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Wednesday Afternoon News, December 11

No Frost Bite Injuries Reported At Floyd Valley Hospital, But Bundle Up!

(Le Mars) -- The artic frigid temperatures along with the winds combined with sub-zero wind chills and exposed skin are the perfect combination for frost bite.  Fortunately, this winter, according to Mary Jo clark, the Emergency Room and Trauma director for the Floyd Valley Hospital, there has not been any cases of severe frost bite injuries.  However, Clark reminds us to bundle up when we are outside during the extreme cold.  She says depending upon the weather conditions,  frost bite can occur within a few minutes. 

"For mild cases, what you will experience is burning, numbness, tingleing, itching, or just a feeling of cold in the affected area".   She says the further away your body part is from the heart, the less blood flow occurs.  So, your fingers and toes are probably be the first ones that you will notice.  In the severe cases, Clark says you not only lose the feeling in your toes and fingers, but you will also notice some swelling and blood blistering may occur."

 She says another symptom is when you notice some chrystalizing occuring on your skin.  Clark says your nose and ears are also vulnerable areas to suffer frost bite. 

"Actually the nose and the ears because they have more surface area, and so therefore, there is more potential for exposure."

The trauma nurse suggests if you suspect having frost bite to get into a warm place and put warm water on the affected area, drink warm beverages, and seek medical attention.


EPA Discusses Le Mars PCE Contamination With Public

(Le Mars) -- Tuesday evening, the Environmental Protection Agency held an informational meeting at the City Hall Council Chambers to advise Le Mars residents of the testing and mitigation procedures involving the presence of PCE in the downtown area.  PCE is a known carcinogen.  City administrator Scott Langel says the federal agency described to the public what they have been doing since PCE was first detected in Le Mars.

Langel says the EPA has been doing a series of vapor tests, when that showed there was some likeihood of PCE present, and they then followed it up with soil and water testing.  

"Where they are at now, they (EPA) have identified two properties that need immediate action, and they are in the process of doing that.  So, they are putting in a vapor extrusion system in those two buildings and then they will further test other properties to see who else may need a vapor extraction system. "   

Langel says the area in question extends from the railroad tracks located adjacent to the city hall, north on Central Avenue then west to 2nd Avenue Northeast.  Langel says the Environmental Protection Agency isn't certain as to why the downtown area has PCE, or what may have been the origin of the PCE. 

"All they know, based on the testing that they have done, over a fairly lengthy period of time, they know the area that has been identified on the map, that the properties within that red zone have higher concentrations of PCE than all the other testing areas.  The area that they tested was probably close to six blocks by six blocks .  The area that they have identified at this point is maybe only a block wide, it goes in a southeast to northwest direction.  As you pointed out, from the city hall block up to the northwest."     

Langel says the cancer causing agent has moved with the ground water.

"What ends up happening with PCE is somehow it got into the ground, and further into the ground water table.  We're talking about the shallow source.  They identified that last night as being somewhere between 20 and 35 feet deep, below ground level.  Because of the flow of the ground water beneath us wherever that contamination first existed now it is migrating into other areas.  That's kind of what the map is identifying. It's moving, and it is not staying stagnant."

 The city administrator says the Environmental Protection Agency is concerned about the long-term exposure to the PCE vapors.

"And then what ends up happening is part of that PCE will vaporize and comes, and once it is in vapor stage, it is lighter than air, it will then seek cracks and crevaces in the ground and get into basements and the lower level of homes and businesses."


Toledo Juvenile Home Records Show More Seclusion For Patients

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State records show the Iowa Juvenile Home continued to keep children in isolation cells for extended periods despite concerns raised by advocacy groups and several investigations.
     The Des Moines Register reports youths at the Toledo facility spent a total of 365 hours in seclusion in October. That's more than four times the 80 hours logged in September.
      Disability Rights Iowa, which first investigated the home's practices a year ago, says it visited the facility in October and found a youth had been in seclusion for 111 hours.
     Amy Lorentzen McCoy, spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Human Services, did not immediately respond to a message left Wednesday.
     Gov. Terry Branstad announced Monday that state officials will close the facility by January, transfer the children and lay off the staff.


Only 750 Iowans Have Signed Up For Health Insurance On Government Website 

   DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Just over 750 Iowa residents have enrolled in private health insurance plans using the federal marketplace website.
     New data released by the federal government Wednesday shows that enrollment is edging up in Iowa. But the enrollment number represents a fraction of the people who have applied for coverage on the website.
     In October and November, nearly 13,000 applications were completed on the website, for insurance to cover roughly 25,000 people. Out of those applicants, 750 were able to complete the process and sign up for private insurance.
     From those applications, about 5,000 individuals have been deemed eligible for financial assistance to pay for insurance and roughly 7,400 will be eligible for low-income health programs like Medicaid.
     Federal authorities have been working to fix glitches on the enrollment website.

Sunken Towboat Ready To Be Moved

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Mississippi River towboat that partially sank just over two weeks ago is nearly ready to begin its 350-mile trip to a St. Louis area repair facility.
     U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Colin Fogarty says two small holes were discovered in the boat's hull but they have been patched and the boat is watertight. A larger 30-by-12 inch hole had been patched earlier.
     Fogarty says the Coast Guard is doing a final safety inspection and reviewing the transit plan. Once those tasks are completed the boat will be towed away, likely beginning Wednesday.
     The boat struck something in the river Nov. 25, took on water and partially sank against the riverbank at LeClaire.
     Investigators from the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board are looking into what happened.

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