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DES MOINES, Iowa  —  The man accused of a murder in Beaverdale is headed to prison.

According to the Des Moines Register, a jury convicted 26-year-old Larry Ratliff Jr. on Friday afternoon. Ratliff shot and killed Antonio Quinn last April in what prosecutors say was a drug deal that turned deadly. Police say it started out as a robbery and turned into a murder when the victim fought back.

Molly Peter, 18, is also charged with murder in this case. Police say she drove Ratliff to and from the scene of the shooting. Her trial is scheduled for January.

KNOXVILLE, Iowa — The jury in the Carter vs. Carter wrongful death lawsuit found Jason Carter responsible for the death of his mother, Shirley Carter.

“Question one: did defendant Jason Carter batter Shirley Carter causing damages to plaintiffs? Answer: yes. Question two: did plaintiff Bill G. Carter batter Shirley Carter and damages to her estate answer? No,” Judge Martha Mertz said.

The jury also awarded $250,000 dollars for pain and suffering and awarded $10 million to the estate.

Bill Carter’s attorney Mark Weinhardt says the jury gave them everything they asked for.

“All of us on the plaintiffs side are thrilled to have a first step in the direction of justice for Shirley Carter. This was a hardworking and very attentive jury. They got to the truth and they did so today, efficiently. I’m proud of them and happy to have them do that,” Weinhardt said.

Jason Carter declined to comment immediately following the trial. His attorneys, Steve Wandro and Alison Kanne, said they wanted to talk to their client before making a formal comment.

The jury heard closing arguments from Weinhardt and Kanne about three hours before they decided on the verdict. Both attorneys said they wanted justice.

“You have a rare opportunity to do justice in this case. You can’t heal all of Bill Carter’s wounds. You can’t begin to, but you can start. Today is when we get justice for Shirley Carter,” Weinhardt said.

“You have an opportunity to clear this man’s name. This man who’s been treated horribly despite never having been charged with a crime, because there is no evidence. Think about what’s been presented to you and whether or not that was proof enough that Jason somehow did this and whether or not you’re willing to say that, ‘yes, he committed this crime based on nothing.’ Do justice. Clear his name,” Kanne said.

Weinhardt said Bill Carter will be available on Monday for a statement.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Nevada is the only state in America where betting on sports is legal, but that may soon change. New Jersey is questioning the constitutionality of the status quo, and the case has reached the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Court rules in New Jersey’s favor, betting on sports could soon be legal here in Iowa; if state lawmakers take advantage of the opening.

“I think it`s a great move,” said Myles Goertz of West Des Moines. “I think that get people out of their rooms, and off betting on the computer and I think that, get them in here (into the Casino), get them spending money on the drinks, you know. It would help boost the local Iowa economy, not only would it help people nationally, but this would be great for Iowa.”

“I think a lot of people enjoy sports, watching sports, and the opportunity to bet on it, especially in a legalized environment, and set the standards by our Racing and Gaming Commission and high levels of integrity, assure that you`re going to be paid and to have it here, I believe will be a positive,” said Wes Ehrecke, President and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association.

Folks WHO caught up with outside of Prairie Meadows in Altoona agree.

“You know, I come out here (Prairie Meadows) with my grandpa every once in awhile, just to keep him busy,” said Goertz. “I do enjoy gambling, craps is my game, but, you know, if sports betting was legal, you could bet that I`m gonna be out here betting on some hockey.”

“Yeah, that would be good for all the football fans and stuff like that,” said Roy Nelson of Des Moines.

What would legalized sports betting look like?

“I believe it would be much like what you`d see in a Vegas sports book…” said Ehrecke. “…To come into a casino to do that first and foremost, (would) probably be the way that it (would) initially be structured to get this going…”

It`s also possible that people would be able to place their bets online.

In a statement to WHO, Iowa Lottery Authority President and CEO Terry Rich, said the following:

“The Iowa Lottery has discussed the issue of sports betting, knowing that the Supreme Court would hear Christie vs. NCAA, the New Jersey case about sports betting and in particular, the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA). Now that the Dec. 4 court hearing has occurred, we all await the court’s decision, which is anticipated in the late spring-early summer timeframe.

Lotteries around the country assume many roles, and the technology certainly exists for the lottery to offer such a product. It would need to be conducted with all appropriate safeguards and consumer protections in place. We take direction for the products that we offer from the Legislature and Governor’s Office, and will look to our state’s lawmakers for decisions on any such developments here in Iowa.

As we have said many times, we believe that consistent regulation across all forms of gaming here in Iowa is paramount in any such discussions.”





DES MOINES, Iowa — According to the National Highway Transportation Administration there are three makes and models similar to the Riverside Community School District bus that crashed on Tuesday that are listed as being under a recall.  They range from a turn signal not working properly to a malfunction that may cause or contribute to a potential fire in the engine bay, possibly resulting in serious injury or death.  Pete Kotowski of the NTSB investigation said, “That recall involved an issue with an electrical circuitry. Whether that has any involvement in that is an area we are going to examine and make sure that belongs to this particular vehicle.”  That particular vehicle was a 2005 International school bus.  According to Riverside Community School Board documents from June of this year, the district unanimously approved the leasing of two new school buses with seat belts for reasons that included,  “Our fleet of buses is getting up in miles and years.’   Documents from that same meeting show the bus that caught fire, bus number four had 154,128 miles heading into the 2017 school year.  While it is still uncertain if the bus was under a recall, officials within the Des Moines school district confirmed no buses within their fleet are in need of a recall.  The West Des Moines school district does not operate any 2005 International buses and the same goes for Urbandale and Waukee school districts.

School bus inspections are also required to be inspected twice a year by the Department of Education along with assistance from the Iowa State Patrol, the most recent inspections for the riverside school district were posted on November 28th.  Of the district’s seventeen vehicles inspected, nine passed with four other vehicles having at least one thirty-day repair item and four more deemed unfit for transportation service.  Vehicles with 30 day repair items can still be used for student transportation for up to 30 calendar days.  Some of these items would include torn seat covers, a loose first aid kid mounting bracket, or a headlight that only works on one beam.

DES MOINES, Iowa — “Over the past week or so, we have been seeing more positive confirmed cases through our laboratory, as well as we`ve seen a number of patients admitted with influenza over the past week, which is an increase in what we saw previous weeks,” said Jeff Brock, Infectious Diseases Pharmacy Specialist at Mercy Medical Center.

With flu season upon us, along comes a troubling article in The New England Journal of Medicine. The article cites reports from Australia, where there have been record-high numbers of laboratory-confirmed influenza notifications and outbreaks and higher than average numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. The Journal reports that according to the Australian Government Department of Health influenza A (H3N2) viruses predominated, and the preliminary estimate of vaccine effectiveness against influenza A (H3N2) was only 10%.

“It is concerning, because we plan for our influenza season based on what`s going on in the Southern Hemisphere, but that doesn`t necessarily mean that our vaccine`s gonna be 10% effective during our season,” said Brock. “Viruses mutate, we could see different strains here than they saw during their season.”

While it’s unclear what the implications of what’s going on in Australia are for the Northern Hemisphere, medical professionals here in Iowa still express a high degree of confidence in the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.

“The flu vaccine really was meant to stop serious illness and death,” said Patricia Quinlisk, Medical Director and State Epidemiologist at Iowa Department of Public Health. “That`s really what we want to stop. Don`t care so much if a kid has a sniffle for a couple days, and we know that in previous years our vaccine has been effective, maybe somewhere between 50 and 80% of stopping serious illness and death, which is pretty good, because that`s really what you want to stop.”

Quinlisk continued: “It may not stop every sniffle, but if you’re someone who wants to not get seriously ill, doesn’t want to end up in the hospital and certainly doesn’t want to die, this is a good vaccine to get and to be honest, about the only vaccine we have right now for the flu. So, you might as well get it and it will protect you to some extent and will cause you to protect your family and the people around you, because you won’t be getting ill with the flu and spreading it.”

Since 2010, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that flu has resulted in between 140 ,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations each year. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.


CALIFORNIA  —  Dr. Antonio Wong and his wife remember falling in love with their first home, a 3,000 square-foot beauty in Southern California they’ve owned for more than a decade.

“You have your first love, your first home, your first car,” said Wong, 50, an anesthesiologist.

They rented out their Ventura home when they moved out of state in 2008.

But California drew them back. In May of this year, Wong and his wife, Pratima, 48, bought their second home in the state, this time in Santa Rosa in the north. It was not far from Wong’s family in the Bay Area.

Now, both homes are gone. They were lost to raging wildfires within two months of each other.

In October, the Tubbs Fire destroyed their Santa Rosa home. Last week, the Thomas Fire torched their Ventura home.

“It was pretty devastating. It didn’t seem like I could lose two houses in two separate fires only two months apart,” Antonio Wong said.

Now, the couple is trying to figure out their next steps.

“I have so much to do to rebuild my house here,” the doctor said. “The thought of trying to rebuild a house down there at the same time is overwhelming. I don’t know what I am going to do.”

A ‘security blanket’

In 2003, Wong bought the Ventura home while he and Pratima were still dating. The former owner allowed them to put less than 10% down and entered into an owner financing arrangement.

The home had three fireplaces. French doors in the living room. Wong added a hot tub in the backyard.

He invited co-workers to host baby showers and other celebrations there.

“When you walk in, you just feel comfortable,” he said. To them, the home was “a security blanket.”

He and Pratima, who hails from Thailand, moved to the Seattle area in 2008 and later to Reno, Nevada, for Wong’s work. None of those places felt like home, though.

Around July 2016, the Wongs moved to Santa Rosa to be closer to his family.

They rented before buying about a year later, just a couple months before the Tubbs Fire.

“Since leaving Ventura, it was the most at home we’d felt,” Wong said. “We started to unpack boxes we’d had packed for years.”

Wong celebrated his 50th birthday at the Santa Rosa home in September. He smoked ribs and brisket for the party.

‘It looked like a torch’

In October, the couple’s 19-year-old adopted son woke up his parents after he saw the glow of the Tubbs Fire in the distance.

Glued to the news, the family gathered their dog and cat. The smoke grew thicker, making the air hard to breathe. The fire hadn’t engulfed homes in their neighborhood yet, but neighbors were already evacuating their homes.

“We didn’t take all the stuff you would take if you thought your house was going to burn,” Wong said. “So, we took a couple changes of clothes and our IDs, and that’s it.”

As they drove away, they saw a pine tree on fire across the street.

Dr. Antonio Wong lost his Santa Rosa home during an October wildfire. It was the first of two houses he would lose this year to California wildfires.

“It looked like a torch. That’s when we realized we might not come back,” he said.

The wildfire turned their home into ash and melted two of their cars and a motorcycle. The Tubbs Fire, which scorched more than 36,000 acres was most destructive of the blazes in Napa and Sonoma counties.

“Well, I still have that house down there,” Wong reassured himself, referring to the Ventura home.

The Wongs moved into a Santa Rosa rental unit late last month.

Earlier in November, the couple wore protective gear as they spent hours sifting through the rubble of the torched Santa Rosa home. They were looking for Pratima’s wedding ring and a family heirloom passed down from her grandmother.

“There is not a lot you could do, you just kind of sit there and look at the ashes and try to figure out where something might be,” Wong said.

He added: “It alters your sense of everything.”

Losing the Ventura house was ‘painful’

On December 4, they had a home-cooked meal. That day, the Thomas Fire broke out hundreds of miles to the south.

“It was starting to feel like … we’re going to start rebuilding; we’re getting back on our feet,” Wong said.

Around dawn the next day, Wong woke up to a warning about the Southern California fire, one of six major blazes that firefighters would battle.

“Bad news. Fire in Santa Paula rapidly moving into Ventura. Giving you a heads up since you have house there,” a friend’s text message said.

Hours later, another message said: “You house was just on tv briefly. Spa looked to be on fire.”

The couple’s four tenants, including three military service members, evacuated the Ventura home.

Pratima said it was difficult to watch their residence on fire on television. They still haven’t seen the house in person.

“Losing that house was very painful, because I know that house was loved by a lot of people, including the previous owners,” she said.

The Thomas Fire, which is larger than New York City, was about 25% contained Tuesday, according to Cal Fire.

Throughout the ordeal, the Wongs have felt the support of family and neighbors in Santa Rosa.

