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AMES, Iowa-The new production called NOEL the Musical will open Friday night at Stephens Auditorium. NOEL is on a tour of the Midwest, 20 cities, including Akron OH, Cedar Rapids, and Modesto CA.

This musical was born out of a meeting arranged by a mutual friend to dinner in Ames.

“Michael moved here 5 years ago,we were introduced by a friend, a common friend, who told me I know a guy who sings you ought to meet him,” said Steve Peters of Venueworks in Ames, the company which is producing the project.

“I know a guy who runs theaters you know, in our game you hear that all the time,” said Michael Londra, one of the co-producers of NOEL.

A mutual friend brought the two together.

“Took her about six months to actually convince us to meet, she threw a nice dinner for us at her house, we clicked,” said Peters.

“As soon as we sat down, we clicked, we knew what we both wanted to do,” said Londra.

The two worked around an idea for a Christmas musical. They found a writing duo from Ireland to come up with words and a music. In Londra’s hometown Wexford Ireland, they held concert versions of the basic musical.

The National Opera House sold out a week’s performances.

The little girl Noel, 10 years old, has lost her Mom. Her mom has disappeared,” said Peters. “At the same time Noel is supposed to sing the lead in the local community Christmas production that Santa left Christmas five years earlier, and stopped delivering presents.”

NOEL the Musical will be in Ames Friday night for one performance at 7:30 at Stephens Auditorium.

DES MOINES, Iowa — From Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! public health campaign, to the Healthiest State Initiative idea of 5-2-1-0, to a program called CATCH, there are lots of programs and ideas and different kinds of curriculum: all aimed at getting kids moving, eating the right things, and staying healthy.

And in an effort to educate students and equip them with the skills and knowledge that they need to lead a healthy lifestyle, the Iowa Department of Education is seeking the public’s input on proposed physical education and health standards.

“We are the last state to be going through this process and actually putting forth standards at the state level,” said Brian Rhoads, co-chair of the Physical Education and Health Standards Review Team says many school districts across the state already have standards in place, that they’ve adopted or modified from the national standards.

“It`s not that there haven’t been standards in place within the programs,” said Rhoads. “But, now we will have a consistent set of standards that is recommended by the state, which I think will bring increased rigor and increased learning within our classrooms.”

Rhoads says the standards will guide the instruction that occurs in K-12 health and physical education in Iowa.

“We`ve been pushing for it for quite some time and we`re finally there,” said Rhoads. “So, it’s an exciting time for us, as physical education and health teachers, to have the opportunity to be seen as more relevant and important in the lives of our students, as they move forward with their health and physical education.”

 

DES MOINES, Iowa — On September 3, 2018 Des Moines police fielded calls that could put anyone on high alert.  “We had several people give us a call that they saw a young man walking the street and he was armed with a hand gun,” said Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek.

Police officer Andrew Weispfenning quickly responded at 40th and Douglass in the Beaverdale neighborhood.  On his body camera video you can hear Officer Weispfenning yell, “Drop it, drop it,” as he approaches the young black male holding the gun at his side.  Parizek said, “From our perspective you cannot tell if that’s a real gun or a fake gun and that can lead to some very deadly consequences.”

From the dash-cam video the juvenile appears to point the gun directly at officer Weispfenning.  “It was one thing to see the gun in his hand but it was another thing to see him actually extend that out at the officer,” said Parizek.

In the video, Weispfenning never fires his weapon.  He leaves his vehicle and the juvenile places the gun on the ground.  It isn’t until moments later that the officer learns the gun was a replica and radios into dispatch the gun is a toy.  “When you look at the gun later it looked about as real as the one on my hip,” said Parizek.

The choice to not fire is arguably one that others may not have made.  “That could have been deadly in an instant,” Parizek said.

Four years ago, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio wasn’t so fortunate.  Residents called on a juvenile with a handgun in the park, the officer shot and killed Rice.  In the twelve-year old’s hand was an air soft gun.  The controversial shooting is a hot button issue and was moments away from happening here in Des Moines.  Officer Weispfenning even had a teaching moment with the young juvenile, saying “what were you thinking, you pointed the gun at me? You could have been shot.”  A thankful lesson the police department hopes others can pay attention to, “You can hear him have a scolding tone with that kid.  Look this is how you get shot. I don’t think it was really soaking in,” said Parizek.

No charges were filed against the juvenile. Officer Weispfenning left the department the following month to pursue other opportunities.

FORT DODGE, Iowa — “Outsourcing to somebody who`s clear across the United States, I don`t think is really an answer,” said Mackenzie Conrad, a Webster County Dispatcher since February of 2017.

Conrad loves her job and she’s afraid she might lose it, if the Webster County Telecommunications Board decides to hire IXP Corporation to take over managing the day to day operations of the Webster County’s 911 dispatch center.

“They have said that we can reapply for our position, which to me, is just silly,” said Conrad. “If I already have the position, why do I need to reapply for this position type thing. but there’s no promise that you`re, we`re gonna get our jobs back with this company.”

