Friday, December 23, 2011
Year In Review: A Monthly Recap A detailed look at 2011
January a tumultuous start to the year Month marked by 2011’s first murder, heated school district meeting MEGAN PARROTT MEGAN.PARROTT@NONPAREILONLINE.COM
The first baby born in Council Bluffs in 2011 didn’t waste any time making his debut. Elijah Jay Dunlap, son of Shannon and Kyle Dunlap of Carter Lake, was born Jan. 1 at 1:15 a.m. at Jennie Edmundson Hospital. But along with the New Year’s new beginnings, the community suffered the loss of two longtime treasures in January: Harry McMullen and Dennis Devine. On Jan. 4, Harry McMullen, a leader in the Council Bluffs automobile business for more than 30 years, died at age 84. McMullen purchased the former Whittaker Ford of Council Bluffs with his son, Scott, in 1980. Harry and Scott operated the Ford dealership together until Harry was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in May McMullen 2010. “He had a very gentle and kind way of leading his employees and also, at the same time, he was very gentle and kind with his customers, which helped build the repeat and referral business that people need to survive in today’s economy,” said Scott McMullen, now Devine president of the family’s auto dealership. Harry McMullen was a philanthropist and a driving force in many civic organizations, his son said, working with Omaha Masonic groups and the Boy Scouts. He loved golf, collected antique cars and enjoyed being with his family. Harry McMullen’s widow, Erma McMullen, 86, died on Aug. 2. Scott McMullen described his mother as very much a “behind-the-scenes” woman. Community champion Dennis Devine, 71, died on Jan. 10. Devine was a retired firefighter and antique dealer, but was more widely known as the “Purple Martin Man” or “Johnny Cash’s biggest fan.” He worked tirelessly for 17 years to have Council Bluffs and southwest Iowa named an official Purple Martin capital. His work paid off when Mayor Tom Hanafan made the proclamation on April 20, 2007. While he was devoted to martins, he had room for another love: Johnny Cash. Devine met the singing legend for the first time on Feb. 26, 1960, during Cash’s performance at the former Paramount Theater in Omaha. It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship between Devine and the “Man in Black.” Through Devine’s efforts, Council Bluffs is one of two cities worldwide with a street named in the singer’s honor, and the RailsWest Railroad Museum has a collection of Cash artifacts. In September 2004, Devine was inducted into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame. Rocha Tammy L. Rocha, 39, was stabbed to death on the night of Jan. 14. At around 6:30 p.m. Rocha was found lying in the street at the corner of 35th Street and Fifth Avenue with multiple stab wounds. She
On Jan. 28, Efrain Umana, at left, was found guilty of sexual abuse charges. Several victims from the pastor’s former church, Templo Monte Horeb, above, had accused Umana.
‘We shouldn’t always believe those in a high position, or with power. No matter how hard it is, go by what is true. The truth comes out sooner or later’ – A teen girl who was the victim in the seconddegree abuse conviction of Efraim Umana
A woman looks over a handout during the third and final public meeting for the proposed extended Council Bluffs Community School District calender. Speaker after speaker pleaded that the school board leave the calendar alone during the meeting that night. The 5-2 decision by the school board to continue the traditional calendar followed the wishes of the crowd. was transRocha over the ported to theft of a cell the phone and Nebraska some jewelry, Medical according to an Center arrest affidavit. where she The four indilater died. viduals were The each sentenced next day, to prison in Bryan Reeves Long Woolsoncroft Lisa Reeves Council 2011. Bluffs Police arrested Clarence L. WoolsonRocha had been living with her cousin, croft, 47, and Lisa A. Reeves, 22, on first- Dale Brown, and his wife, Peggy, before her degree murder charges. Eric E. Long, 32, and death. The Browns said they devastated Bryan E. Reeves, 43, were arrested for the when they heard the news. same charges later that week. “She’d do anything she could for anybody,” Woolsoncroft, Lisa Reeves, Long and Brown said. “She was a very caring person.” Bryan Reeves allegedly conspired to assault Terrance Burnett, 21, was convicted of
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first-degree murder in the death of 23-yearold Dustin Jones, on Jan. 21. Burnett stabbed Jones at a party, shortly after 2 a.m. on Dec. 12, 2009. Burnett was sentenced to 50 years in prison. Greg Jones, Burnett’s attorney, said his client would appeal the verdict. A Jan. 25 vote ended a contentious period that began in November 2010 for the Council Bluffs Community School District. Speaker after speaker pleaded that the school board leave the school calendar alone during the meeting that night. The 5-2 decision to continue the traditional calendar followed the wishes of the crowd. Board members Dave Coziahr and Bill Grove opposed the decision. The school board had asked district Superintendent Martha Bruckner for alternate calendar options as one way to improve student achievement, and four possible calendars went before the board. Two were dropped immediately because of community opposition. Bruckner said the alternate calendar discussions were worthwhile, quoting former professional hockey player Wayne Gretsky: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” On Jan. 28, Efrain Umana was found guilty of three of the four sexual abuse charges he faced in the Pottawattamie Country Courthouse, including second-degree sexual abuse, third-degree sexual abuse and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. The 55-year-old was found not guilty of a second count of assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. He faced similar charges – firstdegree sexual assault of a child – in Douglas County, Neb. A teen was the victim in the second-degree abuse conviction. The other victims were members of the pastor’s former church, Templo Monte Horeb. The teen said perhaps it is a lesson others can learn from. “We shouldn’t always believe those in a high position, or with power,” she said. “No matter how hard it is, go by what is true. “The truth comes out sooner or later.” Fourth District Court Judge Richard Davidson sentenced Umana to 35 years in prison on April 13. Bill McGinn, Umana’s attorney, said the conviction would be appealed.
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YEAR IN REVIEW
2C Friday, December 23, 2011
The Daily Nonpareil
February was a fun time for schools Iowa Western unveils new nursing facilty, receives funds for design technology program MIKE BROWNLEE MBROWNLEE@NONPAREILONLINE.COM
School issues and more made up the news in February. Iowa Western Community College unveiled a new nursing facility and received funds for a design technology program in Atlantic. On Feb. 21, IWCC dedicated its $5.8 million Center for Advanced Nursing and Allied Health Education. The new facility will allow more nursing graduates at Iowa Western, and up-to-date technology, including state-of-theart simulator labs, will make IWCC “one of the premier nursing education facilities in the country,” said Dan Kinney, president of the college. The center includes 27,850 square feet of renovations, more than 4,000 square feet of new space at Ashley Hall, four surgery tech classrooms, 10 simulator classrooms, a new resource and media library, three debriefing rooms, an EMT training room and a lab for medical assisting. Funding included a $1.1 million grant from the Iowa West Foundation, a United States Department of Health and Human Services Grant Award of $718,740, an award from the state of Iowa for $366,667 and money from a
December 2007 bond issue. The showpiece of the IWCC Center for Advanced Nursing and Allied Health Education may be the simulation center, in which interactive mannequins are programmed to respond like human beings. “The human simulators talk. One speaks in Spanish. We can create real-life situations,” IWCC Director of Nursing Sue Willms said. “This is awesome. We’re very excited.” Down U.S. Highway 6, officials at the Iowa Western Cass County campus in Atlantic campus celebrated a design technology program. The degree program is the first of its kind at a two-year community college in the United States. “These are the jobs of the future,” Gov. Terry Branstad said during a ceremony on Feb. 17 at the school. “As we work to attract more jobs to Iowa, knowing there’s an employment pool being trained with this technology will be a great asset for our state.” Siemens PLM Software awarded the school an in-kind software grant with a commercial value of $65.2 million, which Iowa Western will use to establish the design technology degree program.
Senior nursing student Melissa Svajgl of Bellevue, Neb., explains treatment of a traumatic amputation to Lou Caparelli, left, and Ken Petersen during the open house at the Iowa Western Community College Center for Advanced Nursing and Allied Health Education Feb. 21. The new facility allows more nursing graduates at Iowa Western. Product lifecycle management, or PLM, technology is used by companies around the world, according to Salim Rahimi of Siemens. He explained that the software automates design technology from concept, to use to retirement. For example, in the past, automobile company engineers sketched a design, which led to a small-scale model, followed by a full-size clay model, then product testing and eventually full-scale production. Rahimi said that Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan
and other automobile companies are now able to do the planning steps on a computer, up to and including stress testing of parts. In addition to cars, Rahimi said, the software is used to design cameras, cell phones, spill-proof bottles, clothing and more, by companies including Boeing, Procter & Gamble and others. Iowa Western students will use the same technology. On Feb. 16, Council Bluffs officials announced they’d monitor lead levels in air over midtown for at least the next three years.
