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DES MOINES, Iowa — On Friday Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix and Senate President Jack Whitver released the results of an internal review.

Senator Majority Leader Bill Dix and Senate President Jack Whitver made the following statement regarding the release of the internal review:

“Our goal in releasing the review is to balance two competing concerns. The first concern is to be open with Iowans about the workplace issues in the Iowa Senate. The second concern is to protect the confidence of those individuals who shared this information with an expectation of confidentiality. Redactions have been made in consultation with legal counsel to protect confidential and personally identifiable information. In order to improve the workplace culture, employees need to know they can share their concerns without those issues being shared publicly. Publicizing those individuals could have a chilling effect on the willingness of employees to make reports of future incidents.

We will continue to consult with Ambassador Kramer as we work to improve the workplace culture in the Iowa Senate. As this review shows, the workplace culture needs to improve, it can improve, and with a lot of hard work, it will improve.”

The internal review and memo from legal counsel may be found at the following link: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/WMD/SenateInternalReview.pdf.

The review follows the sexual harassment and wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Kirsten Anderson. Anderson won, and the state settled for $1.7 million dollars.

“The sensitivity is really at the heart of this whole discussion in the first place. It`s ensuring that employees who have a concern, that they have a safe environment and a safe expectation of bringing that complaint forward without fear of any retaliation, and that is my sole purpose and my sole concern as it relates to how we move forward.”

Ten days ago Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix expressed concerns about releasing the results of the internal sexual harassment investigation. The governor pressured him to go public.

“I did call the senator and talked to him and encouraged him to really take the steps, so people would feel confident that they were doing the right thing,” said Governor Kim Reynolds. “(I) just encouraged him to go ahead and release the report. I thought that was a step in the right direction.”

Anderson, the former communications director for the senate republican caucus, sued over sexual harassment and wrongful termination. Following the settlement, Senator Majority Leader Dix ordered an investigation into sexual harassment within the republican caucus.

Among the findings: multiple senator staffers noted that while on the senate floor, senators would make sexually suggestive comments or comments about sexual preferences. The report also says some of the comments occurred during this past legislative session. Prior to the report, Senator Dix said there was one thing all senate staff was clear on:

“Everyone here knows that prior to the trial and even today we have zero tolerance with respect to sexual harassment, we’re going to continue that.”

However, the report found not everyone was aware of the zero tolerance policy, and that some were confused by what it meant. The report also says both current and past harassment prevention training is ineffective.

 

AMES, Iowa – According to the Ames Police, officers responded to a complaint at a skate park where Brian Peavy and another person were spray painting underneath a bridge. When the police arrived and confronted the suspects Peavy and the other person ran. Police eventually tracked down Peavy, the other suspect got away.

Peavy was arrested and charged with 4th degree criminal mischief (The criminal mischief charge is based on the amount of damage which is estimated between 200-500 dollars) and interference with official acts.

Peavy was arrested at 5:06pm and booked into the story county jail. He bonded out a short time later.

KXNO’s Chris Williams first reported that Peavy remains in good standing with the team, and is expected to play Saturday vs. Kansas State. An Iowa State spokesperson later confirmed the report.

ALTOONA, Iowa — “I like that it`s outside, but yet you still feel like it`s kind of closed in, like the mall,” said shopper Bekah Johnson. “I love the fact that they`ve got places for people to sit.”

Why not shop online? Johnson says something you can`t get while shopping online, but you can get shopping at a mall or an outlet, is ambiance and atmosphere.

“The Christmas lights, the people, the music, gets you in the spirit,” said Johnson.

And if the ambiance isn’t enough, you have folks like Corey Miles, Manager at Under Armour, doing his best to motivate shoppers.

“When you`re online, you don`t get that experience,” said Miles. Here, you come see me, you see my amazing crew behind me that have that intensity, that emotion, the passion, the excitement for our brand and our customers. (It’s a) tremendous difference when you come in the store.”

And then there are the practical advantages of shopping at brick and mortar stores.

“I like going out,” said shopper Rick Malizia. “I like to touch the material. I like to try it on so for me it`s nice to get out.”

Shopper Jennifer Mott also likes to touch the material, “because I like having things in my hands,” said Mott. “And bringing it home with you.”

You can try things on and bring them home with you the same day when you shop in person, and there’s no waiting for items to be delivered.

