Thursday news, July 31
West Nile Disease Detected In Three Northwest Iowa Counties
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Department of Public Health says there have already been three reported cases of West Nile virus in the state, even though the disease usually is seen in early autumn.
The agency says cases have been reported in Clay, Monona and Woodbury counties. Mosquitoes carrying the virus also have been detected in central Iowa.
Officials say the best way to avoid the disease is to avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, use insect repellent and wear long-sleeve shirts and pants. They also encourage people to eliminate standing water, where mosquitoes lay eggs.
About 20 percent of infected people suffer mild to moderate symptoms, including fever, headache and vomiting.
Less than 1 percent become seriously ill, and people can die of the disease.
Argosy Casino Shuts Down Operations
(Sioux City) -- With the Argosy Riverboat casino shutting down operations on Wednesday, there was a specific process that took place to close the gambling operations. Brian Ohorilko, administrator of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, says a team of agents both from the IRGC and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations are overseeing the shut down.
Ohorilko says all the slots and table games stop at the same time. The money was taken to a room to be counted and then the slot machines will all be opened up.
Agents then removed the tape and secured it so it can't be used elsewhere. An inventory of the machines is taken before they leave the boat, and Iowa, to go to other facilities owned by Penn Gaming. It's the first time in over eleven years the commission has closed a casino in this manner. Ohorilko expected the Argosy to stop gaming before 5:00 p.m. to insure passengers were off the boat by that time. The Argosy Belle Riverboat Casino will leave Sioux City within the next 60 days. Assistant city attorney Justin Vondrak says the departure date was set under the most recent lease agreement with the city.
Sioux City mayor Bob Scott says the surrounding parking lot area used by boat patrons also reverts back to city control.
Penn National Gaming, which owns the riverboat, has not told the city when the boat will depart.
Smoke Seen At The New Hard Rock Casino
(Sioux City) -- With the departure of the Argosy, gaming will begin at the new downtown casino, Hard Rock Casino, beginning tomorrow evening. The new Hard Rock Casino did have some mechcanical glitches yesterday as smoke was seen inside the new casino. Fire fighters were called to the new casino and hotel at about 7:30 a.m. The light haze of smoke was from residue on an air-handling unit that heated and smoked, according to Sioux City Fire Marshal Mark Aesoph. There were no flames, and the building is still scheduled to open on Friday.
Northey Believes Propane Prices Will Rise
(Le Mars) -- You may not be thinking about winter, especially when we are in the middle of summer, but Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey is suggesting for people who use propane, to lock in prices today. Northey, doesn't believe we will see the spike in prices as we had last year, but he does believe supplies could be tight, and prices will rise.
The Agriculture Secretary says inventories are also low.
Northey has some suggestions for propane users.
Council Bluffs Hires Fort Dodge Police Chief
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - The Fort Dodge police chief is becoming police chief in Council Bluffs.
The Daily Nonpareil reports a panel selected Fort Dodge Chief Tim Carmody to head the Council Bluffs police department.
Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh announced the selection Tuesday, saying, "there were no candidates comparable to his experience and knowledge."
Carmody will replace longtime police chief Ralph O'Donnell, who retired in March.
Carmody has been police chief in Fort Dodge since September 2010.
The Council Bluffs City Council will vote on his selection Aug. 11. If he's approved as expected, he'll begin work September 2nd.
He will be paid $115,617 annually.
ADM Fined For Violating Clean Water Act
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Federal regulators say Archer Daniels Midland Company has agreed to settle allegations that it violated Clean Water Act rules at facilities where it stored fuels and oil in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.
The Environmental Protection Agency says Decatur, Illinois-based ADM will pay a civil penalty of $430,000.
Archer Daniels Midland spokeswoman Jackie Anderson said the company worked with regulators to address their concerns.
Anderson says ADM has a compliance program in place to protect the environment.
The EPA says the company violations involved large storage facilities for denatured ethanol, fuels and lubricants in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines, Deerfield and Mexico, Missouri; and Columbus, Nebraska.
The EPA says violations included a lack of EPA-required spill response plans and violations of industrial stormwater requirements for Clean Water Act operating permits.
Police Divers Find Stolen Vehicle In Lake, 16 Years After It Was Reported Stolen
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Members of a police dive team have discovered a stolen vehicle apparently submerged in a Des Moines lake for 16 years.
The Metro Area Dive Team was practicing Wednesday at Easter Lake when they found the submerged Jeep.
Officer David Chiodo says the vehicle clearly had been in the lake a long time. It was covered in grime and had lots of fishing lines and sinkers attached to it.
Police traced the vehicle to Carlisle, where a 1998 police report showed the vehicle had been stolen.
Police think it likely had been in the lake since then.
Animal Control Remove 46 Rats From Des Moines Home
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Animal control officers removed 46 pet rats from a Des Moines homes but didn't charge the homeowners and let them keep a few of the rodents.
Des Moines Police Sergeant James Butler says the homeowners cooperated with authorities.
Animal control officers went to the southeast Des Moines home Monday after receiving an email tip.
Conditions in the home were poor and officers had to wear respirators, but the rats appeared well cared for.
The homeowners told police they started with a few rats but the rodents kept breeding.
Butler says city code doesn't limit the number of rats people can keep, so the homeowners weren't charged.
Officers took 46 rats and left five others behind. They encouraged the residents to separate the males and females.