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Construction work to begin Monday on I-80 bridge near Casey

News

April 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Transportation’s Creston Construction Office reports bridge construction work on eastbound Interstate 80 between Antique Drive (exit 83), near Casey, and Iowa 25 (exit 86) will begin Monday, April 15th, weather permitting. During the project, traffic will be operating in a two-lane, two-way traffic pattern in the westbound lanes of I-80 in the work zone. The open lanes will have a 16-foot width lane restriction in place. This project is expected to be completed by late July.

The Iowa DOT reminds motorists to drive with caution, obey posted speed limit and other signs in the work area, and be aware that traffic fines for moving violations are at least double in work zones. As in all work zones, drivers should stay alert, allow ample space between vehicles and wear seat belts.

Iowa GOP lawmakers offer education compromise

News

April 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republicans lawmakers are offering an education compromise that includes more general funding for schools if Democrats agree to GOP policy proposals. Legislators from the Republican-majority House and the Democratic-controlled Senate met Tuesday on Gov. Terry Branstad’s education plan.

State Rep. Ron Jorgensen, of Sioux City, says House Republicans would support increasing general school funding if Democrats agreed to the policy language in the House version of the bill. House Republicans want to make some items optional, like boosting minimum teacher pay.

Under the new House offer, schools would get a 2 percent increase to general school funding in the upcoming school year, plus a one-time payment equal to another 2 percent. Democrats have supported a 4 percent funding increase for schools. They said they needed time to review.

Gov. Branstad denies applications for commutations

News

April 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Gov. Branstad today (Wednesday) denied ten applications for commutation submitted by persons in the state’s prison system. Among the applications were those from 64-year old Darrell Bizzett, who committed his crime on September 1st, 1970, in western Iowa’s Woodbury County. He is currently serving a life sentence for Murder – 1st degree, and, 58-year old Kevin Johnson, who committed his crime on June 29th, 1980, in Pottawattamie County. He is currently serving a life sentence for Murder – 1st degree.

Branstad has commuted the life prison terms of only two inmates during his total of 18 years in office. Commutation is rare in Iowa, with governors reducing the legal penalty for only 39 people — 35 men and four women — in the last 44 years. Most of the commutations cut mandatory life sentences to fixed-length terms that can be reduced for good behavior. Lifers whose terms have been commuted since 1969 spent a median 22 years in prison and had a median age of 56 when paroled, according to information provided by the Iowa Department of Corrections.

Of the 39 prisoners who were freed by, four went back to prison for new criminal charges.

Cass County Supervisors approve DOT funding agreements

News

April 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors, Wednesday, approved the entering into of funding agreements with the Iowa Department of Transportation, for a Hot Melt Asphalt and Bridge Replacement project. County Assistant Engineer Rich Hansen said the bridge project pertains to the structure on the landfill road. He said an inspection last year revealed one of the outside beams had failed. The bridge is currently restricted to one-lane only, for legal loads. It cannot accommodate two-way traffic. The bridge is located on Jackson Road, just east of 648th Street. The price tag for the project is $340,000, the Feds paying for 80-percent, and the county picking up the remaining 20-percent of the cost.

The other agreement pertains to an asphalt overlay on Cass County road M-56/570th Street. He said the six-mile project spans from M-56 to the Atlantic Airport Road. Hansen said they hope to have a July bid-letting for the project, along with the project encompassing G-43 from Highway 71 to Highway 6. It’s hoped both projects can get underway this Summer.

The County receives $255,000 in allowable Federal funds under the Federal Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) to help pay for the $1.3-million dollar project. The county picks up 20-percent of the total cost, with the remainder being paid for through Farm-to-Market Funds and State Improvement Funds.

Wildflower Walk to be held in Cass County later this month

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Conservation Board will hold a Wildflower Walk in a little over two weeks The free program will take place  at the Pellett Memorial Woods north of Atlantic, beginning at 9-a.m. on April 27th.  

Everyone is invited to join Cass County Naturalist Lora Kanning for a walk through the early spring wildflowers. During the event, you will learn the names, uses and history of the Wildflowers. Those in attendance will also have the opportunity to view one of Southwest Iowa’s best locations to observe spring woodland wildflowers.

The Pellett Memorial Gardens is located one-half mile north and three-quarters of a mile east of the KJAN studios, on North Olive Street.

Cass County Conservation Update

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Cass County Conservation Director Micah Lee provided the County Board of Supervisors with a quarterly report on progress and activities associated with the Conservation Department, during the Supervisors’ meeting Wednesday morning, in Atlantic.  Lee said over the past quarter, conservation staff have been in a maintenance mode, and getting ready for the camping season. He said at the Cold Springs State Park near Lewis, the dead trees were cut down and removed that were impinging on the roadway. Trees were also removed along the Rock Cut Trail to improve access. Micah said he’s still working with the Iowa DNR with regard to the widening of the south driveway entrance.

Widening the driveway would make it easier for the larger camping vehicles to access the park. They’ve also been working at grading the roads and filling potholes. The same type of work has been conducted at the Nodaway Recreation Area. Cleanup activities have also been underway on the T-Bone Trail. Those efforts have been made easier thanks to a new piece of equipment the Conservation Department received. Lee said a grant from the Cass County Community Foundation allowed them to purchase a UTV – Utility Terrain Vehicle – and a rotary brush, which will be used to remove twigs, leaves and gravel much faster than before. Previously, hand brooms and blowers were used to clean-up the trail.

