Des Moines County, Iowa News #2
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Des Moines County Weathers Statewide Tornado Drill*

April 10 2008

A statewide severe weather drill Tuesday morning served as a reminder that tornado season has arrived. Des Moines County Emergency Management Agency coordinator Gina Hardin said overall the county's drill went well. "It's an opportunity, a reminder to citizens that we're coming into storm season," Hardin said. She said the purpose of the drill is to ensure everyone has a plan and is prepared for a severe-weather emergency. She said there was some mild confusion at the start, though, because the weather service did not follow procedure. Hardin said the emergency alert system and radio worked how they were supposed to. "There were a couple of sirens; we're not sure if they worked," Hardin said. "They worked last week, but this week we're not sure." She said the two sirens she was told did not sound were at the corner of Agency Road and Shields Street and at Southeastern Community College. She said there also were two sirens -- one near Yarmouth and one on Sunnyside Avenue -- that no one was near for the test. "I'm getting reports in from schools, and the city of Burlington employees and county employees that participated," Hardin said. She said the public entities reported their drills went well, though, results will continue to come into the emergency management agency during the next couple days. Hardin said in particular Mediapolis High School went above and beyond expectations by simulating a drill where a tornado actually tore through parts of the school. "We tried to make it a little more realistic, because you just never know," Mediapolis High School and Middle School Principal Dennis Heiman said. "What happens when something happens?" He said the drill worked well. The added scenarios included a couple of students who were missing after the tornado hit and a couple of classrooms that were out of commission due to storm damage. "They (the teachers) knew what part of the building had been destroyed, and the kids were in that general area at the start of the drill," Heiman said. "They immediately headed down toward that area, so in under two minutes they located the two."

Des Moines County Recognizes SKYWARN & CERT Volunteers for Service*

Recently the Des Moines County SKYWARN and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) teams met to distribute years of service awards. They distributed certificates and SKYWARN lapel pins for the SKYWARN volunteers – 25 people earned a 3-year certificate, 9 people received a 2-year certificate, 2 individuals received a 1-year certificate, and 3 new members earned appreciation certificates. The SKYWARN team handles the severe weather storm spotting for Des Moines County along with law enforcement, fire departments, and other trained weather spotters. The SKYWARN team participated in 17 activations in 2008, including 184 individuals.

The CERT team members also received certificates and CERT lapel pins – 16 members received a 2-year certificate, 9 a 1-year certificate, and 4 new members received appreciation certificates. The CERT team is involved in many education opportunities, does parade security, security at the Des Moines County Fair, communications at the Triathlon, plus much, much more for the community. They participated in 10 events for a total of 515 hours of volunteer time in 2008.

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December 26, 2008

Class Springs Into Emergency Action
February 1 2009
Group spent Saturday training for emergency situations.
Picture this scenario.
A tornado has ripped through Burlington during a festival event at the Port of Burlington. The lights are gone. The power is out. And someone has just informed you there are two people missing inside the dark, cavernous recesses of the Port.
What do you do?
That was the scenario Norman Brooks of Crawfordsville faced Saturday afternoon during an emergency response class led by the Community Emergency Response Team and the Des Moines County Emergency Management Agency.
"This class is for people who want to be better prepared," said Gina Hardin, Des Moines County Emergency Management Agency coordinator. "It just starts out with the basic stuff, and everyone gets a chance to be the incident commander."
Late Saturday afternoon, the duty of incident commander fell on the shoulder of Brooks, who sprung into action immediately.
"Did you call 911?" Brooks asked his other six classmates.
After the simulated call was made, Brooks broke the class into teams and sent them on specific missions.
"You, run around the building and check for structural damage," Brooks said as he made his first assignment.
From there, Brooks assigned another team to shut down the power to the building.
"I don't want anyone to go in until we know it's safe," he said.
When the report came back the building suffered damage only to the northeast corner, Brooks strapped a flashlight on his head and led the team inside. From there, he once again split the team and sent them in opposite directions to search for the missing people.
The team found the victims unconscious, with one of them covered in rubble represented by a podium and an empty trash can. A strobe light in the corner of the room represented emergency personnel outside.
After the exercise had ended, CERT instructor Richard Strove Jr. offered his critique.
Saturday's eight-hour session was only the first half of the 16-hour class that will continue next week. While the students won't earn CERT certification, they will receive a certificate stating they completed the class.
For the students, the class was about a lot more than certification. Most of them had volunteered during the Flood of 2008 and wanted to improve their emergency response skills in case another disaster strikes.
"This is a Saturday well spent," said class member Don Buzzingham, education director for the Iowa State University Extension office. "I just felt a need for more training. We always wait until after the fact."
Throughout the day, the class participated in mock exercises broken up by instructional videos and critiques. One scenario involved a panicked mother who lost her kids. Another involved a large-scale fire.
The class's main theme was to not panic and think in a cool, organized manner.
"Emergency personnel like friendly organized faces," Strove said.
Strove later complimented Brooks' performance, citing his ability to give quick orders and precise directions to his classmates. His only major mistake was taking off his jacket during the exercise, which made him harder to identify.
Brooks was grateful for the pointers and couldn't narrow down how much he learned to just one or two lessons.
"We're learning a lot of the little stuff here, like thinking before you rush in," he said.

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Norman Brooks of Crawfordsville, left, and Don Buzzingham of Burlington, middle, go over an emergency response scenario with instructor Richard Strove Jr. of Cedar Rapids Saturday while taking a class led by the Community Emergency Response Team and the Des Moines County Emergency Management Agency at the Port of Burlington.