And of course, for some, going shopping on Thanksgiving Day is an annual tradition.

“I hate to say it, but I do,” said Mott. “I always go after family dinner.”

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

it’s all part and parcel of the holiday shopping season, which has now officially begun.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Des Moines residents are still paying for the court settlement over an illegal tax, and it could mean extra money in your pocket in time for the holidays.

Tens of millions of dollars are waiting to be claimed by people who paid utilities in the city, and residents now have the chance to claim the money they may deserve.

“We’ve received about $11 million. We have 18 months to return it to the individuals that are on the list,” said Karen Austin, Iowa Deputy Treasurer.

The list includes names of Des Moines residents past and present who were forced to pay inflated franchise fees on their MidAmerican utility bills. In 2012, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a ruling that allowed customers to receive their portion of the $32 million in refunds, despite those checks being mailed out a year ago.

Nearly $11 million belonging to 60,000 Iowans remains unclaimed. To cover the cost of the refunds, the city legally raised the fee, which means customers are already paying for their own refunds. Austin says the amount most people will receive by going to the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt website  could come in handy just in time for the holidays.

“For individuals, we’re averaging $100-300,” she said. “It is here and it is waiting for people to claim.”

Close to $1 million has already been paid out. In the event that someone has passed away, the heirs to that individual can collect the money, as well.

WAVERLY, Iowa  —  One seventh grader from eastern Iowa has the chance of a lifetime–to step on to the field at this year’s Super Bowl–but she needs the public’s help to get there.

Olivia Eckerman is a 7th grader at Waverly-Shell Rock Middle School. A gymnast and a dancer, Olivia entered a contest to be the next NFL Play 60 Super Kid.

“I am an athlete and I know the importance of eating healthy and getting active, so I wanted to encourage others to get active and eat healthy as well,” she said.

NFL Play 60 is an initiative designed to get kids active for at least 60 minutes a day to fight childhood obesity.

“Sadly, obesity is a problem, and getting active can help you feel better overall. If you start getting active now, as you get older you’ll just keep getting active because it’s your daily routine,” said Olivia.

The NFL Play 60 Super Kid gets to be on the field at this year’s Super Bowl in Minneapolis to give the game ball to the referee before the coin toss. In order to be part of the competition, Olivia first had to submit a video of her personal touchdown celebration; that got her into the top 30. Next, she had to submit a 60-second video describing how she represented the Play 60 lifestyle.

“It’s been really fun, it’s also been really nerve-wracking because sometimes we’ll submit the video and it will be a while until we hear back,” said Olivia.

When she heard back from the judges, she was in the top eight.  She then had a 15-minute interview with the NFL, during which she discussed how she worked with her school to create a healthy environment by starting a walking club and holding weekly tastings of healthy food. That was enough to make her one of the top three finalists.

“Oh, it’s incredible, we’re very proud of her, most of all because she’s just being who she is. Just be yourself and that’s the best she can do,” said Olivia’s mother, Sue.

Now Olivia needs your help.  The winner will be selected through a combination of a popular vote and what they’ve submitted so far, with a third of the total score coming from the vote.  Olivia says she wants to win not just for the experience, but the platform it would give her.

“It would be super cool, and then I can just show a bunch of people if you try really hard you can do something that you want to do. I love to get active and I’d like to encourage others on a large scale to get active, as well,” she said.

Voting has already started and will end on December 5th. To vote for Olivia, go to superkid.nflrush.com.

IOWA  —  A diagnosis of Parkinson’s isn’t deadly, but it can be seen as a life sentence.

“You don’t die from it, it just wrecks your life,” said Mark Blaedel.

The 73-year-old has been living with Parkinson’s for the past decade.  He has the telltale signs of the disease: a tremor that is only still when he sleeps. Blaedel decided to fight the symptoms of his incurable disease by doing things he’s never done until now.

“I’d never sung before.  No, I was not a singer in any way,” he said.

But soon, he would find his voice for his very own fight song.

“I’ve heard them say, well it’s a select group, you have to have Parkinson’s to be in this group,” said Dr. Elizabeth Stegemoller, a Kinesiology professor at ISU.

While there’s plenty of singing, don’t mistake them for a choir. They are part of a research group led by Stegemoller, who is studying the effects of music therapy on Parkinson’s.

