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Iowa Senate OKs bills on minimum wage, wage theft


February 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Senate has approved bills that would raise Iowa’s minimum wage and try to curtail cases of wage theft. The Democratic-majority Senate voted 27 to 22 Tuesday to increase the state’s minimum wage level to $8.75. The Senate also voted 26-23 to establish more rules to curtail alleged wage theft by employers in Iowa.

The bills now head to the Republican-led House for consideration, but it’s unlikely there’s enough support there to get them to Gov. Terry Branstad’s desk. Lawmakers in the House have said they would rather focus on skilled worker training opportunities instead of a minimum wage bill that raises it above its current level of $7.25. Lawmakers have also said there are other ways to prevent wage theft.

Senate panel OKs bill aimed at school bullying in Iowa


February 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Senate panel has approved a bill aimed at reducing school bullying in Iowa, a key legislative issue for Gov. Terry Branstad this session. Members of an education subcommittee approved the bill Tuesday. It now heads to a full committee for consideration. The bill would expand guidelines for Iowa school districts responding to cases of bullying. It would allow school officials to address bullying outside of school grounds and expand the definition of cyberbullying.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa is opposing the bill, saying the legislation has overly broad language about parental notification and how much teachers should be monitoring for bullying off school grounds. Other groups have expressed support for the bill. Similar legislation failed to garner enough support last session.

Harlan Police report, 2/24/15


February 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Police Department today (Tuesday) issued its weekly activity report. Officials say on Feb. 17th, 33-year old Lisa Briggs, of Harlan, was taken into custody following a traffic stop. Briggs was transported to the Shelby County Jail where she was charged with driving under suspension, two counts of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. Briggs was also cited for failure to prove security against liability.

On Feb. 15th, two subjects were cited when police responded to a single car accident in the 1600 block of Durant Street. When officers arrived they found 20-year old Kayley Cooper, of Harlan, outside her vehicle that appeared to have struck a tree. As a result of the investigation into the cause of the accident Cooper was cited for failure to maintain control, failure to obey stop or yield sign, and careless driving. She was also charged with false reporting to police. A complaint was filed with the Shelby County clerk of court charging 21-year old Brandon Allen, with violating the conditions of a restricted license.

And Harlan Police took a report on Feb. 20th from Olivia Rink, of Harlan, who reported the theft of an iPhone from her locker at the Petersen Wellness Center. The replacement cost of the phone was estimated at $650.00. The case remains under investigation.

Accident investigation in Clarinda


February 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Page County investigated a hit and run accident Monday afternoon, in Clarinda. Officials say they received a call just after 4-p.m. about an accident at the intersection of Lincoln Street and 21st Street. Page County deputies determined that 44-year old Susan Muriel Lauritsen, of Clarinda, was southbound on 21st street driving a red 2008 Pontiac G6. 20-year old Chelsey Ann Boileau, of Sidney,  was eastbound on Lincoln Street driving a red 1997 Plymouth Neon.

At the intersection of Lincoln and 21st Streets, Boileau’s vehicle struck Lauritsen’s vehicle in the passenger side causing damage to Lauritsen’s vehicle. Boileau then left the scene without stopping as required. She was later found and cited into Magistrate court for Failure to have insurance – accident related and Leaving the scene of a traffic accident – vehicle damage.

Mills County Sheriff’s report (issued 2/24/15)


February 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Mills County report several arrests over the past week. In their report issued today (Tuesday), authorities said 63-year old Kenneth Eugene Farmer, of Coin, was arrested Monday afternoon for Driving Under Suspension. That same day, 37-year old Jeffrey Allen Culley, of Council Bluffs, was arrested on a warrant out of Audubon County for Contempt of Court. Bonds for both men were set at $1,000 each.

On Sunday, Mills County deputies arrested: 35-year old Jason Allen Wilkinson, of Council Bluffs, for Burglary in the 2nd degree, and 34-year old Jayson Daniel Hickle, of Council Bluffs, for Public Intoxication. Wilkinson’s bond was set at $10,000, while Hickle was held on $300 bond.

