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Clarinda man to lead state board


July 9th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

John Lisle

John Lisle, president of Lisle Corp. in Clarinda, has been named chairman of the board of directors of the Iowa Department of Economic Development. Lisle told the Omaha World-Herald that his term as Chairman may be cut short, under Governor Branstad’s state government restructuring plan. Lisle told the paper Friday “A new board will get picked when the change goes into effect. We’ve been told it probably won’t happen until the fall or later.”

The 15-member state board meets monthly to review D-E-D projects which are eligible for grants, loans or tax incentives under the state’s economic development incentives rules. Lisle said eight to 10 new projects are considered each month. Lisle was first appointed to the board when it was created 10 years ago,  by former Goveror Tom Vilsack.

Lisle was honored earlier this week at the Governor’s Volunteer Awards ceremony in Storm Lake for his decade of work on the Department of Economic Development board.

Changes to Iowa license plates to begin next week


July 8th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

IA license plate - current design

New IA license plate - black letters

AMES, Iowa – July 8, 2011 – The Iowa Department of Transportation announces that, beginning July 11, 2011, the color of the alpha-numeric characters and other text on newly issued license plates will change from dark blue to black.

This change affects only standard plates and specialty plates that have a blue and white background. This does not affect specialty plates that use a special color for the alpha-numeric characters as part of their design, such as collegiate plates and firefighter plates.
Changing to black will increase the contrast with the background and make the alpha-numeric characters easier to read, which is important to law enforcement.  It will also make plate production more consistent and cost-effective. This will not affect the design on the plates.


RAGBRAI on the Roof event in Atlantic


July 8th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

RAGBRAI is less than two weeks away, and the local organizing committee is hoping to get the community excited about the event. T-shirt sales are in full swing, and Hy-Vee will host a special promotion on Friday, July 15 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We’ll have members of the Atlantic RAGBRAI Organizing Committee on top of the roof cycling all day,” says Kipp Harris, General Chair. “We’re hoping everyone will come to the store, purchase a t-shirt, and help us get everyone excited about this event.”

T-shirts featuring the “Cokes, Spokes & Wonderful Folks” logo will be available for sale for $12 and $14. Youth and adult sizes are available in both gray and black.

Locals who wear the t-shirt on Sunday, July 24 will get free entry into the beer garden and entertainment area next to the Rock Island Depot. Admission without the shirt is $5.

Iowa 2 reduced to one lane between New Market and Bedford beginning July 12


July 8th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

CRESTON, Iowa – July 8, 2011 – Road construction work will reduce Iowa 2 to one lane
between Taylor County Road N-26 (near New Market) and Iowa 148 (near Bedford)
beginning Tuesday, July 12, weather permitting, according to the Iowa Department of
Transportation’s (DOT) Creston construction office.

Flaggers and a pilot car will be used to control traffic during the closure. The
roadway will return to normal traffic patterns when workers are not present. This
portion of the project is expected to be completed by late July.

The Iowa DOT reminds motorists to drive with caution, obey posted speed limit and
other signs in the work area, and be aware that traffic fines for moving violations
are at least double in work zones. As in all work zones, drivers should stay alert,
allow ample space between vehicles and wear seat belts.

Harlan company awarded bid for flood mitigation effort on I-29


July 8th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

AMES, Iowa – July 8, 2011 – The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) held an
emergency bid letting earlier today (Friday) pertaining to work related to the Missouri River

As a flood mitigation effort, the highway grade of southbound Interstate 29 will be
raised about one foot using hot-mix asphalt from milepost 103 to 104 in Monona
County, south of the Blencoe interchange. The length of the project is approximately
4,200 feet. 

The Iowa DOT received three bids for the project. The apparent low bidder is Western
Engineering Co. Inc. of Harlan. Their bid was $1,189,650.55. They will have 10 days
to complete the work after the project is started. 

Governor Branstad has signed a Proclamation of Disaster Emergency conditionally
suspending, for this specific project, the Iowa law that imposes a $1 million
emergency letting limitation. If not suspended, the law would have hindered or
delayed restoration of this critical highway and bridge. 

Emergency work is necessary to prevent flooding from potentially inundating the
roadway at this location.



July 8th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS - A wastewater discharge in the city of Council Bluffs started early
Friday morning after sand plugged collection pipes on the west side of town.

The sand came from a private pumping station at the River Bend apartment complex
near 36th  Street and Avenue G.