 

Families Enjoy Fun, Free Activities*

March 30 2009

WEST BURLINGTON -- While muddy parks and chilly spring weather made for a dismal day outdoors Sunday, it still proved a great day to be a kid. Hundreds of bright-eyed tykes descended on the Westland Mall from noon to 5 p.m. banishing winter laments with the 21st annual Day of the Child. For 4-year-old Brenna Remele of Burlington, that meant gluing foam dinosaurs, colored feathers, stars and other shapes onto a cardboard princess hat at a booth ran by Community Action of Southeast Iowa, which organizes the event. "She likes to dress up like a princess every day. So this will be good for her princess costume," said Brenna's mother, Diana Remele. "The crafts are great." Meanwhile, Brenna's brother, 6-year-old Daniel Remele, was busy fashioning a crown. "I'm going to be a knight," Daniel said. Day of the Child provides an educational, fun and relaxing experience for families, said organizer Tamee DeCoursey, the family child care program assistant for community action. "Our theme is 'Explore Your Imagination,' to try and stimulate children's imagination and show parents activities and ideas to do on rainy days, or any time, that will help children develop that imagination and creativity," DeCoursey said. "We just want children and families to have a day where there is no pressure. Where they don't have to buy anything." Finding ways to save money, yet keep kids entertained, can be a challenge, said Kishauna Pfeiff, a West Burlington mother and daycare provider. With little else to do on a chilly Sunday, Kishuana Pfeiff brought her three children, as well as one daycare child to the event. Her nephew, 19-year-old Justin Casadei, tagged along too, helping to corral the rambunctious crew. "We're out here every year," Pfeiff said. Living on a budget, it's often hard to find family activities in the community. Common draws for youth, like video game arcades, tend to be expensive and short-lived entertainment, Pfeiff said. Despite being deprived of video games and forced to do crafts, 9-year-old Davian Pfeiff said he has a "really, really nice mom. She loves us." In appreciation of his mother and grandmother, Davian made them each a bouquet of paper flowers at a booth ran by Special Needs Foundation of Des Moines County. While the mall was full of children, the halls seemed less crowded than in past years. The number of participating organizations was down to 25 this year from between 35 and 40 in past years. The primary cause of the drop in participation was due to a new mall rule stating only non-profit organizations could participate for free. "Apparently they were told by their corporate office that only non-profits (were allowed for free). So everyone here had to prove their non-profit status to participate, and the two for-profits that are here today actually had to pay a fee," DeCoursey said. Also, the current national economic recession has affected the budgets of many non-profit organizations, which means some just couldn't afford the extra staff time required to set up a booth. Despite the decline in booths, there was still plenty for children to do and parents to learn. Even a Day of the Child veteran like DeCoursey learned something new this year. "I just found out we have a Mid-Iowa Family Therapy Clinic that has been up and running for just about a year now, takes Title-XIX (Medicaid), and has all kinds of programs for children who have mental health issues," DeCoursey said. For those organizations that did participate, reviews of the event remained positive. "It's a very good activity. It draws parents out here with their children for a fun day of free activities. And in this economy, we all need that," said Kathy Murphy, a story time volunteer with the Burlington Public Library.

By NICHOLAS BERGIN

nbergin@thehawkeye.com

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Maggie Bugg, 10, left, watches a tissue paper flower being made with her friends the Sylvester sisters, from left, Cassy, 7, Lyshelle, 8, and Echo, 5, all of Burlington, Sunday during the 21st annual Day of the Child event at Westland Mall in West Burlington. Mary Kuster and her coworkers from Planned Parenthood of Southeast Iowa made the tissue paper flowers for children and handed out information about their business to parents.Laura Bryant, of Burlington, looks at the tissue paper flower her grandson Gavin Black, 3, of Burlington, made for his mother Sunday during the 21st annual Day of the Child event at Westland Mall in West Burlington.

Matt Ryerson/The Hawk Eye

Downtown Parade Packs Holiday Razzle Dazzle

November 29 2009

Though Santa and his eight lighted reindeer were only a few hundred feet away, 9-year-old Matt Briggs waited patiently for the other 62 parade entries to pass him before he turned to wave at the big man in red. Since Santa was busy bringing up the rear of the 16th annual Burlington Lighted Holiday Parade, Briggs didn't get a chance to tell him what he wants for Christmas yet. But maybe Santa reads the Hawk Eye. "I want video games for Christmas," he said. Briggs and his family secured a superior position toward the front of the parade route Saturday night, watching the lighted floats turn the corner down Jefferson Street as Santa waited for them to pass before joining in. "This was awesome," said Matt's mother Marianne Briggs. "I think the whole city of Burlington came out tonight." It may very well have been true. Thousands of locals lined Jefferson Street to catch a glimpse of the lighted Christmas floats, while their children formed a wall of empty plastic sacks open for candy. "This is a family tradition. We come down here and stand at The Paddlewheel," said Johna Stott as she stared down Jefferson Street. Stott was attending the parade with her two grandchildren, her two daughters and about 30 other family members. Her 9-year-old grandson Trenton was grabbing as much candy as he could, but always passed what he grabbed to his left. "He's giving it all to his sister," Stott said with a look of approval. "He's very sharing." The parade began with the usual sirens and flashing lights sitting atop Burlington Police and Des Moines County Sheriff vehicles, and soon sprang forward with Christmas life as decorated fire trucks from the Burlington Fire Department followed closely behind. The Toys for Tots float drew chuckles from the audience as a small girl continually popped out of a Christmas box like a jack-in-the-box, and a lighted recreation of the Great River Bridge drew more than a few "oohs" from the crowd. For those participating, the Christmas floats were a source of pride. The Prairie Star 4-H Club has been participating in the parade since it began 16 years ago, and the leaders make sure to design a brand new float for every parade they're in. "The parade used to be more theme oriented with a lot more local groups, and now it's much more razzle dazzle," said 4-H leader Ron Pinney. "It's really difficult for a 4-H group to compete in a lighted parade, but we have fun doing it." Their float this year consisted of 1941 tractor pulling a lighted sleigh with a fresh Christmas tree in the back. The tractor belonged to the grandfather of 4-H leader Nathan Fritz, who restored it back to use. "It took a couple of years," he said. Holsteen Brothers Trucking also garnered delighted reactions from the crowd with their float decorated with small children dressed as Christmas bells. The effect was achieved with nothing more than cloth and hula-hoops, which stretched the material into a bell shape. "That's just adorable," a woman said from the crowd as the float passed by. As always, the Burlington High School and Notre Dame marching bands rocked the street with a bass-heavy rendition of "Jingle Bells." Considering the nighttime temperature was a balmy 50 degrees, it was a good night to be a marching band kid. "This is the nicest weather we've had in all those years," Pinney said. "We've been down here when it's been sleeting and raining, and we've had to change the float theme at the last minute so we could keep the kids dry." Float winners were: first place, Great River Hospice House; second place, Bike Burlington; and third place, Burlington Model Railroad Engineers Society.

