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Fireworks “very stressful” for many war veterans

News

July 1st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Many Iowans will enjoy fireworks over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, but for some, hearing the loud booms and seeing the bright lights can bring on a different feeling.  Leo Kaalberg, a veteran who served in Iraq, says he was involved in “countless” mortar attacks and was hit by an IED. He’s been out of the service for 8 years now, but every time he hears the loud noises from fireworks it brings back terrifying memories.

“The first couple years I would jump in bushes, I would duck under my table, I would hide myself in the bedroom during the night when most of them were going off,” said Kaalberg. He told KCRG-TV that this time of the year is “still very stressful” as fireworks are going off almost every night of the week.

Kaalberg says he know he’s not the only veteran who struggles with the issue and he’s asking Iowans to simply be considerate of those suffering from PTSD this time of year.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa DNR turns 30

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 1st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

A state agency that impacts many aspects of life in Iowa turns 30 years old today (Friday). Department of Natural Resources director Chuck Gipp says the governor and legislature created the D-N-R by combining four agencies in 1986. “There was an energy bureau, there was the environmental services side of the agency, there was the con (conservation) and rec (recreation) side of the agency, and the Iowa Geological and Water Services which was over in Iowa City all got combined into the Department of Natural Resources that we know today,” Gipp says.

Gipp is a former legislator who has led the D-N-R for five years, and says there are still those who think the D-N-R oversees too many areas. “There’s still a couple of people left over that think you should split the department back up into at least two,” according to Gipp. “Some complain that the representation of the department is dependent on the performance of the law enforcement officers. And then the other side of the agency — the con and rec side — think that the negative opinion is because of the field services side that has to go out and investigate complaints. We actually think, our management team thinks, that the department as it is, is what it absolutely needs to be.”

The D-N-R is highlighting 30 of what is says are success stories for the agency. One of those is the removal of large piles of thousands of used tires that developed after the tires were banned from landfills.  “One of the concerns with the zika virus that’s occurring in others states….the Departments of Public health has determined that waste tires are a good place as a breeding ground for the mosquitoes that carry that. Iowa has been way ahead of the game for waste tire reduction. A lot of states are still grappling with that,” Gipp says.

The clean up of leaking underground fuel storage tanks is another success. “In Iowa there were anywhere between eight and ten-thousand of these sites. You often saw in your small towns that there was a gasoline station on each corner and you often as a result of that saw that there was a leaking underground storage site at these little intersections as well,” Gipp explains. The governor signed legislation this year ending the underground cleanup program. Gipp says a big change for the state came in the decision to take landfills from random piles of garbage in each county and city to a more regulated system.

He says it was determined that it was better to used lined landfills. Gipp says a result of that was to create the recycling programs to save money by keeping more garbage out of landfills. “So we in Iowa not recycle about 50 percent of the waste that used to formerly go into landfills.” Cleaner air and water are cited on the list too. “When it comes to the air in Iowa, emissions are down 33 percent since 2009, so that has been a huge success,” Gipp says. “The Clean Water Act has given us the type of regulation to ensure — not 100 percent — but to ensure that the Flint, Michigan problem won’t occur here in Iowa.”

The D-N-R has seen a lot of success in programs to bring back the bald eagle, the trumpeter swan, peregrine falcons, breeding trout, and the management of other wildlife. “I distinctly remember as a child growing up in Decorah, Iowa that if you wanted to see Canadian geese you had to go to Rochester, Minnesota to Silver Lake up there. Today you can’t find a spot without geese — a beautiful animal and in some cases a nuisance,” Gipp says. “…there wasn’t a hunting opportunity for the whitetail deer until the 1950’s, and yet today we have that controversy between too many and too few.”

