Author’s Archive: Gregory Berry

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa has rebuilt its stockpile of personal protective equipment after a dire shortage that prompted the state to buy through unusual sources, including $7 million in contracts for gowns and goggles with a business known for making Republican campaign signs.

Iowa’s executive branch signed $45 million worth of emergency purchase orders for isolation gowns, masks, face shields, goggles and other equipment from mid-March through April, documents obtained by The Associated Press show.

The deals include 590,000 masks that were purchased directly from China and several with businesses that have never before supplied such materials.

In three contracts worth $7.2 million, the state agreed to purchase 1 million isolation gowns and 100,000 clear plastic goggles through Competitive Edge Inc., a Des Moines business that has never sold either. The company supplies promotional items like T-shirts, and has long been a go-to vendor for Republican campaigns buying yard and barn signs.

Owner David Greenspon, a former Republican appointee on the Iowa Finance Authority board, said state agencies reached out unsolicited asking for help securing supplies from China because he has long imported from there. Now Greenspon said he’s overseeing manufacturing in three Chinese factories and the items will be delivered to Iowa over the next month.

“We were lucky enough to get some business. I am happy about that. I like to be busy,” he said. “It’s been a tough few months but we didn’t close through any of it. Maybe that was fortuitous. When somebody from the state called, we were here.”

Greenspon is charging the state $6.96 per gown and $2.59 for each pair of goggles. He said neither item will be medical grade.

The contracts didn’t have to go through the mandatory open bidding process. Gov. Kim Reynolds suspended those requirements for all goods and services needed to fight the coronavirus in a March 9 emergency proclamation.

The governor said Friday the state has started to receive orders that were placed in March, allowing its inventory to be rebuilt. “Our stockpile is in a good place right now,” Reynolds said.

Executive branch spokeswoman Tami Wiencek said Iowa has ordered 33.6 million items since February and received more than half of them. She said orders for 1 million other items were cancelled after the vendor could not fulfill them on the state’s timeline.

A spreadsheet obtained by the AP shows Iowa’s inventory includes 8.8 million surgical masks, 664,000 face shields, 356,000 respirators, 1.3 million gloves, and 67,000 isolation gowns. But a shortage of goggles still exists.

These figures do not include millions of additional items the Iowa National Guard has delivered to all 99 counties. The situation has improved since the pandemic arrived in Iowa two months ago amid a national shortage of supplies, alarming health care officials.

On March 22, a top Iowa Department of Public Health official emailed University of Iowa experts asking whether used protective equipment could be disinfected by UV light or chemicals and reworn.

Ken Sharp, Iowa’s director of acute disease prevention, emergency response and environmental health, also asked them to brainstorm “what ‘off the wall’ solutions may be viable” if traditional equipment was unavailable.

“I realize these sound like desperate questions, but we are planning in unusual times and need to give consideration to all potential options,” Sharp wrote in the email, obtained by the AP.

On April 10, his department declared a shortage of personal protective equipment and directed health care providers to use face masks for treating multiple patients, use washable gowns and shorten hospital stays to preserve respirators. Supplies that were beyond their expiration dates could also be used.

That order remains in effect. Some health care workers report having trouble finding adequate supplies despite the replenished state stockpile.

It’s unclear whether taxpayers are getting good value for their money. Contracts show the state has paid vastly different prices for similar products.

In March, the state purchased 400, 8 ounce bottles of hand sanitizer from an out-of-state vendor for $4.69 apiece. Then in April, the state signed a contract with an Iowa company to produce hand sanitizer for a fraction of that cost: $10 apiece per 128 ounce bottles.

The state has paid between $4.64 and $19.35 for each isolation gown. Goggles have ranged from $1.12 apiece to $2.85. And disposable face shields have varied from $1.25 apiece to $3.

The state purchased 590,000 face shields directly from a Chinese exporter for $938,000, or $1.59 per shield. That shipment was to be flown from China to an Ankeny food warehouse, a March 27 purchasing order shows.

The state is buying 100,000 disposable face shields for $3 apiece from Honeycorr Acquisition LLC, a Fairfield packing and distribution company that had never made them before. CEO Nate Weaton said the $3 price was fair, saying similar items have been marketed for $5 or $7.

“We wanted a cost-competitive and cost-conscientious product and to make sure we weren’t gouging,” he said. “We think that’s where we ended up.”

DES MOINES, Iowa — With burnouts and engines roaring, downtown Des Moines witnessed a celebration of life on two wheels.

