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Iowa Senate OKs bill to expand law on texting while driving


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Senate has passed a bill that would allow law enforcement officials to more easily regulate Iowa’s ban on texting while driving. The Senate voted 44-6 Tuesday to make texting while driving a primary offense instead of a secondary one. It now heads to the House for consideration.

Iowa law prohibits a person from reading, writing and sending messages on an electronic device while driving. The bill would remove a stipulation that a law enforcement official must stop a person for a different offense to enforce it.

Sen. Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa, says distracted driving kills people. Most lawmakers voted for the bill, which has Gov. Terry Branstad’s support. But some Republicans questioned whether the legislation was needed.

Clarinda man arrested on a drug charge


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A Page County man was arrested early this (Tuesday) morning on a drug charge. Clarinda Police say 24-year old Quentin Russell Horter, of Clarinda, was taken into custody in a parking lot at 1107 S. 16th Street, at around 12:30-a.m.

Horter faces a misdemeanor Possession of drug paraphernalia charge. He was subsequently released on his own recognizance pending an appearance before a Page County Magistrate.

Iowa Senate committee OKs preschool funding bill


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Senate committee has approved a bill that would offer additional preschool funding for 4-year-olds in Iowa who have limited proficiency in English. The Appropriations Committee voted 18-3 Tuesday for the bill to advance for consideration in the full Senate. The Senate Education Committee voted in support of the bill last month.

The legislation would provide additional funding for students with limited proficiency in English who are enrolled in the statewide preschool program. Sen. Liz Mathis, a Democrat from Robins leading the bill, says it would cost the state about $800,000 in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016.

Sen. Julian Garrett, an Indianola Republican, voted against the bill after expressing concern about the cost. Mathis says additional funding will allow more resources for students with greater needs.


Iowa man trying to burn dead grass causes large brush fire


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

HONEY CREEK, Iowa (AP) — A resident who tried to burn dead grass caused a fire that spread to nearby field, requiring the efforts of four southwest Iowa fire departments to control it. Pat West, who lives northwest of Honey Creek near Interstate 29 and 152nd Street, tells the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil that he intended to burn only a small section of his backyard. Instead, strong gusts of wind carried the flames north into a nearby field, and West says his attempts to extinguish the fire himself were futile.

Four area fire departments responded to the fire at about 12:15 p.m. Monday and contained it within an hour. The National Weather Service had issued a warning reflecting the dry conditions, but West won’t be fined because Pottawattamie County wasn’t under a burn ban.

Report: Iowa jobless rate dropped to 4.2 percent in January


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A new report shows Iowa’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent in January from 4.3 percent in December. Iowa Workforce Development said in the report released Tuesday that the rate is one-fifth of a point below the January 2014 rate of 4.4 percent. The new Iowa figure places the state below the national jobless rate of 5.7 percent in January.

The report also shows Iowa added 3,100 nonfarm jobs from December to January, with the state’s trade, transportation and utilities sector alone gaining 2,200 jobs. Professional and business services saw an increase of 1,800 jobs across the state, but a loss of 1,300 positions in education and health services offset some employment advances.

Since January 2014, Iowa added 24,800 jobs, led by the state’s construction sector at 6,500 new positions.

Audit of western Iowa fire department finds misspent funds


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – An investigation by the state auditor of a western Iowa town’s volunteer fire department has identified more than $100,000 in improper spending over a three-year period. Auditor Mary Mosiman issued the report Tuesday on the investigation of the Woodbine Volunteer Fire Department that found $106,268.62 of unsupported and improper spending from Jan. 1, 2009 through March 31, 2014.

The former Woodbine city administrator requested the investigation after the city revealed concerns about the use of fuel credit cards following an internal review. According to the report, the department wrongfully spent more than $11,000 on alcohol and over $1,000 in personal fuel purchases. It identifies just more than $92,000 in unsupported disbursements.

Mosiman also noted that the department didn’t maintain documents to reflect many of its expenditures.

Audubon School Board approves track renovation bid & budget hearing dates


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Audubon Community School District’s Board of Education Monday night, approved a contract with Midwest Tennis and Track out of Denison, for the Track Renovation. Superintendent Brett Gibbs said they had the lowest of two bids, in the amount of $97,000, plus crack repair at $4.50 per lineal foot. It won’t be known how much extra that will run until they remove the rubber coating. Gibbs said MTT was the original contractor behind the track installation more than a dozen years ago.

