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Bill addressing domestic abuse assault charges clears House panel

News

January 24th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – A House committee has passed legislation that supporters say would equalize Iowa’s criminal sentencing guidelines. Representative Ann Meyer of Fort Dodge says when defendants accused of domestic abuse assault are sentenced, current law says any related conviction or deferred judgement in the past 12 years — in any state — may to be taken into consideration. “When determining whether the current violation is a second or subsequent offense,” Meyer says. That’s not the guideline in drug-related cases, when all previous conviction may be considered.

Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell of Ames is among the handful of Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee who voted against the bill. “I am concerned about completely eliminating this second chance,” Wessel-Kroeschell says. The organization that represents about one-thousand Iowa trial lawyers opposes the bill. County attorneys and the attorney general support it and the Iowa Organization for Victim Assistance backs the bill, too.

Cass Supervisors accept Township Trustee resignation

News

January 24th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Atlantic, Iowa) – The Cass County Board of Supervisors have approved the resignation of a man who has served as the Grove Township Trustee for more than 25-years. Board Chair Steve Baier read from Robert Vernon’s letter of resignation.

Steve Bair thanked Mr. Vernon for his years of conscientious service as Township Trustee. The Board also approved the appointment of Cass County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Kennon as Zoning Administration. Once again, here’s Steve Baier.

Baier said Kennon has already stepped-up to the plate in a couple of recent Zoning matters.

In other business, the Board approved the appointment of Robert Kirchner to a Yardman’s position at a rate of $23.25/hour. The position was made vacant due to an internal Secondary Roads Dept. advancement. Kirchner currently serves as a truck driver. Cass County Engineer Trent Wolken said that in-turn, creates another opening within the Department.

They passed a Resolution awarding a contract for Bridge #319 on G-30/Highland Road over Indian Creek (west of Atlantic), in the amount of $1.861-million, to Murphy Heavy Contracting, out of Anita. Theirs was the low bid. Cass County Engineer Trent Wolken said the bids were very close to the estimate of $2.11-million. The Board discussed the future of Willow Heights. Some inquires have been made into making the former residential care facility into non-profit, Assisted and/or Independent Living-type apartments, or even a Veteran’s Home. Steve Baier said he’s received a lot of questions from attorney’s and others about the County-owned building and grounds. The facility failed to garner interest from bidders last Saturday, when the property and three other tracts were up for sale at an auction. The other tracts sold, but the building itself did not meet the minimum required bid of $250,000.

No action was taken on the matter during today’s (Tuesday’s) meeting.

Tomorrow is one-day census for homeless people across Iowa

News

January 24th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – What’s known as the Point in Time Count will be conducted tomorrow (Wednesday), involving community service agencies across Iowa who are working to gauge Iowa’s homeless population. Tanya Thielen is housing services coordinator for Upper Des Moines Opportunity, based in Graettinger. Thielen says the counts are required every year by the U-S Department of Housing and Urban Development. “The point behind the count is to get a good idea of how many people are out in our communities experiencing homelessness,” Thielen says. “The count that we get is entered into our Homeless Management Information System and those get streamed directly to HUD and that can help them determine how much and where the funding will be received throughout the state.”

The survey is done every year and Thielen says the Iowa numbers are continuing to rise. “Last year, when they conducted a Point in Time Count on a single night in January, there were 1,600 people experiencing homelessness,” Thielen says, “and 1,300 of those were residing in a shelter or another housing program, but there were still about 320 of those individuals who were literally homeless outdoors.” Upper Des Moines Opportunity serves a 12-county area in northwest and north-central Iowa and she notes, it seems like an uphill climb against homelessness.  “We do see some rises in the numbers but we’re doing the best we can with the funding we’ve got to try to fight that problem and get people housed,” Thielen says. “It’s definitely a basic need and that’s something that every human should have, so we’re doing our best to fight that battle.”

She says the results of the survey should be released in a few months.

Glenwood Police report, 1/24/23

News

January 24th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Glenwood, Iowa) – Police in Glenwood say two people have been arrested on separate charges. On Monday, 29-year-old Luke Sneed, of Pacific Junction, was arrested for OWI/1st offense. He posted a $1,000 bond, and was released. And, today (Tuesday), 30-year-old Hannah Sneed, of Glenwood, was arrested for Public Intoxication. Her bond was set at $300.

