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AG files lawsuits for One Call violations

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Iowa’s Attorney General has filed seven lawsuits covering five counties for alleged violations of the “Iowa One Call” law. The law requires anyone who is going to be digging to call at least 48 hours in advance to have underground utility lines marked. Attorney General Tom Miller’s spokesman, Geoff Greenwood, says the people involved in each of these cases failed to make that call. “These are cases where it wasn’t just a matter of a contractor digging near a line, in most of these cases a contractor actually hit a line. These are all involving natural gas pipes,” Greenwood says.

Four of the lawsuits have been resolved or have agreements pending. He says these types of violations are not something that can be overlooked. “We are concerned when something like this occurs because it is a public safety threat,” Greenwood says. “Whether it’s a gas line, or electrical line or telephone line — it endangers the public when a contractor goes in and digs without calling first and doesn’t know where those lines are located.”

Greenwood says there are a variety of underground utilities and hitting them can create some serious issues. “We’ve had situations before where underground lines have exploded. We’ve had situations before where people have been electrocuted. We’ve had situations where the phone lines went down and a whole community had not access to its 9-11 system or other ways to make a phone call,” Greenwood explains. “So, that’s why we take these cases seriously.”

Greenwood says being in a hurry to get work done is not an excuse for not calling and having the underground lines marked. “We hear that once in a while that someone was trying to save time or money — and that argument just doesn’t wash. That’s because this is a free call, it doesn’t cost you anything to call these folks and have them come out and do what the law requires,” Greenwood says. “The surveying is free. So, it’s a one call phone call and they will come out and survey the area and mark where these lines are located underneath the ground and that protects, you, it protects the public and it protects the utilities.”

And Greenwood says it can cost you a lot more to go ahead and dig and hit a line instead of waiting. Anyone planning to dig can notify the Iowa Once Call Notification Center about planned digging or excavating online at www.iowaonecall.com, or by phone at 811 (or toll-free at 800-292-8989). The center is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The lawsuits, include four that are resolved or where the agreements are pending.

Here are the details:
In Calhoun County, Ag Repair of Manson alledgedly hit a Northern Natural Gas pipeline while doing tile work and had to replace a section of the pipeline at a cost of 100-thousand dollars. The lawsuit in this case seeks unspecified damages and a court order barring the company from violating the One Call law.

In Dickinson County a lawsuit against Lynde Construction Incorporated of Sioux Falls South Dakota, alleges that on April 4, 2016, the company hit and damaged a two-inch underground natural gas line as part of a drainage tiling project in Arnolds Park. The excavation allegedly took place several feet away from a permanent natural gas pipeline marker. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and a court order barring Lynde from violating the One Call law.

In Lee County the lawsuit alleges that in late January of 2016, DeLong Construction, of Washington, Iowa, was excavating as part of a ditch cleaning in rural Lee County, when it hit and damaged a one-foot diameter natural gas line. Through a proposed consent decree agreement has DeLong admitting violations and paying a seven-thousand dollar ($7,000) penalty and the company agrees not to violate the One Call law.

There are three lawsuits in Marion County District Court, which were tentatively resolved through proposed consent decrees. According to Miller’s lawsuit on August 7th, 2015, K-M-A Development L-L-C, doing business as K-M-A Trucking & Excavating, of Princeton, damaged a one-inch diameter natural gas line in Knoxville, while excavating to plant trees. Through a proposed consent decree agreement has K-M-A, admitting violations and agreeing to a five-thousand dollar ($5,000) penalty and the company agrees not to violate the One Call Law.

The lawsuit alleges on March 23, 2016, Koopman Roofing Incorporated doing business as Hopkins Roofing of Pella, excavated land in Pella to lower an underground natural gas line. During the excavation, Hopkins damaged the line. Through a proposed consent decree agreement Hopkins Roofing admits violations and will pay a three-thousand-dollar ($3,000) penalty and agrees not to violate the One Call law.

The lawsuit alleges on February 1st, 2016, Peterson Tiling & Excavating L-L-C, of Pella, was excavating as part of a drainage tile installation in Pella when it hit and damaged a an underground natural gas line. Through a proposed consent decree agreement says Peterson admits violations and will pay three-thousand dollars ($3,000) and agrees not to violate the One Call law.

In Sioux County, the lawsuit says on May 5th 2016, Steve Doorenboos, of Boyden, was excavating land as part of a drainage tile project in Boyden when his equipment hit and damaged an underground natural gas line. The incident resulted in the city losing natural gas service. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and a court order barring Doorenboos from violating the One Call law.

(Radio Iowa)

Cass Supervisors sign letter of intent, re: Ethanol plant Development Agreeement

News

February 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors today (Wednesday), approved the signing what essentially amounts to a “Letter of Intent” to enter into an $8.5-million Development Agreement with Elite Octane, LLC., with regard to the proposed nearly $200-million ethanol plant on the outskirts of Atlantic. The Board, by a vote of 5-0, passed Resolution “Authorizing Tax Increment Payments and Pledging Certain Tax Increment Revenues, to the Payment of the Agreement.”

Auditor/Board Secretary Dale Sunderman…

Their approval means Snyder and Associates Engineers can continue with the preliminary design and engineering phase of the project.

Before the Board held their vote, Supervisors Frank Waters and Steve Baier, voiced their concerns with the uncertainty over the project, which was all set to fall into place until late last month, when Elite Octane and Atlantic Municipal Utilities failed to come to terms on the rate the company would pay for electricity. Nick Bowdish, who represents Elite Octane, informed the Board earlier this month, that he was pulling out and the deal was dead. Last week, he told the Board “The company has found a path forward with the proposed ethanol project near Atlantic.” Supervisor Frank Waters said that type of waffling and uncertainty over investor interest, is a concern.

