2014 started much as it’s ending, with bitter cold weather. Freezing temperatures in January brought high demand for propane and skyrocketing costs. State ag fuels analyst Harold Hommes says prices per gallon went from a $1.60 to nearly $5.
“Since we’ve been tracking it, we haven’t had it higher,” Hommes said. In some areas, LP prices rose two bucks a gallon in two days.
In February, an explosion and fire involving sulphuric acid engulfed an outbuilding at the Northwood airport and forced the evacuation of the entire northern Iowa town. Four people were hospitalized.
The new state prison in Fort Madison was supposed to open in March but was delayed, repeatedly, due to problems with the heating and cooling system, among other issues. The $132-million facility remains empty.
The annual VEISHEA celebration at Iowa State University in April was marred by violence, mobs, destruction of property and one serious injury. In August, ISU President Steven Leath killed the 92-year tradition.
“I’m announcing today that VEISHEA has ended and the name VEISHEA is retired,” Leath said. The decision followed recommendations from a task force that held public meetings over three months.
Different groups propose building an oil pipeline from northwest to southeast Iowa, in addition to an electric power line that would cut from northwest to east-central Iowa. Both proposals are drawing support — and protests.
In May, at least seven tornadoes touched down in Iowa, doing heavy damage in the Lake Panorama area and killing two people in Keokuk County.
In June, the northwest Iowa town of Rock Valley got 10 inches of rain in just a few days. City administrator Tom Van Maanen said many homes, schools and businesses were damaged.
In July, hundreds of undocumented children poured across the southern U-S border and Iowa’s Governor Terry Branstad said he wanted none of those children relocated here.
“I do have empathy for these kids but I also don’t want to send the signal that send your kids to America illegally,” Branstad said.
Still, leaders of Iowa political and religious groups, businesses and non-profits extended a hand and Davenport’s mayor declared that city a haven for the children.
Over the course of a few days in August, six Iowa boys were killed in two separate accidents involving all-terrain and off-road utility vehicles — near Epworth and Mount Vernon.
In November, one person in Iowa was quarantined due an elevated risk of Ebola exposure while a dozen more people were considered at low risk for exposure to the potentially-deadly virus. State epidemiologist Patty Quinlisk said all 13 had been in Western Africa.
Ebola is blamed in some 7,000 deaths during this outbreak, most of them in Western Africa.