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Report: Iowa jobless rate dropped to 4.2 percent in January


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A new report shows Iowa’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent in January from 4.3 percent in December. Iowa Workforce Development said in the report released Tuesday that the rate is one-fifth of a point below the January 2014 rate of 4.4 percent. The new Iowa figure places the state below the national jobless rate of 5.7 percent in January.

The report also shows Iowa added 3,100 nonfarm jobs from December to January, with the state’s trade, transportation and utilities sector alone gaining 2,200 jobs. Professional and business services saw an increase of 1,800 jobs across the state, but a loss of 1,300 positions in education and health services offset some employment advances.

Since January 2014, Iowa added 24,800 jobs, led by the state’s construction sector at 6,500 new positions.

Audit of western Iowa fire department finds misspent funds


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – An investigation by the state auditor of a western Iowa town’s volunteer fire department has identified more than $100,000 in improper spending over a three-year period. Auditor Mary Mosiman issued the report Tuesday on the investigation of the Woodbine Volunteer Fire Department that found $106,268.62 of unsupported and improper spending from Jan. 1, 2009 through March 31, 2014.

The former Woodbine city administrator requested the investigation after the city revealed concerns about the use of fuel credit cards following an internal review. According to the report, the department wrongfully spent more than $11,000 on alcohol and over $1,000 in personal fuel purchases. It identifies just more than $92,000 in unsupported disbursements.

Mosiman also noted that the department didn’t maintain documents to reflect many of its expenditures.

Audubon School Board approves track renovation bid & budget hearing dates


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Audubon Community School District’s Board of Education Monday night, approved a contract with Midwest Tennis and Track out of Denison, for the Track Renovation. Superintendent Brett Gibbs said they had the lowest of two bids, in the amount of $97,000, plus crack repair at $4.50 per lineal foot. It won’t be known how much extra that will run until they remove the rubber coating. Gibbs said MTT was the original contractor behind the track installation more than a dozen years ago.

In other business, the Audubon School Board set April 8th as the date for a Public Hearing on a Budget Amendment and Budget Plan Publication. The budget amendment hearing begins at 5:30, followed at 5:45 by the Budget Hearing to set next year’s levy. Gibbs said they have tentatively set their levy at 4-percent. He says that equates to a little more than $12 per thousand dollars valuation, which is 31-cents less than the current year. Realistically, though, Gibbs said legislation that has been introduced by the State to pick up the property tax increase, which could make the levy $11.92.

The Board he says discussed the School Board election timeline, as well. There are three members up for election this year. The deadline to file applications to run for election or re-election is at the end of July. The forms will be available the first part of July. The election is Sept. 8th.

In other business Brett Gibbs said the Board replaced the district’s At Risk Coordinator who is retiring at the end of the school year. The board agreed to hire Anne Miller to replace that person for the upcoming school year. They also transferred Rachael King from Special Ed to 6th and 7th grade Language Arts. The person who currently holds that position will instead, become an Instructional Coach.

Gibbs said their basketball coaches also switched positions. Darren Miller, who was the Assistant Girls Coach, will become the Head Girls Coach, and Kim Subbert will become the Assistant Coach, per their mutual agreement. And, Blaine Kerkhoff the long-time Wrestling Coach tendered his retirement resignation Monday night. He cited the fact his last son is graduating this year, as a reason for stepping aside. Gibbs said Kerkhoff has served the program well over the years.

Shelby County Fire Danger is “High” this week

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Shelby County Emergency Management Agency are asking businesses and fire departments with Fire Danger signs in their windows, to set the signs at HIGH this week. Emergency Manager Bob Seivert says burning of any kind is restricted unless approval is received from local Fire Chief. Controlled burns that are not reported will result in Fire Department being dispatched, and Fires extinguished if determined to be un-safe. Please call 712-755-2124 with questions. The goal is to prevent fires, through good communication, public cooperation, and planning.High Fire Danger

Seivert says also, when someone has the need to burn a pile of brush, debris, or buildings, they are asked to contact the Emergency Management Agency at 755-2124. The dispatchers will obtain the location and nature of the planned burn and will provide the caller with the Fire Chiefs contact information. Through this expanded communication process, we have found some burns can be rescheduled to a different time of day, where wind and moistures are more acceptable. The Fire Chiefs can have input as to how the burn can be conducted safely and be aware of the activity should it become unmanageable.