Last Saturday, deputies arrested 34-year old Adam Lee Viner, of Omaha, on a warrant for Failure to Appear on a five counts of Theft in the 5th degree. His bond was set at $300. 41-year old Keith Alan Rowe, of Hastings, was arrested on a warrant for Theft in both the 1st and 2nd degrees. His bond was set at $10,000.

Last Friday, Mills County deputies arrested 37-year old Alan Kent Burison, of Essex, for Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Trespassing. Bond was set at $1,300. That same day, 35-year old Shaun Joseph Goines, of Glenwood, was arrested for Driving Under Suspension and Failure to have SR-22 Insurance. His bond was also set at $1,300. And, 48-year old Tony Dean Martin, of Glenwood, was arrested Friday on a warrant for Violation of a No Contact Order. His bond was $300.

On Thursday: 20-year old Bridgette Renee Seyler, of Glenwood, was arrested for Domestic Abuse Assault. She was being held without bond in the Mills County Jail; 23-year old Nicholas Gene Argetsinger, of Glenwood, was arrested at the same time, also for Domestic Abuse Assault. He was also being held without bond in the Mills County Jail. And, 59-year old Gregory N. Jones, a homeless man, was arrested Thursday at the Polk County Jail on a Mills County warrant for Failure to Appear on on OWI/1st offense, charge. His bond was set at $1,000.

Family’s estate gives $3 million to Creston parish, school


February 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

CRESTON, Iowa (AP) – A family’s estate has donated more than $3 million to a Catholic parish and school in Creston after the last of nine siblings died and their farmland was sold. The Creston News Advertiser reports) that after Irene Pesik died in September 2012 at age 93, the 440 acres her family had owned was put up for sale. It sold for just over $3 million in January.

The money was split between Holy Spirit Parish and the St. Malachy Foundation, which funds the St. Malachy School. A committee that represents the parish and foundation agreed to invest the money with a goal of only spending the interest. None of the nine Pesik siblings married or had children.

Plaques to honor the family will be installed at the parish and school.

Atlantic School Board discusses Capital Projects


February 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Community School District’s Board of Education Monday night, discussed their 5-year Capital Improvements Plan and student motivation during their work session. Superintendent Dr. Michael Amstein told KJAN News today (Tuesday), he’ll be bringing his recommendations to the Board for action during their meeting in March, but he says they typically include replacement of normal, wear and tear items. That includes carpeting, furniture, tuck pointing of the brick buildings, and parking lot paving and/or line repainting.

But he’ll also recommend replacing the some of the heat pumps at the high school. He says they’ll look at a 3-to 4-year cycle of replacing the pumps in different parts of the building, as the current pumps are at or near their expected life span. Amstein said also, the district’s Building Leadership Team, Monday night, discussed how they can affect and improve student motivation. They also talked about the technology needs of the students and teachers are, following the implementation of the 1-to1 laptop computer initiative.”

Amstein says they also discussed taking another look at the budget for the 2015-16 school year, and moving ahead with plans despite not knowing again, what the Iowa Legislature will allow for Supplemental Aid. He says the legislature has already surpassed the 30-days required by law to set the percentage of Supplemental Aid. Therefore, the Board laid-out some scenarios with regard to the current levies and funding appropriations at varying percentages of Supplemental Aid and the effect each would have on the levy.

In addition, Amstein said he’s not sure the district could manage some of the legislative proposals for bullying when it comes to incidents that happen off campus. He said “It’s a fine line for them to walk,” and he’ll be interested in seeing how that plays out. An amendment discussed Monday would change some language on guidelines for educators looking at why a student might be bullied. It would also create a group of experts who would study the issue. The bill was proposed by Gov. Terry Branstad, who has made anti-bullying legislation a priority this session. Lawmakers failed to agree on a measure last year.

Much of Iowa in line for 4-6 inches of snow


February 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The latest forecast shows a large portion of the state could soon be buried under a half-foot or more of snow. National Weather Service meteorologist Allan Curtis says snow should start falling early tomorrow (Wed) morning in northwest Iowa and move diagonally across the state throughout the day. “The heaviest band of snow…we’re looking at northwest Iowa, coming across into central Iowa, even parts of south-central and southeastern Iowa…being in that 4 to 6 inch range,” Curtis said.

