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FREMONT, Iowa-Wednesday was the last day of combining corn for Mark Hedge, who has farm ground on the Mahaska and Wapello county line.

Hedge farms along with his brother and a nephew, they cover around 1200 acres of farmland. He saw a twelve-inch snow cover his fields with corn still standing.

On the last day there were eight rows of corn in a couple of foot-tall snow drifts along the fence. Other corn in the field had been laid down, due to the snow.

“It’s just frustrating you think you’re going to get something done and the mother nature has other plans for you just gonna have to work around it,” said Hedge. “We had to wait for that to melt off in order to get back in the field and continue harvest.”

“The last probably five days a lot of corn has been combined,” said Charles Brown of Iowa State University Extension in Oskaloosa. “But there’s still, more to go here and south, you’ll see there’s still a lot of corn and some soybeans not combined yet.”

Hedge still has grain to haul to Cargill in Eddyville. He said he was unable to dump grain there on Wednesday, so he would be getting trucks of grain down there.

Weather has been a big challenge this year for southern Iowa.

“Here in southern Iowa we were dry this summer, and then later part of August it started raining so we got a lot of rain,” said Brown.

Then 12 inches of snow- in November. Mark Hedge keeps moving, despite any weather setbacks.

“It’s always a challenge this part of the job, you either accept it or do something else.”

NEW JERSEY — A disturbing viral trend called the “Momo Challenge” centers around a creepy image of a woman. Children as young as 6 years old have reportedly been swept up into the challenge, which promises death to victims who don’t follow the orders of the character.

The Brick Township Board of Education, in New Jersey, sent home a warning letter stating, “the ‘Momo Challenge’ can be found on Facebook or through WhatsApp, and is disturbing in nature.”

It starts out by challenging the receiver to perform small tasks and quickly “escalates to more serious violent acts and request photographs for proof.”

First-graders at Warren H. Wolf Elementary School, in Brick, have faced bullying and threats of violence because of “Momo,” the Asbury Park Press reports.

Other school officials have been reacting quickly.

This includes Corpus Christi Montessori School, in Texas, which compared the ordeal to “Slender Man” — the  fictional horror character that inspired two 12-year-old girls to attack another girl, stabbing her 19 times in 2014. The victim survived.

In Colombia, a 12-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy killed themselves after participating in the challenge, the Daily Mail reports, citing local media.

The “game” starts when a person adds a phone number belonging to “Momo,” a woman with large eyes and a sharp grin. The participant is then sent various challenges before ultimately being told to kill themselves. If they do not, they are threatened with a curse, the Daily Mail reports.

The Brick Township letter offered the following takeaways for concerned parents: if your children already have social media accounts, you need to be talking to them about this, as well as smartly monitoring what’s happening on their pages.

Web sites such as the Child Mind Institute, Safe Search Kids and Parenting offer more information on monitoring children’s social media use.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) . It is a free, 24/7 service that offers support, information, and local resources. You can also click here for additional hotlines within your state.

AMES, Iowa- When work began planning for the new Advance Teaching and Research Building at Iowa State, part of the plan included artwork for the lobby of the new building. The five floor building on the corner of Stange Road and University on campus, houses three departments.

This week installation was completed by Los Angeles artist Gaston Nogues.

“They’ve been asking what is it,” said Nogues. “So, that’s been the main question, we want people to basically interpret this thing.”

The fiberglass artwork is designed to appear to grow like a tree from the vertical wall in the ATRB lobby.

“This is made out of 8th inch diameter rod is a fiberglass,” said Nogues. “So it grew in a sense the same way that a plant will grow, something biological would grow.”

The piece cost around $250,000.

‘We’re the Iowa State University of science and technology but without the art there’s a whole empty part of our existence,” said Rob Wallace, who served on a committee to acquire art for ATRB and Bessey Hall, which was remodeled at the same time the ATRB project.

The artist is still working on what to name the project.

“We are working on the title,” said Nogues. “The title is kind of like naming the baby, you don’t want to do that until it’s born.”