Cory Husske,  Chair of the Telecom Board and also the Fort Dodge Assistant Police Chief, says there will be no reduction in the amount of dispatchers that are employed.

“IXP, has offered as part of their proposal, to absorb the current employees, should they choose to work for them,” said Husske. “They would go through their application process, essentially, they would stop being employees of the Webster County Communications Center and then what would happen is, they would turn right around and apply for IXP and be looked at as employees of their corporation.”

Husske says there are a lot of misconceptions out there in the public about the proposed change.

“Some of the rumors that I’ve been hearing are that people will call from in Webster County, for example, with an emergency and that somehow the call’s going to be routed through New Jersey, and then back through Fort Dodge, with some sort of a delay…” said Husske. “…That would be the first misconception. Everything is going to remain local here.”

Husske compares the situation to a local McDonald’s.

“The franchise is owned by somebody that`s local,” said Husske. “The employees are people that are local, and the pay scale is attributed to the local pay scale for that region.”

In fact, Husske says Webster County dispatchers could actually make more money under the new arrangement, if it’s approved.

“The actual location of IXP here would be managed by people from Fort Dodge, employed by people from Fort Dodge,” said Husske. “The jobs would stay here and actually their pay scale reaches higher than the current scale that they’re getting right now.”

But Conrad says if IXP takes over, she’s not sure she will even re-apply, and she says her colleagues might decide to leave.

“It’s going to be a tough decision,” said Conrad. “And, it’s going to be hard to come into work, to know that your job is potentially being replaced by somebody or someone else.”

URBANDALE, Iowa — “It’s a route I always take,” said Michael Kennedy. “I just kinda go up through there, and never thought I`d be be going into that pond.”

Michael Kennedy has no memory of crashing into the freezing cold water. The last thing Kennedy recalls is leaving his work parking lot, just down the road from the pond, and heading to a gym to work out. Shortly after taking off, Kennedy suffered a seizure behind the wheel. The next thing he remembers is waking up in an ambulance.

“I remember leaving my work parking lot around 11:40 a.m. to go to work out, which is what I usually do over the noon hour,” said Kennedy. “And the next thing I  know, I was waking up in an ambulance.”

Kennedy drove less than half a mile from Berkley Technology Services to the pond just down the road.

“I had the seizure and apparently went into the pond,” said Kennedy. “So, I was feeling a little off that morning, but I just thought I`d be fine. You know, like I`m sure most of us do when you feel a little under the weather, but apparently not.”

Kennedy hasn’t been on medication for years.

“I`ve had seizures before, but not for a long time,” said Kennedy. “And, growing up I was diagnosed with epilepsy and it was always controlled under medication, but it’s something that you can outgrow, and I haven’t had to take medication for a long time.”

Amazingly, Kennedy did not suffer any serious injuries due to the crash.

“Other than like a sore ankle, and a couple scrapes here and there, I`m fine.”

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Des Moines Police are investigating a shooting that sent one person to the hospital Tuesday evening.

Police were dispatched to the 700 block of E. Court, just west of the State Capitol, on a report of shots fired around 5:50 pm Tuesday.  About five minutes later a man was found with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.  He was taken to Mercy Hospital.  His name and condition aren’t being released.

Police do not have any suspects in custody and have no information on a suspect description they can release.

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  State Auditor Mary Mosiman says the state of Iowa likely saved more than $100 million thanks to privatized Medicaid management in the last year.  However a Story County Democrat says there’s something missing in her math.

Mosiman released a review of three different estimates of savings due to the state’s privately managed Medicaid system.

In January 2017 the Governor’s Office estimated savings under the new system to be $234 million.

In November 2017 the Iowa Department of Human Services estimated the savings at $47 million.

Then in May 2018 the DHS released a revised estimate, placing the savings at $141 million.

State Auditor Mosiman says there were flaws with the accounting that lead to the first two estimates.  However, Mosiman says the third estimate followed proper accounting practices and is the most accurate estimate.

State Representative Lisa Heddens, a Story County Democrat who is ranking member on the Human Services Budget Committee, says there is a big figure missing from the DHS estimate: denied services.

“The report does not include millions in unpaid claims that the out-of-state companies owe to providers or the services that have been denied to thousands of Iowans, including our seniors and those with disabilities,” Heddens wrote in a statement released Monday, “It`s time for the Legislature to work together and fix this broken system next session. Iowans deserve it.”

When Channel 13 spoke with Governor Kim Reynolds about the report she said she did not have time to take a look at the report yet, but privatization of Medicaid is not just about saving money and she believes her administration is on the right track.

“It’s not about the savings. It’s really about making sure we have a program that is sustainable. That’s a component of it, but we want to make sure we are taking care of our providers. They’re getting paid in a timely manner, but most importantly that Iowans are getting the services that they need and we are starting to get the outcomes that we hope for,” Gov. Reynolds said.

AMES, Iowa- Two weeks ago Cabin Coffee opened in Ames. On Monday the business held it’s Grand Opening with an Ames Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting.

The Clear Lake based Cabin Coffee has opened stores in six states, and six in Iowa. They have expanded from Clear Lake to Mason City, Lisbon, Waterloo, and Forest City.