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By William Smith

West Burlington Offers Day Of Holiday Fun*

July 5 2010

Seventh annual celebration filled with pancake breakfast, games, fireworks and much more.

WEST BURLINGTON — Eight-year-old Hunter Reich raised the sledge hammer above his head and brought it down on the fuel tank cover of a Chrysler Salon.
As the hammer crashed into the cover bending it downward, four of Reich's buddies burst into cheers from their vantage point behind yellow caution tape. Any other day of the year such hooliganism quickly would have brought police intervention, but Sunday morning it was all part of the fun at the annual West Burlington Fourth of July celebration. Each swing of the hammer helped raise money for the West Burlington High School girls basketball program. A dollar earned revelers the right to deliver three crushing blows to the car with the sledge hammer. With a look of concentration, Reich again lifted the hammer and smashed the bent cover. But the cover remained stubbornly attached to the car, and 13-year-old Bailey Perkins, who paid for the round of bashing, demanded a chance to separate it from the already dented automobile. Reich gamely handed over the sledge hammer to Perkins, who raised it over his head and let out a wild shout before stepping up to the vehicle. "One for the rhythm. One for the vibe. One for the aarrgghh," Perkins said as he took a couple of practice swings then brought the hammer down with all the force he could muster. But once again, the cover remained stubbornly stuck to the car, which was donated by Jim's Body Shop and Towing of Burlington. Disappointed, Perkins handed the hammer over to 16-year-old basketball players Jamie Johnson and Emily Siefken. They boys would have continued bashing the car, their favorite July 4 activity, but they had run out of money. The guys agreed hitting the car was even more fun than the kid's parade at 2 p.m., the big parade at 4 p.m., the karaoke contest, talent show or even the fireworks. While Johnson and Siefken rolled their eyes at the antics of the younger boys, the West Burlington basketball players said they understood the appeal of hitting the car. "It's not something you do all the time. It's kind of fun," Johnson said over the sound of a few firecrackers exploding a block away. "It lets you take your anger out, if you really need to," Siefken added. The $300 to $400 raised hitting the car will help pay for hotel rooms when the West Burlington girls attend team camp, Siefken said. Meanwhile, members of the West Burlington Volunteer Fire Department fed pancakes and sausages to a few late stragglers and began to close down their annual breakfast fundraiser. One of the fire association's biggest fundraisers of the year, the pancake breakfast typically brings in between $2,000 and $2,500 after expenses are paid, said Chief Jesse Logan. The firefighters worked hard for their dollars, cooking 1,800 pancakes and 2,500 sausage patties to feed the almost 1,000 people who showed up for breakfast, despite a few sprinkles. "That's a whole lot of cooking. We kind of have it down to a science," said firefighter John Cockrell. Logan had another word to describe the furiously flying flapjacks — "madness." Regardless, the grub received rave reviews from 12-year-old Branden Morris and his sister, 11-year-old Alisha Morris. "I liked it. It was very good tasting," Branen said after scarfing down a couple of pancakes. Although, Branden's and Alisha's opinion's digressed on one point, how difficult the flapjacks were to cut. Branden said they were a little tough. Alisha disagreed saying she simply has better mastery of the use of a fork than her brother.

By NICHOLAS BERGIN
nbergin@thehawkeye.com

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Lily Mesler, 4, of Windham Summit, Pa., who is in town visiting her grandparents, blows on a pinwheel while watching the parade with her sister, Summer, 6, Sunday during West Burlington's seventh annual Fourth of July celebration. The day began with the West Burlington Fire Department pancake breakfast and ended with fireworks.

Anjali Khanna, 5, of Owensburo, Ky., who was in town visiting family, pounds on a car during West Burlington's Fourth of July festivities. Money raised from the activity benefited the West Burlington girls basketball team.

Matt Ryerson/The Hawk Eye

National Night Out 2010*

August 3 2010
Port of Burlington Building

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Pictures by Ryan Smith WPRV616 / S-422

Night Raises Awareness of Crime Fighters*

August 4, 2010

Community members gather at port to learn, offer support.

