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Atlantic P&Z Commission to review site plans & other matters


April 7th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The City of Atlantic’s Planning and Zoning Commission will meet this evening at City Hall. On their agenda is a review of site plans for a development project along Ash Street and the Heritage House Addition, as well as a review of a rezoning request and a request to vacate a platted alley. None of the matters require a public hearing. The meeting begins at 5:30-p.m. in the Atlantic City Hall.

With regard to the Ash Street project, Marty Boose, owner of Boose Building Construction L.L.C. has submitted site plans to build six, single family residential homes on 77,793 acres, from 1405 to 1503 Ash Street. The project is estimated to cost $1.2-million.

City officials say Civil Design Advantage, the architectural firm for Wesley Life, the owner of Heritage House, has submitted site plans for a 6,813 square foot addition to their existing 68,585 square foot complex. The proposed addition will be located at 1200 Brookridge Circle.

In other business, the Commission will review a request from a resident to rezone a section of land from 3rd to 4th Street, from Hickory, east to the alley between Hickory and Birch. The resident requests the section of land be rezoned to residential instead of light industrial. And, the request to vacate an alley located north of 1st Street and west of Locust, is from Terry Hepler, who has maintained the “Phantom alley” for several years.

City Administrator & Zoning Administrator John Lund says the alley serves no connective purpose, and is recommending the Commission proceed with the process to vacate the property.  The Commission will forward its recommendation on each of the matters to the City Council for approval.

Despite Economic Upswing, An Increase in Iowans Going Hungry


April 7th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa – Despite an improving economy, a new Gallup report shows the number of Iowans who are struggling with hunger is on the rise. According to the survey, 14.6 percent of Iowa respondents admit they didn’t always have enough money to put food on the table last year, up from 12.4 percent in 2013. Among those who have seen the growing need firsthand is Barbara Prather, the executive director of Northeast Iowa Food Bank.

“We continue to see increases in the number of people we’re serving, especially through our backpack program,” she says. “Last year at this time we were serving about 3,500 kids every month. Now we’re serving about 4,500 kids every month through the schools.”

Prather notes those struggling to put food on the table in Iowa come from all walks of life. “It’s some people who might have been laid off. Locally we’re seeing more grandparents that are now raising their grandchildren,” she says. “People that are working and just having a hard time making ends meet, making tough choices of ‘Do I pay my utility bill or pay for food? Well, maybe if I can use the food bank I can pay my rent and pay my utilities.'”

Nationally, just over 17 percent of respondents reported food hardship, marking the lowest rate since Gallup began collecting food insecurity data in 2008. More information on food insecurity in Iowa and around the nation can be found at the Food Research and Action Center website at www.frac.org.

(Iowa News Service)

2 men arrested on drug charges near Villisca Tue. morning


April 7th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A traffic stop at around 2-a.m. today (Tuesday) north of Villisca, resulted in two men being arrested on drug charges. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reports 21-year old Kevin Eduardo Salinas, of San Antonio, TX., and 19-year old Alex Kristopher Tucker, of Cherokee (IA), were taken into custody on Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, charges. The pair were arrested following a traffic stop near Highway 71 and Highway 34. Both men were being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $1,000 bond, each.

Workers laid off yesterday at MHI in Mt Pleasant


April 7th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The senator who represents Mount Pleasant is lamenting the now permanent layoffs of workers at the two state-run Mental Health Institutes in southern Iowa. Senator Rich Taylor, a Democrat from Mount Pleasant, notes that Monday was the last day for three dozen workers at the M-H-I in his town. “What a tragic mistake I think we’re making in this state by closing these MHIs down and it’s not that I don’t think that maybe we could do something different,” Taylor says. “It’s mainly that we’re just not ready.”

Some legislators have suggested the closure of the state-run institutes for patients with acute mental illness needed to be delayed until adequate alernatives were in place, but Governor Branstad on Monday made it clear he believes he had the authority as chief executive of state government to close the facilities now. Taylor made an appeal to his fellow senators yesterday (Monday).

“I’d like to issue you all a challenge to contact the governor and tell him: ‘You know, just hold off for a while,” Taylor says. “‘See if we can work out a plan and make this work. If this is what we’re going to do, make sure that we make this work and these people get the services they need.'”

May 18th is the target date to complete layoffs at the Clarinda Mental Health Institute. May 31st is the target date for complete closure of the M-H-I in Mount Pleasant. Governor Branstad has said the state “can’t continue to just throw money at a broken system” and he told reporters on Monday he has was elected “to reduce the size and cost of government.”

(Radio Iowa)

Drought expands across large section of nation’s crop region

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

April 7th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Drought conditions are expanding across a large section of the U.S., from California to the Great Plains. The National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska says the area covered by moderate drought or worse expanded by nearly five percentage points to 36.8 percent during March.

The drought monitor shows dry conditions broadened in the Midwest with 22 percent of the U.S. corn production area and 18 percent of the soybean area in some degree of drought. That’s up sharply from early March when just 6 percent of the corn growing area and 5 percent of the soybean region were in drought conditions.

Dryness worsened during March in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Two-thirds of California is in extreme to exceptional drought.

Former Iowa doctor accused of molesting girl gets probation


April 7th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

HARLAN, Iowa (AP) — A former western Iowa doctor charged with molesting a 10-year-old girl in 1999 has entered a plea deal. Eighty-two-year-old Wing Tai Fung, now of Ontario, Canada, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault with intent to commit sexual abuse and misdemeanor indecent contact with a child. A felony count of second-degree sexual abuse was dismissed.