The monitoring is a result of recent data from the area that showed slightly higher lead levels in the air than federal government standards allow, Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials said at a public meeting. Last year, data showed that Griffin Pipe Products on Ninth Avenue exceeded new lower lead levels established by the federal government, DNR air quality specialist Jim McGraw said. Lead levels up to .26 micrograms of lead per cubic meters of air were recorded several times, above the .15 level established by the federal government in 2008, McGraw said. Previously, the standard was 1.50 micrograms of lead per cubic meters of air. The DNR had known about lead being emitted at Griffin Pipe over the years, though the level was always under the old standard, said Public Health official Bart Nighswonger. After the .15 level was established, the DNR felt a closer look at the Griffin operation was needed, he said. At the same time, the company took its own action to reduce its lead emission. “When Griffin Pipe realized there was an issue, they submitted plans to DNR to install new measures to collect that lead before it leaves their property,” Nighswonger said. The most recent monitoring showed levels below the .15 standard, he said.
“Since January and February, everything has been fine,” Nighswonger said. “It looks like their efforts have corrected the problem.” Because of the higher levels detected last summer, the DNR is required to monitor the area for the next three years, McGraw said. “As long as there is compliance with the federal standards there shouldn’t be any health issues,” said Nighswonger, who does the actual monitoring for the city. Feb. 14-20 Council Bluffs celebrated Random Acts of Kindness week. At Carter Lake Elementary the Compliment Kids celebrated all year long. “As teachers, students, parents and staff pass by, the kids give out free compliments, just to be nice,” school counselor Denise Beyenhof said. At 3:30 p.m. the halls fill up and the compliments begin to flow. “Hey, you’re awesome.” “I like your backpack.” “You’re a nice teacher.” Beyenhof started the compliment campaign last year after reading an article about two college students at Purdue University who positioned themselves in the center of the campus each week and complimented passersby. “I thought, ‘We can do that,’” Beyenhof said. She decided the Carter Lake students could brighten someone’s day while learning how “to do the right thing and treat people right.”
March marked by serious incidents, high honors TIM JOHNSON TJOHNSON@NONPAREILONLINE.COM
Several serious incidents either occurred or were resolved during March. Terrance Burnett, 21, was sentenced to 50 years in prison March 2 by Fourth District Court Judge Greg Steensland after his conviction for seconddegree murder in the death of 23-year-old Dustin Jones. Burnett stabbed Jones at a home at 609 S. Eighth St., shortly after 2 a.m. on Dec. 12, 2009. Burnett must serve 35 years before being eligible for parole. Andrew Schlichtemeier was sentenced to 50 years in prison March 24 by Harrison County District Court Judge Jeffrey Larson for killing four motorcyclists. Schlichtemeier had pleaded guilty to driving drunk when his pickup truck veered into four oncoming motorcyclists on Interstate 29 near Little Sioux on Aug. 9, 2010. The Iowa State Patrol had said his blood-alcohol level measured .373 percent. The four riders – Jay Bock of Omaha; Steven Benscoter of Pacific Junction; and Dale Aspedon and Dennis Chaney, both of Glenwood – were almost home from their trip to Sturgis, S.D. In a plea deal, Schlichtemeier will serve 50 years – two consecutive 25-year sentences and two more 25-year sentences to be served at the same time. He faced four counts of vehicular homicide, each carrying a penalty of 25 years. Christopher L. Hyde, 33, was arrested March 8 after an altercation at his residence resulted in the death of an Omaha man. Council Bluffs police responded to 4501 Apache St. shortly before 11:30 p.m. Criminal Investigation Division Sgt. Dave Dawson said when officers arrived, Robert C. Chapin III, 44, was found dead in the kitchen. Sgt. Chad Meyers said Chapin had one gunshot wound in the head and one in the foot. After interviews with detectives, Hyde was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder, Meyers said. A Council Bluffs man died March 10 in a head-on collision on 221st Street south of Council Bluffs. Robert Swaink, 75, died from injuries sustained when his pickup was struck by a semi driven by Marlin Gafford, 28, of Mineola, according to the Iowa State Patrol. The state patrol
Andrew Schlichtemeier was sentenced to 50 years in prison March 24 for killing four motorcyclists. stated that Gafford was southbound on 221st Street and Swaink was northbound when Swaink entered the southbound lane and his truck was struck by the semi. He was transported by medical helicopter to Creighton Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. A Shenandoah man drowned March 11 after his kayak capsized in an old sand pit at a Page County park. Fon Takara Fominyen, 32, received CPR on site and was flown to an Omaha hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to a news release from the Page County Sheriff’s Office. Law enforcement officers from the Shenandoah Police Department and Page County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to Rapp Park at 4:40 p.m. on a report of a kayak floating upside-down on the water. When the first law enforcement officers arrived at the park, they saw an individual struggling to stay above water and then go under about 150 meters from the shore. Dive teams searched the lake and recovered an adult male. Deputies arrested Michael Norman, 39, of Avoca on March 19 for attempted murder after an altercation between him and his girlfriend’s ex-husband, James Harriman, 51, of Avoca, according to Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker. James Harriman and Tonya Harriman have three daughters together, who live with him. Tonya Harriman reportedly spoke with him about having one of the daughters over. He told her he’d bring the daughter over and instructed his ex-wife and Norman not to come to his home. They came anyway, and she spoke to her ex-husband on the front porch,
with Norman waiting in a vehicle. Danker said that Norman exited the vehicle and got into an altercation with James Harriman. Rep. Mark Brandenburg, 56, R-100th District, was transported to Creighton University Medical Center after complaining of chest pains during the March 12 Legislative Coffee. Fellow lawmaker Mary Ann Hanusa later told The Daily Nonpareil that Brandenburg had suffered a heart attack. Hanusa said that shortly after 10 a.m., Brandenburg told her he wasn’t feeling well and stepped outside the public library meeting room to get some fresh air. A few minutes later, a Chamber of Commerce official rushed into the room and notified fire and rescue personnel who were present to go out to the library entrance. Brandenburg was then transported to Creighton. The Lewis Central school board voted March 7 to demolish most, but not all, of the old Central Elementary School building. The 1960s-era building has been vacant for years, no longer meets today’s building standards and fire codes and would cost too much to renovate. However, the gymnasium portion will be saved. It’s connected to Lewis Central Middle School, which needs gym space. The board also voted to save a classroom section connected to the gym. Gary Bowen of the architectural firm of Bahr Vermeer Haecker told board members the decision to renovate the gym and classroom area would cost $873,806. Keeping the gym and the adjoining classroom wing will mean reinforcing the structure, bringing it up to code, adding a new roof and ramps, and installing fire sprinklers, fire and smoke detectors and heating and air conditioning units. Dr. Sally Prickett of Glenwood was appointed to the Iowa Natural Resource Commission. She was one of many southwest Iowa residents appointed to Iowa boards and commissions by Gov. Terry Branstad. A former Council Bluffs youth pastor allegedly told the teens he is accused of sexually exploiting that he was trying to help them gain “sexual purity in the eyes of God.” Brent Girouex, 31, was arrested on 60 counts of suspicion of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist. He told
Council Bluffs Police detectives in February that starting in 2007 he had sexual contact with four young men who he knew while he was a youth pastor for Victory Fellowship Church. Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber said the number has risen since Girouex first talked with police on Feb. 16. Now, Wilber said there are at least eight people who have come forward. The Rev. Lonnie Parton of Victory Fellowship Church said church leaders were stunned when four young men came forward with allegations against Girouex in February. Once Parton learned of the allegations, he confronted Girouex and told him he needed to go to the police and make a confession. He did so on Feb. 16. Girouex allegedly said as a youth pastor he felt it was his duty “to help (a teen) with homosexual urges by praying while he had sexual contact with him.” A disaster drill to be conducted March 26 by the Pottawattamie County Emergency Management Agency and the Homeland Security Exercise & Evaluation Program at Treynor High School was canceled after drawing fire for the scenario precipitating a fake shooting at the school. A release issued by the Emergency Management Agency stated that during the 24 hours before the announcement, the Treynor School system had received threats to their employees and buildings. After consultation with the
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Treynor School District and the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office, a joint decision was made to cancel the exercise. Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker said at least one threatening telephone message was left at Treynor High School before school started on March 25. The mes-
sage alluded to the schoolshooting scenario coming true at the school. Danker said three deputies were posted at the school all day. The plan for the exercise included a student with ties to a white supremacist group who acts out his anger about illegal immigration.