“There’s a lot of research out there right now trying to find a cure or the exact cause of it. I try to focus on improving the quality of life for people who are living with the disease,” she explained.

Her goal isn’t to make them better singers; she wants them to improve their breathing and help them strengthen their muscles so they can swallow and speak.  And it’s working.

“We don’t know what it is that helps Parkinson’s disease,” said Blaedel.

But he’s up for the fight.  When he isn’t singing, you can often find Blaedel shadow boxing.  Like music therapy, something about each roll and hook makes him feel better.

“It takes a lot of coordination.  Especially the footwork is difficult for me,” he said.

There’s nothing fancy about the footwork.  The movements in this class are all about function.

“A lot of them have issues with gait and shuffling so we try to–like during the taps for example–make them lift their feet off the ground as much as possible,” said Olivia Meyer, a national boxing champion at ISU, who teaches the class.

“It’s crazy that he could be happier now that he has this really bad progressive, neurological condition, but he’s a happier person,” said Mark’s wife, Deborah.

She says they’ve learned to live in the moment.

“I prefer to think of myself as his corner man.  That just appeals to me that I’m his support person and I pick him up and push him into the ring,” she said.

Every fighter in this class is doing their best to punch holes in the theory that Parkinson’s wrecks your life.

“Mark sings a lot now.  Maybe he has, but I’m more aware of it now.  He sings around the house.  He just sings a lot,” said Deborah.

“I’ve been lucky so far,” said Mark.

Some of the findings from Professor Stegemoller’s study have already been published in Medical and Rehabilitation Journals for Parkinson’s Disease.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  The Des Moines School Board tried tackling the controversial matter of school start times on Tuesday.

For years, school leaders have argued that changes need to be made in order to benefit students and better align with sleep patterns of children at different ages.

The new proposal would shift elementary start times to 7:30 in the morning. High schools would start almost an hour later at 8:25, and middle schools at 8:30.

The plan appears to be gaining momentum.

“National organizations are literally pleading with us in K-12 education to make this change. Everyone from the Pediatrics Association, the Psychology Association, the Sleep Foundation folks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, all of these folks have written position papers essentially pleading with K-12 education to make this structural change to help adolescents learn,” said Tim Schott, Executive Director of Secondary Schools in the DMPS district.

The board indicated they wanted to move forward on the proposal, but no vote was set. They meet again on December 12th.

Bill Snyder engineered what is widely considered the greatest turnaround in college football history.

Iowa State’s young head coach, Matt Campbell, has complete respect for what Snyder built at Kansas State, and sees the K-State football culture as the benchmark for Iowa State.

The Wildcats have beaten the Cyclones nine straight times, but the games have been close.

Michael Admire reports from Ames.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  An Iowan will soon be recognized as the longest surviving heart transplant recipient by the Guinness Book of World Records.

The recipient is a veteran who has also earned two Purple Hearts.

The individual’s name has not yet been announced, but on December 1st they will be honored by VA Central Iowa Health Care System (VACIHCS) and the Iowa Donor Network. Along with honoring the vet, the event will highlight the care the veteran received and the large network of donors who help make the transplants possible.

Several guest speakers will also be in attendance, and the event is open to the public.

Event details: 

Friday, December 1st at noon

VACIHCS Main Campus, auditorium in building 4

3600 30th Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50310

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Iowans are sharing their generosity with the world.

On Sunday, volunteers gathered to pack more than 1,000 boxes during Operation Christmas Child’s 5th annual packing event.

The buzz of Christmas filled Valley Community Center as hundreds of volunteers like David Tran worked to fill shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

“To pack stuff for kids and to give them needs and to get them, like, Christmas because they have never experienced Christmas before,” Tran said.

Tran and other organizers say are filling 1,5000 boxes that will contribute to 11 million boxes nationwide. All the boxes are filled with donated items from local businesses. The gifts will reach children who live in rural communities throughout the world and don’t have money to buy things that some people take for granted.

“We even take for granted the fact that we have a pencil to write with. And so in helping to teach our children and helping to teach those in our community generosity, we’re packing these boxes with things that some of these kids don’t have,” organizer Heather Rowley said.

It’s all part of a community coming together to spread holiday joy to people thousands of miles away.

The boxes will ship out on Monday morning. Operation Christmas Child is a faith-based program under Samaritan’s Purse.