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Iowa early News Headlines: Tue., June 18, 2019


June 18th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press at 3:35 a.m. CDT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The director of the Iowa Department of Human Services says he resigned at the request of Gov. Kim Reynolds. Jerry Foxhoven released a statement Monday afternoon saying he’d submitted his resignation at the request of the governor and that it was an honor to serve as director of the agency. Neither Reynolds nor Foxhoven gave a reason for the change.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Police investigating the shooting deaths of four family members in a Des Moines suburb are classifying three of the deaths as homicides and one as a suicide. West Des Moines police said Monday that autopsies showed 44-year-old Chandrasekhar Sunkara’s death was a suicide. The deaths of his wife, 41-year-old Lavanya Sunkara, and their boys ages 15 and 10 were homicides. Relatives who were staying as guests at the home discovered the bodies Saturday. Police didn’t release details about the deaths.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it has almost completed work to close three of the most serious levee breaches on the Missouri River in southwest Iowa. Matthew Krajewski is readiness branch chief for the Corps’ Omaha district. Krajewski says four of about 40 breaches needed urgent attention after the flooding in March and May, and three of those should be closed Monday. The levees needing urgent repair were designed to protect Council Bluffs, Bartlett, Percival and Hamburg.

UNDATED (AP) — Medication withheld, cries for help ignored, routine checks neglected: With suicides a problem in many jails across the U.S., an AP/Capital News Service examination raises troubling questions about whether deaths could have been avoided with more training, better technology and fewer broken rules. What are authorities doing to stop these tragedies? Some are adding staff and changing policies, but one expert says jails are unfairly being asked to become mental health and drug treatment centers.

Atlantic Parks Board upset by news positions may be filled by appointment instead of elections


June 17th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday evening, will discuss and act on a change from electing Parks and Recreation Board members to appointing those members, which comes as a complete surprise to the Parks Board. The Board, earlier this year, proposed reducing the terms of members to four-years instead of six, which the Personnel and Finance Committee endorsed during their meeting in February.

City Administrator John Lund said in a preview to Wednesday’s City Council meeting, that he and City Attorney David Wiederstein found it impossible to change the terms without disrupting the cycle of elections. Wiederstein is recommending the Council consider the option of ending the elections for the Board, and having them made by appointment. Lund says he agrees with that idea, and it would fall in-line with the Airport Commission and AMU Board.

Parks Board member Charlene Beane said the change was “Very disconcerting.” They didn’t know about the change until the matter appeared in the local paper Monday morning. She said “I’m horrified. The more elected jobs there are in the city, the better your democracy is represented. I think this idea of appointed positions keeps the same old pool going.” She said also, “Right now I see a lot of top-down governing that I don’t think is for the best.”

Assistant Parks Director Roger Herring agreed, saying “Often times you get into situations where you have accusations that it’s a ‘Good ol’ Boy’s society,’ to which Beane replied, “And it often is.” Herring said in that type of situation, you surround yourself with your own ‘yes” people, [whereas with elections] you have a better chance of representation, because you have a group that senses there’s a situation there and they want to be more involved…and run the risk of running for election and soliciting votes.” Beane said the change “came out of left field, and I resent it.” Other Board members concurred.

Councilman Pat McCurdy suggested the Parks Board attend Wednesday evening’s meeting to voice their opposition to terms of appointment instead of election. In other business, Interim Parks Director Bryant Rasmussen provided updates on the Schildberg Development Project. He said the west playground community building is this Friday and Saturday. The Street Department has been working in advance to excavate the playground area, and Snyder and Associates Engineers will pinpoint the holes for the playground poles and mounting equipment to make the install proceed faster.

A representative of Miracle Playground Equipment will be on hand Saturday to guide the construction process. Anyone wanting to help with the construction of the playground is welcome to show up between for one of two shifts each day:  8:00 AM until Noon and 1:00 PM until 5:00 PM. Lunch and tools will be provided. You may contact Park Director Bryant Rasmussen for more information at the Parks and Recreation Office (712) 249-3542.

