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Steam engine travels back through Iowa tomorrow (Thursday)


June 29th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

No. 844 nose view

Old No. 844 Steam Engine

Officials with the Union-Pacific Railroad have announced their legendary steam locomotive No. 844 will be traveling from Council Bluffs to North Platte, Nebraska, Thursday. On the way, the train will pass through Missouri Valley and Blair, NE. The engine’s final destination is Cheyenne, WY.

The U-P’s Mark Davis says the train is on a tour celebrating local history, railroad heritage, and the Little Rock Express, as part of the U-P’s “Great Excursion Adventure – You Route the Steam Contest.” A Global Positioning System (GPS) transmitter was installed on one of the railcars that travels with the train, and that’s been integrated into the Union-Pacific website at www.up.com.

Entering ”Steam” in the search box will enable web users to view a map of the train’s route, along with other information. The data will be updated every 5-minutes.

Report claims House GOP budget would cost Iowa thousands of jobs


June 29th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A national nonprofit group is claiming Iowa could lose more than 13,000 jobs as a result of proposed Medicaid cuts in the House Republican budget. Families USA executive director Ron Pollack says his organization’s economic impact study also shows as much as $1.3 billion in state business activity would be placed at risk.

“Cutting Medicaid funds not only hurts seniors, people with disabilities and children – who count on Medicaid as their lifeline, but it also results in fewer jobs and stunts the economic recovery,” Pollack said. The budget proposal passed by the U.S. House calls for cutting federal funding to state

Medicaid programs by five-percent in the first year. Pollack says, in Iowa, that amounts to roughly $111 million. “That would result in more than 2,000 jobs being at risk,” Pollack said. The plan would eventually cut funding to state Medicaid program by 33-percent in 2021.

The Families USA report claims that would put as many as 13,280 jobs “at risk” in Iowa. In addition, Pollack says those job cuts would have a “multiplier effect” on business activity in the state. “Those folks would have less of an ability to purchase consumer goods, whether it’s an television set, a dishwasher or an automobile. In turn, folks who own businesses that sell those goods would have less of an ability to purchase other consumer goods,” Pollack said.

(Pat Curtis/Radio Iowa)

Abortion issue a major stumbling block to adjournment


June 29th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A dispute over abortion policy has become a major stumbling block as the Iowa legislature tries to adjourn this week. Iowans who qualify for government-paid Medicaid can obtain a taxpayer-funded abortion at the University of Iowa Hospitals if they’re the victim of rape or incest, if the fetus is profoundly deformed, or if the mother’s health is endangered by the pregnancy. Republicans in the Iowa House want new restrictions that would require rape and incest victims to see an ultrasound and be told about adoption options before an abortion could be performed. Representative Matt Windschitl  is a Republican from Missouri Valley.

“In these traumatic situations it has to be a horrible decision to make, but in the interest of health — not only mentally but physically of a woman in one of these situations — we want to make sure a decision is not made in haste,” Windschitl says, “that the mother understands all options available to her.” Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, a Democrat from Ames, called the proposal offensive.  You are talking about a woman who has suffered one of the most cruel crimes that can possibly happen and now you’ re trying to tell her what she needs to know to make her decision as if she is ignorant.”

Windschitl says there are two lives to consider in these cases. “I respect that the mother may not have wanted this to happen,” Windschitl says. “But at the same time, the child didn’t ask to be conceived and we have to respect that. We have to put both lives on the same level because I do believe life is a sacred gift from God.”  Wessel-Kroeschel says rape and incest victims — regardless of their income — should be able to make this decision on their own.

“We can’t continue to revictimize these women,” Wessel-Kroeschel says. Windschitl says giving women information about adoption and a chance to see an ultrasound doesn’t cause “undue harm.”   “Even if it comes through traumatic, unfortunate, horrible circumstances, there is still a life in that womb,” Windschitl says. “And we have to respect both those lives equally, in my opinion.” Wessel-Kroeschell countered…

“I think anyone who believes that a woman makes a decision under any circumstances rashly to terminate a pregnancy is not giving credit to the intelligence and thought process that a woman goes through when she’s in these kinds of situations,” Wessel-Kroeschell says. Democrats have promised to make a counter-proposal on the abortion issue later this morning (Wednesday) at 10:30.

