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7AM Newscast 06-10-2011

News, Podcasts

June 10th, 2011 by Chris Parks

w/ News Director Ric Hanson


Bluffs woman sentenced for her role in Rocha murder


June 10th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A district court judge in Pottawattamie County Thursday, sentenced a Council Bluffs woman to 50-years in prison for her role in the stabbing death of another woman. Fourth District Court Judge James Heckerman handed down the sentence against 22-year old Lisa Reeves, who pled guilty to second-degree murder for the January 14th death of 39-year old Tammy Rocha. Reeves’ attorney, public defender Greg Jones, said his client pleaded guilty because of the possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison if convicted of first degree murder.

Reeves was originally charged with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree robbery and conspiracy. She will be eligible for parole after 35 years. Prosecutors alleged that it was Lisa Reeves who stabbed Rocha seven times with a knife in front of the Reeves residence in Council Bluffs, after Rocha stole four rings and a cellphone from her the night before.

Reeves; her father, Brian Reeves; and two other men were arrested in the hours and days following Rocha’s death. Brian Reeves pleaded guilty to three lesser charges in the case and was sentenced to 30 years in prison in May. He’ll have to serve seven years before he’s eligible for parole.

A jury found Clarence Woolsoncroft guilty earlier this month of second-degree murder and two lesser crimes for his involvement in the fatal stabbing. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 20th.

Eric Long — who is Lisa Reeves’ boyfriend — pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Widespread flooding could lead to higher food prices


June 10th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

An Iowa Farm Bureau expert says the continued flooding is eventually going to impact all of us in the pocketbook. I-F-B director of research and commodity services, Dave Miller, says lots of crop acres have already been covered in water. He says the Dakotas and eastern cornbelt in Ohio and Pennsylvania have seen at one-and-a-half million acres in corn that hasn’t been planted, and that number could rise with the June 30th acreage report.

Miller says at least 100-thousand acres of Iowa farmland will be impacted by the Missouri River flooding and another 50-thousand could be indirectly impacted. The loss of acres cuts the supply of corn and beans and increases their price. Miller says the corn price increases eventually lead to higher food prices.

Miller says the speed of the increases depend on how close the food product is to the actual corn. He says for example the increase will probably show up fairly quickly in corn tortillas and other ingredient type products. The impact on pork and beef prices takes a little longer.

Miller says that because the initial response is for producers to liquidate some of their breeding herd and there is then more meat on the market. But he says six to nine months from now we’re likely to see higher pork, beef and egg and poultry prices as they use corn as a major feedstock. Miller says prepared foods tend to be slower to rise.

Miller says price increases in fast food and “white table cloth” restaurants take longer to develop, but he says once the prices go up, they don’t usually come down very fast, even if commodity prices fall. Miller says there is a chance things could change — but it’s more likely to get worse than better.

Miller says this crop has a long way to go, and most of the potential is for things that could lower the overall yield and reduced crop yield and higher prices. Miller says there’s a strong potential for a drought later in the year, which would add another negative to what’s already happened.

(Dar Danielson/Radio Iowa)

Massive sandbagging effort, evacuations continue along Missouri River


June 10th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Governor Branstad is scheduled to take an aerial tour of the flooding along the Missouri River in western Iowa this afternoon (Friday). Branstad, who will be joined by Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division Administrator Derek Hill, will also meet with officials in Council Bluffs. Volunteers are filling sandbags in several cities to prepare for a drastic increase in flows from the Gavins Point Dam, near Yankton, South Dakota, next week. In Sioux City, Fire Chief Tom Everett says volunteers at the Long Lines Family Rec Center could end up filling half-a-million sandbags.

“That operation at the Long Lines Center is one of the most heartening things to go look at,” Everett said. “I mean, people are working hard in the heat that we had making sandbags for the whole region and Sioux City.” Everett hopes to have the supply of sandbags far outweigh the demand when the heaviest flood waters arrive next week.

“So, if an emergency happens and a levee breaks somewhere, we have the resources to immediately go address it instead of having to fill bags to do so,” Everett said. Levees have been built to protect Sioux City’s water treatment plant, although it is not directly in the flood’s path. Sections of entire Iowa towns could be flooded for months. Mills County Emergency Management spokesperson Sheri Bowen says her office has fielded more than 250 calls from residents with concerns about their homes.

“Over half of those calls have been about how can we relocate? We need a site to put a camper or we need a place to rent. So, we’re providing those resources,” Bowen said. In Mills County, the greatest threat for flooding exists in Pacific Junction and in a rural area between the Missouri River and the Loess Hills.

