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February weather ends up being pretty normal

News, Weather

March 2nd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

February ended on a snowy note across sections of Iowa, and that helped make the month overall a little wetter than normal. State climatologist Harry Hillaker keeps track of the precipitation. “Statewide about a quarter inch more than usual, nothing really greatly out of the ordinary as far as totals go…basically about the southeast half of the state has an unusually wet February. Unfortunately parts of west-central and southwest Iowa in particular were on the dry side of normal there,” Hillaker says.

In Atlantic, the average High for Feb. 2013 was 36-degrees, which is in line with the normal High for the month. The average Low last month was 15, which was just one degree shy of the normal 16-degree average. Hillaker says temperature readings didn’t show anything that stood out. He says he doesn’t have all the numbers in yet, but things will be very close to normal. “Preliminarily I’ve got us at two-tenths of a degree above normal, that’s about as close to normal as we can get it. Pretty much it was kind of warmer the first half of the month and consistently on the cool side the second half of the month, and basically canceled each other out and very close to normal overall,” Hillaker says.

Hillaker says the snow late in February turned around what had been a lack of the white stuff for most of this winter. One storm dumped a statewide average of just over five inches of snow, while another left an average of four inches across the state. In Atlantic, we received a total of 5.6-inches of snow in February, which had a liquid precipitation value of just under one-half inch, or .46″.

Iowa News Headlines: Sat., March 2nd 2013


March 2nd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — A 10-year-old boy has died after being struck by a falling tree near his home in southeast Iowa. Garrett Brockway died Wednesday at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. He’d been taken there after the accident Sunday morning. The sheriff’s office says the incident has been ruled an accident.

OSAGE, Iowa (AP) — The trial of a 14-year-old Osage boy accused of fatally shooting his mother has been moved to a neighboring county. The trial will move from Mitchell County Courthouse in Osage to Wright County District Court in Clarion. It is scheduled to begin April 30th. The Associated Press generally doesn’t name juveniles accused of crimes or their families.

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — An eastern Iowa man suspected of abandoning a dog found dead inside a kennel has been arrested. Authorities say 23-year-old Ty Hickman was arrested Thursday night in Jesup and taken to Buchanan County Jail. A Waterloo code enforcement officer says Hickman is charged with a misdemeanor charge of animal torture.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Kori Schulte scored 15 points and hit five key free throws late in the game to help Central Lyon beat Newell-Fonda 63-61 on Friday to win the Class 1A state championship. Lexi Ackerman added 12 points and her twin sister, Kelsey, scored 11 for the top-ranked Lions, who claimed the title in their first appearance in the state tournament.

Cass Supervisors discuss Division of Land process

Ag/Outdoor, News

March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

County officials, surveyors and other members of the public met Thursday during the Cass County Board of Supervisor’s meeting, to discuss the County’s Division of Land Process which was implemented after the passage of a resolution in January of 2012. According to the Minutes of the meeting prepared by Auditor Dale Sunderman, surveyors and land owners commented that the process was more complicated than the previous process and sometimes increased the cost of surveying and the time needed to complete the process.

The main item of concern was the requirement to survey the remainder of a rural tract (most often 40 acres) when the tract is divided into more than two parcels. County Engineer Charles Marker said he believed Iowa law (Code and Administrative Code) required the survey of the remainder of the tract when that tract was subdivided into more than two parcels. Surveyors disagreed. At the end of discussion: Consensus was that the review part of the process (to check for accuracy, etc) was a positive step and the process should be left in place; county officials will work to complete the process as quickly as they can; and the issue of whether or not the survey of the remainder parcel is required will be researched.

The matter was taken under advisement.

Dr. John Mark Nielsen Awarded Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Danish Immigrant Museum in Elk Horn are pleased to report Dr. John Mark Nielsen, Executive Director of  the museum, was recently awarded “Knight of the Order of the Dannebrog,” by Ambassador Peter Taksøe-Jensen, representing Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

Ambassador Peter Taksøe-Jensen presents The Danish Immigrant Museum Executive Director John Mark Nielsen with the badge of the Order of Dannebrog in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

The ceremony took place at the Danish Embassy in Washington, D.C. on February 27th, while Nielsen was there representing the Iowa Museum Association at Museum Advocacy Day 2013. The Queen bestowed the award upon Nielsen on December 19, 2012, however he wasn’t notified of the honor until his trip to Washington had been confirmed.

