Archive for  March 2019

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DES MOINES, Iowa –On Tuesday, the Iowa Senate voted to make all automated traffic cameras a thing of the past, but that makes the revenue they generate a thing of the past as well.

But how much do they bring in? And where does the money end up?

Fiscal year 2016 was the last time all of the speed and red-light cameras were turned on for an entire year. In that year the total revenue was a little over $4 million.  The city got to keep about $2.4 million of that, and the approximately $1.6 million left over went to the company who operates the cameras. The city’s portion becomes earmarked for public safety use only.

“If the police department needs a piece of equipment or we need some training, same thing would apply to the fire department or EMS. I think you could probably make an argument that if we needed to improve lighting in a park as a part of a public safety issue, it could be used in that fashion also,” said Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek.

Currently, the money is being put toward a $12 million state-of-the-art communication system for the police department. The system will allow police to more easily communicate with other state emergency agencies. Des Moines Police says that need isn’t going to change, but what might change is who foots the bill.

“People think the police department is making a lot of money off this. What’s happening is the burden on the taxpayers being relieved significantly as expenses go up. We’re not building a pool out in the back parking lot, this is for the benefit of the city,” said Parizek.

Some drivers say they are torn over the cameras and the revenue they provide.

“I want that, but I also want to be able to speed if I want to. I think that they’re there for a good reason although I, like many other people, don’t like them being there,” said Dawn Voelker.

Others like them less so.

“They can go away, they can go away and I’m pretty sure most of the city can agree with it too,” said Ryan Stimple.

Meanwhile, the Iowa House is considering a separate traffic camera bill which would heavily regulate the cameras, but not outlaw them wholesale. In that version of the bill, the money would also be allowed to go to road improvement.

ALTOONA, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Agriculture has confirmed a highly contagious virus in a horse barn in Altoona.

Equine Herpes Virus or EHV-1 can be fatal to horses and can easily spread from one horse to another through humans and even inanimate objects. It’s not a threat to humans or other animals, but it can be deadly to horses.

Now, state veterinarians are issuing a quarantine to try and prevent an outbreak.

“That’s why we implement a quarantine,” state veterinarian Dr. Jeff Kaisand said. “[The facility] is also monitoring all the horses twice a day for any other clinical signs. We would take the next steps if a horse shows clinical signs. We would test that horse and determine if that horse might be affected also.”

The horse was boarded at the Pine Hollow Stables in Altoona. The state veterinarian says no other horses at the stable are infected as of Monday afternoon, but the quarantine is still necessary until they are sure the virus isn’t spreading.

The horse owner, Heather Otis, says the infected horse, Rowdy, went from perfectly fine to nearly dead in a matter of hours. She sent Channel 13 a video of Rowdy unable to get up. He ended up having to be euthanized.

“He’s never been transported like this whole year so it wasn’t like he went somewhere and contacted this,” Otis said. “I don’t want to point fingers because I don’t have a finger to point to really, but that’s not going to bring him back.”

Dr. Kaisand says it’s important for all horse owners and the Altoona horse barn to take precautions and use biosecurity to prevent an outbreak.

“It could’ve come in different ways,” Dr. Kaisand said. “It could’ve come in from a different horse or it could’ve been in the horse for a long time, but in order to make sure, we are being cautious and it doesn’t spread to other horses. That’s why we quarantine the facility, monitor horses in case they’ve been exposed and may show clinical signs and leave and go expose other horses.”

There is a horse fair put on by the Iowa Horse Council set for this weekend at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. We spoke with President David Beary who says the event is still on after speaking with Dr. Kaisand and other vets confirming there is no increased risk at this time. One horse was asked to not attend the event, since it was determined it may have been in contact with the infected horse.


Beary says it’s standard procedure for them to have a vet on the fair grounds for the horse fair, and that will not change this weekend. Also, like always, all horses that come to the fair must have health papers present.

LAKE CITY, Iowa- Across Iowa many towns are known for the town water tower. It can be a simple tank on a hill, or a unique design high on a hill.

