Archive for  October 2018

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds’ Harvest Festival had a pep rally atmosphere, but Governor Reynolds was not the only one firing up the crowd.

“I’m reading this room governor, and here’s what I’m reading right now…Iowa believes in you!” yelled Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann.

The festival wasn’t necessarily designed to inform people of the governor’s platform, rather, it was there to get her voters excited for election day.

“I think we’re all pretty tight though, I think everybody pretty much knows what the platform is so I think tonight was about fun” said voter Ada Underwood.

Among the guest list of speakers included Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst.

“Iowa is on a roll, Kim Reynolds is leading that charge to keep us rolling” said Grassley.

“We are going to keep Iowa moving because all of us are going to go to the polls and we are going to cast our ballot for Kim Reynolds and all our wonderful republican candidates” said Ernst.

Headlining the event was a member of the Trump Administration, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Sanders helped take shots at Reynolds’ opponent, Fred Hubble.

“Her opponent on the other hand is a liberal democrat who would be a total disaster for your state. Trust me, I’ve seen what a liberal democrat running a state looks like, remember I’m from Arkansas and I lived under the Clintons for a long time” said Huckabee Sanders.

Governor Reynolds took the opportunity to remind her supporters to get to the polls.

“We need to stay motivated, we need to stay engaged, I need your vote, the republican team needs your vote” she said.

The message of the night resonated with her base.

“I think it’s a very important election and I think everybody, on both sides, has been very excited about the election, so I think it will be good” said Underwood.

The governor also touted the state’s budget surplus, her small-town roots, and the low unemployment rate.

DES MOINES, Iowa–  Dozens gathered at Cindy Axne’s campaign headquarters in Des Moines for former HUD Secretary Julian Castro’s first stop in Iowa as he barnstorms for Iowa Democrats.

Castro is here to support Cindy Axne and five other Democratic candidates vying to represent their communities on a state level.

Castro says supporting those Democrats is more important now, than ever.  “In order to take back the house the democrats need some of these seats in Iowa,” Julian Castro said.

Later this evening Castro campaigned with J.D. Scholten, a Democrat running for congress in District Four against Republican Steve King.

On Thursday, King took to Twitter to jab at Castro and his brother saying, “The two took ‘Spanish lessons to qualify as retroactive Hispanics.”

“Steve King has just sat by as this economy has hurt Iowa farmers with a needless and senseless trade war,” Castro said.

Castro is talking about the growing U.S. and China trade war, which some Iowa farmers say is to blame for increasing levies on agriculture products.

Some wonder if Castro will run in 2020 against President Trump.

“Helping candidates who are on the 2018 ballot, so I am not going to make a decision about the future until after this election because all of our attention needs to be focused on 2018,” Castro said.

WINTERSET, Iowa — The Madison County Chamber of Commerce knew that the cost to replace the Cedar Bridge would be costly.

“When we first had estimates of what it was going to cost to rebuild cedar bridge in the manner that we want with the steel it was just under $600,000” said Chamber Executive Director Heather Riley.

The target of a 2017 arson, steel would make the bridge more fireproof, and it was less expensive than going all wood.  However, the Trump Administration’s tariffs on foreign steel is raising the price.

“Now we’ve committed to a $720,000 project because that’s the price” said Riley.

The tariffs have put them $190,000 short of their goal. The chamber hopes the weekend’s covered bridge festival helps bring them closer to reaching it.

“People who come here love Madison County, love the community, love our covered bridges, so we think they’ll want to help us out” said Riley.

Those people include Ken Marek, a photographer from Omaha who didn’t realize the bridge had burned down. He had planned to take pictures on Friday.

“Oh, I thought, ‘what a drag’. Why would somebody do something like that?” said Marek.

He says photographers all over the area cherish the Bridges of Madison County.

Not only unique, but the historical factor of them. They used these bridges years and years ago to get from point A to point B, it’s really special” he said.

Despite the increased cost, Riley says the hope is to have the replaced bridge in place next October; the 50th anniversary of the covered bridge festival.

“That’ll be a fantastic year anyway, a lot to celebrate, but to have Cedar Bridge on top of all that will really put us over the top” she said.

The covered bridge festival kicks off Saturday morning at 9 a.m. The three teens convicted of the Cedar Bridge arson were each sentenced to probation this year.

