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USDA: Fewer farm workers hired, pay slightly more

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the number of workers hired directly by farms in Iowa and Missouri during the reference week of April 6-12, was down 25 percent from a year ago. The USDA collects Farm Labor Survey data for January, April, July and October for 15 geographic regions. Iowa and Missouri make up the Cornbelt Two Region. In April this year 21,000 workers were hired in the two-state area compared with 28,000 a year ago.

The report says farm operators in the two-state area paid workers an average wage of $15.25 this year up $1.18 from a year ago. Nationally farm operators paid hired workers an average of $12 per hour during this year’s reference week, up 1 percent from the previous year.

Oversized load hits disabled car, spins it into the ditch


May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A truck driver hauling an oversized load struck a disabled car legally parked on the shoulder of Interstate 80 in Pottawattamie County, Wednesday morning, totaling the disabled car and sending it into the ditch. The Iowa State Patrol reports the accident happened at around 8-a.m. on I-80 eastbound, about two-miles east of the Shelby exit.

Officials say driver of the semi, driven by 54-year old Clement J. Smith III,  of Marrero, Louisiana, was unable to move into the left lane because another vehicle was approaching in that lane. A corner of the large punch press the semi was hauling sideswiped the parked and unoccupied 2000 Toyota, sending spinning it around and sending it into the south ditch. The semi pulled off onto the shoulder of the road.

The punch press sustained $1,000 damage. No injuries were reported.

Atlantic couple arrested Tues. on drug & other charges


May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office reports the arrest on Tuesday of a man and woman from Atlantic on drug and numerous other charges. Officials say deputies arrested 56-year old Keith Allen Jespersen, and 53-year old Vickie Sue Jespersen, on charges that include: Possession with Intent to Deliver (Hashish); Failure to Affix a Drug Tax Stamp; Child Endangerment, and, Sponsoring a Gathering Where Illegal Drugs are Used.

Keith Jespersen was also charged with being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm, and two additional charges of Possession with Intent to Deliver and Sponsoring a Gathering. Both were taken to the Cass County Jail where they were released Wednesday on $5000 bond each.

Also arrested Tuesday, on unrelated charges, was 36-year old Rose Ann Peters, of Atlantic. She was taken into custody on a charge of OWI/1st Offense. Peters was booked into the Cass County Jail and later released on $1,000 bond.

And, taken into custody on Monday, was 28-year old Joshua Lawrence Batenhorst, of Atlantic. He was taken into custody on a District Court warrant for Failure to Appear. Batenhorst was brought to the Cass County Jail and held on $5,000 bond.



May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the “DNR Derelict Building Grant Program” will award grants to 20 small, rural Iowa communities to help deconstruct or renovate abandoned structures and limit construction and demolition materials going to the landfill.
Among the Cities receiving a total of $630,900 as reimbursement grants for their projects, is:

  • The City of Bridgewater — $16,200 to deconstruct the old school building and develop a new green/park space.
  • The City of Imogene— $21,000 to inspect for and abate asbestos, complete a phase I and phase II site assessment, structural analysis and renovate the abandoned commercial bank building. Renovated building will be sold for commercial development.
  • The City of Mapleton — $21,000 to renovate an abandoned commercial building. The site will then be marketed for commercial purposes.
  • The City of Shelby — $49,075 to renovate an abandoned commercial building. The city plans on using the renovated structure to house the city council chambers and as a public meeting space.

The DNR Derelict Building Grant Program was instituted by statute to help rural communities with populations of 5,000 or less. DBGP funding is awarded annually on a competitive basis with cash matches required. Applications for the next funding round will be due in spring 2015.

Atlantic City Council hires Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent


May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday, approved the hiring of a new Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent. City Administrator Doug Harris says Tim Snyder, of Malvern, will succeed Mark Farrier, effective June 30th. Harris said Snyder is originally from Atlantic. He attended high school here, and was the Treatment Plant Superintendent in the early ‘90’s before left to work for PeopleServe, Inc.,  where he is currently a Regional Manager.

Farrier, who has been in charge of the new plant since it opened, is leaving to become a Missionary in Guatemala. Mark had a Class 3 Operators License, whereas Snyder has a Class 4 license. Farrier’s last day is June 3rd.

(12-pm News)

Family files claim against Iowa in man’s death at Clarinda MHI


May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The family of a man who died at a southwest Iowa mental health institution has filed a claim against the state. Cleojean Olson, sister of Richard Meredith, says she recently filed the claim for $1.8 million through the State Appeal Board. If it is rejected, the family can file a lawsuit.

The Des Moines Register reports Meredith was 81 when he was a patient at Clarinda Mental Health Institute, last August. State records show staff gave him a peanut butter sandwich despite orders that specified he be given pureed food. Meredith was later found slumped over and unresponsive. He was pronounced dead a short time later.

Meredith’s family says state officials failed to disclose the circumstances of his death until the case gained media attention.

Albert & Wynona Kruse Scholarship awarded to Audubon students


May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Historically low interest rates caused a local scholarship committee to cease awarding any new scholarships over the years, but officials with the Kruse Scholarship Trust Fund announced today (Thursday), that after working with the Audubon County/Omaha Community Foundation, the Kruse Scholarship Committee was once again able to award four $2,000 scholarships.

This year’s recipients of the Kruse Scholarships are:
Allison Blomme
Bailey Nelson
Emma Konkler
Madelyn Christensen

The Kruse Scholarship Trust Fund was first established in April 1995 by Albert & Wynona Kruse for the purpose of making scholarships available to Audubon High School students. The scholarships were to be funded through the interest earned on the starting principal of $200,000.

