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Atlantic Council approves ESU rate increase

News

July 25th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council held a brief, special session Wednesday evening, to act on approving the third and final reading of an amended ordinance calling for an increase in the ESU, or Storm Water Equivalent Service Unit rate. The ESU rate, which has not changed in over 10-years, will increase 35-cents per month, to $2.85, effective August 1st. The rate increase should generate $25,000 in additional revenues, which will be used to cover the net increase in debt service cost of $15,000 for repairs to the Bull Creek Underground drainage system and continued funding for annual repairs to the City’s storm water management system.

No one from the public was present to object to the increase or voice their opinions. And, when polled by the Mayor, only one of the Council members, Linda Hartkopf, mentioned she had heard anything from the public about the increase. Hartkopf said the person she spoke with opposed the move. Hartkopf told the individual the only other option was to raise taxes. She said “He didn’t like that idea, either.”

During the Council’s regular meeting on July 17th, prior to the second reading of the ordinance, a letter written by Atlantic resident Charles Griffin was read, which indicated he was opposed to the increase, because he claimed, it was not a “fee.” Instead, Griffin said it was an illegal tax because the citizens of Atlantic were not allowed to vote on it.

Snyder and Associates Engineer Pat Hall, one of the creators of the storm water fee system approved by the Council in 2003, said the intention of a storm water utility is spelled out in the Code of Iowa,  along with a city’s responsibility for utilities, and services provided to the citizens of the community. Therefore, according to Hall, it is a fee, and not a tax. Hall said by setting up a utility fee, the City provides itself with a certain amount of flexibility, when it comes to payments for capital improvements, such as the Bull Creek storm sewer improvement project. The ESU is based on the amount of square footage on a parcel of property. Those who have more square footage would always pay more than those who have less.

Study: Iowans are rotting their teeth from drinking so much pop

News

July 25th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Iowans are being reminded to think before they drink. The warning has nothing to do with alcohol, but instead the sugary, carbonated beverages we slug down. Dentist Kim McFarland says more people are developing sensitive teeth and the likely cause is drinking way too much pop, with each Iowan drinking an average of 44 gallons a year. “I am seeing a lot more tooth erosion,” Dr. McFarland says. “The patients that have erosion often share with me the fact that they do drink a lot of pop and not just one or two a day but all throughout the day, drinking soda pop.”

It doesn’t matter if it’s “regular” or “diet” soda because the acid in all sodas alters the p-H balance in the mouth which can erode a tooth’s enamel. McFarland says the best way to prevent enamel loss is to give up soda, or to at least cut back. “Limit consumption of soda to mealtime,” McFarland says. Don’t drink soda throughout the day and brush your teeth afterwards with a fluoridated toothpaste, she says. If you can’t brush your teeth, rise your mouth out with water. If you chew gum, chew on that’s sugar-free or a gum containing Xylitol, a natural compound that’s said to reduce the chances of tooth decay.

Dr. McFarland says once tooth erosion starts, it can’t be stopped. “Tooth erosion or a weakening of the outer surface of the tooth causes the tooth to become sensitive, so things like hot and cold can be rather painful,” she says. “Once erosion occurs, it cannot be reversed and effects people their whole life.” She says one other option is crowning all your teeth but that’s a costly, extreme solution.

(Radio Iowa)

Red Oak man arrested

News

July 24th, 2013 by admin

The Red Oak Police Department reports the arrest today (Wednesday) of 23-year old Bruce Anthony Kaimann Jr. of Red Oak on a charge of Simple Assault. Kaimann reportedly struck an unnamed victim causing pain and a laceration. Kaimann is being held at the Montgomery County Law Center on $300 cash bond.