Also on the recreation side, the state has seen the creation of 12-hundred miles of bike trails. Gipp says many people outside the state, and many who live here probably don’t realize all the natural resources that are available in Iowa. “We’re very proud of the accomplishments of the department and we hope that the citizens of Iowa have opportunities they wouldn’t have had without the work of the department, the work of the communities and the citizens of Iowa,” Gipp says. He says partnership of citizens, businesses and communities have help the D-N-R be successful in its first three decades.

The complete list of the 30 accomplishments is highlighted in the July/August 2016 issue of Iowa Outdoors magazine, and can be found on the D-N-R’s website at www.iowadnr.gov/30th.

(Radio Iowa)

Midwest economic survey points toward slow growth

News

July 1st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – Figures from a survey of supply managers in nine Midwest and Plains states have dropped slightly but still suggest economic growth ahead. A report issued Friday says the Mid-American Business Conditions index hit 50.1 in June, compared with 52.1 in May. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says gains for nondurable-goods producers more than offset continuing losses for regional durable-goods manufacturers.

The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests economic growth. A score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Fire engulfs home in Clarinda late Thursday night

News

July 1st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Firefighters in Clarinda responded to a house fire late Thursday night. According to reports, the blaze happened just before midnight at 708 West Scidmore Street. Despite firefighters’ efforts, the home was a total loss. The family of four and a family pet escaped without injury.

Authorities said two explosions happened outside the home prior to the arrival of firefighters. Reports say one was likely due to a gas grill propane tank, while the other may have come from an air conditioner’s Freon unit.

The cause of the blaze was under investigation, but it was thought a discarded cigarette butt or fireworks may have ignited the fire under the home’s deck.

Fight in progress leads to burglary arrest in Hamburg

News

July 1st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Fremont County Sheriff Kevin Aistrope says a report about a fight in progress Thursday night in Hamburg, resulted in the arrest of man on a burglary charge. Responding deputies learned the subject allegedly involved in the incident, 28-year old Michael McKibben, of Hamburg, had fled the scene.

A short time later, Deputies found McKibben hiding in a nearby apartment. He was arrested and charged with Burglary. McKibben was being held in the Fremont County Jail on $5,000 bond.

Michael McKibben

Michael McKibben

June 30th marked the end of Iowa’s “peak” tornado season & the numbers are way down

News, Weather

July 1st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

Thursday was the last day of June. It also marked the end of the peak season for tornadoes in Iowa. National Weather Service meteorologist Craig Cogil says the state’s only had about a dozen confirmed tornadoes this year, way below the average of 35 by the end of June. Cogil says it’s been a relatively quiet year so far. “In general, we haven’t seen a lot of stormy activity across the state,” Cogil says. “We’ve seen low numbers with hail and wind damage as well. It’s just not been a really active storm season for the state.”

After a lot of hotter-than-normal days during June, Cogil predicts something of a cool-down to start off July, along with maintaining the generally quiet weather year. “We’ll still see storms on and off but nothing real widespread and temperatures certainly look to be at least at normal,” he says. “I’m certain as we head out, we’ll have a few periods of warmer than normal.”

A National Weather Service survey team has confirmed one tornado impacted parts of Harrison and Pottawattamie Counties, Wednesday evening. The twister, rated as an EF-zero on the Fujita scale, packed peak wind gusts of up to 85 mph. On the ground it traveled 4 1/2 miles,  damaging crops and trees in an area stretching from around Interstate 680 a little more than 7 miles southwest of Persia, and ended slightly over 5 1/4 miles west of Neola. No structure damage was observed by the Storm Survey Team.

And, while the peak season is wrapping up, Cogil reminds tornadoes can strike any month of the year and we may still get several. “On average, about another 20 or at least 15 to 20,” he says. “It’s the end of the peak season but certainly still a threat of seeing additional (tornadoes) through the end of the year.” On Veterans Day last November, there was an outbreak of tornadoes with 10 twisters being reported in Iowa.

