(UNDATED)–Blustery conditions allowed light snow to collect on some roadways in KLEMland overnight.
At the Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative, NIPCO, just south of Le Mars, a peak gust of 41 miles an hour from the west/northwest was reported at six this morning. The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls issued a wind advisory that continues until six tonight.
Northwest winds of 25-35 miles an hour with gusts to 45 miles an hour are forecast. In Le Mars, there’s been about three-tenths of new snowfall in the last 24 hours.
Schools in northeast Nebraska are beginning classes two hours late this morning. George Little Rock and Central Lyon also has delayed classes for two hours. Larchwood had an estimated six inches of new snowfall.
Law Enforcement recommends drivers slow down and allow some extra time to get to work and school today.
Winter driving expert: Drivers need to concentrate
(UNDATED)–Little mistakes are magnified in low traction surfaces of winter driving. That’s the view of Mark Cox who is a winter driving expert at the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
In an interview with KLEM News, Cox suggested concentration for drivers.
The Bridgestone expert tells drivers on winter roads to try to use all the grip available for just one thing at a time. Cox gave this example of a driver traveling in a straight line before a corner.
Intellectually, Cox points out the technique sounds easy but it’s a hard one for most people to put into practice.
Tire condition is another factor in winter driving.
Looking for some extra holiday cash? Cox says you should plan your route to make the most of one trip.
Durham is Governor-elect’s choice for new economic development effort
(DES MOINES) Governor-elect Terry Branstad this morning announced a Siouxland Iowa woman who has led economic development efforts in the Sioux City area for the past 15 years will serve as director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development. Debi Durham, the Republican Party’s 2002 nominee for lieutenant governor, has been president of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce since 1995.
Durham’s first job will be drawing up the plan for the new public-private partnership between state government and the Iowa business community, the entity that will replace the existing Department of Economic Development.
Durham also plans to do what she calls an “honest assessment” of the staffing levels in the existing agency, but she’s also used this morning’s (Tuesday’s) news conference to send a message to the employees in the Department of Economic Development.
Branstad told reporters Durham was his top choice for the job after a national search.
Branstad also cites Durham’s work at the local level in recruiting businesses to relocate in Sioux City, as he says while companies consider different states for expansion, the final decision hinges on a specific location. Durham has also been the leader of two other groups in the Sioux City area — The Siouxland Initiative, which is a regional economic development effort that stretches from Iowa into Nebraska and South Dakota, as well as the Siouxland Chamber Foundation.
Durham will assume her new role in mid-January. A search for President of the Siouxland Chamber and Siouxland Initiative will begin soon to fill the pending vacancy. (News report by Radio Iowa and KLEM News)
Duckwall stores to close
(ABILENE)–Regional retailer Duckwall-Alco is closing its 44 Duckwall stores including those in western Iowa. The Abilene-Kansas-based company announced the closures Monday and said 267 full-time and part-time employees will be affected in nine states
Duckwall has stores in Sac City, Manning and Lake City. Duckwall-Alco will be renamed Alco Stores to reflect the company’s new focus. That change is expected in fiscal year 2012 which begins February 1st.
Nearly half of the closures of Duckwall will be in Kasnsas where 20 stores are to be shut down.
The company says it will use its capital to bolster its more popular Alco stores. Alco store locations include Orange City.
(Associated Press contributed to this report)
Train derailment in Cedar Rapids
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) Police say the area around a major street in downtown Cedar Rapids is now open after a train derailment.
The derailment happened about 8:40 a.m. on Tuesday. The Gazette says at least one railcar is on its side at a crossing. Corn that was inside the car spilled.
Police Sgt. Cristy Hamblin says the derailment closed the area around Eight Avenue Southeast for about an hour. Part of another street, Ninth Avenue, will remain closed while cleanup is under way.
Hamblin says the cause of the derailment is unknown. No other details were immediately available.
Iowa’s butter sculptor creates nativity scene
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Iowa’s butter sculptor, who carves a butter cow and other figures at the Iowa State Fair each summer, is creating a spiritual sculpture for the holidays in downtown Des Moines.