Lee Boughton of West Burlington took a sip of the cold drink he had in his hand then gently wiped the perspiration which slowly dripped down his forehead. In the corner from where Boughton was seated, a small girl wearing a tiara tried to lift a police tactical armor on display. She smiled when an older girl helped her lift the heavy vest, as a police officer handed out information about the local department. Many felt the muggy air Tuesday evening as hundreds of Burlington residents gathered in the Port of Burlington, alongside local law enforcement agencies, emergency medical personnel and others in the hopes of bridging the gap among them, an effort to jointly and effectively fight the never ending battle against the criminal element. It was, after all, the 27th National Night Out Against Crime. Nationwide, 15,000 communities had similar events, with an estimated 37 million people participating. For Boughton, there was no better place to spend part of his 59th birthday than the port, to show not only his support to the community he has called home since 1957, but to give his old friend, McGruff the Crime Dog, a pat on the back - McGruff turned 30 years old. Boughton said he went to school with Sgt. Steve Parker of the Des Moines County Sheriff's Office, Parker is the man in the dog costume. Around the port, residents who came to see what law enforcement and other agencies and organizations have to serve the community feasted on water, soda and later on, cake in conjunction with the crime dog's birthday. Boughton remembers there have been fluctuations in crime from when he was young to the present. "Some of it is good, but some are bad," he said. "The good thing about it is we as a community are getting together in things like this. You need to support your town." Like many who attended the event, Boughton was fascinated with the display presented by the Southeast Iowa Narcotics Task Force. It showcased the many types of drugs the interagency task force encountered through the years, along with the many methods of ingesting, smoking, or injecting the users' choice of poison. Agents at the booth said many have asked about the precursors of meth on display, or the ingredients on the table such as lighter fluid and anti freeze. They said many are still surprised by what kind of chemicals users put in their bodies. Many prescription medications that are illicitly used come in different shapes, sizes and colors, and most are even appealing and discreet, authorities said. Many of the children who attended thought the many colors of pills on display were candy. That is one of the main points law enforcement wanted to emphasize: knowledge of what is being peddled on the streets and the ways to avoid it or put a stop to it by reporting illegal activity to police. Just outside one of the main doors of the port was John Kennedy, who patiently waited for McGruff to show up. The man, who declined to reveal his age, had a bone for the crime dog with a card, greeting the K9 happy birthday. "There ought to be more of these things," Kennedy said of the event. "The police and the sheriff can only do so much, but without the help of the people, they can't do a lot." From SKYWARN, Des Moines County Attorney's Office, Crime Stoppers, Neighborhood Watch, Army National Guard, several area fire departments, Department of Natural Resources and Grade-A Plus, among others, residents got a glimpse of the arsenal available to the citizens to flush out the scum crime has left in several neighborhoods. Local dignitaries spoke for a few minutes and thanked everyone who attended. "It's really great to see what the community has as far as public services and other programs," Kennedy said. "They're very educational. The more information you get the more educated you become." Like many, Joey McNeill of Burlington said he has seen crime grow through the years, but counted the area lucky not to see a lot of violent offenses. "People need to be aware of their surroundings," the 30-year-old McNeill said. "We need to watch each other better." Crime thrives on opportunity. Depleting that main source in criminal activity may hold the key, not in eradicating crime, but controlling it in a level suited for a community to flourish in serenity and acceptable tranquility. That is the goal of the Neighborhood Watch Program. But surprisingly, there only are two active watch groups in the city. Tom Fitzgibbons has been part of the program for 25 years or so and said he now has helpers engaged in the activity. "We need more eyes and ears in the community," he said as he answered questions from an attendee at the booth.
Neighborhood Watch is one of the oldest and best-known crime-prevention concepts in the United States. Most the activity in the port winded down at 7:40 p.m., and Boughton, who shared his birthday with McGruff, said the heat of the day may have signalled a renaissance of sorts in the fight against crime. He said he may never see the day where the dockets at the courthouse or the blotter at the police department were blank, but with the continued cooperation between the community and law enforcement, criminal elements might just find their hands full. "This can work," he said. "We just need to work together."

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Carlee Brown, 7, Burlington, Lil Miss Southeast Iowa, struggles to lift a 30-pound Tactical Response Unit vest as 2009 Lil Miss Burlington Katie Conner, 9, West Burlington, watches Tuesday during a National Night Out Against Crime event of Burlington.

Conner Reed, 5, of Burlington gives McGruff the Crime Dog a high five Tuesday during a National Night Out Against Crime event at the Port of Burlington.
John Lovretta/The Hawk Eye

National Night Out Event Targets Safety

August 3 2011

Commentary by News - City & Region

Irish philosopher Edmund Burke once said: "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
That has been the battle cry, so to speak, for law enforcement across the nation, an effort to involve the citizenry in the seemingly never-ending battle of good versus evil.
Thus the National Night Out was tagged as a going-away party for drugs and crime.

