More area and State news from KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.
Jim Field visits with Stacey Pellett about the “Operation Christmas Child” program. Help fill shoe boxes with items that children in under-developed countries would appreciate for Christmas and bring them to the drop-off location, the Atlantic Evangelical Free Church at the following times:
(Corrects location of blood drive to YMCA)
Atlantic welcomes the Christmas season with a Grand Lighting ceremony this evening, beginning at 5. The event takes place at the Historic Rock Island Depot on North Chestnut Street, and features entertainment, as well as hot dogs. Santa will arrive on his helicopter (weather permitting), for his first official visit of the year, also at the Depot. Santa’s cabin will be open in the Atlantic City Park (between 6th/ 7th Streets and Chesnut/Poplar), from 6-until 7:30-p.m.
There’s also a Blood Drive today (Thursday), from Noon until 6-p.m. at the Nishna Valley Family YMCA. This Saturday, it’s the 2016 Atlantic Rotary Auction beginning at 5:30-p.m., also at the Cass County Community Center.
For more on Christmas season events in Atlantic, go to www.christmasinatlantic.com
Data collected from schools across the state shows some ups and downs in the reporting of bullying in the last several years. The State Board of Education got an update Wednesday from Amy Williamson, who leads the Department of Education’s Bureau of School Improvement. “We collect what protected category the bullying and harassment falls in — there at 17 categories identified in the law — what bullying method it was, what location it occurred in the bullying type… and the consequence of the action,” Williamson says.
Williamson says they’ve been collecting bullying data since 2007, but changed the categories used in 2012, so that is where they begin looking at trends in the number of reports. “In 2012-13 we had over 25-hundred. In 13-14 we go to just over 400. The next year we go to around 15-hundred, and then we climb up to around 17-hundred,” Williamson says. “And the big puzzler for us is what’s going on.”
She says there are likely a couple of reasons for the swings in reported cases. “One is trying to get some common understanding of what actually is bullying or harassment — especially according to this law,” Williamson explains. “And when do I put it in this data system. When am I supposed to report it to the state and when do I handle it myself. That has been difficult.”
Another reason for the changes in reporting incidents could be due to more focus on the issue. “After 12-13 we had a ton of media coverage on bullying and harassment. I am not suggesting that people artificially started deflating their numbers — I am suggesting they started paying attention to it. And started thinking hard about so what is it we are supposed to report?,” according to Williamson. “And they really started watching the webinars, we got more attendance. People started actually reading more of the guidance and we got a lot more attention on the subject.”
Williamson went on to show what prompted the reports of bullying and harassment. “By protected category, we see a lot more in the physical attributes category, and then sex, physical-mental abilities, and then there is a ton of these in the ‘other.” Because you can see, even with 17 categories, we are not capturing everything,” Williamson says.
She detailed the top methods for bullying. “Our most frequent is verbal, then physical, very few others here,” Williamson says. She says they track bullying and harassment by teachers against students, but says there have only been a couple of those cases which happened in 2012. Williamson also says it appears the bullying cases may be leveling off, which she says is a good indication that the educational efforts on how to report are working.
The Board of Education discussed the bullying statistics as a continuation of its discussion in August of possibly changing the deadline for allowing students to open enroll to another school if they felt they were being bullied, but that bullying wasn’t covered under state law. A bill passed by the legislature and signed into law by the governor went into effect in July that allows students who transferred to another school after a confirmed report of bullying to immediately be eligible to participate in sports at their new school.
The Creston Police Department says a resident of the 400 block of N. Poplar Street, Wednesday evening, reported that sometime between Sunday and Wednesday, someone entered the residence and stole numerous items including furniture, electronic games and televisions. A dollar amount of the loss was not available. And, early Wednesday morning, a Creston resident living in the 400 block of New York Avenue, reported that sometime during the overnight hours Tuesday into early Wednesday morning, someone slashed the tires on his vehicle while it was parked
in front of his residence. The damage was estimated damage at $100.
