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Statewide Tornado Drill takes place this morning

News, Weather

March 27th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The beginning of Spring last week marked the start of severe weather season in the Midwest. The season typically brings strong storms that produce heavy rain, hail, destructive winds and tornadoes. As part of Severe Weather Awareness week, the National Weather Service (NWS), in coordination with the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Oklahoma, will conduct a Statewide Tornado Drill in Iowa and other Midwestern states.

The drill begins at 10-a.m., when the SPC issues a Test Tornado Watch for Iowa and Nebraska. The National Weather Service offices in both states will issue the Test Watch tones on all NOAA Weather Radios and the Emergency Alert System (EAS), as a Test Message.

At 10:10-a.m., the NWS offices in Sioux Falls and Omaha will issue test tornado warnings for their Iowa counties, and at 10:15-a.m., the NWS offices in Des Moines and the Quad Cities will issue a Test Tornado Warning for their Iowa counties.

From 10:30 until about 10:35, all Iowa NWS offices will issue a Severe Weather Statement to terminate the test warnings. The Test Tornado Watch will officially expire at 11-a.m. During the test, residents, businesses, local governments and schools are urged to carry out their Tornado safety plans and procedures, as though a real weather event was about to occur and is occurring.

Atlantic Parks & Rec Board Special Meeting on Thursday

News

March 27th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Parks and Recreation Department’s Board of Directors will hold a special meeting Thursday evening, at City Hall. During the 5:15-p.m. session, the Board will act on approving the bids, contract and plans for the Parks and Recreation Dept. office and Maintenance building, as presented by Snyder and Associates.

The total estimated project cost is $311,000, but during a Parks and Rec Board meeting in February, Director Roger Herring said the Building Committee had hoped to find a way to cut $80,000 from that price tag, by having a skeletal electrical system in the shop area, insulation modifications, plumbing and heating changes, through the use of temporary light fixtures, and gravel in the driveway. Engineering costs were also reduced, due to the changes in the latest design.

A contract for the project is expected to be awarded during the Atlantic City Council meeting on April 3rd.

Former Iowa prosecutor gets a little jail time

News

March 27th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

WINTERSET, Iowa (AP) – A former Madison County prosecutor has pleaded guilty to an assault charge and been sentenced.  The Des Moines Register reports that 55-year-old Anthony Blessum had made a deal with prosecutors, who lowered or dropped charges related to the beating of Blessum’s former girlfriend. The incident occurred on June 11 last year at Blessum’s home in Waukee.

At his sentencing on Tuesday, Blessum was given seven days in jail, a suspended sentence of a year, probation, and he was ordered to pay the woman nearly $7,000 in restitution.   Blessum was Madison County attorney from 1987 through 1997.

Stolen vehicle pursuit leads to 3 injuries in Council Bluffs

News

March 27th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Three men from Nebraska were hurt after they were ejected from a stolen vehicle that was involved in a high-speed crash Monday afternoon, in Council Bluffs. According the Daily NonPareil, police were pursuing the 2006 Pontiac G6 a little after One-p.m., when it left the road near the Interstate 29 southbound split to I-80 westbound. Officers arriving on the scene found the men laying to the vehicle, which had been reported stolen from an Omaha car dealer.

Officials say 30-year old Jesse Byers, 41-year old Willie Gonzales and 25-year old Anthony Biggart, all of Omaha, were transported by Council Bluffs Fire and Rescue to Creighton University Medical Center, for treatment of possible/unknown injuries.

Criminal Investigation Division Sgt. David Dawson confirmed the vehicle was stolen, but charges had not yet been filed in connection with the theft.

Bluffs Police discover human remains during chase Tuesday

News

March 27th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A report in the Daily NonPareil says police officers in Council Bluffs discovered human remains in a wooded area on the city’s southeast side, early Tuesday afternoon. Officers found the body of a man believed to be in his early 50’s, as they were chasing a shoplifting suspect near the Manawa Centre and Metro Crossing areas.

Authorities say the man was homeless. His skeletal remains were found in tent with it’s top blown-off. The tent was in a remote area popular among transients, near 35th Avenue and the South Expressway. The man’s death was not considered suspicious.

Police were chasing a person who was suspected of shoplifting at Kohl’s in Council Bluffs. When the suspect ran into the woods an officer discovered the body. The suspect in shoplifting incident was not apprehended.

No injuries after chain-reaction accident in Red Oak

News

March 27th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Montgomery County say no injuries were reported following a three-vehicle, chain-reaction accident Tuesday evening, in Red Oak. Officials say two vehicles were stopped at the intersection of North Broadway and West Cherry Streets, facing south at the stop light, when a third vehicle failed to stop in time. The 1999 Mercury Villager van driven by 29-year old Joshua Kenkel, of Shenandoah, rear-ended a 2008 Chevy Aveo, driven by 52-year old Debra Johnson, of Red Oak. Johnson’s vehicle was shoved forward into the rear of a 2010 Toyota Prius, driven by 61-year old Jerrold Lamb, of Essex. The collisions occurred at around 6:45-p.m.