“Everybody has been so supportive,” Wong said. “I don’t know what to ask for. But everybody keeps saying, ‘What do you need?’ ”

The couple wants to rebuild the Santa Rosa home, but Wong said he is unsure whether their insurance will cover the rebuilding costs.

And the possibility of a year-round California wildfire seasons, as predicted by Gov. Jerry Brown, frightens him.

“California is changing. There’s been a lot of conversation around this could be the new normal,” Wong said.

He added: “We are scared of fires. Now we have two things to be scared of: earthquakes and fire.”

IOWA  —  Tuesday evening marked the first night of Hanukkah.

To celebrate the holiday in the metro, the first candle on the giant menorah in front of Maccabee’s Kosher Deli was lit.

“Every time there is a moment of chaos, or we hear so many bad stories or so many bad things, just do another act of kindness. Yes, if you’re at school or you’re at home and you need to call someone, you know someone that’s sick, you have a friend that’s being bullied, do one act of goodness and kindness,” said Motti Jacobson of Lubavitch of Iowa. “That’s our mission and every bit of light that we can bring to this world.”

This is the 17th lighting of the menorah. One candle will be lit each night of Hanukkah, which ends on December 20th.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Monday’s swearing-in ceremony of new at-large West Des Moines City Council member Renee Hardman was groundbreaking.

Defeating incumbent Rick Messerschmidt, she became the first African American woman and second female city council member in West Des Moines history.

“It was a moment that I was most proud of and just took a moment to thank God for leading me on this journey,” said Hardman.

A standing room only crowd recognized the milestone of triumph.  Hardman said, “All you can say is you are humbled by it. Your spirit is humbled by the extraordinary showing of support, and for that I am grateful.”

Many eyes witnessed history, but it was Hardman’s leap of faith from Chicago nearly 40 years ago that laid the foundation for the monumental moment.

“I came to Iowa in 1979, sight unseen to attend Drake University,” said Hardman.

That same blind faith mentality is what impressed her most about the voters as she campaigned for their support.  She said, “I did learn that people didn’t necessarily care whether I was a woman or an African American. They cared about what I brought to the table.”

Now with a seat at that table, Hardman says her path may allow others to pull up a chair, as well.

“I want them to see that if you work hard and have the values necessary and you look people in the eye and say, ‘I want to be your voice, I want to hear what is on your mind,’ it can happen.”

Two issues Hardman hopes to make an early impact on are citizen engagement and affordable housing in West Des Moines.

For full video of the swearing-in ceremony from the Communicator Newspaper, click here.

AMES, Iowa  —  According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, “REAL ID” refers to federal anti-terrorism laws and regulations that control access to federal facilities requiring identification to enter, federally regulated commercial aircraft, and nuclear power facilities.

“The Iowa DOT started issuing REAL IDs back in 2013,” said Andrea Henry, Director of Strategic Communications for the Iowa DOT. “So if you were someone just received their driver’s license for the first time since then, you would automatically have the gold star, but if you were not one of those, you would have to request to get a REAL ID.”

The REAL ID indicates to officials and employees controlling access to federal facilities that require identification to enter, federally regulated commercial aircraft, and nuclear power facilities that the person holding the driver’s license or ID card established their identity, lawful status or presence, and residence in a manner that complied with the federal regulations.

Come October 1st, 2020, REAL ID regulations will go into effect in Iowa.

“And what will happen at that date is that anyone who is wishing to fly commercially, enter a federal building, or enter a nuclear power facility will need to have a REAL ID marked card, unless they have other forms of identification, such as a passport or a military ID,” said Henry.

If you want to know what kind of documentation you need to bring to a driver’s license station to get a REAL ID with the gold star mark, you can find out by visiting the Iowa DOT’s website.

Iowa State’s starting quarterback at the start of the season, Jacob Park, says he wants to transfer out of Iowa State.

Park took a leave of absence for personal health reasons after Iowa State’s loss to Texas. The Cyclones then won four straight games, including a shocking upset at Oklahoma with Kyle Kempt at quarterback.

Park says he failed a drug test for marijuana use after feeling the pressures of school, football, and fatherhood.

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell says he’ll support Park.

The Des Moines Register’s Tommy Birch broke the story, and here’s the article: