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Unresolved issues could force 2 Fremont County school districts to be dissolved

News

September 19th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A long list of unaddressed problems could cause school districts in Hamburg and Farragut to lose accreditation by the end of the school year. The Daily NonPareil - citing two reports released Wednesday by the Iowa Dept. of Education – reports the Fremont County districts have struggled with overspending, compliance with state regulations and continued enrollment loss.
The districts have 30 days to respond to the Department of Education. The report recommended Hamburg and Farragut resolve district issues individually, together as part of a merged district or part of another district. The report said the districts lacked facilities compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. The cost to make facilities ADA compliant is unknown. However, it would likely outweigh the districts’ resources. The report also said districts have administrative, curriculum and other policy issues.
Hamburg Superintendent Terry Kenealy wrote in a letter on the district’s website earlier this week that the districts should have ongoing conversations with neighboring communities. For 2014, the Hamburg and Farragut districts have a combined enrollment of more than 300 students.
The report said the districts’ priority on whole-grade sharing and reorganization has pushed the best interests of students to the back burner. In addition, the districts’ current finances would likely hinder necessary improvements required for the facilities’ continued operations.

Report chronicles graduates of community colleges

News

September 19th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A new report from the Iowa Department of Education tracks the history of graduates of the state’s 15 community college and where they end up in the job market. Education consultant, Paula Nissen, compiled the report in conjunction with Iowa Workforce Development. Nissen says more than 86 percent of the students stay in Iowa after graduation. “A lot of them will transfer, aproximately half will transfer to either another program within the college that they were attending, or to another two or four-year institution in the state. A small portion of them will transfer to another institution out of the state, and then another 40 to 50 percent of them will go on to employment,” Nissen says.

She says three-point-five percent of those who went on to jobs went out of state. A majority of awards to graduates were in the liberal arts and sciences, health professions, business management, marketing, mechanics and general programs. “There’s a lot of advance manufacturing type positions. Of course computers are always very hot, they’re going to be very high demand, high-paying jobs. Of course health care is big one across the state, it remains an in demand position,” Nissen says. Nissen says the report shows the investment in community colleges has been a good one for the state.

She says the annual report will help the community colleges and potential students. “Moving forward it will give us a lot of information to make those strategic decisions, and to be able to counsel our kids in high school much better to get into the positions that are in demand…or that they can get study onward and further their education in certain types of occupations,” according to Nissen.

The report finds on average, 48 percent of associate-degree students completed within two years. She says they’ve found students sometimes don’t think of a two-year degree as an option.  “I think that it opens a lot of doors and a lot of eyes to kids for them to know that they don’t have to just go straight from high school to a four-year, they attend a two-year college, they can go straight into employment,” Nissen says. “There’s a lot of training, short term training opportunities for those kids to acquire to go right into employment and make a living wage.”

The report finds more than 80 percent of the graduates in each type of degree found a job within one year of graduating. Those graduating with an Associate of Applied Sciences Degree had the highest median wage at 30-thousand-379 dollars. Nissen says she plans to dig deeper into the demographics of the students in future reports to detail things like the ages of students who are getting a two-year degree. You can find out more details on the Department of Education’s website at: www.educateiowa.gov.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa falls from 12th to 18th on ranking of highway conditions

News

September 19th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Iowa’s score has fallen on a national report that ranks our highways based on their condition and cost-effectiveness. The study’s lead author, David Hartgen, with the Reason Foundation, explains how they compile the rankings which show Iowa at number-18 this year, down from 12th a year ago.  “Each of the 50 states is required to send detailed information to Washington each year on the condition of pavements and bridges and congestion and so on, and also information on their budgets,” Hartgen says. “We take that information and roll it up and compare it one state versus another, we look at how states are doing on each measure and then how they’re doing overall.”

The study shows an uptick in the percentage of Iowa’s interstates that are in poor condition. Hartgen says Iowa’s seen a doubling in the percentage of poor interstate conditions in urban areas over the course of the past year. “That suggests to me they may be letting these sections of pavement go a little too long before they’re repaired,” Hartgen says. “Usually, states want to grab those sections when they get to the fair level and not let them get down to the poor level where the costs are much higher.”

The report shows Iowa is making significant strides in trying to maintain the quality of its roads, as the state’s ranked 18th now, up quite a ways from its 33rd place showing in 2009.  “Iowa’s done pretty well overall on a number of statistics,” Hartgen says. “Their budget is a little bit less, actually, per mile than the average state so they’re working on a relatively thin resource base. They scored in the middle of the pack on most of the items we looked at.”

Iowa’s highways rank 26th in the nation in the fatality rate, 35th in the percentage of deficient bridges, 17th in rural Interstate pavement condition, 37th in urban Interstate pavement condition and 32nd in urban Interstate congestion.