The Order of the Knight of the Dannebrog was instituted in 1671 by King Christian V.  The Order is used to decorate a select group of people who, through selfless deeds, have helped advance the interests of Denmark.  Nielsen’s award is based on almost 90 letters of support from both Danish and American citizens who felt that Nielsen merited official recognition for his work on behalf of Denmark.  The process was initiated by his colleagues at The Danish Immigrant Museum and coordinated by the Danish Consul for Iowa and former board member, Lynette Rasmussen of Johnston.

The letters all describe his professional success as well as his volunteer work for a number of Danish and Danish-American organizations.  Many of the letters echoed similar statements that Nielsen is “always willing and enthusiastic about sharing his great knowledge of all things Danish” and “impresses all with his warm and friendly personality.”

A celebration in honor of the award will be held on June 22nnd in Elk Horn, concurrent with the museum’s 30th anniversary and Sankt Hans Aften festivities. For more information about the museum, call 712.764.7001 or visit www.danishmuseum.org

Harlan Water Treatment Plant changes approved


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan Municipal Utilities, Thursday, approved another change order to the new Water Treatment Plant. In a regular board meeting, the HMU board heard from Dale Sorensen of Veenstra and Kimm, Inc. on the change order and complete schedule. The change order had four additions and four subtractions amounting to an increase in the contract by slightly more than $15,340. With regard to the completion schedule, Sorenson told the board the contractors are a little behind schedule, but are doing great work. He said the Water Treatment Plant was originally scheduled to be up and running by June 19th, 2013. However, the start-up date has been moved to June 24th and the project completion is July 15th.

Sorensen said even after the completion, they will still need to work the bugs out. He said “Basically the plant will be automated. There are always bugs in the programming. Once we get the plant running in hand then switch over to automatic and what happens we have some problems. What I’ve experience it takes about 6 months to get the wrinkles out of it.”

The board did mention the contractor could face some liquidated damage penalties but those are unlikely to be charged by HMU. In other business, CEO Darrel Wenzel reported to the board on the new Collective bargaining agreement. He said the contract was a fair outcome. The new contract had very minimal changes to it including salary wages. Wenzel again mentioned the possibility of drought conditions at the water wells.

Officials at HMU recently took a lot at 3 of the wells and compared them to the drought in 2002. Wernzel said “In 2002, well number 2 was down 26 feet. Currently well number 2 is at 24 feet 9 inches. So we are 1 foot one inch above what we were in 2002. We are sitting pretty well. Well #3 was at 23 feet 2 inches, currently it’s at 22 feet. Well #4 the water was at 23 feet 6 inches. Currently the well is at 21 feet 8 inches.”

No board action was taken but Wenzel did say HMU is monitoring the situation every week.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)

(Update 11:10-a.m.) Pott. County chase and arrests


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office says two men were arrested early this (Friday) morning, following a chase that began near Neola. 31-year old Jeffrey A. Haines, of Council Bluffs, and 40-year old Allen S. Belback, of Neola, were taken into custody and charged with Possession of a Stolen Vehicle. Haines, who was identified as the driver of the vehicle, was also charged with Eluding and Reckless Driving, while Belback, who was a passenger, faces an additional charge of Interference with Official Acts.

Authorities say at around 1:50-a.m., a deputy on patrol noticed a vehicle at the Kum and Go Store at 298th and Sycamore Road in Neola. He also observed the driver was acting suspiciously. When he ran the vehicles’ license plate through the communications center, the deputy was informed the plate did not match the vehicle’s description.

The deputy attempted to stop the vehicle, but it took off northbound on 285th Street, with speeds reaching 80-miles per hour as it entered the City of Neola. As the vehicle was pursued through town, the driver attempted to elude officers by driving through a back yard of a residence at 407 Bardsley, but the vehicle became stuck in the snow.

A short foot pursuit began, with both suspects being taken into custody.

