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Heat extremes and explosive fire danger possible Thursday & Friday

News, Weather

August 29th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

While the upcoming Labor Day weekend usually means the unofficial end of summer, Iowa’s in for more extreme heat today and tomorrow’s forecast is even steamier. Kenny Podrazik, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, says much of the state will be in the 90s today, with triple-digits highs possible tomorrow. Podrazik says there’s a lack of moisture in the air which contributes to a rapid rise in temperatures. Today’s winds will be from the south/southwest, so temps will be shooting up quickly. Parts of six counties in northwest Iowa are under a Red Flag Warning as there is a critical risk of fire due to weather conditions.

Cass County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Kennon says the County is likely to be included in some sort of enhanced Fire Danger statement Thursday. Kennon reminds residents the County is still under a ban on open burning until further notice. Shelby County Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Seivert says Red Flag warnings may issued for the area Thursday and Friday, and for that reason, will be moving the Shelby County Fire Danger Signs into the “Extreme” category beginning at 7-p.m. Wednesday, and lasting through at least Friday evening, and for all practical purposes, the County will be in a “burn ban” beginning at 7-p.m. Wednesday. Seivert asks area fire departments to be prepared for the “Very serious situation.”

The Weather Services’ Podrazik says the predicted high for Des Moines today is 97-degrees, which is 15-degrees hotter than normal. Tomorrow may be even hotter, he says, with stronger winds up to 40 miles an hour and temps may top 100-degrees.With Hurricane Isaac churning in the Gulf of Mexico, Podrazik says Iowa should at least see more clouds with the possibility of rain Friday and into Saturday.

(Radio Iowa/Ric Hanson-KJAN)

Ericksen Trial – Day 2: Morning session


August 29th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Testimony in the trial for a Lewis man facing charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year old girl in 2011 resumed this (Wednesday) morning, in Atlantic. 52-year old Roger Ericksen was arrested last December on charges of Assault with the intent to commit Sexual Abuse, Lascivious Conduct with a Minor, and 46 Class-C felony counts of Sexual Abuse in the 3rd degree.

Jane Lowe, with the Iowa Department of Human Services in Atlantic was one of those who testified during the proceedings this morning.

Jane Lowe, IA DHS Caseworker

Lowe, who oversees Child Welfare Services and works with Children In Need of Assistance (CHINA), told the court she had been involved as a caseworker with the alleged victim of the crime since July, 2010, which is when she was assigned to her case. She said she went to the Ericksen home in Lewis on July 25th, and observed the teen was uncomfortable when Roger Ericksen tried to give hear a “bear hug” from behind as she was about to leave, and told her he “loved her.” She said the girl kind of “squirmed out from under Ericksen and made her way toward the door, as Lowe and the teen were about to leave for dinner. She said she asked the girl if she was okay, and she replied yes, but she said mentioned she didn’t like it when Roger touched her that way.

It was after dinner at a restaurant in Atlantic, that the girl confided in Lowe about what allegedly transpired in the home. The girl also told Lowe that she wanted to remain in the Ericksen home, but that she wanted the “problem” to go away. The teen mentioned the incidents with Roger Ericksen allegedly occurred when Roger’s wife Deb was at work, or late at night, when everyone was asleep. Lowe said there had been no concerns about the Ericksen’s being foster parents prior to the incident she learned of in July, 2011. Under cross examination, Ericksen’s Attorney Theodore Wonio asked Lowe if she was aware of any concerns with the teen “being untruthful” in the past.

She said there was a report the girl had a “History of lying,” but her involvement in the case led her to believe that was because the girl had wanted to “get out of trouble,” and get out of the consequences.”

Dan Dorrance, IA DHS

Dan Dorrance, with the DHS also testified this morning. Dorrance, who works out of the DHS office in Red Oak, said he spoke with Ericksen’s wife and biological children after Roger left the home in July 25th, 2011. He said they claimed to have no knowledge of any inappropriate touching by Roger having occurred in the home. Other testimony received this morning came from “Suzy” Noopur Mistry and Lisa Johnson, both with the child advocacy and protection group “Project Harmony,” in Omaha. A nurse practitioner with the organization conducted a physical exam of the alleged victim on July 29th, 2011.

