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HCHS to receive “Character Counts” award


July 1st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Community School District will receive a 2011 Iowa Character Counts Award from “Character Counts in Iowa,” next month. The award annually honors individuals, schools and organizations that consistently demonstrate and promote the six pillars of Character: Trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

Paulette Rasmussen, who nominated the school, said, “Staff, students and community members of Harlan are all very involved and supportive of the character counts initiative.” Character Counts in Iowa is a non-profit organization that promotes civility and good character in our homes, schools, workplaces and communities.

Harlan High School representatives will be honored along with 12 other Iowa award recipients at the 2011 Character Counts Awards banquet on August 5th. All 13 award recipients were chosen by a volunteer selection committee made up of more than 50 Iowans.

Airlines make plans in case Omaha airport floods


July 1st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Airlines and other businesses that use Omaha’s Eppley Airfield are making plans in case flooding forces the airport’s closure. Lincoln Airport executive director John Wood says he’s had discussion with three passenger airlines, all freight airlines and all the rental car companies that serve Eppley. He also says ConAgra, Mutual of Omaha and Kiewit have moved their corporate planes from Omaha to Lincoln. The Lincoln Journal Star reports Wood has also had discussion with the Transportation Safety Administration about possible flight diversions to Lincoln.

The Omaha airport is protected from the swollen Missouri River by levees, and pumps are keeping the main road to the airport dry. The river isn’t expected to overtop the levees but there is concern that the prolonged flooding could weaken the airport’s levees.

Status of flood mitigation work on U.S. 30 west of Missouri Valley


July 1st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – July 1, 2011: 8 a.m. – The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is reporting that work on installation of the flood barrier wall along the south side of U.S. 30 in locations west of Missouri Valley is expected to be completed and the road reopened at 8:30 a.m. today (Friday).
After the road is opened, it will remain so through the Fourth of July holiday weekend. 
The road will close again temporarily Tuesday, July 5 at 8:30 a.m. to begin work on installing a flood barrier wall on the north side of the road. That work will also be performed around-the-clock and take approximately 48 hours. Earlier it was thought that work could possibly be performed under controlled traffic conditions. However, it has been determined that the work cannot be performed safely or efficiently under those conditions. 
Road closure information

Iowa DOT’s flood information call center 866-452-8510, open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily through Friday, July 1, speak to an operator for travel assistance.
Road condition information during the Fourth of July holiday weekend, available 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

7AM Newscast 07-01-2011

News, Podcasts

July 1st, 2011 by Chris Parks

w/ News Director Ric Hanson


USDA awards $550K to Neb., Iowa entities


July 1st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded more than $550,000 to help organizations in Nebraska and Iowa develop or expand local programs. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Central Community College in Nebraska will get about $175,000 to help harness local assets and resources and the Nebraska Enterprise Fund will get almost $125,000 to support two microenterprise programs.

The Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development Center (RC&D) will get some $83,000 to offer training on sustainable food production in southwest parts of Iowa and Nebraska, while Regional Development Inc. in Iowa will get about $175,000 to develop leaders for regional food systems.

The funding is part of the USDA’s Rural Community Development Initiative Program.

Survey suggests Midwest economic growth slowing


July 1st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A survey of nine Midwestern and Plains suggests that higher energy prices and supply problems are slowing economic growth. A report released today (Friday), says the Business Conditions Index for the Mid-America region dropped in June, to 54.9 from 60.2 in May.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says higher energy prices and supply problems stemming from the Japanese tsunami and Midwest and Plains flooding have slowed economic growth. The survey of supply managers and executives and the report use a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100.

Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests economic growth in the next three to six months, while a score below 50 suggests a contracting economy. States in the survey are Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Martinez bail set at $10-m


July 1st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A judge has set the bail for one of five men charged in the killing of another man in Omaha, at 10-million dollars. The order came as 37-year old Omar A. Martinez appeared in court Thursday.

Martinez is charged with second-degree murder and use of a weapon to commit a felony, in connection with the death June 23rd death of 31-year old Blaise D. Benscoter. The incident occurred after Benscoter’s girlfriend, Sarah Krisor called Martinez to say she and Benscoter had been fighting.

