GOVERNOR TERRY BRANSTAD FRIDAY DECLARED A PROCLAMATION OF DISASTER AND ENERGY EMERGENCY, DUE TO THE RECORD HIGH DEMAND FOR PROPANE THROUGHOUT THE UPPER MIDWEST. IN ADDITION, THE U-S DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN & HEALTH SERVICES HAS RELEASED A SECOND LOW-INCOME HOME ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM(LI-HEAP)APPROPRIATION OF 7.4-MILLION DOLLARS TO THE STATE OF IOWA, TO HELP FAMILIES HEAT THEIR HOMES DURING THE COLD WEATHER. BRANSTAD AND LT. GOVERNOR KIM REYNOLDS ALSO LAUNCHED THE PROPANE SHORTAGE & HEATING ASSISTANCE WEBPAGE. Continue Reading
Much of Southeast Iowa and West Central Illinois are in for another dose of snow tonight and tomorrow. There is a “Winter Weather Advisory” from 6 o’clock tonight until 6pm tomorrow. The greatest snow intensity is expected between midnight and noon Saturday. 5-7 inches of snow is expected. Increasing winds may lead to drifting snow Saturday afternoon and evening, so be careful when traveling. Continue Reading
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa lawmakers have begun considering limits to the use of drones in Iowa. A subcommittee of the House Public Safety Committee discussed the issue Thursday and planned to make changes to a bill before approving the measure. The current proposal would allow law enforcement agencies and state officials to use drones only under certain circumstances, including life-threatening emergencies. Rep. Jerry Klein, a Republican from Keota, says increased accessibility and improved technology sparked a need for drone restrictions. Ankeny police chief Gary Mikulec says restricting drone use could impair effective law enforcement. Continue Reading
CHICAGO (AP) — The state of Illinois is offering more help to low-income households struggling to heat their homes because of a shortage of propane.
Earlier this week, Gov. Pat Quinn declared the shortage in Illinois an emergency. He relaxed rules on truck drivers so they could travel out of state in search of propane supplies. On Friday, Quinn announced other steps, including an additional credit of $1,000 for each household taking part in a program that helps low-income residents with home energy bills. The governor says no one should have to choose “between feeding their families and heating their homes.” Continue Reading
MARION, Iowa (AP) — State records say a mentally disabled woman overheated and died inside a Marion group home that had been heat-treated for bedbugs.
The Des Moines Register says 61-year-old Rhonda Skoog died at 29th Street Crest Group Home. She was found dead the morning of Aug. 30 last year, a day after superheated air was blown into the home, raising the temperature to at least 125 degrees. State records say home staffers were undertrained and unaware that Skoog’s diagnosed sensitivity to heat was aggravated by two of her medications. Continue Reading
There’s a reason this winter feels as if it’s dragging from one endless arctic chill to another. State Climatologist Harry Hillaker said today his records show this winter has been unusually cold. Temperatures in Iowa between Oct. 1 and Jan. 23 represent the ninth coldest for that period in the past 121 years. Continue Reading
CARLINVILLE, Ill. (AP) — An unusual dust storm forced authorities to shut down a five-mile stretch of a central Illinois highway because of low visibility.
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports Friday’s dust storm near Carlinville caused several car crashes on Illinois 108. Drivers said they couldn’t see beyond their cars’ hoods. The road was closed for about four hours. Continue Reading
MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) — The Muscatine County sheriff has refused to publicly disclose how he determined that no rules or policies were broken when a mentally ill jail inmate was repeatedly shocked with a stun gun last fall.
Now, members of the sheriff’s own political party are calling for an independent investigation. The Des Moines Register reports that Sheriff Dave White has denied the newspaper’s repeated requests for documentation or interviews explaining his conclusion that no laws were broken and jail policies were followed when the woman, Marie Franks, was shocked four times in eight minutes during the Oct. 7 incident. Franks suffers from bipolar disorder and was off her medication at the time. Continue Reading
A national highway safety organization lists Iowa among the “worst states” for traffic safety measures.
The group Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety evaluated the 50 states based on 15 “optimal laws.” Cathy Chase, Vice President of Governmental Affairs for Advocates, says Iowa has adopted only 5 of the 15 laws her group endorses. Iowa is one of 11 states to receive a “red” rating — meaning the states are “dangerously behind” in the adoption of Advocates’ optimal laws. One of the strikes against Iowa, according to the report, is the lack of an all-rider motorcycle helmet law. Continue Reading