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Road crews work to fill “The Beast” left by Missouri River flooding


October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

"The Beast" (image courtesy Radio Iowa)

After a full summer of flooding, Interstate 29 reopened last weekend in southwest Iowa, yet repair work is still underway on many miles of other highways and roads. The Missouri River flood caused tens of millions of dollars damage to thoroughfares in the region. Melissa Black, with the Missouri DOT, says there’s a giant hole worn in Route 136 in northwest Missouri, just south of Hamburg, Iowa.   “It’s 480 feet long, which is quite sizeable, and 65 feet deep,” Black says. “That’s a pretty darn big gap in the pavement.”

While it’s not exactly the Grand Canyon, she admits it’s going to take a lot of work to fill in the huge hole, dubbed “The Beast” by construction crews.

Three other large gaps in the highway that were carved out by months of rushing floodwaters have already been repaired. “It will take more than 100-thousand tons of rock to fill that back up to the regular pavement level, which is about what it took to fill the other three gaps,” Black says.

The contract to tackle and fill “The Beast” is worth nearly three-and-a-half million dollars and she says it should take another several weeks to complete. “These other emergency repair projects have been going pretty smoothly,” she says. “The weather’s been cooperating and contractors have been getting done quicker than we were anticipating so we’re hopeful this one will go the same way.” The target date for completion of work on that gap is November 28th. Many roads that were impacted by the flooding closed in June.

(Radio Iowa)

Southwest Iowa officials ask for Missouri Valley bypass


October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A delegation from southwest Iowa spoke to the Iowa Transportation Commission Tuesday, asking the commission to consider building a Highway 30 bypass around the south edge of Missouri Valley. John McCurdy of the Southwest Iowa Planning Council in Atlantic, told the commission the time is right to move ahead.  McCurdy says the D-O-T studied the issue in the 1990′s and it was put on the shelf. He says one of the reasons it didn’t move forward is that there wasn’t the local support needed. Missouri Valley Mayor, Clint Sargent, says the biggest reason to move ahead with the bypass now is that the support has changed in favor of the bypass. Sargent says they would like to combine the building of the bypass with FEMA flood mitigation measures to improve the flood protection in the area. 

 Sargent says they know the importance of Highway 30 as a “corridor for commerce,” and he says the was evidenced by the efforts of the D-O-T to keep it open during the flooding this year. Sargent says there’s also a safety issue as the amount of truck traffic through the town on Highway 30 has increased. He says the businesses that rely on the truck traffic have already moved to the nearby interstate and those in Missouri Valley are not dependent on that traffic, so they support a bypass. Sargent finished his remarks with a call for action on the issue.

Omaha college students to help with flood cleanup


October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Hundreds of University of Nebraska at Omaha students will use their fall break later this month to help clean up the flood-damaged Salvation Army Camp Eppley in Bellevue. The students will also renovate and repair other community facilities and low-income housing as part of UNO’s annual Three Days of Service project. The UNO students will combine efforts with high school students from Omaha and Council Bluffs, Iowa. The students will begin the work Saturday and continue through Tuesday on numerous renovation and beautification projects. Camp Eppley suffered extensive damage from the Missouri River flooding this summer.

7AM Newscast 10-12-2011

News, Podcasts

October 12th, 2011 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson


(update 7:45-a.m.) Crash has I-80 WB blocked in NW Adair County – detour established


October 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Interstate 80 westbound remains closed at this time near Adair, following a collision earlier this morning, between two semi tractor-trailers. The crash occurred at the 75-mile marker, or about one-mile west of Adair. The Cass County Communications Center dispatched Anita and Wiota Fire and Rescue at 5:48-a.m.  One person was injured and transported to the Cass County Memorial Hospital, in Atlantic.  Rescue crews are no longer on the scene. The Iowa DOT reports traffic is being detoured around the crash through Anita.

No other details are currently available. The accident was under investigation by the Iowa State Patrol.

Atlantic Community Schools selected as a “Breaking Barriers” District


October 11th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Community School District Superintendent Dr. Mike Amstein, Tuesday, announced the district has been selected by the Iowa Department of Education (IDOE) for a “Breaking Barriers to Learning and Teaching” Award. The award is presented each year to those districts which make major progress in closing gaps in student achievement, by improving instruction, curriculum and programs for students, and professional development opportunities for school staff.

Amstein says the IDOE analyzed achievement scores from the Fall of 2010. The Atlantic School District had two instances of significant decrease in the achievement gap in the subgroups. The subgroups include English Language Learner (ELL), Individualized Education Plans (IEP), or Socio-Economic Status (SES). Districts earn the Breaking Barriers award if they saw proficiency in math or reading improve by at least 20% among two or more subgroups of students, while not allowing a decline of more than 5% in any other subgroup of students.