Martinez, along with Krisor’s father, 48-year old Donald Krisor and 20-year old Sean Collins, allegedly went to the couple’s home, kicked-in the door and fought with Benscoter. When they left the home, Sarah Krisor went into the bedroom and saw Benscoter had been shot.

Martinez was later apprehended in a Council Bluffs hotel. Krisor was arrested in Kansas, and is awaiting extradition to Nebraska. 29-year old Jessica L. Katz has been charged as an accessory to the crime, while Martinez’ roommate, 38-year old Donald G. Bridgeford, was being held on suspicion of second-degree murder and accessory to a crime. Bridgeford is alleged to have loaned Martinez his car so he could drive to Benscoter’s home.

If you get caught texting & driving today, you won’t LOL


July 1st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Starting this morning (Friday), anyone caught texting while driving in Iowa will face a fine. The state’s “Distracted Driving Law” took effect last July 1st, mandating that only warnings be issued for the first year. When court costs are added to the 30-dollar fine, the full bill could be a hundred dollars. Senior Trooper Mark Domino of the Iowa State Patrol’s Mason City Post says people need to understand it’s dangerous to text while driving.

He says people know wearing a seat belt can save someone’s life in a crash and they need to realize texting while driving is as bad as driving drunk. He recommends if you need to use your cell phone that you pull over to the side of the road. Domino says he was responding to an accident earlier this week and came across a driver en route who clearly was texting while driving.

He says he had his lights and siren on and he encountered a guy who was in the left lane, with his head down, obviously texting while driving and oblivious to his surroundings on the road. “Use your brain and don’t use your phone,” he says. Domino says you should let your front-seat passenger worry about all the stuff that’s not happening on the road.

He says the term “riding shotgun” means a lot more now, since the front-seat passenger should be the one dealing with things like cell phones, the radio and controlling other passengers in the vehicle. “When you’re driving, drive, and that’s your job,” he says.

Domino admits enforcing the law is going to be the tough part, since it’s classified as a secondary law. That means an officer can’t pull you over just on the suspicion of texting while driving.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)

Free camping at state parks for flood evacuees


July 1st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Iowans affected by flooding along the Missouri River are being offered free campsites at Iowa State Parks. Kevin Szcodronski, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says the offer is available to those who’ve been ordered to evacuate their homes.

“Camping in a state park for an extended period of time isn’t for everybody, but for some people, it might just suit their needs if they have the right equipment, the right frame of mind and they’re outdoors people,” Szcodronski said. “Those sites do have electricity and running hot water.”

Nearly a dozen people flooded out of their homes have spent the last month camping at Waubonsie State Park in Fremont County. A campsite with electricity and water costs $16 a day. “That’s a little over $100 a week. So, that’s a pretty good savings,” Szcodronski said. “The people staying at Waubonsie, before we put the free camping on, they were looking at $400 or so to stay there for the month.”

The free camping offer is retroactive, so Szcodronski says the flood victims at Waubonsie are getting a refund for their first month. The DNR is also waiving the usual limit of 14 consecutive days of camping for flood victims. Szcodronski says state park officials are working with local emergency management personnel to identify campers who’ve been forced from their homes.

“They have provided us with a list of the streets and address ranges of the places that have officially been evacuated. When the campers show, we simply ask for their driver’s license and verify their address,” Szcodronski said.

Camping spots that are not part of the DNR’s reservation system are open to people evacuated from their homes on a first come, first serve basis. Evacuees are encouraged to call the DNR at 515-281-8004 to check on availability of campsites available for long-term use.

(Pat Curtis/Radio Iowa)

Monona County Fatal


July 1st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa State Patrol says a Sioux City man died following a crash Thursday afternoon in western Iowa’s Monona County. 27-year old Craig Jacob Aasen was pronounced dead at Burgess Hospital in Onawa.

Officials say Aasen was traveling north on Interstate 29 just before 3-p-m., when the 2001 Ford F-350 pickup he was driving went out of control a few miles north of the Onawa exit. The pickup crossed the median and came to rest on its side in the west ditch of southbound I-29.

Aasen was ejected from the vehicle as it rolled. The Patrol’s report did not indicate if he was wearing a seatbelt.