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Legislators find “middle ground” on education budget


June 30th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

After a protracted stand-off over state spending on schools, the two political parties have agreed to a status quo level of state aid to K-through-12 public schools for the school year that begins this fall. However, the agreement calls for two percent more in per-pupil state aid in the following year. Representative Cecil Dolecheck, a Republican from Mount Ayr, helped craft the final deal. “It’s a compromise that’s pretty close to middle ground,” Dolecheck says.

Republicans had proposed ending state-funded preschool programs, but Democrats objected. This year, the state spent about 36-hundred dollars on each four-year-old enrolled in public preschool programs. The compromise calls for reducing that state spending by about seven-hundred dollars per student. Senator Bob Dvorsky, a Democrat from Coralville, is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and he sees that as a victory. “There’s a lot of support for preschool out there,” Dvorsky says.

Dvorsky says school districts needed that extra seven-hundred dollars per preschooler the past few years as programs were started, but Dvorsky says preschools should be able to easily operate on with about three-thousand dollars per student in the coming year.

The Iowa House has just endorsed the education budget bill, which includes spending for the state-supported universities and community colleges, too. The Senate is expected to take up the plan soon. The next state budgeting year begins Friday, July 1st and legislators are racing to strike final deals and pass bills that outline the final details of a nearly six-billion dollar state budget.

There is a budget-related dispute over abortion policy which remains unresolved. The effort to enact a major property tax reform package has been abandoned today, but Governor Branstad is hinting he’ll press the issue, perhaps in a special session later this year.

(O.Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)

Veteran’s Memorial Hwy Traffic Advisory


June 30th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Council Bluffs Police Department has issued a Traffic Advisory concerning the Veteran’s Memorial Highway. Officials say the Army Corps of Engineers Missouri River Seepage Blanket Project will result in heavy truck traffic entering and exiting Vet’s Memorial Highway at the ATV parking lot, on the north side. The Advisory covers the 3500-to 4200 Block of Veteran’s Memorial Highway.

Officials say all westbound traffic will need to be prepared to merge to the left lane, west of South 35th Street, in Council Bluffs. Traffic control devices will assist motorists with the merge, while the right lane will be dedicated to truck traffic only.

Council Bluffs needs more volunteers to help with sandbagging


June 30th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

More volunteers are needed to fill sandbags in Council Bluffs as the community fights to hold back the high water of the flooding Missouri River. Kris Ranney, with the Council Bluffs Volunteer Center, says they also need muscle power to set the sandbags in position over the many miles of levees.  Ranney says, “I think mostly it’s going to include placing sandbags along the levee.” She says volunteers are helping to take a load off the shoulders of city workers who have been working non-stop to keep Council Bluffs safe from the swirling floodwater. 

Ranney says the volunteers will “just trying to help support the city crews as they’re trying to maintain and keep the levees as stable as possible.” She says they’re looking for strong men and women to help pack the sandbags and get them ready for city crews, but it won’t be light work.

“It will mostly be a matter of picking up and lugging 30- 40-pound sandbags for placement,” she says. There are two shifts planned with hopes of having between 50 and 100 volunteers per shift. For times and locations, volunteers are asked to contact the Bluffs City Clerk or the Center at (712) 328-2606.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)

Adair County Temporary Redistricting Committee to meet this eve.


June 30th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Adair County Temporary Redistricting Committee will meet this evening in the Supervisor’s Board Room, at the Courthouse in Greenfield. The group is responsible for drawing the new Supervisor District lines, using the 2010 Census numbers, and established the precinct boundaries for voting.

The TRC meeting begins at 6-p.m., and includes the election of a Chairperson, presentation of instructions to the committee, discussion pertaining to redistricting, and other matters.

I-80 temporarily closed Wednesday due to vehicle fire


June 30th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A portion of Interstate 80 eastbound near Casey, in Adair County, was closed for about 25-minutes Wednesday, after a vehicle caught fire. The interstate was reported to have been officially closed at 1:47-p.m., and re-opened to traffic at 2:03-p.m.