That’s what Ben Ludwig of Lake City noticed. The junior at South Central Calhoun High School was so interested in water towers, his mom, Sheryl decided to take him on a trip to see various towns’ water towers.

“He kept track of some of the towns but what water tower they had,” said Sheryl Ludwig, Ben’s mom. “The only time we went to that town was for swim team, Perry was the one with the Jayhawk water tower.”

The first water tower trip was in 2010. So far, the mother-son duo has visited 430 towns.

“Because they’re like different shapes they got different designs so it’s kind of interesting,” said Ben Ludwig. “I would say definitely the first trip was the most memorable because it was the original trip, we saw the Adair water tower, and we saw a cool Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Casey.”

“Because Ben just had such a passion for them, and Ben has autism so it was a good experience for him to be in unfamiliar territory,” said Sheryl. “We just kind of did it as a bonding thing.”

The local City Council learned of Ben’s love for water towers when the town was considering a new paint scheme for the Lake City water tower.

“So I put together a little slide show come on the coolest water towers we’ve seen and could possibly do for ours and I showed them off to the city Council and they were very impressed with it,” said Ben.

“With autism when Ben was first diagnosed he wasn’t in our world and it started slowly coming in sparkle started showing through what was the water tower thing he been talking for a couple of years, you could just tell he had the passion for it was something that he was interested in,” said Sheryl.

The trips center on water towers, but Ben also likes to pose in front of local fire stations, or at local parks in the communities they visit. Not all family members share the passion for water tower exploring.

“They all think we’re kind of crazy, they know that our water tower trips are sacred,” said Sheryl. “We’re going on a water tower trip on Saturday, and to us, that’s like a holiday.”

In all their travels, they normally don’t use Google, unless they get lost.

If you would like to see some of the Ludwig’s photos, click on Sheryl’s Facebook Albums here.


DES MOINES, Iowa — World Food Prize President Kenneth Quinn announced Monday he will retire next year after two decades of service.

The news came at the end of an event honoring Dr. Norman Borlaug’s birthday. The Iowa farmer won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts and success feeding the world.

Borlaug also helped established the World Food Prize to honor people every year who helped improve the quality of life for others in food and agriculture.

At the ceremony Monday night, Gov. Kim Reynolds spoke about the vision and legacy Borlaug left on Iowa.

“It’s amazing to think that this native son of Iowa with his rural upbringing would eventually save a billion lives in developing countries around the globe. His ingenuity and passion for new ideas inspire us and opens channels for stamping out food insecurity through the Borlaug dialogue and access to laureates,” said Reynolds.

The World Food Prize was established in 1986. Quinn will step down in January 2020.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Dozens gathered Sunday in front of the Iowa State Capitol for an event initially started last year by survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The second annual March for Our Lives rally is a student-organized march against gun violence. Rallies have taken place across the country. Activists want tougher gun control laws.

“Closing the background check loophole, you go to a gun show and you can buy a rifle or hand gun without a background check, and those types of guns are used more often in domestic violence cases,” said Matt Sinovic of Progress Iowa.

While activists fight for gun control, Iowa Senate Republicans are fighting for gun rights.

“Simply allowing citizens to exercise their rights without government permission,” Republican State Sen. Jason Schultz said.

In Iowa, rallies also took place in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

PARKLAND, Florida — A second Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student has died in what police are calling “an apparent suicide.”

The student, who was enrolled at the Parkland, Florida, school at the time of death, has not been publicly identified. The death occurred Saturday evening and is under investigation, said Coral Springs Police spokesman Tyler Reik.

It’s unclear under what circumstances the student died, or what connection, if any, the student had to last year’s shooting at the high school.

News of the student’s death comes as the Parkland community is mourning the passing of a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, Sydney Aiello, who died last Sunday.

Aiello, who survived the 2018 massacre at the school, took her own life after suffering from survivor’s guilt and being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, her mother told CNN affiliate WFOR.

A funeral for Aiello, who was a student at Florida Atlantic University, took place on Friday.

Seventeen people — 14 students and three staff members — were killed when a gunman opened fire at the high school on February 14, 2018. The shooter, who confessed, has been indicted on 17 counts of murder.

