March 30, 2015

Traer woman dies in accident near Clear Lake

Ambulance-Back-DoorA central Iowa woman is dead after a two-vehicle accident on Interstate 35 near Clear Lake Thursday afternoon.

The Iowa State Patrol says a semi hit the back of a pickup that had broken down and stalled in the traveled portion of the road in the southbound lanes between exits 193 and 194, the two Clear Lake exits, at about 12:45 P.M.

The passenger in the pickup, 67-year-old Joleen McCrary of Traer, died as a result of the accident, while the driver, 67-year-old Mark McCrary, was injured and was transported to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa in Mason City for treatment. The semi driver, 54-year-old Edward Travis of Paducah Kentucky, was also injured and was also transported to Mercy-North Iowa.

(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)


Charles City Fire Chief involved in accident with pedestrian

Charles City accident investigation.

Charles City accident investigation.

An elderly woman was struck by a fire department vehicle this week in northeast Iowa. It happened Tuesday afternoon in Charles City. Floyd County Sheriff Investigator Pat Shirley says Charles City Fire Chief Eric Whipple was driving the car.

“The light turned green for Mr. Whipple and also the walk light turned at the same time for the pedestrian to walk. (Whipple) turned left…and struck the lady the crosswalk,” Shirley said. The pedestrian, 85-year-old Gladys Kellogg, was last reported in fair condition at a hospital in Rochester, Minnesota.

There were two witnesses to the incident and Whipple told investigators he simply did not see Kellogg crossing the street. No charges have been filed, but the accident remains under investigation. “We’re looking to make sure if anyone has surveillance videos that were in the area,” Shirley said. “Everything that we’re looking at so far (indicates it was) 100-percent pure accident. We don’t see anything reckless at this point.” Whipple was not on his way to a fire emergency at the time of the accident, according to Shirley.

(Story and picture by Kit Cameron, KCHA, Charles City)


Two injured in accident at Cedar Rapids business

Fire-truckTwo workers at a manufacturing plant in Cedar Rapids were injured in an accident this morning. Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow says it happened at DuPont Industrial Biosciences on the city’s southwest side.

“They were apparently unloading a tanker when a hose came lose and sprayed both employees with liquid ammonia,” Buelow said. The two men are 36 and 45-years-old. They were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Both were wearing protective gear at the time of the incident. “That really minimized their injuries,” Buelow said. “(They) could have severe burns, potentially life-threatening inhalation, other injuries or medical conditions if they would have been exposed any more to the ammonia.”

The tanker was capped off and there was no additional exposure to other employees, Buelow added.


Pain medication tops list in calls to poison hotline

PillsWe’re half-way through Poison Prevention Week and Tammy Noble, a registered nurse and spokeswoman for the Iowa Poison Control Center, says it’s important to raise awareness about the statewide hotline and about making one’s home safe from potential threats.

“Last year, we had a little over 41,000 phone calls, that ends up being over 100 calls a day,” Noble says. “Most of them are exposure calls but we do get some calls that are simply for information, like a mom that wants to know if this plant she has in her house is a poisonous plant or not.”

A vast majority of the “exposure” calls, where someone has been exposed to a potential poison, involve one type of medication. Noble says, “The number-one item happens to be pain medicine, things like acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, it’s aspirin, ibuprofen, on up to stronger medicines like narcotics you might get for a tooth ache or back pain or after surgery.”

If there are potentially dangerous items in your house, from medication to cleaning supplies that you no longer use, she suggests the best course of action is to throw it out before some child gets their hands on it.

Learn more at or by calling the Sioux City-based hotline: 800-222-1222.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)


Eagle death a learning experience for Alliant Energy

View from the Decorah eagle cam.

View from the Decorah eagle cam.

A spokesman for Alliant Energy says the company is taking steps to protect eagles and other birds after it was learned one of the Decorah eaglets was electrocuted on a company pole in Keokuk County.

Alliant’s spokesman Justin Foss says they have taken steps in areas where the eagles generally nest to protect them from the electricity, but he says this situation was different.

“This last eaglet that died really was kind of a learning piece for us and for a lot of other agencies across the state,” Foss says. “It happened in real rural Keokuk County amid vast farm fields — not your typical eagle habitat. There’s not rivers, not a whole lot of trees in the area, not a whole lot of the stereotypical environment that you see these eagles in.”

Foss says the eagles are drawn to more rural settings by animal feeding operations where they might find food from the dead animals that are discarded. “Here you have this resurgence of eagles in a very unexpected place, and so now we are going in that area to change out some of the equipment there. And we are going to use that to understand other places across the state where we haven’t typically seen eagles in the past and either expect to see them or are starting to see them more, so we can kind of keep in track with this,” Foss says.

