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Severe storms overnight bring 2″ hail, high winds

News, Weather

July 23rd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

High winds, heavy rain and hail walloped parts of Iowa last night as a cold front pushed out the extreme heat. Meteorologist Rod Donovan, at the National Weather Service, says the biggest hail fell in north-central Iowa.The Clarion area reported two-inch diameter hail, as did Boone, with smaller hailstones the size of golf balls reported in Garner.

Some areas had tree damage with winds gusting to 65 miles an hour. In the KJAN listening area, quarter-sized hail was reported by spotters in Guthrie Center just after 9-p.m. Quarter-sized hail and winds of 40-50mph occurred near Bagley, in Guthrie County, at around 8:30-p.m. A few minutes earlier, nickel-to quarter-size hail fell in Avoca. Quarter-sized hail also fell at around 8:10-p.m., three-miles northeast of Shelby. Half-dollar-sized hail fell at around 7:20-p.m. four miles South of Missouri Valley in Pottawattamie Co., and quarter-to half-dollar sized hail fell at around 7:10-p.m., one-mile south of Missouri Valley, in Harrison Co.

Donovan says the storm front is leaving behind weather that’s much cooler that it was a year ago. The forecast is for highs in the 70s and 80s for the next several days with another cold front expected by the weekend, keeping highs only in the 70s. Last night’s severe storms forced the cancellation of a host of planned events in Perry for the thousands of overnight visitors on RAGBRAI, who head for Des Moines today.

(Radio Iowa/KJAN – Ric Hanson)

Neb man gets prison for aiming laser at aircraft

News

July 23rd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – An Omaha man who aimed a laser point at a jetliner and police helicopter has been given two years in federal prison. 30-year-old Michael Smith was sentenced on Monday.

Prosecutors say a Southwest Airlines pilot reported that a laser pointer was aimed into his cockpit as the airliner was landing at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield on the morning of July 11, 2012. A police helicopter responded, and it, too, was targeted several times by a laser pointer. The pilot of the helicopter reported that he was temporarily blinded by the laser beam.

A Douglas County sheriff’s deputy testified that he found Smith in his backyard, pointing the laser at aircraft.

NE man injured in crash Monday near Shenandoah

News

July 23rd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Sheriff’s officials in Page County say a Nebraska man was injured during a two-vehicle crash late Monday morning, southeast of Shenandoah.  Douglas E. Metcalf, of Waverly, NE, suffered incapacitating injuries, and was flown by helicopter to Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, following the crash, which happened at around 11:30-a.m., near the intersection of Highway 2 and E Avenue. The driver of the other vehicle, 43-year old Steve Allen Harris, of Shenandoah, was not injured.

Officials say Harris was northbound on E Avenue at the intersection of Highway 2, and failed to notice an eastbound motorcycle driven by  Metcalf. When Harris’ vehicle pulled into the path of the cycle, the bike clipped the left front bumper of Harris’ vehicle. The motorcycle went out of control across Highway 2 and tipped over, tossing Metcalf off. The bike came to rest on it’s left side, on the north shoulder of Highway 2.

The accident remains under investigation.

Reports say more rain is needed for crops

Ag/Outdoor, News, Weather

July 23rd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Rain fell in parts of Iowa this weekend providing some much needed moisture to Iowa corn and soybean fields, but the showers were isolated, for soil that has been drying back out. Iowa State Extension Agronomist Clark McGrath covers the counties from Carroll to the Missouri border. He says it’s dry, but conditions are better than last year.  “Last year at this time, it was entire fields, and this year, luckily, it’s portions of fields. So, yeah, we could us moisture,” McGrath says. “But after talking to people from across the state — actually RAGBRAI just came through and I talked to farmers from southeast Iowa and east-central Iowa — and they said that they felt like southwest Iowa here was some of the best stuff they’d seen, and I kinda agree with that.”

Joel DeJong is another extension agronomist who covers nine-western-Iowa counties from Sibley to Missouri Valley. He says the rain is important as the corn crop hits a critical stage.
“We’re entering that time period when it’s the most critical time period. It’s at pollination where we really determine where how many kernels we end up with on those ears. The next five weeks after that, it’s kernel fill, but the next four weeks determines what our ultimate potential is,” Dejong explains. “And so, if we can’t get rainfall we would like to bring our average daily temperatures down into that highs into the lower to mid-80s rather than the lower to mid 90s because, that drops daily moisture demand almost in half.”

