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Public hearing & vote in Atlantic, Monday on Massena Telephone Co. equipment bldg. permit


February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Atlantic, Iowa) – The City of Atlantic’s Board of Adjustment will meet Monday evening (Feb. 26th), in the City Council’s Chambers at City Hall. On the agenda for the 5:30-p.m. session, is a Public Hearing to Consider a Conditional Use Permit Application by Massena Telephone Company, for the Property Currently Identified as 703 East 14th Street, that Would Allow for the for the Operation of a Telephone Transmission Equipment Building (Fiber-Optic Network) in a R-2 Low Density Single Family Residential District as Allowed in the City’s Zoning Ordinance, with the Conditional Use Permit Transferring to a New Lot  identified as 1400 Olive Street (Pending Regulatory Approval). Board of Adjustment E-packet 02-26-2024-compressed

AMU will provide the electricity for the structure, which will house MTC’s fiber optic line terminals and related electronics. There will be no need for water and sewer utilities, and vehicle traffic (limited to technicians), will be minimal.

Following the hearing, the Board will discuss and then vote on the Conditional Use Permit Application for Massena Telephone Company, as described above.

3rd person arrested in the death of a Marion woman


February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Marion, Iowa) – Officials with the Marion Police Department said Thursday (Today),  third person suspected of being involved in the weekend death of a woman was arrested this afternoon. 20-year-old Logan William Michael Kimpton, of Hiawatha, was charged with Conspiracy to Commit a Forcible Felony, a Class-C Felony. Kimpton was being held in the Linn County Jail in Cedar Rapids.

According to a criminal complaint filed in the case, during an interview with police, Kimpton said he was with two other people at Walmart in Cedar Rapids last Saturday night. The admitted to purchasing a machete at the store, and confirmed one of the other subjects purchased a machete as well.

Surveillance footage and a receipt corroborated his statement. The receipt showed two machetes and two pairs of coated gloves were purchased. During questioning, the investigator confronted the Kimpton and advised him he was being investigated for Conspiracy to Commit a Forcible Felony (murder). When told he “Chickened out” regarding the murder, Kimpton said “Damn right I did.”

Yesterday (Wednesday), authorities announced 18-year-old Dakota Van Patten, of Cedar Rapids, was charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy in the death of 20-year-old Melody Hoffman of Marion. Police say Van Patten and 23-year-old McKinley Louisma, of Cedar Rapids, kidnapped Hoffman from a park in Cedar Rapids. She was strangled, beaten and stabbed. Louisma was charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping Tuesday.

Hoffman’s bodyfound at Lily Lake in Amana, Sunday. Marion police say  investigators determined through Hoffman’s smartwatch that she was in Louisma’s car before being killed. The complaint says the two had been in a relationship.

Iowa gas prices up after problem at Indiana refinery


February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Gas prices have followed the temperatures and gone up in this week. Triple-A Iowa spokesman Brian Ortner says oil prices have gone up a bit, but there’s another factor impacting gas prices.  “Really the biggest factor has to do with a B-P refinery in Indiana. They had a power outage about a week and a half or so ago, and it cut their production and they’re looking to be out of service to the end of the month. So that has a direct impact,” Ortner says. The price of regular unleaded gasoline was averaging more than three dollars a gallon across Iowa.

“When you look at prices as a whole, thankfully we’re still lower than we were last year at this time by about 17 cents,” he says. “But we have gone up since a week ago, almost eight cents since last week, which is something we haven’t seen in quite some time across the state.” He says getting that refinery back up to speed will help.

“Once that gets back online, we should see the increases slowed down a lot. I mean, we’ll still see a little bit because we’re moving into spring and people want to be driving, you know the demand is gonna go up,” Ortner says. “but that’s probably the one factor we can point to at this point if we want to say hey, this is happening and something we can say is happening has affected us around the region.”

The national average for a gallon of gas was up one cent to three-dollars, 27 cents.

Iowa House approves 3% hike in state spending calculated per pupil


February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Republicans in the Iowa House have voted to provide a three percent boost in per pupil state funding for public schools in the next academic year — as well as a three percent increase in state payments into Education Savings Accounts for private school students who’ll qualify for the program. Representative Phil Thompson, a Republican from Boone, says the plan calls for three-point-eight BILLION dollars in state spending on public schools in the next school year.

“I am proud of this investment in our public schools,” Thompson said, “especially when you put it in context with the other pieces of the education funding puzzle that we’re bringing forward this year: teacher salaries, paraeducator pay, school security infrastructure.” Representative Molly Buck, a Democrat from Ankeny, says with a three percent oost in per pupil spending — the 116 public school districts with shrinking enrollment will raise local property taxes to fill a gap, so next year’s budget isn’t lower than this year’s.

