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Drought monitor shows some improvement over southern Iowa

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 15th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Des Moines) — The U.S. Drought Monitor released on Thursday showed some improvement for areas in the southern part of the Iowa, while other areas continue to deal with and worry about, drought conditions. State Climatologist Dr. Justin Glisan says many counties in southern Iowa were taken out of the Abnormally Dry (D-0) category. Currently, all drought coverage for Iowa is either in central or northern Iowa. He cited rainfall totals of one-to three-inches as the reason why southern area was removed from the D-0 category.

Glisan says Iowa farmers have had a great window to get crops planted at a solid pace, although there is concern for growers in northwest Iowa, specifically, where drought conditions have reached the D-2 (severe) level. He said “We would need normal and above-average rainfall moving forward to really keep drought conditions status quo, or to start chipping away at those precipitation deficits.”

The good news for the coming week, according to Glisan, is that rain and warmer conditions are in the forecast for much of the Iowa.

2 males arrested on sexual assault charges in Shenandoah


May 15th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

Police in Shenandoah report two suspects are in custody on felony sexual assault charges. Authorities says Shenandoah Police were dispatched Thursday to an undisclosed location for a possible sexual assault. Following an investigation, officers arrested 19-year-old Joseph Villegas and a 17-year-old male juvenile. Both were charged with lascivious acts with a child and third-degree sexual assault — both class C felonies. Their bonds were set at $20,000 each. Neither suspects was able to post bond. They were transported separately to the Page and Montgomery County Jails.

Casey’s completes Bucky’s aquisition


May 14th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – The Ankeny-based Casey’s convenience store chain today (Friday) announced the closing of its 580-million dollar acquisition of the Bucky’s Convenience Stores. The company says the Bucky’s acquisition gives them more presence in Nebraska and Illinois, and brings their total company-owned and operated stores to more than 23-hundred.

The company says in its announcement that the acquisition marks “the most significant transaction in Casey’s 52-year history.” Casey’s was required to get rid of six stores as part of the consent order the agreed to with the Federal Trade Commission.

IDPH Issues Updated COVID-19 Guidance to Schools and Child Care Settings


May 14th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Des Moines, IA) Today (Friday) Iowa Dept. of Public Health Director Kelly Garcia sent the following letter to school superintendents, child care providers and local public health departments regarding updated COVID-19 guidance:

Dear Education and Child Care Professionals,

I write to you today to underscore the continued importance of supporting children as we navigate this recovery phase of our COVID-19 response. From the beginning, this response effort has been grounded in mitigating risk and protecting our vulnerable populations, realizing that completely eliminating risk was never an option. We appreciate the difficult position school administrators and child care providers, who are not necessarily health professionals, have had to navigate. Your efforts over the last year have required patience, grace, and flexibility. For that, we are tremendously grateful.

For the 2020-2021 school year—knowing that spread of disease in schools is minimal and can be mitigated with strong infection control measures—Iowa shifted to support safe, in-person learning. And for child care settings, Iowa’s child care providers remained open, supported by DHS. To successfully implement that strategy, Iowa issued guidance that allowed children exposed to COVID-19 while wearing a cloth face covering to avoid quarantine. This allowed kids to remain in school, with all of the benefits that in-person learning provides. Cloth face coverings have been one of the tools in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and, along the way, additional tools to treat and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have also come along, such as therapeutics and vaccines.

Our response today does not, and should not, look the same as it did a year ago. In fact, yesterday the CDC announced updated guidance rolling back mask usage for adults. Our guidance is also evolving as we learn more information. This evolution allows people to hone in on what is risky and what is not—which ultimately keeps our collective public health response strong.

With that in mind, and with acknowledgement that the goal of every educational institution and child care provider is to safeguard children from harm and foster inclusion, today, the Iowa Department of Public Health has adjusted its guidance to recommend that schools and childcare settings approach COVID-19 like other child illnesses. For ease of reference, please see this link for a detailed list of common child illnesses and exclusion criteria, which now includes COVID-19. This guidance comes in consultation with the Department of Education, and underscores that the overall health and well-being of children must be our primary focus.