This abortion-related issue is included in a budget bill that outlines state spending for the Departments of Public Health and Human Services. Legislators are trying to strike compromises on a host of spending decisions in order to have a state budget plan in place before the new state fiscal year begins Friday.

(O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)

Branstad invites Obama to tour flooded western Iowa


June 29th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, attended Democrat President Barack Obama’s speech at the Davenport Alcoa aluminum plant Tuesday. The governor said afterward he felt the president should have addressed regulations and tax barriers that are hurting business growth.

Branstad says he was concerned that Obama didn’t address those issues on the economy and “I think that’s important.” Branstad was asked why he would attend the speech by the president from a different party who is running for re-election. He says he used the visit to talk with the president before his speech.

Branstad says he thinks we always need to appreciate it when the president comes to our state, and said he asked the president to come back and visit western Iowa. The governor says he told Obama he is appreciative of the federal disaster declaration for the counties along the Missouri River, and hopes the president will visit the area.

 “I asked him to come back and view the flood damage himself, and he said ‘we got to do that’ and so hopefully he’ll do that,” Branstad said. White House officials say the trip to Iowa wasn’t political, but Branstad says there were political themes, and the president chose a business that is doing well.

Branstad says he’s been through enough campaigns to know “you choose to go to places where you think you are going to have a positive reception, and this is a great company.” Obama stuck to his economic theme during his short speech and did not mention the flooding trouble in western Iowa.

(Dar Danielson/Radio Iowa)

Atlantic School Board welcomes new Middle School Principal


June 29th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

New Atlantic Middle School Principal Cameron "Cam" Smith

Cam Smith

The Atlantic Board of Education was officially introduced to the new Middle School Principal during their meeting Tuesday night, at the high school. Cameron Smith begins his duties Friday, taking over the position from Todd Roecker, who is retiring at the end of the month.

Board President Phil Hascall asked Smith what his vision was for the Middle School. He said first and foremost, was to make sure the school is taken off the SINA (seen-uh), or School In Need of Assistance, list. He says he wants to ensure students’ Iowa Test of Basic Skills scores are raised, and along with that, he sees the school excelling, academically. He also wants help the students and teachers see the Middle School as its own entity, with home rooms giving the kids a “sense of belonging,” and get past the idea it’s merely a springboard to the high school.

Cam also says he’d like to get as much technology in the building as possible, and making sure the teachers are as up-to-speed on technology as their students are. He also wants to make sure the kids excel in the “upper quadrant level work.“ Smith says bringing the kids’ level of proficiency up sounds like an easy task, but he says it’s actually a “tall task.” He says his ultimate vision is for Atlantic to have a Middle School that other districts look at as a trendsetter in the areas of educational practices and technology.”

When asked why he applied for the position, Smith said it was because he could concentrate on being a Middle School Principal, and not have wear so many hats as he had done at the Garner-Hayfield School District, which was where he last served. He says the community is a perfect fit for him and his family, as well.

Cam and his wife have three children, and one on the way in September. The family has moved to Atlantic and are already exploring all it has to offer.

IA DOT’s Tuesday evening update on flooded road conditions


June 28th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – June 28, 2011 – 6:15 p.m. – The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT)
is providing the following update on road conditions in western Iowa. The department
is also continuing to monitor at-risk areas as flood water levels change. 

Turn Around Dont Drown®
Flooding is a dynamic situation, ever-changing throughout the day. Motorists need to
take extra precautions when traveling in areas where flooding is occurring or
·  Use additional caution when traveling at night when it is difficult to see a
flooded road ahead or water approaching the roadway from the side. 
·  If you must travel on roadways where water is nearby, give your full attention to
the driving task and expect vehicles ahead to slow down or make sudden stops. 
·  Keep your focus on the road ahead, not on the water around you and adjust your
speed for conditions. 

