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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa –Central Iowans woke up to snow and freezing temperatures, but that didn’t stop everyone from enjoying the great outdoors. Some even spent time on the beach.

“So it’s windy and snowy,” Five-year-old Henry Ladwig said.

You wouldn’t expect to find a large crowd on the beach on a snowy Sunday in December. Henry’s brother Liam added, “I think it’s going to be really cold and I’m excited.”

170 people and their cheerleaders gathered at Raccoon River Park for Special Olympics Iowa’s Polar Plunge.

“There’s a lot of excitement around this event and the weather couldn’t be better for a polar plunge,” Karen Whitman with Special Olympics Iowa said.

Members from 20 teams shivered their way to the sandy starting line to take the plunge into the 33 degree water. Teams ranged from high school students from Ankeny Centennial and Southeast Polk to West Des Moines Police Officers with their kids.

“Special Olympics is a great organization, a lot of us has some ties to it personally,” Officer Nate Ladwig said.

Some wore costumes and others had clever names. They were all there to raise money for Special Olympics athletes. Channel 13’s Sonya Heitshusen also joined in.

“It’s really cold, it’s really cold. My feet are frozen,” she said. “It’s for the kids. Sports has done so much for my life, so everybody should have the opportunity to play.”

The plungers raised $40,000 to help more than 14,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities around the state.

“We can suffer for a little bit to show those athletes that have to go through so much we’re here to support them anyway we can,” said Ladwig.

Money raised will help the Special Olympics athletes with year-round training and competition. Each participant had to raise at least $75.

DES MOINES, Iowa–J.D. Scholten is considering his options after hearing from people across the country following his narrow loss to longtime Iowa Congressman Steve King in November’s elections.

Senator Charles Grassley supported the decision when U.S. forces used tear gas on migrants, which included young children. Some of those migrants had charged toward law enforcement.

Ed Fallon, a Democratic former state representative and candidate for governor, has written a book about his march across the country to raise awareness for climate change.

A Des Moines teacher and a group of friends wanted to show their support for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her when they were teenagers. So, the group paid for a billboard near Palo Alto University in California, where Ford teaches.

J.D. Scholten takes this week’s Insiders Quick 6.

CLIVE, Iowa — The Indian Hills neighborhood in Clive is worried after a house was vandalized early this morning. Residents say it’s similar to the spree of damage others experienced last week, when over a dozen cars and a couple of houses’ windows were broken thanks to someone throwing rocks.

“I love being in this neighborhood and it’s just such a shame to have something like this happen here because this is just not who we are,” Jackie Seymour, a Clive resident, said.

Seymour is a 15 year resident of the Indian Hills neighborhood and says she’s never felt unsafe, but waking up to a broken window this morning has her concerned.

“It didn’t break the storm window, but you can see the rock there,” Seymour explained. “So it went completely through the outer screen and outside window.”

“It wasn’t loud enough that it made me get out of bed, and I did not find it until the next day. By then it was too late to find out much about who was responsible.”

Neighbors stopped by, worried about the reoccurring vandalism, but luckily this time police may have a lead.

Seymour’s neighbors caught what looked like kids running away on their security cameras. Police aren’t saying if this incident is related to last weeks vandalism, but Seymour says it’s too coincidental.

“I did ask that they step up patrols in the neighborhood, because two weekends in a row, that’s too many,” Seymour said.

She added the cost to repair the window is one thing, but what worries her the most is someone getting hurt. Frequently her elderly parents sleep on a pull out sofa just feet away from the window, luckily they weren’t last night.

DES MOINES, IA —  The Des Moines Police Department is asking for the public’s help in finding a missing person.

62-year-old Kathy Joanne Allen of Des Moines went missing earlier this afternoon.  She was last seen at 5:45 p.m. at 1420 Mulberry Street wearing dark-colored pants and a dark-colored coat.

Police say she has a medical condition that could cause her to become confused.  Anyone who may know her whereabouts is asked to call 911.

 

DES MOINES, Iowa — Many Drake University students have mixed feelings about the news surrounding the racist letters investigation and some students of color say they still don’t feel safe.

Drake Student Morgan Coleman said this problem of racism on campus goes way beyond the notes regardless of whether they were real or fake.

“After painting painted street black there’s been a lot of conversations and that’s the whole point. We wanted it to be a conversation piece. We wanted students to talk about it in their classrooms and to kind of get to the root of the problem,” Coleman said.

She said there is still a lot of work to be done.

“Racism manifests itself in many different ways. And although I cannot speak personally, and nobody can speak personally, to the motives of either individual who sent either set of notes, I do think that it shows that white supremacy is a huge problem and we have to actively work to combat it,” Coleman said.