We are concurrently revising our COVID-19 guidance for school and child care settings, including quarantine guidance, to recommend that while COVID-19 positive and symptomatic children should be excluded, exposed children should no longer be required to stay home, regardless of mask usage. Moreover, when there is a positive case, parents should be given information around exposure to COVID-19 in order to make their own informed decisions regarding risk. To that end, while we acknowledge that some parents may want their child to continue to wear a cloth face covering for reasons that make sense for their family or that child’s individual health condition, we urge schools and child care settings to provide parents and students with the option to make their own decision about mask usage.

As this school year winds down and summer school and camps begin, we must work together to continue to support a flexible approach. We stand ready to provide the support necessary to ensure our children’s success.


Kelly Garcia

Director, Departments of Public Health and Human Services

Mills County Sheriff’s report, 5/14/21


May 14th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

Six people were arrested on various charges over the past week, in Mills County. Three people were arrested Friday (today): 35-year-old AJ Sydney Kerchaval, and 30-year-old Imesha Michelle Davis, both of Omaha, were arrested on I-29 near mile marker 40 early Friday morning. Both were charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance. Davis was additionally charged with Interference with Official Acts, and Fugitive from Justice. He total bond amounts to $1,300, with no bond on the Fugitive charge. Bond for Kercheval was set at $1,000.

And, 63-year-old Jim Dean Avis, of Neola, was arrested at around 8-a.m. Friday, for Driving While Barred. Bond was set at $2,000. On May 9th, 49-year-old Michael James Florian, of Glenwood, was arrested for Theft in the 3rd Degree. Bond was set at $2,000.

On May 7th, 22-year-old Sarah Jeanette Croson, of Council Bluffs, was arrested at the Pottawattamie County Jail, on a Mills County warrant for Kidnapping in the 3rd Degree, Assault while participating in a felony, and harassment. Her bond was set at $17,000. That same day, 39-year-old Joshua James Codr, of Council Bluffs, was arrested at the Pott. County Jail, on a Mills County warrant for Violation of Probation, with bond set at $6,700.

Doctors urge Iowa parents to get their kids, ages 12-15, vaccinated for COVID


May 14th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Iowa’s largest grocery chain is now offering COVID-19 vaccines to young people, ages 12 to 15. Hy-Vee says the Pfizer vaccine is available free, but kids DO need their parents’ consent and a parent needs to accompany them for the shot. Dr. William Ching, a pediatric hospitalist at Unity Point Health St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, says if more children are vaccinated, it will get us closer to herd immunity.  Dr. Ching says, “These things are game changers that will do so much to restore normalcy for our children and our families.”

Dr. Joel Waddell, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Unity Point Health in Des Moines, says there’s much more to consider with a vaccine other than just protecting children against developing severe cases of COVID, because it will do that. It will also help with mental health and let kids start to return to a sense of normal, like visiting friends and family and even going to summer camps.

“There is an immediate benefit of giving this vaccine,” Dr. Waddell says, “and I think it’s going to loosen things up a little bit in terms of what activities are safe.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends the Pfizer vaccine be given to kids as young as 12. Ching says in the trial, out of children who got the vaccine, zero contracted the virus and there were no serious side effects related to the vaccine. Both doctors made their comments on Iowa Public Radio’s program “Talk of Iowa.”

(reporting by Kassidy Arena, Iowa Public Radio)

Rep. Axne Announces $4.3 Million Grant for Creston Airport


May 14th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

CRESTON – Today (Friday), Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) announced a new $4,399,480 grant for the Creston Municipal Airport for a runway renovation. “The continued federal support of our local airports receive allows them to develop and repair vital infrastructure that keeps Iowans safe,” said Congresswoman Axne. “I’m pleased the Creston Municipal Airport is receiving this funding – this money is a direct investment in our growth here in Iowa’s Third District.”

The airport is receiving the funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to complete a renovation of runway 16/34 and fix ongoing issues related to the aging runway – as well as make subgrade improvements and lay new concrete.

The project is slated to begin in August 2022.

No injuries reported following a grain elevator explosion in Jefferson

Ag/Outdoor, News

May 14th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

Officials with a grain elevator in Jefferson say no injuries were reported following an explosion this (Friday) morning. Landus Cooperative Executive Vice President of Communications and Marketing Kerrey Kerr-Enskat said in a statement to local media: “There was a dust explosion at the Landus Jefferson location at approximately 8:00am this morning, Friday, May 14 resulting in property damage. All employees are accounted for and there were no injuries.” Kerr-Enskat said also “The situation is contained and under control. An investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted.”