Autopsies show 3 deaths in West Des Moines were homicides


June 17th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Police investigating the shooting deaths of four family members in a Des Moines suburb are classifying three of the deaths as homicides and one as a suicide.

West Des Moines police said Monday that autopsies showed 44-year-old Chandrasekhar Sunkara’s death was a suicide. The deaths of his wife, 41-year-old Lavanya Sunkara, and two of their children, boys aged 15 and 10, were homicides.
Other family members who were staying as guests at the home discovered the bodies Saturday.

Police didn’t release details about the deaths and haven’t named the boys who were killed. The Iowa Department of Public Safety says Chandrasekhar Sunkara had worked for 11 years in the department’s information technology unit. He wasn’t a sworn officer.

Dr. Marky available to see patients at the Atlantic Medical Center


June 17th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

ATLANTIC- Officials at Cass County Health System announced today (Monday), that Dr. Blanca Marky is now seeing patients at Atlantic Medical Center. Dr. Marky is a board-certified neurologist, and she will be providing care for patients in Atlantic every month on the first and third Tuesday.

Dr. Markey

She cares for patients with general neurology needs, headaches, numbness, multiple sclerosis, dementia, epilepsy, treatment following stroke, and more. She performs neurological treatments including electromyograms (EMG), electroencephalograms (EEG), and Botox injections.

In addition to her work in Atlantic, Dr. Marky works at St. Anthony Clinic in Carroll, Iowa. She has more than twenty years of experience and is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, American Academy of Neurology, American Association of Electrodiagnostic Medicine, and American Academy of Nursing (FAAN). She is a native of Mexico City, Mexico, and she is fluent in English, Spanish, and French.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Marky join the medical team at Cass County Health System,” said Brett Altman, CEO.  “She comes with extremely positive recommendations from patients and her fellow physicians. As part of our commitment to provide more services locally, Dr. Marky helps meet the needs of our family, friends, and neighbors who need neurological care and we are one of few western Iowa hospitals that offer neurology services.”

To make an appointment with Dr. Marky, please call the Atlantic Medical Center at 712-243-2850.

Clarinda man injured in weekend crash


June 17th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

A 22-year old man from Clarinda was injured during a single-vehicle accident Saturday night. The Page County Sheriff’s Office says Christian Lyle Lauritsen was driving a 2002 Jeep Cherokee eastbound on 190th Street, about one-quarter of a mile north of Clarinda, when he failed to maintain control as his SUV entered a curve going onto Q Avenue.

The vehicle then crossed the median before striking a stop sign and hitting the embankment. The SUV went airborne and rolled, coming to rest on its wheels after striking an E911 sign. The accident happened at around 11-p.m.

Lauritsen was transported to the Clarinda Regional Hospital by Clarinda Ambulance for undisclosed injuries.  He was cited for Failure to maintain control and Failure to maintain or use safety belt. A passenger in the vehicle, 22-year old Luke Gage Strong, was cited for Failure to maintain or use safety belt. Damage to the vehicle is estimated at $5000.00. Damage to the signs owned by Page County is estimated at $400.00.

Supreme Court declines to expand OWI testing exception


June 17th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — The Iowa Supreme Court has declined to expand the exception for suspending someone’s license for refusing to be tested for alcohol. The ruling involves the case of Alex Westra — who was pulled over by a D-O-T motor vehicle enforcement officer on I-80 in Jasper County in 2017 after he looked as though he was going to illegally used a median crossover.

The officer saw an open container of alcohol in the pickup — but Westra refused to take any kind of chemical test. He was not charged with O-W-I — but his driver’s license was suspended for one year for refusing testing. Westra appealed the suspension, as D-O-T officers at the time did not have the authority to issue traffic citations.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled the only exception to the license suspension rule is if the officer was not justified in making the traffic stop. Westra did not appeal the officer’s justification and the Supreme Court ruled the license suspension should stand.