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YEAR IN REVIEW
The Daily Nonpareil
Friday, December 23, 2011 3C
April a devastating month for region’s citizens Tornado, soldier’s death, train derailment made for a somber month TIM ROHWER TROHWER@NONPAREILONLINE.COM
Some disturbing news on efforts to make driving in Council Bluffs safer was released in early April. Only 76 percent of frontseat occupants observed at seven locations throughout the city were buckled up, according to a seatbelt survey conducted by the Council Bluffs Police Department on March 23. A similar survey taken in August 2010 found 88 percent of those observed had their seat belts on. Statistics show that the survival rate in a wreck is greatly increased by wearing seat belts, police said. Meanwhile, some pleasant, peaceful news about Council Bluffs and Iowa was also announced around the same time. In a poll released by the United States Peace Index, Iowa was ranked the ninth most peaceful state in the nation. The ranking came from data that looked at homicides, other violent crimes, the jailed population, the ease or difficulty of access to small arms and the number of police officers in the state. Nebraska was 11th in that poll. The community of Mapleton in northern Monoma County sustained severe damage in an evening tornado on April 9. Entire blocks were smashed and at least 100 homes became unlivable. Fortunately, nobody was killed. Perhaps the big story, though, was the outpouring of help that came quickly. Within less than 48 hours, 500 signed in at the community center to help victims. Some of them came as far as Omaha. About 70 students from Sloan offered their assistance. One of them, Michala Bohall, said, “I’d expect somebody to help me if something happened. Everyone should help out. People don’t deserve this.” Students in the Iowa Western Community College culinary program raised $1,056 for the Mapleton victims. Council Bluffs residents learned in mid-April that Marvin Arnpriester, a longtime civic and religious figure in the community, was moving with his wife to Arizona to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Arnpriester served on the Council Bluffs School Board for 13 years and was serving as its president when he announced his departure. He also retired as senior pastor of Broadway United Methodist Church. The Arnpriesters were moving to Chandler, Ariz., because “that’s where four grandchildren, two sons and a daughter-in-law live.” Tragedy occurred in the Red Oak area on April 17 when a rear-end collision involving two trains killed two crewmembers. Patricia Hyatt and Tom Anderson, employees of BNSF Railway Co. and both of Creston, were the victims. The committee overseeing the Council Bluffs version of the Eagles of Pottawattamie County project in mid-April selected the RailsWest train museum, 1512 S. Main St., as the site for the 42-inch high bronze bald eagle statue. “Freedom With Honor” is the theme for the Council Bluffs version that honors men and women from the county in the military. They came by the hundreds, even thousands, to pay their respects to Sgt. Brent Maher, who was laid to rest on April 22. The Council Bluffs native died on April 11 serving his country in Afghanistan. Approximately 800 filled the Thomas Jefferson High School Fieldhouse for his funeral with 250 waiting outside to offer their condolences. Thousands lined the procession along Broadway and Kanesville Boulevard to Garner Township Cemetery. The burial ceremony included a 21-gun salute and the bagpipe playing of Amazing Grace. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad attended the funeral and burial ceremonies. Maher left behind his wife, Brenna, and three children. The Iowa West Foundation
in mid-April announced the awarding of $2.8 million in grants to assist 20 nonprofit organizations and Maher government entities. The largest grant, $1.2 million, was to the Green Hills Area Education Agency for preschool program in school districts in Pottawattamie County. One might say Thanksgiving came early this year for a Council Bluffs lawmaker. On March 12, Iowa Rep. Mark Brandenburg became ill during that day’s Legislative Coffee. Stepping outside the room for some fresh air, Brandenburg’s condition got worse. He was suffering a heart attack. Quick work by local rescue personnel saved his life. In fact, doctors said had Brandenburg arrived at the hospital just 10 minutes later, he might not have made it. On April 21, Brandenburg said thanks to those who rescued him by presenting them with framed certificates of appreciation during ceremonies at the main Fire Station. “I appreciate what you did,” he told the rescue personnel. “It was awesome. You are always there when we need you.” Despite tough economic times for so many, the generosity of local residents remained strong. This was evident when officials of the city’s senior center announced on April 21 its 2011 gift campaign surpassed
WHNS file photos
Above left, Tyler Martensen, Tristan Golden and Taylor Swearingen, Mapleton, do the best work in town, according to the neighbor who is having the kids help clean up the mess at his residence in Mapleton. Only two sides of his garage remained after a tornado passed through the Monona County town on April 9. Above right, Railroad and emergency personnel stand by the derailment of the maintance equipment train where two Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway trains collided west of Red Oak April 17. Two crew members died in the wreck as both trains were headed east. the $50,000 goal. “Our total in the campaign was $53,000 – 108 percent of our $50,000 goal,” said Tom Jensen, The Center’s executive director. “Achieving our goal will allow The Center to reach out to even more low-resource seniors with disabilities and to maintain our policy that The Center turns no one away for inability to pay.” In late April, copper thieves damaged two stadium lights at Council Bluffs Stadium. According to information provided to police, the thieves entered the stadium’s baseball complex overnight one evening and removed two light pole covers, exposing the copper wiring. The thieves then removed as much wiring as could be reached. Police estimated the loss at $1,500. Hundreds of millions around the world, and no doubt many in Council Bluffs, woke early on the morning of April 28 to witness the wedding of Britain’s Prince William to longtime sweetheart Kate Middleton.
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4C Friday, December 23, 2011
The Daily Nonpareil
May begins with monumental death announcement Month proved a busy one for area schools DENNIS FRIEND DFRIEND@NONPAREILONLINE.COM
May started out with an end of a long pursuit. President Barack Obama announced the May 1 death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, a powerful symbol of terrorism and the man behind the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Tom Gouttierre, dean of international studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies, called Bin Laden’s shooting death at a heavily guarded compound in Pakistan during a battle with American military forces “a major blow for al-Qaida.” Goutierre said going after bin Laden, hunting him down, killing him and “dumping his body at sea, I think it was the right policy, although some may find it abhorrent.” President George W. Bush had called for the capture of bin Laden “dead or alive” shortly after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. At the time, the former president said “I want justice,” and added, “There’s an old poster out West, as I recall, that said, ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive.’” Bin Laden has been the face of evil in the United States ever since, Gouttierre said. A jury on May 2 found Clarence Woolsoncroft guilty of second-degree murder and two lesser crimes in the stabbing death of 39-year-old Tammy Rocha. Woolsoncroft told Council Bluffs Police detectives he took Rocha to 3510 Fifth Ave., on Jan. 14, because Lisa Reeves – who also faced murder charges – told him she would “make it worth his while.” Woolsoncroft said he assumed she meant she would give him drugs or money. Prosecutors accused Reeves of stabbing Rocha. The second-degree murder decision was vacated after Fourth District Court Judge Timothy O’Grady granted Woolsoncroft a new trial in July. He eventually plead guilty to willful injury causing serious injury with a dangerous weapon, willful injury causing bodily injury and three misdemeanors, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Brian Reeves, Lisa Reeves’ father, received a 30-year sentence on May 10 for his role in the killing after pleading guilty to willful injury, kidnapping and robbery charges. The Council Bluffs School Board voted to implement a new student code of conduct for the 2011-12 school year. “We really tried to lay out a problem-solving approach,” district Executive Director of Student and Family Services Ron Diimig said. The initiative included efforts to teach appropriate behavior, but also included punitive actions for violating school rules that could include suspension or expulsion. For a less-serious infraction, the penalty might be as simple as an apology. The code of conduct offers 25 different steps or interventions. The students “are going to face consequences designed to change their behavior and create a safe, respectful environment,” Diimig said. Also, the Council Bluffs School Board on May 10 approved a $285,635 bid to renovate the Bloomer Elementary School parking lot and playground. Carley Construction of Treynor submitted the lowest of three bids, according to Paul Kline of HGM, the district’s project manager. The Bloomer project began at the end of the 2010-11 school year and involved replacing the old parking lot with a new 41-stall parking lot. The reconfigured playground remains compli-
YEAR IN REVIEW Flooding concerns dominated June
ant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, but was redesigned to allow increased parking. Graduating Council Bluffs seniors said goodbye to their high school days. Abraham Lincoln High School sent 329 seniors to May commencement ceremonies, followed by 289 seniors from Thomas Jefferson High School. Council Bluffs Community School District officials reported the 618 members of the Class of 2011 have earned about $8 million in scholarships. Lewis Central High School’s graduating class included 185 seniors, and the district reported almost $1 million in scholarships awarded to the graduates. St. Albert Catholic High School held ceremonies for 46 graduating seniors. The class earned more than $287,500 in scholarships. At Iowa School for the Deaf, 10 graduates received diplomas. The Lewis Central School District added four new names to its Wall of Fame. Former teacher Gary Fiscus, former principal Gene Sanders, and 1973 Lewis Central High School graduates Diane Wiese Clark and Steve Clark were inducted May 16. While the Wall of Fame was established to honor outstanding alumni and educators, the ceremony marked the first time in 15 years that new names went up on the wall. All four honorees showed up to mingle with about 100 visitors who came to a pre-ceremony open house. Sanders, the first principal at the newly-opened Lewis Central Junior-Senior High School, recalled, “We opened the door in August of 1961, and we still had some construction guys running around and finishing up.” Sanders was principal from 1961-1969. Fiscus was a vocal music teacher at Lewis Central High School for 31 years, retiring from Lewis Central in 2005. Steve Clark and Diane Wiese Clark both graduated in 1973 and went on to successful careers in business and engineering. They now live in Arizona, but contribute two $4,000 scholarships to Lewis Central each year.
