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2014: coolest year in Iowa since 1917

News, Weather

January 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Several locations in Iowa recorded low temperatures in the double-digits below-zero over the final two days of 2014 — which will enter the record books as one of the coldest years in the state’s history. State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says only three of the 12 months posted an above normal average temperature (May, June, and December). “And we had three top 10 months as far as low temperatures — the 7th coldest February on record, 5th coolest July and 4th coolest November,” Hillaker said. “Those are all based on 142 years of records, so rather unusual in all those cases.”

The statewide average temperature for the entire year was 45.4 degrees. “The year as a whole…almost the coolest in nearly 100 years. You have to back to 1917 to find a cooler calendar year than 2014,” Hillaker said. The coldest official temperature recorded in Iowa this year was 29-below zero in Elkader — both on January 28 and February 11. “On the other extreme, the warmest reading we had was only 97 degrees on May 7, very early in the season,” Hillaker said. “Clarinda, Shenandoah and Sidney all hit 97 on May 7.”

Not a single Iowa city recorded a temperature in the triple digits through all of 2014.  “Statewide, I think we’ve had about a dozen years when no place in the state reached 100 degrees during the course of the year. So, that’s somewhat unusual, but not unheard of by any means,” Hillaker said.

Two-thousand-fourteen will go down as the 15th wettest year in Iowa history. The month of June was especially wet — with record flooding across northwest Iowa. “Some part of the state had a lot of rain during the late summer, especially west-central and southwest Iowa,” Hillaker said. “We had a very wet August. Greenfield has almost a foot-and-a-half of rain just during the month of August.”

Although the year was a wet one, there weren’t many large snow events.  “I think the largest snow storm total was 9 inches, which is kind of small for a statewide extreme,” Hillaker said. According to the National Weather Service, there were 55 tornadoes in Iowa in 2014 — slightly more than the 46 twisters that Iowa sees in a typical tornado season (averaged over the years 1980-2013).

For the month of December (2014), the Average High in Atlantic was 36. The Average Low was 22. The normal average High is 33. The normal average Low is 14.We had just 1.06 inches of precipitation last month, with some of that coming from the four-tenths of an inch of snow and/or mixed precip. Normal precipitation for the month is 1.11 inches.

Southwest Iowan faces federal firearms charge

News

January 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

RED OAK, Iowa (AP) – A southwest Iowa man accused of planting audio recording devices in a woman’s home now faces a federal charge of being a felon in possession of firearms. As we reported earlier this week on KJAN, 38-year-old Aaron Johnson was arrested Monday at his Red Oak home on a federal warrant. He’d been freed on bond. He’s pleaded not guilty to state charges of eavesdropping and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Johnson originally was arrested Nov. 3 on the state charges. The woman reported finding one of the audio bugs, and then authorities found another in her bedroom. She says the only person granted access to her residence was a pest control technician, Johnson.

Police say a search of Johnson’s home turned up similar devices and guns and ammunition.

Study: Teens who use e-cigarettes 2X as likely to smoke regular cigarettes

News

January 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Quitting smoking is a popular New Year’s resolution, but a federal study finds teenagers who use e-cigarettes are twice as likely to say they intend to smoke traditional cigarettes in the next year. E-cigarette retailers are popping up in cities across Iowa, though state law forbids their sale to anyone under 18. Tobacco researcher Michael Fiore says the report from the Centers for Disease Control confirms long-held suspicions.

Dr. Fiore says, “One of the biggest concerns about e-cigarettes is that they will serve as a gateway drug to lifelong nicotine dependence and all of the harms we know result from cigarette smoking.” The population tracked by the C-D-C study included kids in grades six through 12, years when they’re considered particularly vulnerable. “We know that the adolescent brain is very sensitive to nicotine,” Fiore says. “Use of e-cigarettes, with its exposure to nicotine, puts these adolescents at risk of lifelong nicotine addiction.”

The C-D-C study found more than 263-thousand young people who had never smoked used an electronic cigarette last year, three times the number from 2011. About three out of four teen smokers become adult smokers, according to the report. Fiore says the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes among young people is worrisome. He says, “We are at risk of having a generation of young people who are exposed to e-cigarettes, begin using them and both have changes in their brain related to this nicotine exposure but also tend to go on to use combustible cigarettes.”

The overall smoking rate in Iowa is 19-point-six percent, just slightly below the national average of 19-point-seven percent.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa man pleads not guilty to head-butting son

News

January 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – A February trial has been scheduled for a Sergeant Bluff man accused of head-butting his teenage son. The Sioux City Journal reports that 47-year-old Bradley Graff entered a written plea of not guilty on Monday in Woodbury County District Court. The charge is child endangerment causing injury. His trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 3.

Court documents say the incident occurred while Graff was practicing wrestling with his 11- and 13-year-old sons at his business, Wall of Fame. The documents say the older boy asked to stop practicing, but Graff threw him onto a mat several times and head-butted him. The documents also say Graff later stomped his son’s head onto the mat, giving the boy a bloody nose.

