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Neb. woman pleads not guilty in Western Iowa shooting


August 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

SAC CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Nebraska woman has pleaded not guilty in a 2001 shooting death in Iowa. A trial was ordered for 45-year-old Tracey Richter-Roberts, of Omaha, Neb., although no date has been set. Richter-Roberts is charged with first-degree murder in the 2001 shooting death of 20-year-old Dustin Wehde.

Richter-Roberts shot Wehde – a family friend – multiple times in her home on Dec. 13, 2001. She had told authorities at the time that she and her three children were in the home when Wehde and another man broke in and attacked her. No charges were brought against Richter-Roberts at the time but the investigation was reopened in 2009.

Richter-Roberts was arrested last month and is being held in the Sac County jail on $1 million bail.

Atlantic native dies in Kansas Air Show Crash


August 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Bryan Jensen, with his custom biplane

An Atlantic native with more than 23,000 hours of flight time experience, died over the weekend at an air show in Kansas City, Missouri. 50-year old Bryan Jensen, of Ponte Vedra, FL.,  was killed, when the biplane he was flying crashed into the runway at the Wheeler Downtown Airport. The accident happened at around 1:45-p.m., Saturday.

Jensen grew up on a farm near Atlantic, and took his first flying lesson when he was 13, according to his website The website says he soloed on his 16th birthday and as an adult flew jumbo jets for Delta Air Lines. Jensen, who graduated from the Atlantic High School in 1979, lived in Florida, and had been a stunt pilot the past 15 years. The accident which claimed his life took place in front of a stunned crowd of thousands, on the first day of the Kansas City Aviation Expo Air Show.

According to eye-witnesses, Jensen’s custom-built, red biplane was performing aerobatic maneuvers, such as loops and spiral stunts, when it did a downward spiral but failed to pull up. The plane crashed nose-first into the pavement and burst into flames.

The Kansas City Star says as the crowd went silent, emergency crews headed for the wreckage, and the show immediately was closed. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the accident.

Air Show director Ed Noyallis read a brief statement in a hangar after the crash. “Our hearts go out to Bryan’s family and loved ones.” He went on to note that aerobatic flying can be very dangerous, although the public was never in danger. Air show officials said they spoke with other pilots after the crash and all agreed the show would continue today (Sunday). Funeral services for Bryan Jensen are currently pending at the Hockenberry Family Care Funeral Home, in Atlantic. (

Iowa DOT still looking over flood damage to western Iowa roads & bridges

News, Weather

August 20th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Iowa Department of Transportation are hoping they don’t hear the word “flood” for years to come. Iowa D-O-T spokeswoman Dena Gray-Fisher says they are still in the process of surveying the damages done to roadways across western Iowa that have been underwater for more than two months.  “An inventory of all of the assets that we have in the areas that are flooded,” Gray-Fisher says. “Those could be signs that might be damaged, the roadway, culverts, bridges. That’s kind of the first step.” Gray-Fisher says there is bridge damage at Hamburg Iowa along Interstate-29. There’s also a report of an 11-foot hole under a section of pavement that eroded. She says it’s too early to see if there’s damage to the Mormon Bridge between Omaha and Council Bluffs and to the bridge between Onawa, Iowa and Decatur, Nebraska, further to the north.

She says, “That is one area that we already know there’s a serious problem with some bridges there and that’s going to take some major repair work and it will likely prolong us getting back to a recovered state.” Gray-Fisher says the DOT is continuing to monitor the situation by air as the flood water is preventing crews from getting a close-up look at the damage.  “Some of the aerial visuals we’ve seen, we do know that damage has occurred, we just don’t know the extent until the waters go down and that will begin, more significantly, by the end of this month,” she says. Along with I-29, there are seven major Iowa roads closed due to flooding.

The Iowa side of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge that connects Council Bluffs and Omaha also remains closed.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)

DNR rejects permit for Adair County hog facility

Ag/Outdoor, News

August 20th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

GREENFIELD, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has denied a request to build a 5,000 head hog confinement in Adair County. In a letter dated Friday to a consultant working with the operator of the proposed facility, the DNR said an evaluation of the proposal indicated it failed to meet the requirements necessary for approval. The Adair County Board of Supervisors recommended the DNR deny the construction permit because of problems with the application and community opposition.

The operator, Twin Lakes Environmental Services LLC, a manure management company based in Rockwell City, has 14 days to appeal the decision. Mike Sexton, a consultant with Twin Lakes, says the company is reviewing its options to determine its next step. He declined to identify who his company is working for.

Power restored to most who lost it in Neb., Iowa


August 20th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Most of the people who lost power Thursday in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa have regained but several thousand still lack electricity. Crews from the Omaha Public Power District and MidAmerican Energy have been working to make repairs strong wind and large hail moved through the area Thursday evening. By 4:30 p.m. Friday, about 6,000 utility customers were still without power because of fallen trees and downed lines. But that’s down from a total of roughly 60,000 customers without power at the height of the outage. MidAmerican says more than 3,000 utility customers in the Council Bluffs, Iowa, area still lacked power Friday afternoon. OPPD says about 2,600 of its customers didn’t have electricity Friday afternoon mostly in northeast and southeast Omaha.

21 laptops taken from Council Bluffs school center


August 20th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Authorities are investigating the theft of laptop computers from a Council Bluffs school building. 21 laptop computers valued at $20,000 were stolen from the Tucker College and Career Center between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

School district spokeswoman Diane Ostrowski says the theft will affect the district’s short-term ability to use technology in the classroom and that the replacement of the computers is costly.


Ag/Outdoor, News

August 19th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today (Friday) announced that he will be participating in agricultural focused town meetings in Pottawattamie, Montgomery and Cass Counties on Tuesday, August 30th, as part of his efforts to visit each of Iowa’s 99 counties again in 2011.  Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and Congressman Tom Latham will also participate in the meetings. The town meetings will take place in Oakland, Red Oak and Atlantic.
In Pottawattamie County, the Agriculture Town Hall meeting will be from  10:00 – 11:30 a.m., in Oakland, at the Community Building, at 129 Harrison Street.

In Montgomery County, the meeting is from 1: 00 – 2:30 p.m., at the Montgomery County YMCA, at 101 E. Cherry Street, in Red Oak.

In Cass County, the meeting is from 3:30 until 5-p.m. in the Medium room at the Cass County Community, in Atlantic.

Northey, a corn and soybean farmer from Spirit Lake, is serving his second term as Secretary of Agriculture. His priorities as Secretary of Agriculture are promoting the use of science and new technologies to better care for our air, soil and water, and reaching out to tell the story of Iowa agriculture.

Theft of copper wiring continues


August 19th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Thieves are becoming more brazen in their attempts to steal copper wiring. Authorities this week, reported copper wiring was cut and stolen from power poles owned by the Farmers Electric Cooperative. The thefts occurred in the Wiota and Anita substation areas.

Officials with the utility are asking for your help, when it comes to reporting suspicious activity near their power poles. If you see someone who you think may be trying to steal copper ground wiring or other such materials, call your local sheriff’s office.

Last week, Fansteel Dynamics in Creston reported someone entered the plant’s property and took about 275-pounds of copper wire, valued at around $1,100. The theft occurred sometime between the hours of 5-p.m. August 9th, and 6-a.m., August 10th.

Officials with the Farmer’s Coop say it will cost thousands of dollars in labor, material and truck time to make necessary repairs to their property. And, to deter against further theft, crews plan to replace the copper wire with steel wire, which is of little value to copper thieves.

Storm Damages Popular SW IA State Park

Ag/Outdoor, News

August 19th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

An official with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the Lake of Three Fires State Park, near Bedford, in Taylor County, was damaged Thursday evening from a storm that caused power outages across the region. State Parks Chief Kevin Szcodronski says the storm brought golf ball sized hail that striped trees by the lake nearly bare. Trees and limbs were damaged in the park to the extent that the roads to the picnic areas are impassible.

Szcodronski said the DNR is calling campers who had reservations to tell them the park has some damage and is without electricity. He says the water is still on, and restrooms are functioning. Campers are still welcome to camp if they choose, he says, and the DNR will help them find a site in a nearby state park campground, or give them a full refund.

Szcodronski said he will be bringing in staff from other parks to help with the clean up and inspect the facilities and trails. He says “Everything is covered in leaf litter. This was a big storm that caused a lot of damage and power outages across southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri.” He says they really don’t know when the power will return.

Waubonsie, Viking Lake and Lake Manawa state parks also sustained damage, but not to the extent of Lake of Three Fires. Szcodronski said there were no injuries reported.

Thousands still without power following Thursday’s storms


August 19th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Powerful thunderstorms that ripped through eastern Nebraska and western Iowa damaged homes, vehicles and businesses and has left thousands of people without power. Hail from the rain-laden storms shattered windows, roofs and siding at homes around the region. No storm-related deaths have been reported.

Ann Thelen, Director of Communications for MidAmerican Energy, said there were numerous power poles and wires down in Council Bluffs. Thelen said crews were being brought in from all over in Iowa, to help with the repair work. As of 10:30-a.m, more than 46-hundred MidAmerican customers in southwest Iowa were without power, including 1,884 in Council Bluffs, 874 in Mills County, 441 in Bedford, 44 in Glenwood, and nine in Griswold. Thelen said the energy company hopes to have all power restored to customers, by Saturday night.

Omaha’s Eppley Airfield was closed for a time and more than 35 flights were delayed or canceled because of the storms, which rolled through at around 5-p.m. Seven aircraft were damaged, and one Southwest Airlines pilot was struck by hail as he walked off a plane and onto the jet bridge. He was taken in serious condition to a local hospital.

In Council Bluffs, baseball- and softball-size hail knocked out 19 skylights and three classroom windows on the St. Albert Catholic Schools campus. Several cars in the parking lot were hit. School officials say about 25 volunteers worked to clean up the debris, and cover the broken windows and skylights.