Current text-to-911 availability in Iowa


May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Iowans may have heard recently that new technology is making it possible for many Americans to text 911 in an emergency. In Iowa however, only a small percentage of cell phone users are currently able to use text to contact 911. Barbara Vos, E-911 Program Manager for Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, says right now, the only Iowans who can use text to contact 911 are those living in Black Hawk County who have i-Wireless as their cell phone provider. Any other cell phone users who try to text 911 will receive a “bounce-back” message instructing them to contact 911 via a phone call.

Vos says the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEMD) has completed an upgrade to Iowa’s 911 network that will eventually allow citizens to contact 911 using text, video and picture messaging. The upgrade is part of a national initiative to upgrade wireless 911 networks to Internet-Protocol (IP)-based systems. These systems are more robust and capable of handling new messaging technology, including text-to-911.

Iowa’s network upgrade was a major accomplishment, but it is just the first phase in enabling text-to-911 for Iowans. Over the next approximately 18 months, HSEMD will be working with wireless carriers and 911 call centers as they get equipment and procedures in place that will allow them to utilize this new technology. The availability of text-to-911 will be rolled out on a county-by-county basis.

Even after text-to-911 is available, it will still be best to call 911 if at all possible. Not only will it be a faster way to ask for help, but 911 operators will be able to see your location when you call. Texts to 911 will not automatically show the caller’s location like a phone call will, possibly causing delays in getting needed assistance. And in an emergency, seconds can make a big difference. Still, the ability to text 911 is undeniably valuable in situations when a caller cannot communicate verbally, such as when a crime is in process or the caller is injured and unable to speak. Text-to-911 is also a valuable tool for those who are hard of hearing, deaf, or speech-impaired.

Look for more updates from HSEMD in the coming months as officials work to improve the state’s E-911 system.

2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney to tout Ernst in Iowa


May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Mitt Romney is returning to Iowa for the first time since the 2012 presidential election, this time to campaign for U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst. In a press release Thursday, Ernst’s campaign says the former Massachusetts governor will campaign May 30 with the southwestern Iowa state senator. They will visit Cedar Rapids and Davenport, eastern Iowa’s largest media markets.

Polls indicate Ernst leads a five-way race for the Republican nomination as the June 3 primary election nears. Ernst has been endorsed by a range of groups and individuals, from the tea party-backed Senate Conservatives Fund to the pro-establishment U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Ernst supported Romney in the 2012 caucuses. Romney finished second in the leadoff presidential voting in Iowa but lost the state in November to Democratic President Barack Obama.

Atlantic FFA Farm Safety Day

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 22nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic FFA had a “Farm Safety Day” Friday May 9, 2014. The chapter invited the 5th grade classes from Schuler Elementary to come up to the high school to learn all about farm safety. The nine stations stations started off with FFA/Ag Department run by FFA officers Haley Carlson and Emily McDermott. This station talked about the FFA and what the Atlantic chapter does. Also they talked about the Agriculture Department in the high school and the classes available.

Environmental/Farm Safety with Alexis Boes and Carly Westphalen:These FFA members talked about the safety precautions to take when around a farm or in the environment in general. Tractor Safety with senior FFA members Steven Wright and Tucker Sager: This station had a tractor with them to show the students the safety precautions to take when around and operating a tractor. PTO/Auger Safety with Clint Hansen and Tevin Krause: These boys talked about what a PTO (Power Take­Off) and how it attaches to an auger. Also they talked about the safety precautions to take when being around or operating an auger. This station also had a tractor with an auger attached to it for their presentation.

Lawnmower Safety with FFA officers Marshal McDermott, Adam Freund and Clayton Saeugling. These officers talked to the 5th graders about how to be safe when they are around or operating a lawn mower. The members used a lawn mower with their presentation. The next four stations included Chemical Safety with FFA members Kyle Redenbaugh and Wyatt Saeugling. Also ISU Agronomist, Aaron Saeugling teaching Chemical Safety. This station talked about all different kinds of chemicals used on a farm and the precautions to take when using chemicals.

ATV Safety with freshman members Morgan Barkley, Nate Moen, and Haylee Valekia. This group had a presentation board to explain the ways to be safe when riding or operating an ATV. With personal experience, the group also explained the consequences to an ATV accident. Motorcycle/Moped Safety with Skylar Svoboda, Tyler Christensen, and Reid Nichols. As the 5th graders will be able to operate a moped in the next few years, these boys explained to their groups the importance of being safe when riding on or driving a moped or motorcycle. This station had a moped and helmet with them Friday as an example.

The final station was Chainsaw/Weed Eater Safety with Colin Peterson and FFA officer Calley Klindt.
These two FFA members explained to the students the responsibility when operating a chainsaw or weed eater and the safety precautions to take when near these two pieces of equipment. This station also used a weed eater and chainsaw for examples.

Each station had a ten minute presentation ready for the 5th graders. To keep the kids focused each station had a quiz at the end with treats for prizes. The FFA members were very pleased with the attention and questions asked by the students. Fifth grade teacher, Gini Jordan said, “My students enjoyed being exposed to not only the many aspects of safety in agriculture, but the need for safety with mowers and mopeds, too. The event was well­planned and the high school students were prepared to share their information in an interesting way.” Atlantic FFA President Marshal McDermott said, “The FFA members had a fun time teaching the kids about safety in the agricultural field.”

The Atlantic FFA Chapter would like to thank Lindeman Tractor Inc., for allowing the chapter to borrow a tractor for the afternoon! The chapter would also like to thank Aaron Saeugling for donating his time to speak at the Chemical Safety station for the afternoon! We would also like to thank all the FFA members and parents that let us use their equipment for the day.

The Atlantic FFA hopes to make this an annual event to do every spring with the elementary or middle school kids. With 9 different stations and over 120 kids presenting or listening, the day went perfect!

by Haley Carlson – Atlantic FFA Reporter