CRESTON, Iowa — Shovels pierced into the Creston soil overturning fresh emotions.  “It is reopened on a daily basis.  It is just not anything you forget about. You don’t get over it,” said Beth Fry, mother of Amy Sharp who died along with her husband Kevin and two children Sterling and Adrianna in March while vacationing in Mexico.  While asleep, the family of four inhaled toxic gases from a faulty water heater.  “No family needs to go through what our families have been through,” Beth added.

Nearly seven months after their death, seventh grade Creston Middle School classmates of twelve year-old Sterling planted new life in his honor.  “It was very honorable for Sterling,” said Renee Hoyt, Amy’s sister.

Each scoop had a purpose, and students shared the shoveling.  “They have been in the healing process since the tragedy took place,” said Creston Middle School Principal Brad Baker.

Finally the Linden tree stood as firm in the ground as the Sharp family’s memory within the Creston community.  Baker said, “Seeing the tree grow and prosper lets us remember the sharp family will not be forgotten.”

While tributes and memorials may not bring the Sharps back, their family members played a role in something that may save lives.  They talked Governor Kim Reynolds into proclaiming November Carbon Monoxide Awareness Month.  It is a gas that has killed an average of twenty Iowans a year since 2000.  Beth said, “I don’t want somebody to drop their kids off at the neighbor’s house for a play date to spend the night without knowing that family is protecting everybody in the home with a detector.”

An eventual victory family members hope can spread much like the roots of Sterling’s tree. Renee said, “If we can save one person’s life, one family’s life, it is a victory.”

INDIANOLA, Iowa– Thirteen teaching positions at Simpson College are being eliminated it’s the universities’ second round of layoffs this year in the same round of cuts.

French and German majors will no longer be offered, and some say the biggest hit is the school’s art department is closing.

We found it’s all part of a nationwide trend.

“We added a health human services major and a data science major,” Jill Johnson VP Marketing and Communications at Simpson said.

But that comes at a cost.

“They just told me that the art department was going to be discontinued,” art instructor Justin Nostrala said.

Closing the Art Department and discontinuing French and German majors is the schools latest push to save money and boost enrollment.

Justin Nostrala will lose his job he has taught art Simpson here for 17 years and he is not alone, twelve other faculty will be laid off too.

“I’d hoped that the college would find a way to keep up the art department,” Nostrala said.

The university says there just isn’t enough money.

“Due to lack of student enrollment declining student enrollment over the years,” Jill Johnson said.

Over the past three years, full-time enrollment at Simpson is down from 1379 in 2016 to 1250 in 2018.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, nation-wide there are 14,000 less fulltime private college students this academic year.

Layoffs depend on a teacher’s contract, Nostrala is tenure so his last day will be sometime in May 2020.

Students can still declare art as a major and the university says there will be resources, so students can graduate.

The school will no longer recruit for art, French or German majors.

The cuts will not impact to scholarship money offered to students in those fields.

ANKENY, Iowa–The pressure wasn’t nearly as intense but two running mates did play a role in the first debate between Iowa candidates for governor at DMACC in Ankeny Tuesday night.

State Senator Rita Hart, a Wheatland Democrat and Fred Hubbell’s lieutenant governor choice, explained what she did to help.

Acting Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg, a Republican, shared how he and Governor Kim Reynolds prepared.

ANKENY, Iowa–The first debate Tuesday night between two candidates for governor in Iowa featured several back-and-forth exchanges as each tried to capitalize on perceived weaknesses of the other.

Fred Hubbell, a Democrat, tried to get Governor Kim Reynolds, a Republican, to refuse to take any more campaign donations from managed care companies that have taken over the privatized delivery of Medicaid services from state management. Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price has previously criticized Reynolds for taking those donations, although, several top Statehouse Democratic leaders have also taken similar donations.  

Reynolds declined to make the pledge and instead came after Hubbell for his refusal to release more details about the income sources of his wealth through his full tax returns. 

“So you’re going to take contributions from the managed care organizations?” Hubbell asked Reynolds.

Reynolds responded, “I’m transparent with the contributions that I’m taking. Why don’t you release your tax statements so Iowans can see maybe what you’re hiding or you’re embarrassed of.”