Drake Student Alexander Peralta-Cornejo said he is frustrated that Painted Street is already chipping.

“If you’re an outsider and you see that symbolic thing broken and chipped, I mean I would push it aside,” Cornejo said.

He said that’s the reason why he and others must continue fighting so that the problem doesn’t get pushed aside again.

“There’s a lot of students that felt very afraid and are still very afraid regardless of who sent whatever note,” Coleman said.

Cornejo said he is one of those students who feels unsafe and there is one thing that could start the process of regaining some sense of safety.

“A huge assembly at the Knapp Center with everyone in there. Every single student. And President Martin acknowledging to every single student that this university does not stand with racism,” Cornejo said.

Coleman said she still has hope for change and the students who started the movement don’t plan on backing down anytime soon.

The Paint It Black Project also released a statement Friday:

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  Drake University says four incidents of racist notes left in dorm rooms appear to be hoaxes, but another unrelated incident is still being investigated as real.

On November 7th, Drake student Keith Walker reportedly received a racist and threatening note in his dorm room.  That case is still being investigated by Drake and Des Moines police.

Shortly after that letter was received, two other Drake students reported being targeted four times by racist notes found in their dorms on November 13th, 15th and 28th.  Drake University announced in a release Friday that all four notes were a hoax perpetrated by one of the alleged victims.

Neither Drake University nor Des Moines Police are releasing the girl’s name but both say charges of misdemeanor harassment are pending.  The student will also face student code of conduct violations which could result in expulsion.

Drake University President Marty Martin released this statement on Friday:

“I am pleased that we have identified the source of the four notes reported out of Herriott Hall, and I am confident in the progress being made with the ongoing investigation. As painful as these recent events have been, they have sparked important discussions and reflection, and have brought us closer together as one Drake community. We all have work to do as we further our commitment to equity and inclusion, but can be proud of our response, our values, and our conviction.”

 

Original Story:

The Des Moines Police Department says a female Drake University student who reported receiving racist notes in her dorm room wasn’t telling the truth about one incident.

Two female Drake students reported finding racist notes slid under the doors of their dorm rooms on November 15th.  On November 28th the same students reported they’d received another similar note.  Des Moines Police say their investigation into that final note revealed one of the victims wasn’t telling the truth.

In a press release on Friday morning, police say the final note “was note received in the manner as it was reported.”  Charges are now pending against one of the alleged victims of the crime.  Police will only describe her as an 18-year old.  Police are continuing to investigate the notes previously received by the students.

AMES, Iowa-The new production called NOEL the Musical will open Friday night at Stephens Auditorium. NOEL is on a tour of the Midwest, 20 cities, including Akron OH, Cedar Rapids, and Modesto CA.

This musical was born out of a meeting arranged by a mutual friend to dinner in Ames.

“Michael moved here 5 years ago,we were introduced by a friend, a common friend, who told me I know a guy who sings you ought to meet him,” said Steve Peters of Venueworks in Ames, the company which is producing the project.

“I know a guy who runs theaters you know, in our game you hear that all the time,” said Michael Londra, one of the co-producers of NOEL.

A mutual friend brought the two together.

“Took her about six months to actually convince us to meet, she threw a nice dinner for us at her house, we clicked,” said Peters.

“As soon as we sat down, we clicked, we knew what we both wanted to do,” said Londra.

The two worked around an idea for a Christmas musical. They found a writing duo from Ireland to come up with words and a music. In Londra’s hometown Wexford Ireland, they held concert versions of the basic musical.

The National Opera House sold out a week’s performances.

The little girl Noel, 10 years old, has lost her Mom. Her mom has disappeared,” said Peters. “At the same time Noel is supposed to sing the lead in the local community Christmas production that Santa left Christmas five years earlier, and stopped delivering presents.”

NOEL the Musical will be in Ames Friday night for one performance at 7:30 at Stephens Auditorium.

DES MOINES, Iowa — From Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! public health campaign, to the Healthiest State Initiative idea of 5-2-1-0, to a program called CATCH, there are lots of programs and ideas and different kinds of curriculum: all aimed at getting kids moving, eating the right things, and staying healthy.

And in an effort to educate students and equip them with the skills and knowledge that they need to lead a healthy lifestyle, the Iowa Department of Education is seeking the public’s input on proposed physical education and health standards.

“We are the last state to be going through this process and actually putting forth standards at the state level,” said Brian Rhoads, co-chair of the Physical Education and Health Standards Review Team says many school districts across the state already have standards in place, that they’ve adopted or modified from the national standards.