Local authorities described the property damage as catastrophic. A grain elevator shift where the explosion took place also blew the tops of the other cluster of grain bins off, along with severely damaging the catwalks and scaffoldings on top of the structures. The west side of the whole structure was crumbling Friday morning.

Firefighters from Jefferson, Scranton Grand Junction, and Carroll responded to the scene, along with Jefferson Police, Greene County Ambulance crewsd and the Iowa State Patrol.

New Principal selected for the Griswold CSD


May 14th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

Griswold School District Superintendent Dave Henrichs today (Friday) said he was “Excited to announce that the Griswold CSD has selected our next MS / HS principal – Stephanie Lajko.” The Griswold Board of Education will approve an employment contract for her (pending the release of her contract from the Treynor CSD) during their regular meeting scheduled for May 17. Lajko was selected to replace Billy Hiatt as sixth-through 12th Grade Principal. Hiatt tendered his resignation earlier this year. He was hired for the position in April, 2020.

Lajko’s curriculum vitae (resume’) can be found below:

Educational/Professional Information –

  • Graduate of Northwestern College- Administration/Principal Endorsement
  • Graduate of Peru State College- Elementary and Early Childhood Education
  • Teacher for 11 years- 2 years in Prek and 4 years in Kindergarten at Missouri Valley Community School District, 5 years in 3rd Grade at Treynor Community School District.
  • JV/Varsity Assistant Soccer Coach for 2 years in Missouri Valley, JV/Varsity Soccer Coach for 3 Years in Treynor

Prior to teaching in public schools, Lajko taught at Child Saving Institute as a Lead Preschool Teacher, and at First National Child Development Center as the Two’s Team Leader/Supervisor, and as a Two’s Teacher.

Her Philosophy

“In my experiences teaching at public schools, I have found a lens for the “big picture” in a school system. Creating an environment of partnership, trust, and safety for staff and students has become the most important part of my daily work. Each day, I work to ensure that I help to create a positive space that embraces all students and staff, regardless of personal preferences, race, ability, status, or position. Embracing an environment of diversity and celebrating each unique characteristic of our students and staff has been amazing to be a part of.
A strong focus on social emotional learning and relationship building will be central to my leadership style.”

Personal information –

  •  She is a resident of Council Bluffs
  • She’s a sports fan, specifically the Nebraska Huskers, Green Bay Packers, and Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Lajko said she loves to play adult league sports including hockey and volleyball.
  • She also enjoys traveling, visiting museums, listening to music and trying new restaurants.

Lajko says “I am looking forward to becoming a part of the Griswold family and meeting all of the wonderful families in the area!”

Cass County Sheriff’s report, 5/14/1


May 14th, 2021 by Ric Hanson

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office reports two injury accidents took place last week, and three people were arrested over the past week, on separate charges. Authorities say at around 7:32-p.m. on May 7th, Cass County Deputies responded to an accident on  750th St., south of Anita.  Curtis Tucker, of Prescott, was driving a 2011 GMC Sierra pickup northbound, when the vehicle crossed the south bound lane and entered the west ditch.  Upon entering the ditch, the pickup struck a field entrance and came to rest in a field.  Tucker was transported to the Cass County Memorial Hospital by Cass County EMS, for treatment of minor injuries.  Damage to the vehicle was estimated at $10,000.

And, as we reported last weekend, at around 1:50-a.m. on Saturday, May 8th, Cass County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a semi accident on I-80 at the 66 mile marker.  Officials say Ryan Lockner of Genoa, Nebraska was driving a 2018 Kenworth semi tractor trailer, eastbound on I-80, when a blown tire caused him to lose control.  The tractor trailer crossed the median and rolled onto it’s side on the north side of the ditch.  Lockner suffered minor injuries and was transported to Cass County Memorial Hospital by Cass County EMS.

Cass County Deputies arrested 36-year-old Curtis Lee Glenn, of Des Moines, May 9th, on a charge of domestic abuse 2nd offense.  Glenn was transported to Cass County Jail and was released on $300 bond. On May 11th, 25-year-old Blake Michael Zweck, of Anita, was arrested on a Cass County warrant for controlled substance violations.   Zweck was transported to the Cass County Jail where he is being held on $50,000 bond.

And, on Friday, May 14th, Cass County Deputies arrested 32-year-old Shawn Anthony Williams, of Atlantic, on for OWI/1st offense.  Williams was transported to Cass County Jail and was being held on a $1,000 bond.