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NE man found guilty in Mills Co. sex abuse case


February 26th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Omaha World-Herald reports a Nebraska man was found guilty Tuesday in the case of two Mills County girls who were sexually abused last September. The girls were eight- and nine-years old. 64-year old John R. Schondelmeyer, of Bellevue, NE., was convicted of two counts of second-degree sexual abuse and two counts of lascivious acts with a child. A  jury issued its verdict after less than an hour of deliberation.

Schondelmeyer faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison on each sexual abuse count and a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on the lascivious acts counts. He’s scheduled to be sentenced April 14th.

Schondelmeyer may still face charges in Sarpy County, NE.  However, it’s not clear what direction officials will take the case.

Creating a statewide “reverse 911″ system


February 26th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Senate has approved a bill that would create a new state fund to help finance a statewide emergency messaging system. Senator Janet Petersen, a Democrat from Des Moines, says the goal is to ensure the latest technology is in place to be used in all of Iowa’s 99 counties. “Currently 53 counties use some form of mass notification and emergency messaging systems,” Petersen says. “…The cost of the 53 systems is more than $600,000 per year.” The other 46 Iowa counties have no electronic warning system in place, relying on local broadcasters and weather radios to spread emergency messages.

The estimated cost of a statewide emergency messaging system is about 400-thousand dollars a year and the governor has included that figure in his state budget outline. “The system would be an ‘opt in’ system for local governments. It’s not a mandate and administration of the system would occur at the local level through emergency management commissions,” Petersen says.

Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, says by pooling resources, this will help some Iowa communities save money on these so-called “reverse 9-1-1″ systems. “And take advantage of all the wonderful, new technologies that we use in many ways for leisure and entertainment, but this could also be used for public safety good — Facebook, Twitter and all the other forms of social media,” Danielson says.

The cell numbers, web addresses and Twitter handles used in these emergency notification systems are to be kept confidential by the state and local governments, plus the bill offers an even more specific protection, saying all that information “shall not be sold” to anyone.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Wed., Feb. 26th 2014


February 26th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Consultants hired by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to analyze the saturation level of gambling in Iowa say new casinos proposed for Cedar Rapids and Jefferson would get most of their money by drawing revenue from already existing casinos. The Des Moines Register reports that Union Gaming Analytics and Marquette Advisors were hired to conduct independent evaluations of gambling in Iowa, which has 18 state-regulated casinos.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a former Dallas Center man has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison on child pornography charges, a sentence enhanced because a judge said the man lied in court. Thirty-six-year-old Benjaman Shelabarger must also serve five years of supervised release once he’s out of prison.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A West Des Moines nonprofit insurance provider set up to sell insurance under nation’s new health care overhaul plan says it has surpassed 50,000 individual and group members, a milestone that wasn’t expected for at least two years. CoOportunity Health sells health care insurance in Iowa and Nebraska. It is one of 23 Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans set up nationwide. The cooperatives were designed to assure competition in insurance plans and provide consumers choices.

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) — The man charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Rockwell City police officer will undergo a psychiatric competency evaluation to determine whether he is fit to stand trial. The Fort Dodge Messenger reports a judge has ordered the proceedings in the trial of Corey Trott to be suspended until it is determined whether he can stand trial.

FBI director ready to hire, restart training


February 25th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — FBI Director James Comey says he’s authorized new hiring and is ready to order resumption of training new agents following last month’s passage of a $1.1 trillion federal spending bill. The spending measure also scaled back automatic spending cuts that had led the FBI to eliminate more than 2,000 positions, institute a hiring freeze and suspended training of new agents at its academy at Quantico, Va.

Comey said Tuesday at a visit to the FBI’s Omaha field office that he has already signed off on opening 700 positions within the agency’s field offices across the country. The Omaha field office covers Nebraska and Iowa. Comey, who took over the FBI in September, plans to visit all of the agency’s 56 field offices in the coming weeks.

