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Atlantic School Board hears from Transportation Director


January 26th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Atlantic, Iowa) – The Atlantic School District’s Board of Directors heard from District Transportation Director Mark Weis, during a Work Session, Wednesday evening. Weis spent a portion of his report on “The Heart of the Transportation Department,” those who work in the department. He says their licensure is one of the most important aspects of the department. That list includes everyone from the mechanics and secretaries, to route drivers.

Most of the Department’s personnel hold regular jobs, yet they still make time to drive routes. Retired drivers also play a role in getting students and staff to where they need to go. In addition to bus drivers, there are personnel who hold a Class-D Chauffeur’s License to drive cars and vans in the district’s fleet. He was asked about turnover in the department.

Weis said his department is currently understaffed, but that’s where substitutes help take up some of the slack and fill-in when necessary.

He says they make it work the best they can.They have enough vehicles, just not enough people to drive them, which is the case in a lot of school districts. Mark Weis said with regard to the vehicles, a State Inspector will inspect the fleet next week, with the exception of Bus 10.

ACSD Transportation Director Mark Weis (Snapshot from Zoom session)

Weis told the Board they’ve made a lot of improvementss to the bus garage (Bus “Barn”), including the addition of a tool to help control the amount of rust the buses have.

The Atlantic School Board also heard a lengthy presentation from Schuler Principal James Northwick, Middle School Principal Scot Aden, Middle School Counselor Angela Sieh, and others, with regard to social and emotional learning support in the district.

Griswold & Lenox School Boards act on Superintendent Contracts


January 26th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Lenox, Iowa) – The Griswold and Lenox Community School District Boards of Education have approved contracts with Superintendent Dave Henrichs. The Boards met Wednesday evening at the Lenox High School. Mr. Henrichs said their first action item was to approve a shared Superintendent Agreement between the two districts.

The second action item was for the Lenox School Board, only, and Henrichs’ individual contract with that district.

He explained the reason for a one-year only contract with Lenox.

Henrichs says there’s a clause in his contract with regard to insurance, that says if he has coverage through his spouse, then he would get cash in lieu of that.

He says “At the end of the day, when you compare total dollars for all expenses associated with my position, it’s a total package decrease of nine-percent.

He calls the agreement a “win-win” for both parties.

Iowa Pork Producers elects its first-ever woman president

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 26th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) –  For the first time about nine decades, the leader of the Iowa Pork Producers Association is a woman. Trish Cook, of Buchanan County, was elected Tuesday at the organization’s annual meeting. Cook and her family run a farm near Winthrop that produces 32-thousand hogs a year as well as corn and soybeans. Cook says one of her goals for 2023 is to build on the vigilance Iowa pork producers have developed in recent years to guard against biohazards, like foreign animal diseases.

As for being the first woman in the post, Cook says the things that are important to her are important to all pork producers, which she says starts with working as a team.

Rural Union County man arrested Wednesday night


January 26th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Creston, Iowa) – A man from rural Creston was arrested late Wednesday night, following a traffic stop. The Creston Police Department reports 32-year-old Devon Taylor Keller was arrested at Highway 34 and Pole Road, in Creston. He was charged with Violation of No Contact Protective Order. Keller being held without bond in the Union County Jail, until seen by a Judge.

Dubuque casino seeking approval for major renovation


January 26th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – The managers of the Q Casino in Dubuque are asking state regulators today (Thursday) for approval of a multi-million dollar renovation plan. The casino’s chief commercial officer, Stacy Kansky, says there are a couple things driving the plan. “It’s been about 15 years plus that we’ve done any significant upgrades to the property. And so we felt it was really important for us to reinvest in ourselves if we want to grow, especially as some of these new nearby gaming properties, and Wisconsin and Illinois are opening up,” Kansky says.

The first two phases involve remodeling and connecting the former racing grandstand viewing area to the casino while moving the main casino downstairs. Stage three involves creating a family entertainment area. “We’re super excited about this because we don’t have the opportunity right now to really offer much for those under 21. So during this phase, we will transform that upper casino gaming area into an all ages area,” she says.  She says they are considering things like an upscale arcade, ax throwing, duck bowling, and ping pong. The fourth phase will be a new hotel and rooftop restaurant.

