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Madison County bans firearms from courthouse

News

April 3rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Officials in Madison County have banned firearms from the courthouse following a gun scare in the building.  The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of the ban. Madison County was the last of 16 counties in its judicial district to enact such a ban.

Guy Cook, president of the Iowa State Bar Association, applauded the vote and urged more county officials to examine security at their courthouses. The Des Moines Register reports some gun rights advocates say the ban violates Iowa law that allows residents with proper permits to carry concealed firearms.

Twenty-nine-year-old Cory Lee Daugherty is accused of pulling out a weapon and brandishing it around the Madison County courtroom last month. He faces multiple charges in the case.

Cause of car fire linked to developer a mystery

News

April 3rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – An investigator says it’s unclear what caused the fire that destroyed the car in which a prominent Iowa developer was found dead Sunday.  Ron Humphrey of the Iowa Fire Marshal’s Office says investigators found no definitive evidence in the burned-out Honda Accord where Bob Knapp’s body was found in rural Guthrie County.

Investigators are looking into what caused Knapp’s death and the vehicle’s fire. Humphrey says preliminary testing indicates Knapp didn’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning. He also didn’t have gunshot wounds.

Knapp left prison last week after serving about 2  1/2 years for conspiring to mishandle the removal of asbestos from a Des Moines building he was renovating. The next day, he borrowed a friend’s car so that he could check in with his parole officer. He never returned.

8AM Newscast 04-03-2014

News, Podcasts

April 3rd, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

As snow flies in April, data shows March was cold & dry

News, Weather

April 3rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

We’re two weeks into spring but parts of northern Iowa will be looking a lot more like winter later today (Thursday) as several inches of snow are in the forecast. State climatologist Harry Hillaker is finished compiling the weather data for March and says the just-ended month was much chillier than normal for Iowa.  “Temperatures were running about six-and-a-half degrees colder than usual for March,” Hillaker says. “It ranks as the 22nd coldest March in 142 years of records, although just last year, March of 2013 was colder than this one.”

In Atlantic, the average low for the month of March was 17.5-degrees. We set two record low temps in March, on the second and third days of the month. The average high was 42.1. Hillaker says we’ve had six months in a row now of colder-than-normal months in Iowa and the trend is continuing into April. Precipitation was also off during March as it was exceptionally dry. “Statewide, we had an average of only about 83-hundreds of an inch of precipitation which is about one-third the usual amount for the month,” he says. “That ranks as the 11th driest March on record among 142 years of records.”

In Atlantic, we received one-third of an inch of precipitation (.33”), from rain and melted snowfall. Snowfall in Atlantic for the month amounted to just 1.9-inches. April is already starting off colder-than-normal though the long dry spell may be coming to an end.

“It does look like, at least in the short term, next week or so, we may have precipitation amounts somewhat above normal, which is something we haven’t had for some time,” Hillaker says. “Some of that could still be coming in the form of snow, especially over in northern parts of the state.”

A few areas of the state, like Sidney and Glenwood in far southwest Iowa, are reporting last month was their driest-ever March.

(Radio Iowa)

7AM Newscast 04-03-2014

News, Podcasts

April 3rd, 2014 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Atlantic Wastewater Treatment Plant Supervisor resigns

News

April 3rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The City of Atlantic is looking for a new Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent. City Administrator Doug Harris announced during Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, that Superintendent Mark Farrier, who was hired to run the new plant in 2012, has resigned, effective July 3rd, 2014. Farrier, his wife and family are moving to Guatemala to become Missionaries. Harris said the search has already begun to find a replacement for Farrier, but it won’t be easy to locate someone with a Class 3 Operator’s License to run the plant.

Harris reported also that work on Highway 6/7th Street from just east of Olive Street to near Burger King won’t be taking place this year as planned, that’s because it took so long to get the DOT’s approval and paperwork pushed through. Snyder and Associates Enginner Dave Sturm said it appears bid-letting for the project won’t be until April 2015, with work beginning later that Spring.

In other business, Mayor Dave Jones reminded residents to not wait too long to mow their lawn grass. He said there is about 1-to 2-percent of the City’s residents who “Abuse the system every year,” and ignore the City’s warnings to mow the lawn in accordance with the Ordinance. Jones said the City would be getting more aggressive in mowing lawns that grow too tall.

In a previous Council meeting, it was announced the City would not be sending out warning notices, and that property owners would receive a bill for the services of City crews who take care of the problem. It was also noted that the cost for City crews to mow your lawn is much more expensive than if you hire someone on your own to handle it on a regular basis.

Jones also warned against blowing the clippings into the streets, which can clog the storm water drainage system and cause costly sewer system repairs. The Mayor also proclaimed April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month, and he recognized efforts of the local Parkinson’s Disease Support Group to raise funds and promote awareness of the fight against Parkinson’s.

Atlantic City Council hears about proposed residential/commercial tax abatement

News

April 3rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council Wednesday learned more about a proposed program that would offer Commercial and Residential Tax Exemptions (Or, Tax Abatement, as it’s commonly called) on new construction and for renovations to some existing residential properties. Councilman Dana Halder reported to the Council on discussions held during a March 18th meeting of the Community Development Committee.