City unites in effort to hold back the river CHAD NATION CNATION@NONPAREILONLINE.COM
Concern over rising water was the focal point of the month of June in southwest Iowa. As the Missouri River advanced and devoured earth, citizens and officials prepared for the worst. The month started with a display of unity not seen in some time. More than 900 volunteers arrived at the Mid-American Center to fill sandbags June 4 after a call was put out for volunteers. Several words were tossed around to describe the turnout of citizens to fill sandbags, but the one that kept being repeated was “amazing.” A line formed in the parking lot at 8 a.m. as the event started, and an eager group of volunteers patiently waited, filled sandbags, and then filled more sandbags until shortly after 3 p.m. The city planned to fill sandbags over two days, but the group produced more than 200,000 sandbags the first day, causing planners to cancel the second-day session. The sandbags would be used to protect public infrastructure like sanitary and sewer pumping stations. Strangers worked side-byside. Some passed small talk and others worked in silence. Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker shoveled sand with prisoners from the Pottawattamie County Jail and the Fourth District Regional Correctional Facility. “This is evidence of the character of our citizens,” Council Bluffs City Council member Lynne Branigan said. “Everyone has come out to help each other.” By June 6, the first levee failure on the lower Missouri River occurred near Hamburg. The Hamburg levee partially collapsed in two spots southwest of town just across the border in Missouri, prompting a mandatory evacuation of about 20 percent of the community, or about 240 residents. On June 13, Council Bluffs officials released plans for all citizens in case
Staff Sgt. Eric Freitag, left, and Pvt. Shea Grove with the Iowa National Guard ensure markers are still in place before the night shift takes over at the Missouri River levee on June 16. of levee failure in the city. Officials broke the western and southern portions of the city into four areas so that if the residents of one or two of them had to be evacuated, just those would be notified instead of a general evacuation of larger areas. Three different warning levels were also established to help people gauge the situation better, said Fire Chief Alan Byers. The Iowa Department of Transportation had already closed both lanes of Interstate 29 between milepost 55 – North 25th Street in Council Bluffs – and the I-29-U.S. Highway 30 interchange at milepost 75 near Missouri Valley. Interstate 680 was closed from exit 21, near Beebeetown, to I-29 near Loveland and from the I-29-I-680 interchange, exit 61 near Crescent, to North 30th Street in Omaha. By June 22, Byers issued the first-level warning of a slowly developing event that may impact the levee system or a flood control mechanism. Byers said a culmination of issues led the city to raise
the alert level, including: ■ The river rising over the 34-foot threshold. ■ Gavins Point will increase levels to 160,000 and remaining at that level through August. ■ Above normal precipitation forecast for the watershed
above Council Bluffs. ■ The duration of seepage and high groundwater levels inside the levee, which could cause addition risk. Additionally, Byers said that “significant number” of the population surveyed the previous weekend wasn’t aware of the risk level or the flood event. On June 28, President Barack Obama issued a disaster declaration to provide federal funding to eligible public entities and selected nonprofit agencies to cover costs incurred for implementing emergency protective measures and for the anticipated need for removal of debris. The declaration covered Pottawattamie, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona and Woodbury counties. While flooding was on everyone’s mind, there were other events taking place. On June 1, alumni of all ages arrived to see Gunn Elementary School one more time
JUNE/See Page 10C
YEAR IN REVIEW
The Daily Nonpareil
Friday, December 23, 2011
July a month of salutations, farewells a key person in getting the Iowa West organization to where it is today,” Mathiasen said. “As one of its first executive directors, Chub was at the front of the evolution of Iowa West into one of the largest private foundations and grant makers in this region. After more than a year of repairs, the swimming pool at Kirn Middle School reopened on July 26. The Council Bluffs Community School District and the YMCA have partnered to share the pool, meaning students and the public will use it. The district will own it, and the YMCA will manage it. “This partnership will help ensure the investment in the pool will provide tremendous opportunities for our students. At the same time, it provides previously unforeseen benefits for the community as a whole,” district Superintendent Martha
It was 31 days of homecomings, goodbyes in southwest Iowa MEGAN PARROTT MEGAN.PARROTT@NONPAREILONLINE.COM
Hello, goodbye. July 2011 witnessed some gleeful salutations, various sighs of relief and a few somber farewells. On July 4, spectators, numbering in the hundreds, were respectfully silent when Brenna Maher uncovered the name of Sgt. Brent Maher from the granite wall of Veterans Plaza. His name is the first entry in a section headed “War On Terror.” Brent Maher, 31, of Council Bluffs died on April 11 in Patkya Province in Afghanistan while on patrol mission with the 168th Infantry of the Iowa National Guard. Maj. Bill Backhaus, commanding officer of the 168th Regiment of the Iowa Army National Guard, said in his keynote address: “Sgt. Maher joins over 500 patriots on this wall. Generations to come will hear his heroic legacy.” Sgt. Maher was the only member of the Iowa National Guard’s 1-168th Battalion’s Bravo Company who did not come home. Two weeks after the Fourth of July ceremony in Bayliss Park, Brenna Maher sat in the front row to welcome the rest of the company home. A crowd of about 1,500 crying spouses, cheering friends and flag-waving children gathered at the Shenandoah High School gymnasium on July 19 to honor their return. In mid-July, family and friends struggled to come terms with the deaths of Jessica Weinfurtner and Elizabeth Chadwick. Chadwick, 19, of rural Crescent, and Weinfurtner, 18, of Council Bluffs, died July 17 in a two-vehicle crash on the Old Lincoln Highway at about 11:14 p.m. Chadwick was driving a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse – with Weinfurtner as a passenger – southbound when she drifted off the road to the right. Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker said Chadwick overcorrected and entered the northbound lane, colliding with a Ford Econoline airport shuttle van. Six passengers in the shuttle van received non-life threatening injuries. Chadwick’s dance coach, Kerri Jo Watts, remembers her as a girl who wouldn’t back
Bruckner said. And finally, a warning to those who may want to vandalize the historic Black Angel statue in Fairview Cemetery: You will be coming face-to-face with a talking camera. The $7,000 camera, purchased through the efforts of the Lincoln Fairview Neighborhood Association and the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation, was installed in early July. “It’s a great piece of art, so priceless,” said Ken Freudenburg, president of the Lincoln Fairview group. “It’s a national treasure” Daniel Chester French, whose notable creations also included the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C, sculpted the memorial to Ruth Ann Dodge. “We’re lucky to have her,” Freudenburg said of the Black Angel. “We need to protect her.”