Creston Police said also, an Eagleville, MO., man was arrested early this (Thursday) morning, on an OWI charge. 20-year old Jacob Gryder was arrested following a traffic stop on New York Ave. He was charged with OWI/1st offense and held in the Union County Jail on a $1000 bond.
Today: Partly cloudy. High near 70. S @ 10-15.
Tonight: Cloudy w/light rain. Low 45. V @ 5-10.
Tomorrow: Cldy w/light rain in the morning, some snow flakes possible. High early near 45 w/temps falling into the 30’s during the day. NW @ 20-40.
Saturday: P/Cldy. High around 40.
Sunday: P/Cldy. High near 50.
Wednesday’s High in Atlantic was 71. Our 24-hour Low ending at 7-a.m. today, was 31. Last year on this date, our High in Atlantic was 60 and the low was 44. The Record High in Atlantic on this date was 73 in 19401. The Record Low was -2 in 1959.
The long-time leader of Democrats in the Iowa Senate is cleaning out his capitol office after 34 years in the legislature. Mike Gronstal, of Council Bluffs, said “I’ve had a great run at this, great fun, learned a lot.” Last week, Gronstal was defeated in his bid for another term in the state senate. Gronstal says he has no real regrets.
“Obviously I wish I would have won and I wish I’d still be here making policy…but when one door closes, another one opens,” Gronstal says. “I will find some other way to do what I’ve always been about and that’s leaving the world a better place. Both my wife and I, growing up in the ’60s, that became our goal in life…and I think in a hundred different ways, I can point at things and say: ‘Yes, I left the world a better place.'”
Gronstal points to increased state investments in public schools and community colleges as achievements.”For me, it’s always been about growing Iowa, growing our economy, making things better, strengthening the middle class…and I have loved every minute of this,” Gronstal says. Gronstal also cites his refusal to allow senate debate of proposals that would have banned same-sex marriage in Iowa. Gronstal took that stand after the 2009 Iowa Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage. Republicans spent thousands to try to defeat Gronstal in 2012, but he won another term. Republicans targeted Gronstal again this year and he lost.
“Really kind of amazing, so a fundamentally Republican seat, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, it took the Republicans 10 tries to try to defeat me,” Gronstal says. “I’m kind of proud of that as well.” As for the next chapter in his life, the 66-year-old Gronstal simply says: ‘We’ll see. I haven’t fished in 30 years, I wouldn’t mind doing that,” Gronstal says. “Who knows what comes up next.”
In 1992, the president of the Iowa Senate resigned amid a scandal. Gronstal briefly took over as senate president, but a few months later Gronstal’s Democratic colleagues selected someone else to be their leader. But then, in 1996, Gronstal’s fellow Democrats selected him as their floor leader. It means Gronstal holds the record for the shortest tenure as president of the senate and he’s also the longest-serving floor leader ever in the Iowa legislature. “I have had a great, fascinating life with a whole lot of twists and turns and if that door hadn’t closed in 1992, the door in 1996 never would have opened,” Gronstal says.
Gronstal sat beside a table piled with memorabilia as he spoke with Radio Iowa late Wednesday afternoon. In January, 38-year-old Dan Dawson, a military veteran who is currently an agent with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, will represent the Council Bluffs area in the state senate.
CARTER LAKE, Iowa (AP) – The former Carter Lake city clerk has filed a lawsuit challenging her firing earlier this year and complaining that the city failed to honor her severance agreement. The Daily Nonpareil reports Doreen Mowery filed the lawsuit seeking her $108,809.56 severance and other damages. Carter Lake officials have not yet responded to Mowery’s lawsuit.
Mowery says she believes she was fired improperly in January because of her stance that city council member Mary Schomer couldn’t continue working for the city’s library and serve on the council. Mowery, who worked for the city for 24 years, says she believes previous disagreements with Mayor Gerald Waltrip contributed to her firing.