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Cass County Dems host candidates

News

March 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Cass County Democratic Party Chair Sherry Toelle reports the County Democrats  hosted ten candidates or their surrogates at the Party’s “Spring Fling” on March 27th More than 60 voters from several counties also attended the event.

Back Row: Jon Neiderbach, Tom Miller, Brad Anderson Front Row: Michael Fitzgerald, Sherrie Taha, Tim Ennis, Steven Roe (Photo submitted)

Back Row: Jon Neiderbach, Tom Miller, Brad Anderson
Front Row: Michael Fitzgerald, Sherrie Taha, Tim Ennis, Steven Roe (Photo submitted)

Candidates present for the event included incumbents Attorney General Tom Miller and Iowa Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald. Jon Neiderbach, candidate for Auditor; Sherrie Taha, for Secretary of Agriculture; and Brad Anderson, Secretary of State. Campaign surrogates spoke for Staci Appel, US House of Representatives, Bruce Braley, US Senate, and Jack Hatch, Governor. Steven Roe and Tim Ennis, candidates for the Iowa House, Districts 20 and 21 respectively, were also present and spoke to the crowd.

Plans are in the works for all candidates to appear in Cass County as the campaigns advance.

Pott. County 2003 murder suspect released from custody

News

March 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in  western Iowa have released a man suspected of stabbing to death an Omaha meatpacking-plant worker in 2003, but they are continuing the case against another man charged in the slaying. The Omaha World-Herald reports 47-year old Thomas Sanchez, was released Thursday from the Pottawattamie County Jail on his own recognizance. Sanchez was arrested in January in connection to the cold case killing. He remains charged with first-degree murder in the death of 33-year old Nelson Alvarez-Hernandez, of Omaha.

The other identified suspect in the case, 36-year old James Cain Harris, of Council Bluffs, was also charged with first-degree murder. Harris was being held in the Pottawattamie County Jail on $1 million bail. Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber said Friday that the charges against Sanchez have not been dismissed. He said after Harris’ case is tried, a decision will be made on how to proceed with the case against Sanchez.

Alvarez-Hernandez, who worked at a South Omaha plant, dressed as a woman and went by the name Selena. He was stabbed in the early-morning hours of July 31st, 2003, outside a home near 13th Street and 16th Avenue in Council Bluffs. According to court documents, a sibling of Harris’ told Bluffs police that Harris stabbed Alvarez-Hernandez, saying Harris was angry because the victim had touched him. A $5 bill was found at the scene next to Alvarez-Hernandez’s body. A DNA profile developed from blood on the bill was tied to Sanchez several years later.

Sanchez told investigators that he did not know Alvarez-Hernandez and had never been to the scene of the crime. He said he had no idea why his DNA might have been there. Wilber said Sanchez agreed to waive his right to a speedy trial in return for being released. He said not having to try Sanchez right away will allow prosecutors to focus their efforts on Harris.

Harris is scheduled to go on trial May 28th.

Study ranks all 99 Iowa counties based on health conditions

News

March 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A new report ranks the overall health of all 99 Iowa counties. The study used some 30 factors to compile the rankings, things like childhood poverty, smoking, college attendance, physical activity and access to physicians. Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says Sioux County, in far northwest Iowa, ranked as the state’s healthiest county. “They have a very low rate of premature death in that county,” Van Dijk says. “People are living longer lives, they’re living well into their 70s and 80s, for the most part.”

She says Sioux County also ranked high in categories that surveyed social and economic factors, clinical care and the physical environment. “The other thing that influences good health in Sioux County is people are living good lives,” Van Dijk says. “There’s a smaller percentage of people who report they’re in poor or fair health, you’re having healthy babies in that community, a fairly low rate of low birth weight babies, so that’s really encouraging.”

The study found Appanoose County, in southeast Iowa on the Missouri border, was the least healthy Iowa county. “They have more people dying earlier, they have more people reporting they’re in poor health, they have more babies who are being born earlier and of a lower birth weight,” Van Dijk says. “Appanoose County also ranks 98th out of 99 counties in those health factors and so has real opportunities to improve in things like smoking and healthy eating and active living.”

While Sioux County ranks as Iowa’s healthiest county, the rest of the top five are: Winneshiek, Chickasaw, Lyon and Mitchell at number-five. On the other end, the bottom five are: Montgomery, Wayne, Mills, Adams and Appanoose at 99th. “The county health rankings are not meant to shame a county that’s ranking at the lower end of the scale but to serve as a call to action,” Van Dijk says, “to say, what can we do to move these health factors forward and improve on these areas so residents of our community can live longer, healthier lives?”

The rankings come from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest health-focused philanthropy. This is the fifth year of the rankings, published online at: www.countyhealthrankings.org

Red Oak woman arrested for OWI

News

March 29th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Mongtomery County Sheriff’s Office reports a Red Oak woman was arrested early this (Saturday) morning. 27-year old Patty Ann Henke was taken into custody at around 2:50-a.m., on a charge of OWI/1st offense. Her arrest took place following a traffic stop on Highway 34 at Dogwood Avenue, west of Red Oak. Henke was being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $1,000 bond.