Iowa lawmakers back kidnapping legislation


February 25th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Bills increasing the penalties for child kidnapping have been easily approved in the Iowa Senate and House. Lawmakers backed the bills Tuesday. Both were drafted in response to the kidnapping and killing of teenager Kathlynn Shepard last year.

The Senate legislation would increase criminal penalties in cases involving children 17 and younger and cases in which the person convicted had previously been convicted of kidnapping. The House bill increases penalties in cases involving children 15 and under and would prevent those convicted of certain crimes from reducing sentences through good behavior.

Fifteen-year-old Kathlynn is believed to have been killed by a registered sex offender who had been released from prison after serving a reduced sentence. He killed himself after the incident.

Guthrie Center man arrested for grocery store burglary


February 25th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

An investigation into the break-in of a grocery store in Guthrie Center has resulted in an arrest, after the suspect was injured and found at a hospital. Officials with the Guthrie Center Police Department report 18-year old David Paul Dawson, of Guthrie Center, was arrested at the Guthrie County Hospital today (Tuesday), at around 5:15-a.m.  Dawson was being seen at the hospital for a laceration to his wrist and was receiving sutures. He’s been charged with Burglary 3rd Degree and Criminal Mischief 2nd degree, both “D” Felonies and one count of Trespassing, a simple misdemeanor. Officials say Dawson was being held on $5000 bond in the Guthrie County Jail, pending his appearance in front of the Magistrate.

Dawson was arrested after police investigated a report that there was a broken front window at Hometown Foods. The investigation revealed that someone had broken into the store through one of the 4-foot by 8-foot double pane glass windows. An undetermined amount of cigarettes and bottled liquor were taken from the store. Don Reinhart (Store Owner) and Eric Grove (Store Employee) were called to assist the Police Department with their video surveillance system. From that video surveillance, the Police Department was able to identify a suspect.

The Guthrie Center Police Department received assistance from the Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office and also from Panora Police Department.

3 OWI arrests in Cass County


February 25th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

(12-p.m. News)

Sheriff’s officials in Cass County report three OWI-related arrests over the past few days. On Monday, 30-year old Trent Matthew Suhr, of Walnut, was arrested on charges of OWI 4th Offense, Driving While Barred, two counts of Driving While Revoked, and one count of Driving Under Suspension. Suhr was taken to the Cass County Jail where he is being held on $5000 bond.

Last Saturday,31-year old Jonathan David Hart, of Atlantic, was arrested on a charge of OWI 1st Offense. Hart was taken to the Cass County Jail where he was released later that day on his own recognizance.

And on Friday, 39-year old  Kerri Kay Towne, of Atlantic, was arrested on a charge of OWI 2nd Offense. Towne was taken to the Cass County Jail where she was released the following day on her own recognizance.

3 from Kansas arrested in connection with Dec. burglary in Stanton


February 25th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reports an investigation into a burglary at Viking View Oil in Stanton late last year has resulted in the arrest of three persons from Kansas. 24-year-old Nicholas Hall, 20-year-old Caleb Koerner, and 29-year-old April Dingler, all of Kansas were taken into custody with the assistance of investigators with the Emporia, KS Police Dept., and the Sedgwick County, KS, Sheriff’s Office Warrant Task Force. 

Hall and Koerner were being held on $20,000 cash bond in connection with the burglary charges. Dingler was being held on $5,000 cash bond for lottery fraud. 16-year-old Torri Bittner, of Milo, is awaiting Juvenile Court for Accessory After the Fact. The trio are accused of breaking into Viking View Oil and stealing cash, surveillance equipment, and numerous lottery tickets, during a December burglary, during which the building was damaged.