Amstein says the Atlantic School District received recognition for its efforts in reducing the achievement gap in the third-grade reading, SES group, and in 6th grade reading, between the SES group and the general academic peer groups. He says he applauds the administrators and teachers across the district for their efforts to narrow the achievement gap, especially as they prepare for another round of Iowa Assessment Tests later this month and in November.

The award will be presented to school board member Phil Hascall, on behalf of the district, on November 16th, at the Iowa Association of School Boards’ Annual Convention at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines.  Amstein says the award is a great honor for the district, and it reinforces the boards’ focus on instruction in the classroom.

Strip-search settlement mostly covered by insurance


October 11th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A$300,000 settlement with the families of three girls who were involved in the Atlantic High School strip search incident will be mostly covered by the Atlantic Community School District’s  insurance policy. Atlantic Superintendent Mike Amstein wanted to set the record straight on how the settlement would be paid for, during the Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

search (click here to listen to audio from the meeting)

(as said – Amstein says the district’s carrier, EMC Insurance, has indicated the district is only responsible for the cost of its deductible, which is $1,500.)

Last month it was announced the Atlantic School District had agreed to pay $300,000 to the families of three students who were stripped search by a school employee in 2009. The settlement resolved a lawsuit brought by Holleigh Jo Jacobsen and her father, Matthew Jacobsen; Griffin Ferguson and her mother, Lisa Ferguson; and Paige Brianna Lank and her mother, Lee Lank. Each family of the three students will receive $100,000.

The lawsuit alleged that former Atlantic High School Assistant principal Paul Croghan ordered a strip search of five female students when another student reported they were missing $100. No money was found after the searches. Croghan resigned in 2009. The plaintiffs alleged the school violated the girls state and federal rights against unreasonable searches. On September 20th, Atlantic School officials admitted that the searches were against school policy and state law. They also said the girls did not do anything wrong.

The settlement however, did not absolve the district from its legal problems associated with the case. Last month, an open records suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa (ACLU) reached the Iowa Court of Appeals. The civil-rights organization has been trying to find out what disciplinary action if any, was imposed on school officials involved in the search. The organization had initially lost its bid to have the information disclosed in district court, but appealed the decision.

The district has denied the ACLU’s request for information on the matter, saying disclosure would violate the employees’ privacy. ACLU officials have said that because the public has a legitimate and compelling interest in what transpired at the high school, the information should be disclosed.

Atlantic Fire caused by candle


October 11th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

401 Maple Street fire

Firefighters in Atlantic were called to the scene of a residential fire this (Tuesday) afternoon. The  call about flames seen through an upstairs window at 401 Maple Street came in just before 4-p.m. Atlantic Assistant Fire Chief Tim Cappel.told KJAN News upon arrival, smoke was observed coming out the eaves of the home, which houses three apartments. Cappel says it appears an unattended candle ignited some drapes, which were next to a bed. The resident of the apartment extinguished the flames by throwing  clothes and water on top of them. The male resident suffered some minor burns to his hands and feet.

Cappel says the incident should serve as a reminder to people why it’s important to have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in the home, especially at this time of year. He advised keeping your candles away from drapes and any flammable materials. It’s also important to never leave an open flame unattended.

This is Fire Safety Week. Cappel reminds you to change the batteries in your smoke detectors, and if you don’t have detectors in your home, to purchase them now.

Iowa Transportation Commission approves grant for Mills County


October 11th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Transportation Commission today (Tuesday), approved a Revitalize Iowa’s Sound Economy (RISE) Local Development grant application submitted by Mills County. Up to $876,510 will be made available to assist in construction of approximately 5,450 feet of 190th Street north from U.S. 34 to K Avenue located west of Interstate 29. The project is should be completed by September, 2013. 

Officials say the project is necessary to provide access to six lots totaling 402 acres for industrial, transportation logistics and warehousing purposes.

Funding for the grant comes from the county share of the RISE Fund.

Late night fire near Elliott


October 11th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Firefighters from Griswold and Elliott spent about three-hours fighting a fire two-miles north of Elliott last night. The call about the blaze at 540th and Yankton Road came in at around midnight. Griswold Fire Chief Jim Wyman says when they arrived on the scene, a vacant house with an adjacent trailer was fully engulfed in flames.

Mutual aid provided by firefighters from Elliott was dispatched at around 12:08-a.m. Tuesday, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department. Wyman told KJAN News the structures were a complete loss, and there wasn’t much left to do except clean-up the mess left behind and prevent the fire from spreading to three nearby corn fields . He says the cause of the fire remains undetermined, and because the home was unoccupied, the State Fire Marshal will not be called-in to investigate. Wyman says he hopes this isn’t the beginning of a trend.

Wyman said he “Just wonders where the next one is gonna be.” No injuries were reported. According to Wyman,  a calm wind and heavy air prevented the spread of the fire to the fields. Fog was not a problem on the way to the fire, but Wyman says on the way back to the station, it was a problem they had to contend with. Early this (Tuesday) morning, visibilities were down to less than one-quarter of a mile.