March 31, 2015

Legislator recognizes 110th birthday of Carlisle woman

Julian Garrett

Julian Garrett

A woman in central Iowa is celebrating her 110th birthday today. State Senator Julian Garrett of Indianola offers some perspective on Tressa Bartholomew’s longevity. “When she was born Theodore Roosevelt was president of the United States,” Garrett says.

There were only 45 states in the union when Bartholomew was born in 1905. “She still lives in her own house in Carlisle and she’s fortunate she still has a lot of relatives that live in the area,” Garrett says. Bartholomew and her late husband had four children. “She now has 13 grandchildren, 29 great-grandchildren and 52 great-great-grandchildren,” Garrett says.

Garrett made mention of Bartholomew this afternoon during a special speech-making time in the Iowa Senate. “I just wanted to say, ‘Tressa, happy birthday and we hope you have a lot more of them,'” Garrett says. Now that she’s reached the age of 110, Bartholomew is classified as a “supercentenarian.” There are about 70 “supercentenarians” living in the U.S. today.

The oldest living American was born on July 4th, 1898, six years before Bartholomew. The Iowa Department on Aging does not keep an updated list of Iowa’s oldest residents.


Iowa storm chasers catch video of big storms in Nebraska, Oklahoma



A storm-chasing team from Iowa has provided live video of some major storms in other states, including the twin tornadoes that devastated a small town in northeast Nebraska last year.

Ben McMillan is a member of the Iowa Storm Chasing Network, which live-streamed the video that was picked up by local television and national networks.

“Our area of focus is mainly Iowa and the surrounding states so we try to prepare the best we can to be out in our home region, so we’re ready when that time comes,” McMillan says. “Until then, we’re going to be out here doing awareness and outreach, spreading the message of preparedness.” That message includes telling all Iowans to have a plan for your family and know where to go when dangerous weather strikes.

McMillan’s team was witness to history last year, when twin tornadoes moved through the Nebraska towns of Stanton and Pilge. “The double tornadoes outside of Pilger this last year was something we’ve never seen before, ever, as storm chasers,” McMillan says. “That was definitely memorable from a scientific standpoint to see those two violent vortices side-by-side and it’s going to be interesting to see over the next few years what research is done on that event and to see if it could happen again.”

Although the team focuses on chasing severe weather in Iowa and neighboring states, McMillan says the team was in the Moore, Oklahoma, area when a deadly tornado struck in 2013. He called it “devastating” to see elementary schools wiped out there and says he hopes to never see something like that again. The team’s new tornado hunt vehicle is dubbed “Dorothy,” a steel-plated tank, of sorts, with polycarbonate windows. Dorothy was shown off at a severe weather workshop in eastern Nebraska over the weekend.

Brennan Jontz says Dorothy began as an E-350 cargo van that they stripped to the dashboard and engine and rebuilt from the ground up. “The goal with the vehicle is not to technically go in the tornadoes but to get near them safer,” Jontz says. “We have a flap system that goes down on each side of the vehicle to prevent wind from getting underneath the vehicle and lifting it. When you put the hydraulics down, the flaps actually lift the frame of the vehicle and it gets rid of the suspension plan and it’s rock solid.”

The vehicle weighs just under 10-thousand pounds, about four times the weight of a typical mid-sized sedan. The Iowa Storm Chase Network recently partnered with KCCI-TV, the CBS affiliate in Des Moines, to provide live-streamed video of tornadoes during chase events.

(Reporting by, Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice)


Dubuque man sent to prison over unregistered shotgun

An eastern Iowa man is going to prison for more then seven years for possessing an unregistered gun. Twenty-four-year-old Jordan Michael Edmonds of Dubuque admitted in June of last year to one count of possession of an unregistered sawed-off shotgun.

He admitted to possessing the shotgun that had a barrel of less than 18 inches and a serial number that was partially wiped out. He was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison, where there is no parole. He was also ordered to pay $626 in restitution.


