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Public info. campaign coming to Mills Co., re: Bird carcasses

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Mills County officials are putting together a campaign to educate the public on the avian flu as the county prepares to bury chickens affected by the disease. The remains of chickens killed by the flu will be buried in a landfill outside Malvern. The County said in a news release “Any risk to humans from this influenza is very low. No human infections have been detected, and there are no food safety risks for the consumer.”

The Mills County Planning Group for the avian flu has offered educational information, available at birdflu.millscoia.us, while there will also be a town hall meeting in Malvern on the issue. Officials said the county will release more information on the town hall meeting once details have been confirmed.

Residents seeking more information are also able to call the state avian flu concern hotline at (800) 447-1985.

AEA approves Walnut-AHST consolidation vote


May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Green Hills Area Education Agency have approved a vote on consolidating the AHST and Walnut community school districts during the September school board elections. The Daily NonPareil reports residents of Avoca, Hancock, Shelby, Tennant and Walnut will be able to vote Sept. 8th on merging into one school district, potentially finishing a process of coming together that began in 2012 with partial-day sharing and combined athletics.

Two objections were filed with the AEA, both by Ardythe and Neal Smith of Walnut, who own two properties within the Walnut school district. One of the properties is split with 160 acres in the Harlan school district and 80 acres in Walnut, and the Smiths asked for the entire property to be made part of Harlan, which is where they said they do their shopping and receive professional services.

The board voted 7-0 to approve the petition without any additional discussion. Walnut, which has been an independent school district for 143-years, was last reorganized back in the 1950s. AHST was created in 1995 during a reorganization. Walnut has been whole-grade sharing its secondary students since 2014 with AHST while maintaining its Walnut Community School for elementary students.

The Green Hills AEA board received petitions with 222 signatures from Walnut and 501 from AHST, which exceeded the requirements to move forward with the proposal. The Walnut district is roughly a third the size of the AHST district, with a combined enrollment of 770 students. Under the proposal, the reorganized AHSTW school board would be made up of two members of the Walnut board and five of the AHST board. The board would then create five districts and have two members elected at large, which would allow for balanced representation of AHSTW’s territory.

Voters will also be asked to approve a revenue purpose statement, aligning funding for the new district to avoid another special election if the reorganization is approved in September. The districts’ shared Superintendent Jessie Ulrich, said the reorganization, if it’s approved, would mean lower taxes for AHSTW residents. With the incentives provided by the state, he said a $2 per $1,000 of taxable valuation reduction in taxes in the near term would be possible.

Omaha officer killed by gunman shot above protective vest


May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The police chief of Nebraska’s largest city says an Omaha police officer killed in the line of duty was shot just above the top of her protective vest. Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer gave more details Thursday of the shooting that killed 29-year-old Officer Kerrie Orozco on Wednesday. The chief said Orozco, a native of Walnut (IA) and another officer, had responded to a call for backup from officers who came under fire from the heavily-armed suspect.

Schmaderer says 26-year-old Marcus Wheeler fired on police who tried to arrest him Wednesday afternoon. Orozco and another officer soon arrived and chased after Wheeler, who turned and fired on them, too. Orozco was hit, and died at a local hospital. Wheeler was also shot and killed. Schmaderer says Orozco did not fire her gun.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has ordered flags in city to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Officer Kerrie Orozco. Stothert says flags should remain at half-staff until dusk Monday on Memorial Day. Stothert said Thursday the move is a sign of respect for Orozco and her service to the city. The city also plans to turn lights at the Heartland of America Fountain and on the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge blue beginning Thursday night through Memorial Day.

Officer Orozco will be laid to rest Tuesday. Visitation will be held Monday at St. John’s Catholic Church at Creighton University, in Omaha. Omaha police officers and close friends will be invited from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Friends and the public will be invited from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The vigil will follow at 7 p.m.

The funeral will be held at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday at St. John’s Church. Additional seating will be provide at the CenturyLink Center with a large-screen video feed. Burial will be at St. Joseph Cemetery in Council Bluffs.

