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Emergency access to the “Rock Cuts” at Cold Springs State Park improved

News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Access to a popular Cass County recreation area has been improved, thanks to work by crews with the County Conservation Department. The “Rock Cuts” at Cold Springs State Park near Lewis is over three-quarters of a mile from the nearest access road, which makes entry to the area by emergency responders, problematic.

That fact was made evident on July 4th of this year, when a 31-year old Lewis woman drowned in the waters of the Nishnabotna River. The turbulent river winds its way through the Rock Cuts. It was the second time a person had drowned in the area since July 2005.

Cass County Conservation Department Director Micah Lee says after the most recent drowning, they found out access to the area by emergency responders was extremely difficult, so the access road was cleared and widened for vehicles and personnel. He said there shouldn’t be an issue with access, for the foreseeable future. Lee said they will be able to keep the road clear, thanks to the recent acquisition of a new machine capable of clearing brush.

Cass County presents its initial bargaining proposal to Roads Dept. Union

News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors today (Wednesday), through County Attorney Dan Feistner, presented in an open session, the County’s initial bargaining proposal to the Public, Professional and Maintenance Employee’s Union (PPME), for Fiscal Year 2014-through 2016. The Union represents the County’s Secondary Roads Department.

Last week, the Supervisors received the Union’s initial bargaining proposal, which the County rejected. The next step, according to Cass County Engineer Charles Marker, is for the Union to review the County’s proposal. He says from here, negotiated will be conducted in closed session. If an agreement cannot be reached, the matter will be handled through a mediator.

Contract proposals of the type presented by both entities are typically not approved at first glance, and counter-proposals are not unusual. Union representative Craig Meyer quipped afterward that the County’s proposal “Looks Good.” Meyer said he’d go for it, but he doesn’t think the rest of them (Union members) will. That drew laughs from the Supervisors, who will continue working with the Union on a collective bargaining agreement.

More Iowa education task forces weigh in

News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The members of four of six state task forces studying how to improve education have released their final reports. The task force looking at the school calendar is recommending that local school districts should set the length of the school day while encouraging after school programs for students. They also said state law should be changed to require one-thousand-80 hours instead of 180 days, and said the current law on the start of the school year needs clarifying. The task forces looking at teacher and administration evaluation both recommend new systems to conduct those evaluations. A task force that looked at how much teachers should be paid released its recommendation last week. Education Department director, Jason Glass, said at that time that the recommendations of all six task forces will play a role in improving the quality of education.

“We need to hold people accountable, we need to be defining what an effective teacher is, determining what that looks like, and if it is not happening, we need to have systems and plans in place to ensure that, because were are talking about our children here, and they deserve the best educator that our system can put in place,” Glass says. The director was asked at the time about the link between the evaluation and the increase in compensation for teachers.

“I don’t think at least any member of the task force that released this report today, nor my administration at the Department of Education believes that we are going to use evaluation by itself as a way to dramatically improve the teaching profession,” he says, “or dramatically improve the performance of our system. We really need the right balance of pressure and support.” Two other state task forces are continuing to work on their recommendations. A final report from the task force on Early Childhood Assessment is due November 15th, while the Competency-Based Instruction Task Force’s preliminary report is due January 15th.

(Radio Iowa)

Home sales down, prices up across Iowa in September

News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The number of homes sold in Iowa dropped last month while prices rose. A total of 2,671 homes were sold in the state in September, according to the Iowa Association of Realtors. That’s down from 3,007 homes sold over the same month last year. Iowa Association of Realtors president Dale Gross, of Atlantic, notes sales had been increasing for many months in a row and overall 2012 year-to-date sales are still up by 11.6% compared to last year. The median price for a home sold in Iowa last month was $127,000. That’s up 5.8% from the $120,000 median sale price in September 2011. Gross said there just under 21,000 homes on the market across the state at the end of last month. That compares to nearly 24,500 homes on the market at end of September last year.

(Radio Iowa)

Harlan City Council approves blending of two economic development entities

News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Harlan City Council, Tuesday, approved by a vote of 4-to1, with one member absent, a motion designed to encourage the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and Shelby County DevelopSource to work together, and  blend into one county-wide entity. In his motion, Harlan Mayor Gene Gettys said “The City has been a longtime supporter of the Harlan and now Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and also the county wide economic development organization now called Shelby County DevelopSource. Because I believe the two entities have similar functions and fulfill similar county wide developmental goals, the two entities should be merged.”

Shelby County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dawn Cundiff told the Council, “Our Chamber members don’t want the city controlling or telling them what to do in a business climate. It can be a great opportunity to work on projects but DevelopSource should find their way. The Chamber has theirs.”

The Harlan City Council also unanimously approved a second motion which said that the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce should be requested to submit to an analysis of the Hotel/Motel tax revenues generated and the allocation of those tax proceeds since its inception. The motion, as read by Mayor Gettys, said “The analysis of the revenue/expenditures should be done by the City of Harlan, Auditors, Williams and Company of LeMars, IA with the next 30 days with their report of findings submitted to the Chamber and City Council.”