Branstad defends tax incentives for HyVee

Hyvee-logoGovernor Terry Branstad says the Hy-Vee supermarket chain is a “good corporate citizen” and deserves the $7.5 million in state tax incentives it has been awarded for expansion of its corporate headquarters in West Des Moines.

“We’re very blessed to have a company of that magnitude,” Branstad says. “Hy-Vee is a great corporate citizen. They’re located all over the state of Iowa. They treat their employees very well.”

Hy-Vee plans a more than $74 million expansion project that will add 72,000 feet of office space to its corporate headquarters and double the size of its conference center, which Branstad used to kick-off his 2014 reelection campaign. The Iowa Economic Development Authority approved the package of $7.5 million in state tax credits for Hy-Vee’s expansion project on Friday.

Hy-Vee operates 235 stores in eight Midwest states. According to the company’s website, Hy-Vee records sales of more than $8.7 billion each year. Hy-Vee, which is employee-owned, ranks as the 17th largest food retailer in the country.

Mason City police investigate another case of illegal pet dumping

Crime Scene TapeA second case of illegal pet dumping is under investigation in northern Iowa. A gas station employee on Mason City’s north side saw someone throw a black garbage bag Thursday into the trash bin outside of the business. That bag contained eight newborn kittens, which were taken to the Mason City Stray Animal Shelter where they later died.

Anybody with information about the incident is asked to contact the Mason City Police Department. This follows another incident the previous weekend where someone threw a bag containing a cat into the Winnebago River near East Park. Police say 69-year-old William Hill has confessed to that crime.

(Reporting by Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)


Cedar Rapids police officers fire at man following chase

Police car lightsTwo Cedar Rapids Police officers are on paid administrative leave after firing shots at a motorist who led them on a chase early Sunday. The suspect was spotted speeding near a hospital and then drove the wrong way down a one-way street.

Officers eventually tracked down the car in an alley on Cedar Rapids’ northeast side. Sarah Perkins lives in the neighborhood and told KCRG-TV she was in bed when the gunfire erupted around 2 a.m.

“I heard about 10 gunshots, and then cops yelling ‘get down!’ and a female screaming and yelling,” Perkins said. The officers were in uniform and in a marked squad car when they caught up with the suspect in the alley. A news release indicates the officers had exited their car when the suspect vehicle “came toward them in a reckless manner.” The two officers fired at the car, striking the driver, described only as a white male. The car struck a utility pole. The driver and a female passenger were treated and released from a hospital. Their names and the names of the officers involved have not been released.

For now, no charges have been filed in the case. Police have not disclosed how many shots were fired, or how many struck the man or where he was hit.

By Chris Earl, KCRG-TV


FEMA encourages pet owners to include them in emergency plans

State and federal officials are urging Iowans to think about their pets when making emergency plans for floods, tornadoes and other severe weather. Phil Kirk, a preparedness coordinator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, says FEMA has learned through painful experience the importance of including pets in any preparations.

“There have been countless examples where citizens refused to evacuate their homes in the face of danger because they didn’t have a way to take their pets along or a place to bring them to safety,” Kirk says. “Sadly, those decisions cost some people their own lives as well as the lives of their pets. Additionally, our first responders were faced with even greater risks of trying to save those lives.” Kirk suggests pet owners try to acclimate their pets to Midwestern storms, whenever they might roll through.

“During storms in this part of the country, take them out when there’s lightning and thunder and get them exposed to it so when it really happens and there’s a need to leave, it’s not the first time that they’ve dealt with it,” he says. Kirk says FEMA has found it must include pets in any emergency preparations a family makes. “They go hand-in-hand,” Kirk says, “because there are people who will not leave without their pets and I understand that. So, we need to try to do what we can to make sure that everybody can leave and be safe.”

Kirk suggests putting together an emergency kit for the pets — as well as the family — so everyone in the home is ready to respond. He says a family needs to have non-perishable food, bottled water, medications and other material together to last for the first 72 hours of an emergency.