(Radio Iowa)

Criminal sentencing reforms go into effect today (7/1)

News

July 1st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

A series of criminal justice reforms officially takes effect today (Friday). Supporters hope some will help reduce racial disparities in Iowa’s prison system.  Governor Terry Branstad signed the bills outlining these new policies into law this spring. One change will make inmates doing time for robbery — a crime committed without a gun — eligible for parole sooner.

Officials estimate it could save the state more than 750-thousand dollars a year by 2018. A new state law also shields most juvenile delinquency records from the public from now on. It does not apply to felonies and a judge could order that any record be made public. The governor agreed there are many situations where allowing a teenager’s minor offense to be a public record has kept them getting a job or going to college.

A new law also calls for erasing convictions for public intoxication and alcohol consumption in public after two years — but only if the person guilty of THAT crime has a clean record. A traffic ticket wouldn’t be enough to stop the process of scrubbing the public “intox” or alcohol consumption conviction off a person’s record.

(Radio Iowa)

New laws in guns and illegal dumping take effect in IA today (7/1)

Ag/Outdoor, News

July 1st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

It’s July 1st, which means a string of new state laws go into effect today (Friday).

Iowa landowners can legally carry a loaded gun while they’re driving an A-T-V on their property. The bill that goes into effect today lets A-T-V operators on someone else’s property carry a gun, but the gun cannot be loaded and must be in a case. The law does NOT let you stay ON the A-T-V while shooting. You have to get off the vehicle to shoot. Another gun-related law about “suppressors” went into effect in March, on the day Governor Branstad approved it. It is now legal to have “suppressor” or “silencer” on a gun in Iowa.

Tougher penalties are also in effect beginning today, if you’re caught littering or illegally dumping garbage. The crime of illegal dumping covers getting rid of things like old television sets, refrigerators and tires in ditches, fields and other places that are NOT legal dump sites. If you’re caught illegally dumping something that weighs more than 10 pounds or something larger than 15 cubic feet, the fine will be a thousand dollars for a first offense. If you’re caught a second time, the fine doubles. It triples on a third offense. The crime of littering things like a pop can or a candy wrapper is a simple misdemeanor, but because of this new law fines can now go as high as 625-dollars.

The Keep IOWA Beautiful organization estimates the State of Iowa spends 35 million dollars each year to pick up the garbage that’s tossed out of moving vehicles. A Keep AMERICA Beautiful survey concludes nearly 22 percent of all litter is paper, about 20 percent is plastic and nearly six percent is glass. The largest share of litter, though, comes from smokers. Nearly 38 percent of litter comes from cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products.

(Radio Iowa)

Players have shot at $415 million Mega Millions prize

News

July 1st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Tonight’s (Friday’s) Mega Millions drawing will give lottery players a shot at the 10th largest jackpot in U.S. history. Because no one has won a Mega Millions jackpot since March 8, the prize has steadily grown to an estimated $415 million. That makes it the largest jackpot since a $430 million Powerball prize won by a New Jersey family May 7th. The record prize was a $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot won in January by players in three states.

Winning numbers in the Mega Millions game will be drawn at 11 p.m. Eastern time. The odds of picking the correct numbers on five white balls and one yellow ball are one in 259 million. Mega Millions is played in 43 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Council Bluffs couple accused of using meth around children

News

July 1st, 2016 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a Council Bluffs couple faces child neglect charges after their three children tested positive for methamphetamine. The Daily Nonpareil reports that Craig and Crystal McConnell were arrested Wednesday and charged Thursday with three counts of abandonment of a dependent person. Crystal McConnell is also charged with third-degree burglary and possession of a controlled substance.

Court documents say the children’s hair follicles tested positive for meth. Craig and Crystal McConnell also tested positive for the drug on May 12th. Assistant Pottawattamie County Attorney Dawn Landon says the children have been removed from the home and are safe.

The couple remains in the Pottawattamie County Jail. Bail is set at $10,000 for Craig McConnell and $15,000 for Crystal McConnell. They have a court date scheduled for July 8th.