Other areas of the state may not get any new snow.  “For the most part, southwest Iowa will likely see something, probably up to an inch,” Curtis said. “The only parts of the state that are looking at possibly seeing nothing are the extreme eastern and northeastern sections.” The snow is expected to arrive in northwest Iowa around 2 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) and exit southeast Iowa either late tomorrow or early Thursday. “This one is going to be a pretty long duration event,” Curtis said.

The snow will be followed by some bitterly cold temperatures to close out the month of February. “We’re looking at highs on Thursday and Friday in the single digits and lower teens,” Curtis said. Another round of snow is possible over the weekend. “Currently, it’s looking like the totals will be less than what we see Wednesday,” Curtis said. “Obviously, that can change, but the big difference with what’s coming through for the weekend…it looks like it’s going to be a more widespread event.”

(Radio Iowa)

Women Gaining Ground Conference To Be Held in Shenandoah on March 21


February 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

An one-day conference for women from all walks of life will be held at the Shenandoah Historical Museum Building, next month.  on Saturday, March 21. The Mills County Extension Office reports the “Women Gaining Ground” conference, presented by Women, Land and Legacy, takes place 8-a.m. March 21st. image001

Officials say a series of six interesting and insightful sessions will be held throughout the day. Participants can attend three of the following sessions:
Reducing Your Risk of Identity Theft: Identity is an asset—as valuable as cash in hand. Learn how to protect your assets by becoming more informed about which types of personal information thieves are stealing.
Local Foods: Grow It Here, Eat It Here: Learn about the benefits of eating food grown close to home and get tips for becoming a successful ag entrepreneur.
Creative Start-Ups: Hear the story of Joe Sweeney, a 5th generation cattle farmer who is now part of a new wave of agriculture with the establishment of Buckeye Fish Company.
Travel Time Not Required: Find out more about some of the wonderful things close to home that Western Iowa has to offer.
The Business of Bees: Interested in the intriguing lives of bees and their role in the environment? Two local beekeepers will share their expertise.
Spring Decorating—With Junk: The Farmer’s Daughters will share some tips and tricks for freshening up your home, porch and yard, just in time for spring.

Keynote speaker for the event is Holly Hoffman, a former contestant on TV’s “Survivor” show, who is scheduled to make her presentation at 10:15-a.m.  Hoffman is an inspirational and motivational speaker who encourages others to take opportunities and focus on attitude, confidence, determination, desire, and faith.

The day will start with donuts and fresh fruit. Lunch will be feature a baked potato bar and desserts. To finish the day, participants will be sent home with locally prepared cookies.  All that good food may have some women worrying about their figures, so Bobbi Schaaf will be teaching some yoga moves after lunch that will help burn off a few calories and promote life-long fitness.

The conference features a variety of local merchants displaying some of their most popular products. Pre-registration is required, with registrations postmarked by March 10th eligible to win $100 cash. Details for the conference, including access to the registration form, are available on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/womenlandlegacywgg.

Any questions can be directed to Mills County ISU Extension at 712-624-8616; Fremont County ISU Extension at 712-374-2351; or Montgomery County ISU Extension at 712-623-2592.

Suicide attempt reveals safety gaps at Iowa mental hospital


February 24th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa (AP) – A mental hospital that Gov. Terry Branstad wants to close has fired three workers and made changes after a patient’s attempted suicide revealed major safety gaps. Administrators at the Mental Health Institute in Mount Pleasant say three workers walked past a psychiatric patient who’d tied a bedsheet around his neck to a bathroom doorknob Oct. 19. They say all three should have stopped immediately to help the patient, who had a history of assaulting employees.

But the workers dispute that the patient, who ultimately wasn’t harmed, was in immediate danger or that they did anything wrong. They say they weren’t given training on responding to suicide attempts.
An investigation by the Department of Inspections and Appeals concluded that “systemic failures and deficient practices” led to an unsafe environment for patents.