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Tuesday's heat index above 100 degrees did not stop area law enforcement, fire and emergency personnel and community service organizations from showcasing their services to the public during the 28th annual National Night Out, held locally at the Burlington Memorial Auditorium.
The marquee spelled out the invite, and although only a handful of people attended, there was a plethora of information aimed at raising awareness about resources available and steps citizens can take to curb crime.
The event, which also is geared toward reigniting the cooperation between law enforcement and the public, is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and co-sponsored by area law enforcement agencies.
Nationwide, 15,000 communities held similar events, and an estimated 37 million people participated.
It was Wanda Vierra's first time at the Burlington event, but she said there was good reason for her attendance. She, like many others, said she is sick and tired of criminals running the streets without regard to the safety of others.
Vierra specifically went to the auditorium to look into starting a Neighborhood Watch program in her neighborhood on Market and Marshall streets.
"There's a lot of crime in the neighborhood, and several landlords are renting to drug dealers," Vierra said. "I'm tired of it."
Vierra said events such as the night out give residents an idea of what services are available. It also highlights the many aspects of law enforcement, its arsenal and its mission.
"I think it's great," Vierra said, adding she wanted to start the watch program to discourage wannabe dealers and "we also have a window peeper in our neighborhood, and we need to get him."
"We need to get involved," she said. "We need to get the landlords to be accountable for who they rent to."
One of the most sought after exhibits was created by the Southeast Iowa Narcotics Task Force, which displayed many forms of illegal drugs and paraphernalia, as well as the dangers that can result from their use.
"I asked the kids what they thought those were, and they said they thought they were candy," one attendee said.
It was a common mistake since designer drugs and prescription medications come in different shapes, sizes and colors. Most are even appealing and discreet.
That is one of the main points the task force wanted to emphasize - people should be aware of what is being peddled in the streets and how to help stop illegal activity by reporting it to the police.
Accident or not, Ricky Timmons, 40, of Burlington said he was glad to come to the event and see the displays and get information.
"My son, he saw the (MedForce) helicopter outside so we went in," Timmons said, adding there is a lot more crime nowadays than when he was growing up.
The gist of the event was to promote cooperation between law enforcement and the people it serves. No matter what the situation may be, or how difficult the task ahead can be, a community working together makes everything seem easier.
From the Salvation Army, Des Moines County Attorney's Office, Crime Stoppers, Neighborhood Watch, Army National Guard, several area fire departments, and Grade A Plus, among others, residents got a glimpse of the arsenal available to the citizenry to flush out crime.
McGruff the Crime Dog even made an appearance, an additional treat for younger attendees.
Shannon Walker, 29, of Burlington said she took her children not only to see the displays but so they would understand what is happening in their city. She, too, said crime is more prevalent these days.
"I won't let my kids ride their bikes without me being there," Walker said. "When I was a kid, you can run around anywhere."
Organizers said next year's event will more likely be in the same venue. Lt. Darren Grimshaw of the Burlington police said they have started brainstorming on how to draw more people the next time around.
National Night Out is just one night, but the responsibility, pride and love for one's community need to resonate all year round, organizers said.

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A MedForce helicopter takes off Tuesday during the National Night Out Against Crime event at Memorial Auditorium Area law enforcement and other public service organizations showcased their equipment and services.

John Lovretta/The Hawk Eye

Dakotah Sommerfelt, 3, of Burlington shakes hands Tuesday with McGruff the Crime Dog during a National Night Out Against Crime event at Memorial Auditorium.

Des Moines County Emergency Management

July 5 2010

Seventh annual celebration filled with pancake breakfast, games, fireworks and much more.

WEST BURLINGTON — Eight-year-old Hunter Reich raised the sledge hammer above his head and brought it down on the fuel tank cover of a Chrysler Salon.
As the hammer crashed into the cover bending it downward, four of Reich's buddies burst into cheers from their vantage point behind yellow caution tape. Any other day of the year such hooliganism quickly would have brought police intervention, but Sunday morning it was all part of the fun at the annual West Burlington Fourth of July celebration. Each swing of the hammer helped raise money for the West Burlington High School girls basketball program. A dollar earned revelers the right to deliver three crushing blows to the car with the sledge hammer. With a look of concentration, Reich again lifted the hammer and smashed the bent cover. But the cover remained stubbornly attached to the car, and 13-year-old Bailey Perkins, who paid for the round of bashing, demanded a chance to separate it from the already dented automobile. Reich gamely handed over the sledge hammer to Perkins, who raised it over his head and let out a wild shout before stepping up to the vehicle. "One for the rhythm. One for the vibe. One for the aarrgghh," Perkins said as he took a couple of practice swings then brought the hammer down with all the force he could muster. But once again, the cover remained stubbornly stuck to the car, which was donated by Jim's Body Shop and Towing of Burlington. Disappointed, Perkins handed the hammer over to 16-year-old basketball players Jamie Johnson and Emily Siefken. They boys would have continued bashing the car, their favorite July 4 activity, but they had run out of money. The guys agreed hitting the car was even more fun than the kid's parade at 2 p.m., the big parade at 4 p.m., the karaoke contest, talent show or even the fireworks. While Johnson and Siefken rolled their eyes at the antics of the younger boys, the West Burlington basketball players said they understood the appeal of hitting the car. "It's not something you do all the time. It's kind of fun," Johnson said over the sound of a few firecrackers exploding a block away. "It lets you take your anger out, if you really need to," Siefken added. The $300 to $400 raised hitting the car will help pay for hotel rooms when the West Burlington girls attend team camp, Siefken said. Meanwhile, members of the West Burlington Volunteer Fire Department fed pancakes and sausages to a few late stragglers and began to close down their annual breakfast fundraiser. One of the fire association's biggest fundraisers of the year, the pancake breakfast typically brings in between $2,000 and $2,500 after expenses are paid, said Chief Jesse Logan. The firefighters worked hard for their dollars, cooking 1,800 pancakes and 2,500 sausage patties to feed the almost 1,000 people who showed up for breakfast, despite a few sprinkles. "That's a whole lot of cooking. We kind of have it down to a science," said firefighter John Cockrell. Logan had another word to describe the furiously flying flapjacks — "madness." Regardless, the grub received rave reviews from 12-year-old Branden Morris and his sister, 11-year-old Alisha Morris. "I liked it. It was very good tasting," Branen said after scarfing down a couple of pancakes. Although, Branden's and Alisha's opinion's digressed on one point, how difficult the flapjacks were to cut. Branden said they were a little tough. Alisha disagreed saying she simply has better mastery of the use of a fork than her brother.