(Podcast) KJAN 7-a.m. News, Jan. 1st 2015

News, Podcasts

January 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

With KJAN News Director Ric Hanson.

Play

Frozen hydrants hamper Sioux City firefighters

News

January 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say two frozen hydrants hampered efforts to extinguish flames that destroyed a mobile home in Sioux City. Firetrucks were sent to the mobile home park around 5 a.m. Wednesday.

Sioux City Deputy Fire Marshal Frank Fulton says firefighters couldn’t tap into the two frozen hydrants, so they had to go to a third hydrant farther away to get water. Fulton says the problem may have cost the residents more property than they would have lost otherwise.

The three adults and three children who lived in the home escaped safely.

2 arrests, 2 citations in Red Oak on New Year’s Day

News

January 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

On the first day of the New Year, Red Oak Police report two arrests and two citations. Early this (Thursday) morning, officers cited 20-year old Dillon Makenzie Terry for Possession of Alcohol under the legal age of 21. Rodney Earl McAlpin was also cited for Providing Alcohol to a person under the age of 21. The citations were issued at 419 E. Reed Street, in Red Oak.

Red Oak Police report also the arrest of 25-year old Megan Renea Guffey, of Villisca. Guffey was taken into custody for Public Intoxication just after 12:30-a.m., at 106 E. Coolbaugh Street. She was being held at the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Center (LEC) on $300 bond.

And, 30-year old Zachariah Michael Holland, of Red Oak, was arrested at around 12:30-a.m. for Domestic Abuse/Simple Assault, Criminal Mischief in the 4th Degree, and Trespassing. Holland was being held without bond at the Montgomery County LEC.

(6:30-a.m. News)

Brief pursuit in Pott. County leads to 3 arrests

News

January 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

A brief pursuit followed by a crash Wednesday afternoon in Pottawattamie County lead to the arrest of three people. According to the Daily NonPareil, a Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Department deputy attempted to pull a vehicle over for speeding at around 4:15-p.m., near 270th Street and Iowa Highway 92. A check of the license plate indicated the vehicle had been stolen.

A brief pursuit that began soon afterward, ended when the vehicle entered the ditch at Valley View Drive and Greenview Road. Three suspects in the vehicle were taken into custody. No injuries were reported and no names were immediately released.

Cass & area Counties to share housing trust fund grant

News

January 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

Eight counties in southwest Iowa will benefit this year from a grant announced by the Southwest Iowa Housing Trust Fund. Southwest Iowa Planning Council (SWIPCO) executive director John McCurdy told The Daily NonPareil, the $350,669 grant will be distributed among Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Montgomery, Page, Shelby and Pottawattamie counties. Grant funding will not be used for projects in Council Bluffs.

McCurdy said a primary use of the funds is a home buyer assistance program that can help those in need buy homes with up to 7 percent – up to a maximum of $7,000 – in assistance in meeting the purchase price. While the program benefits first-time home buyers, it also includes current homeowners.

Those who receive $7,000 can qualify for $4,000 in the form of a five-year forgivable loan. If they live in the house for five years, $4,000 of the $7,000 is forgiven. The remaining $3,000 is treated as a 1 percent loan. McCurdy said the majority of the grant funds however, will go towards repairing homes for low-income homeowners in the case of imminent health and safety issues, such as when a furnace  quits during the winter and needs to be replaced.

McCurdy said the grant does not cover Council Bluffs because the city receives its own version of funds. He said the waiting list to receive aid stands at about 300 homes right now. Some homeowners can receive aid more quickly, depending on their situations, he said. The counties that participate in the program help fund it, McCurdy said, by matching the money into the trust fund.

McCurdy said demolition is part of the program as well. If a city acquires a blighted house, the funds can be used to help pay up to 50 percent of the demolition costs.

Iowa leads nation in communities with historic preservation aims

News

January 1st, 2015 by Ric Hanson

No other state has as many local governments participating in a program run by the National Park Service. The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs director Mary Cownie says over 100 cities and counties in Iowa have received the “certified local government” designation from the Park Service. “This highlights communities with an active local historic preservation effort, an effort that we know is critical to building vibrant communities and stimulating economic growth,” Cownie says. According to the National Park Service website, the goal of the program is to “save the irreplaceable historic character of places.”

Once an area receives “Certified Local Government” status, it gets technical assistance from state and federal experts, plus it’s eligible for government grants. Cownie cites the experience of a northwest Iowa community that received a state grant two years ago. “Le Mars has had a model historic preservation commission and with the help of a (Department of Cultural Affairs) grant, was successful in listing their downtown of more than 70 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places,” Cownie says.

The Commercial District in downtown Le Mars was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. The community now has gotten a half a million dollar federal grant to help renovate the store fronts of about three dozen businesses, so they’ll look like they did when the structures were first built. The building owners will finance about 25 percent of the project. The federal grant money along with funds from the City of Le Mars will cover the rest of the cost. According to the National Park Service, studies show historic districts maintain higher property values, have less population decline and foster “a greater sense of community” among residents.

(Radio Iowa)