“How are rural schools going to keep the lights on?” she asked. “…At what point do we stop and realize that we, in the legislature, are responsible for the shuttering of our schools?” Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, says three percent just isn’t enough for schools dealing with inflation and trying to keep salaries high enough to hire and retain staff.

“Three percent is totally inadequate for our schools. They have been cutting and cutting and cutting over the last 12 years,” Steckman said. “They have reached a point where there’s not much left to cut.” House Republicans plan to vote later to set beginning teacher salaries at 50-thousand dollars within two years. They’re also proposing a 15 dollar an hour minimum wage for paraeducators. House Speaker Pat Grassley says those moves are priorities for House Republicans.

“My expectation is that the legislature acts on a bill addressing teacher salaries,” Grassley says. “I just don’t know what it looks like at this point,” A Senate committee has voted to increase the mandatory minimum salary for beginning teachers to just over 46-thousand dollars. In January, Governor Reynolds recommended a 50-thousand minimum salary for first-year teachers, as well as a 62-thousand dollar minimum salary for those who’ve been teaching for at least 12 years.

Social worker: You can say no to things and still be Iowa Nice


February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) -The phrase “just say no” was part of a major anti-drug campaign in the 1980s, but saying no to certain situations in life is still difficult for many people, especially those of us who were raised to be “Iowa Nice.” Amber Sherman, a licensed clinical social worker in Iowa, says it can be really hard to reject an offer, an invitation, or a request for help.

“A lot of people struggle with saying no and knowing that ‘no’ is a complete sentence, that if I tell you no, I don’t have to follow it up with all kinds of excuses,” Sherman says. “The answer is just no, I don’t want to do that thing.” Sherman says saying no should always an option and it’s something we all likely need to do more frequently.

“We want to say yes to everything. We want to be everything to everybody, but that’s not sustainable,” Sherman says, “and it also really doesn’t feel good when we say yes to things we’d really rather say no to.” It may be easier to not make waves, but Sherman says setting boundaries and saying no is important to our mental and emotional health, even if it might make us feel guilty.

“So if your order is wrong, do you just eat it, or do you say in a respectful, kind way, ‘I think I ordered this. Would you mind correcting my order?’” Sherman says. “I think that even just small things like that are a big deal, and learning that early on and practicing it every day is really important.”

If there’s a collection being taken at the office for someone’s birthday or work anniversary, Sherman says there can be great pressure to participate, but if you don’t want to do so, don’t. “I think, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ is okay, like, that’s not something that I do,” Sherman says. “Even thinking about what are your personal policies around gifting, and so choosing not to participate is something that should be respected.”

Sherman is manager of the Employee Assistance Program at Gundersen Health System, which has clinics in Fayette, Decorah, Waukon, Lansing, Postville and Calmar, and a hospital in West Union.

Iowa’s largest sycamore tree severely damaged by suspicious fire at Geode State Park


February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

DANVILLE, Iowa – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is asking the public for any information as to the cause of a suspicious fire at Geode State Park on Sunday, Feb. 18.

According to Park Ranger Andrew Kuckler, a visitor alerted staff that a tree in the park was burning. While the fire was extinguished, the tree was severely damaged and its survival is uncertain. The cause of the fire is unknown.

The tree has been certified as the largest sycamore in Iowa. While the exact age is unknown, the sycamore is estimated to be around 350 years old, based on circumference and other measurements.

Geode State Park sycamore burning on night of February 18, 2024, Danville, Iowa

“We are encouraging anyone who may have information about the fire to contact us,” said Kuckler. Callers can remain anonymous.

House panel dismisses ethics complaint against southeast Iowa lawmaker


February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Republicans and Democrats on an Iowa House committee have unanimously voted to dismiss an ethics complaint against Republican Jeff Shipley, a state representative from  southeast Iowa . Sara Hayden Parris of Johnston accused Shipley of defaming her on social media and her complaint alleged that was a violation of the House Ethics Code. Parris is president of a non-profit that distributes free books with sexual content that have been banned in some schools. Shipley has accused her of distributing obscene material and has said on social media that she should be under criminal investigation.

Representative Anne Osmundson of Volga, chair of the House Ethics Committee, led the meeting where the complaint was dismissed.  “It really seemed politically motivated,” Osmundson says. “He had not violated any of the House Code of Ethics rules.”

Rep. Jeff Shipley

In the complaint, Parris accused Shipley of committing libel against her. In a written response, Shipley said the House Ethics Committee should not be used as a forum for personal grudges.

3 accidents in Guthrie County: 2 injured in a rollover crash


February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Guthrie Center, Iowa) – The Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office reports two people were injured during an accident that took place last week. At around 12:35-p.m. on Feb. 15th, a 2017 GMC SUV driven by 43-year-old Eric Lee Ireland, of Scranton, was traveling south in the 3300 block of Frontier Road, when the vehicle crossed the northbound lane and entered the east ditch. The SUV struck a field entrance and went airborne, landing nose first, before it rolled over. A front seat passenger in the vehicle, 35-year-old Bridgette Nichole Perez, of Scranton – who was not wearing a seat belt – was ejected through the windshield. She landed on the ground, with the vehicle rolling over just missing her by almost a foot.

