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Rain runoff forces Afton school to close early


May 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

AFTON, Iowa (AP) – Runoff from heavy rains in Afton forced officials to cancel classes at a school. Students at East Union Primary Center were dismissed at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. School officials said much of the water came from a nearby construction project. Damage to the school was minimal, but the basement floor was covered by a couple inches of water.

Tornados, hail & heavy rain pummel SW IA


May 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Des Moines will be in southwest Iowa today, conducting a storm survey, to review areas of reported tornado damage from Wednesday afternoon’s storms. The survey crew will gather information regarding the strength and number of tornados.

The Weather Service says a tornado hit the town of Lenox, in Taylor County, at around 4;40-p.m., Wednesday. Initial reports said some of the storms may have produced multiple vortex twisters. Storm spotters also reported a tornado about two miles from

Kent, a few miles northwest of Lenox.

Media reports indicate just under 50-percent of the town sustained substantial damage and some residents who were displaced from their homes were relocated to a temporary shelter in a local apartment complex. There have been no reports of injuries. Sandi Reyner works at a restaurant in Lenox, a town of about 1,400 people. She told The Des Moines Register that — quote — “there are houses here that used to be two stories that are now less than one story.”

Lenox’s mayor, Glenn Grout said Wednesday night, about 10-15 city blocks in his community were heavily hit, while another 20 blocks sustained moderate damage. Several businesses on Main Street in Lenox lost their roofs, and trees in the city’s park were shredded. Volunteers will gather at the United Methodist Church at 103 West Michigan Street sometime today, to help with the clean-up efforts.

Tornado Watches were issued shortly before 3-p.m., for much of central and southern Iowa. National Weather Service meteorologists issued a tornado warning for north central Taylor County (including Lenox), at around 4:10-p.m., when it became clear the elements were coming together that would cause tornados to form.

Reports compiled by the weather service from spotters during and after the storms, indicated hail ranging in size from quarters to half-dollars, fell near Nodaway in Adams County, at around 2:35-p.m. About 20-minutes later, the hail was two-inches in diameter, or about the size of eggs, three-miles east of Nodaway. Flash flooding was also observed in and around Nodaway, near the Creston airport, and west of Lenox later in the evening, when rainfall approaching three-inches per hour fell on the area.

Elsewhere, winds of 60-miles per hour or more whipped through Kellerton, in Ringgold County, at around 6-p.m., and near Winterset, at about 6:30.

Friends of Lake Anita receive $200 donation


May 12th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Josh Peach of the Iowa DNR is shown accepting the donation on behalf of Friends of Lake Anita from Melanie Petty, fund Representative.

The “Friends of Lake Anita” organization has received a $200 donation intended to be used for their annual fishing clinic. Melanie Petty, with the Trevor Frederickson Memorial Fund, says the clinic, which will be attended by about 100 children, will be held at Anita State Park on Saturday, June 4th.

She says the donation was a natural fit for the Fund, because Trevor enjoyed fishing, especially during college. Trevor died during a fire in Council Bluffs in June 2009.

The Trevor Frederickson Memorial Fund was established in the Atlantic native’s honor.

Cass Co BOS approve zoning change for Mid-American Energy project


May 11th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors, acting on a recommendation from the County Zoning Board, and following a public hearing, today (Wednesday) approved a change of zoning classification for a section of land in the Massena Township, from a General Agricultural- to Light Industrial- District. The change was made to accommodate a project planned by Mid-American Energy.

Rich Hansen, Assistant to County Engineer Charles Marker, said Mid-American needs the roughly seven-acre site to manage a wind farm project. The company he says, plans to construct a two-story building to manage and operate the Rolling Hills Wind Farm project. Hansen says when it’s built, the company will combine their Adair Maintenance and Operations facility with the new one, meaning roughly 50 people will operate out of the facility.

The building’s dimensions will be 100-by 200-feet. One-third of it will be used for office space, the rest will be used to house maintenance equipment for the wind turbines that are to be built in the southeast part of the county. He says a 35-ton overhead crane will be installed in the structure.

Electricity and rural water is already available, and the site has been approved for a septic system by the County Sanitarian.

Construction on the facility is expected to begin this Summer. When it’s complete, workers at the facility will oversee a wind turbine farm planned for parts of Cass, Adair and Adams Counties.

Suspect or suspects sought in Bluffs arson/attempted murder


May 11th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Council Bluffs are looking for a person they say will be charged with Arson in the 1st Degree and Attempted murder. According to Bluffs Police, at around 3:30 this (Wednesday) morning, 20-year old Kevin Arnold and 56-year old Roland Arnold were in their bedroom at 3616 John Street in Council Bluffs, when they heard two gun shots.

Rounds from what were believed to be a shotgun penetrated the room and hit both men. Roland Arnold was transported to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. Kevin Arnold refused treatment for his minor injuries.

During their investigation, authorities learned the suspect or suspects involved in the incident threw an accelerant outside of the men’s residence, but the liquid failed to ignite. The incident remains under investigation.

