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Flood Relief funds established for Fremont and Mills Counties


June 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Omaha Community Foundation logo

Officials with the Fremont and Mills County Community Foundations have announced Flood Relief Funds have been established to provide assistance to those who have been affected by the 2011 Missouri River Flooding. Both Community Foundations are an affiliate of the Omaha Community Foundation.

100% of the monies from the funds will be distributed to nonprofit organizations that are directly serving flood victims in Fremont or Mills County. In Fremont County, an initial deposit of $5,000 was made by the Great Western Bank in Hamburg for the Fremont County Flood Fund.

Checks for donations to either county’s funds should be made payable to the fund of your choice (for example: the “Fremont County Flood Fund”) and mailed to either the Fremont or Mills County Community Foundation, 302 South 36th Street, Suite 100, Omaha, NE 68131.

Or, your donation can be dropped off at any of the following bank locations:

In Fremont County…

First Community Bank – Sidney

First National Bank – Farragut

First State Bank – Tabor

Great Western Bank – Hamburg, Riverton, and Sidney

Tri-Valley Bank – Randolph

In Mills County…

First National Bank – Glenwood

Great Western Bank – Glenwood

Glenwood State Bank – Glenwood and Pacific Junction

Houghton State Bank – Emerson

Malvern Trust & Savings Bank – Malvern 

To make an online donation, go to and select “Fremont County Flood Fund” or “Mills County Flood Fund” from the dropdown list, enter the amount you wish to donate, fill in the required information (Name, Address, City, State, Zip, Phone, Email) and click the “Submit” button. You will be redirected to PayPal to provide your credit card information. (Credit card donations will incur a 3% merchant processing fee from the credit card company.) 

Donations receive a gift receipt from the Omaha Community Foundation, which is a 501(c)(3) allowing maximum tax benefits.

All-Class Reunion Registration Underway


June 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic All-Class Reunion is just under 2 weeks away, and organizers are encouraging all alumni to register for events and buy their tickets early. Ann McCurdy, Executive Director of the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce says “This is our first time hosting an all-class reunion.  We hope that people enjoy the event, and just as important, we hope to learn more about what our alumni want for future events.”

There is a registration form posted on  While a few events require registration, most do not. McCurdy says “The day is planned so that it can be very a la carte. If you want to pop in and see the schools, great. If you want to participate in the morning in a 5k or go golfing, great. But you’re not tied to every single event all day long.”

The weekend kicks off on Friday, July 1 with a welcome reception at the Cass County Community Center. From 6 to 9 p.m., there will be appetizers, cash bar, and jazz music performed by Popcorn Button. Tickets are $7.50 each.

On Saturday, July 2nd, there are a number of activities available during the day and Pianopalooza will perform at the Cass County Community Center from 9 to midnight. Doors will open at 8 and there will be a cash bar. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Tickets can be purchased at the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce.

For more information about the reunion, visit or call the Chamber at 243-3017.

(Chamber Press Release)

Sen. Grassley to meet with Corps of Engineers & FEMA to talk flooding


June 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley has meetings this week with the top leaders of two federal entities which have been heavily criticized for their involvement in various natural disasters, FEMA and the U-S Army Corp of Engineers. Grassley is scheduled to sit down Wednesday with Craig Fugate, chief administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Grassley says his meeting with Fugate will focus on the availability of FEMA funds for those affected by the Missouri River flooding. “FEMA treats Mississippi River floods the same as Missouri River floods, the floods the same as earthquakes and hurricanes and tornadoes,” Grassley says. “It’s just a question of will the money be available and how will it be administered?”

While FEMA has been blasted for its Gulf Coast response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Grassley says significant changes have been made in the agency’s playbook since then. “Every natural disaster, you’re going to have some people that aren’t treated exactly right,” Grassley says. “It’s not because of the basic law or it’s not from the money, it’s probably some sort of bureaucratic bungling, but since Katrina, I have not seen a pattern of bungling, more bungling when it comes to an individual here and there.”

The Corps of Engineers is also being singled out by some who say more should have been done to prevent the Missouri River’s current flooding. The Corps was tasked with setting up flood control systems on the river, including five dams, under the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program, created by the Flood Control Act of 1944. In the decades since that time, Grassley says the focus has shifted and the Corps is now only involved in flood control 16-percent of the time. The new emphasis is more on things like recreational boating, environmental preservation and saving endangered species.

“So we’ve got to get back to the original purpose of Pick-Sloan, the original purpose of the dams,” Grassley says. “There’s no reason we would have to have all of this flooding that we have if the dams had been handled right.” Grassley will be meeting Wednesday with Brigadier General John McMahon, the Army Corps of Engineers Commander for the Northwest Division, which covers western Iowa.

Grassley says he and McMahon will discuss the current flooding in western Iowa and the Corps’ performance in anticipating and reacting to that flooding. “Maybe the Corps is being called upon to do too much,” he says. Grassley notes, the flooding may have been beyond the Corps’ control, due to heavy snowpack in the Rockies and some areas of Montana getting an entire year’s worth of rain in just a month’s time this spring.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)

Neola man dies in tractor rollover


June 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A tractor accident Monday afternoon southeast of Neola has claimed the life of a long-time area farmer. Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Department Traffic Accident Investigator Mark Burbridge told KJAN News 71-year old William Brich, of rural Neola, died when his Oliver tractor got too close to a ditch, and rolled down an embankment into a creek. 

