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Gov. Reynolds Issues Disaster Proclamation for 12 Counties in Eastern Iowa


April 1st, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(April 1, 2023/DES MOINES, Iowa) – Today, Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for 12 counties in response to the March 31 severe weather. The governor’s proclamation allows state resources to be utilized to respond to and recover from the effects of this severe weather in Cedar, Clinton, Delaware, Des Moines, Dubuque, Grundy, Johnson, Keokuk, Linn, Mahaska, Wapello, and Washington counties. 
In addition, the proclamation activates the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program for qualifying residents, along with the Disaster Case Management Program, for those counties. The Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program provides grants of up to $5,000 for households with incomes up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. Grants are available for home or car repairs, replacement of clothing or food, and temporary housing expenses. Original receipts are required for those seeking reimbursement for actual expenses related to storm recovery. The grant application and instructions are available on the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services website at https://dhs.iowa.gov/disaster-assistance-programs. Potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation to submit a claim.   
The Disaster Case Management Program addresses serious needs related to disaster-related hardship, injury, or adverse conditions. Disaster case managers work with clients to create a disaster recovery plan and provide guidance, advice, and referral to obtain a service or resource. There are no income eligibility requirements for this program; it closes 180 days from the date of the governor’s proclamation. For information on the Disaster Case Management Program, contact your local community action association or visit www.iowacommunityaction.org. 


A copy of the proclamation can be found here. 

House bill would ban minors from having social media accounts


April 1st, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – A bill to ban any Iowan under the age of 18 from having accounts on TikTok, Instagram or any other social media site has cleared its first hurdle in the Iowa House, but bill backers are planning changes in the legislation. House Speaker Pat Grassley says Republicans want to start a conversation about how social media companies are collecting data about children — but, more importantly, about how smart phone apps and online platforms are impacting the mental health of Iowa kids.) “This is a broader conversation than just dollars and cents,” Grassley says.

House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst says lawmakers should let parents control their children’s social media use.  “We can all be better about social media use. Social media can be a toxic environment and so we have to be careful, of course. Kids have to be careful with social media,” Konfrst says. “Let’s not also forget that social media can be a place of community where kids find each other in a way that can be valuable and meaningful to them.”

Utah has just adopted a law that requires minors to have parental consent for social media accounts. A key G-O-P lawmaker in the Iowa House says the plan is to adjust their bill so Iowa parents would have to sign off on social media accounts for teenagers, but Iowa children under the age of 13 would not be allowed to have one.

A recent study found 40 percent of kids under the age of 13 were using apps like TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.

Governor approves state assistance for 6 counties where tornadoes, hail, strong winds struck


April 1st, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Tornadoes and hail struck portions of Iowa Friday. Tornado watches or warnings were issued for 40 different counties Friday as severe weather struck the Midwest. Governor Reynolds has approved state assistance to six counties — Cedar, Clinton, Delaware, Johnson, Mahaska and Washington.

Emergency shelters were opened in Coralville and Manchester. Damage was reported near Ottumwa and in Keokuk County as well. About half of the residents in Charlotte, a small town in Clinton County, were evacuated because a propane tank was damaged and began leaking.

The storm system knocked out electricity to thousands of customers in Iowa on Friday afternoon and, by midnight, snow had begun falling in northwest Iowa.

Tornadoes destroy homes and damage businesses in Iowa, Friday afternoon

News, Weather

April 1st, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Iowa City, Iowa) – A storm system that formed tornadoes in north-central Missouri early Friday afternoon spread quickly into southern and eastern Iowa, where the twisters caused extensive damage in Wapello County and further north. The National Weather Service reports one tornado veered just west of Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa.

KCRG-TV says at least two tornadoes struck Johnson County Friday afternoon, according to preliminary reports from emergency management. A shelter was opened in Coralville for residents affected by the storm in the community where damage was reported along the Coralville Strip mall area and in nearby neighborhoods. Video showed downed power lines and roofs torn-off of an apartment building in Coralville.

Damage was also reported in Frytown, Hills and Solon. The damage in Hills was said to be significant. The National Weather Service said crews plan to work into the weekend assessing damage and assisting residents impacted by the storms in eastern Iowa.