Eric Ireland was not wearing his seat belt. He landed upside down on the interior of the SUV’s roof. Perez and Ireland suffered significant injuries and were transported by Stuart and Adair EMS crews to the Guthrie County Hospital. A juvenile female, born in 2014, was in the back seat of the SUV restrained in a car seat and was not injured. Ireland told authorities he thinks he fell asleep prior to the accident. He was charged with Failure to show proof of financial liability (accident related), Failure to Maintain Control, and Failure to Use a seat belt. The SUV was a total loss, with the damage estimated to be $20,000. The crash remains under investigation.

An accident that occurred at around 1-a.m. Saturday, in Guthrie County, caused $10,000 damage, but there were no reports of injuries. The Guthrie County Sheriff’s Office says a 2005 Chevy pickup driven by 25-year-old Dale Allen Vogel, of Adair, had crested a hill while eastbound on 350th Street when it went out of control near Dogwood Avenue, and came to rest in the north ditch. Vogel was cited for Failure to Maintain Control and Expired Registration.

And, no injuries were reported following an accident Tuesday morning (Feb. 20), in Guthrie County. Authorities say a 2007 Peterbilt semi-tractor/trailer driven by 59-year-old David Alan MacNaughton, of Des Moines, was pulling a John Deere field cultivator, when the implement struck a City of Panora power-line.The cultivator was 15-feet, 1-inch tall, and 14-feet wide. The sides were folded-up/in.

The accident happened as the semi was southbound on Highway 4, at around 8:17-a.m.  As the tractor/trailer began dragging the power-line, it pulled/detached the line from a residence and nearby transformer. The siding of the residence where the power-line was attached, came off. The accident also caused damage to a private fence on the same property. Damage to the electric line/pole was estimated at slightly more than $8,000 dollars. Damage to the Shane Andersen residence was also estimated at $8,000.

There were no citations issued.

GC School Board selects replacement for retiring Guthrie Center Elementary School PK-6 Principal


February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Guthrie Center, Iowa) – Shared AC/GC School District Superintendent Josh Rasmussen, today (Thursday), announced Guthrie Center School Board has selected Mr. Tandem Eischeid as the new, PK-6 Principal for the Guthrie Center Elementary School.

Ramussen says Mr. Eischeid has 16 years of teaching experience and has spent the last seven years as a fourth-grade classroom teacher at Grant Ragan Elementary School in the Waukee Community School District. He holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in administration and special education from Iowa State University.

Mr. Tandem Eischeid

Mr. Eischeid’s wife, Kelsey, is a Senior Business Analyst with an app-based wellness company headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. She also coaches CrossFit in her spare time.  Tandem Eischeid will replace the current principal, Mrs. Diane Flanery, who is retiring at the end of this school year after 37 years in education.

See the full press release, below:

A sure sign spring is coming: The Home and Garden Show opens today

Ag/Outdoor, News

February 22nd, 2024 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Spring will arrive in a little under a month and central Iowans who are plotting out their landscaping projects can get a helping hand as the Des Moines Home and Garden Show opens today (Thursday). Show manager Shannon Nathe says they’ll have some 300 exhibitors at the Iowa Events Center offering a wide range of yard and home-related products and services. “If you have a project in mind, bring your plans, sit down with these business owners, and get on their calendars because they are very busy,” Nathe says. “We have seven feature gardens in the show this year, so there’s seven local landscapers showing their ideas of what you can do in your backyard.”

While the large exhibition hall is indoors, vendors have created stunning garden displays designed to inspire your next home upgrade. “The landscapers are located in Hall A, so when you come down the escalator, it’s just a sea of flowers and some of them are putting in pools and trees,” Nathe says. “It’s a great environment to think about spring, think about your projects that are coming up, all under one roof.”

This year’s list of celebrity speakers includes Patric Richardson, who’s known as The Laundry Guy on H-G-T-V, as well as a woman who’s a combination general contractor, real estate developer, business innovator, and philanthropist. “Ati Williams is a renowned design builder and an engaging TV host on Netflix’ ‘Hack My Home,'” Nathe says, “so she’s going to give you tips and tricks on saving money, but have the higher-end look of, like, let’s say redoing your cabinets. She’s going to give you all the tips and tricks.”

Attendees can get a hand with potting their own plants at the Potting Bar, while there’s also a Made in Iowa Market featuring some three-dozen products that all originated in the Hawkeye State. The 46th annual Home and Garden Show runs through Sunday.