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Police: Man reported missing in February was homicide victim

News

December 12th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

(A-P) — Police say a man reported missing in February in Omaha was a homicide victim. Police in Council Bluffs took a missing person report on 37-year-old Joseph Hellman, on Feb. 21. He was last seen in Omaha and the report was referred to Omaha police. Omaha police told the Omaha World-Herald investigators determined Hellman was killed weeks earlier in Omaha.

Police say investigators understood that Hellman died under suspicious circumstances but they couldn’t classify it as a homicide until this week. Police say they have a person of interest in custody on unrelated charges. Hellman’s body hasn’t been located.

Democrats announce early primary state debate schedule

News

December 12th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

(A-P) — Democrats will hold four debates in each of the early primary states as voting gets underway next year. The Democratic National Committee announced Thursday that some of the debates are scheduled to be held just days before voters head to the polls. The first primary debate of the new year will be on Jan. 14 in Des Moines, Iowa. The second is scheduled for Feb. 7 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Democrats will debate in Las Vegas on Feb. 19, three days before the caucuses there. And in South Carolina, they’ll hold a debate on Feb. 25, four days before that state’s Democratic primary.

Review finds 15 errors on felon list in Carroll county

News

December 12th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

(A-P) — State officials are confirming that 15 cases in just one small Iowa county were mistakenly recorded as felony convictions on the list they use to identify ineligible voters. The Associated Press reviewed all 359 Carroll County entries as part of an investigation into the error-riddled list, which has been blamed for causing confusion and wrongly disenfranchising eligible voters. Fifteen of the cases _ or more than 4 percent _ were misdemeanor convictions that did not result in the loss of voting rights.

A judicial branch spokesman says 11 of the cases were incorrectly coded as felonies and he’s looking into the source of the other errors. A spokesman for the Iowa Secretary of State’s office says the errors were corrected Thursday.

State to fill in most information for felons seeking to get voting rights back

News

December 12th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — People getting out of Iowa prisons after serving time for a felony will now have some more help in getting their voting rights restored. Anyone with a felony conviction must apply to the governor to get their those rights restored. Iowa Department of Corrections Director, Beth Skinner, says they are replacing the blank application with one that has most of the information already filled out.  “It should be a pretty seamless process because I think what happens in a lot of cases is some of the information is so hard to find for them and our system already has that,” Skinner says.

Iowa-Nebraska N-A-A-C-P President Betty Andrews recently asked state officials to make the change. “I’m really excited. This is something the N-A-A-C-P has been pushing. That was an idea we came up with to kind of be a gap filler,” according to Andrews.

Andrews says she will continue to ask Governor Reynolds to restore felon voting rights with executive action, but Reynolds is still advocating for a constitutional amendment to make the change. Kentucky’s newly-elected governor says he will sign an executive order today (Thursday) restoring voting rights to felons. That action would make Iowa the only state which bans felons from voting and requires them to apply to have the voting rights restored.

(Thanks to Katrina Sostaric, Iowa Public Radio)

Executives urge Iowa lawmakers to address access to child care, housing

News

December 12th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — The leaders of Iowa’s largest businesses are urging Iowa lawmakers to address the lack of affordable housing and child care in the state. Iowa Business Council executive director Joe Murphy says those are the two key barriers to retaining and expanding Iowa’s workforce. “The need for workers has never been more pronounced,” Murphy says. “We need to do everything we can to provide opportunities for moms and dads who are thinking about entering the workforce to make sure that they have a safe space and a safe place for their child to receive high quality child care.”

This summer, Governor Reynolds suggested she’s considering things like tax credits to companies that operate or create child care center. Murphy says the Business Council is not endorsing a specific proposal at this point. “Whether it’s tax credits, whether it’s discounts on production materials, whether it’s trying to come up with a revolving loan fund for businesses to partner with communities — whatever it takes, we think that the access to high quality child care is one of the most critical points we can tackle this legislative session,” Murphy says.

The Business Council is supporting expansion of the workforce housing tax credit as well as more funding for the state housing trust fund. The fund this year will hand out more than six-million dollars worth of grants to finance local efforts to build affordable housing. “The Business Council was founded in 1985 in the throes of the Farm Crisis and business leaders back then got together and tried to figure out ways in which they could how they could band together their intellectual capital, their monetary capital and any other capital, frankly, that they could to provide opportunities for Iowans to prosper,” Murphy says.

Murphy says business leaders know their employees are more productive when they have a safe, affordable place to live and a quality child care program to leave their kids while they work. One out of every six jobs in the state are tied to a company that’s involved in the Iowa Business Council. Executives from 23 of the largest businesses in Iowa serve on council.

USDA head, governor visit SW Iowa to announce rural broadband expansion

News

December 12th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — State and federal officials will visit Stanton this afternoon (Thursday) for an announcement about the expansion of rural broadband services. U-S Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will join Governor Kim Reynolds in making a presentation. Kevin Cabbage, general manager and C-E-O of Farmers Mutual Telephone Company, says it’s being included in the federal government’s ReConnect program, designed to upgrade fiber optics coverage in rural parts of the country. “Their appearance here is because of some recent funding that was made possible through USDA for companies like FMTC to submit applications for rural broadband expansion to the rural areas,” Cabbage says.

