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Special Investigation of Menlo’s financial books

News

June 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Auditor of State Mary Mosiman Thursday (today) released a report on a special investigation of the City of Menlo for the period January 1st, 2001 through May 31st, 2013. The special investigation was requested by City officials as a result of concerns regarding certain transactions prepared by the former City Clerk, Brenda Simmons.

Mosiman reported the special investigation identified $82,893.51 of improper and unsupported disbursements. The slightly more than $81,632 worth of improper disbursements identified include:
• Over $62,362 worth of payments made by the City for health insurance coverage which
should have been paid by Ms. Simmons and the City’s former maintenance employee, John Freeman,
• Approximately $6,430 worth of unauthorized payroll and the City’s share of related FICA and IPERS payments,
•Nearly $12,680 of additional payroll issued to Ms. Simmons because of an improper increase in hourly wages and the City’s share of related FICA and IPERS payments, and
• And $160 of interest paid to IPERS.

The slightly more than $1,260 of unsupported disbursements identified includes just over $1,073 worth of payments to Ms. Simmons and almost $188 worth of payments to Simmons’ husband. Mosiman reported it was not possible to determine if additional improper disbursements were made because sufficient records were not readily available.

The report includes recommendations to strengthen the City’s internal controls and overall operations, such as improving segregation of duties, performing bank reconciliations, requiring adequate documentation to support disbursements, and performing an independent review of bank statements. In addition, all disbursements should be approved by the City Council.

Copies of the report have been filed with the Division of Criminal Investigation, the Guthrie County Attorney’s Office, and the Attorney General’s Office. A copy of the report is available for review on the Auditor of State’s website at http://auditor.iowa.gov/specials/1322-0367-BE00.pdf
and in the Office of Auditor of State.

Rain-packed storms cut drought in Iowa, Nebraska

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

June 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Storms last week brought with them some peril in the form of wind and large hail but they also delivered enough rain to significantly relieve drought conditions in Iowa and Nebraska. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday shows Iowa’s remaining drought is mostly confined to the northwest and southeast corners of the state. About 40 percent of the state has some drought down from nearly 56 percent a week earlier.

In Nebraska, the drought area has been reduced to 63 percent of the state from nearly 70 percent the week before. Extreme drought was removed from central Nebraska. About 30 percent of the 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico have moderate drought or worse, compared with 31 percent a week earlier.

Board approves $40 million casino for rural Iowa

News

June 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has voted 3-2 to grant a license for a $40 million casino development that would be located in rural central Iowa. Supporters of the Jefferson casino burst into applause during a meeting in Burlington when commission chairman Jeff Lamberti cast the deciding vote in favor of the license. Lamberti said it was a “very, very difficult decision.”

It’s the first license granted for a new casino by the commission since 2010. The commission in April rejected a plan for a Cedar Rapids casino, citing market saturation. Wild Rose Entertainment plans to build a resort that would include slot machines, table games, an events center and a 71-room hotel.

Prairie Meadows casino in Altoona lobbied against the plan, warning that it would hurt its operation.

Red Oak principal case leads to 2 hearings

News

June 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

RED OAK, Iowa (AP) – Two hearings are planned related to a southwest Iowa school district’s plan to fire a high school principal. The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil reports the effort to fire Red Oak High School Principal Jedd Sherman will be the subject of a hearing before the Iowa Public Information Board next week and a Montgomery County courtroom next month.

Sherman argues the district voted to terminate his contract without hearing from him and that the matter was kept secret although he wanted an open hearing. He earlier claimed the district wanted to fire him because he reported two cases of student bullying, and he wanted to remodel a restroom to comply with federal disability requirements.

Red Oak Superintendent Terry Schmidt says the district is eager to present its case in court.

(Podcast) 9-a.m. Local/state news update, 6/12/2014

News, Podcasts

June 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

With KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.

(Update) s.w. Iowa man & woman arrested after pursuit

News

June 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

In an update to our story at 7-a.m., the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office says a man and woman were arrested early this (Thursday) morning following the pursuit of a stolen1995 Ford Ranger pickup. Officials say at around 1:30-a.m., Montgomery County Sheriff’s deputies attempted to stop the pickup in the 400 block of Linden Street, in Red Oak. The truck, which had been reported stolen, was occupied by 33-year old Jacob Allen Cochran, of Red Oak, and 24-year old Storm Louise Armstrong, of Corning.

