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Winter weather set to wallop IA…DOT advises be prepared for travel challenges

News, Weather

January 19th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Frigid temperatures statewide and an impending snowstorm for northern Iowa reinforce the need for motorists to prepare for winter travel challenges. The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is advising motorists who must travel in these conditions to take extra precautions, including making sure to have a fully charged cell phone, adequate fuel in your vehicle’s tank and a survival kit in the vehicle.

A basic survival kit can be a live-saver in the event of a mechanical breakdown in the dangerous temperatures or if you are stranded during a winter storm. The kit should contain a blanket or sleeping bag; high energy, nonperishable food; water; flashlight and extra batteries; matches or a lighter; candles; warm gloves; small first aid kit; hat or stocking cap; insulated footwear; and winter coat. The kit should contain enough supplies for the number of passengers in the vehicle. Other winter travel supplies should include a snow shovel; scraper and snow brush; sand or strips of carpet for traction; flares/reflectors; tool kit; jumper cables; and a good spare tire, lug wrench and jack. Learn more about how to prepare your winter survival travel kit by visiting the Iowa DOT’s YouTube website at: http://www.youtube.com/iowadot.

Motorists are urged to monitor weather and road conditions before traveling – stay informed and plan ahead – road condition information is available from the resources listed below. 

  • Web: Visit the 511 Iowa website at www.511ia.org.
  • Twitter: County and metro area Twitter feeds are available. Sign up at 511ia.org.
  • Phone: When in Iowa call 511, or 800-288-1047 from outside of Iowa.
  • Rest areas: Free Wi-Fi service is available at the Iowa DOT interstate rest areas so you can view the www.511ia.org website on your computer from the convenience of your vehicle; or step indoors to view the website and radar images on the easy-to-operate kiosk.
  • Dynamic message boards: National Weather Service warnings are posted on the message boards displayed over highways at key locations throughout the state. When necessary, interstate closure information is also made available on these signs.
  • Mobile communication device: The www.511ia.org road condition map and text route reports are available for viewing on your mobile communication device. Cell phones and other mobile communication devices should only be used when parked and off the traveled portion of the roadway.
  • E-mail: Receive winter travel advisories and periodic updates directly in your inbox. Visit www.news.iowadot.gov to subscribe.

Wind chills approach 30-below with heavy snow expected tonight & tomorrow

News, Weather

January 19th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Just eight days ago, some Iowans enjoyed record high temperatures in the low 60s. Today, it’s a much different story. Meteorologist Jim Lee, at the National Weather Service office in Johnston, says an arctic air mass is bringing bitter cold into the Hawkeye State and portions of northern Iowa are under a Wind Chill Advisory. “We have fairly modest-to-brisk northwest breezes and very cold temperatures combining for wind chills of 20 to 30-below across northern Iowa,” Lee says. More snow is on the way, too. Lee says several Winter Storm Warnings, Watches and Advisories will be going into effect soon for much of Iowa’s northern half. “We’re expecting to see snow spreading in from northwestern Iowa after midnight tonight, continuing through Friday,” Lee says. “Accumulations across parts of northern Iowa will be close to five to seven inches, down around the Missouri border, virtually none, so there’ll be a pretty sharp gradient somewhere across central Iowa.” More super-cold air will be arriving in Iowa this weekend with another chance of snow by Sunday.

(Pat Powers/Radio Iowa)

Final Iowa tally gives Santorum edge over Romney; because of missing votes, no winner declared

News

January 19th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – The final results of the Iowa caucuses are in and there’s a change at the top: Rick Santorum edged Mitt Romney by 34 votes.  Romney had been considered the winner after initial tallies gave him an 8 vote advantage.  Despite the surprise flip, Iowa’s Republican party is not naming an official winner, because results from 8 of the state’s nearly 1,800 precincts are missing.

GOP Chairman Matt Strawn says he’s congratulating both Santorum and Romney, as he did the day after Iowa’s caucuses. Strawn describes it as “the closest contest in caucus history.” In a statement, Romney praised Santorum’s “strong performance” in Iowa, but called the results a “virtual tie.” Santorum and other candidates are looking to chip away at the front-running Romney’s dominance over the field when South Carolina primary voters go to the polls Saturday.

8AM Newscast 01-19-2012

News, Podcasts

January 19th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

7AM Newscast 01-19-2012

News, Podcasts

January 19th, 2012 by Chris Parks

w/ Ric Hanson

Play

Man convicted of attacking woman at western IA rest stop

News

January 19th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A 23-year-old man has been convicted of attacking a 19-year-old woman a little over 13-months ago, at a rest stop off Interstate 29 near Onawa. The Monona County Attorney’s Office says Mark Bitzan was accused of taking the woman into a stall in the women’s restroom, threatening her with a knife and sexually assaulting her. The crime occurred on Dec. 17th, 2010. A jury convicted Bitzan on Tuesday. His sentencing has not been scheduled yet. Bitzan was also convicted in 2006, of a sexual assault in Natrona County, Wyo.