No other details are currently available concerning the fire.

USDA Funding to 21 Utilities Will Help Create Jobs and Strengthen Rural Businesses


June 30th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

U.S. Ag Sec. Tom Vilsack

U-S Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday, announced the selection of 21 utilities for loans and grants to help rural businesses expand and create jobs. Six projects are in Iowa. Among the communities receiving loan or grant funds, are the Cities of Atlantic and Manning.

In Atlantic, the Board of Waterworks and Electric Power Plant Trustees received a $300,000 grant to construct a 25,000-square-foot-industrial building for local or new manufacturing businesses.

And in Manning, the city’s Municipal Light Plant received a $250,000 grant to purchase the Manning Hausbarn Heritage Park campus for an attraction, education and conference center.

Ag Secretary Vilsack says “These loans and grants help cooperatives and utilities support local projects that create jobs and improve rural economic conditions.” He said also the “USDA is proud to be a partner in the effort to bolster these cooperatives and help them ‘Win the Future’ by increasing the value and appeal of the products and services they deliver.”

Villisca woman arrested on drug charges


June 30th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A Villisca woman was arrested on drug-related charges Wednesday afternoon, in Montgomery County. Sheriff’s officials say 32-year old Jill Christine Currin was wanted on an Adams County warrant for Failure to Affix a Drug Tax Stamp, two-counts of Possession of Prescription drugs, and Possession of Hydrocodone. Currin was turned over to Adams County authorities, and was being held on $8,000 bond.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reports also…

23-year old Zackary Zane Haley, of Villisca

, was arrested Wednesday afternoon on a magistrate’s warrant for 5th degree theft. His bond was set at $300. And, 40-year old Keith Allan Currin, of Villisca, was arrested on a warrant for violation of his probation. His bond was set at $10,000.

Motorcycle vs. deer accident


June 30th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A Clarinda man was injured Wednesday evening in Page County, when he swerved to miss a deer on the road, and crashed his motorcycle. Sheriff’s officials say 35-year old Jamie Vandel, of Clarinda, was taken by Clarinda EMS to the Clarinda Regional Health Center for treatment of his injuries.

The accident happened just before 7-p.m., on Redwood Avenue, just north of J-20, near Hepburn. Officials say Vandel was traveling south on Redwood when a deer ran onto the road in front of him. When Vandel swerved to miss the deer, he lost control of the 1997 Harley Davidson he was driving.

Vandel was separated from his cycle, when it toppled onto its side.

Olson Begins Duties as Cass County Extension Program Coordinator


June 30th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Kate Olson, Cass Co. ISU Extension Pgm. Coordinator

Officials with Iowa State University Extension say Cass County native Kate Olson began her work as the Cass County Program Coordinator last week (June 20th).  Olsen replaces Bill Drey, who has been the shared Program Coordinator for Cass and Montgomery Counties for the past year and a half. Bill is retiring from his work with ISU Extension in Cass County effective July 1st. Olson’s position has fulltime responsibility for Extension programming in Cass County and bringing the resources and research of Iowa State University Extension to the local area.

The extension service says Kate comes to the position with a good background in agriculture and Extension work.  She is a graduate of Iowa State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science. Prior to coming to Cass County, she was employed as the County Program Coordinator in Shelby County. She also has a background in livestock production, communications and training, and is a former Cass County 4-H’er.

Kate, along with her husband Jon and two young children, live on a farm north of Atlantic.

Bellevue bridge temporarily closed


June 30th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – June 29, 2011 – The Iowa Department of Transportation is reporting that
Iowa 370 from Interstate 29 west to the Missouri River, including the Bellevue,
Neb., bridge, is closed temporarily. 

The closure is necessary for large sandbags to be dropped along the levee system. 

The operations are expected to continue for several more hours. 

Follow detour instructions provided by law enforcement officers on the scene or
avoid the area if possible.