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CDC: More than 275 have unidentified stomach bug


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


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


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


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.

Vendors sought for AtlanticFest


July 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

In less than three weeks Downtown Atlantic will be lined with crafters, classic cars and families enjoying the celebration of “great people in a great place.” AtlanticFest committee Chair Liz Denney said food and activity vendors are still needed to accommodate the more than 5,000 attendees expected. “We always have plenty of people to feed, and our vendors are always pleasantly surprised by the crowd,” Denney said.

The deadline to apply has been extended and vendors can contact the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce for applications and guidelines to participate. Activity booths are also being accepted, and organizations are encouraged to register games or carnival-like booths for attendees to enjoy.

For more information, contact the Chamber at 712-243-3017.

Audubon County Arrests


July 24th, 2013 by Chris Parks

The Audubon County Sheriff’s Office reports two arrests on Tuesday, July 23rd.  27-year-old Joshua Doyle Madsen of Exira was arrested around 7:30pm Tuesday on an outstanding warrant and was charged with Reckless use of a Firearm.

The charge resulted from an investigation into a shooting incident on July 5th, 2013 in the 3100 Block of Quail Avenue.  Madsen was allegedly was shooting a high powered rifle and a round went into Littlefield Park campground and lodged in a fiberglass truck topper.  No injuries were reported and after the arrest Tuesday Madsen was transported to the Audubon County Jail and was released following an appearance before the magistrate.

The Audubon County Sheriff’s Office also on Tuesday (7/23) arrested 19-year-old Lacey Ann Malson of Vail around 11:00pm.  Malson was charged with driving while barred after a traffic stop on Highway 71 near 120th Street.  Malson was taken to the Audubon County Jail and later posed bond and was released.

Analyst says Iowa likely will have to import corn

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – An analyst says Iowa will likely have to import corn to meet the demand of ethanol producers and livestock operations.   Iowa is the nation’s top corn-producing state, but The Des Moines Register reports economic policy analyst Ross Korves says a delay in spring planting due to flooding and last year’s reduced yields due to drought mean the state won’t have enough corn to meet demand.  Korves works for Michigan-based ProExporter Network and spoke Tuesday at an Iowa Farm Bureau Federation event in Ames.

Korves says forecasts call for 149 bushels an acre this year. That’s better than last year but far below the state’s normal output. The reduced yield comes as ethanol plants are resuming full production and poultry and pork operations see a small expansion in their operations.

Former UNO football coach arrested in Iowa

News, Sports

July 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – A former University of Nebraska at Omaha football coach has been arrested in Iowa on suspicion of soliciting prostitution. Police in Council Bluffs, just across the Missouri River from Omaha, Neb., say former UNO head football coach Pat Behrns was one of 12 people arrested Tuesday during a sting operation at a Pottawattamie County hotel.

The 63-year-old Behrns served as the UNO Mavericks’ head coach from 1994 until the century-old program was shut down in March 2011. Before that, Behrns had been head coach of the University of North Dakota football team from 1980 to 1985.

Pottawattamie County Jail authorities say Behrns posted a $2,000 bond Tuesday evening to be released.