Above, Jocey Walton, 4, welcomes her father Jamie Walton home as the Bravo Company 1-168th Battalion of the Iowa Guard's Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division returned home to Shenandoah High School July 19. Unfortunately, not all from that company returned. Two weeks before the company’s homecoming, a Fourth of July ceremony was held to unveil the name of Sgt. Brent Maher on the granite wall of Veterans Plaza in Council Bluffs. Maher, 31, of Council Bluffs died on April 11 in Patkya Province in Afghanistan. Brenna Maher, below at right, uncovered her husband’s name at the ceremony.
down from a challenge. “She had a really great attitude and wasn’t afraid,” Watts said. April Pelander, Weinfurtner’s former co-worker, said the girl had a magnetic personality. “When (Jessica) walked in she lit up the room,” Pelander said. An investigation by the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office indicated Chadwick was texting shortly before the crash. Texting while driving “has devastating consequences,” Danker said. “You can’t emphasize enough how important it is to focus on road conditions. Pay attention to what you’re doing while you’re driving.” Council Bluffs also saw the departure of a prominent nonprofit figure. Todd Graham, president and CEO of Council Bluffs’ Iowa West Foundation since July
2003, announced his decision to leave the organization on July 20. Graham returned to his hometown of Richmond, Va., to lead the Robins Foundation. The opportunity was, for a variety of reasons, too good to pass up, Graham said. “While it will be great to be closer to family, this is an exciting professional opportunity for me,” he said. “I’m always wanted to work in – to help improve – my hometown.” Graham’s final day at Iowa West was Sept. 1. His work with the Robins Foundation started in October. “Todd made our foundation a significantly better organization,” said Chuck Smith, chairman of the Iowa West Foundation Board. “He took the organization to a higher level by encouraging us to think strategically on how to help meet critical needs in our area.” Jerry Mathiasen, former senior vice president of Iowa West, is serving as interim CEO. The Iowa West Foundation also lost one of its early supporters. George S. “Chub” Beno, former president and owner of Beno’s Department Store, died July 11 at the age of 82. The popular department store, which once stood just east of Scott Street and West Broad-
way, was “the place to go,” Mayor Tom Hanafan said. As a young man, Hanafan admired Beno and sought his guidance while considering a run for City Council. Beno was a leader in Council Bluffs; he was a volunteer or board member for the Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity, the Council Bluffs Senior Center, Iowa Retail, United Fund, Boys & Girls Clubs and The Salvation Army. He also served on an ad hoc committee formed by the chamber in 1983 just after Iowa legalized pari-mutuel gaming, said Mathiasen. “First and foremost, Chub was a great guy, but also he was
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YEAR IN REVIEW
6C Friday, December 23, 2011
The Daily Nonpareil
Region battles nature in August Flooding and hail some of the month’s notable stories MIKE BROWNLEE MBROWNLEE@NONPAREILONLINE.COM
In August, the flood fight continued, like it did throughout the summer. A fire at C.B. Stadium, a major hailstorm and new schools also marked the month. On Aug. 21, Council Bluffs Police arrested a pair of teen boys for their alleged involvement in a fire that caused thousands of dollars in damage at C.B. Stadium, home of the Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln high school football teams. A 17-year-old and 14-yearold were arrested for the crime, which occurred on the morning of Aug. 14. Police Detective Jon Clark said the boys admitted to their involvement in the case, but he wouldn’t say how the fire started. The blaze began around 3:30 a.m. in an office trailer near Pirate Cover Water Park. The fire damaged equipment and supplies in a nearby storage shed, including two John Deere mowers, a front-end loader, a Gator utility vehicle, a walk-behind mower and a number of blowers and weed eaters, along with painting equipment and supplies. Investigators assessed the total damage at about $100,000. The Council Bluffs Community School District owned both buildings. Troublesome news about our state’s health was discussed. Iowa ranked 19th nationally in the 2010 GallupHealthways survey for overall well-being. According to Denise Pfeifer, director of public relations for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, two-thirds of adults in the state are overweight or obese. “Iowa’s health is going in the wrong direction,” she said during a stop in Council Bluffs on Aug. 16. “If we don’t do something to reverse this trend we’re going to find ourselves at an economic disadvantage,” Pfeifer said, noting quality of life for the two-thirds could decrease. “We’ve got to do something dramatically different.” That something different is Gov. Terry Branstad’s plan to make Iowa the healthiest state by 2016. The Healthiest State Initiative will be funded by $25 million from Wellmark, though the final $10 million will be contingent on certain benchmarks being met, Pfeifer said. Making healthy lifestyle choices could save the state $11 billion in health care costs and $5 billion in lost productivity over the next five years, according to the governor’s office. The beginning of the new school year in mid-August meant some students entered a building for the first time, while others entered a newly renovated building. “Look at your new school, it’s very pretty,” Carter Lake Elementary Principal Kim Kazmierczak told youngsters on the first day at the new facility at 1000 Willow Drive. The district demolished the 60-year-old former elementary and replaced it with a two-story, 63,000-squarefoot school. “This is what the community needs,” Carter Lake school interventionist and reading specialist Mindy Alitz said. In Council Bluffs, students and teachers celebrated the unveiling of College View Elementary, located at the corner of College Road and Valley View Drive. The two-story, 67,000-square-foot facility resembles Carter Lake Elementary and both schools accommodate about 500 students. Hoover Elementary
Two teen boys were arrested for their alleged involvement in a fire that caused thousands of dollars in damage at C.B. Stadium, pictured above. The fire occurred on the morning of Aug. 14; the pair was arrested on Aug. 21.
A hail storm on Aug. 18 left 22,000 MidAmerican Energy customers without power and countless vehicles without windshields and back windows, including this row of cars at Iowa Western Community College.
‘In one row, every one of the cars had broken windows. In terms of vehicles, the damage (was) monumental.’ – Don Kohler vice president of marketing and public relations for Iowa Western Community College
reopened after a year of renovations, while Longfellow Elementary students saw the finished product of a renovation project that occurred during the previous school year. In August, the flood fight continued, as Iowa National Guard members made daily patrols of levees in the Council Bluffs area. Guard members marked and noted irregularities or defects then notified the proper entities. Their role was finding flaws, not fixing them. The month saw water releases at Gavins Point Dam decrease. “There is finally an end in sight,” Pottawattamie County Public Information Officer Matt Wilber said at the time. In other weather news, a hail storm on Aug. 18 left 22,000 MidAmerican Energy customers without power and countless vehicles without windshields and back windows. About seven homes near Dodge Park Apartments were evacuated by boat after two pumping stations lost electricity. Hail stones reportedly “tennis ball-size” pummeled the area, including students moving into Iowa Western Community College. “In one row, every one of the cars had broken windows,” said Don Kohler, vice president of marketing and public relations for the school. “In terms of vehicles, the damage (was) monumental.” Summing up the thoughts of the region, Mayor Tom Hanafan said after the storms: “It’s incredible. This is the summer from hell.” Let’s end August with something fun. Alegent Health Mercy Hospital officials showed off the latest tool for joint replacement patient rehab: the Nintendo Wii. “Exercise can just be so
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In August, Alegent Health Mercy Hospital officials showed off the latest tool for joint replacement patient rehab: the Nintendo Wii. Barb Popp enhances her bowling skills while playing the Nintendo Wii as part of her physical therapy at the hospital while physical therapist Stephanie Denton looks on. boring and we wanted to make it more fun,” said Andrea Bolte, director of orthopedics at the hospital. Patients spend 45 to 60 minutes in “joint camp” each morning, doing conventional rehab exercises. Then it’s time for the Wii. Barb Popp had her left knee replaced on a Monday and was bowling – Wii bowl-
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YEAR IN REVIEW Recovery efforts begin as water recedes in September
Friday, December 23, 2011
The Daily Nonpareil
School board elections also held this month TIM JOHNSON TJOHNSON@NONPAREILONLINE.COM
Area residents breathed a sigh of relief in September as floodwaters finally began to recede. However, many had to roll up their sleeves and dig in to the arduous task of cleaning up. The Iowa West Foundation on Sept. 7 announced a $515,000 grant for the American Red Cross Loess Hills Chapter for flood recovery assistance in southwest Iowa and eastern Nebraska. The grant includes $265,000 for critical client services; $150,000 for clean-up kits; $50,000 for a Community Organizations Active in Disaster coalition; $30,000 for Red Cross support, Salvation Army canteen supplies, the United Way of the Midlands’ 2-1-1 call center and the city’s volunteer center at First Christian Church; and $20,000 for the Loess Hills Chapter’s supply of food and water. The Iowa Department of Transportations took special measures to speed up restoration of damaged sections of area interstates. The DOT awarded a “lump-sum” contract for reconstruction of Interstate 680. The three-mile section from the Missouri River to the junction with Interstate 29 was closed as a result of this summer’s flooding and forced motorists to take lengthy detours to Omaha’s airport and points west. Work on Interstate 29 was also put on the fast track. On Sept. 15, MFT Construction poured new concrete on Old Mormon Bridge Road west of Crescent. Iowa roads officials on Sept. 23 reopened a 16-mile stretch of Interstate 29. The stretch of I-29 from Interstate 680 – the Loveland interchange to Council Bluffs – had been closed since June 9. County roads also sustained major damage in the flood. A gap in the road at 145th Street measured just over 83 yards on Sept. 15, according to Pottawattamie County Engineer John Rasmussen. Rasmussen said he was finding the roads in better shape than expected after sitting underwater for almost 100 days. As of Sept. 21, Pottawattamie County Planning Director Kay Mocha had visited between 27 and 29 residences that were affected by this summer’s flooding of the Missouri River. Of those, she estimated that 12 had substantial damage, which means they were more than 50 percent destroyed by the flooding. In the Sept. 13 school election, incumbent David Coziahr and board member Bill Grove won re-election to the Council Bluffs School Board, while Troy Arthur and Joe Hotz will join the board. In the Lewis Central election, three candidates ran unopposed for three positions. District 1 incumbent Amie Studer received 125 votes, District 3 newcomer Tracy Bruun received 128 votes and at-large incumbent Ron Stazzoni received 128. Treynor School Board member Jerry Hempel retained his seat. Newcomers Randy Young and Dave Paulsen join Hempel on the board. Matt Bowen joins the Riverside School Board, while incumbents Dan Ives, Jeff Buckingham and Greg Hansen retained their seats. Allen Cordes and Russell Sturm retained seats on the AH-S-T School Board and welcomed newcomer Kimberly Wise. One incumbent and one newcomer won running unopposed in the Tri-Center School District, with Valerime Wham joining the school board and Mike Pettit retaining his seat. Three incumbents – Neil Darrington, Bill Bracker and Becky Constant – retained their seats in Underwood. Walnut had three incumbents running unopposed.