9AM Newscast 08-29-2012

News, Podcasts

August 29th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Chris Parks


8AM Newscast 08-29-2012

News, Podcasts

August 29th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/Ric Hanson


State parks packed for holiday weekend

Ag/Outdoor, News

August 29th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Most of the reservable campsites with electricity in Iowa’s state parks have been claimed heading into the last big weekend of the summer recreation season. Kevin Szcodronski, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau, says campers are taking the “first come, first serve” sites as well. “I wouldn’t be surprised if by Thursday afternoon things were really tight…it’s going to be difficult to find a spot if you don’t have it secured already,” Szcodronski said.

Although the drought this summer has hurt Iowa’s ag industry, it’s led a boom in business for state parks. “Park use goes up when it doesn’t rain,” Szcodronski said. “I do know the peak of that hot time, when it was above 100 degrees, the tent campers…they stayed home because it’s pretty tough when it doesn’t get below 80 degrees in a tent.”

Many of the state parks will experience a significance drop off in visitors after this weekend, but other thrive in the fall months. Szcodronski notes the changing colors on trees can draw visitors similar to a major holiday weekend. Fall campers also enjoy fewer bugs and cooler temperatures.

(Radio Iowa)

Shenandoah man dies following Aug. 20th crash


August 29th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A Shenandoah man who was critically injured during a rollover accident last week northwest of Malvern, has died from his injuries. In an updated report from the Iowa State Patrol released early this (Wednesday) morning, officials say 46-year old Robert Gene Ryan, of Shenandoah died at Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha.

Ryan had been flown by helicopter to the hospital on August 20th, after he was ejected from a 1994 Mazda pickup truck at around 10:50-p.m.  The pickup had been traveling west on Highway 34, when it entered the south ditch and crossed 288th Street, before rolling over. Another man in the vehicle 29-year old Lyle Francis Stogdill, also from Shenandoah, was transported by Malvern Rescue to Creighton. Neither man was wearing a seat belt.

Officials are still not sure which man was driving the vehicle. The accident remains under investigation.

Pickup hauling hay overturns in Montgomery County


August 29th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A pickup truck pulling a trailer with four large, round bales of hay overturned into a ditch Tuesday afternoon about three-miles southeast of Elliott, after the trailer began to sway, causing the driver to lose control. The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office says a 1998 Chevy Silverado 2500 pickup driven by 93-year old James Wendell Henry, of Carson, was traveling south on M Avenue, about one-quarter of a mile north of 140th Street, when the trailer began to sway as the vehicle was traveling down hill.

The whipping action of the trailer and its heavy load of hay caused the rear end of the pickup to slide and jack-knife with the trailer into the west ditch, before the truck rolled onto its side. James Henry was able to escape the vehicle without injury. The truck, owned by Steven Bergren, of Red Oak, sustained about $7,500 damage, but the trailer was not damaged. The accident happened at around 3:15-p.m., Tuesday.

Elevated Fire Danger for Counties mainly north of I-80 today

News, Weather

August 29th, 2012 by Ric Hanson


439 AM CDT WED AUG 29 2012



Atlantic’s Wiederstein among Iowa delegates who were not happy about a late bus in Tampa


August 28th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Iowa delegates to the Republican National Convention didn’t make it to the opening of the convention this afternoon. Iowa delegates, alternate delegates and Iowans who have guest passes gathered at noon at their hotel on Treasure Island, Florida, to be bused to downtown Tampa, but the bus was 50 minutes late. Atlantic Attorney Dave Wiederstein, an alternate delegate,  said the delegates “Are helpless when it comes to stuff like this.” He told Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson they could “Wake up at Five in the morning and be ready to go,” but they have to go on a specific bus, for security reasons. Wiederstein said “It makes you a little bit leery of the security of the United States, if these are the same people that are in charge of the security of the President, that let this kind of thing happen.”

Alternate delegate John Bowery, of Shenandoah, is an emergency room doctor. Bowery said “People would die if this is how I ran my ER. I’m really disappointed and I’m verging on angry now, you know, because this our entire state delegation, not just the alternates. I mean, they can do without me. They can’t do without the delegates here. They need to be there and this is the most crucial vote of the week.” Since most of these delegates are Ron Paul supporters and intend to vote for Ron Paul instead of Mitt Romney, the group started speculating that there was a plot to keep them away from the convention.

