July 26, 2014

Two people killed in ATV accident in Webster County

Two Fort Dodge residents were killed in an all-terrain vehicle accident in Webster County late Sunday afternoon. The accident happened a mile and a half south of Fort Dodge on South River Road.

Reportedly a tree on the east side of the road fell across the roadway striking a northbound Honda ATV operated by 21-year-old Jordan M. Ulicki. Ulicki and a passenger 20-year-old Sadie Rae Foreman were both pronounced dead at the accident scene by Webster County Medical Examiner Dr. Dan Cole.

(Reporting Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)


Permanent exhibit honors Flight 232 victims and survivors

A new permanent exhibit and garden that pays tribute to the crew and passengers as well the Siouxland response to the 1989 crash of United Airlines Flight 232 is now open at the Mid America Air Museum in Sioux City.

Air Museum Director Larry Finley says he receives weekly questions from visitors about Flight 232 and how local emergency responders helped save 184 lives. “With that type of interest, we felt that it was important for the community that we set up an educational facility. We have a great memorial on the riverfront, and now we will have a great educational center here,” Finley says.

Pam Mickelsen heads the 232 anniversary committee, and says the new outdoor garden will be a place of private reflection at the site where the airliner crash landed following an engine problem. “There’s a line of trees and bushes that is going to grow up to be a great area that is protecting that runway where it hit down. And our guests can go out and reflect — look out across runway two-two,” Mickelsen says. The exhibit and garden were dedicated Friday.

The anniversary events remembering those who died and the survivors are set for next weekend, July 18, 19, and 20th.

(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)



University of Iowa still figuring up flood preparation costs

University of Iowa President Sally Mason is praising workers for the quick response to the latest flooding threat to the campus in Iowa City. Mason, in a meeting with reporters Thursday, said the speed with which temporary flood barriers were put in place should result in cost savings. The flood protection costs for this year are still being calculated.

Last year, the UI spent more than $3 million to prevent flood damage. Mason is hoping several permanent flood mitigation projects around campus will be completed by next summer. “So, if we go through another (flood), it would be the fourth flood in seven years, we would be far better prepared to handle it going forward on a permanent basis,” Mason said.

Last week, officials projected waters would exceed the Coralville Reservoir’s spillway this week. That has not happened and officials expect the level will continue to drop. University of Iowa officials placed 12-foot high HESCO barriers around Mayflower Residence Hall and four-foot high barriers along both banks of the Iowa River as a precaution.

One University of Iowa property that will be inspected soon is the Beckwith Boathouse, home to the UI Rowing Team. The $7 million facility was built in 2009 and is designed to withstand flooding. “So, we’ll see perhaps next week, as the water starts to go down…we’ll be able to get into that building and see exactly what’s happened in there and whether or not, if water has gotten in there, if it’s as easy to clean out as we think it should be,” Mason said.

The record flooding of 2008 caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage to the University of Iowa campus and resulted in the closing of several key buildings – including an art museum, Hancher Auditorium, and the Voxman Music Building.


Program reviews death of Iowa-born band leader Glenn Miller

Resolved-coverA program premiering tonight on Iowa Public TV takes a fresh look at the mystery surrounding the death of Iowa native and legendary big band leader Glenn Miller. Miller was aboard the plane that vanished in December of 1944 over the English Channel after taking off in heavy fog, headed for France to entertain the troops.

Dennis Spragg, senior consultant to the Glenn Miller Archive at the University of Colorado Boulder, says the C-64 plane very likely suffered mechanical failure and crashed at sea. “The Pratt and Whitney 1340 engine had a carburetor in it that was susceptible to carburetor heater failure,” Spragg says. “That is, the heater that prevented ice from forming in the carburetor was defective and this was known to the Army Air Forces.”

Spragg, who’s written a book called “Resolved,” about Miller’s military service and disappearance, says this remains one of the biggest mysteries — and cold cases — from World War Two. “There will never be definitive proof unless you find the wreckage and you won’t find the wreckage because the aircraft probably shattered upon impact,” Spragg says. “We’ve run models of the potential crash and there’s no way anybody survived or that the aircraft itself remained intact.”

Spragg, an Iowa State University graduate, is among the experts interviewed for “History Detectives Special Investigations.” The program aims to lay to rest the many conspiracy theories about the Clarinda native’s death, including that he was part of a secret plot to overthrow Hitler or that he died in the arms of a French prostitute. Spragg says news of Miller’s disappearance was announced on Allied radio on December 24th of 1944. “The very next day, on December 25th, German radio announced that Glenn Miller had died in a Paris brothel and that the Allies were lying,” Spragg says. “A little bit of German mischief, I suppose.”

