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Roads turn dangerous and deadly Thursday afternoon

News

November 22nd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Road conditions that quickly deteriorated Thursday afternoon with the arrival of freezing rain and sleet caused numerous accidents in western Iowa, including one that claimed the life of a Wisconsin man. The Iowa State Patrol reports 64-year old Ronald Wahl, of Edgerton, WI., died in the crash that happened at around Noon on westbound Interstate 80 in Pottawattamie County, just south of the -680 split. Officials say after Wahl lost control of the 1999 Chevy Silverado pickup he was driving, the pickup entered the ditch and rolled several times. Wahl, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene.
Accidents in Cass County prompted officials from both the City of Atlantic and Cass County Emergency Management to warn people to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. During the noon hour, there was a report of an accident east of Atlantic on the Highway 6 bridge involving a pickup and trailer, and a multiple vehicle accident on Interstate 80 at the 60-mile marker westbound. No injuries were reported in connection with the Highway 6 accident, and none were immediately reported in association with the I-80 crash, but a woman staying at a motel near the Highway 71/I-80 interchange later reported she was suffering from chest pain as a result of air bag deployment, several hours after the crash.Another accident was reported on Highway 83 at 12:30-p.m. A vehicle rolled into the ditch at a location two-miles west of Marne. Dispatch reports said one person was trapped in the vehicle at the time. Accident also were reported on I-80 westbound near the Shelby exit, I-80 eastbound north of Atlantic at the Olive Street exit, and I-80 eastbound near Avoca. Those incidents caused the roadways to be blocked for several hours. Highway 34 near Creston was blocked for several hours in both directions, due to a jackknifed semi. Another accident had traffic blocked on Interstate 29 near Council Bluffs at around exit 52.

Winter weather advisories were issued for southwest and western Iowa between 11:30-a.m. and Noon on Thursday, just before the accident reports starting piling up. Area school districts, including CAM, Griswold,  Council Bluffs, Lewis Central, Treynor, Underwood and Riverside dismissed classes early or  canceled some or all their after-school activities..

The Iowa Department of Roads said it is important for motorists to evaluate whether trips during poor driving conditions are necessary before heading out on the roads.

Second year of Farm Bill failure looms

Ag/Outdoor, News

November 22nd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

An informal, end-of-this-week deadline to get a Farm Bill draft approved by a team of congressional negotiators will not be met, throwing into question whether the Farm Bill can be be passed in the House by year’s end. U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says congress can act quickly “when there’s a will and there’s a way.” “We have to have a clear indication from congress that this is going to get done,” Vilsack says. “Obviously there are some who are skeptical about that given the fact that we have already seen one year with inaction.”

A Farm Bill was due to be passed by this time last year, but congress passed a one-year extension. Vilsack says inaction again this year means his agency will begin instituting the federal farm policies of the 1940s — which are far more costly.”No one wants to do that,” Vilsack says, “and the best and simplest way to avoid it having to be done — at whatever point in time — is to have congress finish its work by the end of the year.” After this week, congress will be in recess for the Thanksgiving holiday. In December, the House will be in session for just two weeks and the Senate for slightly longer before adjourning for the year. Without passage of a five-year Farm Bill, Vilsack says farmers and ranchers are delaying key decisions.

“Doesn’t know how to decide whether to expand, to buy an additional piece of equipment because he or she does not know what the programs are going to be,” Vilsack says. “There is no question that farmers have taken a ‘wait and see’ attitude to further decisions that could help spur not only their own operation, but spur the economy generally.” According to a report released Thursday by the White House Council on Economic Advisors, agriculture accounts for nearly five percent of the Gross Domestic Product and one in 12 jobs in the U.S. are in agriculture.

“A compelling report that makes the argument on a multitude of levels why it’s important for the rest of the country and all of America to see congress finish its work (on the Farm Bill),” Vilsack says. The chairman of the House Ag Committee emerged from a meeting on Thursday saying anything is possible, but it “will be challenging” for Farm Bill negotiators to wrap up their work and have a bill ready for a vote in the House by December 13th.

There are no plans for the House-Senate conference commitee working out the details of a hoped-for Farm Bill compromise to meet today (Friday). Senator Tom Harkin and Congressman Steve King serve on the committee, but neither was involved in this week’s negotiations between the four top lawmakers on the panel.

