to determine what, if any, mitigation strategies could be deployed to keep the roadway open. Based on the assessment, it was determined there are two most plausible scenarios that would cause an inundation of the roadways in this area.

The first scenario involves a breach or overtopping of the levee upstream from U.S. 30. For this scenario, there are no emergency mitigation efforts that would prevent the roadways from being inundated due to the volume of water and characteristics of the area.

The second scenario involves a breach or overtopping of the levee downstream from U.S. 30.  For this scenario, the Iowa DOT has developed a plan that would help mitigate the flooding of U.S. 30 west of Missouri Valley and I-29 north of the I-29/U.S. 30 interchange.

The mitigation plan includes two strategies:

·        On I-29, north of Missouri Valley, the Iowa DOT will place a TrapBag® flood barrier wall on both the inside and outside shoulders of the north- and southbound lanes. The wall will be approximately a half-mile in length. Pumping of flood waters will also be performed in the median.
·        On U.S. 30, the Iowa DOT will place a TrapBag flood barrier wall on both sides of the roadway in a location approximately 2 miles east of the Missouri River crossing where the roadway is the lowest.

Reiterating, these mitigation measures will not prevent U.S. 30 or I-29 from being inundated with flood waters if a breach occurs upstream from U.S. 30.
Due to the complexity of the flooding situation, vulnerability of the levee systems and increased water levels, there are also other unanticipated scenarios that could occur that would result in road closures.

(IA-DOT Press Release, 5:04-p.m.)

State rests case against MN man in Iowa killing


June 22nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Michael Swanson

CARROLL, Iowa (AP) — The state has rested its case against a Minnesota man charged with killing a convenience store clerk in northern Iowa. Michael Swanson, of St. Loius Park, Minn., was 17 when he was accused of killing Sheila Myers in Humboldt last November.

The state rested its case Wednesday afternoon during a trial being held in Carroll.  Earlier, the prosecution presented a videotaped police interview showing a tired and hungry Swanson puffing away on cigarettes as he admitted shooting Sheila Myers in the face. Swanson smirked when asked to re-enact what he described as a surprised half-scream, half gasp Myers made when he pulled the trigger. Swanson says he “felt powerful.”

Swanson is also charged with killing another clerk in Algona the same day. His trial in that case is set for July.

Grassley to Hold Meetings in area Counties July 5 – 7


June 22nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley will be in Adams, Audubon, Carroll, Cass, Crawford, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Montgomery, Page, Pottawattamie, Shelby and Taylor counties July 5 through 7.  He will hold 12 town meetings and speak to Rotarians in two communities.

Details of Grassley’s schedule are below. Grassley is a guest at the Rotary meetings.

Please contact the hosts for additional information about those meetings.

Tuesday, July 5

8 – 9 a.m.
Carroll County Town Meeting
New Hope Village, Activity Center Gymnasium, 1211 E. 18th St., Carroll.

10:15 – 11:15 a.m.
Audubon County Town Meeting
Audubon County Economic Development (ACED), Community Room, 800 Market St., Audubon

Noon – 1 p.m.
Speak to Atlantic Rotary
Heritage House, 1200 Brookridge Circle, Atlantic

2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Adams County Town Meeting
Corning Community Building, 601 Sixth St., Corning

4:15 – 5:15 p.m.
Taylor County Town Meeting
Taylor County Farm Bureau, Meeting Room, 607 Pollock Blvd., Bedford

Wednesday, July 6
8 – 9 a.m.
Page County Town Meeting
Shenandoah Medical Center, Rapp Meeting Room, 300 Pershing Ave., Shenandoah

10 – 11 a.m.
Fremont County Town Meeting
The Gathering Place, Corner of Cass and Ohio Streets, Sidney

Noon – 1 p.m.
Mills County Town Meeting
Glenwood Senior Center, 20 N. Vine St., Glenwood

2 – 3 p.m.
Montgomery County Town Meeting
Montgomery County Family YMCA, 101 E. Cherry St., Red Oak

4 – 5 p.m.
Pottawattamie County Town Meeting
Oakland Community Building, 129 Harrison St., Oakland

Thursday, July 7
7 – 8 a.m.
Harrison County Town Meeting
United Western Coop, 222 E. Lincoln Highway, Missouri

9:45 – 10:45 a.m.
Monona County Town Meeting
Onawa City Hall, 320 10th St., Onawa

Noon – 1 p.m.
Speak to Denison Rotary
Cronk’s, 812 Fourth Ave. S., Denison

2 – 3 p.m.
Shelby County Town Meeting
Harlan Public Library, 718 Court St., Harlan

Agent says MN man admitted killing Iowa clerk


June 22nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

CARROLL, Iowa (AP) – A state investigator says a Minnesota man admitted robbing a convenience store and killing the clerk in northern Iowa during an interview after his arrest. Mike Krapfl testified today (Wednesday), in Carroll, during the first-degree murder trial of Michael Swanson, of St. Louis Park, Minn. He was 17 when he was charged with killing Sheila Myers in Humboldt last November.

