Muscatine Co. Sheriff Under Fire from Own Party

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

Hawkeye State in the Red…for Traffic Safety Laws

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

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Iowa Bike Summit Next Weekend; RAGBRAI Route on Itinerary

It’s the middle of winter but Iowa’s bicycling enthusiasts are already thinking about the summer ahead.  

The 10th annual Iowa Bicycle Summit will be held this weekend in Des Moines.   Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, says Friday is the first day of the gathering and it will feature guest speakers, an all-day workshop and breakout sessions on a host of bicycle-related topics.   The other half of the weekend is the Iowa Bike Expo, a free event on Saturday featuring more than 100 exhibitors. After the expo, there’s also the route announcement party for RAGBRAI, the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, on Saturday at 8 P-M. Continue Reading

AshBorer

Iowa Company Makes Good Use of Ash

An eastern Iowa company is turning a problem into an opportunity when it comes to firewood.  

Iowa Firewood Products of Preston uses three kilns to bake the moisture out of split wood to get it ready to burn, and it’s a process that also kills the emerald ash borer, allowing the wood to be shipped outside the quarantine put on to stop the spread of the ash borer.  

Derek Heiar  runs the company that’s the first to be licensed to export firewood beyond the quarantine, and he says recent mild winters left some dealers with piles of unsold firewood, but this year’s cold burned up supplies or left wood that was too green to burn.   Heiar says he moved out 225 semi loads of his processed firewood last year.   He says up to 15-percent of that came from threatened ash trees and it finds a use for the trees that are being removed. Continue Reading

Mortgages, Debt Collections & Cars Top Consumer Complaints List

Complaints about home mortgages and debt collection topped the list in the last year for the Consumer Protection Division of the Iowa Attorney General’s office.  

Bill Brauch leads the division and says over 300 of the complaints to his office involved home mortgages and 171 involved debt collection.   The total number of complaints did drop 10-percent last year to under three-thousand. Complaints about cars were third on the list.   That includes things like a car that may have been in a major wreck was fixed up and then sold the buyer without disclosure, or dealers charging fees that were not disclosed. Continue Reading

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ISU, Drake Presidents Testify in D.C.

Iowa State University President Steven Leath and Drake University President David Maxwell were at the White House Thursday for a summit about expanding the opportunity for low income students to attend college.  

Leath says ISU is focusing on fundraising to provide scholarships for needy students and that fundraising effort is off to a good start. ISU also plans to hire an additional staff member to work directly with recruitment and the application process for low income students. Maxwell used the summit to introduce a project to bring more low income students to the Drake campus in Des Moines. With help from Drake counselors and students, these 20 low income students will be mentored throughout high school and college. Continue Reading

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Blizzards, Mini-Blizzards & Thunder-Snow Hit IA

Blizzard conditions hit southeast Iowa for a brief time early last(Thurs) nite, as close to an inch of snow fell and was blown around by sporadic, up-to-40-mile-per-hour winds.  

A similar scenario struck parts of northwest Iowa…and “thunder snow” in central Iowa created hazardous driving conditions Thursday afternoon. A 25-vehicle pile-up on Interstate-80, near the Waukee exit, closed eastbound lanes. Near DeSoto, on Highway 169, 30 vehicles crashed. On Interstate 35, a semi jack-knifed near the Cumming exit and northbound lanes were closed until the semi was moved. Continue Reading

Western, Central IA in Path of High Winds

A rarely-issued High Wind Watch is posted for a large portion of western and central Iowa for much of today (Thursday).  

Meteorologist David Pearson, at the National Weather Service, says motorists can expect to be dodging garbage cans, recycling bins and anything else that’s not nailed down.  Some of the alerts say winds may reach 60 miles an hour — or stronger. At 74-miles an hour, it would be considered hurricane strength. Blowing snow or dust could make driving hazardous. Continue Reading

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Gas Prices Expected to go Back Up

The holidays are over, and gas in Burlington is once again under $3 a gallon. Unfortunately, Senior Petroleum Analyst, Gregg Laskoski, says you can expect those prices to go back up… “This has really been the results of very little consumer demand in January, that has been magnified by the pretty severe weather that we’ve experienced. I don’t know if we should read too much into this. We still expect gas prices to probably start climbing during the first quarter of this year. Continue Reading