Dejong says the crops are showing moisture stress. “We haven’t had but a half inch of rain in the last three, four weeks, so we’re starting to see more and more on a daily basis, those plants curling, particularly in the corn fields — and in the lighter soils — the corn is basically turning white,” according to DeJong. He says the plants need an inch of rain daily at this stage of their growth.

(Radio Iowa)

Due to upturn in whooping cough cases, booster shot is now mandatory for Iowa 7th graders

News

July 23rd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Iowa students who will be starting seventh grade next month have to be vaccinated for whooping cough, or pertussis. Dr. Patty Quinlisk, the state’s chief epidemiologist, says it’s a new requirement this year. Dr. Quinlisk says, “Kids need a booster shot just to keep them safe from this disease and to keep them from spreading it to other people.” The chemistry in the shots was changed about 15 years ago, allowing for an upturn in the number of cases. Because of that, she says a whooping cough booster is now mandatory for Iowa middle schoolers.

“That’s about the time the shots they got before they started kindergarten are waning,” Quinlisk says. “In other words, that immunity starts to not be as strong and makes the kid susceptible to this disease again.” When you take your child in for the booster, she recommends checking with your health care professional to see what other shots might be a good idea, too.

“For example, there’s the new papilloma virus vaccine, there’s some other recommended ones, like the meningococcal vaccine,” Quinlisk says. “There’s others that may not be required but they’re strongly recommended and as long as you’re there, it’s a good time just to make sure your kid’s up to date for everything.” Last year, Iowa reported nearly one-thousand cases of whooping cough, though the numbers have fallen dramatically this year to about 150 cases so far.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa interactive trail app under development

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 23rd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A new interactive smartphone and computer app featuring Iowa’s trails is under development and organizations behind the development hope to launch it later this year.  Once completed, the “Iowa by Trail” app will feature an interactive map that allows users to locate their position, find the closest trail and find points of interest along the way. It also will keep track of distance, weather, news and events and communicate with friends and followers about their experience.

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is working with the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the City of West Des Moines, and other private partners to raise money to produce the app and website. The foundation needs $59,000.  The expected release date for the app is late this year.

Iowa early News Headlines: Tue., July 23rd 2013

News

July 23rd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press….

SIBLEY, Iowa (AP) – Officials are still investigating the cause of an explosion that injured five men performing electrical work at a manufacturing plant in northwest Iowa. The Sioux City Journal says TimeWell Drainage officials were still hunting for answers at the Sibley plant yesterday. The accident was reported shortly before noon Saturday. It happened while workers were switching power lines to a new transformer, according to the Osceola County sheriff’s office.

DECORAH, Iowa (AP) – Crews are continuing to search for the body of a man believed to have drowned at a dam on the Upper Iowa River east of Decorah. KWWL-TV reports authorities identified the man as 29-year-old Eric Langland of Decorah. Winneshiek County Sheriff’s officials say Langland was last seen struggling in the water Saturday night. A friend then saw him pulled under by the water coming over the dam.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – An FBI official says a 30-year prison term for a New Jersey man convicted of sex trafficking in Iowa will protect the public from an “evil predator.” Johnelle Bell must serve 85 percent of the term, handed down Friday by a federal judge.

WESLEY, Iowa (AP) – A state patrol plane helped authorities capture a man suspected in the shooting of a northern Iowa man. The Globe Gazette newspaper reports the incident began early Sunday with a dispute between two men in Wesley, a small town about 10 miles east of Algona. Officers have arrested 25-year-old Andrew Zeitler of Wesley.

Iowa topsoil moisture declines in hot dry week

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 22nd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – After a very wet start to this planting season, Iowa crop conditions are quickly reversing from too wet to too dry.  The USDA says topsoil with adequate or surplus moisture declined 22 percentage points last week from the week before with 43 percent of the state’s topsoil now adequate or in surplus. Temperatures statewide averaged 4.8 degrees above normal and average precipitation was barely measurable while normal for the week is just over an inch.

Corn and soybeans remain behind schedule with just 35 percent of the corn crop tasseled, behind the five-year average of 70 percent. Overall, corn is about 10 days behind normal in development.  Thirty-six percent of the soybean crop is blooming, behind the normal 70 percent.

