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Amtrak cites flooding for Iowa ridership drop


October 24th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Amtrak ridership dropped nearly 16 percent over the past 12 months in Iowa, and officials blame most of the decline on Missouri River flooding. Officials say nearly 58,000 passengers got on and off Amtrak trains at six Iowa stations for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. That’s 10,000 fewer passengers than the previous fiscal year. Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari says that more than 90 Iowa-bound Amtrak trains were canceled this year, primarily because of flooding in western Iowa.

Amtrak’s California Zephyr stops in Burlington, Mount Pleasant, Ottumwa, Osceola and Creston. The Southwest Chief stops in Fort Madison. The trains run between Chicago and the West Coast. Amtrak reported a record 30.2 million passengers nationally for the past 12 months.

FCC considers change that could boost Iowans’ phone & internet bills $30-50/month


October 24th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Leaders of Iowa’s rural telecommunication companies are sounding off about a plan that would shift money away from a federal fund that benefits broadband service. The Federal Communications Commission wants to move more than 15-billion dollars away from the Universal Service Fund, a small surcharge that helps subsidize phone service to high-cost rural areas. Chuck Deisbeck, CEO of Western Iowa Networks — based in Breda, says the plan would deal a blow to rural economic development.

Deisbeck says, “The FCC needs to understand that if they don’t move forward with some of the rules that we have asked for, they’re going to fail to advance broadband in rural America, they’re going to fail to promote jobs, and that’s going to have a huge economic impact on the entire country.” If the FCC votes this week to move the money from the Universal Service Fund, or USF, Deisbeck says phone and internet rates in Iowa will continue to rise.

He says studies show the benchmark rates will significantly jump $30-50 per month. Diesbeck says doing away with the money from the USF will mean the rural phone companies will have trouble maintaining and upgrading their current networks. Deisbeck says many people in the rural U-S depend on broadband services and shifting money away from the fund would have a great impact.

“What’s really scary is when the FCC thinks of Des Moines and Ames and Iowa City as rural,” he says. “That’s not what we consider rural. If they think those areas are rural, then what do they think about the real rural areas in Iowa?” He says farming operations and telecommuters are two of the biggest users of broadband in rural America, and the FCC doesn’t understand what rural Iowa is like. Tom Conry is the general manager of the Farmers Mutual Cooperative Telephone Company of Harlan. Conry says a national wireless broadband plan, like the FCC is proposing, would heavily rely on infrastructure serviced by rural telephone companies.

Conry says the FCC believes wireless broadband is the end-all solution, but cell towers and wireless connection points wouldn’t have a broadband connection if it wasn’t for the fiber provided and serviced by the rural companies. Deisbeck and Conry are encouraging people to go to the website “thegreatdisconnect.org” and contact their local legislator by clicking on the “Take Action” button.

(Radio Iowa)

Truck driver saved from burning rig by samaritans in Council Blufffs


October 24th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

A Russian immigrant to the U-S who lives in Washington State and works as a truck driver, is grateful to be alive after he was pulled from the cab of the burning semi he’d been driving, which crashed on the west side of Council Bluffs, Sunday morning. Pavel Plevako somehow lost control of the semi on Interstate 29 at around 9:15-a.m., between Avenue G and the 35th Street exit.

Bob and Pat Tallant, of Omaha, told the Omaha World-Herald the couple was traveling to a friend’s house when they saw the semi pull onto the interstate, miss the traffic lane and run into a bridge. The impact tore the cab away from the trailer, causing the cab to land on the driver’s side. The couple said they pulled over to help, along with another driver who was behind them.

As Plevako was trapped in the rig, the trailer caught fire, and the flames began to spread to the cab.  Using a large crowbar, Tallant, and the other, unidentified motorist pried open the passenger side door of the cab,while a third, unidentified person reached-in to pull the driver out. Two young women, one of whom was reportedly a medical student, also stopped to help and treat Plevako, who suffered only minor injuries.

The tractor and trailer were soon fully engulfed in flames, which erupted due to ruptured fuel tanks and were spread by burning crates of produce being hauled in the trailer.  The burning diesal fuel created large, black clouds of smoke, according to witnesses. The accident remains under investigation.

Plevako told reporters in broken English, that he was very grateful to those who stopped and helped him.

Body found in Mo. River in far western Fremont County


October 24th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Fremont County and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation are looking into the discovery of a body found Sunday afternoon in the Missouri River.  Authorities were notified shortly after 1:45-p.m., that a fisherman found a body floating in the river west of Percival.  Sheriff’s deputies recovered the body of an unidentified white male near the shoreline, on the Iowa side of the river. An autopsy was ordered to determine the man’s identity, and cause of death.

