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Atlantic Hwy 6 construction update


June 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Dept. of Transportation Planning Coordinator Scott Suhr, Monday, provided an update on the Highway 6/7th Street construction project, in Atlantic. Suhr says the milling of the old asphalt surface is complete, and Bluffs Paving is handling Portland Cement Concrete removals in the area near 7th and Plum, where the Environmental Protection Agency is set to mobilize next Monday, in preparation to remove soil contaminated with PCE (or, Tetrachoroethylene),  a solvent used by a former dry cleaning business that was detected in 1980.

Suhr says in addition, Bluffs Paving may start Sanitary Sewer Work at Plum Street, at mid-week. And, the City of Atlantic/Atlantic Municipal Utilities is scheduled to perform water main work at Plum Street, beginning this Thursday.

Traffic stop in Fremont County Mon. night results in drug-related arrest


June 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A traffic stop late Monday night in Fremont County resulted in the arrest of the driver on drug charges. The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office says a deputy stopped a pickup truck driven by 26-year old Gail Gilbert Heywood, Jr., of Randolph, at around 11:30-p.m.   Heywood, Jr., was arrested after an investigation determined he was allegedly in possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia.

The man was transported to the Fremont County Jail and held on a $2,300 cash bond.

Car & field sprayer collided in Montgomery County – 1 injured


June 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

One person was injured when a car and a field sprayer collided Monday evening, in Montgomery County. The Sheriff’s Office reports a John Deere 4730 sprayer owned and operated by 25-year old Joshua Stanley Carlson, and a 2009 Hyundai Sonata, driven by 50-year old Lori Jo Mayne, collided at around 8-p.m. in the 2000 block of Highway 34.

The accident happened as both vehicles were heading westbound, and Carlson initiated a left hand turn into a field drive. He noticed the car was beginning to pass him on the left, so Carlson swerved back into his lane, when the car also swerved into the same lane. After the vehicles collided, Mayne was transported to the Montgomery County Memorial Hospital in Red Oak, where she was treated and later released.

Damage to the sprayer was estimated at $10,000, while the car was totaled in the collision. Deputies were assisted at the scene by Red Oak Police, Red Oak Fire and Rescue, and personnel with Agri-Vision.

Atlantic City Council to act on pedestrian bridge project bids


June 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic City Council is set to act on accepting bids for the Troublesome Creek Bridge project, as part of the Connector Trail to the Schildberg Recreation Area. Action on a Resolution accepting bids for the project, along with the setting of the bid  letting date as June 30th, will take place during the Council’s regular meeting at 5:30-p.m., Wednesday, and will follow a presentation from Snyder and Associates’ Engineer Dave Sturm, on the plans and details for the project.

In other business, the Council will act on awarding a contract for repairs to the street and storm sewer line at 14th and Linn Streets, to McCarthy Trenching, in the amount of $27,800. The repairs are urgently needed, since there is a sink hole forming in the area. The job includes replacement of a failing pipe as well as intake.

The Atlantic City Council will also set the date for a Public Hearing on an Urban Renewal Plan Amendment, as legal counsel has advised the Boose Building & Construction, L.C. development project on Ash Street does not require the City to issue bonds. Instead, City Administrator John Lund says the City can set up an internal loan for the project, which qualifies as debt and allows the City to set up a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) District to repay itself, which, he says will save the City money and simplify the process.

The Council is also expected to act on a Resolution setting the Salaries and Wages for City Employees, effective July 1st, 2015, and authorize Mayor Dave Jones to enter into a Marketing Agreement with Utility Service Partners, Inc., for the Service Line Warranty Program, which does not cost the City anything, and purportedly gives residents an affordable utility line repair solution, while at the same time educating homeowners about their water/sewer line responsibilities. The agreement would pay the City an annual royalty of 50-cents per month, per paid warranty contract with residential customers.

Finally, the Council will hear from John Lund with regard to the City’s first Annual Tax Report, which is intended to explain the general nature of property taxes, and how Atlantic compares to other communities our size in the State, along with how the tax burden has changed, over time.

Small town ‘sense of community” slips in ISU survey


June 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A survey of small towns in Iowa finds some of the sense of community has slipped, while the local convenience store continues to be the most popular place to swap gossip. The survey began in 1994 and is repeated every decade to get a read on small towns in each of the state’s 99 counties. Terry Besser of Iowa State University led the 2014 survey and says they found a gradual erosion of what they call a sense of community among residents.

“Which is this notion that people in this town share common goals and they’ll put aside their differences in order to work together to solve problems,” Besser explains. She is a sociology professor, and says part of that loss of a sense of community is fewer people volunteering. “Across the last 20 years, a smaller percentage of people indicated they’re active, and a smaller percentage have participated in the last 12 months in a community improvement project. So, those are areas that towns need to focus on,” Besser says.

Besser says 10 years ago one of the biggest reasons cited by people for not being involved was not enough time. The top reason given in the latest survey was different. She says the top answers were “Nobody asked us to get involved or I don’t know how to get involved” were the top reasons. Besser says she doesn’t know how to take that because the person may’ve not been asked to get involved after turning down requests in the past. Less than 30 percent of residents rated jobs and shopping as good or very good, but that was up from 15 to 16 percent in the previous survey.