It caused quite a stir among the guests in attendance. Cundiff told the board, quote — “I have made a report. There’s been a report every year. We have met that requirement.” She continued, “We feel if we don’t join DevelopSource then you will pull this money (Hotel/Motel Tax). It’s political blackmail.” She also said the Chamber has nothing to hide and would be fine with an audit.

Council member Dave Miller responded, “The funds have to be spent on tourism. Whatever the plan is, the funds will be spent on tourism, that’s the ordinance. The City doesn’t want to put their thumb on managing the Chamber.” Mayor Gettys commented “This does cut into a deeper issue. I encourage the Chamber, city and DevelopSource to look at the opportunity.”

(Joel McCall/KNOD)

Burn Ban lifted in Pottawattamie County

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Pottawattamie County Emergency Management Agency say the ban on open burning that was in place for the entire county, has been lifted, as of 10- a.m. today (Wedensday, October 17th, 2012). The extremely dry seasonal conditions prompted a three-month burn ban for Pottawattamie County.  EMA Director Doug Reed said in a Press Release, that “The burn ban was a necessary tool to help reduce the potential for widespread, devastating fires throughout the county.”

The Fire Departments in Pottawattamie County and the 9-1-1 Communications Center implemented automatic mutual aid procedures that gave firefighters an edge in responding to reported fires quickly and efficiently. Reed said “Their performance was outstanding and made a dangerous season safer for all our citizens.”

And, although the ban is lifted, Reed says all citizens are urged to use caution whenever burning and to ensure they have water or other protective measures in place to prevent the spread of fires. Citizens living within incorporated city limits should check with their local fire department or city clerk before burning. Some communities have their own ordinances that restrict or prohibit open burning throughout the year.

Anyone conducting a controlled burn is encouraged to report their burn, prior to ignition, by calling the 911 Communication Center’s NON-EMERGENCY number at 712-328-5737.

Fremont County Sheriff’s report

News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office today (Wednesday) released a report on arrests and incident investigations that have taken place over the past couple of weeks. Most recently, 32-year old Steven Ray Cole, of Northboro, IA, was arrested Tuesday, on a warrant out of Fremont County for Theft in the 5the degree, in connection with an incident that took place in December, 2011. Cole made his initial appearance in court, during which the case against him was dismissed.

Last Saturday (Oct. 13th), deputies in Fremont County arrested 20-year old Darin Lee Hanika, of Nebraska City, NE, for possession or purchase of alcohol by a person under legal age and Open Container. He plead guilty to the charges and was ordered to pay a fine.

And, on October 8th, 19-year old Elijah Faust, of Thurman, was arrested in Fremont County on two counts of Possession of Prescription drugs, Possession of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was able to post bond and will appear again in court, on October 25th.

Wind Advisory Issued for parts of Western/Sw IA

News, Weather

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

COUNTIES: MONONA-HARRISON-SHELBY-POTTAWATTAMIE-MILLS
1019 AM CDT WED OCT 17 2012

A WIND ADVISORY IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PM CDT THIS EVENING

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN OMAHA/VALLEY HAS ISSUED A WIND ADVISORY WHICH IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 PM CDT THIS EVENING. WINDS WILL INCREASE THIS MORNING AND CONTINUE THROUGHOUT THE DAY. NORTHWEST WINDS AVERAGING 25 TO 35 MPH WITH GUSTS OVER 40 MPH ARE EXPECTED.

THE STRONG WINDS WILL MAKING DRIVING DIFFICULT,  ESPECIALLY FOR HIGH PROFILE VEHICLES. THE WINDS MAY ALSO
CREATE SOME BLOWING DUST AND ELEVATED FIRE DANGER. USE EXTRA CAUTION.

Cass Supervisors approve vacating of road and sale of an old bridge

News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Board of Supervisors have approved the vacating of a road near ‘The Valley” (Highway 71/I-80 interchange), and the sale of a bridge over a small stream along that road. Their action came during the Board’s meeting this (Wednesday) morning, following a public hearing, during which there was a letter of support for the move, and no objections.

Cass County Engineer Charles Marker said a request had been made in writing by the manager of a the Neumann Family Trust to the County Engineer’s Office, to vacate a portion of 662nd Lane in Benton Township Section 7, that had originally been established in 1895. A person in charge of the Trust who owns the property, wrote the letter in support of the Board’s action. The reasons given were that trespassers and poachers had used the lane to park and engage in illegal activity on the land.

The nearly one-quarter of a mile stretch of road is off Boston Road, just east of “The Valley.” Marker said because there is a bridge on the road, and according to an opinion by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, the County had to choose between demolishing the bridge, or selling it to an adjoining property owner for a minimal price. Either way, it had to be removed from the County’s bridge inventory.

The Board accepted a proposal from Dale Pauley to purchase the bridge for the sum of One-dollar. Pauley said he would block access to the bridge, because it is unsafe, and because the gulley underneath it is being used as a “garbage dump,” by some unscrupulous individuals.

Assault arrest in Atlantic, Wednesday

News

October 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

An Atlantic man was arrested this (Wednesday) morning, on an assault charge. The Atlantic Police Department reports 26-year old Christopher Castillo was taken into custody early in the morning. Castillo was booked into the Cass County Jail.