11/22/2010

 Parents, I would like to draw your attention to an issue that might land you or your children in trouble with the Federal Communications Commission and end up with a huge fine.
Many people do not realize that the little hand-held radios that you can purchase from any major retailer have some frequencies on them that require an FCC license to operate.
These radios are a FRS/GMRS combination radio. These radios are often referred to as "bubble-pack" radios. There is no license required to operate on the FRS frequencies (channels 1 to 14). However, the operator does need a license to operate on the GMRS frequencies (channels 15 to 22). The problem is the companies that manufacture these radios do not have any type of stop-check built into the radios to keep people from transmitting on the GMRS channels.
Please read the literature that came with the radios to verify which channels are allowed to be operated on. There are numerous GMRS frequency users who pay to use the GMRS frequencies that are being trampled on by those who are using these radios to transmit on the GMRS frequencies.
Let's put it this way. You wouldn't allow your children or yourself to transmit on a Police/Fire/Emergency frequency risking possible fine and/or imprisonment. Please act in the same manner regarding the GMRS frequencies and either stop transmitting on them or get licensed to use them. Yes, there are emergency agencies that use GMRS radio frequencies as well.
Please seek out help from any licensed user and they will be more than happy to assist you to stay legal.
Robert Andrews
Member of the West Burlington Iowa GMRS Radio Group
Burlington

http://www.thehawkeye.com/story/Robert-Andrews-111410

Des Moines County Recognizes SKYWARN & CERT Volunteers for Service*

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Annual Awards Dinner at Gator's

We had a small group of volunteers and their family members attend the SKYWARN and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) awards banquet last Saturday night. The SKYWARN volunteers participated in 17 weather related activiations in 2011. The CERT group volunteered 375+ hours in 2011. These volunteers are awesome and do a great job of keeping us safe. Thank you for all you do everyone!— with James Seaberg, Angie Parsons, James Houghton, Jared Sommerfelt, Michael Rosenblatt, Ryan Smith, John Porter and Thomas Colthurst.

February 11 2012 6:30pm

Preparing For The Worst

February 25 2012

Area residents train to be prepared in case of a community emergency.

It was a nightmare scenario straight out of a blockbuster action flick.
A tornado had ripped through the Starr's Cave Nature Center. The lights were gone. The power was out. And there were at least a couple of injured people still inside the building.
That was the scenario facing 32 people training to be a part of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Friday afternoon.
The 20-hour class, which consisted of classroom material and hands-on training scenarios like the tornado emergency, was organized by the Des Moines County Emergency Management Agency. Emergency responders, including firefighters, emergency medical personnel and CERT members, acted as the teachers.
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The volunteers will undergo one more disaster scenario in about a week, then will be eligible to join the CERT team if they want.
"You don't have to join CERT to take this class. Some people just do it for self-preparedness," said Gina Hardin, Des Moines County Emergency Management Agency coordinator.
The lowest floor of the Nature Center was cloaked in darkness to create the effect of a power outage, and a variety of stuffed animals stood in as injured civilians.
"It's hard to get victims on a Friday," said assistant coordinator Tom Colthurst.
The class was divided into teams of about a half-dozen people, who took turns rotating between the live exercise downstairs and the classroom work upstairs. Colthurst prepped each team before they descended into the darkness, making sure they wore yellow and orange CERT vests and had a first-aid kit.
To avoid confusion, Colthurst told the trainees to use normal speech when they talked over their handheld radios. No 10-4s needed.
"Stay off the radio unless you have something to say," Colthurst said.
The first volunteer through the door was assigned as incident commander, which is just how it would work in real life. The patients downstairs suffered from maladies that ranged from a bum leg to glass in the eye, and all were evacuated safely.
"I think you guys did a good job," Colthurst said to the group.
Hardin said there are about 35 active CERT volunteers, and if everyone in the class decided to join, that number nearly would double. The class usually is held once a year, but since there wasn't a class last year, interest has been building.
Hardin said it has been tough to drum up interest in the class in the past.
"Twenty hours is a lot of time for people," she said.
The Des Moines County CERT program was started five years ago and was designed to educate people about disaster preparedness and train them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue and disaster medical operations.
It's more than education, though. CERT volunteers played a pivotal role in providing disaster relief during the Flood of 2008 and often used to guide traffic at community events like parades and festivals.
CERT volunteers are not a replacement for trained emergency personnel, but they do act as backups when additional help is needed. Hardin said at 95 percent of all emergencies, bystanders or victims are the first to provide emergency assistance or perform a rescue, which makes the training useful for everyone - not just those who intend on joining CERT.
Trainee Jan Cornick of Burlington said she plans to join CERT once the class is done.
"I just wanted to help my community," she said.
Those interested in joining CERT should contact Hardin at (319) 753-8206, send an email to harding@co.des-moines.ia.us or go to www.citizencorps.gov.

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Click the Pictures to make to bigger

Jeanette Gallagher and Dave Davis, both of Burlington, respond to a victim during a search-and-rescue operation Friday as part of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training for the Des Moines County Emergency Management Agency at Starr's Cave Nature Center in Burlington.

John Gaines/The Hawk Eye

Tom Colthurst, right, Des Moines County Emergency Management Agency assistant coordinator, instructs area residents Friday before a search and rescue operation as part of CERT training at Starr's Cave Nature Center in Burlington. The group set up an incident commander and then pairs of two searched an area hit by a tornado. The group members are, from left, Margie Gerst, Dave Davis, Chris Dela Rosa, Jeanette Gallagher, Joni Gillispie and Jeraldine Lee, not in the picture.

