November 23, 2014

Des Moines city bus wrapped in art

(photo courtesy of Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation)

The Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation is using a city bus as an art gallery. Photographs of Alex Brown’s paintings are on a vinyl seal surrounding the bus as it travels its routes.

Brown says he composed images of aircraft and faces that are hard to make out at close range, but they become clearer from a distance. “I was playing with the registry of things sort of slipping and being out of focus…kind of a varied combination of things that my eye kind of was attracted to,” Brown says.

In six months, Brown’s work will be replaced by another artist. Public Art Foundation director Jessica Rowe says this is an inexpensive way to exhibit new art. “A temporary work gives you a lot of freedom to do something spontaneous, something exciting, something that’s happening in different places around the community and hundreds of thousands of people (will be) seeing it,” Rowe said.

Only one bus traveling city routes is being used for this project. Work by four artists will be displayed at six-month intervals through 2016.

(photo courtesy of Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation)

Freezing rain to hit parts of state before warm up

Areas in purple are under a freezing rain advisory.

Areas in purple are under a freezing rain advisory.

A freezing rain advisory is posted for nearly all of central and eastern Iowa tonight into tomorrow. Craig Cogill is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“Primarily, along and east of Interstate 35 is the best threat for seeing this freezing precipitation overnight. There’s much less of a threat as you head further west across the state,” Cogill said.

Warmer air is expected to move back into Iowa tomorrow morning, which should melt any potential ice formed overnight. A record cold snap ended today in Iowa’s capital city. “We saw 10 consecutive days where high temperatures failed to get above freezing and that ended today,” Cogill said. “Temperatures at the Des Moines airport were up to 38 degrees.”

The 10 days below freezing marked the longest consecutive stretch of high temperatures less than 32 degrees in November across Iowa. The old record of 8 days was set in November of 1985. Eastern Iowa is forecast to receive some rain Saturday into Sunday, with foggy conditions possible statewide. Colder air is expected to return to Iowa on Monday with a chance of scattered snow showers.

 

Update: teens charged in threats at SE Polk High School

Southeast Polk High School

Southeast Polk High School

Three teenagers are now charged in connection with posts to a social media app that threatened violent acts at Southeast Polk High School in the Des Moines suburb of Pleasant Hill. The names of the teens are not being released, but authorities say they are two 16-year-old boys and a 13-year-old boy.

The charges include intimidation with a dangerous weapon, threats of terrorism, threats with an explosive device, and first-degree harassment.

From previous story:

The threats were made earlier this week on the app Yik Yak, which allows users to make posts anonymously. But, cyber security expert and Iowa State University professor Doug Jacobsen says virtually anything posted on the Internet is traceable. He notes Yik Yak utilizes a user’s GPS coordinates. “Also, the IP address of your phone on the Internet is recorded by the Yik Yak servers,” Jacobsen says. “So, those two pieces of information can be used by law enforcement to potentially track you down.”

There’s been heightened security in place at Southeast Polk since a threat was made over the weekend and another one was posted Tuesday. Jacobsen says teens and all social media users should recognize that everything they post can have consequences. “It never goes away and it can always come back to haunt you,” Jacobsen says. “The rule of thumb I tell people to tell their kids is ‘what would grandma think?’ Before I post this, what would grandma think if she knew I was the one who put that on the Internet?”

Police announced the filing of charges against the three teens at a press conference in Pleasant Hill this afternoon.

More information expected soon in Yik Yak threats targeting school

Southeast Polk High School

Southeast Polk High School

Charges are expected soon after postings earlier this week on a social media app threatened violence at a Des Moines area school. Pleasant Hill Police say two students are believed to be responsible for the threats at Southeast Polk High School.

The threats were made on the app Yik Yak, which allows users to make posts anonymously. But, cyber security expert and Iowa State University professor Doug Jacobsen says virtually anything posted on the Internet is traceable. He notes Yik Yak utilizes a user’s GPS coordinates. “Also, the IP address of your phone on the Internet is recorded by the Yik Yak servers,” Jacobsen says. “So, those two pieces of information can be used by law enforcement to potentially track you down.”

There’s been heightened security in place at Southeast Polk since a threat was made over the weekend and another one was posted Tuesday. Jacobsen says teens and all social media users should recognize that everything they post can have consequences. “It never goes away and it can always come back to haunt you,” Jacobsen says. “The rule of thumb I tell people to tell their kids is ‘what would grandma think?’ Before I post this, what would grandma think if she knew I was the one who put that on the Internet?”

The superintendent of Southeast Polk Schools announced late Wednesday that two students suspected of posting the threatening messages have been suspended from school. Police say formal charges are pending, as they continue to question additional students.

Vision Iowa makes awards to Ottumwa and Washington

The Vision Iowa Board on Thursday awarded grants to a couple of big projects in Ottumwa and Washington. The board is providing a $125,000 Community Attraction and Tourism (CAT) grant to help a group in Ottumwa construct a Highway 34 underpass that will be part of an existing 10-mile trail system.

The Wapello County Trails Council reports the more than $650,000 project will provide for a safe crossing to an area along the Des Moines River that will be utilized for hosting large outdoor concerts and other events. Another CAT grant of $800,000 was awarded to the Washington Area Performing Arts and Events Center Project in Washington. That’s a $7 million project involving the construction of a 700 seat auditorium next to Washington High School.