(Radio Iowa)

Iowa News Headlines: Fri., Nov. 22nd 2013

News

November 22nd, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Here is the latest Iowa news from the Associated Press…

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Officials are investigating a wastewater discharge into an unnamed tributary of the Raccoon River in central Iowa. The state Department of Natural Resources says the discharge was verified Thursday following a report the day before. It’s unknown how long the discharge has been going on. DNR officials say the discharge is less than two miles from where the stream enters the Raccoon River. That’s also close to Des Moines Water Works. The property owners have been instructed to hire a contractor to the stop the discharge, which DNR officials estimate is between 5 to 10 gallons per minute.

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — A judge has dismissed exploitation charges against a former Waterloo teacher accused of engaging in inappropriate behavior with students. The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports a short trial this week for 56-year-old Larry Twigg concluded Thursday after Judge James Coil ruled that the alleged actions did not amount to a criminal offense. He dismissed one charge Wednesday and another Thursday. The charges were in connection with Twigg’s conduct with a student in 2009.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a Council Bluffs man set his house on fire while his mother and 12-year-old brother were inside. The Council Bluffs Police Department says 21-year-old Jacob Rolfe is in custody following the early Thursday fire. The woman and child escaped the house uninjured. Rolfe is being held at the Pottawattamie County Jail. He faces two counts of attempted murder and a count of arson.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Des Moines man has been accused of breaking his 3-month-old son’s arm. Des Moines police say 26-year-old David Ronald Vargason was arrested after the incident Wednesday. The infant was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Vargason told police he grabbed the boy’s arm with too much force and heard the arm break. Vargason has been charged with child endangerment causing serious bodily injury. He remains at the Polk County Jail.

(Update) Police: Iowa man set house fire with family inside

News

November 21st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a Council Bluffs man set his house on fire while his mother and 12-year-old brother were inside. The Council Bluffs Police Department says 21-year-old Jacob A. Rolfe is in custody following the early Thursday fire. The woman and child escaped the house uninjured. Sgt. David Dawson says Rolfe later admitted to setting the fire because he was upset with his mother following an argument.

Fire officials were able to contain the blaze. The kitchen was destroyed and there was other smoke and water damage. Rolfe is being held at the Pottawattamie County Jail. He faces two counts of attempted murder and a count of arson. Court records do not list an attorney.

Avoid travel in Montgomery County this evening (11/21)

News, Weather

November 21st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

The Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency says travel is not recommended in Montgomery County due to extremely icy conditions. County and State Highways are 50-100% ice covered. If you must travel be extremely careful. Take extra time to make it to your destination safely and always be prepared and have a survival kit with you if you become stuck or stranded.

WI man dies in Pott. County crash

News

November 21st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Poor road conditions are being blamed for a fatal accident that occurred Thursday afternoon in Pottawattamie County. The Iowa State Patrol reports 64-year old Ronald Wahl, of Edgerton, WI., died in the crash that happened at around Noon on westbound Interstate 80, just south of the -680 split.

Officials say after Wahl lost control of the 1999 Chevy Silverado pickup he was driving, the pickup entered the ditch and rolled several times. Wahl, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene.

Roads in western Iowa starting to get icy

News

November 21st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Light to moderate rain is falling in western Iowa, causing slick conditions on some of Iowa’s roadways. A few crashes have started popping up on Interstate 29, I-80 and other major roads in the area. Iowa Department of Transportation officials are urging motorists to evaluate the necessity of each trip during poor winter driving conditions, and monitor weather forecasts and road condition reports before heading out on the roads. Log on to http://511ia.org/ for the latest road conditions.

If you are driving:

•Focus your attention on the driving task and slow down.

•Do not use cruise control.

•Put your mobile phone away so you are not tempted to talk or text while driving.

•Keep a safe distance from vehicles in adjacent lanes as strong wind gusts could

push a vehicle outside its lane of travel.

•Put a safe distance between your vehicle, and the vehicle ahead in case sudden

driving maneuvers are necessary.

•Take extra care if driving a high-profile vehicle such as a truck, van, or sports

utility vehicle, or when towing a trailer, as these vehicles are more prone to be

pushed or even flipped by wind gusts.

•Your vehicle’s headlights are a valuable asset when driving in winter weather. Turn

them on to see and be seen.

•If conditions are severe enough to prevent safe driving, postpone your trip; or if

en route, identify the nearest safe place to pull off the roadway, such as a rest

area, truck stop, motel, or other traveler service until the wind subsides and road

conditions improve.

•Keep your windshield clear of ice.

•Allow extra travel time.

When the roads are icy

•If your vehicle begins to slide, take your foot off the gas pedal and shift into

neutral, or if you have a manual transmission, depress the clutch. While it may be a

natural instinct to slam on your brakes, this may cause your vehicle to slide

further and result in loss of vehicle control. Tap the brake pedal lightly.