(Note the ruling was issued Friday)

Buyouts after flooding remain big decision for small towns (and big ones)


June 17th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — The leaders of Iowa’s flood-ravaged cities and counties may decide down the road whether they want to apply for funding to buy peoples’ damaged homes. If they apply for a voluntary buyout through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, they could buy the homes, demolish them and turn the land into green space, but once that happens, the land can’t be turned back. It’s for that reason Pacific Junction Mayor Andy Young says it’s a huge decision for smaller cities like his.

“I don’t want 30 or 40 parks in my town,” Young says. “I want it so we can rebuild and be able to rebuild in the future. We need it as deed, as property.” Young says his city has not committed yet. They’re waiting to see what will come out of federal disaster aid. Dennis Harper, with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, says these programs are offered to all local governments, but they’re most often tied to disaster recovery, so communities affected by flooding are talking about them.

Harper says, “After those properties have been impacted, these kind of programs are the only way they’re probably going to recapture the pre-flood market value of that home.” Harper says it could take two years to complete a buyout project. In eastern Iowa, officials in the City of Burlington, which dealt with flooding in May, say they are -not- looking into residential buyouts.

In September, the City of Clive in central Iowa created its own buyout program, using leftover money from the city’s prior budget year to acquire properties affected by June 2018 flooding.

(Thanks to Katie Peikes, Iowa Public Radio)

Interstate 29 north of Council Bluffs has re-opened after second round of flooding


June 17th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – June 17, 2019 – It’s going to be a lot easier to get from Council Bluffs to Sioux City, now that Interstate 29 between I-680 near Crescent and I-680 at Loveland has re-opened to traffic. The road was officially re-opened at 1-p.m. today (Monday).

Those areas had been closed since late May due to flooding in the area for a second time this spring. Due to continued flooding south of Council Bluffs, I-29 from U.S. 34 to the Missouri border remains closed.

Other flood-related closures continue on U.S. 34, Iowa 2, Iowa 275 and Iowa 333.

Travelers should check 511ia.org, the Iowa 511 mobile apps or call 511 (within Iowa) or 800-288-1047 (nationwide) for up-to-date closure information on state-owned roadways across Iowa. Closures due to flooding can be viewed by turning on the incident layer on the online map and mobile app.

Iowa Total Care Welcomes Healthcare Systems to Provider Network


June 17th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa, June 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Iowa Total Care announced today that it has signed contracts with four of the state’s largest healthcare providers, including UnityPoint Health®, University of Iowa Health Care, MercyOne, and Genesis Health System.

As a Medicaid managed care organization, Iowa Total Care will serve Iowa Medicaid recipients as part of the state’s IA Health Link program beginning July 1, 2019. Over the past year, Iowa Total Care has added thousands of high quality providers statewide to ensure members have access to medical care throughout the state.

“We are pleased to welcome these healthcare providers to our network, and we look forward to our partnership with the state of Iowa to deliver on our mission of providing better health outcomes,” said Mitch Wasden, president and CEO, Iowa Total Care.

For more information about Iowa Total Care and its providers, visit www.iowatotalcare.com.

Iowa unveils social media, ad campaign to attract workers


June 17th, 2019 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds says a new social media and advertising campaign is designed to draw attention to Iowa’s quality of life in hopes of attracting new workers. At the announcement Monday of a newly branded “This is Iowa” campaign, Reynolds unveiled a state-produced video that shows New York City residents being shown photos of properties they assumed were nearby, only to learn later they are in several Iowa cities. The video records their shock at hearing the prices for such large and luxurious apartments and houses.

Iowa has a chronic worker shortage and attracting more people to the state is one of Reynolds’ priorities. Reynolds held her announcement at a downtown Des Moines restaurant owned by Alexander Hall, who sold several New York restaurants four years ago and moved to his wife’s native Iowa. He’s now planning his fourth dining location.
Reynolds says Hall’s experience demonstrates that when people spend a year or two in Iowa, they stay.

The campaign is funded as part of the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s $5 million marketing budget.