Fallen West Des Moines Policeman Honored Through Education Scholarship


WEST DES MOINES, Iowa --  Former West Des Moines officer Shawn Miller policed with a simple motto.  His brother Blayne Miller recalled, "The means of a man's character is what he does when he thinks no one is looking."

With Shawn's sudden end of watch after an on-duty motorcycle crash in August of 2016, It's his brother Blayne that's taken up that mentality.  "He was my first best friend and a guy you look to and bounce stuff off."

While there's no bringing Shawn back, Blayne began looking for a way to encourage future officers to have Shawn's values.  He began raising money for a Shawn Miller college scholarship.  "It's open to any Iowa native who is going into a criminal justice program," said Blayne.

The first scholarship of $600  was awarded to second year DMACC criminal justice student Jonathan Bieker Friday at the West Des Moines Police Department.  "Words cannot express how awesome.  Just the generosity of the Miller family, what they are doing by paving a way for me and helping out."  Blayne sees a lot in Jonathan but he`s not alone, he said, "I see a good cop.  In fact, West Des Moines tried to recruit him today."

Learning more about Shawn Miller has already helped Jonathan learn what it takes to be an upstanding officer.  "I never knew him personally but I could tell from reading what others knew about him that he was known by the fruits of his labor," said Jonathan.

The scholarship, planting seeds that may grow out of Shawn's memory.  "Sean can send an example that you can still be a cop and do the right thing and bring good to the world," said Blayne.

Blayne says another scholarship will be awarded in the spring.  He is looking to raise more money each year and hopes it can grow into a non-profit organization.

Honor Flight Organizers Looking for Community Help to Enhance Event for Veterans

IOWA  —  The next Central Iowa Honor Flight leaves from Des Moines in ten days, and organizers want the community’s help with the sendoff.

On September 12th, approximately 250 Iowa veterans will travel to Washington D.C. to tour the national war memorials. Before leaving for Washington, they’ll be the guests of honor at a sendoff ceremony at Vets Auditorium in downtown Des Moines.

Honor Flight organizers would like to line a parade route from the Airport Holiday Inn to the sendoff with as much red, white, and blue as possible. The route will stretch along Fleur, to MLK Pkway, to 7th, and then to Vets. Flag wavers are requested to line the route from 4:30 to 6 p.m. on Monday the 12th.

Corn Maze Raises Awareness for Childhood Cancer

BONDURANT, Iowa  --  Fun fall family traditions are underway, and that includes a trip to the corn maze. One central Iowa maze provides more than just entertainment this year--it’s also spreading an important message.

The theme at Geisler Farms' corn maze in Bondurant is Childhood Cancer Awareness, in memory of Landon Friedrickson who visited the maze every year of his short life.

Suzanne Friedrickson, Landon's mother, said, "All the pictures in the orange hat are from him six months before he passed away."

Landon died in April 2016, four years after being diagnosed with stage four high-risk neuroblastoma cancer when he was four years old.

"Not a lot of people, I think, still realize that kids can get cancer, too. We didn't realize it until our son got diagnosed in 2012," said Friedrickson.

That's why she convinced her Bondurant neighbors to make their 2017 corn maze theme in honor of childhood cancer awareness.

Malinda Geisler said, "We have this enormous ribbon in the cornfield this year. It measures 646 feet from the very tip to the peak of the ribbon. The letters are 50 feet long by 24 feet wide."

The corn maze has 20 spots throughout for people to find each location and punch a hole on the map, all while having fun and spreading the message.

"We just want to spread the word that kids get cancer, too, and if people can donate to an organization that helps fight cancer or do the research or support families," said Friedrickson.

The maze is in memory of Landon and all the kids still fighting.

"When your child has cancer, your worst fear is that they're going to die. And then when your child does die, your worst fear is your child is going to be forgotten. And so when someone like this offers to do something, not just for your child, but all children, it's the best feeling in the world," Friedrickson said.

Geisler Farms is open on weekends during September and October. Corn maze admission is $8 per person and the fun zone is $5 per person. It’s located at 5251 NE 94th Avenue.

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Statewide Permit to Carry Numbers Rising

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Statewide permit to carry license numbers are on the rise, and many Iowans are wondering why.

Mike Sporer owns JLM Shooters Supply in Urbandale, and said over the years he’s been seeing more and more new faces.

“Yeah, probably, almost every day we see someone get started in this," Sporer said, about customers buying firearms.

The products were made more accessible in 2011, when Iowa became a "shall issue," requiring a mandatory five-year renewal on nonprofessional permits to carry.

Numbers from the Iowa Department of Public Safety show the spike will happen every five years. When the law changed, nonprofessional permit to carry numbers spiked to more than 100,000, and again in 2016 to 108,000. This is nearly 70,000 more nonprofessional permits than in 2015.

“Decades from now, those fluctuations might be more muted, but for the foreseeable future we anticipate to continue to see that sharp every five years, then that drop off like we are now experiencing in 2017," said Ross Loder of the Iowa Department of Public Safety.

The even flow in permit to carry numbers, deputies in Dallas County say, go unnoticed.

“We haven’t really seen a change. We haven’t seen an uptick in crime, we have not had an uptick in gun-related arrests," Dallas County Chief Deputy Adam Infante said.

The five-year spike in state issued nonprofessional permits to carry is a trend that's expected to stick around for years to come.

Deputies say most felonies disqualify people from obtaining a permit to carry. Click here for more regulations.

AHeinz57 Pet Rescue Bringing Texas Animals to Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  A central Iowa pet rescue is helping to ease overcrowding at shelters in Texas.

AHeinz57 Pet Rescue & Transport brought 96 dogs and six cats back to Iowa. Most of the dogs are going to foster homes, and the shelter asks people to keep an eye on their Facebook page and website to see when the pups will be available for adoption.

These are pets that were already in shelters waiting for adoption, not pets rescued from flooded homes.

As President Mulls DACA, Iowans Call on Senator Ernst for Support

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  A handful of eyes were glued to the TV in Senator Joni Ernst’s downtown office, listening as President Trump announced he would make a decision on the future of DACA either late Friday or over the weekend.

Several Iowans held a sit-in at the senator’s office, demanding a showing of support for DACA by Senator Ernst.

DACA is an Obama-era policy commonly known as the Dream Act.  It allows children of illegal immigrants to stay in the country if they came to the U.S. before the age of 16, are in school or employed, and do not have a criminal record.

“These young people have had an opportunity to go to school, to have full time jobs, to be able to do the things that every American has an opportunity to do. To have this reversed is to say to them that they are not wanted here, they’re not allowed to be here,” said Joe Henry, Vice President of the League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa.

The group is asking Senator Ernst follow in the footsteps of another Iowa Republican.

“I mean one of the people I think of a lot is the Republican governor Robert Ray, who opened the doors when the people of southeast Asia needed a place to go,” said protester Kathleen McQuillen

McQuillen says she has serious concerns should DCA be phased out.

“They’ve come, they’ve established themselves, they’re living among us as our neighbors, as our friends, as our coworkers, and it’s absolutely terrifying to think that they will be picked up and sent back to this home they don’t know,” she said.

At the time of publication, Senator Ernst has not issued a response to the group.

Iowa National Guard Soldiers Deploying to Texas for Hurricane Harvey Response

DAVENPORT, Iowa – The Iowa National Guard is sending soldiers and equipment to help with the recovery after Hurricane Harvey ravaged Texas.

Two Chinook helicopters and 11 soldiers are deploying Friday from Davenport. The team includes seven soldiers from Company B, 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion out of Davenport, one soldier from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division out of Boone; one soldier from Detachment 1, Company D, 2-211th General Aviation Support Battalion out of Davenport, one soldier from Company C, 2-147th Aviation in Boone, and one soldier from the 671st Troop Command out of Johnston.

The Iowa National Guard personnel will help move supplies, equipment, and people in support of operations.

The state of Texas requested the support from Iowa under EMAC, an agreement to help each other in times of crisis. Fifty states, two territories, and the District of Columbia are part of EMAC.

Hurricane Harvey Impacting Iowa Gas Prices, Agriculture

ANKENY, Iowa -- Hurricane Harvey has caused unprecedented destruction in the city of Houston and surrounding areas.  That has led industries like the Iowa soybean industry to see effects, albeit not nearly as severe.

“Hurricane Harvey hasn't adversely affected the ports of New Orleans, the ports of South Louisiana, but what we've been very attentive to is as the storm has made landfall and is proceeding through the interior parts of the country it is dumping rain on a lot of these areas where a lot of soybean barges are unloaded and then loaded into ocean vessels so its delayed that” said Executive Director of the Iowa Soy Transportation Coalition Mike Steenhoek.

Currently delays aren't a major issue, but it's something the industry is keeping an eye on.

“We're just hopeful that we'll be back up and running at full speed in the foreseeable future and that's very important to be in that position prior to harvest which really starts gaining steam in the united states in September, October, November” said Steenhoek.

Meanwhile a more immediate issue for Iowans is gas prices.

“The average today is $2.40, the average a week ago was $2.30 so as a result we've seen a dime increase this past week due to Harvey. We may see another dime or so over the span of the next week” said Gail Weinholzer of AAA.

Unlike Hurricane Katrina the energy industry's infrastructure was left undamaged.

“At this point it does not appear as though any of those facilities have been structurally damaged. A lot of those closures are due to safety precautions and those types of things” said Weinholzer.

AAA expects prices to come back down by the end of September at the latest.

Hurricane Hits Texas Agriculture

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas agriculture hard last week, cotton harvest was underway with bales called modules sitting in the field. The South Texas Cotton and Grain Association are estimating damages as high as $150 million.

That cost could go higher as the flood waters recede, one concern is fuel contamination or damage.

Texas Ag Commissioner Sid Miller says most of the corn was harvested before the storm, but farmers are going to take heavy losses.

He says, "Most of the corn was in the bins. Most of the rice, about 75 percent of the rice was harvested, but it's in the bins. We do have some bins that were damaged. We do have some cotton gins that were destroyed and some were damaged, so it's going to be a long time before we finish up. Think about it, it was a bumper crop, good crop, they had some money made in the crop, but until it gets ginned you don't get payed for it."

Miller says anyone who wants to help out farmers can go to the Texas Ag Department website. They have also set up a hay hotline to help get livestock producers hay, that number is 512-463-9360.

The USDA also announced they are ready to help.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue tweeted, "Scenes from Harvey's fury. Texas hit hard, including ag community. These are strong folk, but USDA ready to help."

He posted a link to more information on the USDA website:

Iowa Animal Rescuers Ready to Begin Search for Pets in Hurricane

Texas Gulf Coast  --   A team of workers from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa are on the ground in Texas waiting to hit the water and search for stranded animals.

The Iowa team left for the Gulf Coast early Wednesday morning and arrived early Thursday after driving nonstop.  Josh Colvin joined Channel 13 News live at 5:00 o'clock on Thursday to talk about what he's seen so far and what he expects to find when they hit the water.