July 30, 2015

DOT signs remind motorists to not leave kids in hot cars

Baby-message-DOTThe electronic billboard signs on Iowa interstates are including the message “Where’s Baby? Look Before you Lock” this week to remind people to not leave kids in hot cars.

Iowa Department of Transportation spokesperson, Andrea Henry, says the campaign comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

“This week’s message is an important one, especially given the high heat this week. We want to make sure that people are paying attention when they leave their vehicles,” Henry says. She says children die of heatstroke across the country every year after being left in locked vehicles.

“Any time one child dies in a situation like this it’s tragic so if we can prevent even one death or one child getting sick because they left their child for a small amount of time I think it’s worth it,” according to Henry. Henry says the billboard message was planned even before this week’s high temperatures.

The federal government reports that on average nearly 40 children die of heatstroke each year, and more than half were left in vehicles unintentionally.

Photo courtesy of the DOT.


Council Bluffs woman dies in Nebraska accident

Ambulance-genericA young woman from southwest Iowa has been identified as one of the people killed in a car crash Tuesday in eastern Nebraska.

Investigators believe speed was a factor in the crash which likely happened sometime before 6 a.m. The car — which landed upside down in a bean field — wasn’t discovered until shortly before 5 p.m.

The Cass County (Nebraska) Sheriff’s Department reports the vehicle went through a stop sign, struck an embankment and flew over a fence into the field.

The vehicle wasn’t visible from the highway, but workers with a lawn care service noticed track marks off the road and then spotted the car in the field. Both people inside the car were killed; 22-year-old Jeremiah Ferguson of Omaha and 21-year-old Kelsey Leclaire of Council Bluffs.


Program offering free teen driving instruction making a stop in Iowa

Driving-skillsTeen drivers will get a chance to polish their skills and learn from professionals the next couple of days.

Ford’s “Skills For Life” driving program is making its only Iowa stop in Grimes Wednesday and Thursday.

Jim Graham oversees the program. “We teach advanced driving skills to teens with permits or full licenses and we take them with professional driving instructors and put them in cars and take them through skills that have been identified as lacking with newly licensed drivers,” Graham says. “So for example, we look at skills in the area of vehicle handling, recognizing hazards, speeding and spacing, and of course distracted and impaired driving too.”

Graham says this gives the young drivers more time behind the wheel in specially equipped vehicles. “We have probably 15 instructors, 15 cars. Every teen gets to go through exercises with professional driving instructors, and then they get to drive also and the instructor helps them and identifies the issue they have and helps them get through those — so, it’s all hands on,” Graham says. He says it’s important to give the young drivers the extra instruction now.

“The research shows most of the crashes tend to happen shortly after they get their driver’s license,” Graham says. “They go through driver’s education — which is rules of the road and some driving — there’s nothing wrong with that, they need that, but the advanced driving skills they tend to lack. So this is really a step in the process and they will learn things they didn’t learn in driver’s education. And we also strongly urge parents to come out.” He says parents can learn from the instructors some of the things they should be doing with new drivers and some things they shouldn’t.

The sessions are Wednesday and Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. You can go to: www.drivingskillsforlife.com to sign up for the free sessions.


Business uses veterans to help clean up after bird flu


Employees of a business called Veteran Enterprises are working on six poultry operations in Minnesota and Iowa to clean and disinfect the facilities in the wake of the bird flu outbreak. Garth Carlson, who runs the business, says the job will take several months to finish.

“It’s a lot of square inches to cover. You’re just powering washing. You’ve got 35,000 PSI water coming out of there and 180 degree water to clean up all the dust and everything to get everything looking like new,” Carlson said. “So, power washers are running all the time.” Veteran Enterprises does state and federal contracting and gives hiring preference to vets.

Carlson, a Madelia, Minnesota resident, served two tours in Kosovo and two tours in Iraq with the Army. He now oversees a workforce of roughly 60 people who are mostly young war veterans. “Since they’ve been 18, out of the house, they’ve been in the military. So they’ve been told what to do, where to do it, and all that,” Carlson said. “We kind of give them that guidance along the way, and kind of teach them how to think on their own…to be a little more of a civilian.”