Halder said the Committee came up with a plan to offer a 5-year, sliding scale tax abatement for new residential or commercial construction in Atlantic, with a $250,000 cap. Any existing residential or commercial built prior to 1960, would be eligible for a 5-year 100-percent tax abatement on improvements, with the stipulations that it must increase the property value by 20-percent, and that the electrical box [a fuse panel in older structures] be brought up to current standards.

Halder says since the group came up with their concept, they learned through SWIPCO (The Southwest Iowa Planning Council) that there are some issues with the plan, specifically with regard to the residential cap on new construction. He says that might have to be reduced to $75,000 instead of $250,000. The committee plans to meet with SWIPCO representatives next Tuesday to hammer out the details and implement them as soon as possible.  

City leaders in Atlantic have been talking about a revising the current Tax exemption/abatement plan for years, because of numerous complaints over how much is awarded and the criteria for what is granted. Mayor Dave Jones said he would like to see the tax abatement program in effect for 3-years once its implemented, with the option to renew and/or improve it after that. 

Councilman Halder said Atlantic needs to get moving quickly, because other cities with abatement programs in-place, are passing us by in terms of attracting new businesses and residents. City Administrator Doug Harris pointed out that the last time the City adopted a plan for new residential/commercial property tax exemptions or abatements, was in 1996. That “Urban Revitalization Plan” (URP) expired in 1999. A URP must be in place before there’s a public hearing and an ordinance is enacted allowing the abatements to take place. Harris said SWIPCO can help the City put together an updated URP, as well as help with the Tax Exemption Program

Senate votes for audit of controversial confidential setlements with fired state workers

News

April 3rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Two Republicans joined the 26 Democrats in the Iowa Senate to ask the state auditor to examine confidential settlements with fired state workers who were paid extra money to keep their firings secret. Senator Rob Hogg, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, questioned why the other 22 Republicans in the senate would resist the idea. “I would have hired an independent auditor to do it, but we’re trusting the state auditor who’s a Republican and not only a Republican, but a Republican who was appointed by Governor Branstad,” Hogg said.

Republicans argued the audit should cover not only Branstad’s current administration, but any deals struck when Democrats Chet Culver and Tom Vilsack were governor. Senator Jack Whitver, a Republican from Ankeny, points to revelations that eight confidential settlements were struck during Culver’s four years as governor.  “This issue has been going on for several years,” Whitver said. “The reason we want to go back is figure out when this happened, why it happened and try to get to the bottom of it.”

Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs accused Republicans of trying to divert attention from the core question. “Did the governor, did the executive branch in fact dump state employees for political reasons?” Gronstal says. “Maybe previous governors did, but this legislative body can’t change that.” The money for the state audit was included in a budget bill that passed the Senate last night.

Republicans in the House, meanwhile, are crafting a bill that would put the governor’s recent executive order — which bars confidential settlements — in state law. Democrats oppose the bill because they say it would change the state’s collective bargaining law that governs negotiations between state managers and the unions that represent state workers. The top three managers in the Department of Administrative Services are scheduled to testify before the Legislature’s Oversight Committee today (Thursday), starting at 11 o’clock.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa News Headlines: Thu., April 3rd 2014

News

April 3rd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Lawmakers in the Iowa House say they want to further establish government transparency and openness in the light of secret settlement agreements between state agencies and fired employees. While debating a budget bill for agriculture and natural resources yesterday, the House adopted an amendment to prevent money appropriated in the bill from being used for payments in such settlement agreements.

AMES, Iowa (AP) – Four Iowa Republicans running for U.S. Senate have debated higher education costs, health care and the federal debt at a forum at Iowa State University. Radio host Sam Clovis, state Senator Joni Ernst, businessman Scott Schaben and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker met for the debate yesterday evening.

CORDOVA, Ill. (AP) – Operators of the Quad Cities Generating Station in western Illinois declared an “alert” after smoke was observed in a plant electrical system. An Exelon Generation spokesman says Quad Cities Unit 2 was removed from service on Monday to replace a valve on the control rod drive system. The unit was in the startup process yesterday when smoke was detected. The unit is stable and shut down.

GRIMES, Iowa (AP) – Officials say there’s an ongoing discharge of wastewater going into a creek in central Iowa. The state Department of Natural Resources says the discharge developed while officials with the city of Grimes were replacing a pump at a lift station Wednesday afternoon.

Greene County residents arrested in Audubon County on drug charges

News

April 2nd, 2014 by Ric Hanson

Two Greene County residents were arrested Tuesday night on drug charges, in Audubon County. The Sheriff’s Office reports 32-year old Jason Lee Montgomery, of Jefferson, and 29-year old Amanda Fay Lawrence, of Scranton, were taken into custody at around 11:45-p..m.

Montgomery faces charges that include: Possession of Marijuana/3rd offense; Possession of Methamphetamine; Intent to Deliver/Marijuana, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. Lawrence was charged with: Possession of Meth/2nd offense; Possession of Marijuana with the Intent to Deliver, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

The charges against the pair stem from a traffic stop in the 3400 block of Highway 71 in Audubon County. Both subjects were brought to the Audubon County Jail, where Montgomery remains held on bond. Lawrence posted bond, and was released.