City staffers found that the private pumping station was taking on groundwater and
sand through a crack or break in the complex's wet well. The city discharged
untreated wastewater to prevent sewer backups.

It took about 13.5 hours to clean out several blocks of sand-clogged pipes, ending
the discharge early Friday afternoon. An estimated 122,000 gallons of untreated
wastewater was discharged to the Missouri River.

The city was working with the apartment manager to have wastewater hauled directly to
the Council Bluffs wastewater treatment plant until repairs are completed.

Iowa joins search for missing Minnesota woman


July 8th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

ROCK VALLEY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa authorities have joined in the search for a missing Minnesota woman.

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation says Friday that it is helping Minnesota law enforcement in its search for 41-year-old Lucia Perez of Worthington, Minn.

She was reported missing at the end of June. Authorities say she may have traveled to Rock Valley, Iowa, on June 27 with Bernardino Ramirez-Perez in a maroon Buick Century.

Perez was last seen wearing a denim skirt, a black short-sleeved blouse and carrying a black backpack.

Residents are asked to call local authorities if they see Perez or Ramirez-Perez.

Ag disaster declaration OK’d for 6 Iowa counties


July 8th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An agriculture disaster declaration has been approved for six western Iowa counties affected by flooding along the Missouri River.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the disaster designation Friday for Freemont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie and Woodbury counties.

Gov. Terry Branstad says in a news release that the designation will allow farmers in those counties to receive assistance through federal emergency loans.

The USDA also named Cass, Cherokee, Crawford, Ida, Montgomery, Page, Plymouth and Shelby counties as contiguous disaster areas, allowing farmers in those counties to be considered for assistance.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the Obama administration realizes federal aid will be necessary until conditions improve and farmers recover their losses.

Ag secretary questions Corps on Missouri flooding


July 8th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has taken the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to task for its handling of the Missouri River in a letter questioning its decision not to release more water from dams earlier in the spring to prevent prolonged flooding this summer.
The river is near historic flood levels along the more than 800 miles it stretches from the Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota to its confluence with the Mississippi River. More than 560,000 acres in seven states have flooded, including nearly 447,000 acres of farmland, Vilsack spokesman Justin DeJong said. The flooding followed unexpected spring rains and the melting of a deep snowpack in the Rocky Mountains.
Vilsack outlined his concerns in a three-page letter sent to Major Gen. Meredith W.B. Temple, the acting commander of the Corps, and obtained by The Associated Press. Although Vilsack said he wasn’t in a position to judge how the Corps handled its dams, he asked pointed questions about the agency’s decision not to release more water earlier and criticized it for not providing farmers and ranchers with more up-to-date information.
His comments add to a growing chorus of officials questioning the Corps’ handling of the situation. U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., announced Friday that a bipartisan group of 14 senators from Missouri River states has requested a Senate hearing on the Corps’ management of the river. Vilsack noted the Corps said in a March 3 report in the Omaha World-Herald that there was no need for early releases from the Gavins Point Dam and there would be little flooding unless the region received a lot of rain.
Corps spokeswoman Jasmine Chopra defended the agency’s management of the river, saying it released more water than usual from Missouri River dams last fall and during the winter and this year’s flooding was unprecedented. However, she also said the Corps will take another look at its response when the river recedes.

The Missouri is expected to remain near record flood stage into the fall.

Gov. Terry E. Branstad orders flags at half-staff to honor U.S. Army Capt. Matthew Nielson


July 8th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry Branstad has ordered all flags in Iowa be flown at half-staff beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 8, 2011 until 8 a.m. on Monday, July 11, 2011 in honor of United States Army Captain Matthew Nielson, 27, formerly of Jefferson, Iowa. 

Capt. Nielson was killed in action on Contingency Operating Logistics base Shocker while deployed to Iraq for Operation New Dawn. Capt. Nielson was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, U.S. Army, Fort Hood, Texas.

The Governor’s directive applies to all U.S. and state flags under the control of the state. H.R. 692, signed in 2007, requires federal government agencies in the state to comply with the Governor’s Executive Order that the U.S. flag be flown at half-staff in the event of the death of a member of the Armed Forces. 

Flags will be at half-staff on the State Capitol Building and on flag displays in the Capitol Complex, and upon all public buildings, grounds, and facilities throughout the state. Individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the same length of time as a sign of respect.