The electricity in the power lines runs along looking for a place to get to the ground. Foss says most of the time it’s not an issue. “When they are just touching one line the electricity doesn’t have a place to go to ground and it just keeps going straight through,” Foss explains. “That’s how the birds are able to be up there and be safe. You see the squirrels running across the power lines, because they are just touching one line.” When the animals create a pathway to the ground, that’s when problems happen.

“Maybe a bird will sit on the cross arm and he’ll spread out both wings and he will touch two power lines at the same time. That will cause and arch — a big flash of electricity — and that can be potentially deadly,” Foss says. “Or if the squirrel or the bird is standing on the cross arm — that wood piece that goes horizontal — and reaches up onto the power line, if they make contact in both place, you are touching the piece that goes to the ground and you are touching the electricity.”

He says they try to prevent that by covering pieces of equipment or moving around some of the pieces on the poles. Or they can install “anti-perching devices.” “And what that does it kind of keeps the birds away and does not give them a really good place to perch or land up there, and they are not making any contact at all,” Foss says. He says it costs around $200 to put on the anti-perching devices. Foss says they can’t prevent every animal from making contact with a power line.

He says if you see an animal that has been shocked, call the DNR or the power company and do not touch it or try to move it. He says it’s actually illegal to transport birds without a special permit and Alliant Energy calls the DNR to help transport such animals. Foss says they will continue working to try and make their poles safer for the animals.


Special investigation finds improper use of funds in Woodbine Fire Department

Auditor-logoA special investigation by the state auditor’s office has found thousands of dollars that were improperly used or documented in the Woodbine Volunteer Fire Department in western Iowa. Auditor Mary Mosiman  says the department’s treasurer requested the investigation, which led to finding the problems with the way the money was handled.

“Thirteen-thousand-745 is considered improper, $92,522 is considered as undocumented, meaning there is not documentation to verify public purpose versus personal expenditure,” Mosiman says. “So, there’s a total of 106,268 identified within our report.” There were thousands of dollars worth of alcohol purchase for the department’s street dance fundraisers between 2009 and 2011. Mosiman says the purchases can by made, but a fire department has to set up a separate auxiliary organization to handle that activity.

“In this case the Woodbine Fire Department has not established a separate legal organization, so the fire department is considered part of the city and therefore the disbursements of the fire department must be authorized by the city council, and they must have a documented public purpose,” Mosiman explains. “So, of the majority of the improper disbursements, 11,730 were for the alcohol.”

Mosiman says there three firefighters found to have made purchases that totaled more than one thousand dollars for gas for personal vehicles and other items for personal use. Mosiman says three people were charged with unauthorized use of a credit card, and one was found guilty. Police reports show firefighter Christopher Waite was charged with unauthorized use of a credit care after video surveillance footage showed eight instances where Waite fueled his or his girlfriend’s personal truck with the fire department’s credit card for a total of 424 dollars. Police say Waite repaid the 424 dollars.

Firefighter Dustin Moores was charged after video surveillance footage showed an instance where Moores put 111 dollars of fuel in his personal truck using the fire department’s credit card. Moores’ told the investigating officer he must have used the department’s card instead of his brother’s card by mistake. Moores’ brother confirmed to the investigating officer he allowed him to use his card to get a cheaper price on gas for his truck. Moores repaid the 111 dollars.

The third firefighter charged was Jason Peterson. According to the investigating officer’s notes, video surveillance footage showed an instance where Peterson fueled his personal truck with the department’s credit card. Peterson admitted to using the department’s credit card to purchase gas 10 times for a total of 520 dollars. According to Iowa Courts On-line, Mr. Peterson was charged and found guilty of unauthorized use of a credit card, an aggravated misdemeanor. Peterson repaid the 520 dollars to the fire department.

Mosiman says the department has taken some steps to address the issues found in her investigation. One step is to put more controls on the department’s credit cards. “The cards are kept in the applicable vehicles, not available in a desk drawer, or available just for anybody to pick up to fill up whenever they want,” Mosiman says. “So they have gone through some of the steps to make sure that they are handling the expenditures for the volunteer fire department appropriately.”

The State Auditor’s report also makes other recommendations to improve the oversight and control of the department’s funds. The department serves the City of Woodbine and the townships of Allen, Boyer, Calhoun, Cass, Douglas, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, La Grange, Lincoln, Magnolia, Morgan, and St. John.

Here’s the full report: Woodbine Fire Department Investigation PDF


Name released for Davenport fire victim

Fire-truckThe Davenport Fire Department is releasing the name of a person killed in a house fire. Fire marshal Mike Hayman says 34-year-old Stephanie Ford died in the west Davenport fire. She was renting the single-family house that burned.

Hayman says because Ford’s was an unattended death, an autopsy will be conducted this week. The fire, which started in the kitchen, was reported at about 6 o’clock Sunday morning. Flames were visible as crews arrived, but the fire was quickly knocked down. The cause is being investigated.

(Reporting by, Phil Roberts, Davenport)