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7AM Newscast 06-15-2011

News, Podcasts

June 15th, 2011 by admin

w/ News Director Ric Hanson


Atlantic & Essex men arrested for Public Intox


June 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Two people were arrested early this (Wednesday) morning in Adams County, on Public Intoxication charges. The Adams County Sheriff’s Department reports 22-year old Shawn Crouch, of Atlantic, and 19-year old Bobby Farwell, of Essex, were taken into custody at around 2:20-a.m., following an argument with another man on Davis Street in Corning.

Crouch and Farwell were charged with Public Intoxication, second-offense.

Atlantic teacher asks school board to reconsider English Dept change


June 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A request by Atlantic English/English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher Jennifer Hartwig to the Board of Education to reconsider her move out of the English Department into a full-time ESL position seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Hartwig presented her case to the Board during their regular meeting, Tuesday night.

Hartwig, who built and designed the District’s English Language Learner (ELL) and ESL program, is the district’s only legally endorsed ESL core sheltered instruction teacher. She’s served a total of six and a-half years in the District and its ESL program. Hartwig says the ESL Department has always viewed her role as permanently part-time. She says when the department came to the board with a request for additional staff, she never thought she would be completely pulled from her High School English position to fill the gap.

She says that’s especially true since the move would effectively take the district “a step back,” by putting the number of ESL endorsed sheltered instruction teachers “back to zero.” She said their understanding was that when they needed more assistance to serve the ELL’s, additional staff would be added, not move her out of the classroom.

Hartwig says the need to add additional staff was to support the district’s ELL plan, which she says mandates sheltered instruction. That means the regular classroom teachers who instruct ELL’s are to be ESL endorsed, so they can provide language instruction that are in-line with current ESL methods. She says adding support staff is key to broadening the base of the program, making it strong and sustainable.

Hartwig presented several options to the board to strengthen the ESL program and ELL community, including the possible hiring of a Chuukese translator to fill the department’s current needs. Hartwig said a Chuukese translator option is $15,000 less expensive to the district, and any extra money could be used to assist sheltered instructors in becoming ESL endorsed and more compliant with the ELL plan.

Superintendent Mike Amstein said the move was an “administrative transfer,” and will not be reversed.

Biggest hurdle for legislators? Property taxes


June 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

It appears the biggest hurdle to completing the work of the 2011 legislative session is a dramatic difference of opinion on how best to reduce commercial property taxes.

Republicans in the House favor a 25 percent reduction in commercial property tax rates, while Democrats in the Senate propose a tax credit that would be paid directly to the owners of commercial property. The two sides can’t even agree on what would happen if nothing’s done.

Republicans like Senator Jack Whitver of Ankeny make this assertion: “I’m concerned about the estimated $1.3 billion of property tax increase that will hit our citizens and job creators if we choose to do nothing about our current property tax system.”

Democrats like Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City make this counter argument: “It’s your talking points on this. There’s no way local governments are going to be increasing our property taxes statewide by $1.3 billion.”

Legislative leaders met privately with the governor’s staff Tuesday. While differences over the spending plan for next year’s state budget have narrowed considerably, it’s still unclear how the two parties can reconcile their vastly different approaches to property tax reform.

(O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)

Officials hope temporary levee will save Iowa town


June 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

HAMBURG, Iowa (AP) – A temporary earthen levee is now the only barrier standing between the small southwestern Iowa town of Hamburg and the floodwaters of the Missouri River. Officials are hoping efforts to beef it up will be enough to keep the small southwestern Iowa town from filling up like a bathtub.

Crews working for the Army Corps of Engineers hope to pile at least three feet of extra dirt atop the levee before this (Wednesday) evening. If the levee fails, parts of the town could be covered by as much as 10 feet of water within days. And,  high water could linger for months.

The earthen levee became Hamburg’s last line of defense after the river punched through another levee downstream in northwest Missouri that provided the town’s primary protection.

Outspoken Rep. King faces newly contoured district


June 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

WASHINGTON (AP) – Outspoken congressman Steve King is facing a bigger challenge in 2012 than he has in the past, thanks to redistricting in Iowa and a potentially prominent opponent. Roughly half of King’s district will be new in 2012, with more Democrats and independents. And former Iowa first lady Christy Vilsack is his likely opponent.

In Iowa and other states where maps are being redrawn, such as Illinois and Texas, both national parties see opportunities and potential setbacks. Tweaks to districts can put seats that were once locked down for one party firmly in play. Or they can, as is the case of King in Iowa, push a conservative congressman to a territory where he’ll have to retest his message.

Coupons help low-income seniors buy fresh produce


June 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Coupons are now available to help low-income seniors buy fresh fruit and vegetables at farmer’s markets. Iowa Department on Aging spokesperson, Machelle Shaffer says the coupons are available on a first-come first-serve basis.