Economic Development Board Approves Awards to Support the Creation of up to 257 Jobs

News

March 28th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) board today (Friday) awarded direct financial assistance and tax benefits to 13 companies for job creation and expansion projects. The awards will assist in the creation of 257 jobs and will result in over $22 million in new capital investment for the state. The board approved assistance for planned or proposed projects located in 13 communities, including two projects in Council Bluffs and one in Scranton,

In Council Bluffs, Gavilon Ingredients, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gavilon Agricultural Holding Company was awarded tax benefits by the board for a $4.5-million capital investment to construct an animal feed handling facility in Council Bluffs. The facility will have an attached storage and container loading terminal capabilities. The project is expected to create 11 jobs, nine of which are incented.

Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Tyson Foods, owns and operates a prepared food facility in Council Bluffs that produces beef and pork products. The company is planning to expand its operations by installing new equipment. Their project was awarded tax benefits by the board for the $9.5 million capital investment that is set to create 139 jobs, of which 22 are incented.

And Scranton Manufacturing, based in Scranton, is planning to expand its current facility to accommodate new market demand. The $2.5 million capital investment was awarded $250,000 in direct financial assistance through the federally funded Economic Development Set-Aside (EDSA) program. The project is set to create 70 jobs, of which 50 are incented. The company primarily produces a variety of waste management trucks and trash compactors and sells to both a national and international market.

Harlan company offers grants for child-focused organizations

News

March 28th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Organizations with a focal point on children have an opportunity to win grant money in part from a Harlan business. Monogram Prepared Meats has announced they are accepting grant applications from organizations seeking funding for children-focused programs. The Monogram Loves Kids Foundation will be awarding a total of $15,000 in the Harlan area. There will be one $10,000 grant and two $2,500 grants.

The grant money came as a result of a fundraising effort at Monogram Prepared Meats in Harlan and across the other five Monogram Food locations for a fundraising event hosted in Memphis, TN. The foundation was founded in 2010 to raise funds for many children’s charities in Memphis and throughout the country where their team members live and work. Since the foundation was formed, Monogram has made over $200,000 in donations to many children’s charities across the country.

To obtain the 2014 Monogram Loves Kids Foundation grant application, visit www.monogramfoods.com and click “Monogram Loves Kids Foundation” at the top of the page. The deadline to apply for the grants is May 30th , 2014.

Cass Supervisors to hold a public hearing on amended FY 2014 Budget

News

March 28th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

A public hearing will be held Monday morning in Atlantic, with regard to the amended Fiscal Year 2014 Cass County Budget. The hearing takes place during a regularly scheduled session of the Cass County Board of Supervisors, and will be followed by action on adopting an amendment to the FY 2014 budget and FY 2014 Iowa Dept. of Transportation Secondary Roads Budget, along with appropriate expenditures.

In other business, the Board will act on a Resolution abating the taxes on a Mobile Home where it is impractical to collect the tax. They’re also expected to act on the appointment of a person to fill a vacancy on the Massena Township Board of Trustees, and on the vacating and closure of a portion of a Secondary Roads Right-of-Way: that which is an unused portion of Road #1 of 1898, lying in sections 2 & 3 of Benton Township.

The Cass County Board of Supervisor’s meeting begins at 8:30-a.m., Monday.

Iowa Bar Assoc. calls for increased security in courthouses

News

March 28th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

In light of last Monday’s incident at the Madison County Courthouse, the Iowa State Bar Association (ISBA) is calling on all county officials responsible for courthouse security to carefully examine the security measures in their courthouses. During the Madison County incident, a man who was being sentenced to 10 years in prison on drug charges pulled out a weapon and brandished it around the courtroom. He escaped, but was apprehended a short time later.

ISBA President Guy Cook says  “Courthouse security for the public, litigants, courthouse employees, and judges must be the of the highest priority in our system of justice and is critical to the rule of law. We cannot wait until a tragedy occurs to have the will to take the preventive measures to ensure safety in our State’s courthouses. There is no price that can be put on a deadly event.”

Cook and ISBA leaders acknowledge the issue of courthouse security varies from county to county. Nevertheless, certain basic security measures should be considered for all county courthouses statewide.They urge county supervisors, legislators and others to review and implement the recommendations in the ISBA’s 115-page courthouse safety and security report published in 2005 by a task force made up of law enforcement leaders at the state and federal level, judges, attorneys and county court clerks.

(Update 11:30-a.m.) Scouts among 6 hurt in Council Bluffs blast, fire

News

March 28th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say some Boy Scouts experimenting with gunpowder for a ceremony have been injured in an explosion and fire at a Council Bluffs Home. Fire investigator Dan Roberts told Omaha television station KETV that the accident occurred around 8:10 p.m. Thursday.  A Council Bluffs Fire Department report says the group was experimenting with gunpowder while working on an Order of the Arrow ceremony.

The department says four minors and two adults suffered mostly second-degree burns and were taken to area hospitals. Two of the injured were taken to a burn center in Lincoln, Neb. One adult remains hospitalized in Omaha, Neb., and the three remaining injured people have been released.

The fire marshal’s office is investigating.

CAM School Board Special Meeting

News

March 28th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Members of the CAM School District’s Board of Education will hold a special meeting Monday evening in the CAM High School Media Center. During the 6:30-p.m. session, the Board will act on a resignation and discuss sharing a Superintendent, prior to entering into an exempt session for negotiations.