November 25, 2015

Cedar Falls firefighters honored for lifesaving actions


(l-r) Eric Jensen & Kyle Bovy

(l-r) Eric Jensen & Kyle Bovy

Two firefighters who rescued a man from a burning home in Cedar Falls last year were honored today at the statehouse.

Kyle Bovy is now a firefighter in Waterloo, but he was working for Cedar Falls Fire Rescue on April 26, 2014 when he was sent to a residential fire. “While we were in route, they said someone was trapped inside. The neighbor tried to get him out, but couldn’t. They heard him screaming, but then didn’t hear anything,” Bovy said.

When Bovy arrived at the scene, he and fellow firefighter Eric Jensen were ordered inside and rescued the unconscious man, who was flown to University of Iowa Hospitals. The victim, following months of rehab, made a full recovery.

Jensen, when asked how it feels to know he saved another person’s life, said he was only doing his job. “It’s a good feeling…hopefully once in a lifetime…if it would have happened the day before or the day after, (another firefighter) would’ve done the same thing,” Jensen said.

Jensen and Bovy were among five police and rescue personnel presented with the 2015 Sullivan Brothers’ Award of Valor at a ceremony in the State Capitol rotunda.


One third of new cars don’t come with spare tires

Tire-changeAs winter weather approaches, one of the last things Iowa motorists want to hear is the whup-whup-whup of a flat tire on their vehicle.

A new study finds more than a third of all new cars being sold don’t come equipped with spare tires. AAA-Iowa spokeswoman Gail Weinholzer says if you’ve bought a new car in the past few years, you’d better pop the trunk and see what you have.

“The first thing drivers need to do is determine what type of situation they have with a new vehicle,” Weinholzer says. “Do they have a spare tire and if so, is it properly inflated? Do they have a run-flat tire which will allow them to drive up to 50 miles before they need to address the situation. Or, do they have a tire inflator kit which is very effective but is for very limited uses.”

In 2006, only 5 percent of new cars did not come equipped with a spare tire, but in the 2015 models, 36 percent are now only equipped with run-flat tires or inflator kits — no spares. Automakers are likely trying to save on expenses, cut weight, add trunk space and boost fuel economy with the move, but Weinholzer says eliminating spare tires could leave Iowans stuck on the roadside.

“It’s important that drivers know the situation with their vehicle and understand that they may need a tow, and that they may not be able to change the tire, obviously, if they don’t have a spare,” Weinholzer says. “One other thing to keep in mind, some of these tire inflator kits can cost up to $300 per use and only have a shelf life of four to eight years.”

A survey from AAA finds many young people may have to call up a YouTube video on their smartphones if they end up with a flat. “The older the driver, the more likely they are to know how to change a tire,” Weinholzer says. “Ninety percent of drivers between the ages of 35 and 54 know how to change a tire, however, only one in five of the millennials, people aged 18 to 34, actually know how to change the tire.”

The study also found 97 percent of men claim they know how to do the job versus 68 percent of women.


One person dead in Charles City fire

A fire at this Charles City apartment left one person dead.

A fire at this Charles City apartment left one person dead.

One person was killed in an apartment fire early this morning in Charles City.

The Charles City Fire Department responded to a report of smoke and fire alarms sounding in an apartment complex at 4:19 this morning.

Firefighters arrived on the scene at 4:22 where they encountered smoke along with a fire in one of the apartments.

Entry was made and the fire was extinguished quickly. A person was found in the apartment and transported to the Floyd County Medical Center where the person was pronounced dead. The name of the victim has not yet been released.

Firefighters say no foul play is suspected but the investigation continues.

(Reporting by Chris Berg, KCHA, Charles City)


Amana Colonies Golf Club manager hopes to rebuild clubhouse after fire

The remains of the Amana Colonies clubhouse after the fire. (KCRG TV photo)

The remains of the Amana Colonies clubhouse after the fire. (KCRG TV photo)

A massive fire destroyed the clubhouse at the popular Amana Colonies Golf Club in eastern Iowa this morning.

No one was injured and the cause remains under investigation. The Amana Colonies Golf Club is consistently ranked among the top public golf courses in the state.

Kevin Alexander, who manages the driving range, told KCRG-TV the fire erased what was a fixture of the surrounding land.

“You pop over this hill, you see the clubhouse. It’s a beautiful sight. It’ll be sadly missed,” Alexander said. Fire crews were sent to the course around 3:40 a.m. The flames from the building also destroyed several golf carts parked nearby.

The club wasn’t scheduled to close for the winter until at least November 18. Now, there’s uncertainty about when it will open again.

General Manager Patrick Kilbride says the building was insured and he’s positive the community will step up if needed. “I know that the Amana community will help us out and do whatever they need to. We will just be looking to lean on them a little bit, and see what we can do. Hopefully rebuild and kind of take it from there,” Kilbride said.


Poultry production may not be fully back from bird flu until 2017


All 72 of the commercial turkey and chicken operations hit by the avian flu have been released from quarantine and can start to bring in new birds, but a poultry industry spokesman says it could take up to two years before every operation is back to normal.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says all the facilities had to wait 21 days after being disinfected before they could lift the quarantine.