“It’s unbelievable to know so many people we don’t know have supported us in this matter,” said Jami Matice, the widow of Troy Matice.

Organized by Iowa motorcyclists in the 515 Celebration Crew, more than 100 motorcyclists gathered at SW 7th Street and MLK Parkway to honor Troy, who died after a crash at the intersection last Saturday. Des Moines police say an unlicensed 15-year-old driver failed to yield to Troy’s motorcycle.

“My heart is broken and I feel like I’m missing half of myself. He was my best friend,” Jami said. “I want to be an advocate to tell people to slow down and pay attention to the road. Not only motorcycles, but cars.”

Troy and Jami had been married for over 30 years and shared a love for riding motorcycles. Jami said, “I can’t change what happened. I can only move forward and hope that no one else experiences what I experienced. It is gut-wrenching.”

Many of the motorcyclists paying tribute Saturday may not have known Troy or the Matice family, but they didn’t have to. They knew Troy’s spirit.

“It’s respect, love, loyalty. You respect anybody that respects you. You show love and show support. Too many people are dying. I’m glad this actually came together,” said Dale Widman, who organized the group.

Family and friends of Troy say he could often be found eating and playing pool at Kung Fu Tap and Taco, just one mile south of the crash site. It’s also where a cross, similar to one planted at the intersection and bearing his name, will have a home forever.

“My husband would be honored by this. I think he would have been blown away,” said Jami.

While Jami says Troy was a soft-spoken man, those who chose to honor his legacy Saturday made sure their memorial ride was anything but quiet. “Troy believed in right and wrong and doing the right thing and he would want everyone to remember him in that manner,” said Jami.

Troy’s funeral was held on Friday. A GoFundMe donation site has been set up for the Matice family to help with unexpected expenses.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Two more deaths have been reported from COVID-19 and 56 more people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the state, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

There are now 235 positive cases of COVID-19 that have been diagnosed in Iowa. A total of 3,740 negative tests have currently been done by the State Hygienic Lab and other labs. 

According to the IDPH, two Iowans with COVID-19 passed away Thursday night. One elderly adult (81+ years) from Poweshiek County and one older adult (61-80 years) from Allamakee County. Three people, in total, have died from coronavirus in Iowa to date.

According to IDPH, the locations and age ranges of the 56
individuals include:

–Benton County,  1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)

–Black Hawk County, 2 middle-age adults (41-60 years)

–Butler County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)

–Cedar County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)

–Cerro Gordo County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)

–Clinton County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)

–Dallas County,  1 adult (18-40 years), 1 elderly adult (81+)

–Dickinson County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)

–Dubuque County, 2 middle-age adults (41-60 years)

–Hardin County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)

–Harrison County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years), 3 older adults (61-80 years)

–Henry County, 1 elderly adult (81+)

–Iowa County, 1 adult (18-40 years)

–Johnson County, 2 adults (18-40 years),  5 middle-age (41-60 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years)

–Linn County, 3 adults (18-40 years), 7 older adults (61-80 years)

–Mahaska County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)

–Monona County, 1 elderly adult (81+)

–Marshall County, 1 adult (18-40 years)

–Montgomery County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)

–Muscatine County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)

–Page County, 1 older (61-80 years)

–Polk County,  1 adult (18-40 years), 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years)

–Tama County, 1 elderly adult (81+)

–Washington County, 1 adult (18-40 years), 2 older adults (61-80 years)

–Webster County, 1 adult (18-40 years)

–Winneshiek County, 1 adult (18-40 years)

–Woodbury County, 1 older adult (61-80 years)

–Wright County, 1 middle-age adult (41-60 years)

The IDPH provides a status report on its monitoring efforts and testing here. A public hotline has been established for questions about COVID-19 in Iowa. It is available 24/7 by calling 2-1-1 or 1-800-244-7431.

A 2:30 p.m. news conference is scheduled with Gov. Kim Reynolds. Channel 13 will take the news conference live on air and stream it on www. WHOtv.com.

ANKENY, Iowa – Classes for the rest of the spring semester
will continue online for students at Des Moines Area Community College.

DMACC announced Friday that it is extending online learning for the rest of the 2020 spring semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The school will also begin using a temporary pass/fail grading option.

“Our first priority continues to be protecting the health
and safety of our students, faculty and staff members,” said MD Isley, DMACC
Vice President of Academic Affairs. “While we greatly miss seeing everyone on
campus, we believe continuing online instruction for the final weeks of the
spring semester is the right decision.”