4 arrested in Harlan on drug charges


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Police Department reports three men were arrested earlier this month on drug charges, following an investigation. Officials say 44-year old Chad Hess, 33-year old Matthew Johnson,  and 28-year old John Cox, all of Harlan, were taken into custody March 2nd, and transported to the Shelby County Jail.

Hess was charged with delivery of a controlled substance, 3 counts of possession of a controlled substance, 2 counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, 2 counts of prohibited acts penalties,  possession of controlled substance with intent to deliver, and ongoing criminal conduct. Johnson was charged with distribution/manufacture of a controlled substance and Cox was charged with aiding and abetting in the distribution of a controlled substance.

On March 12th, 33-year old Kristina Namanny, of Harlan, was taken into custody as a result of an investigation into drug activity, as well. Namanny was taken to the Shelby County Jail where she was charged with delivery of a controlled substance and ongoing criminal conduct.

The H-PD reports also, the arrest on March 10th, of 31-year old Rodney Koehrsen, of Harlan. The man was arrested after officers were called to a possible domestic disturbance in the 700 block of Baldwin. Koehrsen was transported to the Shelby County Jail where he was charged with violation of a no contact order.

On March 9th, 29-year old Marcia Finch, of Harlan, was arrested on an active Shelby County warrant that was issued when a complaint was filed with the Shelby County clerk of court charging Finch with criminal mischief 3rd and violation of a no contact order. Finch allegedly broke several windows on a vehicle belonging to Kent Frieze, Harlan.

And on March 6th, 35-year old Brandy Gordon, of Harlan, was arrested on an active Shelby County warrant charging Gordon with theft 5th degree. Gordon was transported to the Shelby County Jail. And on March 13th, 30-year old Cory Beyer, of  Denison, was arrested following a traffic stop. Beyer was taken to the Shelby County Jail where he was charged with driving while barred.

Montgomery County Death Investigation


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The discovery of a woman’s body early Monday morning in Elliott is under investigation. Authorities with the Iowa Department of Public Safety said today (Tuesday), that at approximately 4:40-a.m. the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office responded a report the body of a female in her 40’s was discovered in a grassy field on the northern edge of Elliot. Official say at this time, the death doesn’t appear to be suspicious, but the investigation is on-going.

An autopsy is currently being performed at the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner in Ankeny. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner are assisting with the investigation.

No further information will be released until the autopsy results are complete.

Update: 2 injured in early morning Cass County crash


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

In an update to our earlier report, the Iowa State Patrol says two people were hurt during a single-vehicle accident early this (Tuesday) morning, in Cass County. The driver of a 2010 Lincoln MKZ, 34-year old Kelius Guzman, of Bolingbrook, IL, and his passenger, 23-year old Jacob Grady, also of Bolingbrook, were transported to the Cass County Memorial Hospital in Atlantic, after the vehicle went off the road at around 4-a.m. The crash wasn’t discovered until one of the men managed to flag down a vehicle just after 6-a.m.

Both subjects were later transported to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, with Guzman being flown by helicopter, and Grady transported by ambulance. Both men were wearing their seat belts.

The Patrol says the car was eastbound in the right lane of Interstate 80 near the 72 mile marker, when Guzman swerved to avoid an animal. The car left the road and entered the median before going airborne down an embankment. The front end of the vehicle hit the ground before the car came to rest in the west ditch off of 770th Street.