“Quite an ordeal, it’s good to be at this stage. Everyone knows that it’s very, very important to have full surveillance on right now to be able to look for any birds that could possibly be impacted by the migration of wild birds bringing the disease back through as well,” Northey says. There were 31.5 million birds impacted by the bird flu, including 35 commercial turkey flocks, 22 commercial egg production flocks, 13 pullet flocks, one chicken breeding flock, one mail order hatchery, and five backyard flocks.

The commercial operations are now cleared to start introducing new birds into the facilities, but the executive director of the Iowa Poultry Association, Randy Olson, says it’s not going to happen overnight.

“While I hear stories of progress and farms beginning the repopulation effort, I am also hearing stories that the timeline will be at through least all of 2016 — and even into the start of 2017 — before these barns are fully repopulated,” Olson says.

He says it all depends on when the new birds are available. “Really primarily due to the available pullet supply and hatching chick supply,” Olson says. The turkey industry has recovered a little faster as the clean up process was a little different. The first turkey operation started putting in new birds in July, and Iowa Turkey Federation executive director, Gretta Irwin, says the progress is also dictated by the supply of new birds.

“We did see some of those farms in Minnesota that had breeder birds on it also be impacted by influenza, and so there has been a slight decline in some of those birds being available,” Irwin explains. “And so the industry has been kind of absorbing that into their production across the Midwest.” The majority of turkeys grown in Iowa are raised and then turned into turkey products like lunch meat, and the birds are raised in cycles to be sent to the processing plants.

“All farmers are getting their birds, it’s just maybe taking a little bit longer, or they maybe need to fit that into their production cycle of when the plant needs them ore when it works on their farm,” Irwin says. Irwin believes all of the turkey operations will be up and running by mid-December.

As the facilities continue working to restock, state and national officials are continuing to watch for any additional outbreaks. U.S.D.A. Veterinarian, Kevin Petersburg, says they learned from the outbreak and have taken steps to prevent another outbreak. “We will ensure that farms are free of high path A-I (Avian influenza) virus before they restock with healthy birds, and we will continue to conduct surveillance in both commercial flocks and wild birds to quickly detect any new outbreaks that might occur,” Petersburg says. “If a new infected flock is found, we have plans in place to quickly stop the virus from spreading, and eliminate the negative impact to the industry.”

Doctor Petersburg was asked about the details of the plans to stop a new outbreak. “We are hiring several hundred new veterinarians and animal health technicians who can help with the response on a national level — and on a state level, we’ve worked with our state counterparts and our industry counterparts to make sure that we have in place methods to be able to very quickly check and then to very quickly depopulate any infected flocks,” according toe Petersburg.

The federal government figured out the market value of the birds lost and Petersburg says they paid nearly $200 million to producers across the country for the lost animals.”We’ve also paid out nearly 500 million dollars in payments to producers and to contractor to help with cleaning the barns and cleaning and disinfecting the facilities and disposing of the carcasses,” Petersburg says.

He says the other states across the country are all about where Iowa is when it comes to clearing out the dead birds and restarting their production.


Clubhouse at Amana Colonies Golf Club destroyed by fire


Amana Golf Club fire. (Photo courtesy of Forrest Saunders, KCRG-TV)

The clubhouse at one of Iowa’s premiere golf courses was destroyed in a fire this morning.

Investigators are trying to determine what sparked the fire at the Amana Colonies Golf Club, but they say it appears to have started in the pro shop and spread to the clubhouse. No injuries are reported, but the building is reduced to rubble.

Firefighters were sent to golf club shortly after 3:30 this morning were initially held back due to the intensity of the flames. Due to the course’s remote location, crews had to haul in water.

The Amana Clubhouse before the fire.

The Amana Clubhouse before the fire.

This year, the website Iowa ranked The Amana Colonies Golf Club 5th on its list of “top public golf courses in Iowa.”


Iowa Supreme Court says no legal fees due Monte Branstad in fish kill case

Iowa Supreme Court building.

Iowa Supreme Court building.

The Iowa Supreme Court has reversed an appeals court ruling that awarded attorney fees to the Governor Terry Branstad’s brother in a case involving a fish kill.

Monroe “Monty” Branstad admitted that silage discharge from a basin his property near Forest City entered the Winnebago River and led to a fish kill. But Branstad challenged the DNR fish kill estimate of 31,000 fish — as only 2,233 fish were actually counted.

The district court found the method used to calculate the number of dead fish did not follow state rules and lowered the restitution owed by Branstad from $62,000 to around $5,300. Branstad asked for $71,000 dollars in attorney fees for the cost of appealing the improper fish estimate.

The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled Branstad had to appeal the case to get the restitution amount and the case did not fall under the exemptions in the Iowa Code that prevent the award of attorney fees and expenses.

But the Iowa Supreme Court says the Branstad case does fall under code exemptions and no fees should be paid. The Supreme Court says there have been attempts in the Iowa Legislature to ease the restrictions on the awarding of attorney fees against the state, but says lawmakers rejected the propose changes over concerns of the cost to the state of awarding the fees.

See more on the ruling here: Supreme Court Monte Branstad ruling PDF