The Old Mormon Bridge Road, pictured here in September after being under water for nearly 100 days, is just one of the many roads that has been severely affected by the Missouri River flood. Shannon Griffith, Bryan Simonsen and Ron Hamilton were elected to another term. Five candidates sought three full-term, at-large seats on the Woodbine School Board. Newcomer Beth Fouts joins incumbents Todd Heistand and Amy Sherer In the Logan-Magnolia School Board race, newcomer Matt Pitt joins incumbents Kelly Gochenour and Dan Cohrs. In Cass County, four candidates vied for three full-term, at-large spots on the Atlantic School Board. President Phillip Hascall retained his seat, while Rodney Hartwig joins the board. Incumbent Dennis Davis also retained his seat. Josh McLaren, running unopposed, won a seat on the Atlantic board that will expire in 2013.
Griswold featured an unopposed race, with Clarion Campbell and Scott Hansen retaining their seats and Douglas Lembke and Scott Peterson joining the board. Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Jim Matthai turned in his badge Aug. 31 after 30 years of protecting and serving. Matthai’s colleagues held a retirement party for him Sept. 2. John Reynolds, a 24-year member of the Sheriff’s Office, replaced Matthai as Chief Deputy. A Council Bluffs man accused of first-degree murder said, “things got out of hand” when he shot and killed 44year-old Robert Chapin III on March 8. Christopher Hyde, 33, was sentenced to 30 years in prison Sept. 20.
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YEAR IN REVIEW
8C Friday, December 23, 2011
The Daily Nonpareil
Frustrating detours ended in October Months, years of reconstruction end for Madison Avenue, Broadway viaduct TIM ROHWER TROHWER@NONPAREILONLINE.COM
October is breast cancer awareness month and local supporters of that cause held numerous activities and fundraisers to get the public involved. Some 200 people attended a kickoff event at Barley’s on Sept. 30 where an estimated $4,000 was raised. Another big event occurred on Oct. 14 when Jennie Edmundson Hospital’s Breast Health Center held a “Pink Out Day” in the 100 block of West Broadway. At those events and throughout the month, supporters wore pink, the color of breast cancer awareness. Officials at the Union Pacific Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs announced on Oct. 12 that the 200,000th visitor had arrived that day. The visitor, J.P. Jeffrey of Omaha, received a model locomotive and other gifts. Since the museum opened in 2003, people from all 50 states and 70 countries have walked through its doors to learn the history of the Union Pacific Railroad and how trains shaped the development of this country. After being closed since early May for reconstruction, Madison Avenue was opened to two-way traffic on Oct. 13. Throughout the work, northbound traffic was detoured to nearby streets. The project involved widening that busy avenue from Bennett Avenue to Timbercrest Drive. A sidewalk on the right side of the street was also built. On the morning of Oct. 14, a man attempted to rob two local Peoples Bank branches. It began around 10:30 a.m. when a white man, believed to be in his 30s, walked into the branch location at 333 W. Broadway and demanded money. After getting a bag of bills, the man fled on foot. About 15 minutes later, a man fitting the same description entered another Peoples
After two years of construction, the new and much improved Broadway viaduct, above, was opened to all traffic on Oct. 21. And, after being closed since early May for reconstruction, Madison Avenue, above right, was opened to two-way traffic on Oct. 13. branch at 1600 W. Broadway. After demanding money, a female teller said she would have to go in the back at which time the man ran off. After two years of construction, the new and much improved Broadway viaduct was opened to all traffic on Oct. 21. As some 100 dignitaries and everyday folks looked on, a 1926 Ford Model T driven by longtime businessman Bill Ballenger ceremoniously opened the two westbound lanes for motorists going in that direction. Eastbound motorists continued to use the viaduct during the construction period, but westbound motorists relied on detours. The $16.6 million viaduct was needed because the original structure, completed in 1955, was nearing the end of its life.
“This is a vital link across the city and well worth the investment,” said local resident Barry Cleaveland, a member of the Iowa Department of Transportation Commission. In its third quarter distribution of grant money, the Iowa West Foundation on Oct. 19 announced that $3.4 million was awarded to 30 nonprofit organization and government entities. A house fire claimed the life of a Council Bluffs woman on Oct. 19. Yon-Sook Kim, 77, died at a local hospital after firefighters found her overcome by smoke in her home on Spruce Street. The fire damage was limited to the kitchen where firefighters believe a cooking accident caused the blaze. Republican presidential
candidate Mitt Romney visited the Council Bluffs area on Oct. 20 to bolster his campaign for the January Iowa caucuses. First, though, he met with business leaders in Treynor, where he mentioned his support for ethanol that brought applause. “Ethanol is an important part of our energy solution,” Romney said. “For me, ethanol is part of our national security. I would like to see the ethanol industry grow.” Later, he told a packed crowd at the Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce headquarters that government has to tighten its belt. “I will rein in excessive spending.” The oldest commercial block in Council Bluffs, dating back to the 1800s, got 21st century technology in October. Ceremonies were held in the 100 block of West Broadway on Oct. 26 when free wifi became available there. This availability, said City Council member Lynne Branigan, allows people to sit outdoors on this block while eating, drinking or relaxing, open up their laptops, hook up to the wi-fi network and surf the Internet. The event was hosted by Google, which installed the wi-fi capability. Good news on the local economic scene was released in late October. According to CoreLogic, a data and analytics company, the rate of Council Bluffs and Omaha area
foreclosures amid outstanding mortgage loans was 1.32 percent, lower than the 1.45 percentage rate in December 2010. It was also much lower than the 3.43 percent national rate. “The number of people behind on their mortgage is down, which is a good sign,” said Realtor Jay Kathol. Some 200 conservativeminded people attended a dinner on Oct. 28 to show support for Col. Al Ringgenberg in his attempt to unseat State Sen. Mike Gronstal in
the 2012 election. Even U.S. Rep. Steve King got into the fray. “I will help to unseat Mike Gronstal.” It was fitting that right before Halloween, members of Nevermore Paranormal, a ghost hunting investigation team, spent an evening at the Council Bluffs Squirrel Cage Jail to see if ghosts live there. Apparently, they do. “There’s something there,” said Nevermore member Angie Oehler. “There’s something there, sharing the space with the living.”