Iowa cancels bird shows at Iowa State Fair, county fairs

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — There will be no chickens or ducks at the Iowa State Fair this summer and no poultry shows at county fairs in Iowa this year as the bird flu continues to infect birds. Iowa Department of Agriculture officials on Thursday prohibited all live bird exhibitions at fairs and live bird sales at livestock auctions and swap meets. The order lasts through the end of the year.

Iowa has more than 25 million birds and more than 60 farms infected with the H5N2 virus. Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says the scale of the current outbreak is unprecedented and it’s important to take every step possible to limit the spread of the disease.

Other states to take similar steps include Minnesota, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Iowa early News Headlines: Friday, May 22nd 2015


May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A farm equipment manufacturer in Sioux City is shutting down its two plants, eliminating more than 50 jobs in the area. The Sioux City Journal reports Soo Tractor, which has been doing business as Radius Steel Fabrication, will shut down production at its two Sioux City plants between the end of May and the end of June.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Another chicken farm in Buena Vista County has tested positive for bird flu, the 17th farm in that northwest Iowa county to get the virus. Iowa Department of Agriculture officials on Thursday did not have an immediate count on the number of chickens housed at the egg-laying facility. Across the Midwest, the U.S. Department of Agriculture puts the bird loss at nearly 39 million.

RENVILLE, Minn. (AP) — The largest Minnesota farm to be hit by bird flu is temporarily laying off 39 full-time employees. The outbreak at the Rembrandt Enterprises egg farm in Renville was confirmed last week. All 2 million chickens there will have to be killed to ensure the complete eradication of the H5N2 virus. The Spirit Lake, Iowa-based company said Thursday that layoffs will start around June 1st.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — A kennel club in western Iowa has donated pet oxygen mask kits to help cats and dogs in fire emergencies. The Daily Nonpareil reports the Council Bluffs Kennel Club’s seven kits will go to the local fire department.

Grab for a cup lid causes Crawford Co. accident


May 22nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A woman who became distracted when a lid fell off her cup while driving, ended-up in an accident Thursday afternoon, in Crawford County. The Iowa State Patrol reports 49-year old Michele Renae Ertz, of Manilla, was injured when the 2006 Chevy Cobalt she was driving, rear-ended a 2013 GMC Acadia SUV. Ertz, who was wearing her seat belt, was transported by ambulance to the Crawford County Hospital for treatment of her injuries.

The driver of the SUV, 36-year old Sara Kay Gaul, of Earling, was not hurt. Officials say the accident happened at around 4:15-p.m. at Highway 59 and Crestview Drive. The driver of a non-contact vehicle was waiting for traffic to clear so she could turn. Gaul’s SUV stopped behind the first vehicle. As Ertz was traveling south on Highway 59, she reached down to grab a drink lid and looked up to see the vehicle in front of hers, had stopped. She slammed on the brakes but was unable to stop in-time.

Her car was disabled at the scene, while Gaul managed to move her vehicle onto the shoulder of the road.

Ernst wants to cut perks to former presidents


May 21st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is touting legislation to reform the system for providing former presidents with certain perks and benefits.”Taxpayers should not be on the hook for subsidizing former presidents’ lives to the tune of millions of dollars,” Ernst said in a conference call with Iowa reporters today (Thursday). The perks for former presidents include office space, staff, and travel expenses. Ernst noted in fiscal year 2015, former U.S. presidents cost taxpayers more than $2.4 million in travel, office space, communications, personnel, and other expenses. The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act would reduce those benefits.

“The bill sets former presidents’ monetary allowance and pension at $200,000 each per year,” Ernst said. “It also places reductions on perks if the former president earns more than $400,000 per year in income.” A similar measure was approved by the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday.

“At a time when we are more than $18 trillion in debt, it is critical that we stop talking and start cutting wasteful spending,” Ernst said. Congress approved benefits for former presidents in 1958. Ernst said there’s nothing in the proposed legislation that would cut the funding of the security or protection of a former president. According to a Congressional Research Service report last year, taxpayers spent over $420,000 on a more than 8,200-square-foot office in Dallas for George W. Bush. Former President Bill Clinton’s office in New York cost taxpayers $415,000.

