Archive for  January 2019

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DES MOINES, Iowa — “I`ve been out and around and I notice all these parking lots and stuff are full,” said John Herndon, a local resident.

Before the snow falls, shoppers are stocking up on items; making sure they have what they need, and what they want.

“Well, you want to make sure you have the comfort food around for the weekend,” said Herndon. “You know, whether you`re making a big pot of stew or you’re making your bean soup or cornbread, or you`re just having family over. You got football on and we’re just gonna hunker in.”

Amanda Wuttke bought just enough to make lunch and dinner for the weekend.

“To get me through, since I`m in school right now and I live by DMU,” said Wuttke. “So, no class on Monday, so need to make stuff to last me through the weekend and hopefully the week.”

City officials have been working and will continue to work to pretreat as much of the street system as they can.

“Get some salt down on the roads before the snow lands on it,” said Jonathan Gano, Public Works Director for the City of Des Moines. “That really helps us clean it off with the snow plows, when they come on top. It prevents the snow from sticking. It doesn’t work everywhere, but where we can get it down, it does do a good job.”

The City takes an emergency response approach to handling snow removal.

“We`ll have 200 people engaged from five different city departments, working this snow event,” said Gano. “Both on the removal and parking and other parts of cleaning off sidewalks, cleaning off the streets. It’s all hands on deck for the snow emergency, from when it starts to when it ends. It`s a hundred people per shift. We`ll have already sent the night shift for Friday night, home on Friday, so that they`re rested and ready.”

To find out more about the City’s snow removal efforts, click here.

CLIVE, Iowa  —  Last weekend Central Iowans got a reminder of what winter weather is like … and whether or not they are ready for it.  They’ll get another chance to test their preparedness this weekend.

“I am really excited about it, I love storms,” Clive resident Chris Andersen said.  What he’s not excited about is fixing his snow blower.

Andersen and more than 50 other owners are scrambling to get their blowers fixed at Clive Power Equipment before more snow falls.

“There is going to be a lot of wind sounds like six inches of snow will fall, it’s going to be a good storm,” Andersen said.

“We are getting a little shorter as far as being able to say hey if you did get drop it off, we can get it back to you before the snow we are starting to run out of that time,” Clive Power Equipment owner Mike Duncan said.

Duncan says the most common problem relates to fuel sitting in the blower over summer.

Anderson hopes he isn’t among the unlucky few who don’t get their blower back in time to remove all the fresh snow.  He says one of the biggest mistakes snow blower owners make is using gas with ethanol.  He says use ethanol-free gas or you could ruin your carburetor.

 

DES MOINES, Iowa — Around 240,000 kids ride Iowa school buses each day.  Their safety is a school bus driver’s number one priority.  “They’re our kids when they are on the bus.  It’s a huge responsibility but it is a great reward,” said Robin Witt, Safety and Training Specialist with the Des Moines Public School District.  Safety is not always guaranteed beyond the school bus walls.  Witt said, “We are not just bus drivers.”  The United Nations International Children’s Fund estimates up to half of all human trafficking victims may be children something the Iowa Department of Transportation has spent years cracking down on.  Dave Lorenzen, Chief of Motor Vehicle Enforcement said, “Unfortunately we have seen human trafficking cases that can be as young as 10,11,and 12 years old.”

The alarming trend caused the Iowa Department of Education to take action and make Iowa the first state to require human trafficking training for all school bus drivers.  “This training is going to help make everybody just be more alert,” said Witt.

Drivers will watch videos, read literature and even be quizzed on signs to spot human trafficking.  “These bus drivers see these kids every day and they can tell if there is something not going right,” said Chief Lorenzen.

Not all victims go missing entirely.  Drivers will be trained on looking for changes in clothing or behavior, unexplained gifts, bruises and unexpected absences from school.  Lorenzen said, “We know it occurs here.  We do receive info from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.”

Wisconsin authorities recently arrested a man named Jake Patterson who allegedly abducted 13-year-old Jayme Closs for three months and killed both her parents.  Authorities said Patterson came up with the idea after spotting the teen get off a school bus near her home.  Witt says they are no stranger to unusual interactions with strangers during their route.  She said, “We do see cars follow us at times and we will call in to dispatch and say hey there`s a car following us.”

Another set of eyes behind the wheel, helping to keep Iowa children safe.  Witt said, “One kid getting hurt is too many.  If we can get more to be saved and helped then that`s even better.”

On Thursday, Governor Kim Reynolds is expected to sign a proclamation declaring the month of January slavery and human trafficking prevention and awareness month.

DES MOINES, Iowa–  Secretary of State Paul Pate has already certified the election totals but the results in one statehouse district are being disputed.

“I don’t feel cheated. This is not about me. The people who have been cheated are the voters themselves,” Democrat Kayla Koether said.

Koether requested a hearing to contest the results of November’s House District 55 race in Northeast Iowa.