A backpack for used for CERT Training for the Des Moines County Emergency Management Agency Friday Feb. 24, 2012 at Starrs Cave Nature Center in Burlington, Iowa. Thirty-two area residents went through the two day course full of classes and hands on training.

Click the Pictures to make to biggerBy WILLIAM SMITH
wsmith@thehawkeye.com

No Kidding! Event Offers Fun, Learning*

April 15 2012
Day of the Child attracts crowd to Westland Mall.
 
WEST BURLINGTON - On Sunday afternoon, children from throughout Des Moines County were lured to Westland Mall in West Burlington for the opportunity to play games while learning more than a few fun facts.
Twenty-eight nonprofit organizations set up booths at the 24th Day of the Child, each was filled with information and resources for both children and parents in the form of arts, games, crafts and activities. This year's theme was "Wiggles and Giggles."
Event organizer Tamee DeCoursey, a childcare program assistant at Community Action of Southeast Iowa in Burlington, said it's important for children to learn something while having fun.
She said the annual event gives parents a way to have "one-stop shopping" for different agencies and resources.
"Parents typically work Monday through Friday when these places are open," she said.
Booths for the event stretched from one end of the mall to the other. Martial arts clubs were in the mall showing their skills to the children. Other booths included arts and crafts.
"The Tobacco Free Coalition made hats for children and the Special Needs Foundation made lanterns," DeCoursey said.
One booth helped children with their vision.
Don Myatt, coordinator for the Burlington Noon Lions Club, said the Burlington and West Burlington chapters were working together to do a vision screening for children.
"We take pictures of the child's eyes, and we send the pictures to the University of Iowa Ophthalmology Department to be interpreted," Myatt said. "At that point they can be referred to an eye doctor if they need it."
Myatt said it's a good feeling to be able to catch vision problems at an early age.
Levi Ruth, a West Burlington firefighters, worked a booth with coloring books, stickers, and helmets.
"We are here letting kids pick up information that is more fun for them," Ruth said. "It's also education their parents may want to take a look at as well."
Many families roaming through the mall, stopping occasionally to see what each booth had to offer.
West Point residents Michael and Tiffany Robins brought son, Tristan, 2, to Sunday's event.
"We heard about this at the West Point Library," the proud mother said. "We want to try to hit every booth."
Sheri Szewczyk of New London brought her daughter, Lanie, 6, to the mall for the games.
"We just got started and already Lanie has made a puppet," Szewczyk said. "This is our fourth year to be here and she really loves it."
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Aurora Schwerin, 5, spins with streamers made of ribbons at the Head Start booth for the Day of the Child Sunday at Westland Mall in West Burlington.
 
 
 
 
By JEFF HUNT
jhunt@thehawkeye.com

Governor's Volunteer Award*

June 29 2012
Here is the news release that I sent out this afternoon on the Governor's Volunteer Award ceremony several of you attended yesterday.

Local CERT Team Recognized


The Des Moines County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) received a 2012 Governor’s Volunteer Award from Governor Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds during a special recognition ceremony held June 29th in Cedar Rapids. The Des Moines County CERT was honored with a Group 5-Year Length of Service Volunteer Award by Gina Hardin, Coordinator of the Des Moines County Emergency Management Agency.
The CERTeam has been in existence since April 2006 and the team members provided over 300 hours of volunteer service to the community in 2011. These individuals provide assistance such as traffic and crowd control, emergency and non-emergency communications, security, and preparedness education, at a variety of events such as local parades, the Geode Triathlon, flu shot clinics, Day of the Child, and National Night Out to name just a few.
CERT members who were available to attend the award session included Scott Gillis, Team Coordinator, and team members Jared Sommerfelt, Colleen Roland, Andrew Wells, and Chris de la Rosa, along with Hardin.
“The CERTeam is trained to provide a variety of assistance in their neighborhoods and community in times of emergency. However, they spend the majority of their time volunteering with local non-emergency events,” according to Emergency Management Coordinator Hardin. “These individuals dedicate time on a monthly basis to receive training above and beyond their initial instruction so they are ready to assist in any type of disaster that may affect Des Moines County. They also give a tremendous amount of time to helping out local entities that need additional volunteers to assist with their local events.”
This is the first time the CERT has been nominated for The Governor’s Volunteer Awards (GVA) program since the program’s creation in 1982, with inaugural awards presented in 1983. What began as a small program only available to state government agencies has expanded over the years and now provides all Iowa nonprofit, charitable and government organizations with an easy way to honor their volunteers with a prestigious state-level recognition award.
Several hundred volunteers are recognized each year with awards in one of several categories: Individual, Group, Length of Service or Disaster Volunteer.
"I am very pleased to honor those who have given the precious gift of their time to make a difference and enrich lives in communities all across Iowa,” said Governor Branstad. “I never tire of meeting volunteers and hearing about the wonderful accomplishments they contribute to making this state great.”
“An unknown author wrote ‘Volunteers are seldom paid; not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless’,” said Lt. Governor Reynolds. "I couldn’t agree more. The Governor and I are privileged to thank and recognize all of this year’s award recipients for their dedication."
The Governor’s Volunteer Award program is coordinated by the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Service and the Governor’s Office. For more information, visit volunteeriowa.org/awards or call 515-725-3094. For more information on the Des Moines County Community Emergency Response Team, contact Hardin at 753-8206.