“A lot of those folks are preparing…they haven’t moved yet, but they have a plan and know what they’re going to do,” Bowen said. The Missouri River in Mills County reached a record height of 35.65 feet in July 1993. The current forecast has the river rising to over 40 feet this year. The Red Cross has set up a 24-hour shelter at the Sidney High School in Fremont County, where some of the worst flooding is expected in and around the town of Hamburg.

(Pat Curtis/Radio Iowa)

Arnolds Park man injured in Shelby Co. Crash


June 10th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Shelby County say a northern Iowa man suffered non-life threatening injuries during a motorcycle accident Thursday afternoon, in Defiance. 72-year old Thomas Johnson, of Arnolds Park, was riding a 1993 Honda motorcycle southbound on Highway 59 at around 12:30-p.m., when the cycle went out of control due to heavy rain and a slick road surface.

When the cycle went down, Johnson was thrown off, and came to rest on the highway. The cycle continued on its side into the west ditch. Defiance Fire and Rescue transported Johnson to Myrtue Memorial Hospital in Harlan, where he was treated for his injuries.

The motorcycle sustained minimal damage during the crash.

Nishna Valley Trails meeting, Mon. night


June 10th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The public is invited to an open meeting of Nishna Valley Trails, Inc. in support of the future development of the T-Bone Trail and other recreational trails in Atlantic and Cass County.  The meeting will take place on Monday, June 13th, 2011 beginning at 6:00 p.m., at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, off 14th street in Atlantic.  The agenda will include a review of recent activities, updates on trail development efforts, and planning RAGBRAI.  Ride your bike and bring a friend!  For further information, contact Ed or Myra Kail at 712-2493-4265.

Iowa Democrats file complaint against Schultz


June 9th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Democratic Party has filed an ethics complaint against Secretary of State Matt Schultz, alleging he used public resources to campaign again Jon Hunstman, a former Utah governor and potential Republican presidential candidate.

Party Chairwoman Sue Dvorsky on Thursday urged the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board to investigate Schultz’s use of public resources “for political purposes.”

Schultz on Monday used his office to send a press release in which he criticizes Huntsman on his intentions to skip the Iowa caucuses due to his opposition to ethanol subsidies.

Schultz says Thursday afternoon that he “defended” the Iowa caucuses and never said that anyone should vote for or against Huntsman. Schultz says the allegations are “without legal merit.”

Schultz, a Council Bluffs Republican, was elected in November.

Flood prep in full swing in Missouri Valley


June 9th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A rainy weather forecast is heightening concerns for western Iowa residents who are preparing for record flooding along the Missouri River. In the Harrison County town of Missouri Valley, Mayor Clint Sargent says businesses have closed and homeowners in low-lying areas are moving out. Many people in the town of just under 3,000 residents have battled floods before.

“In the flood of 2007, we had hours to prepare,” Sargent said. “Obviously now we’ve got more time, but every hour we have, we’re making sure public safety is insured, we’re protecting critical assets and making sure everyone is moved out to higher ground.” The Red Cross has opened a shelter at Missouri Valley High School. Sargent requested 250,000 sandbags from Iowa Emergency Management to help protect Missouri Valley’s water treatment plant and sewer lift stations.

“There are additional bags we’ve received from other sources. Basically, our goal is to fill as many of those sandbags as possible to secure those assets and then respond to those areas where the water rises that we may not have prepared for.” Many volunteers who are filling sandbags in Missouri Valley have traveled 30 miles from Omaha/Council Bluffs.

“There’s youth baseball teams, church groups, a group from Denison and the Iowa Department of Corrections is involved” Sargent said. “We recently had a major hail storm come through and brought a lot of damage. There’s contractors that were doing work for private residents…they’re sending crews in to help with the sandbagging process. It’s an amazing site that everybody’s coming together to help one another.” It will soon become a little more difficult to travel to Missouri Valley. The Iowa Department of Transportation plans to close nearly 15 miles of Interstate 29 today or tomorrow (Friday) because of the rising Missouri River. No traffic will be allowed on I-29 from just north of Council Bluffs to the interchange with I-680 at Loveland. The timing of the closure will depend on how fast the river rises. The portion of I-680 leading from I-29 to north Omaha is also scheduled to be closed.