Cochran was driving the pickup, and authorities say he tried to elude law enforcement. The pursuit ended, and the suspects were taken into custody, just before 2-a.m. at 110th Street and Spruce Avenue in Montgomery County. During the chase, Cass County Deputy Ryan Johnson was laying down stop sticks, when Cochran allegedly tried to run over Johnson, and a Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy. He was subsequently charged with Assault on a Peace Officer with intent to inflict serious injury.

Cochran faces additional charges of Felony eluding, driving while revoked, theft of a motor vehicle, OWI/2nd offense (drug-related), reckless driving, and providing contraband (Methamphetamine) into a jail facility. His bond was set at $5,000. Armstrong faces a charge of Interference with official acts. Her bond was set at $300.

Assisting in the chase and apprehension of the suspects was officers with the Red Oak Police Dept., the Red Oak Police and Cass County K-9 units, and Cass County Sheriff’s Department.

(Podcast) 7:07-a.m. News & funeral report, 6/12/2014

News, Podcasts

June 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

With KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.

Scammers appear to be steering clear after last big storm, but still beware

News

June 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Some Iowans who had damage in last week’s severe storms still haven’t had a visit from their insurance adjustor, in part, because so many claims were filed over a wide area. The storms brought winds up to 95-miles an hour, heavy rain, large hail and flash flooding. Jim Hegerty, with the Better Business Bureau, says on a positive note, there are very few reports of repair scammers trying to dupe Iowans. “Fortunately, this time, it hasn’t been too bad,” Hegerty says. “I think because the storm skirted the metro and hit a less populated area, I’m not sure that it’s attracting the storm chasers.”

Parts of the Omaha-Council Bluffs area were pelted with baseball-sized hail, but the heavier wind and flood damage came in several rural counties in both eastern Nebraska and southwestern Iowa. Hegerty says people who had damage to their homes, farmsteads and businesses still need to be on the lookout for con artists.  “We’ve been issuing warnings pretty consistently since last week that you should really be careful,” Hegerty says. “Take a breath, take your time, make the emergency repairs that you need to make and then be really thoughtful about your repair process. Get a few estimates. Make sure you check out the contractors with the bureau.”

He says get everything in writing, never pay up front and avoid contractors who knock on your door and say they want to work for cash.

(Radio Iowa)

Adair County pair sentenced to probation in misconduct investigation

News

June 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Two former Adair County roads workers who sold county scrap metal to fund Christmas parties and retirement gifts have been sentenced to probation. According to the Omaha World-Herald, both Duane Jameson, the former roads supervisor, and Cindy Butcher, the former shop clerk, also received suspended two-year prison sentences Tuesday. Jameson received three years of probation, Butcher two. The Iowa Attorney General’s Office says if they successfully complete probation, Jameson and Butcher will not go to prison. A judge still must decide how much restitution the pair owe the county.

The state is seeking a total of $26,150 in damages from the two, with $19,734 of proceeds related to the sale of scrap metal and other county property, just over 5-thousand dollars for the cost of an audit and a little more than 14-hundred dollars in attorneys’ fees related to the audit, according to court documents.
The misconduct came to light after the results of a special investigation by the State Auditor’s Office were announced on Feb. 1st, 2013. Both Jameson and Butcher pleaded guilty in March to third-degree fraud, an aggravated misdemeanor; and misconduct in office, a serious misdemeanor. Both were originally charged with misconduct and first-degree theft — a felony.

The 2013 Auditor’s Office report said Jameson and Butcher sold scrap metal, some of it material from old Adair County bridges, to at least one local salvage yard. Jameson told investigators that the money was going to fund employee Christmas parties and retirement gifts, according to the report. Officials placed Jameson and Butcher on administrative leave on Jan. 23, 2013. They resigned two days later, according to the county. Criminal charges were later filed against the pair, who were arrested last July.

Audubon teenager dies in tractor accident

News

June 12th, 2014 by Ric Hanson

LAKE CITY, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say a 16-year-old from Audubon has died in a tractor accident.
The Iowa State Patrol says the accident was discovered a little before 5:15 p.m. Wednesday about three miles southeast of Lake City.

The patrol says Austin Gosch was driving west on 390th Street when the tractor drifted left and entered the south roadside ditch. The tractor then rolled over and pinned the boy, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident is being investigated.

The patrol says Gosch had just finished his sophomore year at Audubon High School.