“We being there late is not good enough,” Bowery says. “We need to be there to represent our viewpoints.” A series of rules changes were being decided upon by delegates Tuesday afternoon. Kim Lehman  — Iowa’s Republican National Committeewoman — argues the changes would endanger Iowa’s Caucuses and allow presidential candidates of the future to dictate which delegates get to attend future national conventions. “We want to protect Iowa first-in-the-nation (status),” Lehman said Tuesday morning. “We want to protect delegates to be able to be delegates to the convention from the grassroots level, not from the top down.” The majority of Iowa delegates are attending their first-ever national convention and Lehman has urged them to be attentive.

“When you get there, it will seem fun and you’ll want to get out of your seat,” Lehman told the group at the delegation’s morning meeting, “but I would ask to find out if there’s a vote coming up because we need every single vote in their seat.” The start of the convention was delayed by a day. The convention’s opening business session started at one o’clock Iowa time, Tuesday.

Ericksen sex abuse trial continues Wednesday in Atlantic


August 28th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Trial in the case of a Lewis man charged with sexually assaulting a 14-year old girl over a period of more than two months in 2011 continues Wednesday morning, in Atlantic. During the proceedings, officials with the Iowa Department of Human Services and child advocates from Project Harmony in Omaha, are expected to take to the witness stand. Day one of testimony Tuesday, lasted for four and one-half hours, and concluded with the alleged victim of the assaults testifying she was molested by her foster parent, 52-year old Roger Ericksen on numerous occasions from May 15th, 2011 until the day before she was removed from his home by social workers, on July 25th, 2011. Ericksen was arrested in December on two Aggravated Misdemeanor charges of Assault with the intent to commit Sexual Abuse, two counts of Lascivious Conduct with a Minor (A Serious Misdemeanor), and 46 Class-C felony counts of Sexual Abuse in the 3rd degree.

In opening statements, Ericksen’s attorney, Theodore Wonio, said the alleged victim was someone who had a “rough, rough life.”  He said the girl grew up in an abusive Florida household. Her father died when she was very young, and she moved to Iowa to live with her mother and stepfather only to be caught in yet another abusive household. Wonio said the girl bounced around from foster home to foster home, and ended up in the Ericksen household. He says she desperately wanted a family in her life, and after her half-sister moved out of the home, was worried about losing everyone in her biological family. Wonio says she fabricated a story to get her out of foster care and potentially back to her family. He said also she’s told lots of stories throughout her life.

Representing the State, Cass County Attorney Dan Feistner said there was physical evidence to support the girl’s allegations, including DNA evidence on several sex toys Ericksen allegedly used in some of the assaults.

Cass Co. Atty. Dan Feistner reads the charges against Ericken to the jury

He called to the stand Cass County Deputy Kyle Quist, who filed the charges against Ericksen after a nearly four and a half-month long investigation. Quist testified he became aware of the allegations on July 25th, after he was contacted by the DHS.

Quist was one of several persons who spoke with the girl about the incidents she claims took place.  He says she “seemed to be pretty stressed,” and she “never broke eye contact” with Quist during the 45-minute long interview. Quist said the girl was able to recall specific details of the incidents. And, while physical evidence in the case such as sex toys were delivered to the DCI Crime lab for analysis, Quist admitted he never took the alleged victim to the hospital to have physical examination using a “rape kit.”

Kristin Baum, DCI DNA Specialist testifies at Ericksen’s trail Tuesday

Kristin Baum, a DNA Specialist with the State DCI Crime Lab in Ankeny, testified some of the sex toys Ericksen allegedly used on the teen didn’t have enough DNA to interpret. She compared it to a grain of salt in bread dough. Another sample “failed to produce a profile,” while the third sample came back with the presence of a mixture of DNA from at least two persons, including the alleged victim. The other DNA she said could have been from fewer than one out of a dozen individuals, and further interpretation and analysis is needed.

When the alleged teenaged victim spoke, she testified the assaults began after her half-sister graduated and left the home. She said they occurred mainly at night, in her bed or Ericksen’s, in a pool, and in his vehicle. They ranged from acts of kissing and fondling, to intercourse and sodomy. The now 15-year old girl was thin, spoke softly and sat mostly expressionless during the hearing. KJAN News has chosen to withhold the girl’s name because she is juvenile.