(Pat Curtis/Radio Iowa)

Farmers save SW Iowa levee after Corps of Engineers bails out


June 9th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

After the feds fled the flood, farmers from southwest Iowa are fighting the high water on their own. Hamburg Fire Chief Dan Sturm says the main levee along the Missouri River just south of town was seen to be weakening on Sunday and the levee sprung a small leak that shot out water like a geyser.  “It also had an additional collapse the following day just south of it about 100 feet,” Chief Sturm says. “At that time, the Corps of Engineers found it too unstable to be working on so they pulled out.” He says several of the locals formed a team to save the levee — and hopefully — save the town.

“A couple of farmers took it upon themselves to pull in some more heavy equipment,” Sturm says. “They brought in more dirt and heavy rock and they have really strengthened up that section of levee and it is really looking a lot better. We have have bought quite a bit more time with that and they actually may hold that section.” He says Hamburg could face a flood threat from the opposite direction, too, from the Nishabotna River, so that floodwall is being shored up, as well.

“Placing sandbags on the Nishna levee that runs on the east side of town,” he says. “That’s just a precautionary measure.” Sturm says, for now, the Missouri River is fine but the Corps is expected to drastically increase flows from the Gavins Point Dam, near Yankton, South Dakota, next week.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)

People fleeing flooded Missouri won’t be back soon


June 9th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

HAMBURG, Iowa (AP) — Cliff and Donna Ferguson had already hauled out chairs, a bed, their television – nearly everything that would be ruined if the Missouri River spills over its banks as expected and floods their home in the small southwest Iowa town of Hamburg.

With their Chevy pickup already packed, Cliff Ferguson looked up at the dozen deer heads hanging on walls above him.

“I was planning on leaving some of this stuff here, but I may end up taking some of these,” he said, nodding to the heads. “This flood’s going to be different. It’s going to be worse.”

The rising Missouri River is set to reach peak flows within days and won’t return to normal until September as the Army Corps of Engineers manages a series of swollen reservoirs in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota and faces the prospect of huge snowpack melting in the Rockies. That means people leaving their homes and businesses in early June may not be able to come back before late summer.

The timeline has even veteran river-town residents resigned

“It’s already worse because we’ve got more junk now, and we’re older,” said the 73-year-old Ferguson, who, like thousands of living near the Missouri, endured historic flooding in 1993.

The question in Hamburg is whether a levee along the river that already has sprung a leak will completely give way, leaving only a temporary barrier to protect the town of 1,100. Officials skeptical the levees will survive have ordered half the town to evacuate and warned that up to 10 feet of water could surge into Hamburg and then remain for weeks, or months.

Julee Smith said her home should be high enough to remain dry, but worries about her 84-year-old mother, whose home would be swamped. And if the town floods, Smith wouldn’t be able to get to her job at a Walmart across the river in Nebraska City, Neb.

“I really don’t have a good plan. I really don’t,” she said.

Terry Holliman has already closed his Napa Auto Parts store south of downtown Hamburg and removed much of the merchandise. He expects to lose $35,000 in sales in one month, even if the store remains dry. If the levees fail and the store is inundated, costs would climb to about $150,000.

“It’s serious money, no doubt about it,” Holliman said.

About 60 miles upriver, Kelli Shaner said the river has crept closer and closer to her farmhouse near Fort Calhoun, Neb. She’s sure the house and much of their property will flood.

Her family spent the past week moving farm equipment to fields the family rents farther from the river, emptying their grain bin and finding temporary homes for their four horses, cow, chickens, dog and cat. She told her three sons, ages 5, 7 and 10, to pack up their favorite toys and be prepared to stay with relatives until the fall.

“At first we thought maybe a month, but as reports come out, it sounds like maybe November,” said Shaner, whose family grows corn and soybeans. She said they’ll be able to farm some of their fields this year but others will be underwater.

The family’s losses depend on how high the water rises and how long it remains. They haven’t yet laid off any of their four employees but fear having to do so.

“Our concern is keeping our employees employed,” she said.

Stephanie Smith found herself packing up her house in McCook Lake, S.D., only days before she expected to give birth to her first child. Her doctor said she could help move from her home just upstream from Sioux City, Iowa, but only if she didn’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds.

“I’m a little stressed out, a little overwhelmed,” Smith said.

They expect the river to fill their basement rise 3 feet high on their first floor.

The basement is wood and, Smith said, “our fear is, if it floods for any length of time, it will rot everything out and our house will fall in.”

She and her baby will move in with her parents in Omaha, Neb. But her husband, Lance, will have to stay nearly two hours away with his parents in Sioux City so he can continue working at a Delta Airlines reservation center.

“I wish we weren’t dealing with this now, but we’re just going to have to take one day at a time.”