Accident Near Hamlin

News

July 24th, 2013 by admin

The Audubon County Sheriff’s Office reports being called to an accident around 10:00-a.m. this (Wednesday) morning at the intersection of Highway 71 and Highway 44 near Hamlin. 55-year old Roxane Hansen of Audubon was traveling northbound on Highway 71 and 84-year old Howard Rand Petersen of Harlan was traveling eastbound on Highway 44 when he stopped his 2009 GMC at a stop sign and didn’t see Hansen’s 2000 Toyota when he left the stop sign. Hansen was taken to the Audubon County Memorial Hospital by private vehicle for minor injuries. Petersen refused any medical treatment. Damage to Hansen’s vehicle was estimated at $4,000. Damage to Petersen’s vehicle was estimated at $3,000. Petersen was cited for Failure to Yield from Stop Sign. The Audubon County Sheriff’s Office was assisted at the scene by Audubon Fire and Rescue.

CDC: More than 275 have unidentified stomach bug

News

July 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health authorities say more than 275 people in seven states have now been sickened with an unidentified stomach bug. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the cyclospora infections, which are often found in tropical or subtropical countries and have been linked to imported fresh produce in the past. It causes diarrhea and other flu-like symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the infection has been reported in Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia, Connecticut and New Jersey. Most of the illnesses occurred from mid-June to early July. The CDC says it isn’t clear whether the cases are all linked.

The illness is spread when people ingest foods or water contaminated with feces. The agency said it isn’t clear whether the cases are all linked.

Massena looks to TIF wind turbines for infrastructure & growth

News

July 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Mayor Pro-Temp of Massena has received the blessing of the Cass County Board of Supervisors, to continue with the process of establishing Tax Increment Financing (TIF) on the 38 wind turbines located within a two-mile radius of the City, to help pay for infrastructure needs, and grow new business. Mayor/Councilperson Linda Reneke appeared before the Board during their meeting this (Wednesday) morning. Reneke appeared before the Board last Winter as well, and expressed the City’s interest in deriving TIF from the turbines, but was unable to provide specifics on what the funding was needed for. Today (Wednesday), she provided the details.

One of the projects is a Sewer relining project, which will cost $800,000. The City has a a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), but they will have to pay the remainder, in excess of $500,000. The sewer relining project is necessary because of excess storm water inflow and infiltration (I&I) problems with the system, the result of which is an overwhelming of the City’s lagoon system.  In addition, the aerator system for the lagoons are very old, and require an additional $577,000 upgrade.

Reneke says the I & I problems are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the City’s infrastructure needs. She says because storm water drainage is such a problem, street, curb and gutters issues also need to be addressed. The current curbs and gutters are also are not ADA compliant. Reneke says it will cost over $10.5-million dollars to correct those problems. Another reason the TIF dollars would benefit the City, is it would bring younger families who are willing to build new houses. An improved infrastructure would expedite that process and grow the community, according to Reneke.

She said the number of available residences in Massena has declined from 220 in 1990 to 190 at present. There is a lot of interest from young families wanting to live in the community. Reneke said one home is being built in a new addition, while a second lot has been sold. The City’s portion of the cost to bring water and sewer into the new housing district, would be $294,000. Some of the City’s newest residents work for Siemens, the company responsible for constructing and maintaining the wind turbines. Some of those same workers also want to own their own businesses in town, but there is a lack of structures available. Reneke says TIF funds could be used by the City to purchase additional land, for which those businesses could built on. Reneke said there are smaller issues that can be addressed as well, through the use of TIF funds, such as expanding the City’s Fire Station, which is very cramped.

With the Supervisor’s blessing, the City of Massena can now proceed with the legal process necessary to obtain a 6-to 10-year TIF on the turbines, through the implementation of an Urban Renewal Plan.

EPA, DNR blasted for closed water quality meeting

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Environmental groups are angered that federal and state officials held a private meeting in Des Moines to talk about the state’s enforcement of federal clean water regulations without them and with no public input.   EPA spokesman Kris Lancaster has confirmed to The Associated Press a meeting was held Tuesday but he declined to discuss it further.