If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, here’s how to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also can provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The damage caused by flooding along the Missouri River is estimated at $1.6 billion. Now, federal help is on the way.

Gov. Kim Reynolds requested residential, business and agricultural assistance. The governor also requested more than $5 million to repair federal and non-federal levees in Iowa.

As Iowa waits for disaster money to roll in, a Des Moines brewery is doing its part to help.

Confluence Brewery tapped its “Local Cause Belgian-Style White Ale” on Friday.

All proceeds from the beer sales will be matched by Confluence Landscape Architecture Firm and donated to Iowa Rivers Revival.

Iowa Rivers Revival supports water quality projects, reducing flooding and flood damage, and state-wide repairs to roads and bridges.

Confluence made 20 barrels of beer and expects to donate about $18,000.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Thousands hit the metro during Des Moines’ last day hosting the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

“It’s that Midwest hospitality; everyone can come down here and have a good time,” Iowa City resident Seth Girton said.

The streets were packed with folks heading in and out of Wells Fargo Arena. Both games Saturday were sold out.

During the end of the Michigan State–Minnesota game, CBS analyst Reggie Miller praised Des Moines for the support and hospitality the city gave for the tournament.

“The best site I’ve ever been a part of, and always needs to be in the regular rotation,” said Miller of Des Moines.

With so many people flocking to the city for the games, people weren’t just spending money on tickets. They also spent money on things like restaurants and hotels, and the Des Moines Partnership estimates the tournament could generate more than $6 million for the local economy.

“Things have been really smooth. We’ve prepared for this for months, so now that it’s here it’s just a matter of taking care of people and being on our game,” said Buzzard Billy’s manager Chad Brown.

Some fans hope Iowa gets the bid again soon in the future.

DES MOINES, Iowa– A Central Iowa Red Cross volunteer is also helping fire victims.

Penny Merta’s from Des Moines’ help comes on the heels of another disaster deployment.

last week, Merta was in Fremont County, Iowa helping with flood recovery.

As soon as  Penny Merta arrived home Wednesday,  she we sent to aid residents displaced in Thursday’s Ankeny apartment fire.

The American Red Cross says the month of March is already on pace to have more calls for service than February.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — On Thursday, a jury found Jason Carter not guilty of murdering his mother, Shirley Carter.

Defense rested its case early on Thursday and attorneys for both sides immediately went into closing statements.

After a few hours the evidence was handed over to the jury to deliberate.

Judge Brad McCall read the jury’s verdict aloud to an anxious crowd in the courtroom, “We the jury find Jason Carter not guilty.”

Jason Carter and his wife, Shelly Carter, embraced each other and burst into tears hearing a verdict.

Channel 13 Reporter Laura Barczewski asked Jason about his reaction to the verdict and he was full of emotion.

“I can’t even talk I’m sorry. I just want to go home and see my kids. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve had to endure so much. No one can even come close to knowing,” Jason Carter said.

Shelly Carter was right next to Jason for the entire day on Thursday.

“To finally have some justice is all that matters,” Shelly Carter said.

Prosecutor Marion County Attorney Ed Bull said he felt they tried the case to the best of their ability.

“We respect the system when they come back not guilty. That’s the way our system works. We tried as good of a case as we can with the facts that we had,” Bull said.

Jason Carter’s Attorney Christine Branstad said they couldn’t have asked for a better verdict but hopes the investigation is not over.

“It is certainly our hope that the investigation opens up. There’s still information to work with. It’s clearly a cold case, but Jason has been asking for additional investigation for a long time,” Branstad said.

It took nine full days of testimony, 34 witnesses and about two hours of jury deliberation to reach a verdict.

Jason said he’s glad it’s over and he wants to move forward trying to rebuild his life.

Barczewski asked Jason if he would ever be able to reconnect with his father again.

He responded, “You know, a lot of people don’t know that my dad came and talked to me last fall and he said he was sorry. I don’t know. It’s just something you gotta think about. I just want them to figure out, bring the people, that did this to my mom, to justice. Do your job. Just do your job.”