Harrison County 911 leverages new technology

News

January 24th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Logan, Iowa) – Harrison County Emergency Management Coordinator Philip Davis reports that beginning February 1, 2023, Harrison County 911 will be implementing new technology that allows 911 callers to share live videos with dispatchers. The county’s emergency services will be using “Prepared Live” to help improve the accuracy and response to 911 calls. This helps put eyes on the scene before responders can physically be on scene. Prepared Live allows dispatchers to gather important information for responders, accurately pinpoint callers’ location, and gather evidence that may be unavailable otherwise.
Davis says “This software can help with welfare checks, car accidents, fires, lost hikers, hazardous materials and other urgent emergencies. There are procedures in place for situations where the callers’ safety needs to be protected, as well. Participation in the video live stream during a 911 call is entirely voluntary and consent in required from the caller. When someone dials 911, the dispatcher can send the caller a text message with a link. Before the 911 dispatcher can view the stream, the caller must click the link and accept all permissions. Again, this new system is completely voluntary for the caller and only used with his/her permission. The dispatcher only has access during that phone call.”
In 2022 Harrison County 911 received over 1000 hang up calls. “These types of calls,” Davis says, “take up a lot of time and resources to ensure the caller did not have an emergency. The Prepared Live system also allows dispatchers to send a text message to that number to check and see if there is an emergency. This feature will save valuable time and resources as people today are more likely to answer a text message, than an unknown phone number.”
It’s important to note, according to Philip Davis, that “If you receive a text message that states this is Harrison County 911 and we received a call from this number, it is a legitimate message and requires a response so that responders are not dispatched to your location. Our goal at Harrison County 911,” he says, “is to use this new software to better serve the residents of Harrison County and ensure the safety of all our responders.”

Ringgold County man arrested on a Red Oak warrant for drug charges

News

January 24th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Red Oak, Iowa) — Police in Red Oak report the arrest Monday evening on a drug-related warrant, of a Ringgold County man. 50-year-old Darold Eugene Bredberg, of Mount Ayr, was arrested on a Red Oak Police warrant for possession of a controlled substance third or subsequent offense — a felony — and possession of a controlled substance marijuana third or subsequent offense — an aggravated misdemeanor.

Authorities say Bredberg’s arrest was the result of an investigation that followed a traffic stop near 4th and Valley Streets in Red Oak. Bredberg was taken to the Montgomery County Jail and held on $5,000 bond.

Fatal accident reported in Shenandoah

News

January 24th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Shenandoah, Iowa) — One person died in a crash Monday afternoon, in Page County. According to a social media post by the Shenandoah Fire Department, firefighters were called to the scene to the accident at around 4 p.m. The Page County Sheriff’s Office, Shenandoah Police and Page County Emergency Management also responded to the accident. Fire officials say one person was pronounced dead at the scene.

Further information–including the victim’s identity and the accident location– was being withheld pending notification of family. Additional information is expected later this morning.

Nebraska man arrested on a felony Murder warrant in Creston

News

January 24th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Creston, Iowa) – Police in Creston report a man wanted on a Felony warrant of 1st Degree Murder, in Nebraska, was arrested at around 10:10-a.m., Monday, at the Greater Regional Medical Center, in Creston. Authorities say 49-year-old Percy James Mathews Jr, of Nebraska, was arrested on the Douglas County Nebraska Warrant, and for the Use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony. Mathews was taken to the Union County Jail were he is being held on no bond waiting extradition to Nebraska.

Late Monday morning, 35-year-old Sunita Joann Phipps, of Creston, was cited at her residence, for allowing an Animal to run at Large. Phipps was released on Promise to Appear.

Iowa company plans to recycle wind turbine blades

News

January 24th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – A new eastern Iowa business will soon start recycling wind turbine blades to prevent the massive fiberglass, wood and foam blades from taking up large amounts of landfill space. Jeff Woods, director of business development at Travero, says the blades have to be handled very carefully when they’re removed from the towers, as each blade weighs between eight and ten tons. “They’ll come down in the field as a whole blade, so up to 200 foot or longer, and from there, they’re processed into sections,” Woods says. “The sections are transported to various locations around the country or they can be shredded in the field. What we’re planning on receiving is the shredded material and taking that and breaking it down into the fibers.”