Atlantic Board of Ed. approves non-certified staff contracts


May 11th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic School Board Tuesday, approved the 2011-2012 Master Contract with the non-certified bargaining unit. Superintendent Mike Amstein said negotiations the package includes a 39-cent per hour raise.

He says the district will also provide an opportunity for those individuals to obtain life insurance if they qualify, and other, changes in the contract language, with regard to seniority.

Amstein says he was pleased with the way the negotiation process went and satisfied with the outcome. The board Tuesday, also set the issuance and return date for non-certified staff contracts as May 24th, and approved a pay rate for teacher substitutes and support staff subs.

Amstein recommended no increase in the rate for the coming school year, because of a change instituted last year, in how those persons are paid (from hourly, to half- or full-day).

In other business, the school board approved the authorization and issuance and sale of School Infrastructure Sales, Service and use Tax revenue bonds, series 2011, not to exceed $8-million dollars, for the middle school renovation project.

Amstein said the district won’t actually bond for that amount, it’s just the maximum they are allowed to bond for. He says the actual amounted they’re bonding for is just under 7.1-million dollars.

The project is expected to cost around $6.8-million dollars. The board Tuesday, also approved a budget amendment, the increase for which amount to just over three-quarters of a million dollars. Business Manager Mary Beth Fast says that’s because the budget for this year is on-track to be exceeded in the area of “Total other expenditures.”

She says it’s needed to cover their HVAC expenditures, and has to do with the timing of the payments for the Schuler and Washington School projects, as well as the design-phase payments.

Atlantic School Board approves Teacher contracts/Letters of Assignment


May 11th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Community School District’s Board of Education Tuesday approved contracts and/or Letters of Assignment for eight persons. They include:

Drew Duff, Schuler Elementary; Physical Ed/Health Instructor

Aaron Ehley, Atl. Middle School (AMS); Keyboarding/Tech/Financial literacy teacher

Beth Haupt, Pre-School Special Education Teacher

Marnie Leiferman, AMS Reading/English Instructor

Casey Pelzer, Summer Driver’s Ed instructor

Andrea Reilly, AMS Math/Science Teacher

Nicholas Ross, P-E/Social Studies Teacher/Asst. Varsity Football Coach

Tom McLaren, head freshman baseball coach, Summer 2011

In addition, Superintendent Mike Amstein recommended, and the Board approved, the hiring of Industrial Technology Instructor Roger Warne as the District Technology Coordinator. Warne will replace Dennis Andersen, who is retiring at the end of the school year. A few other positions remain open, while some shuffling of staff will fill others, including an Industrial Tech teaching position, and a Middle School Math position, for which there are a number of promising candidates, according to Amstein.

In addition, Ginger Bechtol will work over the Summer on a special project revamping the district’s website and making it more community and visitor friendly. The deadline for completion of the upgrade is August 1st.

Amstein said the district will need to add an additional kindergarten teacher’s position, because of an influx in enrollments during the 2011-2012 school year. He said they have 140 children entering the program, a number of which will be English Language Leaners (E-L-L), or those who speak little or no English. Amstein said the increase in kindergarteners is a “positive problem” for the district.

The new enrollment numbers he said, look to remain the same for the 2012-2013 school year as well.

Record setting temps, Tuesday


May 11th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A 100-year old record for an all-time high was shattered in Atlantic, Tuesday. KJAN is the official weather reporting station for the City. We hit 97-degrees on our digital thermometer, which broke the old record of 90, set in 1911. Today’s forecast calls for scattered shwrs & tstrms, a high around 82.

Hit and run investigation in Montgomery County


May 11th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Montgomery County are asking for the public’s help in locating a vehicle believed to have been involved in a hit-and-run property damage accident Tuesday night. Sheriff’s officials say the incident happened on Highway 71 at around 10:20-p.m., a few miles south of Mortons Mill.

According to the Sheriff’s report, a tractor-trailer driven by 29-year old James M. Hecker, of Trimont, MN, was traveling north on Highway 71 just south of the 36 mile-marker, when a southbound diesel pickup truck pulling an unknown item, hit the left front of the semi’s trailer. The collision resulted in damage to the left top corner of the trailer and the transfer of red paint from the item being towed by the other vehicle.

The driver of the unknown vehicle continued south to 170th Street before turning west at a high rate of speed. None of the persons working in nearby farm fields observed anything unusual at the time of the incident, but a check of the collision scene resulted in the recovery of a broken antenna from the semi’s cab. Damage from the incident amounted to just over $3,000.

Anyone with information about the operator of the other vehicle involved in the collision, is asked to contact the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, at 712-623-5107.

Man sentenced for dealing pot in Neb. and Iowa


May 10th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say an Omaha man has been sentenced to five years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to distribute over 200 pounds of marijuana in Nebraska and Iowa.

The U.S. attorney’s office says 32-year-old Cedric Harris was sentenced on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Omaha.

He was arrested by Omaha police in April 2010 after police were called to his home on a disturbance. U.S. Attorney Deborah Gilg says Harris, who let the officers inside, admitted he had marijuana in his room. Police found 1 1/2 pounds of pot and $2,000 in cash.

Officials say Harris admitted to dealing with two other people in distributing over 100 kilograms of marijuana in the two states.