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Dubuque County first to try Smart911

News

December 25th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Dubuque County is the first in the state to try a new emergency response system called “Smart-9-1-1.” County Emergency Communications Manager, Mark Murphy, says the system is voluntary and allows residents to create a database of information linked to any phone number. “Such as medical conditions, for instance diabetes, epilepsy, alzheimers things like that, they can put that information in to inform responders of their condition. They can put medications in and emergency contact information in — any special medical needs or home needs associated with that number,” Murphy says.

The service allows emergency responders to know a lot more than the dispatcher now receives from a regular or cellphone. “If they call from a landline right now we get their name associated with the phone number and and address,” Murphy explains. “If they call from a cellular number we can basically get the cellular number and the latitude and longitude associated with where they are calling from.” The service isn’t just for private homeowners. “Businesses can log in and put in information about their business — contact information so forth. They can also put in floor plans in for the businesses. Residents can also put floor plans in as well,” Murphy says.

He says all that information would then be available to first responders. That’s a lot of confidential information, but Murphy says it is safe. “It is a secure website kept offsite…we can only see the information if a person dials 9-1-1, and then only for a certain period of time,” Murphy says. Murphy says all the information can be very valuable and save time for those responding to an emergency. “People are required to update it every six months to keep it clean and up to date,” Murphy says. He says the accounts are sent a text message from the company that runs the system every six months asking them to update the information.

Dubuque County started signing people up for the service at the start of this month. Murphy wants them to be an example for others. “I hope to be the guinea pig that shows people how it works,” Murphy says. “I think it is a very good product. It has a lot of advantages for the citizens of Dubuque County, it should literally help us get a better response for the public.” Those wanting to subscribe go to a website and log in and fill out their information. Murphy says the 14-thousand dollar first year cost of the system is being paid for with funds seized by the Dubuque County Drug Task Force. The Dubuque County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Dubuque Police Department will split the cost going forward.

(Radio Iowa)

Study finds Iowans toss out waaaay too much food

News

December 25th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

A study finds consumers across Iowa and nationwide are throwing away perfectly good food because of confusion over the “use by,” “sell by” and “best by” dates on packaged foods. Dana Gunders, with the Natural Resources Defense Council, co-authored a report that finds tons of good food ends up in our trash cans. Gunders says about 40-percent of our nation’s food supply is thrown out when it’s still safe to consume.

Gunders says, “Given that each year, Americans spend up to $2,275 per household of four on food they throw out, the average household of four is losing up to $450 per year on food that is needlessly thrown away.” A recent Iowa Department of Natural Resources study found almost 14% of all trash dumped in the state’s landfills is food waste, or about 350,000 tons a year. The problem is getting worse, as the study found the amount of food waste being chucked in Iowa landfills has risen 62% in the past 13 years. Food science engineer Ted Labuza says if stored and handled properly, the food can last for days or even weeks beyond that date and can safely be consumed with no worry of illness.

“About 80% of the dates are guesses from some consumer questionnaires or based on what competitors are putting on,” Labuza says. “The others are done in very controlled conditions, food testing in order to determine when the taste of the product changes enough for the consumers to be displeased. I look at shelf life as the percentage of consumers that you’re willing to displease.” Expiration dates on food vary from state to state and between food company. Gunders says she’d like to see a country-wide system in place.

“People are throwing away food on the dates they see on products because they believe those dates mean the food is no longer safe to eat,” Gunders says, “however, those dates almost never have a direct link to the food safety.” Gunders says “use by” and “best by” dates on packaging are placed there by the manufacturer which determined after that time the product loses its maximum freshness. She says the “sell by” date is basically a tool for manufacturers and retailers so they can rotate product on the shelves.

Iowa has 46 municipal solid waste landfills but only four of them offer a food waste composting program. Nationwide, 40% of all food produced ends up in landfills.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa News Headlines: Wed., Dec. 25th 2013

News

December 25th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from The Associated Press…

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa-based floral designer Laurel Hollopeter is among those working on decorating some of the floats for the 2014 Parade of Roses in Pasadena, Calif. Hollopeter is heading to California on Dec. 26, where he’ll spend several days working as a paid floral designer for Fiesta Parade Floats, a company that is creating 13 floats for the event held the morning before the Rose Bowl.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A settlement between the Iowa Civil Rights Commission and the University of Iowa will ensure that students with assistance animals have equal access to university housing. The commission announced this month that the university has agreed to train employees on state and federal laws that require reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities who use assistance animals. The school also will revise policies for how such requests are handled and pay $10,000.

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) — A University of Northern Iowa professor calls her time volunteering in the typhoon-ravaged Philippines “the most different Christmas I’ve ever had in my life.” But Michele Devlin tells KWWL TV she hasn’t regretted her decision to go to the Philippines to work with the American Red Cross. Devlin, who focuses on health issues at UNI, says children and adults have repeatedly thanked her and other volunteers for the help they are bringing to the devastated country.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa is appealing a federal decision to deny disaster aid to four rural electrical cooperatives. Gov. Terry Branstad announced Tuesday that the appeal had been filed with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The four cooperatives are located in Northwest Iowa where utility lines were damaged in an ice storm in the spring. In August, FEMA denied a request for $19 million in funding based on the fact that the utilities had not done enough laboratory testing on the wires.

Jurors reject Deere’s patent claims against rivals

Ag/Outdoor, News

December 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Jurors have ruled against tractor maker Deere & Co. in a lawsuit that alleged rivals were infringing on its patent covering the design of heavy-duty mowing blades. Federal jurors in Davenport found last week that rotary cutters marketed by Bush Hog Inc. and Great Plains Manufacturing Inc. didn’t infringe on Deere’s patent.

The trial centered on competing brands of rotary cutters, which are pulled behind tractors and are used to cut through fields after harvest and clear weeds and brush. Deere filed the lawsuit in 2009 contending the Bush Hog and Great Plains brands infringed on a patent issued in 2000 that covers a deck design meant to keep the blades clean by stopping debris from accumulating.

Deere had been seeking an injunction and damages for lost profits and royalties.

Latham says congress will write a budget now for 1st time in 4 years

News

December 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Republican Congressman Tom Latham says the budget deal he voted for earlier this month which cleared the U.S. Senate last week is a major breakthrough. “We’ve been going on with ‘Continuing Resolutions’ which just extend funding from year to year to year for the last four years and the bureaucracy has become extraordinarily arrogant because there’s no way to rein them in if you’re not doing appropriations and put limitations on their activities,” Latham says. “And so that’s what I’m going to be really focusing on, certainly, is to try to get the appropriations, the process going, to have congress actually function again.”

Latham is a member of the Appropriations Committee in the U.S. House. “I chair a subcommittee — Transportation, Housing and Urban Development — on Appropriations,” Latham says. “We will actually have numbers agreed to between the House and the Senate so that we can write bills for this fiscal year and next fiscal year, so that’s going to be a huge part of what my time is going to be consumed with.”

Latham announced last week that he will not seek reelection in 2014. Latham made his comments during a weekend appearance on the “Iowa Press” program on Iowa Public Television.

(Radio Iowa)

State medical director says stay home from holiday gathering if you are sick

News

December 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Being left out of the family dinner, opening presents and other Christmas activities is not a lot of fun, but the state’s top doctor says it’s important to stay away if you are sick. State medical director, Patricia Quinlisk, says it’s better to be safe instead of spreading something that will make everyone ill. “Think about your family, don’t go to Christmas dinner if you are really sick,” Quinlisk says. “Tell them that your Christmas gift to them is that you are going to stay home and keep your viruses to yourself.”

Quinlisk says you may spread your illness to some of the people who are least equipped to handle it.  “Especially grandma, grandpa, or even that new baby that your sister has — or something like that — because babies actually are most likely to be hospitalized with the flu out of all the groups we have in our population,” Quinlisk explains. Keeping away from others is one of the three C’s that Dr. Quinlisk advises when dealing with illness.