“It`s not that there haven’t been standards in place within the programs,” said Rhoads. “But, now we will have a consistent set of standards that is recommended by the state, which I think will bring increased rigor and increased learning within our classrooms.”

Rhoads says the standards will guide the instruction that occurs in K-12 health and physical education in Iowa.

“We`ve been pushing for it for quite some time and we`re finally there,” said Rhoads. “So, it’s an exciting time for us, as physical education and health teachers, to have the opportunity to be seen as more relevant and important in the lives of our students, as they move forward with their health and physical education.”

 

DES MOINES, Iowa — On September 3, 2018 Des Moines police fielded calls that could put anyone on high alert.  “We had several people give us a call that they saw a young man walking the street and he was armed with a hand gun,” said Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek.

Police officer Andrew Weispfenning quickly responded at 40th and Douglass in the Beaverdale neighborhood.  On his body camera video you can hear Officer Weispfenning yell, “Drop it, drop it,” as he approaches the young black male holding the gun at his side.  Parizek said, “From our perspective you cannot tell if that’s a real gun or a fake gun and that can lead to some very deadly consequences.”

From the dash-cam video the juvenile appears to point the gun directly at officer Weispfenning.  “It was one thing to see the gun in his hand but it was another thing to see him actually extend that out at the officer,” said Parizek.

In the video, Weispfenning never fires his weapon.  He leaves his vehicle and the juvenile places the gun on the ground.  It isn’t until moments later that the officer learns the gun was a replica and radios into dispatch the gun is a toy.  “When you look at the gun later it looked about as real as the one on my hip,” said Parizek.

The choice to not fire is arguably one that others may not have made.  “That could have been deadly in an instant,” Parizek said.

Four years ago, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio wasn’t so fortunate.  Residents called on a juvenile with a handgun in the park, the officer shot and killed Rice.  In the twelve-year old’s hand was an air soft gun.  The controversial shooting is a hot button issue and was moments away from happening here in Des Moines.  Officer Weispfenning even had a teaching moment with the young juvenile, saying “what were you thinking, you pointed the gun at me? You could have been shot.”  A thankful lesson the police department hopes others can pay attention to, “You can hear him have a scolding tone with that kid.  Look this is how you get shot. I don’t think it was really soaking in,” said Parizek.

No charges were filed against the juvenile. Officer Weispfenning left the department the following month to pursue other opportunities.

FORT DODGE, Iowa — “Outsourcing to somebody who`s clear across the United States, I don`t think is really an answer,” said Mackenzie Conrad, a Webster County Dispatcher since February of 2017.

Conrad loves her job and she’s afraid she might lose it, if the Webster County Telecommunications Board decides to hire IXP Corporation to take over managing the day to day operations of the Webster County’s 911 dispatch center.

“They have said that we can reapply for our position, which to me, is just silly,” said Conrad. “If I already have the position, why do I need to reapply for this position type thing. but there’s no promise that you`re, we`re gonna get our jobs back with this company.”

Cory Husske,  Chair of the Telecom Board and also the Fort Dodge Assistant Police Chief, says there will be no reduction in the amount of dispatchers that are employed.

“IXP, has offered as part of their proposal, to absorb the current employees, should they choose to work for them,” said Husske. “They would go through their application process, essentially, they would stop being employees of the Webster County Communications Center and then what would happen is, they would turn right around and apply for IXP and be looked at as employees of their corporation.”

Husske says there are a lot of misconceptions out there in the public about the proposed change.

“Some of the rumors that I’ve been hearing are that people will call from in Webster County, for example, with an emergency and that somehow the call’s going to be routed through New Jersey, and then back through Fort Dodge, with some sort of a delay…” said Husske. “…That would be the first misconception. Everything is going to remain local here.”

Husske compares the situation to a local McDonald’s.

“The franchise is owned by somebody that`s local,” said Husske. “The employees are people that are local, and the pay scale is attributed to the local pay scale for that region.”

In fact, Husske says Webster County dispatchers could actually make more money under the new arrangement, if it’s approved.

“The actual location of IXP here would be managed by people from Fort Dodge, employed by people from Fort Dodge,” said Husske. “The jobs would stay here and actually their pay scale reaches higher than the current scale that they’re getting right now.”

But Conrad says if IXP takes over, she’s not sure she will even re-apply, and she says her colleagues might decide to leave.

“It’s going to be a tough decision,” said Conrad. “And, it’s going to be hard to come into work, to know that your job is potentially being replaced by somebody or someone else.”