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CHRIS ZOELLER The Globe Gazette 

Newman vs. Northwood-Kensett Friday in Mason City.


LISA GROUETTE, The Globe Gazette 

Kites fly over Clear Lake during the Color the Wind Kite Festival at Clear Lake in 2018.


Local
featured
Freezing temperatures may help Clear Lake ice ahead of Color the Wind kite festival (with photos)

CLEAR LAKE - Organizers of the Color the Wind Kite Festival in Clear Lake are praying for freezing temperatures until the festival.  

Festival Organizer Larry Day and the crew will test the ice before Feb. 10 and a decision will be made as to whether the ice is safe enough to allow the festival to be held. 

Photos: Color the Wind 2018

Safe ice thickness at the downtown seawall area is necessary for the festival to go as planned on Feb. 16, Day said.

Day hopes for a long stretch of below freezing temperatures ahead of the festival Feb. 16 and he might get his wish.

According to the National Weather Service, the polar vortex brought North Iowa temperatures down to as low as minus-29 with wind chills as low as minus-60.

The weekend after the vortex brought temperatures as high as 45 degrees for two days, causing snow melt. By Monday, the melted snow froze over as temperatures dropped down to the teens. 

According to the National Weather Service forecast, the temperature will not rise above 20 degrees until Feb. 10. Some snow and ice are expected before the weekend, with temperatures dropping as low as minus-11 Friday into Saturday. 

According to Day, many are asking why the festival couldn’t be moved to a different location on the lake or to “dry ground.”   

“No other location provides the unobstructed space needed to air the number and size kites that make up Color the Wind,” the Day said in a release. “No other location provides ‘drive by’ visibility for the handicapped and elderly or a warming house and rest rooms like those available at the downtown location.”

Photos: Color the Wind kite festival at Clear Lake

In 2018, an estimated 10,000 people attended the event.

CBS “Sunday Morning” filmed the festival as part of a nationally aired segment on the show.  

As a result, Day expects an even larger crowd this year.

The event has been featured in many publications in the past including Disney’s Family Fun Magazine, AAA Living, Senior Lifestyle Advantage, Our Iowa, Iowa Outdoors and others.  

The festival was also the subject of a feature program done by Iowa Public Television.

This year, two stunt kite teams will perform throughout the day at the festival.

Team 180GO performs intricate kite dances choreographed to music with four line kites.

The Fire & Ice Alchemy team flies two line kites in tandem to perform kite ballets choreographed to music.

Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce will provide a free shuttle service on the Chamber Trolley for those parking at Clear Lake High School. The trolley will run from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Organizers encourage those attending the festival to dress appropriately for cold weather by wearing layers, hats, gloves and sunglasses to watch the kites. Footwear should be warm and sensible enough to walk on icy surfaces.

There will be kites for sale and a kite making workshop for kids.

A public reception to welcome the kite pilots will be held at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Clear Lake Arts Center.

Photos: Color the Wind 2018

Photos: Color the Wind 2018

LISA GROUETTE, The Globe Gazette 

Kites fly over Clear Lake during the Color the Wind Kite Festival at Clear Lake in 2018.


Crime-and-courts
Mason City man who was shot by railroad police in November released from hospital after 2 months

MASON CITY | A Mason City man who was shot by a railroad officer Nov. 29 has been released from the hospital two months later, officials say.

Union Pacific Special Agent Louis Miner stopped Nathan Lee Olson, 30, of Mason City, for trespassing across Union Pacific property and an altercation ensued, according to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

Miner shot Olson near a railroad crossing in the 900 block of Ninth Street Northwest. The Ninth Street crossing, which closed in May, is barricaded and has no trespassing signs.

Olson spent more than two months at MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center, formerly Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa. He was released Friday, according to a MercyOne spokeswoman.

Olson was listed in fair condition days before his release. Police haven't released information regarding the extent of his injuries. Miner was evaluated for minor injuries.

Miner is still on paid administrative leave pending the completion of the investigation by Iowa DCI, Union Pacific Railroad Corporate Communications Senior Director Raquel Espinoza said.

No charges have been filed in connection with the shooting, which authorities say remains under investigation. Upon completion, the DCI will forward the results of the investigation to the Cerro Gordo County Attorney’s Office for review.

Iowa DCI did not respond to a request for an update in the investigation as of Tuesday afternoon.

According to Union Pacific’s job description, special agents must have graduated from an accredited police academy and must have three years’ experience in a public law enforcement agency or military police.

They are sworn police officers in their respective states and carry firearms as well as pepper spray, Tasers and batons as they patrol rail properties across the Midwest.

Union Pacific Special Agents, or railroad police, are tasked with investigating crimes against the railroad that include trespassing, theft of railroad property, threats of terrorism and derailments.

They also monitor driver and pedestrian behavior around the tracks, among other duties, and have the power to arrest people and issue citations.

Union Pacific's police department is staffed with more than 175 special agents, who are responsible for all Union Pacific locations across 32,000 miles of track in 23 states.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact the Mason City Police Department at 641-421-3636.

Photos: Shooting in Mason City

 


Iowa
Poll finds support for Iowa gun laws, opposition to constitutional change

DES MOINES | Ninety percent of Iowa gun owners who were surveyed support Iowa’s permitting requirement for carrying concealed handguns in public, and 92 percent of support the state’s background check requirement for all handgun sales, according to a poll released Monday.

“The vast majority of us recognize that our public safety laws are there for good reason,” said Katie Albrecht, volunteer chapter leader with the Iowa chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which is a part of Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund that conducted the poll.

“Lawmakers pushing to gut these common-sense measures are clearly out of step with Iowans from all around our state.”

However, a leading proponent of an amendment to add a right to bear arms to the Iowa Constitution questioned the validity of the poll.

“Without having been on the other end of the line to know the tone and inflection, and the way the questions were posed, just looking at the raw text of it, it’s clear to me some of those questions are what I would consider a push-poll” intended to get the response the sponsor wanted, said Rep. Matt Windschitl, R-Missouri Valley.

Windschitl is leading an effort to amend the Iowa Constitution to add: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”

Everytown found that by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, voters oppose adding the “strict scrutiny” language than support it. After the potential implications of the amendment were explained, 54 percent of Iowa voters indicated opposition to the proposal, compared with 28 percent indicating support.

Only three states — Alabama, Missouri and Louisiana — have adopted “strict scrutiny” language. Everytown contends the language is designed to undermine state and local public safety laws and threaten even the most basic laws intended to keep guns out of the hands of felons and domestic abusers. Adding this extreme language to Iowa’s Constitution could eliminate core state gun laws, including Iowa’s handgun background check law and concealed carry permitting system, the group said.

Windschitl rejected that, pointing to the experience of the states with “strict scrutiny” language in their constitutions.

“They say our language could dismantle current firearm language. We haven’t seen that in other states,” he said. “In other states, they have had court challenges where the current restriction on violent offenders, domestic violence abuser, felons in possession of firearms have all been upheld.”

Rep. Tim Kacena, D-Sioux City, called the “strict scrutiny” language “putting a thumb on the scale of justice.”

It narrowly defines what is in the public interest, he said, adding, “This is what happens when we try to make policy out of ideology.”

The amendment, which must be passed by two consecutive General Assemblies before being placed on the ballot for voter approval, is an attempt at “righting that contract with the people.”

“That’s what the Constitution is — a contract with the people saying this is what your government cannot do,” he said.

For more on the poll, visit https://everytown.org/documents/2019/02/iowa-polling.pdf 

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com