In March of 2018, Congress provided 600-million dollars to U-S-D-A to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. Cabbage says funding from the program will allow his company to expand outside its normal coverage area, which has been towns including: Stanton, Villisca, Nodaway, New Market and Bethesda. “We have been branching out into areas of Red Oak, Clarinda, Bedford, and Corning,” Cabbage says, “but, that comes at a high cost to expand our fiber optics out there. There just really hasn’t been a mechanism in place to make that affordable for companies to do. That’s the reason those people are lacking in some communications services.”

Cabbage says F-M-T-C has focused on increasing and improving rural internet services for a number of years and now it’s gaining national attention. “Obviously, it’s been a focus of the state here, with Iowa Governor Reynolds and her Empower Rural Iowa Initiative, and then the Connections Task Force that’s been working on ways that we can help bring high-speed broadband service delivered over fiber optic cable to all of the rural residents,” he says.

Under the ReConnect program, USDA received 146 applications between May and July of this year, requesting $1.4 million in funding. The event is at the Old Lumber Yards Event Center in Stanton at 2:30 p.m.

Final Reminder: Winter clothing drive this weekend in Cass County

News

December 12th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

A reminder from Cass County Democratic Party Chair Sherry Toelle: A Winter Clothing distribution Drive sponsored by Cass County Democrats, is being held this weekend in Anita, Massena, Lewis and, Griswold. Donated items include adult and children’s winter clothes, as well as blankets and throws. The Clothing Drive is open to residents of Cass County who are in need of assistance to stay warm this Winter. 

Winter clothing will be available …

Saturday (Dec. 14) – from 10-until 11:30-a.m. at the Anita City Hall, and from 1-until 2:30-p.m. at St. Patrick’s Church in Massena.

Sunday (Dec. 15) – from 1-until 3-p.m. at the Lewis Community Building, and from 3:30-until 5-p.m. at the Griswold Community Building.

A final Winter Clothing distribution event will take place Wednesday, Dec. 18th, from 4-until 5-p.m., at the Cumberland United Methodist Church. If you have any questions, call Sherry Toelle at 243-4861.

Walnut City Council set to meet this (Thursday) evening

News

December 12th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

The City Council in Walnut will gather at 5-p.m. for their regular monthly meeting at City Hall. On their agenda, is continued discussion with regard to the Walnut Community Center, with regard to heating issues, and the Fitness Center. They will also discuss: Switching Insurance Agents; the Budget; and City Employees’ evaluation and salary matters.

In other business, the Walnut City Council will act on setting the date for a Public Hearing on a proposed Fiscal Year City Property Tax Levy, and hear updates on the Walnut Housing Rehabilitation Program, along with a lease agreement for a sign, and property maintenance.

Afton man reports theft of mower, snowblower & tools

News

December 12th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

The Union County Sheriff’s Office says an Afton man reported Monday afternoon, that sometime over the past few days, someone entered his property and took a Craftsman riding lawn mower, a snow blower, and a 300-piece Craftsman tool set. Those items were valued at $1,350 altogether.

Top state medical officer says Iowa averages between 40 & 50 TB cases each year

News

December 12th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — The Iowa Department of Public Health’s medical director says there were 49 cases of active tuberculosis in Iowa last year. Dr. Caitlin Pedati says that’s a significant reduction compared to historic trends in Iowa. “As far back as the 1930s and 1940s, we were seeing 500 (to) 700 cases of this and part of what Public Health does is try and get better at identifying those cases quickly to prevent them from moving and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” Pedati says. “We’ve seen those numbers come down over the years.”

Pedati, who is also the state epidemiologist, will not comment directly on the Hampton-Dumont High School student who was diagnosed this week with T-B. Pedati’s agency, though, is coordinating with the school nurse to come up with a list of people who’ve had close contact with the Hampton-Dumont student. All will be offered free T-B tests and free treatment if they’re found to have the illness.  “What we’re trying to do is figure out both an acute disease tuburculosis case which is somebody who’s actively sick, and then we also try and look for people who might have what’s called latent tuberculosis, so they would have been exposed to the germ, but they won’t have symptoms,” Pedati says. “Now those people are not going to be contagious and actually many of those people will never go on to develop disease.”

Dr. Pedati says in a few weeks health officials will follow up with those who test positive for “latent” T-B to see if any symptoms have developed.  “Both for latent tuberculosis and active tuberculosis there are medications that you would take. The exact medicines and the time frames that you would take them are a little bit different depending on which group you’re in and a couple of other factors,” Pedati says. “But, yes, there are good medications available.”

T-B is spread when someone with the disease coughs, laughs, speaks or sings and someone nearby breathes in the bacteria and it settles in their lungs. T-B is NOT spread by shaking hands, sharing food, kissing or touching bed sheets or toilet seats.