Memorial Day Weekend Campsites Going Quickly

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 25th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Even though another polar vortex has the Midwest in its crosshairs, Iowans’ attention is focused squarely on spring and going camping. The reservation window for the Memorial Day Weekend campsites for a Friday arrival opened on Sunday.camp Officials with the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources say that 9-a.m. today (Tuesday), six state parks had filled all reservable campsites for Memorial Day Weekend that offer electricity or full hook ups. Camping options for the big holiday weekend in a state park are quickly shrinking.

Campers wanting to spend the holiday weekend at Elinor Bedell, Lake of Three Fires, Lewis and Clark, Pleasant Creek, Viking Lake, and Waubonsie should plan to arrive a few days early for one of the walk up sites with electricity – all the reservation sites have been taken. Other parks are close to hanging up the no reservations sign.

Ledges, Green Valley, Prairie Rose, Lake Anita and Rock Creek state parks only have the handicap accessible site available. Brushy Creek had one equestrian site; Backbone, McIntosh Woods and Walnut Woods have three; Fairport, Maquoketa Caves and Union Grove have four; Dolliver, George Wyth and Wapsipinicon have six and most include a handicap accessible site.

Lake Geode is not taking reservations until construction on the wastewater system is complete. The park is open and accepting campers while the work is underway. Most parks will have nonelectric sites available for the Memorial Day Weekend.Campers can make reservations for a site three months ahead of their first night stay.

Not every campsite is available on the reservation system. Parks maintain between 25 and 50 percent of the electric and non electric sites as non-reservation sites, available for walk up camping. Information on Iowa’s state parks is available online at www.iowadnr.gov including links to the reservations page.

Harlan School Board offers Counter-proposal to Ed. Association


February 25th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Community School District’s Board of Educations offered a counter proposal for salary and benefits to representatives with the Harlan Education Association during their meeting, Monday. The board offered a base increase of $350 and a total package including wages, supplemental pay, and insurance and applicable payroll taxes of 2.11- percent. Two weeks ago, the HEA proposed a 6.92-percent increase for the staff at the Harlan Community School District. The negotiations will continue.

In other business, the board of educators held a public hearing with regard to the 2014-2015 school calendar. No comments were made from the public and the hearing was closed. During the regular meeting, Superintendent Justin Wagner told the board that with the proposed calendar changing from 180 days to 1,080 hours, the school will have more flexibility. Wagner also mentioned that due to the master contract with the staff, the calendar will look the same because the staff didn’t want to lose any compensation. The first semester on the new hour’s calendar will still finish before the student’s Christmas break. The calendar was approved.

The Harlan School Board also accepted the low bid for the Merrill Field Project. Wagner said There were three official bidders from Matt Basye. From his perspective, that was great participation. You have Duininck, Nemaha and Leinen Construction. As you see the base bid line, the low bid was Nemaha Construction out of Lincoln Nebraska at $1,641,900.”

Wagner said the Harlan Education Foundation has raised $1.645 million for the project to date. The bidding showed a few alternatives including the open-stand bleachers as opposed to the stack bleachers that are in the base bid, installing a sidewalk around the outside of the track to the visitors side of Merrill Field and adding a safety lane and fencing around the track. Wagner said the alternatives would take the project above what money has been raised. The Iowa Code will not allow the school district to approve any work done on the Merrill Field project unless the money is raised beforehand. The architect Matt Basye recommended to the school board to take care of the alternatives during the initial project instead of later when the project is complete, because of the value saved to the district.

Wagner then read the recommendation from the Education Foundation. He said “They recommend that we don’t spend money we don’t have but they also think the alternatives are worth getting. So how this would need to be worded this recommendation if the board chose is to take the base bid from Nemaha Construction at $1,641,900 and advocate the responsibility of structuring and scheduling the alternates to the superintendent as funds become available. If we get a donor tomorrow and say that’s great and here is the money, then we don’t have to get back together and make another motion. I as the Superintendent can say yep we have the money and we will move forward.”

Having received the Board’s approval, the next step is for a pre-construction meeting, scheduled for March 7th. The project is expected to be completed by August 22nd.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)