At least two people were injured, no fatalities have been reported.

Ft. Dodge homicide suspect shoots himself & dies, in Des Moines


April 1st, 2023 by Ric Hanson

DES MOINES, Iowa — Police in Des Moines say the suspect in the killing of a woman in Fort Dodge Thursday night, shot and killed himself at a gas station in Des Moines, Friday, as police were closing-in.

Officers located 27-year-old Adarius Clayton at a Casey’s store Friday in Des Moines. When they approached him, he pulled out a gun and shot himself, according to Des Moines Police Dept, spokesman, Sgt. Paul Parizek.

No other injuries were reported.

Clayton was believed to have killed 26-year-old Nicole Reza, Thursday night.

Former Moravia teacher charged with assaulting pre-K student


March 31st, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – A former southeast Iowa teacher was arrested based on accusations that she assaulted a preschool student.

The Appanoose County Sheriff’s Office says 46-year-old Erin Aalfs was a preschool teacher at the Moravia Community School District when on March 10 she kicked and threw rocks at a student and later picked up the child and threw the victim towards a chain link fence causing the child to hit the ground and fence. The incident occurred at the elementary school’s playground during school hours. The child was not injured.

Erin Aalfs

Aalfs later resigned from her position and was arrested on March 29. She’s been charged with two counts of simple assault and interference with official acts after the sheriff’s office says Aalfs resisted arrest and a deputy suffered minor injuries.

Intermittent lane closures on Iowa 148 in Corning begin on Monday, April 10


March 31st, 2023 by Ric Hanson

CRESTON, Iowa – March 31, 2023 – Motorists who travel on Iowa 148 in the Corning city limits need to be aware of an upcoming construction project that may slow down their trip. Beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday, April 10 until Thursday, Aug. 31, weather permitting, construction crews will begin a project on Iowa 148 between U.S. 34 and Adams County Road N-28 that includes construction of a bridge approach, asphalt pavement resurfacing, and culvert and sidewalk work.

While construction work takes place weekdays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., intermittent lane closures, flaggers, and pilot cars will be used to direct traffic through the work zone.

Help keep everyone on the road safer. Drive with caution, obey the posted speed limit and other signs in the work area, and be aware that traffic fines for moving violations are at least double in work zones. As in all work zones, you should stay alert, allow ample space between vehicles, and wear seat belts.

Supreme Court denies Manchester man’s appeal in cold case murder


March 31st, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – The Iowa Supreme Court has denied the appeal of a Manchester man convicted in the cold case murder of a Cedar Rapids teen at a local Mall. Jerry Burns was found guilty in 2020 of first-degree murder in the 1979 stabbing death of 18-year-old Michelle Martinko. The case had been cold until police grabbed a straw Burns used at a restaurant and the D-N-A on it matched D-N-A found on Martinko’s dress and car.

Burns argued the evidence on the straw should have been suppressed as it violated his Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled the Fourth Amendment does not apply as Burns made no effort to “preserve” the straw “as private,” and left it on the table at a Pizza Ranch. Two of the justices did write dissenting opinions with lengthy discussions about whether the Fourth Amendment applies to D-N-A.

Marshalltown Restaurant Voted Best Pulled Pork in Iowa


March 31st, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Clive, Iowa) March 31, 2023 – Pulled pork has gone from a rotating special to a menu favorite at The Flying Elbow in Marshalltown. Now, the classic sandwich has earned statewide attention as the winner of the sixth-annual Pulled Pork Madness, a social media contest sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association (IPPA). The restaurant won the title after advancing through a bracket-style narrowing process similar to the NCAA’s college basketball tournament. The bracket was based on public nominations submitted earlier this month, and The Flying Elbow took down The Lucky Pig Pub & Grill, Ogden, in the final matchup.

Hannah Spurr, IPPA’s consumer outreach director, said “This contest is a way to attract new pork fans and encourages everyone to road trip around Iowa to try different restaurants that are serving up some of the best pork in the nation.”  Nearly 160 pork fans nominated 63 Iowa restaurants for the top honor. The two restaurants with the most votes in each of IPPA’s eight districts made up the “Sweet 16” bracket. Voters then decided which moved on to the “Elite Eight,” “Final Four,” and championship round, which wrapped up March 30.