The Public TV program offers a host of new details: Miller’s pilot was a novice who had never flown over the English Channel, let alone in foul weather; a plane spotter’s notebook that was discovered in 2012 at a UK Antiques Roadshow detailing the route Miller’s aircraft took; or that the German-speaking Miller was working for the U.S. Army’s Psychological Warfare Division, recording German language propaganda broadcasts and musical performances. “History Detectives Special Investigations” airs tonight at 8 on IPTV.

Audio: Full Matt Kelley interview with Spragg.  8:32


Jasper County employee escapes serious injury in train accident

A Jasper County employee escaped serious injury when his road maintainer was hit by an Interstate Railroad train Monday in Kellogg. “Looks like the impact was the front long-nosed portion of the grader…right at the front axle and a little bit behind that. There was some damage to the front of the train engine. The train was hauling mostly flat cars with those portable storage containers on it,” Jasper County Sheriff

John Halferty says.

The Sheriff says the grader was hit around 4:30 as 55-year-old Rick Rawlins of Kellogg start to cross the tracks. Employees of the nearby Heartland Coop joined the train crew in helping Rawlins until emergency medical personnel arrive. Rawlins was treated at the local hospital and later released. Halferty says the impact flipped and heavily damage the maintainer. He says the Heartland Coop employees saw the maintainer flip over at least two times.

Sheriff Halferty says it’s not known how fast the westbound train was traveling. “We’re still working with the train officials, they always send investigators our and we’re partnering with them. So, it’s going to take a little time to get all the details,” Halferty says.

He says the main railroad is open, but there was some damage to a side track. The Jasper County Human Resources Director says Rawlins has been employed with the county since 1988.

(Reporting by Randy Van, KCOB, Newton)


State releases information on Bakken crude oil shipments

State emergency management officials released information on counties which see crude oil from North Dakota carried through them on rail cars. The oil from what’s called the Bakken fields of North Dakota is more flammable than other crude oil and railroad accidents prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation to order rail lines to let states know if there are rail cars coming through that haul one million or more gallons of Bakken crude.

The state released information from three rail lines. The Canadian Pacific reports hauling Bakken crude from the Minnesota border through Allamakee, Clayton, Dubuque, Jackson, and Clinton counties. The Burlington Northern carried the crude through Sioux, Plymouth, Lyon and Woodbury counties. The Union Pacific did not have trains carrying enough of the oil to report it to the state.

The railroads had not wanted the information released, but the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency management division concluded releasing the information publicly does not violate federal security requirements.


Flood concerns ease along the Iowa River in eastern Iowa

The flood potential in eastern Iowa along the Iowa River has diminished enough that the Iowa Corps of Engineers has downgraded its response from “high alert” to monitoring mode. A spokesman for Johnson County Emergency Management, Terrence Neuzil, says the means they can keep watching, but downstream flooding has become less likely. “The situation is obviously at a point now where we’re pretty comfortable with the latest projections from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that levels of the lake at this point look good for not going over the spillway,” Neuzil says.

Projections last week at one point showed the water possibly going over the spillway around Wednesday or Thursday of this week. That water went over the spillway in 1993 and 2008 and caused severe flooding downstream.

Neuzil says they now will watch for a significant change in the weather that would dump more rain into the watershed. “And, when we say significant rain event, we’re watching Marshalltown, we’re watching Tama, we’re watching Belle Plaine, Marengo, all the way down all the way into the Corps area,” Neuzil says. “And so, all that water from the Iowa River from those communities does come in to the Corps, the Corps of course holds that water back and then releases it at a slower pace.”

The University of Iowa downstream in Iowa City started preparing for possible flooding at the end of last week. Spokesman Stephen Praderelli says they are cautiously optimistic about the change. “With the rainfall predictions and the Coraville Reservoir going down and the flow of water through he Iowa River, we are hopeful that we have avoided flooding this year,” Pradarelli says.

He says the U-I decided to take action last week when the projections from the Corps and river gauge readings all indicated possible flooding. “We put flood barriers up around low-level buildings and along the east and west banks of the Iowa River as a precautions. So, we were well protect and we’re glad we took those measures and we’re happy if they ultimately are not needed,”Pradarelli says.

The school used what are called HESCO barriers that are put in place and filled with sand to block floodwaters. Pradarelli says they will leave the barriers up until the water level is low enough to not cause a concern. “We know in Iowa the weather can be unpredictable and..rather than start dismantling them early, we want to keep them there until we are absolutely confident that we can dismantle them,” Pradarelli says.

The university suffered significant damage from the 2008 flooding and construction projects in that recovery are still underway and some of the areas that had to be protected with the new flood potential. Neuzil from Johnson County says the Coralville Reservoir Lake is expected to peak Tuesday at 708 feet. That’s four feet short of the 712-foot emergency spillway.

He says the Corps is currently moving the water out of the Reservoir Lake downstream at 18,000 cubic feet per second. That will keep water levels high on the Iowa River. Likely staying at flood stage until July 14th.