Sarah Pratt is designing a sculpture of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus. It will be the center of a nativity collection for a fundraiser for St. Joseph Emergency Family Shelter this weekend.
Pratt told KCCI-TV that the piece is her most reflective work yet. She says she wants people to feel the family is “desperate and lost” and to think about families today.
The sculpture will be on display in a cooler at the headquarters of the Des Moines Diocese on Saturday and Sunday.
Iowa casino executives seek delay in trial
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Two Iowa casino executives accused of illegally donating money to Gov. Chet Culver’s re-election campaign have asked for a 60-day delay in their trial.
Peninsula Gaming president Martin Brent Stevens and company executive Jonathan Swain are scheduled to go on trial Jan. 5 in Polk County District Court. They are accused of violating campaign disclosure laws and making a campaign contribution in someone else’s name.
The Des Moines Register says court documents filed Monday show defense attorney Guy Cook asked for the delay because he needs more time to complete depositions and evaluate evidence.
Also charged in the case are Peninsula Gaming Partners LLC and Webster County Entertainment, along with Webster chief Steve Daniel and Curtis Beason, a Davenport lawyer. Beason faces an additional count of obstruction.
Tree lighting at Iowa Statehouse
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Iowans are invited to the Iowa Capitol for the annual tree lighting ceremony for the 2010 holiday season.
Gov. Chet Culver and first lady Mari Culver are hosting Tuesday’s event, which also marks the kickoff for state employees’ Toys For Tots collection.
The ceremony, which begins at 5 p.m., includes a view of the tree lighting from the west terrace from inside the rotunda.
Investigators look for cause of Burlington fire
BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) Investigators are searching for the cause of a fire that damaged a historic, five-story building in downtown Burlington.
Witnesses noticed heavy smoke billowing from the Tama Building about 11 a.m. on Monday. No injuries were reported. The building, which dates back to 1870, houses the Third Street Pub.
Firefighters remained on the scene into early Tuesday, putting out hot spots. Fire Chief Thomas Clements told The Hawk Eye that the basement was filling with water and the main floor, which houses the restaurant, was caving in.
Clements says an agent from the state fire marshal’s office was expected in Burlington on Tuesday. He says the bulk of the damage appears to be in the restaurant, its basement and a banquet room next door.
Renovation delayed on damaged building in CR
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) Delays in renovating the flood-damaged Veterans Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids mean the building won’t be ready until next summer, at the earliest.
The 80-year-old building, which is on an island in the Cedar River, was home to City Hall and other city offices until the 2008 flood.
The Gazette says a question about ownership has surfaced as the Veterans Memorial Commission, which oversees the building, and the city prepare to sign an agreement for a $4.4 million state grant to renovate the building.
The Legislature designated the grant to the city, not the commission.
The commission on Monday approved the agreement to get the project moving ahead.
No injuries in Marion apartment fire
MARION, Iowa (AP) Fire officials say no one was injured in a fire that caused extensive damage to an apartment building in Marion near Cedar Rapids.
The fire broke out shortly after 6 p.m. on Monday at Marion’s Grandview Apartments. The Gazette reports that everyone got out safely.
The building has eight apartments. Firefighters say at least two have extensive fire damage, while the others have smoke damage.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Weld flaw at Duane Arnold nuclear plant repaired
PALO, Iowa (AP) A repair to a flaw in a weld on the reactor at the Duane Arnold Energy Center near Palo has been completed.
Spokeswoman for the eastern Iowa nuclear power plant, Renee Nelson, says the work was done along with other activities during this month’s planned shutdown for maintenance. She says repairing the weld won’t extend the planned outage, but she would not disclose when the plant will be back online.
The Gazette in Cedar Rapids reports that the plant’s owner, NextEra Energy, found the flaw during recent inspections. The company says the flaw penetrated 70 percent through a pipe wall. It is being blamed on “stress corrosion.”
NextEra says the kind of fault found in the reactor is not unique to Duane Arnold.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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