Those fibers can be used in things like mortar and concrete to reinforce sidewalks, roads and floors. The balsa wood and foam inside the blades can also find new life. “Those are recycled into materials that have applications from cement finishing to soil stabilization,” he says. Travero owns REGEN Fiber which has developed what Woods calls an eco-friendly process to convert decommissioned wind turbine blades into reusable materials. A REGEN Fiber factory is being built in the Cedar Rapids suburb of Fairfax to recycle the blades. Specially-trained crews will be dispatched to take apart wind turbines, as the blades have about a 20-year lifespan.

“Once they’re down and they’re cut into sections, they feed them through — for lack of a better description — a giant wood chipper to shred it down to material that is two foot long and smaller,” Woods says. “Traditionally though, that material has been taken to other locations and maybe refined a little bit and burned in cement kilns around the country. Some of it’s been landfilled, unfortunately.” While Iowa has built a national reputation for both manufacturing and using wind turbines, Woods hopes this new venture will build on that reputation to also recycle the blades after they’ve served their purpose. He notes the company should have plenty of business for years to come.

“Research provided from Iowa State University was there are 68,000 or more wind towers in United States, three blades on each one, so over 200,000 blades that are out there turning today,” Woods says. Once the Fairfax factory is in full swing, the goal is to recycle more than 30-thousand tons of shredded blade material every year. REGEN Fiber is already recycling blade materials at a facility in Des Moines.

Travero is owned by Alliant Energy Corporation.

(Update) One person charged in fatal shooting at Des Moines alternative education program

News

January 24th, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Des Moines police say an 18-year-old is charged in the shooting deaths Monday of two teens at an alternative education program. Preston Walls of Des Moines faces two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder for a shooting that took place at the non-profit “Starts Right Here.” Police say two male Des Moines students, ages 16 and 18, were killed. Their names have not been released. The program’s founder – local hip-hop artist and activist Will Holmes, also known as Will Keeps — was also shot in the attack. He remains hospitalized in serious condition. Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie began last night’s (Monday) city council meeting addressing the shooting.

“This is another one of those events that seem to take place too often across too many communities in this country. A story that repeats itself. The tragic story of young lives taken far too soon by gun violence. Two teenagers tonight are dead because of this violence,” Cownie said. Cownie called for more gun control. “That is why as elected officials, law enforcement, community leaders, and residents we must do more to battle this issue. And never accept or dismiss teenage gun violence as simply a turbulent sign of the times. Too many young lives depend on it,” Cownie said. Governor Reynolds signed a bill into law In May of 2021 that made it easier to form publicly funded charter schools. She held the bill signing ceremony at the Starts Right Here building. Organization founder Will Keeps spoke at the 2021 event.

“We see that things are not working well for the kids, so what’s wrong with giving them another opportunity, another chance?” he asked. “I don’t see anything wrong with it.” The Starts Right Here board of directors released a statement saying they “are heartbroken and angry” that two students were shot and killed. It says their prayers are with founder and president Will Keeps, along with the families and friends of all those involved in this tragedy. Des Moines Police Department spokesman said Walls entered into a common area where all three victims were located and Holmes, attempted to escort Walls from the area. Walls pulled away from Holmes, pulled a nine-millimeter handgun, and began to shoot both teenage victims. Holmes was standing nearby and was also shot. Walls then fled the scene on foot and later fled from a car that was stopped by police, but was found and taken into custody without incident.

Additional evidence indicates that Walls cut off a court-ordered G-P-S ankle monitor, a supervised pre-trial release condition following a weapons charge, approximately 16 minutes before the shooting. Walls and both the victims who died are known gang members, belonging to opposing gangs, and evidence indicates that the shooting was committed as a result of an ongoing gang dispute. Police have two more people in custody as the investigation continues.

(Natalie Krebs of Iowa Public Radio contributed to this story)

(Note police originally called the organization a charter school, but the Des Moines School District says it is not)