Damage from the accident amounted to $2,100. No citations were issued at the time of the investigation.

NWS forecasts near normal temperatures, precipitation for spring

News, Weather

March 27th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

National Weather Service forecasters are predicting near normal temperatures and precipitation this spring. Meteorologist Miles Schumacher helped craft the outlook as part of the weather service’s Weather Whisper Spring 2013 newsletter. Schumacher notes this winter was slightly warmer and wetter than normal in Iowa. Many Iowans may feel the month of March has been especially cold, but Schumacher that’s only true when compared to March of 2012.

“Last year was 16-degrees above normal for March and we’re running about 7-degrees below normal right now,” Schumacher said. “So, it’s about 23-degrees colder this year than last year, so everyone thinks it’s record cold. Really, it’s colder than normal, but last year was so much warmer than normal that you kind of lose sight of where we really should be.” March of 2012 ranked as the warmest March in Iowa history. This winter brought above normal precipitation over the southeast half of the state, but northwest Iowa experienced mostly dry conditions. Schumacher believes there’s a decent chance for above normal rainfall over the next couple months.

“I don’t think this spring is going to be particularly dry and we may do fairly well,” Schumacher said. “I think we’re going to be short of precipitation this summer again, kind of an echo of last year’s drought. However, I don’t think it’ll be nearly as extensive as last year was.” The outlook does not offer predictions of severe weather, but Schumacher expects Iowans could see plenty of thunderstorms and tornadoes.

“It would probably be a safe bet to say we’ll have more than we had last year because last year was one of our lightest severe weather years in quite a while, so it’ll seem like a lot more at least,” Schumacher said.

(Radio Iowa)

Arming teachers, administrators discussed in Iowa Senate

News

March 27th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A bid to let adults carry concealed weapons in Iowa schools was briefly discussed in the Iowa Senate Tuesday night. Republican Senator Mark Chelgren says the idea to arm teachers and principles is a natural response to the tragedy at a Connecticut elementary school. “I would expect, as I think I would do myself, to stand in front of those children, to protect them at all costs,” Chelgren said. “But I can tell you right now I also would expect the ability and the authorization to try to end that threat if at all possible.” Chelgren tried to attach his proposal to an education reform bill.

“I have no problem dying for the children of Iowa,” Chelgren said. “Neither do I think teachers or the employees of schools in this state do either, but I’d rather see that happen after the clip that they have is emptied into the bad guy.” A Democrat who makes decisions about what proposals may be voted upon during senate debate ruled Chelgren’s proposal was beyond the scope of the education reform bill.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Wed., March 27th 2013

News

March 27th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad has sent a letter to senators seeking support for his nominees to the Board of Regents. The letter was delivered Tuesday to all 50 senators. Branstad says his picks have “unique skill sets.” The Senate Education Committee voted to forward two of Branstad’s three nominations to the full Senate without recommendation. Current Board President Craig Lang was not endorsed.

(Information in the following story is from: KCRG-TV, http://www.kcrg.com)

KALONA, Iowa (AP) — Authorities are trying to figure out who forced an empty car to crash through a grocery store in eastern Iowa. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office says the crash happened early yesterday morning at JW’s Foods in Kalona. No one was injured and the store remains open

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Bond has been set at $1 million for a Cedar Falls woman accused of fatally stabbing her boyfriend in Waterloo. Kristie Clark-Richardson made her initial court appearance yesterday on a first-degree murder charge in connection with the death of 38-year-old Keon Dale. Authorities say the 34-year-old Clark-Richardson stabbed Dale near his northern Waterloo home a little after 11:45 p.m. Monday.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Labor Department says a Des Moines trucking company failed to properly pay some employees for overtime. The department’s Wage and Hour Division says Contract Transport Inc. did not pay some drivers for delay time during trips and instead paid them based on a predetermined number of hours. Some delays were caused by weather, construction or other factors.

Senate approves education plan

News

March 26th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Democratic-majority Senate has approved a beefed-up version of Gov. Terry Branstad’s education policy plan. The 26-23 party-line vote happened Tuesday. Branstad’s proposal would hike minimum teacher salaries and provide incentive pay for teachers who take on additional leadership roles, like mentoring.

The Senate version maintains the salary minimums and would require districts to choose from several options for a leadership incentive pay program. It also has some new pilot programs, including one that would provide additional funding to disadvantaged schools.

Several weeks ago Republican-controlled House approved a scaled back version of Branstad’s proposal. In their plan, the salary minimums and incentive pay would be optional for districts. Lawmakers now must try to reach a compromise deal on new education spending.