You can leave the winter jacket in the closet for today at least as 2004 is going out on a warm note. While Iowa struggled to get the temperature above single digits just one week ago — National Weather Service meteorologist Craig Cogil says a shift in the jetstream is moving warm air in today. Cogil says that could lead to some record highs. He says it’s quite unusual to meet or exceed the record highs for this time of year. He says highs could be in the 60’s in central and southern Iowan and the high 50’s in northern Iowa. Cogill says enjoy it while you can. He says warmth like this doesn’t usually last very long. He says we will see a front move through later today (Thursday) with cooler temperatures but still warmer than normal for Friday. Cogill says 2005 will start with cooler weather. He says a storm system will be moving in on Saturday as well, and we could see some rain and possibly snow this weekend.
Archives for December 2004
Waterloo police have made a seventh arrest in an October shooting rampage that left one woman dead. 56-year-old Paul Ackerman of Waterloo was charged yesterday with accessory after the fact. Police believe Ackerman was involved in the disposal of a weapon that was used in the incident. On October 10th, a group of men in a car opened fire on a Waterloo house in an apparent attempt to scare people at a party. During the shooting spree, one of the bullets hit and killed Thyanna Parsons, who was inside the home. Ackerman is being held in the Black Hawk County jail on 100-thousand dollars bond. The six other men charged in the shooting, all from Waterloo, are each charged with first-degree murder.
About 140 southwest Iowans attended at a meeting in Clarinda Wednesday night to hear officials from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources dispel rumors about an invasion of mountain lions. A big cat was hit by a car near Harlan back in 2001 and since then, two more have been shot in Iowa. Ron Andrews, a D-N-R furbearer resource specialist, says one shooting took place last fall near the northwest Iowa town of Ireton after a farmer spotted a mountain lion while picking corn.The second shooting took place near Chariton that same fall. Over the past two and a-half years, the D-N-R has received nearly 500 reports of the creatures lurking in rural areas, but Andrews says many of those reports involved repeated sightings of the same mountain lion. In addition to mountain lions, Andrews says bears have been sighted in the Hawkeye State. He says the bears are more daylight type of animals and the eastern two-thirds of the state have had sacattered bear reports.There’ve even been reports of wild boars in southwest Iowa. The D-N-R says some wild pigs escaped north of Thurman and about a dozen may still be in the hills. The animals caused extensive damage to the corn and soybean stubble, which reduced erosion protection. At the end of Wednesday night’s meeting, Pottawattamie County Conservation officer Doug Clayton put the bulk of the mountain lion sightings into perspective. He says the D-N-R has not received any verified reports of the big cats from the 150-thousand pheasant and deer hunters so far this year.
An Iowa woman has been hired to help put on President Bush’s second inaugural. Marlys Popma is a long-time Republican Party activist who lives near Colfax. “They asked me if I would help out, and I’m not going to say ‘No’ if they need help with the inaugural,” she says. “It’s an exciting thing with Bush finally winning and having this be a red state for the first time in 20 years, we’re very, very excits. So, I’ll be excited to do my duty while I’m out there.” Popma did similar, behind-the-scenes detail work for Iowans at the Republican National Convention in New York City. Popma says a lot of Iowans are going to the Inauguration — over 200 had already returned their R-S-V-Ps by yesterday afternoon (Wednesday). “It will be my job to make sure that they get to the things they want to get to…that they get the tickets to the ball,” she says. This will be Popma’s first time at the ceremony swearing in the president and the events celebrating the moment.”I’m excited,” she says. “It will be fun.” President Bush’s second inauguration is scheduled Thursday, January 20th. Popma will arrive in D.C. on January 18th. Popma has a long political resume, including work for former Congressman Jim Lightfoot, for G-O-P presidential candidates Phil Gramm and Gary Bauer and for the Iowa Right-to-Life Committee.
A standoff in northeastern Mason City yesterday afternoon ended peacefully but not without a fire starting. Police were called to the home shortly after noon yesterday after a 9-1-1 caller said Jon Wilmarth was in a garage behind the home, distraught, possibly suicidal, and possessed a gun. City trucks and squad cars blocked off the area while the Mason City Police Department’s negotiations team and the North Central Iowa Narcotics Task Force Strategic Operations Group were called in. Police talked with Wilmarth via a portable phone until about two o’clock when Wilmarth threw the phone out the window. A short time later a fire started in the garage, with Wilmarth eventually emerging from the structure. Wilmarth was taken to a Mason City hospital after the incident. Police say the incident remains under investigation, but they don’t expect any criminal charges to be filed.
The state fire marshal is being called in to investigate a fire that destroyed a family business near Waterloo early today. The fire broke out around 3:30 this morning at a pallet-making business in rural Black Hawk County. The business is located next to the home of the family that owns it. The family was awakened by the fire and reported it. Firefighters from Raymond, Gilbertville and Dunkerton found the building that housed the business completely engulfed when they arrived. Crews put the fire out in about an hour, but remained at the scene for more than six hours extinguishing hot spots. Raymond fire chief Russ Frisch says the building was destroyed, and a semi-trailer filled with pallets that was parked nearby was also damaged. Crews kept the fire from spreading to the family’s home or other buildings on the property. No injuries were reported.
