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Iowa could see record road construction this year

News

April 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa may see one of its biggest years ever for state highway construction driven by lower bids from contractors and higher-than-expected state and federal funding.  During an average season about $460 million is spent on Iowa highways. This year’s spending could equal the record of $600 million set in 2009, when federal economic stimulus money flooded into the state. Key projects will include widening Interstate 35 to six lanes in West Des Moines, reconstructing the Interstate 80/U.S. Highway 65 interchange at Altoona, and finishing a new Ankeny interchange on I-35.

Work also will continue to widen U.S. Highway 20 to four lanes in western Iowa. Interstate projects also are planned in Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities.

Six Indicted on western IA Marijuana distribution charges

News

April 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Six men were indicted late last week on charges they conspired to distribute over 100-kilograms of marijuana in western Iowa between May 2009 and March 29th, 2012. Dennis Eugene Smith, Nicholas Dean Barnes, Christopher Lee Brandt, Gene Allen Smith, Justin Ray Smith, and David L. Lopez, Jr. were indicted March 29th.

United States Attorney Nicholas A. Klinefeldt says on Friday, March 30th, all six men appeared in Council Bluffs federal court for their initial appearance and arraignment. Their trial is set to take place June 4th. Conspiracy to distribute marijuana as charged is punishable by a minimum of five years to a maximum of 40 years in prison; a fine of up to $5,000,000, at least four years of suspended release, $100 special assessment and forfeiture of property. 

The men’s indictment was the result of a more than two-year investigation by the Council Bluffs Police Department, Southwest Iowa Narcotics Task Force, Omaha, Nebraska, Police Department, Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Autism Awareness Day

News

April 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Today (April 2nd), is World Autism Awareness Day, as designated by the United Nations General Assembly. Persons and businesses around the world are being encouraged to “Shine a Blue Light on Autism,” as a way to make others aware of the condition, which affects 1 out of every 88 children.

Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, and affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills. The physical condition is linked to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain. The exact causes of the abnormalities remain unknown. While a variety of research is actively underway to determine what may lead to autism, experts say genetic factors seem to play an important role.

On Sunday, April 15th, the Omaha Children’s Museum at 500 South 2nd Street, will host Autism Night, from 5:30-to 8-p.m.  Sponsored by Autism Action Partnership (AAP), the free event is open to children with all spectrums of autism, and their families. The museum is working with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and AAP to create an appropriate environment for the event. The program is one of many developed by the Omaha Children’s Museum, to reach out to audiences with special needs. 

To learn more about today’s Autism Awareness Day, and the movement to “Shine a Blue Light on Autism”, surf the web to www.lightitupblue.org.

8AM Newscast 04-02-2012

News, Podcasts

April 2nd, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

7AM Newscast 04-02-2012

News, Podcasts

April 2nd, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Today is Iowa’s first-ever LOL Day — Laugh Out Loud for your health

News

April 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Laughter is said to be the best medicine and today (Monday) is Iowa’s first-ever L-O-L Day. That’s L-O-L for Laugh Out Loud. It’s part of Iowa’s effort to become the healthiest state in the nation. Iowans are encouraged to forward a joke, tell a funny story, even to bring a whoopie cushion to work. Helen Eddy, executive director of the Healthiest State Initiative and assistant vice president of health and wellness at Hy-Vee, says do whatever it takes to get a laugh and to laugh yourself. “At Hy-Vee, we’re encouraging our employees here at the corporate office to wear clown noses, wear silly clothes, tell a funny joke, all of the above,” she says. While the overall campaign is focused on the physical health of Iowans, Eddy says this L-O-L Day zeroes in on our emotional health. 

“We’re using the Laugh Out Loud Day as a way to bring attention to stress and to talk to Iowans about ways to improve their emotional health and reduce the stress in their lives,” Eddy says. “With the way the economy has been the last few years, that is one of the areas that Iowans can always use some help with.” It may not seem like it would be a big deal, but the simple act of laughing can provide a world of benefits to the human body. “Laughing engages nearly every muscle in the body, it expands the lungs, stimulates the brain,” Eddy says. “Laughter reduces pain, lowers your blood pressure, helps you sleep. Laughter is contagious. It’s hard to keep a straight face when somebody is smiling or laughing at you and with you.” 

If you think you have a knack for tickling Iowans’ funny bones, put it in writing or on videotape. “Go to our Facebook page and post a funny joke or a funny story or shoot a video of yourself telling a funny joke and then we will allow Iowans to vote on that,” Eddy says. “There’ll be some great prizes participants can win.” Learn more at: “IowaHealthiestState.com“.