 

Group asks Hy-Vee to stop selling tobacco products

Hy-Vee store.

Hy-Vee store.

An anti-smoking group has gone public with a campaign calling on Iowa’s largest grocery store chain to stop selling tobacco products and e-cigarettes in its stores that contain pharmacies or health care clinics. Jeneane Moody, executive director of the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Alliance, says they’re targeting Hy-Vee because of their sponsorship of a triathlon and Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative.

“They’ve really developed their brand around health and wellness, so we think this makes them a good candidate to consider this opportunity,” Moody said. The board of directors for the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Alliance sent a letter to Hy-Vee officials in early October about the idea, but have not received a direct response. The alliance chose to go public with their effort today because it coincides with the American Cancer Society’s “Great American Smokeout.”

In a written statement, Hy-Vee noted the company doesn’t advertise tobacco products, but also doesn’t believe it should “police customers’ personal decisions.” Moody is hoping Hy-Vee will follow in the footsteps of the CVS pharmacy chain, which removed tobacco products from its stores earlier this year.

“I think CVS set a great example by showing that because they’re a provider of health services they thought it was incongruous to also sell a product that kills their customers,” Moody said. Hy-Vee is headquartered in West Des Moines and has 235 stores in eight Midwestern states, including 123 in Iowa.

Here’s Hy-Vee’s statement:

For years now, health and wellness has been a major part of who Hy-Vee is, and our commitment shows through the numerous healthy offerings in our stores and the activities we support in communities. As a retailer, we offer consumers a variety of products; we do not believe it is our role to police their personal decisions. We actively try to encourage customers’ healthy choices by keeping tobacco products behind courtesy counters and excluding them from marketing. And in contrast, we visibly tout the convenient access to smoking cessation programs and products provided through our pharmacies and in-store dietitians and clinics.
Hy-Vee has:
220 dietitians in 225 stores.
243 pharmacies; this number includes our Hy-Vee Drugstores, pharmacy clinics and in-store pharmacies.
160 HealthMarkets across our 235 stores.

Hy-Vee has strived to make the HealthMarket a focal point in many of our stores – strategically placing it near the pharmacy and dietitians to provide customers easy access to health and wellness information, products and services. Hy-Vee, Inc. is an employee-owned corporation operating 235 retail stores across eight Midwestern states with sales of more than $8.7 billion annually. Hy-Vee ranks among the top 25 supermarket chains and the top 50 private companies in the United States. Supermarket News, the authoritative voice of the food industry, has honored the company with a Whole Health Enterprise Award for its leadership in providing services and programs that promote a healthy lifestyle. For more information, visit  www.hy-vee.com.

Pharmacy Board delays decision on medical marijuana

Pharmacy-BoardThe Iowa Board of Pharmacy today tabled a recommendation that the Iowa Legislature reclassify marijuana. A three-member subcommittee had recommended the full board urge state lawmakers to make marijuana a “Schedule Two” substance, meaning it could be used for medical purposes.

Board Chairman Ed Maier is a pharmacist from Monona County. “I believe we decided to table it to have a little more time to think about it, primarily because of the fact that federal law and state law would be in conflict,” Maier said. Federal law classifies marijuana as Schedule One, which bans most uses of the drug.

Medical marijuana advocate Sally Gaer of West Des Moines said she doesn’t understand the decision to delay a decision, especially since the pharmacy board previously recommended reclassifying marijuana back in 2010. “I’m really disappointed,” Gaer said. “I don’t understand why they need another discussion on all of it. I’m just really frustrated.”

The board will return to the issue at its meeting on January 3. Gaer has a 24-year-old daughter who suffers from intractable epilepsy and is currently taking four different anticonvulsant drugs, including one that’s imported from France and isn’t approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration. “So, FDA approval doesn’t mean a ton to me at this point,” Gaer said. “All of her meds she’s been on have not been approved for use in children and she started on them as a child. We’re out of options for medications to try with her, so we would like to try the cannabidiol oil and whatever else might help her.”

Gaer helped lead the lobbying effort earlier this year that resulted in Governor Branstad signing a bill decriminalizing possession of cannabis oil as treatment for chronic epilepsy. But, Gaer notes most states where cannabis oil can be legally purchased also restrict sales to residents of that state. In addition, the ID cards that will protect epileptic patients in Iowa from prosecution if they’re caught with cannabis oil won’t be issued until January 30.

“I’m frustrated with the bill because in the final hours, everything was kind of sliced and diced out of it,” Gaer said. “The reciprocity for hurting Iowans who are refugees in Colorado…they can’t bring their loved ones home (to Iowa) to see their family and bring their medication with their children. That’s frustrating to me too.” Gaer and other parents of children with severe forms of epilepsy have been asking state lawmakers to allow marijuana to be grown here, so cannabis oil can be produced and purchased in Iowa.

Dale Woolery, Associate Director of the Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy, praised the cautious approach of the pharmacy board. “It’s not an easy thing. It tells us how difficult this issue really is,” Woolery said. “We don’t believe moving marijuana out of Schedule One is required to do some of the things that are being talked about, (such as) research and CBD (cannabidiol) access. It’s been demonstrated that can happen with marijuana as a Schedule One.”

While the pharmacy board recommended in 2010 that lawmakers reclassify marijuana, the legislature has not taken any action on the matter.