Carlson also employs poultry workers who lost their jobs as a consequence of the bird flu. At least 75 poultry operations in Iowa were impacted by the bird flu epidemic, resulting in the loss of 32 million chickens and turkeys.

Governor Branstad on Monday signed a disaster emergency proclamation extension for 18 Iowa counties adversely affected by avian influenza which would assist with disposal and clean-up efforts on affected sites. The original proclamation, which included just four counties, was set to expire on Wednesday. The new extension is good for the rest of the year.



Man falls from train and dies near Sibley

Ambulance-genericState, local and railroad investigators are trying to determine how a man fell off Union Pacific train in northwest Iowa.

According to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, they received a call about some suspicious items on the tracks about a half mile north of Sibley early this morning.

Officials say that, upon further investigation it was determined that a male had fallen from the train and was run over. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. At this time, the name of the deceased hasn’t been released.

(Reporting by Scott Van Aartsen, KIWA, Sheldon)


Six fire departments battle Ireton elevator fire

Firefighters were called to the Deluxe Feed Incorporated elevator.

Firefighters were called to the Deluxe Feed Incorporated elevator.

Firefighters from six northwest Iowa communities were called to Ireton about 9 last night to fight a fire in a feed mill and grain elevator. Ireton Fire Chief Rich Steckelberg says he believes the fire at the Deluxe Feed Incorporated may have started in the electrical room.

Smoke could be seen billowing from the structure. An aerial truck provided by the Sioux Center Fire Department, was used to spray water on the four-story high feed mill, and firefighters were seen dismantling the metal walls to have better access to the fire.

Firefighters were not only battling the fire, but also the heat and humidity. Several firefighters were suffering from heat exhaustion and were seen taking frequent breaks. Ireton Ambulance and Sioux Center Ambulance crew members were checking the firefighters’ vital signs.

Firefighters had to deal with extreme heat while fighting the fire in Ireton.

Firefighters had to deal with extreme heat while fighting the fire in Ireton.

Several Ireton townspeople not only were watching the fire, but assisted the firefighters by providing bottled water to drink and wet towels which was placed on the firefighters’ heads.

Steckelberg said the state fire marshal will arrive on Monday to help with the investigation. Firefighters were at the scene the entire night. There were no injuries reported. Damage estimates due to the fire may run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

(Reporting and photos by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)


Months remain before poultry and turkey facilities can operate again

James Dean

James Dean

Two Iowans who testified at a Senate Ag Committee hearing on bird flu Tuesday say it will still be several months before their facilities are restocked and operating again. James Dean of Sioux Center is the chair of United Egg Producers, and says they want to be sure all the farms around them have the infected birds hauled away before they bring in new birds.

“The worst thing that can happen to us is that we get our farms clean and sanitized, repopulate and then reinfect the farm,” Dean says. “So, we have to make sure that we do have a time period here where farms around us are clean as well.” Dean says they could have to wait until the end of the year to get new birds in.

“We’re hoping that we can start repopulating sometime in November and December. And we feel that it will take us 12 to 16 months before we are repopulated at our farm,” according to Dean.

Brad Moline

Brad Moline

Turkey farmer Brad Moline of Moline Farms in Manson, says once they get back up and running, they know cool weather could bring another outbreak. “Yes, we’re still very concerned that this could happen again. The last thing we want is this happening again. Frankly, many producers can survive this once, they could not survive a second time,” Moline says.

The bird flu virus is believe to be carried by migratory birds, and thrives in cooler conditions, so the concern increases for another outbreak as the seasons shift. “Maybe not so much this fall — depending on the speed of the migratory birds heading south — but boy we could certainly be in this area next spring for sure. And other parts of the country have to be aware of this,” according to Moline. Iowa’s

U.S. Senators, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, requested the hearing after least 77 poultry operations in the state were hit by bird flu in 18 counties. More than 31-million birds had to be destroyed after the outbreak.