Wednesday Afternoon News, July 3
Fire Marshall Stresses Safety With Fireworks
(Le Mars) -- Fireworks are commonly associated with the 4th of July. Iowa is among only four states in the US to ban fireworks. The reason, according to State Fire Marshall, Ray Reynolds, is in 1931 a sparkler was responsible for burning two and half blocks of downtown Spencer.
Not surprising, Reynolds, says more fires occur around the Independence Day holiday.
Reynolds explains there are a few fireworks that are legal in Iowa.
The fire official wants to make certain everyone is safe with fireworks and offers these safety tips.
Kingsley Fire Department Responds To Car Fire
(Kingsley) -- The Kingsley Fire Department responded to a car fire this morning at about 9:00 a.m. The fire was reported at 41598 310th Street in rural Kingsley. No other details are known at this time. Fire officials were on the scene for about 40 minutes.
U of I Over-payed Employees
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A state audit shows the University of Iowa overpaid its employees about $805,000 in the fiscal year that ended in 2012.
The state auditor's report released Wednesday shows the university made more than 300 overpayments in that fiscal year. It resulted in an increase in overpayments of nearly $160,000 from the
Overpayments happen when a university department fails to submit in a timely basis electronic forms that reflect changes in employment status.
The Iowa City-Press Citizen reports (http://bit.ly/12lU2Il ) the university responded in the report that it's made changes and reduced overpayments by roughly 60 percent since then.
The report details a university-wide audit and lists various aspects of the school's operations that required corrective action. It was sent to the Iowa Board of Regents.
DCI Agent Suspended For Reporting Branstad's Vehicle Speeding
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A special agent complained to superiors at the Iowa Department of Public Safety that an April speeding incident involving the governor's vehicle put public safety at risk and illustrated a dangerous double standard.
Special Agent in Charge Larry Hedlund of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation sent a memo to superiors April 29, days after he was involved in a three-vehicle pursuit in which a trooper
driving the governor was traveling 90 miles per hour but let go without consequence.
Hedlund wrote that, "Regardless of what dignitaries are in the back seat of the speeding vehicle, it is still against the law."
Two days later, his superiors put him on paid administrative leave in what his attorney calls retaliation.
Hedlund's attorney gave the complaint to The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Boaters Urged To Stay Off Mississippi River
CLINTON, Iowa (AP) - Officials are advising boaters to stay off the Mississippi River from Clinton in eastern Iowa down to the Missouri border.
The state Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday that the water is above flood stage with a strong current that makes for a hazardous situation. The high water was caused by recent flash flooding in northeast Iowa.
State Conservation Officer Ed Kocal says they're advising against boating until the water level drops several more feet. That could take weeks.
Two people were towed from the Mississippi River Tuesday after their boat lost power and drifted down the river at a rapid pace with no control.
West Nile Virus Detected In Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials have confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus in Iowa this year.
The state Department of Public Heath announced Wednesday that the case is a middle-aged man from Linn County who is recovering.
Officials are reminding residents to take precautions to protect against the disease, which is transmitted by mosquito bites. That includes using insect repellant and wearing long-sleeved shirts,
pants, shoes, and socks whenever possible outdoors.
About 20 percent of people infected with the virus have symptoms like a fever, headache, body aches and vomiting. Less than one percent of cases become seriously ill. An even smaller amount could
die from the disease.
There were 31 human cases of the virus in 2012 and no reported deaths.
Madison County To Pay $685,000 For Sexual Harassment Suit
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa county will pay $685,000 in a settlement with a dispatcher who claimed she was groped and sexually harassed by the sheriff and fired after complaining.
Madison County Sheriff Craig Busch also provided a letter of recommendation to Kathryn Frank under the settlement. In the letter, Busch says the 15-year employee who he fired in 2009
handled 911 calls with "the utmost expertise" and was praised by officers for her "excellent skills."
The settlement avoids a third trial in Frank's lawsuit after the first two ended in hung juries.
Frank claims that Busch harassed her for years before he became sheriff in 2008, leading to an earlier $60,000 settlement. She says Busch retaliated by firing her for bogus reasons.
Busch said Wednesday he denies wrongdoing, but declined further comment.
Human Skull Discovered Near Skunk River
AMES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a human skull has been discovered near the Skunk River in Ames.
Ames police say a person walking along the sandbar Tuesday night discovered the skull. It was north of the old Carr Pool and was located within inches of the river.
Officials say the skull, which appears to be very old, was taken to the State Medical Examiner's Office along with another fragment. It is being sent to a forensic anthropologist.
Officials say recent heavy rains may have washed the skull down the river.