Bluffs convenience store robbed

News

January 19th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Police in Council Bluffs are looking for a man who robbed a convenience store early this (Thursday) morning. Officials say at around 1:15-a.m., a man entered the Kwik Shop store at 3632 Avenue G, and confronted the clerk. The suspect produced a black handgun and demanded money before leaving the store on foot with an undetermined amount of cash. No injuries were reported.  The man was described as being in his early 20’s, about 5-feet 4-inches tall, and weighing about 150-pounds. He had hazel eyes, wore a gray hooded sweatshirt and baggy red sweatpants. He also wore a dark stocking cap, a face covering, and dark gloves. The incident remains under investigation by the Council Bluffs Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division.

3 men convicted for burglary in Malvern were sentenced this week

News

January 19th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A Council Bluffs man faces a 5-year prison term for his role in a burglary which occurred in Malvern last Summer.  According to the Omaha World Herald, 31-year-old Miguel Martinez was sentenced Tuesday in Mills County District Court to five-years in prison, for attempted burglary. Prosecutors say Martinez was one of three people convicted as a result of an investigation into the incident, during which he was the ringleader of the trio, and the one who breached a door when he was confronted by 66-year-old farmer Don Hopp during the August 17th incident. 19-year-old Patrick Hover, who prosecutors said was the “wheelman,”  and 33-year-old Yosvani Galindo, of Omaha, plead guilty to charges of 2nd degree burglary, and were given suspended prison sentences of 10 years each. Both were sentenced to two years of supervised probation.  Hover was ordered to reside at a Council Bluffs half-way house.

Prosecutors say the three men had been smoking methamphetamine in the countryside near Malvern when they hatched a plot to burglarize a nearby farmhouse. During the incident, Martinez was shot by Hopp, who said the shooting was an accident. He said he was outside his home after confronting the burglars when he fell, discharging the weapon.  In December, a grand jury decided not to indict him. In an interview Monday at his Council Bluffs home, Martinez, who has a wife and seven children, said he and the other two were only looking for a place to stay overnight. He told the paper, “I just thought it was an abandoned house.”

Number of home sales, home prices, change little between 2010 and 2011

News

January 19th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

Both home sales and home prices held fairly steady in Iowa last year compared to 2010. That’s according to the latest report from the Iowa Association of Realtors. Association president Dale Gross, of Atlantic, says 2,430 homes were sold last month – 154 more than in December 2010. Gross said it marked the fifth consecutive month of increased home sales. In all 12 months of 2011, 31,089 homes were sold – just 135 more than 2010. The median sale price of an Iowa home in 2011 was $122,000, a one-point-two-percent (1.2%) decline from 2010. “There’s been an increase in the lower end of the housing sales numbers and that’s probably being driven by a lot of the foreclosed or distressed properties. They’re selling for much, much less,” Gross explained. Average prices in Iowa should increase as more of those distressed properties are taken off the market. Gross said he’s already seeing signs that prices will rise based on inventory. “This last month, we had 7.4 months (worth) of homes available to sell – based on the average monthly sales. That happens to be down from nine (months) a year ago,” Gross said. “So, that inventory is slacking off, which means there is a likelihood of higher prices in the future because inventory is dropping.”

(Pat Curtis/Radio Iowa)

GREENFIELD MAN SENTENCED ON FEDERAL CHARGES FOR FAILURE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT

News

January 18th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The U-S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa said Wednesday, a New Zealand Osteopathic physician whose children live in Greenfield, was sentenced last week to five-years probation for willingly failing to pay child support. Dr. Greg Michael Singer, D.O. of Napier, New Zealand, a former Rock Island, Illinois resident, was also ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Longstaff to pay $209,000 in restitution to the Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit for past due payments owed to his ex-wife for the support of their four children and herself.

In an amended child support order of August 2006, the Iowa District Court for Adair Country ordered the 50-year old Singer to pay child support of $2,142 per month until his oldest child turned 19, $1,932 when three children were eligible for support, $1,626 when two children when two children were eligible for support, and $1,104 as long as his last child was under 19. During the divorce, Singer was also found guilty of criminal contempt of court for willfully disobeying the court’s order to promptly return a vehicle to his wife for her use and that of the children. As special conditions of his probation, Singer, who is listed as a physician for “The Doctors,” an accident and medical centre in Napier, New Zealand, was ordered to find employment, surrender his passport, limit his travel to the states of Iowa and Illinois, and start making the court-ordered child support payments for the two remaining children who still reside at home with their mother.

According to the court, it chose five years of probation over sending the defendant to jail for six months in order to monitor Singer’s compliance with its restitution order and Singer’s duty to pay ongoing child support. The court warned Singer he could still be sentenced to some form of incarceration if he violates the terms of his probation by failing to fulfill these duties. Singer’s request to renew his passport was denied by the United States Department of State because the State of Iowa reported he owed more than $2,500 in past due child support. The passport sanction means the State Department can deny an application for a passport, refuse to renew a passport, restrict or limit the use of a passport, or revoke a passport. The passport sanction is not removed until the overdue support is paid.

The Iowa Child Support Recovery Unit sends updates to the U.S. State Department every month. The Iowa Board of Medicine suspended Dr. Singer’s medical license on July 14, 2011 “for failing to pay a debt owed to the Iowa Department of Revenue.” His Illinois medical license was also recently suspended for tax problems. The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General and the State of Iowa, and was prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa.