Archive for  February 2018

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DES MOINES, Iowa  —  The Insiders panel talks about first jobs, Iowa’s biggest needs, most important causes, what they’d like to see in Iowa, Statehouse surprises, and their predictions in this week’s Quick Six.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida is the latest school that will now be known as the site of a mass shooting after authorities say a former student killed or wounded nearly three dozen people.

As it has been with each of the recent mass murders, debate begins immediately with people discussing what–if anything–should be done in terms of gun laws.

Some Democrats say it’s time to ban assault style weapons, pass more mental health funding, and expand criminal background checks. When they had the majority in Congress with a Democratic president, they chose not to do those things.

Some Republicans say limiting guns isn’t the answer, and instead teachers should be armed, and armed guards and metal detectors should be put in schools. Republicans are in the majority now and have a Republican president, but they, too, have not yet chosen to take any of those actions.

Political Director Dave Price poses the questions of whether anything will be done to help stop mass murders in the future or if we will wait to have the same conversation the next time it happens?

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  A big event returned to Des Moines this weekend: the 11th annual Blue Ribbon Bacon Festival.

“We’ve grown from 200 people at the Bait Shop to well over 12,000 people here today,” said Brooks Reynolds, founder and organizer of the festival. “There’s 30 plus food vendors, seven different bacon companies, there’s four levels of bacon excitement, there’s theme bars, there’s a nightclub,the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile is here, there’s folks dressed up in costumes to go along with the International Bacon Games theme.”

This year’s dress-up theme has to do with the Olympics. Patrons were asked to support their team, and even a Jamaican bobsled team was represented at the event.

Bacon Fest ended at 5 p.m. on Saturday with a concert from Smash Mouth.

HUXLEY, Iowa  —  It happened again. On Saturday morning around 10:15 a.m., there was a 70-vehicle pileup in the southbound lane of Interstate 35.

“It boggles your mind, it happened again, and you just think, you know, how many people are hurt this time?’” said State Patrol Spokesman Nathan Ludwig.

Just 12 miles and 12 days separate Saturday morning’s pileup from the one that happened just south of Ames on Monday the 5th.

“Just a quick little blast of Iowa winter weather came through here, and I think what happened was drivers were traveling too fast for conditions and they’re driving right behind the car in front of them…again,” said Sgt. Ludwig.

Police say multiple people were sent to the hospital, but they don’t have a total count on the number of injured. One man was life-flighted with a broken arm, as medics were concerned about the possibility of nerve damage.

One woman involved in the crash described what happened.

“I was just coming down and I had, like, three car lengths of space in front of me and this other guy because it wasn’t slick, but it could have been. I saw a white SUV do a ‘U’ right in front of him, and I was like, ‘oh crap, I better slow down,’ but it was already too late because there were already three cars that had gone off the road. So I tried to curve my car to the other side of the road and I scrapped half the car and then spun back into everybody else,” said Erika DeSmidt.

DeSmidt says she was lucky to be uninjured, though her car isn’t as lucky.

“It’s totaled, I’ve got a wheel that’s, like, sideways, my whole front end’s missing…I had to kick my way out of my door,” she said.

DeSmidt hoped drivers had learned their lesson from the pileup nearly two weeks ago, but says apparently that wasn’t the case.

“I just think people need to be aware that when it starts to snow and you can’t see very well, maybe don’t do the speed limit? A lot of things happen when someone tries to over-correct their car and then they just end up spinning out, and it’s not their fault, but maybe it could have been prevented, and the rest of us obviously can’t really do anything because we can’t slam on our breaks in the snow,” she said.

Police say it took about two and a half hours to re-open the interstate.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  The list of all the high school wrestling champions since the IHSAA began hosting the tournament in 1926 is long–thirty-four pages long, to be exact.

The 1,940 athletes crowned champion all have one thing in common: the singlet.

“That’s what it has been for such a long time. I don’t really see a point in changing it because there is nothing wrong with the singlets themselves,” said Carlisle wrestler Dez Hammel.

This past May, the National Federation of State High School Associations approved two-piece uniforms. They consist of a compression shirt and smaller, wrestling-specific style shorts.

State tournament wrestler from Des Moines East, Matthew Jordan jumped at the opportunity.  He said, “The two-piece, I feel like I’m just at practice. It’s just more comfortable and I can walk around in it all day. I can’t just walk around in my singlet, I’d look goofy.”

It is still an uphill battle against traditionalists. Steve Bellon from Knoxville said, “My son did, my grandson is here today, and they wear the one-piece, and that’s the way I’d like to see it, the way I grew up watching it.”

Some naysayers took a technical approach.

Hammel said, “The real baggy trunks, I think, could hinder the other person wrestling because they could potentially get a finger caught on it and it makes it harder to grab a leg or do a certain move.”

Tammy Berenguel was busy watching West Des Moines Valley wrestlers and said, “It looks more official. The other uniform looks more difficult to wrestle in, I think.”

Other opinions, like that of ninth grade Ankeny student Sydney Brenning, were a bit more simple. “I prefer the singlet because I think the boys look better in them. I just really base it off of the guys looking good. That’s why I’m here.”

Jordan said it is helping boost turnout for the Scarlets, which is one of the reasons behind the NFHS approving the option in the first place. He said, “They are getting more kids to wrestle at our school because they don’t want to wrestle in singlets, so they feel more comfortable.”