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YEAR IN REVIEW
The Daily Nonpareil
Friday, December 23, 2011
December was rough on law enforcement Construction on the minds of many Month begins with trooper car in November being hit during
November saw new ownership step forward at The Daily Nonpareil and victims see justice in the case of a youth pastor who sexually exploited them. A former Council Bluffs youth pastor accused of sexually exploiting teens as he tried to help them gain “sexual purity in the eyes of God,” pleaded guilty Nov. 22 to three charges. Brent Girouex, 32, was initially charged with 61 counts of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist and 28 counts of third-degree sexual abuse related to acts he is alleged to have performed while he was a youth pastor with the Victory Fellowship Church. Girouex pleaded guilty to thirddegree sexual abuse and two similar sexual exploitation charges. Girouex faces a maximum of 17 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 7. Also on the crime beat, the Iowa Court of Appeals upheld the kidnapping conviction of a retired Army officer who broke into a Council Bluffs apartment and held a woman at gunpoint. Retired Lt. Col. Robert Butts was sentenced to 25 years in prison in December 2010 after he was convicted of second-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary and five other charges stemming from a Nov. 11, 2009, burglary at a Sherwood Plaza apartment. Butts said he did not remember what happened that night. A psychiatrist testified that Butts had a sleepwalking disorder, complicated by post-traumatic stress disorder, Gulf War Syndrome and closed head injuries suffered as a child. Those factors in combination with drinking alcohol, stress at work and depression, led to Butts’ dissociative state, the psyciatrist testified. At the time of Butts’ sentencing, Fourth Judicial District Judge James Heckerman said the case was unlike any he had seen in his more than 35 years of law, but he was required to sentence Butts to 25 years in prison for the conviction of second-degree kidnapping. Butts appealed the jury’s decision, but the Court of Appeals upheld the conviction. The Berkshire Hathaway company announced an agreement to purchase The Omaha World-Herald Co. from its employee shareholders and the Peter Kiewit Foundation. The Omaha World-Herald Co. owns several subsidiaries, including The Daily Nonpareil, as well as daily newspapers in Kearney, Grand Island, York, North Platte and Scottsbluff, Neb. On Nov. 21, Council Bluffs Community Health Center officials broke ground for construction of a new health center near South Sixth Street and Ninth Avenue. John Dalton, chairman of
the CHC Board, said the center is expected to open in November 2012 as the All Care Health Center, which “will give us a little better identification with the community.” Mayor Tom Hanafan said the new center will help more area residents gain access to affordable health care. The project will be paid for with mostly federal money. The 18,400-squarefoot building, which will be almost twice the previous facility in the Omni Centre Business Park, will contain an in-house pharmacy and space for medical, dental and behavioral health providers. It will be all on ground level, with surface parking nearby. ConStruct Inc. submitted the low bid of $4.1 million for the project. However, the total cost with equipment and furnishings is expected to be about $5.6 million. Most of the project will be paid for with a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2010, the Council Bluffs Community Health Center served 6,465 patients, of whom 57 percent were uninsured. It is estimated the new building will allow the center to serve an additional 1,500 patients a year. Lewis Central Community School District expects to open a new Educational Resource Center by this time next year. The school board voted Nov. 21 to put the project out for bid. Gary Bowen of the architectural firm of Bahr Vermeer Haecker said getting bids back by Dec.14 and voting on a contractor would mean construction could begin “by the end of the year.” The facility to be built in front of Titan Hill Elementary School is expected to cost about $2.1 million and the planned 8,616-squarefoot facility should be ready to occupy by December 2012. The current ERC at 1600 E. South Omaha Bridge Road would continue to be used as the district’s transportation facility. The Council Bluffs School Board approved a plan to give an extra $1,000 to teachers and administrators who provide advance notice of their plans to resign or retiree. “We’ve done this several years in a row,” Superintendent Martha Bruckner told the board before the vote. Advance notice allows the district to determine if the open positions should be filled, and allows the district to post available positions earlier. Early notice also means the district can get a jump on hiring from a larger pool of qualified candidates. The “Early Notification Incentive” was available to licensed staff members who alerted the district by Dec. 30 that they plan to resign or retire and to be eligible, the teachers or administrators must have worked in the district for at least three years.
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December started as a poor month to drive a police vehicle. The driver of a stolen vehicle was arrested after an Iowa State Patrol trooper was injured Dec. 1 during a pursuit. Trooper Tim Sieleman attempted to make a traffic stop on a stolen truck near the intersection of South Expressway and 23rd Avenue at about 11:30 a.m. The driver of the truck – later identified as Carl E. Pelander, 36, of Council Bluffs – refused to stop. A pursuit ensued and Pelander drove the truck through the median and continued north in the southbound lanes. The truck collided with Sieleman’s pursuing cruiser, injuring the trooper. Sieleman was taken to Mercy Hospital in Council Bluffs with non-life threatening injuries. Trooper Scott Miller said Sieleman’s cruiser was struck after he positioned it between the truck and oncoming traffic. “Witnesses said if it was not for the trooper’s cruiser being there, they would have been hit head on,” Miller said. “This driver was extremely reckless and willing to do whatever it took to get away; it didn’t matter whose lives were in danger, troopers or innocent people.” Sieleman was released from the hospital the day of the collision. Miller said he suffered soreness to his upper torso and burns from the airbag deploying in his cruiser. Authorities said Pelander continued to refuse to pull over after the collision with Sieleman’s cruiser, and only stopped after being boxed in by law enforcement at 24th and M streets in Omaha. Pelander will likely face charges in both Iowa and Nebraska. One day later, on Dec. 2, a Council Bluffs Police cruiser looked like it was involved in a monster truck rally. Two men were arrested after a stolen truck tried to drive over a police cruiser. Council Bluffs Police, Iowa State Patrol troopers and
The driver of a stolen vehicle was arrested after an Iowa State Patrol trooper was injured Dec. 1 by a collision during a pursuit. Trooper Tim Sieleman attempted to make a traffic stop on a stolen truck, but the driver of the truck refused to stop. A pursuit ensued and the driver drove the truck through the median and continued north in the southbound lanes of the South Expressway. The truck collided with Sieleman’s pursuing cruiser, injuring the trooper. members of the Metro Area Fugitive Task Force all converged on Burger King at 1529 W. Broadway shortly before 1:30 p.m. Council Bluffs Police Capt. Todd Weddum said members of the Metro Area Fugitive Task Force saw a brown Dodge Ram truck as they were driving around the city looking for wanted subjects. As they followed the truck, it turned into the drive-thru at Burger King. As the driver was ordering, a Council Bluffs Police cruiser – driven by Officer R.G. Miller – pulled in front of the truck. “As the cruiser attempted to block the truck, the driver put it in gear,” Weddum said. Miller was unable to exit the vehicle before the truck drove onto the hood of the cruiser. The passenger side front wheel came to rest inches away from where Miller was sitting, shattering the windshield. The driver of the truck, Roger Madsen, 28, of Council Bluffs, and a passenger in the truck – Jeffrey Vosler, 27 – both fled the truck. Weddum said additional officers in the parking lot caught Madsen immediately. Vosler was apprehended hiding in the 1300 block of Avenue B. Miller was checked out by paramedics at the scene and refused transport to a hospital. Madsen had an outstanding warrant for probation violation. In addition to the warrant, Madsen was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer, aggravated assault on a peace officer, first-degree theft, possession of meth and seconddegree criminal mischief.