Supervisor Steve Baier also expressed his feelings of being concerned the County might be on the hook for all the costs leading up to the finalization of the agreement.

So, the matter now goes back to the attorneys for both Elite Octane and Cass County, to tweak the final Development Agreement and sign-off on it, before it is approved by the Board of Supervisors.  In other business, the Cass County Board of Supervisors re-appointed Bruce Henderson to serve a three-year term as Commissioner for the Southern Iowa Regional Housing Authority (SIRHA), effective April 9th, 2017.

Dog owner hospitalized after dog rescued from icy N.W. IA pond

News

February 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

OYENS, Iowa (AP) – A man was taken to a hospital after he escaped from an icy pond in northwest Iowa where his dog was later rescued. The Sioux City Journal reports that the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office was called around 6:40 p.m. Monday by someone reporting that a dog had fallen through ice at the pond, which sits about a quarter mile south of Oyens. Oyens firefighters and the Plymouth County dive team were sent there, and they found that the dog’s owner had been in the water for about five minutes before he could make it out to safety.

The rescuers used a boat to get the dog out of the pond. The man was taken to Floyd Valley Hospital in Le Mars.

Powerball jackpot tops $400 million for 1st time in months

News

February 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Powerball jackpot has climbed above $400 million for the first time in nearly three months. The top prize for Wednesday night’s drawing will be an estimated $403 million if paid over 29 years or $244 million in cash. Winners then would have to pay taxes on their winnings.

The game’s six numbers will be drawn at 10:59 p.m. eastern time. Five white balls are drawn from a drum with 69 balls and a red ball is drawn from a drum with 26 balls. Powerball is played in 44 states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are incredibly small, at one in 292.2 million. If there is no winner, the prize will increase before the next drawing Saturday night.

(Podcast) KJAN 8-a.m. News, 2/22/2017

News, Podcasts

February 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

More area and State news from KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.

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School water main break forces students into new locations

News

February 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa (AP) – Middle school students will gather in separate locations today (Wednesday) as officials work on repairing their water-damaged school in Sergeant Bluff. A broken water main in the boiler room let loose a torrent around 7 p.m. Monday at Sergeant Bluff-Luton Middle School. The water spread inches deep in some places in the hallways, library, lunchroom, gymnasium, computer lab and wrestling room. Classes were canceled Tuesday but will be held in different locations Wednesday.

Superintendent Rod Earleywine told the Sioux City Journal that eighth-grade students will report to the high school, seventh-graders will go to the community center and sixth-grade students will report to the elementary building.

Earleywine says that plan likely will hold through Friday, with the hope that the students can return to their school Monday.

2 Creston residents arrested on warrants, Tuesday

News

February 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

Creston Police say two people were taken into custody on separate warrants, Tuesday afternoon. 47-year old Dennis Speed, of Creston, was arrested at his home on a Polk County warrant for Escape. And, 51-year old Lori Graham, of Creston, was arrested on a Union County warrant for Parole Violation. Both were being held without bond, with Speed held in the Union County Jail, and Graham in the Ringgold County Jail.

Creston Police said also, a resident of the 1100 block of S. Patt Street, reported Tuesday night, that sometime over the noon hour, Tuesday, her daughter’s Iphone 5S in a gold case, was stolen while she was at the Creston School. The loss was estimated at $500.

(Podcast) KJAN Morning News & funeral report, Wed., Feb. 22nd, 2017

News, Podcasts

February 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The area’s top news at 7:06-a.m., w/KJAN News Director Ric Hanson

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Red Oak woman uninjured after her car hits a house Tue. night

News

February 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

A woman who was backing-up her Smart Car in Red Oak, Tuesday night, accidentally stepped on the gas pedal too hard, causing the vehicle to reverse abruptly and end up on top of a handicapped ramp on the side of a residence in the 200 block of E. Washington Avenue. Red Oak Police say 79-year old Rose Smith, of Red Oak, wasn’t injured in the mishap, that caused $800 damage to her car and $2,000 damage to the house. No citations were issued. The accident happened at around 8:45-p.m.

Memorial Weekend campsites soon available for reservation

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 22nd, 2017 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources reports the three-month window to reserve a state park campsite for a Friday arrival on Memorial Day weekend opens this Sunday, Feb. 26. More than a few campers will plan their arrival for the weekend before Memorial Day and stay through the holiday, which means their window is open now.

Todd Coffelt, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau, says “Campers can make reservations for sites three months ahead of their first night stay. And we have a flurry of reservations from campers who begin their stay prior to the Memorial Day weekend.”

Lake Wapello, Lake Keomah state parks and Fairport State Recreation Area all underwent campground renovations last year and are anxious for visitors to check things out. Red Haw State Park’s campground will be open to walk-in camping only starting on April 17 due to the final phase of its renovation. Advanced reservations will be accepted starting on June 22. And Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area’s campground #1 will be closed through June 30 for an electrical upgrade.

Most parks will have nonelectric sites available for the Memorial Day weekend. Not every campsite is available on the reservation system. Parks maintain 25 percent or more of the electric and nonelectric sites as non-reservation sites, available for walk-up camping.

Information on Iowa’s state parks is available online at www.iowadnr.gov/parks
including the link to reservations. Campers can also log on directly to http://iowastateparks.reserveamerica.com; enter their preferred amenities and requirements, dates and/or parks to see what sites are available and make a reservation.

Campers are encouraged to note closures when making their reservations. Some campgrounds may be closed Memorial Day. Weather will play an important role in how soon projects will be completed and a how soon campgrounds will be back online.
Closure information is current on the DNR website and reservation system. Closure information can be found at www.iowadnr.gov/Places-to-Go/State-Parks-Rec-Areas/Closure-Information and on individual park webpages.