The term is still scheduled to end the week of May 4th.

DMACC has not yet determined how it will handle classes for
the summer term, though it says many of those classes are already offered
online. Plans are expected to be announced in April.

Commencement ceremonies for spring 2020 have already been
canceled.

DMACC President Rob Denson said, “We are hoping we can eventually reschedule these events so our students and their families can celebrate this significant accomplishment. We are also exploring options for a virtual or livestreamed graduation address.”

Are you from Fort Ben or Sugar Land and have you been wrongly accused or charged with a criminal offense? If the answer is yes, then you have many reasons to go through this article. There is no doubt that a criminal charge is dangerous and it should be tackled as soon as possible. It should not be delayed and necessary action should be taken. The first and foremost step is to hire the right criminal lawyer in Richmond, Sugar Land, and other areas. This is not easy because there are dozens of such lawyers. Hence, you must know what to look for when hiring these professionals. We are happy to share a few important tips that we feel could be useful in hiring the right talent for handling your criminal case effectively, efficiently and ensure that it moves in the right direction.

Hire Experienced Professionals

When hiring a criminal there are two E’s that must be always kept in mind, experience and expertise. These two qualities are perhaps more important and vital than the qualification and skill set. While qualification is a must skill set can be best learned by fighting as many cases as possible. With experience comes expertise and a combination of these two could go a long way in creating a watertight defense case for the person who has been accused of criminal activity. While different lawyers have different experience levels, it would be better to look for professional lawyers having at least 10 years of experience so that they can offer the best possible results. The lawyer concerned should have experience in a particular area that the client requires help. For example, if it is a case about DUI, then the lawyer should have experience in this area.

Payment & Cost

Before hiring a Fort Bend criminal attorney, make sure that he or she should be clear about the cost and the mode of payment. While there are lawyers who would like to be paid per hearing, there are others who charge depending on the outcome of the case. If the outcome in favor of the client, they charge differently otherwise they may end up charging a lower amount. Lawyers are expensive and therefore you must look for somebody who you can afford without compromising too much on quality. This is vital because the outcome could make a big difference in your life going forward.

The Importance Of Personal Network

While you could take the help of the internet for hiring the right criminal lawyer, a better option perhaps would be to look for lawyers through references. Friends and family members can help with leads and suggestions. Your friends and family members would always think well about you and would like you to be defended by the best lawyers in the city. Hence, the personal network does play a big role in hiring the right criminal lawyer.

Ask Questions

You must, as a thumb rule, interview at least three defense lawyers and then pick up the right one. You must not hesitate in asking important questions. These could include the number of cases they might have handled, the trials that have been litigated, the fee details and how payment has to be made amongst other things.

Contact US:

Lawrence Law Firm
Address: 695 Industrial Blvd #100, Sugar Land, TX
Phone: (281) 238-5819

When a person is slapped with a criminal charge, he or she could find the whole thing disturbing and very scary. A person who has been accused of criminal wrongdoing must immediately take steps to address the situation. This is where the role of a good criminal lawyer in Sugar Land and the surrounding area becomes critical and crucial. But many such lawyers are seemingly qualified and experienced in criminal law. While having a choice if vital and important, it also could lead to confusion and indecision. As a customer, you should be in a position to choose the right professional taking into account quite a few things. We are happy to share some of the most important points to be kept in mind when it comes to identifying and availing the services of criminal defense lawyers. The points mentioned below have been drawn up based on the overall experience and expertise that has been built over the years. Therefore, they are factual and reliable and could prevent the customers from going in for a trial-and-error method.

Be Sure Of Their Experience

Having a legal qualification is one thing and having the right practical experience is a completely different thing. Different lawyers handling criminal cases specialize in different areas. Therefore, when it comes to dealing with a criminal charge, the customers must always go in for a lawyer who has the right experience backed by educational qualifications. This will increase the chances of a winning sentence from the court by many notches. The lawyers should have adequate knowledge of criminal law backed up years of experience in fighting cases in courts, on behalf of their clients.

Have A Look At Their Colleagues

There is an adage that says that a person is known by the company he or she keeps. This applies to criminal lawyers also. The criminal lawyer in question should be associated with some good organization or community. This will help customers to take feedback about the services that are being offered and get to know more about them. While there is nothing wrong with choosing a criminal law firm, be sure that the lawyer who you are recruiting is reachable and contactable to you whenever needed. In many cases, the lawyers have a battery of assistants and this makes it almost impossible to establish contact with the lawyers in question.