Cass & Audubon County authorities ask for help in burglary investigations


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Cass and Audubon County Sheriff’s Offices are asking for the public’s help in their investigation of a couple of burglaries. The incidents occurred Thursday, Feb. 28th, during the daylight hours. Both took place at residences located within about one-mile off of Highway 148, between Exira and Massena. Cass County Sheriff Darby McLaren told KJAN News an inventory of what was stolen was not immediately available, but there’s generally a common theme. He says they’re usually after TV’s and jewelry.

McLaren said they really don’t have a whole lot of information to go on right now. He says if you have had contact with anyone asking for help or directions at their residence on Thursday, please call the Audubon or Cass County Sheriff’s Office. McLaren says it’s hard for authorities to believe the thieves stopped at both residences, and no one was home. He says “We’ve gotta think they’re knocking, asking for stupid directions,” or some stupid ploy, like asking for a pond the person could fish in. He said they will break into a home if no one answers the door. If they are home, they will come up with a nonsensical excuse for knocking on the door.

Bill approved by House committee would allow parole after 45 years for juveniles convicted of first degree murder


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A bill discussed at the statehouse Thursday would set new sentencing guidelines for juveniles convicted of first degree murder. It’s in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in June that mandatory life sentences without parole are unconstitutional for those who committed first degree murder as juveniles. Elizabeth Reynoldson is with the Iowa Bar Association, which drafted a bill that would give district courts two options.  “Sentence a juvenile to either life without the possibility of parole or life with the possibility of parole after serving 45 years,” Reynoldson said. The Association of County Attorneys is also behind the bill. Supporter say it gives the courts two clear options. Representative Mary Wolfe, a Democrat from Clinton, was the only one of the three representatives at Thursday’s hearing who voted against moving the bill forward.

“Juveniles have not had the opportunity to actually form into whatever adult it is that they’ll be,” Wolfe said. Wolfe is especially concerned that the measure gives the courts the option to still sentence juvenile to life without parole. Under the Supreme Court ruling, Wolfe believes life without parole should be rare. “They’re so bad that it’s clear that this person…they’ll never be able to be rehabilitated,” Wolfe explained. Deputy Attorney General Thomas Miller said he appreciates hearing from those who know the criminals serving time, but he added there is voice missing at the table.

“I’ve been involved in a number of these cases, and I’ve maintained contact with the surviving relatives of murder victims and one of the things that affects them the most adversely is the lack of finality they see in our criminal justice system,” Miller said. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee expects the bill to eventually make it out of the full Iowa House. A bill in the Senate would allow parole after 25 years. Back in July, Governor Branstad commuted the punishment of 38 inmates to 60 years in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Critics say that still amounts to life in prison.

(Radio Iowa)

Branstad announces Board and Commission appointments


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Gov. Branstad today (Friday) announced his appointments to fill Iowa’s boards and commissions. The appointees’ term begins on May 1st, 2013.

Among the appointees from western Iowa, is:

(Board or Commission and area appointee)….

Early Childhood Iowa State Board

Tracy Erlandson, Onawa

Economic Development Authority

Theodore Crosbie, Earlham

Iowa Great Places Advisory Board

Barbara Determann, Early

Massage Therapy Board

Christina Michael, Earlham

Mental Health and Disability Services Commission

Richard Crouch, Malvern

Mental Health Risk Pool Board

Eugene Meiners, Templeton

Natural Resources Commission

Phyllis Reimer, Crescent

Board of Nursing Home Administrators

Karol Dammann, Manning

Board of Podiatry

Denise Mandi, Winterset

School Budget Review Committee

Gina Primmer, Council Bluffs

ACCF announces Godwin Endowed Scholarship


March 1st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Audubon County Community Foundation is issuing a reminder to students, that the deadline for submitting applications for the Exira Lions Club/Harold and Beverly Ann Godwin Endowed Scholarship is March 31st.  The Fund will award one scholarship for $1,000 and is open to any high school senior from the Exira-EHK School District pursuing a two or four year degree, full-time, at any accredited vocational/technical or educational institution or a college or university.

Applicants are asked to complete the application form; submit a copy of your current transcripts as directed in the scholarship’s fact sheet.  Scholarship applications are available from your guidance counselor.