Gov. Terry Branstad’s spokesman says it was a work session to discuss regulations the EPA is pushing the state to enforce and that Branstad’s staff attended to help EPA understand the impact on farmers. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, an activist group, says water quality enforcement must be transparent and holding a meeting in secret gives the appearance officials are about to run over the public interest in the service of a corporate agenda.

Atlantic accidents and arrest report

News

July 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

An Atlantic man was arrested today (Wednesday), on a theft charge. The Atlantic Police Department reports 53-year old Dennis Toepfer was taken into custody on a charge of Theft in the 3rd degree. He was arrested with the assistance of the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, and booked into the Cass County Jail.

The A-PD says also, no injuries were reported following two accidents that occurred Tuesday. Officials say Patricia Mundorf, of Atlantic, was cited for having No Proof of Insurance, following a collision between her vehicle and a parked vehicle registered to Dick Cook, of Atlantic. The accident happened at around 5:10-p.m. Tuesday, in the 800 block of Chestnut Street. The police report says Mundorf was traveling north when her vehicle hit the rear of Cook’s legally parked car. Damage from the incident amounted to $15,000.

The second accident happened earlier that day, at the intersection of Highways 6 & 71, on the east side of Atlantic. Authorities say vehicles driven by Alan Schulz, of Atlantic, and Paula Christian, of Baxter, were traveling west on Highway 6 at around 1:10-p.m., when Christian stopped for a red light at the intersection with 71. Schulz failed to stop in time, and struck the back of Christian’s vehicle, causing a total of $1,900 damage. Schulz was cited for Failure to Maintain Control/Reduce Speed.

SWINE arrests 10 people in prostitution sting

News

July 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Southwest Iowa Narcotics Enforcement (SWINE) Task Force, said today (Wednesday), members of the Task Force and Vice Unit conducted an undercover operation in regards to prostitution, at an undisclosed location. During the sting, 10 people, all of whom are from Nebraska, were arrested and charged with prostitution. The include a 63-year old former University of Nebraska at Omaha football coach.

Authorities say the effort is ongoing, and further checks will be conducted in the future,

Cass County Supervisors upset with people destroying Level B roads

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors are not happy with whomever is using their vehicles to traverse County Level B (dirt/mud roads) when they are wet, and in the process destroying the road, making it difficult if not impossible for farmers to move their equipment, livestock and crops, when the road dries out. Engineer Charles Marker says his Secondary Road crews normally stay off Level B Roads because of a lack of manpower and equipment to maintain Rock, Level B, and C-type roads.

Marker says they often receive requests to smooth Level B roads which have been damaged by 4-wheel drive vehicles, but those requests are typically not filled until Spring, due to the current work load. He says the only way to stop the destructive activity is if someone calls in a license plate number of the vehicle doing the damage after it rains. He added that the signs marking roads as Level B, say “Enter at your own risk removes the County’s liability if the person responsible for tearing-up the road has an accident, or if ruts that have not been fixed caused damage to other vehicles once the road dries up.

Supervisor Charles Rieken said it’s too bad people feel the need to tear-up the roads used by farmers to haul hay and for other, legitimate purposes. On top of that, the mud from their vehicles is brought into town and messes up city streets. Rieken says it’s not just young people who are behind the destruction. Some older people are just as irresponsible, according to Rieken.

Rieken says when it rains, rural residents should watch for vehicles that are causing the damage, take down a license plate and report it to the Sheriff’s Department. If you are willing to prove who caused the damage, the person responsible, he says, can be assessed the cost of repairs to the road.

The cost for fixing those roads doesn’t come cheaply, according to Marker. He says it could take several hours to fix a damaged road, at a cost of about $30 and hour to operate a grader, plus an average of $20 for the employee’s salary to run the machine and conduct the work.

Rieken said he’s used the roads when he farms, and the ruts caused by 4-wheel drive vehicles “Shakes the tar out of” planters, grain carts and combines. Marker said they’ve seen vehicles in the cities covered in mud, and they know how they got that way, but unless citizens step forward and prove where those vehicles were and when, the damage will continue to occur.