(Matt Kelley/Radio Iowa)

Medical calls rise for many Iowa fire departments

News

April 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say medical calls to fire departments are rising for many Iowa departments, in part because more and more aging baby boomers are requiring emergency aid.  In Iowa City, for example, the Fire Department, there were nearly 2,800 calls for emergency medical services last year, compared with more than 2,200 EMS calls in 2007.    The Cedar Rapids Fire Department says it handled more than 5,400 EMS calls in 2011, compared with just over 5,000 calls in 2007.  The National Fire Protection Association says the number of EMS calls to fire departments nationally has increased nearly 300 percent since 1980.  Cedar Rapids Fire Department spokesman Greg Buelow says the increasing demand for EMS services has forced the department to seek firefighters who already have paramedic certification.

During the March 7th City Council meeting in Atlantic, Fire Chief Mark McNees said the total number of calls in 2011 for the department was 183. That was down from an average of 225. McNees said also, the Atlantic Fire Department reached its highest level of strength for quite some time, with 37 members in 2011.

Rising fuel prices haven’t slowed Midwest economy

News

April 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A survey suggests that rising fuel prices haven’t slowed the economy in a nine-state region in the Midwest and Plains. The overall Mid-America index rose to 58.6 in March from 58.4 in February. The index has risen for five months in a row. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says only a significantly higher increase in oil prices or a major world catastrophe would derail the regional economic expansion.  Survey organizers say it uses a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100 and that any score above 50 suggests growth while a score below 50 suggests decline for that factor. The survey of business leaders and supply managers covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Severe Weather Awareness week begins in Iowa

News, Weather

April 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Today (Monday) marks the beginning of Severe Weather Awareness Week in the state. National Weather Service meteorologist, Jeff Johnson says there weren’t many tornadoes in 2011. “In Iowa, we had what I would call a pretty normal year. We had 51 tornadoes, we average 47, that’s pretty close to normal,” Johnson says. “What was interesting about last year though, was that most of those tornadoes occurred on or before April ninth, so many of those tornadoes were early in the year in 2011.”

Johnson says it is too early to tell what type of year 2012 will bring for severe weather.  “A lot of people have been talking about the recent warm weather and if there is a correlation between that and active severe weather, and there really isn’t much of a correlation between an active severe weather season and the early spring warmth,” Johnson says. He says there’s also not much of a correlation between a warm summer after a warm spring. The National Weather Service has special theme days all week to teach Iowans the dangers of severe weather.

Johnson says the theme for today is flash flooding. “Which is the number one thunderstorm-related killer in the United States from weather, it’s not tornadoes, it’s actual flash flooding,” according to Johnson. He says Tuesday will talk about how to get a warning, Wednesday’s theme centers on tornadoes and there will be a statewide tornado drill, and finally, family preparedness is the theme on Friday.

Johnson describes the tornado drill scheduled for 10 a-m Wednesday morning: He says they will come out with a tornado watch at 10 and that will last for about an hour. “And then at about 10:15, give or take a few minutes, we will issue a tornado warning and it will go off over your weather radios, it will go out over the emergency alert system to the radio stations and many, many communities will be testing their siren systems at the same time,” Johnson says. He says this will be a good time for businesses to test their evacuation plans. You can find out more information on severe weather in Iowa at www.weather.gov.

(Pat Powers & Dar Danielson/Radio Iowa)

Iowa (early) News Headlines: Mon., April 2nd 2012

News

April 2nd, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press

LA PORTE CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa authorities are looking for a 19-year-old Hawkeye Community College student who disappeared early Sunday morning while walking barefoot in a wildlife area. The Black Hawk County Sheriff’s office spent most of yesterday searching for Taylor Franco in the Klima Wildlife Area by La Porte City. The search was suspended last night but should resume today.

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — The main producer of the lean beef trimmings that critics call “pink slime” continues to have the support of the community where the company is based. Several thousand people attended a picnic in Sioux City on Saturday to support Beef Products Incorporated and dine on hamburgers made with its beef.

AINSWORTH, Iowa (AP) — Fire investigators are trying to determine what caused an explosion at a home in southeast Iowa. Officials say the explosion was reported in Ainsworth around 8:30 p.m. Saturday. The town is about 30 miles south of Iowa City.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The big winner in Iowa from last week’s $640 million Mega Million jackpot was the state treasury. Although a winning ticket wasn’t sold in Iowa, the surge in ticket sales paid off for the state. From the last Mega Millions jackpot on January 24th to Friday night’s drawing, The Des Moines Register reports the Iowa Lottery sold nearly $9.7 million in tickets. The newspaper reports the Iowa treasury will receive about $3.4 million in profits from the sales.