It was the Forest City location, which opened 10 years ago, which caught the attention of Paul and Tammy Jacobson.

“Seven years ago my husband had gone out for breakfast with his mom in Forest city Iowa at a Cabin Coffee there he saw one of their brochures for franchising, said Tammy Jacobson. “I love the atmosphere I love the warm welcoming feeling the customers receive when they come in, its like a home.”

Brining Cabin Coffee to Ames took a while. Around two years they looked for a location.

“You have to have a good location, a good drive through, you must have a certain amount of traffic flow, that helps,” said Jacobson. “Also having businesses close by we love the idea being close to the interstate for interstate travelers.”

Tammy Jacobson spent 13 years as head cook at a local daycare.

“I’ve always love working with food and enjoyed serving food,” said Jacobson. “It brings me joy and happiness when I make something yummy and I share it with somebody, it warms my heart.”

Paul Jacobson works at Cabin Coffee as well, but still is a High School Guidance Counselor at Gilbert High School.

“He is helping me on the side he’s been a great support and I’m very grateful for him,” said Tammy. ‘My family too they’ve also been a great support.”

Jacobson likes the fact that Cabin Coffee roasts its own coffee beans on site.

“Coffee is like the liquid amber that sustains life,” said Jacobson. “It helps people bring joy into their lives, so, that’ what we like to do.”

Cabin Coffee is located at 2721 E 13th Street in Ames of I-35

EAGLE GROVE, Iowa — The Prestage Farms Pork Processing Plant in Wright County is expecting to begin limited production next month and bring 1,000 new jobs by 2019, while also bringing more families to the area

“There’s always been a struggle in Eagle Grove and surrounding towns, but probably even more so coming up,” Betty Weland, a local daycare provider, said.

Weland is in her 15th year working as an in-home daycare provider in Eagle Grove. She says since she’s started she’s been at her 12 child capacity set by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) and has to turn families away.

“For me, every time someone calls and you have to turn them down it’s sad because you know the other providers in Eagle Grove, we’re all in contact with each other, so we know no one else has openings,” Weland said.

Even centers are struggling according to Building Families, an early childhood area board for Hamilton, Humboldt, and Wright counties.

“Here in Webster City, at Riverview alone, there are 30 children already on the waiting list and Prestage hasn’t even opened up yet. So that’s just the natural state of things,” McKinley Bailey, the Executive Director of Building Families said.

With 1,000 new jobs set to be available at the new $240 million Prestage Foods Pork Processing Plant, they worry the demand is only going to get worse.

“The daycare center is often the second, first call you make,” Bailey said. “You tell your family that you’re pregnant, and then you’re trying to get on the waiting list.”

According to the Iowa Women’s Foundation, there is a shortfall of more than 350 thousand child care slots across the state. Bailey says some of the communities his board oversees are in the process of expanding centers, but it’s not enough.

“By enlarge we’re dependent on the State and local governments to make a commitment to this,” Bailey said. “Part of that is because the centers, the child care centers themselves, struggle to make ends meet and pay staff.”

Weland fears for what’s to come in the next few years with hundreds of school aged kids set to move to the area with their families. She says she’s seen couples try to get on wait lists even before they’ve conceived.

“I just worry about them not having anywhere to go and the parents struggling with trying to find a place. I know other providers that have parents traveling 30 minutes for one kid and another gets to stay in town. There’s a lot of struggle going on, and if they can even afford to keep working,” Weland said.

Building Families is trying to curb the shortage by encouraging people to start their own in-home day care center, like Weland’s. Go to buildingfamillies.net to get help opening your own daycare.

BEVINGTON, Iowa — Heavy snow in Southeastern Iowa is causing deteriorating road conditions and crashes on Iowa roadways. The Iowa State Patrol reports 32 crashes over a six hour period Sunday morning. Many of the roads in the state’s lower – third were either partially or completely snow covered making traveling extremely dangerous.

Ana Rivera and her family were traveling to Minnesota from Texas Sunday. She describes the journey as tense, “It was really bad. At some points there was no visibility. Lots of cars and buses and trucks were stuck on the road.”

According to the Iowa State Patrol, portions of I – 35 near Osceola were impassable after a semi – truck jack – knifed and a charter bus blocked the road. It caused a major traffic backup, luckily there were no injuries. On I – 80 near Walcott, a state patrol car was damaged after motorist crashed into it on the side of the road. On the department’s Facebook page  it’s calling for all drivers to slow down, put the phone down and buckle up. No one was seriously injured.

 

“We’re grateful to be safe. There were so many accidents around us,” says Rivera.

The snow is usually no match for Wisconsin native Wanda Brook but she said this storm is different. “It was really super and windy and lots of snow. There was probably no fewer than 100 cars in the ditch. It was crazy but we are used to the snow driving and kept truckin’” she laughs.

The State Patrol is asking all motorists to keep the shoulders of the roadway clear, if traffic is stopped on the interstate. Troopers say the shoulder is needs to be clear for emergency vehicles.