Archive for  February 21st 2018

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KNOXVILLE, Iowa  —  The Memorial Hall in Knoxville, which is right next to American Legion Baty Tucker Post 168, was burglarized last week when three .30-40 Krags and two M1 Garands were taken. The Krags were originally used in the Spanish-American War and World War I, and the Garands were used in World War II and the Korean War.

“These weapons have great significance to our unit here,” said Curt Froyen, Commander of American Legion Baty Tucker Post 168. “They’ve gone into battle in…different wars and we’ve used them now for the last 70 years to honor our veterans. Our funeral Honor Guard and members of our legion are just devastated with their loss. I guess we just hope that somehow they can be returned to us so that they can continue to be used the way they were intended to be used.”

The rifles are used by the Honor Guard during 4th of July parades, Memorial Day services, and a variety of other occasions.

“But most importantly, we use them to honor our veterans as we salute at military funerals,” said Commander Froyen. “Our unit does over 30 funerals a year here in the Knoxville area, and we think about all the men and women who served this country, and the loss of these weapons is devastating to us.”

While the rifles are ceremonial now, in the wrongs hands, they could be very dangerous.

“One of the things that we are most concerned about is if these were in the hands of an inexperienced individual,” said Commander Froyen. “These rifles have been modified to shoot blanks, they are not meant to shoot live rounds, and if someone were to actually try to fire a live ammunition through one of these, the results could be catastrophic, and we’d hate to think of someone who would be injured as a result of trying to fire one of these weapons.”

The Knoxville Police Department is investigating this theft.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Iowans ages 15-34 and the third leading cause for 10-14-year-olds. Those statistics, from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, are not falling on deaf ears at the state capitol any longer.

“Many of us have been touched by suicide in the past. It’s one of those disappointing things that happen in life,” said Republican State Senator Craig Johnson of Buchanan County.

Legislators are hoping a bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate, can arm teachers with the tools needed to help prevent student suicides.  Democratic Senator Matt McCoy of Polk County said, “It’s to help teachers be able to spot the warning signs of kids expressing behavior that might identify that they are in a bad place.”

The bill still needs House approval. but would require teachers to take one hour of suicide prevention and awareness training whenever they renew their teaching license.

“They see it, they live with it, they are right there at the forefront with our students.  First to notice something if something is going on with the students,” said Senator Johnson.

Iowa is currently one of 22 states without mandated suicide prevention training for teachers. There are currently 11 states that mandate the training annually and another 17 that mandate it–but not annually–similar to the proposal in Iowa where a standard teaching license is valid for five years.

McCoy said the training would help teachers “be able to spot some of the withdrawing from life, some sort of the sadness, some of the sense of not belonging, and those are things we can do.”

In an era during which Republicans and Democrats have not been seeing eye-to-eye on mental health and education, legislators believe the unanimous Senate vote holds a strong meaning.

“I love the fact that it is being done with 100% bipartisan support because this is what people send us to do,” said McCoy. “These kinds of bills and to work on the cooperative legislation.”