Brayton residents face Post Office closure


October 23rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Several western and southwest Iowa communities have held meetings recently. with regard to the possible closure of their post offices. Another meeting takes place Monday evening, in Brayton. Residents of the Audubon County town received notices and questionnaires over the past few days, pertaining to a town hall meeting to be held Monday, October 24th, at the Brayton Town Hall. The meeting begins at 7:15-p.m. Representatives with the USPS will be in attendance, to discuss the proposal to close the Brayton Post Office, and instead, provide delivery and retail services by rural delivery, under the administrative authority of the Audubon Post Office.

A few weeks ago, postal customers in Kimballton received similar notices, and a meeting to discuss the matter and rally support to save the office, was held October 4th. Other southwest Iowa post offices being studied for possible closure include Bridgewater, Cumberland, Earling, Elk Horn, Elliott, Jamaica, Lewis, Macksburg, Marne, Nodaway and Wiota.  Residents in Grant were put on notice earlier this year that they could be losing their Post Office. The could be turned into a “will be,” when the official closing was announced in August.

An appeal on that closing has been filed however, with the Postal Regulatory Commission, and a final decision on the matter is currently pending a hearing on the appeal. Earlier this Summer, Richard Watkins, spokesman for the Postal Service’s Des Moines based Hawkeye District, was quoted in the Omaha World-Herald, as saying that no offices will be closed before December.

There are nearly 270 small Post Offices around the State which could be on the chopping block. Officials say the Postal Service, which doesn’t receive tax dollars, lost $8.5 billion in its most recent fiscal year, the largest net loss in its history. It began a push in January to close 2,000 post offices nationwide (out of 32,000) in order to save money by any means possible. In July, the USPS announced that it was reviewing the use of 3,700 of its 32,000 offices nationwide.

Meetings on Missouri River plan begin this week


October 23rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Meetings begin this week on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ plan for managing the Missouri River over the next year. The first meeting will be Monday in Omaha. Others will follow through Nov. 3 in the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. The series begins as river communities clean up from record flooding. The corps released massive amounts of water from the dams along the river to deal with heavy rains and above-average snow melt.

The corps’ plan calls for drawing the reservoirs down enough to get rid of the floodwater collected this year, but the corps decided not to clear out any additional flood-storage space in the reservoirs beyond the usual 16.3 million acre feet of water.

Corning man arrested on drug & child endangerment charges


October 23rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Adams County Sheriff’s Department reports 34-year old Jayson Joyce, of Corning, was arrested Friday afternoon on drug and child endangerment charges. Officials say Joyce was arrested following a traffic stop, at around 3:15-p.m. , Friday.  Upon further investigation, and a through the use of a Ringgold County K-9 Unit, a controlled substance was located in Joyce’ vehicle.

A subsequent search warrant executed at the man’s home in Corning, resulted in the discovery and seizure of additional controlled substances, and drug paraphernalia. Jayson Joyce faces charges of Possession with the intent to deliver, Failure to affix a drug tax stamp, and child endangerment. He was being held over the weekend in the Adams County Jail,  on $20,000 bond.

7AM Newscast 10-22-2011

News, Podcasts

October 22nd, 2011 by admin

w/ Brett Johnson


Iowa’s Highway 2 to reopen Monday


October 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

NEBRASKA CITY, Neb. (AP) — A main highway that connects Nebraska and Iowa is scheduled to reopen next week after being closed by the flooding on the Missouri River.  Iowa Highway 2 between Nebraska City and Fremont County, Iowa, is scheduled to open at 4 p.m. Monday. The entrance and exit ramps connecting the highway to Interstate 29 also will reopen. Iowa transportation officials say traffic on Iowa Highway 2 will be limited to two-way traffic on the eastbound lanes. The westbound lanes will remain closed.

Company announces 131 jobs for Underwood


October 21st, 2011 by Ric Hanson

UNDERWOOD, Iowa (AP) — A snack company has announced plans to build a distribution center in the western Iowa community of Underwood. Link Snacks plans creating 131 jobs with the center. Link Snacks is a meat snack manufacturer that sells products in more than 40 countries. The company is getting financial assistance and tax incentives to acquire a building in Underwood to establish its second distribution center in Iowa. Link Snacks is investing more than $9 million in the project.

Link Snacks, Inc. was founded in 1985 and is based in Minong, Wisconsin.