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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 — 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.

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–  Thursday night there were widespread reports of hail. Some viewers reported seeing roughly dime- shaped hail rain down in parts of the Metro. Des Moines Police are reporting traffic light outages across the area. Water was pooling near Ingersol and MLK Parkway, and police report heavy street flooding along Merle Hay Road. Homeowners are also in the dark, at one point Mid-American Energy reported more that 10,000 outages. That includes at the Kenny Chesney concert at Wells Fargo Arena. The concert was delayed for about a half hour.


PLEASANT HILL, Iowa– A Southeast Polk High School substitute teacher is out of a job after attempting to discipline a student.

Whether Lois Johnson will be reinstated is in the hands of the school board.

“She is South East Polk,” parent Kim Turnbaugh said.

Johnson is a longtime educator who kept teaching as substitute after retirement. She was suspended over claims of violating district policy. A group of students say she took a disruptive classmate by the arm to guide him back to his seat.

Many are frustrated by the suspension.

“I want her reinstated she was my teacher and my daughter’s teacher three generations there is no way this can happen,” Turnbaugh said.

Thousands followed Turnbaugh lead and signed a petition to reinstate Johnson. Many of those supporters attended Thursday’s school board meeting to voice concern.

During public comment, the board tried to cut Johnson’s attorney Frank Smith short. Smith says his client didn’t break the rules and the district didn’t follow policy.

According to South East Polk School District, an employee can use minor reasonable physical contact to maintain order and control. And all matters must be addressed to the teacher or employee first.

“She was not given her chance and her due process, and I think that is completely wrong,” Turnbaugh said.

Ultimately, it’s up to the school board to decide whether Johnson will keep her job

Frank Smith says Lois just wants her job back.

The school district wouldn’t comment on Lois’ suspension but did say they are committed to supporting a professional work environment where employees are valued and respected.

IOWA — Iowa’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) says farmers may be able to use Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres to graze livestock.

The emergency grazing use is approved through May 14 because of extreme weather, flooding, snowmelt and mud.

Participation is limited to livestock producers who lost pasture or fences and who request approval from their local FSA office. CRP participants can also allow others to use their acres but the livestock owners will still have to complete paperwork.

There will be no reduction in rental payments for CRP for grazing if used under this emergency.

DES MOINES, Iowa — On Friday, Taylor and Danielle Morris received the Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award.

Taylor was wounded in combat while serving in the U.S. Navy in Afghanistan in 2012.

“Unfortunately I stepped on and IED. It was like a homemade landmine and it was something that our detectors weren’t tuned into yet. That’s kind of just unfortunately how you find the new things out there is you have accidents like that. So I stepped on that and it exploded and I lost parts of all four limbs,” Taylor said.

When Taylor returned to the United States, his now wife, Danielle, flew to Maryland to help him through the recovery process.

She said for her it was a no-brainer, and the three days she wasn’t by his side was the hardest part.

Drake University President Marty Martin said their story is one of resilience and triumph and they are a wonderful example of determination.

Danielle said they are humbled and honored to receive the award.

“We just took this huge curveball that life threw at us and we just took it step by step and so it is humbling to receive an award like this and to be honored and named among all the past recipients when really we feel like we were just doing the best that we could with the curveball that was thrown at us,” Danielle said.

Taylor and Danielle said they are happy to finally be back in Iowa close to family and friends.


DES MOINES, Iowa — Pain management is a daily routine for many who suffer from endometriosis.  “It is a multi-systemic disease.  Tissue similar to what is found in your uterus grows all over your body,” said Katie Joy Ussery who has dealt with that pain for fourteen years of her life.

In March, Ussery, from Des Moines, was suffering from ovarian cysts and sought help at the Iowa clinic OB/GYN.  “I already had an established OB/GYN at that clinic that I loved.  She wasn’t available so the clinic gave me the next available physician.”

Ussery claims that physician immediately recommended a clinical trial of Orilissa made by the company Abbvie, which she did not want to use.  “I felt he became confrontational when I dared to stand my ground, advocate for myself and disagreed with his opinion,” said Ussery.

After the appointment, she researched which is a public site that tracks payments from pharmaceutical companies to doctors.
Ussery said, “I found that from 2013-2017 he was paid almost $350,000 in associate research funding by that same company.”

Ussery took to Twitter to post a negative review of the physician only to find out at her next appointment in April she was discharged, and unable to receive treatment from any of the Iowa Clinic physicians.  “I was told I tweeted something against this physician,” said Ussery.

Without any endometriosis specialists in Iowa, Katie was now blocked from receiving the vital treatment she needed from a place she had also seen as the right fit.  “I feel I was punished for advocating for myself and my health care was jeopardized because I spoke out about the health care I received,” Ussery said.

The Iowa Clinic responded to Ussery’s claims in a statement saying, “If a physician within our OB/GYN department chooses to discharge a patient – that patient is not able to schedule with anyone else within that specialty. Our OB/GYN department has this policy because patients are shared among all partners.”

With a new pain, Ussery is now looking at her legal options.  “I have a feeling of betrayal, mistrust and heartache,” she said.

In response to the physician receiving funds for clinical trials, The Iowa Clinic has also stated, “The Iowa Clinic embraces medical research and the role it plays in providing new treatment options for patients. The claims made by Ms. Ussery on social media regarding our participation in clinical trials for Orilissa (Elagolix) are misleading. Highly regulated industry protocols require us to identify a Principal Investigator for every study, and all financial reporting falls under his/her name.  The Principal Investigator does not receive all of the funding for a clinical trial. The funding is used to cover expenses associated with that trial, and a percentage will go to the Principal Investigator for his/her work and oversight.”

SAN BERNADINO COUNTY, California –It was the ordeal of a lifetime for Iowa native Eric Desplinter and his co-worker Gabrielle Wallace.  The two had being trapped on Baldy Mountain just northeast of LA since Saturday. The pair of hikers were rescued Wednesday night after crews found footprints and called in a helicopter. The chopper was able to spot the pair’s campfire.

“Thank you to all the volunteers that were helping look for us, we are very grateful to have been found tonight.  I’m ready to get to bed and get some rest” said Desplinter.

The two chose to summit Mt. Baldy after another pair of hikers they were with turned back to camp. According to his mother, the two experienced hikers tried to find a less challenging path down and ended up losing the trail.

“[We] rationed our food, drank water through a LifeStraw, kept as warm as possible” said Desplinter.

The LifeStraw was critical to survival. A $20 piece of equipment, it allowed them to drink fresh water when they ran out of their own supply.

“So, the life straw filters out bacteria and protozoa. It’s good for 1000 liters of clean, flowing water so great to have for anyone to have in their pack” said Taggart Lewsander, manager of the REI in West Des Moines.

Lewsander says you should also carry a map and compass in case cell service is poor, more food than you think you need, and a way to start a fire.

“Tried and true, just a waterproof pack of storm proof matches and a little bit of tinder in there” he said.

As for Desplinter’s mother Karen Ziebarth, all she can say is ‘thanks’.

“You can’t put words into what I feel. I keep looking at these workers and I keep saying ‘thank you’. You say thank you because it’s just words that come out of your mouth, because it’s not enough. I can’t say anything for the amount of work that they put in daily, and a lot of these people, most of these people are volunteers and they work out here and they came out all day to save Gabby and Eric. It’s a miracle, it’s truly a miracle” said Ziebarth.

She says her son is thinner than when he went up the mountain, but otherwise the two are in good health.