(Radio Iowa)

Cass County men plead guilty to illegal possession of deer remains


May 21st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Two Cass County men have pleaded guilty to illegally harvesting deer. The Daily NonPareil reports 47-year old John Chamberlin Jr., of Atlantic, and his son, 23-year old Sean Chamberlin, pled guilty to one count each of restriction of taking game. Both men originally faced 111 charges of illegal possession of deer remains, with the son facing additional charges, though the rest were dropped in exchange for the guilty plea.

The Cass County Attorney’s Office said both men filed guilty pleas Wednesday and are scheduled for sentencing June 25th. According to Iowa State Code, a person convicted of unlawfully harvesting antlered deer – a simple misdemeanor – must pay a fine of between $2,000 and $20,000 and/or serve a maximum of 80 hours of community service.

On Dec. 29, 2014, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office received a phone call about animal hides that had been dumped on the side of a road outside Atlantic. After investigating the trash, which was identified as four deer hides, a raccoon and a badger carcass, authorities traced the remains to a house in rural Atlantic. Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant of the property on Dec. 30 and said they found piles upon piles of deer antlers.

In and around the home, authorities seized parts from more than 111 deer, including untagged deer. A raccoon and badger carcass were also found at the property.

Kennel club in western Iowa donates pet oxygen mask kits


May 21st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — A kennel club in western Iowa has donated pet oxygen mask kits to help cats and dogs in fire emergencies. The Council Bluffs Kennel Club’s seven kits will go to the local fire department. The masks can be used on pets of various sizes.

The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil reports the donation will allow each station and most fire trucks under the department’s jurisdiction to have masks. Curtis McKeon with the Council Bluffs Fire Marshal’s Office estimates about 80 percent of the roughly 1,000 fire calls received last year involved pets.


DNR’s “Derelict Building Grant program awards funds to 20 rural communities


May 21st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said today (Thursday), the DNR’s Derelict Building Grant Program will award grants to 22 small, rural Iowa communities to help deconstruct or renovate abandoned structures, remove asbestos and limit construction and demolition materials going to the landfill.

Among the area cities whose projects are sharing slightly less than $400,000 in the form of reimbursement grants, is:

  • The City of Adair — Which is receiving $20,000, to complete mothball and renovation activities on abandoned commercial building, including roof and floor stabilization, exterior tuck-pointing and installation of temporary internal air ventilation to prevent further moisture damage inside the building. These measures will provide time for the city to decide what to do with building in the future by securing the building envelope and preventing environmental deterioration.
  • The City of Bedford — Will receive $49,750, to abate asbestos and deconstruct two abandoned commercial buildings. The city plans to market the vacated sites to interested commercial entities.
  • The City of Coon Rapids — is getting $500, to complete asbestos inspection at an abandoned commercial building. The city plans to prepare site for expansion of neighboring business.
  • The City of Imogene— is receiving $25,000, to renovate an abandoned commercial building by completing tuck-pointing and stabilization measures. The city plans to sell building to an interested buyer who wishes to locate their business in Imogene.
  • The City of Mapleton — will receive $20,000, to renovate an abandoned commercial property by completing external tuck-pointing and repair/replacement of roof. The city plans to sell the renovated building to local business interests.
  • The City of Mount Ayr — $5,000 to abate asbestos from the abandoned water treatment building. City plans to remove the building and develop the site into a camping/park development.
  • The City of Randolph — $6,800 to inspect and abate asbestos from an abandoned commercial building. The city plans on removing the building and pairing the site to the neighboring community center.
  • The City of Sac City— $11,500 to inspect and abate asbestos from two connected abandoned commercial buildings. The city plans to remove the buildings and develop the site for community development.
  • The City of Sidney — $21,750 to remove asbestos and deconstruct an abandoned church building. The city plans to build a new fire station on site which will feature living quarters and a community room. This will allow for 24-hour fire and rescue support to the city and its neighboring communities.

The DNR Derelict Building Grant Program was instituted by statute to help rural communities with populations of 5,000 or less. Funding is awarded annually on a competitive basis with cash matches required. Applications for the next funding round will be due in the spring of 2016. For more information about the grant program, application forms and resources, visit: www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/LandStewardship/WasteManagement/DerelictBuildingProgram.aspx.