“Contain your viruses — so if you get sick stay home. Clean your hands…and when you do cough, cover that cough with your elbow or a Kleenex so you are not coughing the virus out into the air for someone else to pick up and get sick,” she says. A recent report raised concerns that antibacterial soaps and sanitizers may be doing more harm than good in preventing disease. Quinlisk says her instructions have always been about the amount of time you use to be sure you are washing away germs.

“And that’s really the answer, is you need that friction, you need rubbing, you need the warm water, running water to wash those germs off,” Quinlisk says. “They type of soap you use is really not as important as the fact that you actually do it with warm water and soap.” She always advises that you should spend the amount of time washing that it takes to sing the song “Happy Birthday” twice before you finish.  “If there’s not warm water and soap available — you can use the hand gels — just be aware that those hand gels do not work very well. In fact, may not work at all against some of the viruses that do spread around — including norovirus — which is the number one cause of diarrhea in Iowa,” Quinlisk says.

Family gatherings can have people confined into small areas, especially if it’s cold outside, and Quinlisk says that makes it easier to spread viruses.

(Radio Iowa)

Car stolen in 1999 turns up in northwest Iowa pond

News

December 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

ORANGE CITY, Iowa (AP) – A car stolen in 1999 has turned up in a northwest Iowa pond.  Sioux City television station KCAU says workers excavating the pond near Orange City found the car on Dec. 5. A member of the Sioux County dive team got into the icy water to hook a cable to the vehicle so it could be pulled out.

Jim Pottebaum, of the Orange City Police Department, says investigators aren’t sure how the car got into the pond but have learned that it was reported stolen at Dordt College in Sioux Center 14 years ago.

Accident in Atlantic Monday afternoon

News

December 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

No injuries were reported following an accident that occurred at around 3-p.m. Monday, here in Atlantic. The Police Department says vehicles driven by Dennis Toepfer, of Atlantic, and Steven Scheuring, of Defiance, collided at the intersection of 7th and Olive Streets, when Toepfer rear-ended Scheuring’s vehicle, as both were traveling westbound on 7th. When Toepfer didn’t see the vehicle in front of him was stopped at the red light due to the sun blinding him, he ran into the rear of the vehicle, causing a total of $4,000 damage. Toepfer was cited for failure to maintain control and reduce speed.

Atlantic P-D arrest report 12/24/13

News

December 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic Police Department reports three people were arrested Monday. 30-year old Randi Shafer, of Atlantic, was arrested on a Cass County warrant for Possession of a Controlled Substance. And, 29-year old Daniel Long, and 20-year old Taylor Short, both of Leon, were arrested on charges of Theft in the 2nd degree. All three of the individuals were booked into the Cass County Jail.

Chamber Ambassadors visit new CCMH Rehab facility

News

December 24th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors explore the new Cass County Memorial Hospital Rehabilitation Center. Complete with a new pool and many other tools for assisting a rehabilitation patient, the team at the center have many areas of expertise including speech, occupational and physical therapy.

Pictured at the visit are Jane Kay, Tracy Milius, Becky Zinke, Ashley Williams, Erin Johnson, Ryan Legg, Carole Schuler, Dolly Bergmann, Pat McCurdy, Nedra Perry, Pat Markham, Mike Rohde, Whitney Welp, Nicole Schweigert, Sue Muri, Connie Wailes, Sara Nelson, Julie May, Christie Ladd, Haley Kickland, Rebecca Bowen, JoAnn Mueller, Steve Lewis, Bill Saluk, Doreen Ross, Russell Joyce, Rich Perry, Rita Willmont, and Linda Hemminger.

Pictured at the visit are Jane Kay, Tracy Milius, Becky Zinke, Ashley Williams, Erin Johnson, Ryan Legg, Carole Schuler, Dolly Bergmann, Pat McCurdy, Nedra Perry, Pat Markham, Mike Rohde, Whitney Welp, Nicole Schweigert, Sue Muri, Connie Wailes, Sara Nelson, Julie May, Christie Ladd, Haley Kickland, Rebecca Bowen, JoAnn Mueller, Steve Lewis, Bill Saluk, Doreen Ross, Russell Joyce, Rich Perry, Rita Willmont, and Linda Hemminger.