Current road closures/restrictions
·  UPDATED: I-29 Hamilton Boulevard interchange in Woodbury County: The southbound
I-29 interchange ramps at Hamilton Boulevard in Sioux City are closed. The
northbound off-ramp is also closed. An alternative ramp has been constructed from
southbound I-29 to Wesley Parkway/U.S. 77. 
·  I-29 in Pottawattamie County: The south- and northbound lanes of I-29 between
milepost 54B (North 35th Street interchange in Council Bluffs) and the I-29/680
interchange at milepost 71 (near Loveland) are closed. This is expected to be a
longer-term closure.
·  I-29 in Fremont County, Iowa, and Atchison County, Mo: I-29 is closed in both
directions from Iowa 2 (exit 10 in Iowa) to the U.S. 136 interchange in Missouri
(near Rock Port). This is expected to be a longer-term closure.
·  I-29 exit and entrance ramps in Fremont County: All I-29 exit and entrance ramps
at exit 20 near Thurman are closed due to ground water. 
·  I-680 in Omaha area: I-680 is closed from the I-29/680 interchange (exit 61 near
Crescent) in Iowa to North 30th Street in Omaha, Neb. (exit 13). This closure
includes the Mormon Bridge across the Missouri River. This is expected to be a
longer-term closure.
·  Iowa 2 in Fremont County: Iowa 2 is closed from I-29 in Iowa to Nebraska City.
Both east- and westbound lanes are closed. This is expected to be a longer-term
·  UPDATED: Iowa 175 between Onawa and Decatur, Neb.: Flood mitigation work was
underway in this area when it became necessary to close the roadway on Monday.
Serious erosion of the embankment near the east abutment of the Decatur bridge has
occurred, which threatened the integrity of the roadway approach to the bridge. It
is no longer safe for travel. Additional details will be released about this
·  Iowa 333 in Hamburg: Iowa 333 is closed from I-29 into Hamburg. Access to Hamburg
is currently available via U.S. 275 in Iowa. 
·  UPDATED: Iowa 376 northbound (U.S. 75 Business-Lewis Boulevard): The exit ramp to
westbound Gordon Drive is closed. 

Highway segments at higher risk of being closed due to flooding
·  UPDATED: I-29 (north of Blencoe): Flood barrier walls are being installed in this
area to reduce the risk of flooding. There is a temporary detour in place for I-29
northbound travelers, which is allowing the barriers to be installed. Follow the
detour signs. 
·  UPDATED: I-29 (north of Missouri Valley): Flood barrier walls are being installed
in this area. 
·  NEW: I-29 (north of Modale): This is a levee-protected area. However, if a breach
were to occur, it would be inundated with several feet of flood waters. 
·  NEW: I-29 (north of Whiting): This area is threatened due to a connection between
the Missouri River and a stream that flows under Berry Avenue and through the Badger
Lake State Wildlife Management Area.   
·  UPDATED: U.S. 30 between Missouri Valley and Blair, Neb. This road will close
temporarily beginning at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 29, to permit installation of
flood barrier walls along the south side of the roadway. The road is expected to be
closed for approximately two days. Operations will be performed around-the-clock to
expedite the work. After the road is reopened, flood barrier walls will be installed
on the north side of the road, but work performed using intermittent closures, pilot
vehicles and flagging operations. 
·  I-29/I-680 interchange: This interchange near Loveland was previously closed due
to flooding. Mitigation work including use of sandbags, barrier wall and pumps
allowed the roadway to reopen. Because this area remains vulnerable to increased
water levels, additional mitigation measures will be taken to help control the flood
·  U.S. 34, between I-29 in Iowa and Plattsmouth, Neb.: This roadway is protected by
a levee system, but remains at risk from a levee breach or overtopping. The
mandatory evacuation within Mills County due to rising ground water has not affected
this roadway. U.S. 34 remains open to travel. 

Being monitored 
·  I-29, northbound off-ramp to Dace Avenue in Sioux City (exit 147B or commonly
known as the Downtown/Tyson Events Center): Flood mitigation efforts will be
deployed to try to keep this ramp open.
·  I-29, southbound exit ramp to Nebraska Street (exit 147B) in Sioux City: This
area is dike protected, but would be inundated if the dike is breached or
·  I-29, northbound and southbound lanes in Sioux City at the U.S. 77/Wesley Parkway
underpass (between exits 148 and 149): Flood mitigation efforts will be deployed to
try to prevent this low area from being flooded. 
·  I-29, from the Bellevue, Neb., interchange (milepost 42) to Iowa 2 (milepost 10):
This area is at a lesser risk, but would be inundated if a levee is breached or
·  I-29 exit and entrance ramps at the Bartlett interchange, exit 24: Ground water
has been rising nearby, which threatens the area below I-29.    
·  Iowa 127 near Mondamin: The Iowa DOT is monitoring areas east and west of
Mondamin, near mileposts 0.8 and 1.5, but the risk of flooding is lower because the
road is protected somewhat by a high ridge. 

Key traveler information resources
·  Iowa DOT’s flood information call center 866-452-8510, open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
daily, speak to an operator for travel assistance
·  Road condition information 24 hours a day: visit www.511ia.org, or call 511 (in
Iowa) or 800-288-1047 (outside of the state) for a recorded message of road closures

·  Iowa DOT on Twitter- http://twitter.com/#!/iowadot/ 
·  View the flooded Iowa roads map for road closures, detours and areas at risk of
flooding - http://tinyurl.com/3o2mtlp

1 injured in Montgomery County rollover (updated 10:30-a.m. 6/29)


June 28th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa State Patrol is investigating a rollover accident which occurred Tuesday afternoon, just southeast of Grant. According to scanner traffic, the accident happened at around 2:15-p.m., near 3111 115th Street. An unidentified woman was trapped in the vehicle, which was on its top when rescuers arrived.

Griswold Rescue transported the woman to the Montgomery County Memorial Hospital, for treatment of minor leg and neck injuries. Additional details are currently unavailable.

Lewis woman arrested on drug & alcohol charges


June 28th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office says a Lewis woman was arrested today (Tuesday), on alcohol and drug charges. 62-year old Ilene Margaret Rhoads was taken into custody on charges of OWI 1st Offense and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Rhoads was taken to the Cass County Jail, and later  released on her own recognizance.

Suspect in Omaha shooting arrested in Kansas


June 28th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Omaha police say a suspect in the shooting death of an Omaha man has been arrested in Kansas.

A news release Tuesday from Omaha police says 48-year-old Donald Krisor was arrested Monday in Burlington, Kan., on a warrant charging him with second-degree murder and a weapons charge. Krisor is a suspect in the death last week of 31-year-old Blaise Benscoter.

Police say Krisor is awaiting extradition.

Benscoter was found wounded Thursday in an apartment and died a short time later at a hospital.

Three other men have been arrested in Benscoter’s death, including 37-year-old Omar Martinez, who was arrested Monday in a Council Bluffs, Iowa hotel. Police say 38-year-old Donald Bridgeford was arrested Saturday, and 20-year-old Sean Collins turned himself in to police Saturday night.

Iowa DOT to provide flooded road information during holiday weekend


June 28th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – June 28, 2011 – Throughout the holiday weekend, travel information will continue to be available from the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding flooded road conditions. For travel information during the Fourth of July weekend, call 511 (in Iowa) or 800-288-1047 (from anywhere in the U.S.), or visit http://www.511ia.org/.

Services are free and available any time of the day to keep travelers informed and safe. The Iowa DOT’s temporary, operator-assisted flood hotline will be closed July 2-4. Services will resume Tuesday, July 5, with new hours­­­­­­ – 7 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. The Iowa DOT’s flood hotline – 866-452-8510 – will remain available through Friday, July 1, from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.