The tractor was pulling a flatbed trailer hauling brush. Burbridge says the load was hauled up to an area to be dumped near a creek, when Brich likely backed too close to the drop-off point. The tractor slid into the ditch and tumbled or rolled before coming to rest.

The accident happened at around 3:45-p.m. on property Brich owned off of Rosewood Road. Burbridge says the man was found on the embankment, and apparently was hit by the tractor as he was tossed-off. The tractor ended-up in the creek.

Active search for missing Carroll woman stopped


June 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

James Snovelle

Dawn Allen

CARROLL, Iowa (AP) – Officials are hoping for some sign of a missing Carroll woman, but they’ve stopped the active search for her. Fifty-year-old Dawn Allen was last seen in Carroll on May 4. Carroll Police Chief Jeff Cayler told the Des Moines Register that searches across seven counties and other efforts have failed to turn up clues that could explain what happened to Allen.

The man Allen had been dating, James Snovelle, killed himself on May 10 as officers closed in at a rural property in Coffey County, Kan. Cayler says investigators believe foul play is involved in Allen’s disappearance, and he acknowledges that finding Allen alive is unlikely.

Airport grants announced: Audubon, Creston, Greenfield & Shenandoah


June 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Two dozen Iowa airports are getting federal grants to improve their safety and operations. Senator Charles Grassley on Monday announced the awards totaling more than $7.4 million from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program. He says the money is awarded based on national priorities.


The Audubon Airport Authority will receive $429,875 to construct a parking lot and rehabilitate the runway.

The Creston Municipal Airport will receive $218,500 to construct a building in which to store snow removal equipment.

The Greenfield Municipal Airport will receive $66,500 to update the airport’s master plan to help identify the airport’s future needs.

The Shenandoah Municipal Airport will receive $76,000 to construct a taxiway.

The largest award of $1.53 million will go to the Ankeny Regional Airport, which will be used to improve the runway safety area. The Washington Municipal Airport will also get more than $1 million to rehabilitate its runway.

Iowa to use I-29 rest area for flood staging area


June 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

ONAWA, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Department of Transportation will be closing the Onawa rest areas along Interstate 29 in western Iowa so they can be used as staging areas for crews battling Missouri River flooding. The department says the northbound rest area will be closed Wednesday morning, the southbound rest area sometime Thursday.

On Tuesday, crews will begin stockpiling rock in the truck parking area of the northbound rest area. The stockpiling will take place in the southbound rest area on Wednesday. The department says the rest areas will remain closed up to 10 days.

Onawa is 33 miles south of Sioux City.

Iowa town dry after flood fears cause evacuations


June 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

MODALE, Iowa (AP) – The western Iowa town of Modale has pulled out air conditioners, hauled out refrigerators and made plans to relocate for weeks or months in anticipation of Missouri River flooding. Now, residents are wondering, where’s the water? Many of the town’s 300 residents have cleared out of their homes, prompted by warnings that parts of Modale could receive 2 to 4 feet of water. But so far, nothing has happened.

Residents say they’re frustrated by the uncertainty, and question whether officials overstated the danger. Debbie Horan manages the United Western C-Store. She says residents were worked into a panic when they heard the projections and have now scattered to other communities. She says it’s unclear when or if people will return.

Opening statements heard in Swanson murder trial


June 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The jury was seated and heard opening arguments Monday in Carroll, during the first of two murder trials for Minnesota teenager Michael Swanson. Swanson is charged in the killing of convenience store clerks in Humboldt County and Kossuth County in November.

Humboldt County Attorney, Jennifer Benson described Swanson as a “sane individual who understood what he was doing and planned it out.” Benson says Swanson told officers he shot Sheila Myers in the face so she wouldn’t be able to identify him, and told them that the two shootings he committed made him feel powerful. Swanson’s defense attorney Charles Kenville told jurors that Swanson did not know what he was doing. He says Swanson was diagnosed with a mental disorder at age three and went on to have problems with his behavior, was in and out of treatment, and later got into drugs. Kenville told jurors they need to listen to all the testimony carefully and at the end of the trial he believes they will find Swanson insane.
Swanson is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the deaths of Vicky Bowman Hall of Burt and Myers. The trial involving the death of Hall is scheduled to begin July 26 in Rock Rapids.

Wind and hail damage in overnight storms

News, Weather

June 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

More heavy storms crossed Iowa overnight, bringing at least three reports of tornadoes along with heavy rain, hail and high winds. Meteorologist Craig Cogil, at the National Weather Service, says there are scattered reports of damage across the state. 

Cogil says most of the reports were for wind damage but there were also some reports of large hail. The highest winds were clocked in Woodbury County at 70 miles an hour. Tornadoes were reported in Plymouth County near Kingsley, in Polk County near Valeria and in Hardin County near Eldora. Damage is still being assessed. No injuries are reported.

In Western Iowa, thunderstorm wind damage was reported to have occurred: near Logan and Missouri Valley, at around 8:30-p.m ; near Mapleton and Little Sioux at around 8:45-p.m., and then again at around 9:15-p.m.; and, near Carroll at just about 10:15-p.m.

Winds gusting up to 60-miles per hour were reported near Red Oak at around 9:25-p.m., and in Cumberland, at around 9:50-p.m.

(Radio Iowa & NWS)