•If you have an idea that there may be ice ahead (if you see vehicles ahead of you

sliding, for example), downshift to a lower gear before you come onto the ice. The

lower gear will force you to drive more slowly and give you better control of your

vehicle.

•If your vehicle does begin to skid on the ice, turn the wheel in the direction of

the skid. This should help to steer your vehicle back on the right track.

•Stay well behind the vehicle in front of you – this is definitely not the time to

tailgate. Even if you feel confident that you know how to drive safely on ice, that

does not mean the driver in front of you does. Be prepared in case other vehicles

start to slide.

•Do not think you are invincible just because you drive a four-wheel drive truck or

sports utility vehicle. Four-wheel drive vehicles have no advantage over other

vehicles when it comes to driving on ice.

•Make sure you and your passengers are wearing their seat belts or other safety

restraints.

Winter driving is always unpredictable, so be prepared for the unexpected.

Travel NOT recommended in Cass County

News, Weather

November 21st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Authorities in Cass County are recommending against unnecessary travel this afternoon. Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Kennon said the roads are 100% ice covered and numerous accidents, some with injuries, have been reported. The are Winter Weather Advisories in effect for the KJAN listening area until Midnight, tonight.

Authorities warn of slippery roads in Cass County

News

November 21st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Atlantic Police Chief Steve Green is warning motorists to slow down and take extra care on the roads this afternoon. During the noon hour, there was a report of an accident east of Atlantic on the Highway 6 bridge involving a pickup and trailer, and a multiple vehicle accident on Interstate 80 at the 60-mile marker westbound. Atlantic Fire and Rescue and Medivac are responding to the scene of the I-80 accident. No injuries were reported in connection with the Hwy 6 accident.

Another accident was reported on Highway 83 at 12:30-p.m. A vehicle rolled into the ditch at a location two-miles west of Marne. There is a subject reported to be trapped in the vehicle.

Roads in the area are becoming very slick.

Winter Weather Advisory until midnight/Western-Central IA (11/21/13)

News, Weather

November 21st, 2013 by Ric Hanson

COUNTIES: CRAWFORD-CARROLL-GREENE-AUDUBON-GUTHRIE-DALLAS- CASS-ADAIR-MADISON-ADAMS-UNION-TAYLOR
1203 PM CST THU NOV 21 2013

…WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT CST TONIGHT…

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN DES MOINES HAS ISSUED A WINTER
WEATHER ADVISORY FOR LIGHT FREEZING RAIN AND LIGHT SNOW…WHICH
IS IN EFFECT UNTIL MIDNIGHT CST TONIGHT.

* SHORT TERM TRENDS…LIGHT FREEZING RAIN AND LIGHT DRIZZLE IS
DEVELOPING OVER WESTERN AND SOUTHWEST IOWA NOW. THIS WILL MOVE
NORTHEAST INTO CENTRAL IOWA BY EARLY AFTERNOON.

* STORM TOTAL SNOW/ICE ACCUMULATIONS…A LIGHT ACCUMULATION OF ICE
RESULTING IN A LIGHT GLAZING OF ICE ON ROADS IS LIKELY. LIGHT
SNOW ACCUMULATIONS WILL FOLLOW THE LIGHT FREEZING PRECIPITATION
AND WILL RANGE FROM LESS THAN AN INCH EAST TO UP TO 2 INCHES
WEST.

* WINDS/VISIBILITY…NORTH WINDS WILL CONTINUE AT 15 TO 25 MPH.
VISIBILITY WILL FALL TO 1 TO 2 MILES IN SNOW. SOME LIGHT BLOWING
SNOW IS POSSIBLE LATE TONIGHT.

* IMPACTS…ROADS WILL BECOME SLICK WEST EARLY THIS AFTERNOON AND
ACROSS CENTRAL IOWA BY MID TO LATE AFTERNOON. THE LOCAL COMMUTE
HOME FROM WORK AND SCHOOL MAY BE IMPACTED BY SLICK ROADS AND
SLOW TRAFFIC CONDITIONS. MOTORISTS ARE URGED TO EXERCISE
CAUTION.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS…

A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY MEANS THAT PERIODS OF SNOW…SLEET…OR
FREEZING RAIN WILL CAUSE TRAVEL DIFFICULTIES. BE PREPARED FOR
SLIPPERY ROADS AND LIMITED VISIBILITIES…AND USE CAUTION WHILE
DRIVING.