School and church activities had long been considered the center for small-town gatherings to share information, but in 2004 those who responded to the survey wrote in convenience store as the top place. Besser says they followed up on that in the latest survey. “The gas station convenience store sort of peaked our interest — so in 2014 we listed that as a choice — and the comes up as the number one place where people say they get together and socialize with other folks in town,” Besser says. She finds the convenience store response interesting and maybe worthy of more study.

“I think there’s a dissertation someplace waiting to be written about what role convenience stores are playing in helping to build or sustaining small-town communities,” Besser says. While they found erosion of the sense of community, Besser says not everything in the survey was negative. “One thing we were surprised at in 1994 were the strong ratings given to local government services — things like emergency response services, parks, police protection, fire protection,” according to Besser. “And that has continued, and if anything it had increased. So, people are evaluating those things very positively in small towns.”

Residents were less satisfied with non-governmental services, such as housing, child care and medical services. But people still like the way they are treated by others in small towns.”People are still describing their small towns as being places that they think are friendly, safe, well-kept, and that also, the change has been positive,” Besser says. Overall, Besser says small towns should be pleased by what was found in the survey.

“I want small towns –people who live in those small towns, people who care about those small towns — I want them to feel heartened by that. Because areas that I know some leaders focused on — like programs for youth, medical services — the ratings for those have increase across the board,” Besser says. “So, I think that’s very good news, and I don’t think small towns get good news often enough.”

The main reasons people live in a particular small town have not changed since researchers conducted the first survey in 1994. The top two reasons are family ties and they grew up in town. Proximity to work is also important. Besser says those strong family and social ties are a strength and a challenge for many small towns in Iowa.

The survey was funded by a grant from the U-S-D-A National Institute for Food and Agriculture. The full report of the survey findings is available at: www.soc.iastate.edu/rdi/99communitystudy. The link also includes individual reports for all 99 communities.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa early News Headlines: Tue., 6/2/2015


June 2nd, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two more cases are bird flu have been found at Iowa turkey farms. The Iowa agriculture department announced Monday that the avian influenza had been confirmed at a farm in Hamilton County with 36,000 turkeys and that a preliminary test for the disease was positive at a Calhoun County farm with 21,000 birds.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Des Moines police say a 6-year-old boy playing in a backyard has died after being hit by a pickup truck that went out of control after colliding with another vehicle. Police say the child died about 12:30 p.m. Monday.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa City police say they charged a man with burglary after following a trail of junk food away from a convenience store. Officers responded to a burglary call Friday night at Creekside Market and followed a trail of snack food away from the store.

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — A Dubuque church saw a large turnout for its Bless the Bikers ceremony in which a pastor prays for riders. Last year’s event drew around 30 motorcycle, bicycle and tricycle riders. This year, there were around 75 bikers, and the Rev. Tom Shinkle of the Grand View United Methodist Church prayed with each person.

Wet weather keeps farmers out of fields

Ag/Outdoor, News

June 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Wet weather kept farmers out of fields last week, but most of the corn crop is planted and doing well. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says cool and wet condition made for only 2.3 days suitable for fieldwork last week.

About 97 percent of the corn crop has been planted and 78 percent of soybeans have been planted. Both are slightly behind last year’s progress at this time. The USDA says 80 percent of the corn crop was rated good to excellent

Law enforcement converges on Walnut Mon. evening


June 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

(Update 8-p.m.: Suspect taken into custody apparently by a K9 unit just before 8-p.m. No other details available.)

Law enforcement officers with the Pottawattamie and Shelby County Sheriff’s Office,  Iowa State Patrol and elsewhere were converging on Walnut late Monday evening following a chase that began near Avoca with a traffic stop. The suspect, a white male wearing a tank top and driving a black 1996 Cadillac Deville took off and led a deputy on a chase along Highway 83 that terminated in Walnut at around 6:18-p.m, where the driver abandoned the car and took off on foot near the intersection with Atlantic Street.

A search was being conducted of the area as of 6:30-p.m.

Fair Queens contestants needed in Montgomery County


June 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

The Montgomery County Fair Queen, sponsored by the Montgomery County Fair Board, will be crowned on Tuesday, July 14th, at 7:30 pm at the Fairgrounds Auditorium. To qualify, contestants must be at least 16 years of age and not more than 21 years of age on August 13, 2015 (the first day of the State Fair), have not been married, be enrolled in school (or be a high school graduate), and be an active member of at least one worthwhile organization in her community.

If you are interested in running for this honor, stop by the Montgomery County
Extension and Outreach Office at 400 Bridge Street for the application form, or you
can also download the information at www.extension.iastate.edu/montgomery.

Please be sure to access all information if you do so online, including the
information letter, rules, and entry form. Applications are due at the Extension
and Outreach office by noon on Wednesday, July 1st.

Iowa lawmakers agree to compromise budget topping $7 billion


June 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Under a compromise budget deal in the Legislature, the state will spend about $7.3 billion for the coming fiscal year, with some additional dollars coming to schools.

Lawmakers announced the terms of the tentative agreement Monday. The budget includes $7.17 billion in ongoing spending, plus another $125 million in one-time expenses. As it is structured, the Republican-led House maintains a pledge to limit ongoing spending, while the Democratic-controlled Senate gets some more money for key priorities like education.

Republicans say the one-time expenses will come out of the surplus dollars remaining at the end of the current budget year.

The plan includes new funding for state universities that lawmakers said should ensure a tuition freeze. And K-12 education will get new dollars through a combination of ongoing and one-time funds.