The majority of athletes still choose tradition over trend, but Matthew Jordan admits his successful run to the state tournament run has gained a lot of positive attention.

“If I keep winning and say I make it to a state finals some year and a bunch of kids are looking at me and the younger kids want to make state finals when they are older. They may be looking at the two-piece and think it’s cool, maybe they’ll put one on and try it out,” said Jordan.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  After several mass shootings, particularly in schools, administrators in Iowa are assessing their school security plans and trying to figure out what they need to change.

Phil Roeder with Des Moines Public Schools said they work closely with the Broward County School District in Florida because they are in the same group called the Council of the Great City Schools. Any time a tragedy like a school shooting happens across the country, it affects everyone in education.

One administrator said school shootings have become a big part of the culture in the United States.

“I think it’s really a shame that we have to even focus on this, and it’s unfortunate but it’s part of our culture now, and it really detracts from the learning and education. Teachers used to have to just worry about reading, writing, and arithmetic, and now they’re worried about protecting their students from bullets,” Iowa School Safety Alliance board member Jane Colacecchi said.

Many schools are already practicing for all types of disasters in central Iowa.

“That involves everything from doing drills with our students and staff. Everything from lock downs, to fires, to tornadoes, to our school resource officers. We have eight Des Moines police officers that work for the school district. We also have our own security staff. We are one of the only school districts in the state of Iowa that has a full-time security staff that monitors safety systems and cameras and things like that,” Roeder said.

Colacecchi said after so many school tragedies, security and preparedness are not enough–the issue goes deeper.

“I think it’s important for schools to look at behavioral threat assessment training as an option. To be able to recognize in their individual students who may pose a threat to the student body,” Colacecchi said.

Roeder said there is only so much law enforcement and schools can do to prevent and prepare for the worst.

“We are not a prison, we’re not, we don’t have lockdown situations where you defend the perimeter of a school grounds and things like that. And that’s why we really need lawmakers at any level, whether it’s the state level or the federal level, to step in and really get serious about gun violence,” Roeder said.

On Thursday, Iowa lawmakers discussed a bill that would require schools to have in depth security plans in place, but the Iowa School Safety Alliance and DMPS said legislation on gun reform also needs to be part of the conversation.

“It brings both law enforcement and emergency management to the table,” Colacecchi said. “So you have the people that are experts in training as well as the people who are experts in planning working together. And it also builds a relationship of responders within the community and helps improve collaboration prior to an emergency happening.”

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  “I don’t care how agitating kids are, we don’t put our hands on them,” said Jennifer Thompson, a mother of two students that go to Hiatt Middle School, who is furious about the alleged actions of a substitute teacher at school on Thursday.

“There were reports of him shoving students into desks and lockers, and my daughter happened to be friends with one of the girls that was shoved into a desk.”

Thompson is not happy with the way the school handled the situation.

“They didn’t bother to call anybody and tell us, like they normally send out massive text messages for weather, but they can’t send out a text message telling us that there was a disturbance at school?” said Thompson. “They sent home some cheesy letter and expect that to be okay.”

That letter, signed by Principal Deborah Chapman, said, in part:

“Dear Hiatt Families,

Today, we had a new substitute teacher in our building who was clearly not ready to be in a middle school classroom…During third period, students began to report physical confrontations with this substitute. The substitute was escorted to the office and, after a brief discussion, was immediately escorted out of the building.”

Meanwhile, Thompson is ready to pull her kids from Hiatt and homeschool them, saying “they don’t deserve this treatment, not from staff, not from other students. They deserve to feel safe.”

WAUKEE, Iowa  —  After 21 days in the hospital due to complications of the flu, a Waukee boy is now at home.

Seven-year-old Jaxson Ridout was hospitalized last month with the flu. At one point he was put into a medically-induced coma.

On Thursday, his mother posted an update saying the young boy was home.

The Fort Dodge Dodgers win the class 3A team dual championship, 40-28 over Waukee.

Michael Admire has the highlights and post-match interviews from Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

PARKLAND, Fla. – Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old man suspected of gunning down at least 17 people Wednesday at a Parkland, Florida, high school,had once been expelled from the school for disciplinary reasons, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said.

Hours after the gunman opened fire on students and staff near the end of the day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, details began to emerge about the former student behind one of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern US history.

Here is what is known about the suspect so far:

‘Disturbing’ digital profile

Cruz was expelled from the high school for unspecified disciplinary reasons, said officials, who provided different spellings of Cruz’s first name throughout the day.

Officials are examining Cruz’s digital profile, which contained what Israel described as “very, very disturbing” content.

Arrested without incident

Cruz was taken into custody without incident in nearby Coral Springs after the shootings, according to Israel.

The suspect has been talking to investigators, according to a law enforcement source.

Heavily armed

Police said Cruz was armed with multiple magazines and at least one AR-15 style rifle.

Law enforcement sources told CNN the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is tracing the.223 caliber, AR-15 style firearm used in the shootings.

Suspect sought higher death toll

Investigators believe the suspect pulled the school’s fire alarm to draw people out and get a higher death toll, according to a law enforcement source.

There had been a fire drill at the school earlier in the day, leading some to believe at first that the afternoon incident was another drill, a student told CNN affiliate WSVN. “Everyone just started freaking out.”

“But then word started going around that it was shots and not just, like, something else, everyone just started running towards the canal,” the student said.