Des Moines County is Storm Ready*

July 5 2012

Des Moines County has had its Storm Ready community recognition renewed by the National Weather Service.
The original certification was earned in 2006 and now has been extended until 2015, according to Donna Dubberke, chairwoman of the Tri-State Storm Ready Advisory Board.
"In particular, the Des Moines County SKYWARN group has become a cornerstone of the community-NWS (National Weather Service) partnership during severe weather and one of the top programs of its kind in the region," she said.
The local SKYWARN group was organized in 2005 and is comprised of 47 volunteers who activated during potential tornado or thunderstorm events that may affect the county and surrounding areas.
Des Moines County Emergency Management Coordinator Gina Hardin manages the SKYWARN organization.
"Thankfully, 2012 has been a quiet year when it comes to severe weather for our area," she said. "However, these volunteers, along with members of some of the volunteer fire departments within the county, stand ready to observe the current weather conditions and provide ground truth reports to the National Weather Service."
The NWS uses the real-time reports in its weather reporting products to warn others in the path of severe weather.
Des Moines County is one of only 15 Storm Ready counties in Iowa. Nationwide, there are fewer than 1,000 such organizations.
Dubberke noted 90 percent of all presidential-declared disasters are weather related. About 500 people have died in those disasters, which cost nearly $14 billion in damage.
She said Storm Ready communities are better prepared to save lives from the onslaught of severe weather through advanced planning, education and awareness.
"No community is storm proof, but Storm Ready can help communities save lives," she said.
For more information contact Gina Hardin, coordinator of Des Moines County Emergency Management, (319) 753-8206; Donna Dubberke, chairwoman, Tri-State StormReady Advisory Board, (563) 391-6729, ext. 726; or www.stormready.noaa.gov.

Tribute Truck Returns

September 17 2012
Pink fire truck raises awareness of cancer.
WEST BURLINGTON - Three bright pink fire trucks and a pink bus rolled down West Burlington Avenue Thursday afternoon, followed by more than a half-a-dozen fire engines from the West Burlington, Mediapolis, Yarmouth, Danville and Wever fire departments.
Unsuspecting drivers ahead of the parade pulled over at the sight of the flashing lights, but these firefighters weren't on their way to extinguish a blaze. They were on a mission to raise awareness about women's cancer.
"I think raising awareness for women's cancer is always important," said West Burlington Fire Capt. Tom Canfield, who was in one of those trucks.
The eye-catching trucks were in town for one day as part of the Pink Heals organization, which was started in 2007 by firefighter Dave Graybill, who retired after 21 years with the Glendale, Ariz., Fire Department.
"We drive pink fire trucks because we want you to see us. We want you to notice us," said John Rhyne, a retired firefighter from Ponca City, Okla., who was driving one of the trucks.
Though the pink fire trucks ended the day at Community Park, six firefighters from around the country took the trucks on a morning trip to Great River Medical Center and the Great River Hospice House before heading over to West Burlington Elementary School. Every student in the school got a first-hand look at the trucks.
"It's good," 6-year-old Sage Eggar said. "I like it because it's pink, and all the other fire trucks are red."
Rhyne, who was dressed in pink firefighter garb, explained the truck's purpose to the children as they sat outside the school.
"I wear pink because I love people with cancer," he said. "Cancer is awful. Cancer is like a terrorist going through the country, hurting people and killing people."
The nearly three-month-long summer/fall tour started July 27 and won't end until Oct. 13, and there are nearly 50 pink fire trucks across the U.S. and Canada that do the same thing.
"The trucks are from all different parts of the country and were either donated or purchased at auction," said Graybill, who has ridden on every tour since he founded the organization.
Graybill doesn't suffer from cancer, and it's not a disease that has touched his life in a personal way. He just wanted to start a movement that helps individuals and receives no salary for his work. Pink Heals is a nonprofit that sustains itself through T-shirts sales rather than soliciting donations.
"The country was founded on volunteerism, and we're bringing it back," he said. "One hundred percent of the funds we raise should stay local."
In fact, keeping money local is the basis of the Pink Heals movement. The organization seeks to inspire local residents to start fundraising efforts of their own to help women and children in their communities, and Pink Heals allows groups and organizations to use its logo, free of charge.
Graybill believes in the cause so much he sold nearly all his possessions and moved into his mother's guest house after retirement, simply so he could spend most of his time on the road promoting Pink Heals. By 2017, he hopes to have 500 pink fire trucks that will swarm the White House in Washington, D.C. He plans to seek a National Pink Heals holiday each Nov. 1 and will ask politicians to restrict fundraising so the money stays local.
"We're more of a movement than a charity. It can't be about money. It has to be about people," he said. "Everywhere we go, we leave a program with the community. We've created a franchise, and we give it away for free."
West Burlington was the first city in Iowa to host the pink fire trucks when Pink Heals visited last year, and West Burlington Fire Chief Mike Heim was happy to welcome back the brigade.
"Our fire department wanted to bring them here to support the people fighting that ugly disease," Heim said.
The fire trucks were covered with signatures from those who either suffered from cancer or lost family members to the disease, and more signatures are added every day.
Amanda Carruthers of Burlington signed the truck in honor of her grandmother, who survived her bout with breast cancer. Her father and grandfather weren't as fortunate in their battles with cancer, and she was signing the truck for them, too.
"I think it's awesome," she said. "Anything that has to do with breast cancer, I'm there and supportive."
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West Burlington second grade teacher, Sheila Sleister and second grader Sophia Armstrong, 7, get a close look at some to the messages written on the side of a pink fire truck brought by the Pink Heals tour Thursday Aug. 16, 2012 in West Burlington. The fire trucks toured to show support for those who have been affected by cancer, and people were allowed to sign the truck in rememberance or support of a loved one.West Burlington Elementary students get a close look at the pink fire trucks brought by the Pink Heals tour Thursday Aug. 16, 2012 in West Burlington. The fire trucks toured to show support for those who have been affected by cancer.

Brenna Norman/The Hawk Eye

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