(Radio Iowa)

(re-post) S.W. IA woman charged with Harassment

News

September 19th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A simple misdemeanor harassment charge was filed against a southwest Iowa woman Thursday, after police in Lenox received a complaint alleging 31-year old Sarah Jo Groves, of Clearfield, sent harassing text messages on or about August 28th. Groves was charged with Harassment in the 3rd degree, following an investigation into the incident.
She appeared in front of a Taylor County magistrate Thursday morning. A non-jury trial in her case was set for 3-p.m. Nov. 20th.

(re-posted due to technical glitch)

Lenox man arrested Thu. on Child Endangerment charge

News

September 19th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Lenox Police Department reports a local man was arrested Thursday afternoon on a felony charge of Child Endangerment.

Cody Long

Cody Long

Officials say 23-year old Cody Long, of Lenox, allegedly struck a 15 month old child in the head, causing injury. Long was transported to the Taylor County Jail where he was being held on a $5000 cash bond.

Red Oak man arrested on assault charge

News

September 19th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A Red Oak man was arrested Thursday evening on an assault charge. Red Oak Police say 32-year old Joseph Aaron Nelson was taken into custody at around 7:40-p.m. at a residence on east Grimes Street. Nelson was brought to the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Center and charged with Domestic Abuse Assault. He was being held in the jail without bond.

Page Co. man arrested on sex abuse charges

News

September 19th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office reports the arrest on Thursday of a Page County man on sex abuse charges. Deputies arrested 57-year old Michele “Mike” Dean Michel, of Northboro, after he turned himself-in while accompanied by his attorney. Michel faces charges that include two counts of Sexual Abuse in the 2nd degree, two counts of Lascivious Acts with a Child, and two counts of Indecent Contact with a Child.

His arrest followed an investigation that began on Aug. 26, 2014. Michel was unable to post a $30,000 cash bond and is being held in the Fremont County Jail.

New bank plans to come to Atlantic, Council Bluffs & Underwood

News

September 19th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Officials with a bank based in Treynor say a $10 million project in southwest Iowa includes two new locations and expansions to its corporate office. The Omaha World-Herald reports TS Bank company, which acquired two banking groups in North Dakota this summer, is growing so it can bring more jobs to the area. Kelsey Stupfell, chief experience officer for TS Bank, told the paper they want to expand locally, and those plans include a new Council Bluffs branch to be located near North Main Street and Kanesville Boulevard. And, an Atlantic branch of TS Bank is planned for an opening in fall of 2015.

TS Bank also has purchased land in Underwood for another branch, but construction plans have not begun. Expansions also include adding 11,000 square feet for more office space at TS Bank’s corporate office in Treynor. Those renovations are expected to be completed by March 2015.  In May and June, TS Banking Group acquired Bank of Tioga in Tioga, North Dakota, and Farmers State Bank of Crosby in Crosby, North Dakota.

Stupfell said the organization purchased the banks because they were in good standing credit and had similar values with TS Banking Group. At this time, those banks will keep their current names.

Iowa poverty rate for 2013: 12.7 percent

News

September 19th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates more Iowans are living in poverty now than at the beginning of the recession.  Nearly 380-thousand Iowans were living below the poverty line last year. That’s 12-point-seven percent of the state’s population or nearly one out of every eight Iowans. The poverty rate for 2013 was the same as it was the previous year, but higher than it was in 2007. Six years ago an estimated 11 percent of Iowans were living at or below poverty level.

The poverty line is considered 12-thousand dollars in annual income for an individual. For a family of four, it’s a little less than 24-thousand dollars a year. Iowa’s poverty rate is still below the nation rate of nearly 16 percent. The Census Bureau estimates the median income in Iowa was just over 52-thousand dollars in 2013. It was over a thousand dollars more at the start of the recession in 2007.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa not seeing major issues with enterovirus

News

September 19th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A state health official says Iowa has not seen any changes involving the outbreak of a virus that has hit over one dozen state. Deputy State Epidemiologist, Ann Garvey, says the enterovirus is common this time of year, but this particular strain known as D-68 has caused concern in other states. “Here in Iowa we know that this strain is circulating — we are hearing about respiratory illnesses across the state — but we are not hearing that any of our health care community is overwhelmed with cases, unable to meet patient need,” Garvey explains. “While it’s circulating we’re not seeing the numbers that some of our neighboring states are seeing.”

Enterovirus is not a disease that the state or federal health officials track, so Garvey says they don’t have a concrete set up numbers on the cases. “We’re still getting calls from health care providers, just anectdotally we’re hearing some of the health care providers are seein the cases slow. But that’s just few of the locations that we’ve spoke to,” Garvey says. Garvey says the impact of virsuses is always hard to determine, and this one is no different.

“As far as why we are having less activity, there’s not a way to predict that or tell you why. We’re just not seeing it,” Garvey says. There is no treatment for entero other than rest. “So we’re just trying to recommend that Iowans take those kind of common sense measures that we use with all respiratory viruses like influenza,” Garvey says. “Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, get plenty of rest, and if we are ill, stay home.” Garvey says most people who come down with the virus will not have serious symptoms.

(Radio Iowa)