NJ man sentenced to 30-years in prison on sex trafficking charges in western IA and NE

News

July 22nd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The U-S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa reports 29-year old Johnelle Lewis Bell, of Hammonton, New Jersey, was sentenced Friday in United States District Court in Des Moines on charges of sex trafficking and associated charges.  Bell was sentenced to a total of 30-years in prison, to be followed by 5-years of supervised release. He must also pay a $1,200 special assessment for the Crime Victim Fund. Bell remained in the custody of the United States Marshal’s Service pending designation of the Federal Bureau of Prisons facility at which he will serve his sentence.

U-S Attorney Nicholas Klinefeldt said “Bell essentially enslaved these women, and forced them to commit sex acts for his financial gain. Bell’s sentence, which he must serve 85% of, reflects the seriousness of his crime.” In all, Bell was sentenced on 12 charges, including conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, sex trafficking, coercion or enticement to travel in interstate commerce for prostitution, conspiracy to transport in interstate commerce for prostitution and transportation in interstate commerce for prostitution.

Bell was originally indicted in a twelve-count indictment on April 26, 2012, and a twelve-count superseding indictment was returned by the Federal Grand Jury on November 6, 2012. On November 20, 2012, following an almost week-long trial, a federal jury in Council Bluffs found Bell guilty of all twelve counts with which he was charged. The charges arose from a prostitution sting operation on June 18, 2011, by the Child Exploitation Task Force (formerly the Great Plains Innocence Lost Task Force) operating in the Omaha-Council Bluffs area.

While the case dealt primarily with young adult females roughly 19-23 years of age, at least two of the young adults involved in this case reported becoming engaged in prostitution as minors, by at least about ages 16 or 17. FBI Special Agent in Charge Thomas R. Metz says “This sentencing removes an evil predator from the streets and prevents him from exploiting others.” On June 18, 2011, answering ads for prostitution on Backpage.com, for Omaha and Council Bluffs, an undercover FBI agent posing as a customer arranged a “date” for prostitution. At the ensuing raid, agents and officers encountered Johnelle Lewis Bell and three adult females engaged in prostitution. The resulting federal investigation uncovered a sex trafficking venture involving Bell and as yet to be formally identified “pimp partners,” centering around Little Rock, Arkansas.

Young adult women formerly working as prostitutes for Bell testified at trial regarding their histories of very troubled childhoods, mental and emotional problems, homelessness and lack of material support, and substance abuse. The victims testified that Bell lured them to work for Bell on promises of love and long-lasting personal relationships, and help with problems in their lives. However, once they engaged in prostitution for Bell, the promises evaporated, and all of the money from the sex acts they performed at Bell’s direction, went to Bell. One of the victims testified she was repeatedly physically assaulted by Bell.  She said Bell also threatened the victim’s family, and her very young child with serious harm or death if she did not do as Bell told her.

23-year old Brittany Lawson, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, a co-defendant of Bell’s, pled guilty on October 12, 2012, to Count 1 of the original Indictment, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Lawson was sentenced on February 25, 2013, in Council Bluffs, to 50 months in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued until 10-p.m. Monday (7/22)

News, Weather

July 22nd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

310 PM CDT MON JUL 22 2013 SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH 430 IS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1000 PM CDT FOR THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS IN IA… . IOWA COUNTIES INCLUDED ARE:

AUDUBON BOONE BUENA VISTA BUTLER CALHOUN CARROLL CERRO GORDO CHEROKEE CLAY CRAWFORD FRANKLIN GREENE GRUNDY GUTHRIE HAMILTON HANCOCK HARDIN HARRISON HUMBOLDT IDA KOSSUTH MARSHALL MONONA PALO ALTO PLYMOUTH POCAHONTAS POTTAWATTAMIE SAC SHELBY STORY WEBSTER WINNEBAGO WOODBURY WORTH WRIGHT.

PRIMARY THREATS INCLUDE…

SEVERAL DAMAGING WIND GUSTS WITH A FEW SIGNIFICANT GUSTS TO 75 MPH POSSIBLE SEVERAL LARGE HAIL EVENTS WITH A FEW VERY LARGE HAIL EVENTS TO 2 INCHES IN DIAMETER POSSIBLE

THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 45 STATUTE MILES NORTH AND SOUTH OF A LINE FROM 25 MILES SOUTHEAST OF MASON CITY IOWA TO 30 MILES WEST OF TEKAMAH NEBRASKA.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

REMEMBER…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS. SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAN AND OCCASIONALLY DO PRODUCE TORNADOES.