The Patrol was assisted at the scene by Anita Fire and Rescue.

Iowans Take Precautions for Poison Prevention Week


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa – As National Poison Prevention Week continues, local experts say some simple steps around the home can help reduce the chances of accidental poisoning, especially among children. Poisoning is the leading cause of death from injuries in the U.S. Tammy Noble, education coordinator with the Iowa Poison Control Center, says that while everyone is at risk, those most often affected are children under age six. Products that could be dangerous should be kept out of reach or locked up.

“Painkillers tended to be the top substance that people were getting into,” says Noble. “Second is cosmetics or personal care products. Third is sedative hypnotics and anti-psychotic medicine, and fourth is your household cleaning products.” Noble says among the newer concerns are e-cigarettes, with flavored liquid nicotine, and laundry pods, which often have bright colors and can be mistaken by young children for candy.

In the case of a poisoning, Noble says the person should not immediately drink water or milk or try to make themselves throw up, which can make things worse depending on what’s been ingested. Instead, she says, they should call the poison help line at 1-800-222-1222. “Most of our calls from the public can safely be managed at home,” she says. “We’ll give you recommendations on what you can do to help minimize any problems, but we’ll also tell you what to watch out for, just in case there’s a problem.”

More than two million poisonings are reported each year to the dozens of poison control centers in the U.S., with more than 90 percent occurring in the home.

(Iowa News Service)

Sen. Grassley offers bill with goal of ending breast cancer by 2020


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Breast cancer would be eliminated by the end of the decade under legislation being introduced by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. It comes on the heels of a report released at the University of Iowa last week that names breast cancer as the number-one cancer to strike Iowa women and the number-two cancer killer. “The bill would establish a commission to accelerate the end of breast cancer,” Grassley says. “That’s the title of the commission, the Commission to Accelerate the End of Breast Cancer, to help end breast cancer by a target date of 2020.”

Grassley says there are many fine organizations, charities and research facilities that are pursuing a common goal but they need to be better assembled to work as a unit. His bill, which he says has bi-partisan support, will forge new relationships in the fight against the disease.  “It would encourage partnerships between the public and private sectors,” Grassley says, “and it would create opportunities for collaboration across disciplines that might advance the mission of ending breast cancer.” He notes, the commission would be subject to termination if it doesn’t show progress. Grassley says his legislation would not attempt to replace or revamp agencies like the American Cancer Society or the Susan G. Komen Foundation, but it aims to see them work together more closely.

Grassley says, “There is some redundancy but it brings attention to the issue and it brings together in one place all the research that’s going on to know that the research that’s going on is accomplishing the purpose, can it be better directed and emphasis upon the biggest breakthroughs in the fight against breast cancer.” Grassley’s wife, Barbara, is a 28-year breast cancer survivor. He says, “This issue is personal to me and really, it’s personal to all of us.” The “Cancer In Iowa” report estimates 22-hundred-50 breast cancer cases will be diagnosed in Iowa women this year and 390 women will die from it. It says breast cancer is the number-two cancer killer of Iowa women behind only lung cancer.

(Radio Iowa)

Link to UI Cancer report: http://www.public-health.uiowa.edu/

Ericksen pleads not guilty to sex abuse charge


March 17th, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The attorney for a Pottawattamie County man arrested by authorities in Cass County on 10 felony counts of Sexual Abuse in the 2nd Degree, has entered a written plea for his client, of Not Guilty. Online court records show Jay Mez filed a written arraignment and Not Guilty plea on Monday, for 55-year old Roger Allen Ericksen, of Underwood.

Ericksen was arrested in connection with acts that allegedly happened with a minor child in 2011. He remains in the Cass County Jail on $25,000 cash bond. The next step in the process is a Pre-Trial Conference on April 6th, with Trial set for May 27th.

In December 2012, Ericksen pled guilty in a prior case in Cass County District Court to Sexual Abuse 3rd Degree.