She says they program is through the low-income senior nutrition program and they provide 10 checks for three dollars each that can be redeemed at produce stands and farmer’s markets. Shaffer says the coupons are good through October 31st.

Shaffer says eligible seniors must be 60 years or older and have an income of 20-thousand-147 or below for a single person, and 27-thousand-214 dollars or below for a married couple. Shaffer says there is a one page application form you need to fill out.

Shaffer says it does not take long to fill out the form that you can get at your local Area Agency on Aging. She says you can call 866-468-7887 to find your local Area Agency on Aging. Shaffer says the program helps seniors as well as those who grow fresh food locally.

(Radio Iowa)

U-I researches study staph bacteria in meat


June 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

University of Iowa researchers have won a one-point-two million dollar U-S-D-A grant for a study on the spread of a common bacteria. Tara Smith, the interim director of the U-I Center for Emerging and Infectious Disease, explains the study.

She says they will study Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria carried by about one third of people in their noses. It also occurs in the environment and in raw meat products, especially pork. Smith says they want to find out how big a role raw meat plays in spreading the bacteria to people who develop staph infections. Smith says they’ll look at how readily the bacteria is spread through the handling of meat products.


Smith says they know that people who are contaminated with staph bacteria can contaminate meat products when they touch them. She says other research has shown that the bacteria can be carried in pigs, cows, turkeys and chickens, and the bacteria can come directly from the animals. Smith says the bacteria can cause many problems if it is spread.

Smith says it can cause some “pretty nasty infections,” which are mostly skin and soft tissue infections. She says a lot of people think they have spider bites, but those are actually staph infections. Smith says staph infections are actually one of the leading causes of death in the U-S. Smith, who is an assistant professor of epidemiology, says they need to first determine how much an impact meat plays in the spread of staph.

Smith says the first part of the study is to get a handle on how common staph is in meat and then later if they see that meat handling is a risk, they can look at some ways to make handling the food safer. Smith says the grant will fund five years of study.

(Radio Iowa)

Engineer fears levees will fail test of time


June 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

With the floodgates open at Gavins Point Dam, a record one-point-one million gallons of water per second are gushing into the already-flooded Missouri River. Rod Nohr, a professional engineer based in Yankton, South Dakota, says most of the temporary levees are designed — at best — to with stand a couple of weeks of high water. Nohr says those levees are likely doomed.

“Over time, I don’t care how they cover them with plastic and sandbags, the earth and that will become liquefied by long-term exposure to water and you’ll start having really serious erosion problems, especially if there’s current there,” he says.

Communities in the immediate threat zone in South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa have ringed homes, businesses and important infrastructure with these temporary berms and floodwalls. Ever seen the Grand Canyon? When it’s water versus anything solid, the water will eventually win.

“The concerns probably aren’t going to be today or tomorrow,” he says. “It’s going to be within a week or two or three when you’re going to see sandbag walls being undermined or these temporary plastic-lined levees liquefying and starting to leak and fail.” Nohr says the water will eventually find the weak spots in temporary barriers.

He says, “Water pressure seeps in and actually liquefies the levee wall so these temporary ones that are pushed up with bulldozers, exposure to deep water and water with current over two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, six weeks — can be a really become a really serious problem.”

Nohr, whose company works with grain-handling facilities along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, says levees and sandbag walls have to be watched constantly as the high water pushes against them. He’s not optimistic for any of the small towns standing in the way of the flooding Missouri, especially Hamburg, in far southwest Iowa.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)

Arrests made in car theft incidents


June 15th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Two Red Oak men were arrested Tuesday afternoon in Montgomery County on theft and criminal mischief charges, after they allegedly stole vehicles from Page and Montgomery Counties, and wrecked both vehicles. Authorities say 19-year old Cody Dean Johnson and 20-year old Micheal Eugene Sickels, both of Red Oak, allegedly stole a 2000 Buick Regal from a residence off of Highway 48, between Shenandoah and Essex, early Tuesday morning. The wrecked car was found just before 1-p.m. Tuesday, in Montgomery County.

The duo also allegedly stole a 1992 Oldsmobile. Sheriff’s officials say they drove the car through two corn fields, causing over $1,000 damage to the crop belonging to Gordon Arnold, of Red Oak. The vehicle was also driven over a creek embankment before Johnson and Sickels allegedly tried to set it on fire. The vehicle was considered a total loss.

The pair were taken into custody at around 3-p.m. Tuesday, on charges of theft in the second-degree and criminal mischief in the second-degree, and were being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $10,000 bond each.

Additional charges were leveled against them in Red Oak from incidents which occurred earlier in the day in Red Oak, and, charges are pending in Page County.