A criminal complaint accuses Fung of molesting a girl in January 1999 while treating her for a knee sprain at Myrtue Medical Center in Harlan, Iowa. He was arrested in April 2014 in Chicago. Fung was sentenced in March to a two-year suspended prison sentence and two years of probation on each count. He also was fined $1,250.

Iowa early News Headlines: Tue., April 7th 2015


April 7th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

(Atlantic) — Widespread illness in Shelby County linked to Norovirus. Health officials advise if you experience symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps, to stay home and drink plenty of fluids. People with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until the first few days after they recover. Some people may be contagious for even longer.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Sioux City man accused of having sex several times with a teenage girl has entered a plea deal. Thirty-two-year-old Joshua Case pleaded guilty to four counts of third-degree sexual abuse and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor. Court documents say a teenage girl reported having sex about 20 times over a nine-month period in 2013. Records show the girl was 14 or 15 years old throughout that time frame. Case is also accused of having photos of sexual acts with the girl.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to consider the “widespread harm” done by a nationwide salmonella outbreak in sentencing two egg industry executives whose company was responsible. Prosecutors say Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son Peter ran a company that for years “routinely disregarded food safety standards and practices.” . The DeCosters face up to a year in prison when sentenced next week. Both have pleaded guilty to introducing adulterated eggs into interstate commerce.

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Authorities have identified the officers involved in a shooting in Waterloo. The Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation says officers Thomas Frein and Mark Nissen fired several shots at a vehicle early Sunday morning after 27-year-old Javon Darnell Webb drove into Officer Steve Bose. The officers have been placed on administrative leave. The shooting remains under investigation.

Widespread Illness in Shelby County Linked to Norovirus


April 6th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Officials with Shelby County Public Health Monday evening, updated their report on recent incidents of vomiting and diarrhea. Authorities said they have recently received many more than usual reports of vomiting & diarrhea illnesses in the community over the past ten days. Calla Poldberg ARNP, Director of Public Health, announced that testing in multiple samples shows norovirus has been confirmed.

Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S. Symptoms of norovirus illness include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. The illness lasts for about two days. If ill, the most important thing to do is keep drinking fluids and stay home. The most common complication from norovirus infection is dehydration.

Norovirus is found in the vomit and stool of infected people and it spreads quickly. People with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until the first few days after they recover. Some people may be contagious for even longer.

Although sometimes called the ‘stomach flu,’ norovirus is not the same virus as the respiratory influenza. There is no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection or drug to treat it. Anyone can get infected with norovirus. It is estimated that a person will get norovirus about five times in their lifetime.

The public can help protect themselves and others by thorough hand washing with soap and water, especially after using the toilet, changing diapers, and always before eating or preparing food. People with norovirus illness should not prepare food for others while they have symptoms and for at least 2 days after they recover from their illness.

For more information contact the Shelby County Public Health office at 712-755-4422 or your local medical provider office.

House panel seeks more detail on student debt reduction bill


April 6th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa House panel says there should be more rules specified for a bill that would allow a person to get student debt reduced through community service. A Ways and Means subcommittee discussed the bill Monday. They agreed to meet again before deciding whether to advance it.

The bill, proposed by Gov. Terry Branstad, would allow a person with student debt to provide community service to a designated organization. A grant would then be issued toward that volunteer’s educational loan.

The program would be privately funded. Individuals or corporations that participate could receive tax credits equal to 65 percent of their donations. There would be a $2 million cap on total tax credits the state could issue. Lawmakers say they want more specific rules on requirements for a grant.

Branstad says buck stops with him, so no delay in closure of MHIs in southern Iowa


April 6th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Governor Terry Branstad says he has broad authority to close state institutions without legislative approval — and he does not intend to delay the shut down of the Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant where layoffs are beginning this week. “I’m the chief executive,” Branstad told reporters this morning. “I was elected by the people of the Iowa to reduce the size and cost of government and to make it more efficient and to modernize it and to provide better services for the people of Iowa and we have been moving in that direction from the day that
I took office.”

Last year Branstad ordered the Iowa Juvenile Home be closed and while legislators complained, they were unable to stop the process. This year the Senate has passed a bill that called on Branstad to keep the Clarinda and Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institutes open and accept patients through June 30th. Another senate bill that passed on a bipartisan vote called for keeping the M-H-I’s open until a plan was in place to ensure there’s care somewhere for the most severely mentally ill Iowans.

Similar legislation is pending in the House, but Branstad isn’t interested in a delay.
“I understand there’s always going to be resistance whenever you look at making a major change like this, but this is long overdue,” Branstad says. Branstad was successfully sued over the closure of Workforce Development offices around the state in 2011, but by the time the case made its way through the courts the offices had been closed. Another lawsuit still pending challenges Branstad’s authority to close the Iowa Juvenile Home. Branstad says “not everyone is going to like” the actions he takes.

“The buck stops with me,” Branstad says. “I have to make tough decisions and I’m willing to do that because the people of Iowa elected me to reduce the size and cost of government.” Branstad says after repeated recommendations over the past 40 years to close the state-run Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant, it’s time to take action. Branstad made his comments this morning (Monday) during his weekly news conference.

(Radio Iowa)