A man was shot to death by authorities who were raiding a rural home in western Iowa early Wednesday morning. Mills County Sheriff Mack Taylor says at about 6:15 yesterday morning members of the Southwest Iowa Narcotics Task Force — including cops from Council Bluffs — entered the home to search for a felon who had a gun.”During the course of the execution of that search warrant, a law enforcement officer shot a suspect at the residence,” the sheriff says. The name of the suspect’s not being released, pending notification of relatives. The shooting happened at a home that’s a couple of miles south of Glenwood. Sheriff Taylor says giving the actual address would give too many clues as to just who was shot — and he wants to hold off releasing the information ’til all relatives are notified. He wouldn’t say whether there were other people in the home at the time of the shooting, or whether the man who was shot to death had fired at cops first.
A Department of Natural Resources specialist says the loss of water in the tiny eastern Iowa town of Charlotte for nearly one month is unusual. Residents have been unable to drink or cook with the water from their faucets since early this month after work on a new well contaminated the water supply. Mike Anderson of the D-N-R says the size of the water system made it tougher to clear out the contaminants– and kept the drinkable water from flowing until Tuesday afternoon. He says what you do is try to determine the extent of the problem and isolate it with valves and things, but he says bigger towns can do that easier because they have a bigger system. He says Charlotte was left the option of flushing and “superchlorinating” the water. He says superchlorinating puts 10 to 12 times the normal amount of chlorine into the water to get rid of the contaminants — but then you can’t use the water for drinking or cooking until the system is flushed out. Tom Witt took over as Charlotte’s interim water supervisor midway through the problem, and says they got by with a lot of bottled and canned water. He says there were a lot of donations from places, but he’s sure it was an inconvenience to have to use bottled water. Witt says the 450 residents of the Clinton County town got through the water problem without major complaining. He says from what he saw people were just waiting and waiting through the delays and it seemed to go pretty well. Anderson says when Des Moines lost water back in 1993, the city had lots of resources to draw on to get things going again. He says small towns don’t have those types of resources, so the D-N-R gives a lot of help. Anderson says fortunately he’s not seen many problems like Charlotte’s.He says some of his field offices have seen some cross contamination cases on a smaller scale, but he says the size of this contamination and the amount of time residents had to drink bottled water was “very unusual.” Witt says the new well that was being drilled was capped off after it was contaminated, and the town will now have to decide what to do about another well.
The Midwestern-based “Orphan Grain Train” is responding with some aid in areas of the world hit by Sunday’s earthquake and tsunamis. Director of Development Dick Jostes says a 40-long shipping container with supplies just happen to arrive recently at its Bangalore, India, warehouse. Those supplies have been diverted to relief efforts in southern India. But Jostes says the immediate need now is money.They’ve set up a special fund, dubbed the “Asian Disaster Relief Fund,” and have partners in Thailand standing by, something they’ve done in the past if they get cash donations to run it. Jostes explains they’ll send more containers, but that will take six to eight weeks. With cash, they can get money over there for workers in the region to buy rice and drinking water, which are most needed for the people right now. Jostes says Orphan Grain Train’s 14 regional divisions located throughout the United States are all participating in the Asian Relief Project. He says the organization’s assistance to the countries affected by the tsunami will continue as long as funds for the relief effort are available. See the group’s website, its Iowa coordinator, and how to donate at www.ogt.org
An American Red Cross volunteer from central Iowa leaves today (Thursday) for a long series of plane trips that’ll eventually take him to Sri Lanka, one of the nations devastated by the weekend tidal wave. Ron Matthews, of Ames, says he’s part of the International Red Cross’ disaster response unit. He’ll be taking part in the coordination of the Red Cross’ services with many other global organizations in the region so their efforts aren’t duplicated and so other services aren’t overlooked. Matthews, a retired Red Cross executive director, says he’s been told to prepare for the most foul conditions.Matthews says he’ll be living in a tent, attending meetings with other relief agency officials but also going out and interviewing people receiving aid, making sure all food, medicine, clothing and other items and services are being distributed fairly. Matthews says he’s been on many disaster recovery efforts but admits it’s hard to mentally ready oneself for the carnage and hardships he’ll soon be seeing first-hand.He says he knows he’s not prepared to experience what he’ll see, just based on what he’s seen on T.V. and through other sources. Matthews says he knows it’ll be a difficult assignment, but it’s one for which he’s long trained. Matthews says he’s part of the team that prepares Red Cross workers to cope with disasters but knows he will be effected just like anyone else. He’ll be gone at least a month. Matthews has spent some 24 years with the Red Cross, either as a volunteer or a paid staffer. Iowans who would like to help financially can call 800-HELP-NOW for a credit card donation, send a check to the local chapter in care of “American Red Cross International Relief Fund,” or log on to www.redcross.org.