DES MOINES, Iowa — The Des Moines School District may be shaking up students’ schedules, moving from the current four classes per day, to seven shorter periods, with a modified two-day block schedule.  It would mean students are in each class more often, but for a shorter time.

Monday and Tuesday the Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) held a parent town hall meeting to discuss the proposed changes and how it will impact their high school students. Tanya Keith, a Hoover high school parent, says this schedule change is about more than just how much time is spent in each class.

“One of the reasons I moved from New Jersey to Iowa is because there is so many great opportunities here and education is a huge part of that,” Keith said. “So it is a concern for me that we are looking through all of these fixes, but when it really comes down to it we need better funding from the state.”

A schedule committee member on the online forum for the town hall parent meeting, said “at time when DMPS finances are tight, we need to think creatively about how to best serve students within the resource constraints.” The Director of high schools for the Des Moines Public Schools, Michael Vukovich, says the district is getting “fewer and fewer resources.”

“By reducing an option for students, going from eight options to seven options, not only does it increase our frequency of seeing them all the time, but it also allows us to absorb some of the budget impact that we have,” Vukovich said.

Changing to the seven period modified block would increase the district’s teacher utilization. Right now, in any given block during the school day, 25 percent of the teachers in the building are on a planning period. But with the proposed schedule, and shorter class times, more teachers can be assigned to teach classes each period.

According to the committee’s PowerPoint presentation at the parent meeting, this is “a way to mediate the impact of budget cuts and staff reductions without increasing class sizes.”

Class sizes have continued to increase the past three years in both core classes and elective classes, according to Des Moines Public Schools, and it will only continue without a change to the schedule.

“We’re given certain funding by the state and we have to use those. Our job is to utilize our resources to our best of our ability and make sure our students have the best possible support instruction and the teachers are supported the best that we can, because they have such an important job,” Vukovich said.

Vukovich says there are some other positives to the proposed schedule. Instructional minutes over a two week period will increase by a total of 35 minutes and over a full semester by 292.5 minutes. But Keith says, this makes her pause, when considering how many times they are switching classrooms and have to stop and start lectures over the course of a day.

“The class time is going to be shorter and when you look at the longer class and the three minutes it takes to set up and the three minutes it takes to take down, it ends up being seven percent of the time. But when you have that shorter [45 minute] class, that seven minutes is actually 13 percent of the class,” Keith said. “So by doing this starting and stopping were actually reducing the amount of quality time that that student gets with that teacher.”

Vukovich says this more comes down to classroom efficiency.

“Putting a kid in a room for an hour and a half doesn’t automatically make them learn more than if it was 45 minutes. It’s more about how our teachers are really using their time effectively and the students are using that time effectively in the classroom,” Vukovich said.

The committee also added that infrequent student and teacher interaction is another reason to consider the schedule change. With classes currently every other day, if a student misses a class, they could go up to a week without seeing that teacher again. This proposal would change that.

“We’re really looking at a schedule that is going to serve our students, and all of our students, in the most equitable and best way. Pending potential budget cuts, taking those into consideration, and trying to increase instructional minutes for our students and frequency of contact; all of those things are playing into trying make this decision,” Vukovich said.

“I believe the Des Moines Public School District is doing the best they can with their limited funds, but it keeps coming back to there is this limited funding,” Keith said. “At some point we can’t continue cut, functionally cut, school funding.”

Numerous other concerns were mentioned at the town hall meeting Tuesday afternoon including how it will impact travel times, Central Campus students, and a decrease in the amount of possible credits a student can earn over their four years of high school. You can see all the concerns in the schedule committee’s online forum here.

 

AMES, Iowa — In their first ten games, mostly without their top offensive weapon, Iowa State is 8-2.  Now fans of the cardinal and gold may be one step closer to a team at full strength with Lindell Wigginton and Solomon Young.

“Wednesday if everything goes status quo as it is now, they’ll go half court.  Not up and down but live contact in the half court and evaluate them from there,” said head coach Steve Prohm.

