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Waukee and Urbandale districts defy governor on resumption of school


August 4th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) — Two central Iowa school boards are resisting the governor’s order that districts begin the school year with in-person instruction. The Waukee School Board and the district’s superintendent issued a written statement last (Monday) night. It included what was described as “a reminder” to Governor Reynolds and other state officials that state law gives local school officials the power to establish rules for the governance of their own districts. Waukee Superintendent Brad Buck served as former Republican Governor Terry Branstad’s state education director for nearly two years.

Earlier this summer, the Urbandale School District had permission to continue operating its year-round elementary school online, but state officials notified the district students would have to return to the classroom this Friday. Urbandale’s school board voted last (Monday) night to continue online classes at the elementary school until at least August 25th. The board will meet again on August 10th to discuss its “Return to Learn” plans for all students in the Urbandale district.

Governor Kim Reynolds announced last week state education officials will only grant waivers from in-person instruction to school districts in communities where at least 15 percent of residents have tested positive for Covid-19 AND at least 10 percent of students are absent. The statement from Waukee school officials said they will not follow that guidance, but instead will follow other “sources of expertise which indicate more reasonable” standards that should trigger temporary suspension of in-person classes and a shift to distance learning.

(Podcast) KJAN Morning News & Funeral report, 8/4/20

News, Podcasts

August 4th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

The area’s latest and/or top news stories at 7:06-a.m. From KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.


Iowa COVID-19 update 8/4/2020


August 4th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Public Health reports today (Tuesday), 181 additional COVID-19 cases since 10-a.m., Monday, for a total of 45,982.  Of the state’s confirmed cases, 33,923 Iowans have recovered.  The Iowa DPH reported seven additional COVID-19 deaths for a statewide death toll of 885.  COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care facilities account for 476 of the state’s total deaths. 491,929 Iowans have been tested for the virus, to date. One more person has tested positive in Cass County, for a total of 48. Statewide, 443,808 people have tested negative for COVID-19.

IDPH data shows 243 patients are currently hospitalized with coronavirus. There are 75 patients listed in intensive care. There are currently 32 patients on ventilators in Iowa, and there were 24 patients admitted in the last 24 hours. Hospitals in western/southwest Iowa report: 14 people are hospitalized with COVID-19; seven are in an ICU; No one was admitted since 10-a.m. Monday, No one was on a ventilator. There are currently 24 outbreaks in Iowa’s long-term care facilities. IDPH reports 800 positive cases within those facilities and 382 recoveries.

The IDPH Dashboard current County/Positive Case count/reported recoveries (   ), and the number of deaths to date (if any)  {    }:

  • Cass: 48 [1 more than on Monday] (35) [1 more recovered since Monday] {1}
  • Adair: 21 (17)
  • Adams: 16 (10)
  • Audubon: 28 (15) {1}
  • Guthrie: 127 [1 more than Monday] (82) {5}
  • Montgomery: 43 (31) {3}
  • Pottawattamie: 1,218 (834) {23}
  • Shelby: 162 [2 more than on Monday] (134) {1}

ISU students getting COVID test as they move in for Fall


August 4th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Students at the three state schools are starting to move back into the dorms for the beginning of the Fall semester. There are usually no tests given in the first weeks — but Iowa State University COVID-19 health coordinator Kristen Obbink says that has changed this year. “Our students moving into our residence halls and campus apartments will first be getting a COVID-19 test at Lied (Lead) Recreation Center,” Obbink says. She says the testing is being conducted by Iowa State’s public health and command teams.

University of Northern Iowa students have also started moving in and University of Iowa students will start at the end of the week. Those schools won’t be testing students. I-S-U Student Health Center director Erin Baldwin says they felt it was necessary to know where they stand. “Testing is just one element of our strategy, so we felt like since we have a large group of students who are moving into our residence halls it was important to have that testing as we introduce our students to congregate housing,” Baldwin says, “realizing that it is a point in time with testing and it is just one part of the strategy.”

The housing will be limited to two roommates, and they will alternate the move-in times. Associate Director of Campus Life, Pete Englin, says they have a plan for dealing with positive tests. “The first roommate moves in gets their test results — they’re negative. The second roommate comes in gets test results — and it might be positive. The positive person would go to isolation and then the other roommate would go to quarantine, ” according to Englin. “And then we’ve secured a moving team that actually moves whatever the student wants to take with them to either isolation or quarantine. And then when they are cleared to return to their permanent assignment — the moving team would help them move too.”

Englin says they are keeping things very flexible for parents and students who change their minds. He says anyone can cancel their room contract through August 17th without any penalty to give them the choice to do what they want to do. Health Center Director Baldwin says they plan to release testing numbers — much like the Iowa Department of Public Health has on the positive tests. But she says they do not have a threshold number for positive tests. “We do not have any specific drop points where we are going to say ‘yep we are done,'” Baldwin says.

Baldwin says they do have plans in place to deal with what they see in the numbers. “With our main goal of trying to intervene and mitigate those things early — so that we can have the biggest impact on public health — with the lowest amount of impact on our overall university operations,” according to Baldwin. “We’ve really tried to provide a really flexible plan that can be tailored to the situation at hand as we continue to monitor those things over the course of the semester.”

Englin says many of the college kids have been doing the things that college kids do and the measures they are taking at I-S-U will actually be safer for them.

Southeastern Iowa man arrested Monday afternoon


August 4th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

A traffic stop a little before 2-p.m. Monday, in Stanton, resulted in the arrest of a man from southeastern Iowa. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reports 23-year old Dean Robert Whaley, Jr. from Russell, was taken into custody for Driving While Barred, and Fraudulent use of license plates. His bond was set at $650.

Red Oak woman arrested on a drug charge Monday night


August 4th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

A traffic stop at around 11-p.m. Monday in Red Oak, resulted in a woman arrested for Possession of a Controlled Substance. 26-year old Jade Dakota Erynn Bacon, of Red Oak, was taken into custody in the 1900 block of N. Broadway Street and transported to the Montgomery County Jail, where her bond was set at $1,000.

Stanton man arrested on an assault charge Monday night


August 4th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

A Stanton man was arrested Monday on domestic assault charges. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reports deputies arrested 37-year-old Shay Michael Berglund around 8 p.m., for domestic serious assault. He was taken to the Montgomery County Jail and held without bond, pending further court proceedings.

Adair County Sheriff’s report (8/4/20)


August 4th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

The Adair County Sheriff’s Department late Monday night issued a report on arrests over the past week. Early Friday morning, 22-year old Savian Jerimy Fisher, of New Orleans, LA., and 20-year old Troy Rollins, Jr., of Auroro, CO., were arrested on I-80, and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance. Both were released later that same day on a $1,000 cash or surety bond.

Late Thursday night, 30-year old Charles Augustus Elkin, of Fischers, IN., was arrested on I-80 for OWI/1st offense. He was released the next day on a $1,000 bond. Early Wednesday morning, 39-year old Michael Benjamin Crall, of Orient, was arrested in Adair County, on two counts of Domestic Abuse Assault with injury. He was released later that same day on his own recognizance.

On July 28th, 30-year old Samantha Lynn Bell, of Grimes, was arrested following a traffic stop on I-80 in Adair County. Bell was taken into custody for Possession with the Intent to Deliver/Marijuana, and Drug Tax Stamp Violations. She was released the following day on $1,000 bond.

July 27th, 33-year old Justin Carol Donaldson, of Council Bluffs, was arrested at the Polk County Jail, on an Adair County warrant to serve his required sentence in Adair County. Donaldson was released three-days later after time-served. Also arrested July 27th, was 31-year old Ryan Douglas Neal, of Orient, for Possession of a Controlled Substance/Mariuana, and Possession of Paraphernalia. He was released the 31st on his Own Recognizance.

And, on July 26th, 52-year old Rex Allen Roberts, of Blair, NE., was arrested by Stuart Police, for Possession of a Controlled Substance/Methamphetamine, Harassment in the 1st Degree (following an incident involving his ex-girlfriend, and Theft in the 2nd Degree. He was being held in the Adair County Jail on a $2,000 cash or surety bond.

Economists predict significant losses for corn farmers, due to pandemic

Ag/Outdoor, News

August 4th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – An analysis prepared for the National Corn Growers Association concludes American corn farmers will lose 89 dollars an acre in revenue this year — due to the pandemic. Chris Edgington, who farms near St. Ansgar, is the association’s new vice president. “There’s some economists predicting that are projecting….the 2021 crop year will be impacted,” he says.

A prediction from a University of Illinois economist suggests 2020 revenue from U.S. corn sales will dip to a 14-year low. “We’ve got a lot of challenges,” Edgington says. “We’ve got a lot of great product that we need to get moved and we’re just looking for homes to get it out of the bins so we can put this year’s crop in there.” The economic analysis done for the Corn Growers indicates that even after calculating the additional payment from federal farm programs, there’s a 15-dollar per acre drop in revenue related to the 2019 corn crop.

“COVID is definitely causing some challenges in the country,” he says. “Exports are a challenge. Demand for both ethanol and livestock have both been hit pretty hard at times and so those things rise right to the front when we get together as a group and talk.” Edgington is part of a three-generation operation. He farms with his father, his brother and his son.

Salary boost for doctor who’s the top medical advisor in state gov’t


August 4th, 2020 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – The state medical director whose public profile has been elevated during the pandemic has gotten a big pay boost. Dr. Caitlin Pedati’s boss is Department of Human Services director Kelly Garcia, who is now the interim director of the Public Health Department, too. Garcia says she raised the medical director’s salary by nearly 45 percent for a variety of reasons — including new responsibilities for Dr. Pedati in the Department of Human Services.

Dr. Caitlin Pedati (File photo)

“This decision was really focused around retention,” Garcia says, “but also really focused around the job we’ve asked her to do in those dual roles.” Pedati has been the state epidemiologist as well as the state medical director since late 2018. Pedati’s new, 265-thousand dollar annual salary is higher than that of Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, her predecessor who retired nearly two years ago after 24 years in the job. Garcia says she’s quite comfortable with Pedati’s new salary compared to what other physicians in state government are making.

“I did poll a variety of other salaries for positions both internal to the Department of Human Services, the Department of Public Health as well as the Department of Corrections,” Garcia says, “and this salary adjustment is actually below what those other salaries are in comparison.” The Bleeding Heartland blog first reported Pedati’s salary adjustment, as well as the 55-thousand dollars Pedati was paid for overtime work this spring. Garcia says Pedati is not only being asked to be the state’s top clinician, she’s had to do her work in the spotlight and — in Garcia’s words — “under a microscope” during the pandemic.

“She’s worked at the CDC,” Garcia says. “She’s worked in another state and she is paramount to our ability to sustain this response over the course of the next year.” Pedati worked in the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services before taking the job in Iowa’s Department of Public Health.