The Importance Of References

Qualified and experienced criminal lawyers have the professional quality of sharing the contact details of their clients, subject to their approval. This will help prospective customers to directly get in touch with previous customers and get to know more about fort bend criminal lawyers. They will be able to get first hand feedback that is honest and to the point. It will certainly help to weed out the grain from the chaff and make the best possible choices.

Ask Them To Assess The Case

Not all criminal offense cases are the same. You must ask the lawyers about their honest assessment of the particular case. They should be able to share useful information about the elements of the case that work in favor and those that work against them. The possible things that the customers should expect along the case should also be made clear.

Contact US:

Lawrence Law Firm
Address:695 Industrial Blvd #100, Sugar Land, TX
Phone: (281) 238-5819

DES MOINES, Iowa — Wet weather is making things interesting for a Des Moines muralist.

Ben Schuh is the man behind the “Greater Des Moines” mural on the corner of 5th Street and Locust Street. The project’s finish date is just over a month away, but all this rain is forcing Schuh to get creative with his timeline.

“Anytime I work on an outdoor project I try to assess the weather,” Schuh said. “This particular project has to be done by June 20th so everything is critical in terms of planning. The initial transfer, that you see behind me, got done [Friday] night because weather did cooperate. [Saturday] we’re not painting because it’s about to start raining, but it’s one of those things. Mother Nature is going to be there and it’s how you approach it, and whether or not it gives you a hurdle is up to you.”

Schuh worked until 1 a.m. Friday night to finish his first sketch on the building’s wall, ensuring the paint would be dried and cured before rain hit the metro once again.

He estimates the mural will take over 130 hours to officially complete. Schuh is also the mastermind behind the Exile Brewery Mural and says this one is five times the size. It’s big reveal on June 20th is a birthday present for the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.

After months of planning, Schuh released a preview of the mural on Instagram this week.

 

“Every public art project in Des Moines, in my opinion, has the ability to connect people with art that might not otherwise have access to it. For me, the exciting part about this is going to be the proximity to residents. There is a neighborhood building right here next door and I’ve been talking to residents and making it clear that this is their project as well,” Schuh said. “I think the biggest thing is sometimes people might look at something and think ‘well there’s just another piece of artwork,’ but if they look at it and think ‘there’s another piece of artwork for me, I think that’s something that Des Moines does really well.”

Schuh says the Papa John Sculpture Park is one of his biggest inspirations. This mural will be focused on Des Moines and some of the projects that the Community Foundation has impacted.

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Heritage Carousel opened for the season in Des Moines’ Union Park.

The Heritage Carousel has been a staple in Union Park for 21 years.

One of the most nostalgic things about the carousel is the price. It is the same now as it was 21 years ago — it only costs 50 cents for a child to ride. Rides are just a dollar for adults.

“It’s a blast. I recognize kids from year to year. There are new kids, kids who have had their birthday party. It’s almost as fun to watch the adults come and ride,” said Jackie Cacciatore, executive director of the Heritage Carousel Foundation.

It also has a new sales counter to better display their goods.

The carousel will be open all summer each day except Monday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Friday was a soggy move out day for freshmen students at Drake University.

“We just got soaked while moving everything out. We live on the fourth floor, so we were walking a long time on the cat walk,” student Becca Dwyer said.

It was either move in the rain or wait for it to stop. Those who waited were sent into a mad dash. The rain stopped around 1 p.m. with an official move out deadline at 3:45 p.m.

Some only had a short time to pull off all the work.

“It made it a little interesting. We were getting a late start. Seems like we have a lot more moving out than when we moved in,” parent Amy Halleran said.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Multiple lightning strikes overnight kept firefighters busy.

At 4th Street and Seneca Avenue in Des Moines lightning hit a “no parking” sign Thursday night. It ruptured a natural gas line and ignited a nearby tree.

The gas fed the fire, making it impossible to put out until MidAmerican Energy could shut off the gas line.

Lightning is also blamed for a fire at an apartment building in the Sherman Hill neighborhood.

Firefighters say the strike hit the second floor and started two different apartments on fire.

“It was scary. We didn’t necessarily see flames shooting out of windows but in that second window there you could see that there was a gentleman in the room while the firefighters were in the other room,” neighbor Liz Johnson said. “We didn’t see any flames coming out of the building until we saw firefighters come through the rooms and break open the wall, so it seemed like that was the source of most of the flames.”

It took crews several hours to put the fire out. No one was hurt or permanently displaced.