Despite the winning record, the absence of Young and Wigginton, who was named preseason all-Big 12, was glaringly evident against the Iowa Hawkeyes.  The Cyclones were outrebounded by twenty and the team shot just 46% from the field.  Wigginton’s 17 points per game from a year ago would be a welcomed site for the team this Saturday against Drake in the Big Four Classic in Des Moines.  Prohm said, “I think Lindell will add a huge boost to our team. I think it makes our perimeter deeper, gives guys like Nick a rest and really Lindell brings experience and scoring punch for our team, another playmaker.  Solomon, when he’s healthy gives us an enforcer around the basket we need.  He’s a guy we missed the other night at Iowa. Just his toughness and physicallness around the basket.”

 

DES MOINES, Iowa–Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven gave a budget hearing Monday for the coming year that used few numbers but expressed optimism.

“We are a very efficient organization,” Foxhoven proclaimed during his presentation before Governor Kim Reynolds, Acting Lt. Governor Adam Gregg and top staff.

He added of his department’s goal, “Trying to focus on outcomes to improve the health of Iowans and create more predictable and sustainable Medicaid budget. There’s a lot of debate about that over the years. I know that you’ve heard it. But really the last couple of years, we have really made this much more sustainable, much more dependable and delivered much better services.”

In the documents that accompanied his presentation, Foxhoven requested $1,782,644,841, a two percent increase in general funds for the next fiscal year. Nearly $27 million of that $35 million increase would go to private companies that have taken over Medicaid delivery services.

A state audit found that privatized Medicaid will save $126 million this year, about half of what former Governor Terry Branstad once estimated. 

Privatized Medicaid has drawn repeated criticism from Iowans who contend cost savings have resulted from decreased services and delayed payments to providers.

Foxhoven said that fewer Iowans depend on his department’s services these days, something he credits to an improving state economy.

MARION COUNTY, Iowa — One person is dead following a hunting accident in Marion County.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says it happened around 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Lake Red Rock.

The identity of person and the specific circumstances around the shooting have yet to be released.

The DNR is investigating the incident.

 

 

MADISON COUNTY, Iowa — We are waiting to learn the condition of a Madison County hunter shot in an accidental shooting Sunday morning.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office says 39-year-old Ronald Butler was hunting with two other adults around 8:40 a.m. when he dropped his shotgun getting out of a vehicle. The gun went off and struck him.

Authorities say he was still conscious when first responders arrived to take him to the hospital, but they have not said how he is doing after getting flown to Des Moines for treatment.

 

URBANDALE, Iowa — When Mrs. Claus was growing up she never had a Santa who could speak her language.

“When I grew up I had to go to see a Santa that didn’t know sign language and the other kids in line would make fun of me because of my speech,” Mrs. Claus said. “I never wanted to see Santa after that.”

Now, she is helping make sure every child has the opportunity to experience the magic of Christmas at the Special Santa event in Urbandale.

“It’s kind of cool that kids can see that he does know different languages not just English. So like, Santa knows maybe French, maybe German you never know,” Mrs. Claus said.

But Santa’s special talents didn’t end there. Kids with a wide range of special healthcare needs were able to get one-on-one time with their own St. Nick who knew exactly how to interact with every child, like Miles Fredericks, who has visual and hearing impairments.

“A lot of things startle Miles. So when you have a Santa that understands the impairments and is slow and gentle and is not startling and Mrs. Claus was able to warm Miles up to the touch,” Rita Fredericks, Miles’ Mom, said.

For James Haugh, just some extra time to talk with Santa made all the difference.

“He loves having people talk with him and as you can see he’s very happy and it’s a nice opportunity for a more one-on-one experience,” James’ Mom, Ellen Haugh said.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines police are searching for an armed robber.

The incidence occurred just before 9 p.m. Saturday night in the 3300 block of 61st St.

The victim says he was robbed at gunpoint while standing on his front porch.

Officers brought in a K9 unit but were unable to locate the suspect.

Investigators are now checking for fingerprints left on the porch to identify the gunman.