Krapfl testified that Swanson told agents that he walked in the store with a gun in a bag. He said the clerk put money in the bag and he shot her and left. Swanson said he shot Myers “to tie up loose ends” because she could identify him. Swanson also said he “felt powerful.”

The jury spent part of the morning watching a videotape of the interview.

Atlantic man arrested on drug charges (updated 6-23)


June 22nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Wednesday, released a cumulative report on arrests made this month through Tuesday of this week.

Officials say an Atlantic man, 21-year old Kevin Damien Engles, was arrested Sunday on drug-related charges. Engles was arrested for Possession with the Intent to Deliver/Marijuana, and Failure to Affix a Drug Tax Stamp. He was being held in the Cass County Jail without bond, pending a pretrial release evaluation.

Also arrested Sunday by Cass County Sheriff’s deputies, was 19-year old Michael Todd Sonntag, of Exira, who faces a charge of Public Intoxication. Sonntag was released later that day on his own recognizance.

On Monday (June 20th), deputies arrested 38-year old Bret Alan Pellett, of Atlantic, on a charge of Public Intoxication. Pellett was arrested at the Cass County Jail where he pled not guilty and was released the following day.

On Tuesday, June 21st, 42-year old Shari Ann Exceen, of Atlantic, was arrested on a charge of OWI 1st Offense. Exceen was taken to the Cass County Jail where she was released the following day on her own recognizance.

Last week, on June 15th, deputies arrested 50-year old Blaine Tory Boken, of Lewis, on a District Court Warrant for Failure to Appear and on an additional charge of Felon in Possession of a Weapon. Boken was taken to the Cass County Jail where he was released later that day on $12,500 bond.

And, as we told you last week, on that same day, four Atlantic residents were arrested on drug charges following a traffic stop. 31-year old Shannon David Wojciechowski, along with his 25-year old wife Kylee, 21-year old Haley Jo Williams, and 21-year old John Martin Chamberlin III, all of Atlantic, were charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana and Failure to Affix Drug Tax Stamp. Kylee and Shannon Wojciechowski have since been released on $15,000 bond. Williams and Chamberlin remain in the Cass County Jail on bonds of $15,000 each.

During the second week of June, 38-year old Christopher Brian Hand, of Council Bluffs, was arrested on 11th, on a Magistrate Court Warrant for Failure to Appear on charges filed by Atlantic Police, including two-counts of Harassment. Hand was taken to the Cass County Jail where he pled guilty and was released the following day.

And, on June 10th, Cass County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 29-year old David Michael Stevens, of Walnut, on a charge of Serious Assault. Stevens turned himself in at the Cass County Jail and was released on $1000 bond.

Mandatory evacuations ordered in Fremont County


June 22nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Residents living west of Interstate 29 in Fremont County are being told to evacuate immediately Fremont County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Crecelius issued the mandatory order late this (Wednesday) morning after consulting with the county’s emergency management commission.

Crecelius is also concerned about rising water levels along the Missouri River. As of this (Wednesday) morning, the river at Nebraska City measured 27.8 feet–and Crecelius expected it to go higher.

The evacuations come as the U-S Army Corps of Engineers increased the amount of water flowing from the Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota to 155,000 cubic feet per second today (Wednesday). The flow is expected to increase to 160,000 cfs on Thursday.

(Radio Iowa)

Cass Co. Conservation activities planned


June 22nd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Conservation Board has announced some upcoming events in advance of the July 4th holiday weekend. County Naturalist Lora Schwendinger says a “Dutch Oven Cooking – Dinner” campground program will be held at Cold Springs State Park in Lewis, 7-p.m. July 2nd, at the campground shelter. During the free event, you can learn a new dinner recipe designed for a dutch over. Bring your own place settings in order to receive food samples.

And, that same day at 9-p.m., the Conservation Board will host a free “Family Movie in the Park,” at the Hitchcock Recreation Area in Lewis. Your family will enjoy a free screening of the movie “Pocahontas.” Bring your lawn chairs or blankets. If it rains, the movie will be shown inside the barn.

For more information, call 712-769-2372.