At the Pellett Memorial Woods, staffers did minimal clean-up work to keep the walking path accessible, but still natural appearing. Lee said they added mulch at the entrance, so visitors’ feet don’t get muddy, in addition to some trimming. At the West Nodaway Recreation Area, boundary fences were repaired, and measured for food plots in preparation for planting this Spring. At the Cass County Outdoor Classroom, Micah says approximately 80 dead Scotch Pine trees which were infested by beetles were cut down. Replacement, beetle-resistant Blue Spruce trees, have been ordered and will be planted as soon as possible. Some Willow Trees were trimmed, and rock placed on the roads. Other clean-up work has been conducted along the Hitchcock Nature Area walking trail.

Lee said also, that Cass County Naturalist Lora Kanning has provided 113 environmental education programs over the past quarter, and spoke with more than 2,129 people in the process.

Woman arrested on forgery charge in Fremont County

News

April 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Fremont County report the arrest Tuesday evening of 37-year old Lisa Marie Ferguson, on a Forgery charge. Her arrest was the result of a search warrant executed at a residence in the 1600 block of Argyle Street, in Hamburg, as part of an ongoing investigation.  Sheriff’s deputies were assisted at the scene by officers with the Sidney Police Department.

Ferguson has since posted a $5,000 bond, and was released. The case remains under investigation, and additional charges are possible.

Well cover collapses in Adams County, trapping a child

News

April 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A child suffered only minor injuries after he fell some 10-to 15-feet and was trapped, when a concrete cover over a well gave way Tuesday afternoon in Adams County. Sheriff’s officials say Corinna Morehouse called at around 3:15-p.m., to report her son had fallen into the well.  Emergency personnel were able to remove the child, who was transported to Alegent Health Hospital, in Corning. The boy was treated at the hospital and then released. His age and name were not provided by the Sheriff’s Department.

Officials say emergency personnel assisting at the scene included: The Adams County Sheriff’s Department; Prescott Fire Dept.; Corning Ambulance, and the Corning Fire Department.

Judge: Iowa State U. must shield ‘pink slime’ data

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – A judge has blocked Iowa State University from releasing documents about food safety research conducted for the maker of the beef product that critics call “pink slime.”  District Judge Dale Ruigh ruled last month that releasing the information would cause “irreparable harm” to Sioux Falls, SD-based Beef Products, Inc., by revealing information about proprietary food-processing techniques.

BPI filed legal action seeking to block the release in 2010 after the records were requested by a Seattle law firm specializing in food safety. The New York Times later sought the documents.  The research was conducted by professor James Dickson, who was hired by BPI as a consultant in 2002. Dickson says his research has found that a process in which ammonia is applied to meat makes the product safer by killing bacteria.

Prairie Rose Restoration update

Ag/Outdoor, News

April 10th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources say the Prairie Rose Lake restoration project is heading in the right direction. The over $3 million project started back in July 2011 when the lake was dewatered allow construction work to begin in the basin. Since that time, the DNR has dredged the basin, added fish habitat and modified the spillway to keep carp from returning to the lake. Brian Hayes, Fisheries Biologist for the Iowa DNR, says the gate was closed back in September 2012 and the lake is finally seeing some water.  “I estimated about 50 acres of surface acres of water out there. When the lake is full, we have about 175 acres of water. So we have about a third of the lake out there. Volume wise it is a pretty small percentage. But those snow storms in March saw some water movement and we captured some water.”

He says now is the time to introduce fish back to the lake. “We are going to introduce Bass, Blue Gill and Catfish this spring and summer. That is what we want to initially establish. Once they are established then we will introduce crappie. Right here in the spring, we will start with adult large mouth bass. We have a goal of getting 200 in there, about 1 bass per surface acre. That will be enough to see some reproduction of large mouth bass this summer. The blue gills were over-wintered on the other side of the state. Anytime now, they will drain that pond and bring the fish over in a truck. Those blue gills will provide food for the bass.”

Even though the drought conditions over the fall and winter slowed down the process of filling Prairie Rose Lake, Hayes says there were some benefits as well. “The drought was beneficial because we had that goal getting the common carp out of the Prairie Rose lake basin and out of the watershed. The drought really reduced the amount of standing water in the shed, stopped the tile flow and the carp had no place to hide from us. So we feel really good about the prospects of getting the carp out of the watershed and that is important for the water quality benefits.”

Hayes says the fishing in Prairie Rose Lake will take time, and the public needs to cooperate. “We were looking at an issue about we are always going to have carp in the West Nishnabotna River, not very far from Prairie Rose Lake. We really need cooperation from the public, we can’t have them moving fish into Prairie Rose Lake especially when they don’t know what they are doing. Leave it up to us. It’s an issue we are looking at and addressing. We always want to get that message out to the public, leave the stocking up to us. We will try and provide the best fishing out at Prairie Rose Lake.”

The DNR will be working this summer on hydraulic dredging once the lake re-fills.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)