“It doesn’t matter if I win or not, they will change the vote count and their voices should be heard and counted,” Koether said.

Koether lost the race to Republican incumbent Michael Bergen by nine votes but says not all votes were counted.

“To me these are not just 29 ballots. These are 29 Northeast Iowans we know we cast their vote on time and in good faith and it’s the cornerstone of our Democracy,” Koether said.

The 29 absentee ballots were among 33 received after election day. The post office determined they were mailed before the election deadline. However, the ballots lacked a postmark, white is required under state law.

“These voters followed the law but now the government is knowingly and intentionally disenfranchising these 29 voters at that point when we deny voters the right to have their ballots counted,” said Koether’s attorney Shayla McCormally.

The U.S. Postal Service doesn’t postmark absentee ballot envelopes. Instead relies on the bar-code for a date stamp.

Representative Michael Bergen’s attorney says that is the problem.

“We cannot refer to the bar-code that the challenger is requesting to sue here it would be completely unfair to change the meaning of that phrase and apply it differently,” Matt McDermott attorney for Rep. Michael Bergan  said.

The House committee is asking for more information. There’s no timeline about when a decision will be made.

Both Representative Bergen and the Secretary of State’s office declined an on-camera interview.

DES MOINES, Iowa — If patience was already wearing thin for Iowa republicans on Fourth Congressional District Representative Steve King, it seems to have cracked.  “What he said was abhorrent and there is no place for those comments in our society today. There is no place for that in our nation,” said Republican State Senator Randy Feenstra.  Republicans continue to distance themselves away from the nine term congressman after King’s controversial comments made in a New York Times interview.  Feenstra said, “I think his actions and comments speak for themselves and each voter has to make that decision as we move forward.”

As state and national leaders condemn King, some of his biggest campaign donors do not seem ready to give a public opinion.  According to the Federal Elections Commission’s data from this past election around twenty Iowans contributed maximum contributions of $2,700 to King’s campaign, “King for Congress.” Those individuals include, Iowa Board of Regents President Michael Richards.  Casey’s co-Founder Don Lamberti contributed the maximum in both the primary and general elections.  Brownell’s Chairman and Montezuma City Councilman Frank Brownell III.  Sukup Manufacturing President and CFO’s Charles and Steve Sukup.  Founder of Kirke Financial Services and the Wild Rose Casino in Jefferson Gary Kirke contributed the maximum in both the general and primary elections.  Joan and Richard stark, major donors to Iowa State University and namesake of the Richard and Joan Stark Lecture Hall on campus.  Both separately contributed the maximum in each of the general and primary elections.  All either declined comment or did not return interview requests.

While some big names in Iowa decide on their decision to support him going forward, perhaps the biggest name, Governor Kim Reynolds drew a line in the sand of her own after election night in November.  Reynolds said, “Steve King needs to make a decision on if he wants to represent the core values of the fourth district or do something else and I think he needs to take a look at that.”

If Representative King chooses to step down from his seat, it would be up to Governor Reynolds to declare a special election in order to make a change.

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — During the Condition of the State address, Governor Kim Reynolds said she wants to continue to devote Iowa dollars to expanding internet access to all areas of the state.

“We have come a long way already. U.S. News & World Report says, ‘the Hawkeye State leads the nation in efforts to bring ultra-fast internet access to every city block and every rural acre.’ But there’s still more to do. To ensure that every part of Iowa has the same opportunity, I am requesting $20 million, split over two years, for broadband infrastructure. This funding will accelerate expansion and leverage an additional $120 million in private investment for high-speed internet,” Gov. Reynolds said.

The Executive Director of the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce Lynn Olberding said internet access has become just as important as the roads and buildings that surround us.

“Some of the more rural areas in the state of Iowa need the same access that the metropolitan areas and the areas like Marshalltown have. It’s not only important for schools, for health care, but agriculture. There’s a lot of things that have changed in the agricultural industry that high speed internet is incredibly important for our farmers. So it’s important across the state of Iowa,” Olberding said.

Over the last few years, more rural areas, such as Marshalltown, now have increased access to high speed internet.

“I remember the first internet connection I ever had was when I was 14 or 15. We had Prodigy at home, and then we had AOL, and then Mediacom cable eventually. So it’s changed a lot. It came from just dial-up and all the way to fiber now,” Marshalltown Company Director of IT Jeff Schneider said.

He said the fastest internet connection they can get is essential to their growing business.

“We are a very advanced manufacturer and in order to be productive and competitive in the global landscape we need very advanced software systems,” Schneider said.

Those software systems have a lot of data that is critical to making masonry tools that they send all over the world.

“We’re a 129-year-old company, but we are 22nd century thinking. We are really working on E-Commerce initiatives and that’s really important to have a good reliable internet connection,” Schneider said.

DES MOINES, Iowa–  The new Iowa legislative session began Monday, and animal activists are already lobbying for change. Some organizations want Iowa lawmakers to finally get tough on animal abuse.