Vosler was arrested on suspicion of eluding and interference with official acts. On Dec. 1, a Glenwood woman died after a singlevehicle wreck at the 46-mile marker of Interstate 29, just south of Council Bluffs. A 2005 Dodge Neon, driven by Eileen J. Walpus, 47, of Glenwood, left the roadway. The southbound car entered the west ditch, went through a fence and continued out of the ditch onto Beacon Lane. The car crossed Beacon Lane into another ditch before rolling onto its top. Walpus was transported to Creighton Medical Center by helicopter ambulance, and was pronounced dead at the hospital. After deliberating for more than 10 hours, a jury convicted a Carter Lake man Dec. 2 of sexually abusing a child. The jury deliberated nearly as long as the two-day trial of Martin Hiatt. Hiatt, 47, was charged with five counts of second-degree sexual abuse and four counts of indecent contact with a child. He was
found guilty on three of the second-degree sexual abuse counts and all four counts of indecent contact with a child. The child testified that Hiatt “did bad things” to her, including touching her thigh, breasts and buttocks; the girl said that Hiatt touched her inappropriately on more than 50 occasions. He is scheduled to be sentenced in March. On the lighter side, the Southwest Iowa Association of Realtors honored Dan VanHouten, 53, as the 2011 Realtor of the Year at its 99thannual Inaugural Gala Friday night at the Council Bluffs Country Club. “I really don’t know what to say,” an emotional VanHouten told the crowd of about 75. “Thank you.” VanHouten’s been the broker – overseeing about 60 agents – at NP Dodge since 1994. The Council Bluffs native entered the business in the mid-1980s. “I’m just overwhelmed by
DECEMBER/See Page 10C
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YEAR IN REVIEW
10C Friday, December 23, 2011
The Daily Nonpareil
Bus route change kicks off June JUNE/From Page 4A
On Dec. 5 Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said a huge gap exists on funding plans for the Federal Emergency Management Agency between the U.S. House and the Senate, though it’s hoped funding for the U.S. Corps of Engineers might be approved more smoothly. Meanwhile, residents wait for help. Judi Elson looks at her buckled walls in her basement at 2643 Ave. L. She has mold and structual problems and limited help from FEMA.
December a good month for Jack Link’s, Caesars DECEMBER/From Page 1A this,” he said after the ceremony. “To me, it’s the highest honor your peers can bestow upon you.” On Dec. 6, officials and residents welcomed Jack Link’s Beef Jerky, the Wisconsinbased meat products company known for it’s “Messin’ with Sasquatch” commercials, to Underwood. About 200 people were on hand for a welcome celebration and job fair at UMBA Hall. “This is a great opportunity,” Troy Link, president and son of company founder Jack Link, said at the event. “We like to be in small towns. We’ll do our best to be a good part of the community.” Jack Link’s recently bought the vacant Oriental Trading Co. building, located along Iowa Highway 191 south of town. According to the company, the distribution and warehouse center will provide shipping, receiving and product merchandising support to customers worldwide. The facility, expected to open later this month, is projected to create 131 jobs once fully operational. “This is incredible,” said Pottawattamie County Supervisor Lynn Leaders, an Underwood resident. “It’s nice to see lights on again in that building.” Leaders said Jack Link’s arrival means a lot not only for Underwood but also for all of southwest Iowa. “This is a good boost in a down economy,” he said. In government, on Dec. 5 Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said a huge gap exists on funding plans for the Federal Emergency Management Agency between the U.S. House and the Senate, though it’s hoped funding for the U.S. Corps of Engineers might be approved more smoothly. There’s also concern about rebuilding Missouri River levees around Council Bluffs to meet Corps requirements. These issues were brought up in Council Bluffs at a Missouri River flood recovery meeting during which area officials warned full recovery appears to be a long way off.
“We are locked in a battle in Washington,” Harkin told reporters following the meeting. And the Council Bluffs City Council on Dec. 12 initiated an effort to obtain federal funds to help buy properties ravished by Missouri River floodwaters this past summer. The vote came despite objections from homeowners who live in the impacted areas of Gifford Road and Emil Lane in the southern portion of the city. The city will seek funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. Under the program, 75 percent of the money to purchase properties would come from the federal government, 10 percent from the state of Iowa and the remainder from the city. No specific amounts were discussed at the council meeting. At the same meeting, the council followed the recommendation of a five-person committee and chose Caesars Entertainment Corp. as the new management firm for the city’s Mid-America Center pending completion of financial negotiations agreeable to the city and Caesars. If negotiations are successful, Caesars, which owns Harrah’s and Horseshoe casinos in Council Bluffs, will replace SMG as the MAC’s management firm next July 1. The contract is expected to be for five years.
and to reminisce with old friends and former teachers. Gunn was at North Broadway and Linden Street since 1924, built to replace the original Gunn School built nearby in 1880. On May 27, at the end of the school year, Gunn closed, a victim of age and 21st century educational needs. The Council Bluffs Community School District closed Gunn because of declining enrollment and the need for an upgraded building. The district decided it made little economic sense to renovate the old facility. Students who would have attended Gunn now attend the newly renovated Hoover Elementary or the newly built College View Elementary School in the fall. On June 6, service on new Metro bus routes in Council Bluffs began. The new routes, labeled the Blue and the Yellow Routes, were approved by the City Council in March. The Blue and Yellow Routes replaced various routes that had served city residents for the past several years and provide new service to Iowa Western Community College and the new shopping centers in southwest Council Bluffs – Metro Crossing and the Marketplace. Both routes continue to use West Broadway to connect downtown Council Bluffs and downtown Omaha. The purpose of the new routes is to increase ridership on the Metro system. One of four people arrested in the Jan. 14 death of 39-yearold Tammy Rocha was sentenced to 50 years in prison June 9, after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Lisa Reeves, 22, was accused of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, firstdegree robbery and conspiracy in Rocha’s death. Reeves, her father Brian Reeves, and two other men were arrested in the hours and days following Rocha’s death. Reeves’ attorney, public defender Greg Jones, said his client pleaded guilty because of the possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. “We wanted to make certain she didn’t get life, and we felt there was a good possibility,” Jones said. “Plus, she is taking responsibility for her actions.” A Macedonia man was charged with attempted murder after shooting his ex-girlfriend in the shoulder on June 17. Craig Finney was found in Morgan
Dorothy Johnson, center, the oldest surviving teacher from Gunn Elementary catches up with her former kindergarten students Christine Wiskus, left, and Lois Hanusa as they look through Hanusa's class news letter during an open house held in the former Council Bluffs school's gymnasium on June 1. County, Mo., on June 18. The area is west of the Lake of the Ozarks, more than 300 miles from where the shooting occurred. Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker said he was shocked Finney made it as far as he did. “To lose that much blood, suffer that serious of an injury, I’m surprised he was able to drive all the way down there,” the sheriff said. Finney, 50, was charged with shooting Patricia Harker, 48, at her rural Minden home in the early hours June 17. Finney arrived at Harker’s rural Minden home around 2 a.m., where the woman and Benjamin Shimmin, 27, of Elkorn, Neb., were inside. Upon Finney’s arrival, Harker told the 27-year-old to lock himself in the bathroom and call 9-1-1. Finney broke into the home and, after arguing with Harker, fired a shotgun through the bathroom wall, missing Shimmin, Danker said. Shimmin heard two other gunshots, Danker said, one of which struck Harker in the shoulder. The third and final shot by Finney was allegedly self-inflicted. Finney would plead guilty
to attempted murder on Nov. 29, and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Finally, after spending a 172-day session – the third
longest ever – the Iowa Legislature adjourned on June 30, barely eight hours before the new budget year was set to begin.
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12C Friday, December 23, 2011
The Daily Nonpareil
he reviews are in, and it’s unanimous: "None Less Than Heroes – The Honor Flight Story" is a powerful and spellbinding documentary that follows a group of Iowa’s World War II combat veterans. For the first time, these men of honor tell remarkable stories of courage and heroism while facing death at every turn.
Riveting interviews, combined with actual combat footage from the National Archives – highlight a very special trip that Iowa’s veterans took to Washington D.C. to visit the World War II Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. Now available on DVD, and just in time for the holidays, this documentary, narrated by
Academy-Award® nominee Gary Sinise, has received rave reviews from across Iowa, and the nation. Here’s the best part; all net proceeds from DVD sales will be returned to the nonprofit entity to support future Honor Flights for surviving World War II veterans. God bless all of our nation’s veterans and armed forces personnel.
On sale now for $9.95 at Casey’s General Stores and Hy-Vee or online at www.honorflightfilm.org All net proceeds go directly back to the Central and Western Iowa Honor Flight Network to allow additional surviving veterans the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. and to visit the World War II Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery, all free of charge. ©2011 Central Iowa Honor Flight All Rights Reserved. A Public Service Announcement Courtesy of the Daily Nonpareil