Garrett Goodman, owner of The Flying Elbow, said winning the contest was a “Cool Honor. ” He said also, “Barbecue was kind of a Sunday tradition when I was growing up, and I love serving people the best food I can.”  The Flying Elbow started in 2017 as a wrestling-themed food truck, selling hot dogs. Burgers were later added to the menu. When the restaurant opened in its current location in September 2021, Goodman purchased a residential-sized smoker and began offering limited barbecue specials. He recently upgraded to a 300-gallon wood-fired smoker, cooking pork shoulders “the traditional way, using old-school techniques” — low and slow over oak and cherry wood.

Prior to smoking, pork shoulders are rubbed heavily with salt, pepper, and garlic. Plus, a little brown sugar is sprinkled on to help ensure a good bark, the flavorful black crust that forms on the outside of the meat during the cooking process, which is about 11 hours. “Classic Pulled Pork” is served with pickles and homemade barbecue sauce on a Hawaiian-style sesame seed burger bun or Texas toast. The meat is topped with coleslaw by request. Pulled pork also is featured in “souped-up” versions of the Classic sandwich, Goodman noted.

At The Flying Elbow in Marshalltown, pork shoulders are smoked for about 11 hours over oak and cherry wood. The “Classic Pulled Pork” sandwich is served with pickles and house-made barbecue sauce, on a Hawaiian-style sesame seed bun or brioche toast. The meat is topped with coleslaw by request. (Photo courtesy IPPA_

“Pig Show” includes cheddar and Havarti cheeses, macaroni and cheese, pulled pork, barbecue sauce, and green onion. “Razor’s Edge” is what Goodman calls “an upscale version of a Cuban,” with pulled pork, shaved pit ham, Havarti cheese, honey mustard barbecue sauce, dill pickles, and pickled red onion, served on cheddar jalapeño cornbread. “Pulled pork is a versatile product — you just get such a great flavor and a nice juicy meat,” Goodman said. “We try to offer the classic versions of things for customers, but then also, I like to take classic ingredients and give them new life and use them different ways.” The Flying Elbow is currently averaging about 120 pounds of pulled pork per week. Before starting the food truck business, Goodman spent 11 years in a corporate information technology position.

The Flying Elbow will receive $250 and a Pulled Pork Madness plaque.

See a full list of the 2023 Pulled Pork Madness restaurants that competed in the bracket, HERE. Past winners are Starbeck’s Smokehouse in Cedar Falls (2022); Smokin’ Butt Barbeque in Davenport (2021); Whatcha Smokin’? BBQ + Brew in Luther (2020); Warehouse Barbecue Co. + Brewhouse in Ottumwa (2019); and Moo’s BBQ in Newton (2018).

Medicaid coverage projected to end for up to 160,000 Iowans


March 31st, 2023 by Ric Hanson

(Radio Iowa) – Beginng April 1st (Saturday), state officials may begin terminating Medicaid health care coverage for thousands of Iowans who were enrolled in the program during the pandemic. Since the start of the federal public health emergency in March 2020, anyone who initially qualified stayed enrolled in Medicaid, even if their income later rose above eligibility limits. Elizabeth Matney, the State of Iowa’s Medicaid director, says over the next year, income reviews will lead to what she calls disenrollment in Medicaid. “We’re thinking about 17.6% of the current population will be disenrolled,” Matney says, “so like right around 150,000-160,000 individuals.”

Matney says the state has been sending notices to Medicaid members of the rule change that takes effect April 1st to avoid errors. “We want to avoid that at all costs possible and so that’s why we’re doing all of these additional efforts to make sure that we’re getting in touch with individuals to make sure that they keep coverage if they are eligible,” Matney says.

States have 14 months to review Medicaid eligibility and renew enrollment in the program, but can begin terminating coverage April 1st. More than 880-thousand Iowans are currently enrolled in Medicaid.

(Reporting by Iowa Public Radio’s Natalie Krebs; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)