In other business, the Audubon School Board set April 8th as the date for a Public Hearing on a Budget Amendment and Budget Plan Publication. The budget amendment hearing begins at 5:30, followed at 5:45 by the Budget Hearing to set next year’s levy. Gibbs said they have tentatively set their levy at 4-percent. He says that equates to a little more than $12 per thousand dollars valuation, which is 31-cents less than the current year. Realistically, though, Gibbs said legislation that has been introduced by the State to pick up the property tax increase, which could make the levy $11.92.

The Board he says discussed the School Board election timeline, as well. There are three members up for election this year. The deadline to file applications to run for election or re-election is at the end of July. The forms will be available the first part of July. The election is Sept. 8th.

In other business Brett Gibbs said the Board replaced the district’s At Risk Coordinator who is retiring at the end of the school year. The board agreed to hire Anne Miller to replace that person for the upcoming school year. They also transferred Rachael King from Special Ed to 6th and 7th grade Language Arts. The person who currently holds that position will instead, become an Instructional Coach.

Gibbs said their basketball coaches also switched positions. Darren Miller, who was the Assistant Girls Coach, will become the Head Girls Coach, and Kim Subbert will become the Assistant Coach, per their mutual agreement. And, Blaine Kerkhoff the long-time Wrestling Coach tendered his retirement resignation Monday night. He cited the fact his last son is graduating this year, as a reason for stepping aside. Gibbs said Kerkhoff has served the program well over the years.

Shelby County Fire Danger is “High” this week

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency are asking businesses and fire departments with Fire Danger signs in their windows, to set the signs at HIGH this week. Emergency Manager Bob Seivert says burning of any kind is restricted unless approval is received from local Fire Chief. Controlled burns that are not reported will result in Fire Department being dispatched, and Fires extinguished if determined to be un-safe. Please call 712-755-2124 with questions. The goal is to prevent fires, through good communication, public cooperation, and planning.High Fire Danger

Seivert says also, when someone has the need to burn a pile of brush, debris, or buildings, they are asked to contact the Emergency Management Agency at 755-2124. The dispatchers will obtain the location and nature of the planned burn and will provide the caller with the Fire Chiefs contact information. Through this expanded communication process, we have found some burns can be rescheduled to a different time of day, where wind and moistures are more acceptable. The Fire Chiefs can have input as to how the burn can be conducted safely and be aware of the activity should it become unmanageable.

4 arrested in Harlan on drug charges


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Police Department reports three men were arrested earlier this month on drug charges, following an investigation. Officials say 44-year old Chad Hess, 33-year old Matthew Johnson,  and 28-year old John Cox, all of Harlan, were taken into custody March 2nd, and transported to the Shelby County Jail.

Hess was charged with delivery of a controlled substance, 3 counts of possession of a controlled substance, 2 counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, 2 counts of prohibited acts penalties,  possession of controlled substance with intent to deliver, and ongoing criminal conduct. Johnson was charged with distribution/manufacture of a controlled substance and Cox was charged with aiding and abetting in the distribution of a controlled substance.

On March 12th, 33-year old Kristina Namanny, of Harlan, was taken into custody as a result of an investigation into drug activity, as well. Namanny was taken to the Shelby County Jail where she was charged with delivery of a controlled substance and ongoing criminal conduct.

The H-PD reports also, the arrest on March 10th, of 31-year old Rodney Koehrsen, of Harlan. The man was arrested after officers were called to a possible domestic disturbance in the 700 block of Baldwin. Koehrsen was transported to the Shelby County Jail where he was charged with violation of a no contact order.

On March 9th, 29-year old Marcia Finch, of Harlan, was arrested on an active Shelby County warrant that was issued when a complaint was filed with the Shelby County clerk of court charging Finch with criminal mischief 3rd and violation of a no contact order. Finch allegedly broke several windows on a vehicle belonging to Kent Frieze, Harlan.

And on March 6th, 35-year old Brandy Gordon, of Harlan, was arrested on an active Shelby County warrant charging Gordon with theft 5th degree. Gordon was transported to the Shelby County Jail. And on March 13th, 30-year old Cory Beyer, of  Denison, was arrested following a traffic stop. Beyer was taken to the Shelby County Jail where he was charged with driving while barred.

Montgomery County Death Investigation


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The discovery of a woman’s body early Monday morning in Elliott is under investigation. Authorities with the Iowa Department of Public Safety said today (Tuesday), that at approximately 4:40-a.m. the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office responded a report the body of a female in her 40’s was discovered in a grassy field on the northern edge of Elliot. Official say at this time, the death doesn’t appear to be suspicious, but the investigation is on-going.

An autopsy is currently being performed at the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner in Ankeny. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner are assisting with the investigation.

No further information will be released until the autopsy results are complete.