Hubbell followed, “I think the governor is questioning my motivation to run for governor. It’s never been about the money. I’ve even offered to not get paid to be governor because all I care about is the people of this state.”

The debate, sponsored by KCCI-TV and the Des Moines Register, took place at Des Moines Area Community College’s Ankeny campus.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa–Thousands of supporters spent hours in the rain before President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Council Bluffs Tuesday night. Tents offered temporary relief from the downpour but supporters spent most of their time in a pouring rain that rarely stopped throughout the day.

Rhonda Baldwin, a Trump supporter from Council Bluffs, said the wait and the drenching were worth it. “I’m soaked!” she said.

She said she appreciates the President’s stance on illegal immigration and has confidence in him that he will continue to improve the economy. Asked why she was willing to wait in the rain when she could have just watched the rally on television, she responded, “Because he’s the President of the United States!”

Supporters, many covered in ponchos or trash bags to stay as dry as possible, were not allowed to take their umbrellas into the rally. Hundreds of discarded umbrellas were on the ground outside the entrance after supporters made their way inside.


DES MOINES, Iowa — It has been a summer Beaverdale resident Cassandra Hohl won’t soon forget.  “I walked over to the window and there was someone standing on top of the box that i put my cushions from my deck in,” said Cassandra.

In July, Cassandra noticed someone staring at her outside of her back window as she was changing for the night.  She said, “I panicked, I grabbed my phone and ran into the bathroom because it’s the only room in the house without a window.”

It left Cassandra feeling extremely uncomfortable in her own bedroom forcing her to spend three months on the couch.  “Just knowing if someone gets in I would have two ways to get out of the house.  In my bedroom there is just no way to get out,” said Cassandra.  So she decided to take that power back.  “I ordered some cameras and extra lighting and my house looks like a football field at night now,” Cassandra said.

Two months later in September her security system’s motion sensors went off but Cassandra’s reaction wasn’t one of panic.  “I’m done being scared. I’m angry,” said Cassandra.

This time her proactive measures caught the man on camera.  “He was standing out back by my stairs nearby where he was before and I saw it as it was happening.”

He left before police could arrive but Cassandra used the video to take to her neighborhood association on social media where it was viewed thousands of times.  “Four people I’ve never met, random people recognized him and gave me the same name,” said Cassandra.

Police arrested Ricardo Tyrone Scott a registered sex offender on trespassing and violating his sex offender registration.  Cassandra said, “His history, you have to take into account and the fact he made two trips to the home.  Without a doubt in our mind he was ramping himself up to do something else and she prevented herself from being a victim.”

Cassandra’s message to anyone afraid to take the measures she took to protect her home is simple.  She said, “Whether or not the surveillance cameras and security system ever end up serving the purpose they are supposed to, it is peace of mind. you cannot put a price on that.”

Cassandra credits the detective on the case for making her feel more secure in her home.  Ricardo Scott has an arraignment hearing set for November 5th at 8:30 am.

BOONE, Iowa–New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, a Democrat, accomplished several things all at once during a campaign rally in Boone Monday afternoon.

  1. He helped to attract far more people than organizers expected at the Boone County Democrats headquarters in downtown Boone (150 people, they estimated).
  2. He reminded Iowans that they could now officially begin early voting.
  3. He brought attention to a handful of Democrats running for office. Those included J.D. Scholten of Sioux City (Fourth Congressional District candidate running against incumbent Republican Steve King of Kiron), David Weaver of Rippey (candidate in an open race for House District 47 to face Republican Phil Thompson of Jefferson) and Tim Winter of Kelley (candidate in House District 48 against incumbent Republican Rob Bacon of Slater).

Booker slammed corporations dominating agriculture and forcing smaller, family farms out of the businesses, threatening the livelihoods of people in rural Iowa. “The first small business people were American independent family farms,” Booker said, “and what’s happening as a result of this farm consolidation is that we’re driving farmers across America out of business.”

He also criticized Iowa Republicans for policies that he said have added to that suffering by weakening collective bargaining, underfunding schools and privatizing Medicaid. “If they’re coming after farmers, if they’re coming after teachers, if they’re going after students, if they’re coming after unions, there’s one thing we got to do…that is stand up and vote,” Booker told the crowd.