“It’ll likely be under the Hilton brand portfolio as well. And we’re concepting the rooftop restaurant and that boutique hotel concept right now,” Kansky says. “And then phase five, we’ll go back and look at the exterior. So upgrades to the facade, landscaping, surface parking area.” Kansky says the casino renovation and improvements go along with the Veterans Memorial and Ice Arena redevelopment in the Schmitt Island area where the casino is located. Kansky says all the improvements help make Dubuque a destination.

Artist rendering of Schmidt Island in Dubuque. (Q Casino photo)

“It’ll make it so people that are looking, whether they’re local, or they’re driving in from those driving markets, it’ll give them some other offerings to participate with,” she says. “They can go and it’ll still cater to adults with you know, the bar on some of those nightlife activities. It’ll be adult friendly, but it also is kid friendly as well. So it really expands the demographics and who are able to go out and target and who would really like to come and enjoy the property and all that Schmidt island has to offer.” “There’s obviously an issue here with labor and we’re hoping a lot of this will create a greater appeal for people to come and live, work, and play,” Kansky says.

The project is estimated to cost between 75 and 80 million dollars to complete. If the Racing and Gaming Commission approves, she says the construction is tentatively scheduled to start on February 7th.

National party leaders take another step toward dethroning Iowa Democratic Party’s first-in-the-nation Caucuses


January 26th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) A group of national Democrats has taken another step toward excluding Iowa from a group of five states to host the first voting in the 2024 presidential campaign. Mo Elleithee, a member of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws panel, says it shows the party is not being held hostage by history. “We wanted to send a message that the Democratic Party’s values, that the Democratic Party’s coalition is ever evolving,” Elleithee says. Elleithee and other national Democrats are giving party officials in Georgia and New Hampshire more time to work out voting details for their presidential primaries.

The Democratic National Committee will meet February 4th to approve the new list of early states and end the Iowa Democratic Party’s first-in-the-nation Caucuses. Former Iowa Congressman Dave Nagle of Cedar Falls was chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party during the 1984 presidential campaign. Nagle says Iowa Democrats should ignore the new rules.
“We need to plant our flag and we need what I did in 1984 when we confronted the same situation and hold our Caucuses irrespective of what the DNC thinks or says or does,” Nagle says. “…The constitution still protects the free right of assembly. We can do the Caucus whenever we want.”

Two former Iowa REPUBLICAN Party leaders joined Nagle at a news conference in the state capitol. David Oman — a former co-chair of the Republican Party of Iowa — says he hopes Iowa Democrats choose a new party chair this Saturday who will fight to keep their Caucuses first. Former Iowa Republican Party chairman Mike Mahaffey says the Caucuses are a tradition worth preserving because they’ve given little known candidates like Barack Obama a chance to compete and win.

Iowa Senate panel approves cap on some medical malpractice awards


January 25th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Republicans on a committee in the Iowa Senate have approved a bill to set a $1 million cap on non-economic, so-called pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. Governor Reynolds has said it’s one of her legislative priorities. Sandra Conlin, a lobbyist for the Iowa Hospital Association, told senators there’s been a tipping point — last spring’s $97 million jury verdict in a medical malpractice claim against an Iowa City hospital and a doctor. “We are in a place of crisis now,” Conlin said. “There’s been inaction on this issue for several years in a row and we continue to see the consequences of that build up over time.”

Conlin said there are significant rate increases in medical malpractice insurance and lawsuits are being settled for higher amounts. Chip Baltimore, a former Republican legislator, told lawmakers $97 million isn’t “egregious” for the family of the baby boy who will require 24/7 medical care his entire life after his skull “was crushed.” Baltimore is working as a lobbyist for Trial Lawyers for Justice. “The position of conservatives in this building is that every life, every single life at every stage is priceless,” Baltimore said. “…But you’re about to put a price tag on it and a very small price tag, quite honestly.”

The bill has cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee with the support of 11 Republicans. Mikayla Brockmeyer of Spirit Lake, a medical student at Des Moines University, told lawmakers many of her classmates are looking to practice elsewhere because of the liability issue. “We need medical liability reform now and don’t let this slip away,” she said, “along with the doctors in training who are considering other opportunities in other states.”

Sam Clovis, a former Trump Administration official and the Republican Party’s nominee for state treasurer in 2012, is urging lawmakers to kill the bill. Clovis is suing western Iowa health care providers, alleging their negligence has left him paralyzed from the chest down after emergency surgery in 2019. “We have legislators who think they are smarter than the people sitting in a jury box…they say they protect life and then they turn right around and try to set a value to that,” Clovis said. “That frankly is wrong and it’s immoral.”

Thomas Slater, a West Des Moines attorney, said the rights of patients who’ve been profoundly injured by malpractice need to be protected. “I scratch my head when my party attempts to put an arbitrary cap on the value of life or the quality of that life,” Slater said during a senate subcommittee hearing.

Hospital executives say the new limit on medical malpractice awards would help with recruiting. “We’ve been trying to recruit an OB/GYN for the last year,” said Erin Muck, CEO of the Crawford County Hospital in Denison. “A lot of people are asking: ‘What is your cap in your state?’ and when you’re telling them there is none, they have no interest anymore.”

If the bill becomes law, Iowans would still be able to sue for larger amounts if the alleged negligence causes significant expenses or monetary losses to an injured patient, but non-economic or “pain and suffering” awards would be limited to a million dollars. Nebraska and South Dakota have a half a million dollar cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. Wisconsin’s is $750,000. Missouri’s limit is adjusted annually to account for inflation and it’s nearly $800,000 this year.

Avian influenza outbreak confirmed in Buena Vista County turkey operation

Ag/Outdoor, News

January 25th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – The Iowa Department of Agriculture has confirmed the first case of avian influenza in the state in more than one month. The case is reported at a commercial turkey flock in Buena Vista County with some 28,000 birds.

The last case of bird flu was reported in an Ida County commercial turkey flock on December 12th. Seven of the 31 outbreaks confirmed since last March have been in Buena Vista County.

Turkeys. (IPR photo)

Sixteen of the outbreaks have involved commercial turkey operations.

EPA report: Iowa has the worst radon levels in the USA


January 25th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – A federal E-P-A report says Iowa’s soil has the nation’s worst concentration of radon, with about seven in every ten Iowa homes containing enough of the gas that action is needed. Liz Orton, outreach coordinator for the Iowa Cancer Consortium, says radon is invisible, tasteless and odorless — and it’s also radioactive. “Radon occurs naturally in the soil. It’s given off by radium and uranium,” Orton says. “Iowa has a large concentration of this and the reason that it’s harmful is because radon gas can get into your lungs and it can actually cause lung cancer.”

Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in Iowa, behind only tobacco use. The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services says radon results in about 400 deaths in the state every year. Orton recommends every Iowa homeowner invest in a radon test kit as radon levels in Iowa are almost seven times higher than the national average. “Radon test kits are very easy to use. They’re available at local hardware stores and they’re usually $20 or less,” Orton says. “You just follow the directions. You set it in your basement and then when it’s done, you mail it into a lab that has free shipping and then you’ll get the results back.”

If those results come back showing a dangerous level of radon in your home, it’s recommended you take action right away. “You do need to hire a professional radon mitigator to come mitigate your home and a list of those can be found on the Iowa HHS website,” Orton says. “The typical cost in Iowa for mitigation is about $1,200. It is a substantial cost but definitely lower than the cost of getting lung cancer and being treated for that.” Although radon is most-often found in basements, it can be present on any story of a home or building. January is Radon Action Month in Iowa.

Red Oak woman arrested after trying to run from police


January 25th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Red Oak, Iowa) – Police in Red Oak have arrested a woman for Interference with Official Acts. Authorities report 33-year-old Madison Marie Bowling, of Red Oak, was arrested in the 2400 block of N. 8th Street at around 11:22-a.m. today (Wednesday), after knowingly resisting Law Enforcement Officers, by attempting to flee on foot from them. Bowling was being held in the Montgomery County Jail on a $300 cash bond.