Over the weekend, a man tossed a burlap feed sack filled with a litter of 14 puppies over a bridge into cold water.

“They would have died shortly afterwards if they would have gone into that icy water,” Amy Heinz with Aheinz57 Pet Rescue said.

It happened in Harrison County, Missouri, 20 miles south of Lamoni, Iowa.

The Harrison County Sheriff says the man is at large. He faces 14 counts of animal neglect and abuse, one for each of the puppies.

“It would just be a misdemeanor, and even if they did get charged, they would just get their hands slapped and find. He wouldn’t do a day in jail,” Heinz said.

Iowa Voters for Companion Animals hope toughening animal cruelty laws is a priority this legislative session.

“They are really weak and inadequate now for those types of cases. We want to increase the penalties. Iowa is one of only two states without a first offense felony charge for egregious animal cruelty,” Lobbyist Haley Anderson said.

The bill prohibits the mistreatment of animals other than livestock and wild animals.

If passed, it would enhance penalties for previous animal abuse convictions and allow law enforcement to rescue animals from hot cars.

In the last legislative session, a similar bill did not make it onto the floor.

Click here information on this sessions bill and here to give donations to Aheinz57 Pet Rescue.

WAUKEE, Iowa —  Waukee needs a new school superintendent. Superintendent Cindi McDonald announced her resignation last week, and board members signed off on it Monday night.

McDonald will step down at the end of the school year.

Many people at Monday night’s school board meeting are hoping for a new start.

“When you go looking for the new superintendent [I hope] that you look maybe outside of someone that’s already employed in this district,” said Bruce Stone, a Waukee parent.

Her resignation follows a state audit that uncovered $130,000 in questionable spending and led to felony charges against the district’s former COO Eric Rose.

At least one person at Monday night’s meeting thinks even more faculty members need to go.

“Maybe you think people are forgetting about it, but we have a lot of work to do, or you guys have a lot of work to do to clean this mess up. Nobody trusts you,” said Lynn Hakenson, a Waukee parent.

 

DES MOINES, Iowa — Monday at 10 a.m., Iowa lawmakers start work on a new legislative session.

However, there is still uncertainty about one of its members. A bipartisan group of legislators will decide on what to do about Republican Michael Bergan’s nine vote win in November over Democrat Kayla Koether. Some mailed ballots weren’t counted because they didn’t get properly stamped.

Issues to watch this session include whether lawmakers will agree on a water quality improvements, how much to fund schools, and whether Republicans will cut taxes again. Although, Gov. Kim Reynolds told Channel 13 that tax changes may not come until next year.

“I don’t know if there is a hard set plan right now, but we’re always looking for opportunities to reduce the tax burden to make our state more competitive so that we can continue to grow our economy and build on the success we’ve seen over the last several years,” said Gov. Reynolds.

On Sunday, an announcement came from Senate Democratic leader Janet Petersen. She initially stripped Democratic Senator Nate Boulton of his committee assignments following sexual misconduct allegations by three women before he was in office.

But on Sunday, Petersen said that since an ethics committee declined to punish Boulton, she decided to let him once again serve on committees. He will serve on the transportation and local government committees.

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa — Just a week and a half after being sworn in, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer is back in Iowa and making sure the citizens of Marshalltown are getting what they need to recover from the July 19th tornado.

“Of course you see broken glass, you see a little bit of rain, and then you just see damage,” Matt Gerstandt, owner of Black Tire Co. in Marshalltown, said. “Then it’s mostly just shock of trying to figure out what’s next.”

July 19 is a day Matt Gerstandt remembers all too well. Busy gearing up for RAGBRAI, the bike shop owner was in his local business when the tornado struck Marshalltown.

“As this is our primary income, supporting cycling and the community, we have to decide what to do,” Gerstandt said. “We were closed for over 60 days just trying to establish what to do next.”

Nearly six months has passed since losing the third floor of their building and suffering significant damage to both their store and the apartments above.

“The recovery is still happening. You can still find damage. You can still find people looking for answers,” Gerstandt said.

That’s why Finkenauer wanted Marshalltown to be her very first stop in Iowa as a US Representative.

“You can read all day long about the stats or about how many businesses are affected, or how much it’s costing the community,” Finkenauer said. “But until you meet these folks face-to-face and hearing the stories yourself. It’s so important to make an impact.”

The tour started at the Black Tire Bike Co., a place she visited back on her campaign trail before the tornado.

“It’s interesting to see just the shock on her face, seeing what she knew. It’s a familiar place to her and she can see the significance of the damage,” Gerstandt said.

Rebuilt basically from the studs, Finkenauer says she wants to make sure local businesses like this can not only rebuild, but also grow from this disaster.

Finkenauer also stopped at the residential neighborhoods that were mainly affected. She also held office hours for constituents in the community to explain how they still need help.