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Forecasters: White Christmas possible in North Iowa

MASON CITY | Temperatures will drop and snow will fall by the end of the week in North Iowa, forecasters say. 

Chances for snow begin Wednesday night with a 20 percent chance of precipitation and a low around 27 degrees.

“There looks to be a few chances of light snow between now and Christmas, with Thursday night bringing the best chance at the moment,” State Climatologist Harry Hillaker said Monday. “It will be much colder starting Thursday night, thus any snow that does fall will not be melting anytime soon.”

On Thursday, changes for snow jump up to 80 percent with temperatures ranging from 36 to 25 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Snow is expected before 1 p.m. and may turn to a wintry mix before turning back to snow in the evening.

The snow will slow down Friday morning before temperatures drop to the low teens for most of the weekend.

Accumulation predictions are not yet available.

Hillaker said December has been dry for North Iowa, with little to no accumulation thus far.

“The last 'measurable' snow, 0.1 inch or more, was 0.2 inches on Dec. 4,” Hillaker said. “There was also a brief 0.2 inch accumulation back on Oct. 27.”

Iowa hasn’t seen much snow so far with higher than normal temperatures and exceptionally dry weather since mid-October. Statewide accumulations of an inch or more of snow have been limited to the northwest and far northeast corners of the state, Hillaker said.

“There simply has been very little moisture available for snow or rain,” Hillaker said.

The 30-year average snowfall amount at Mason City through Dec. 18 is 9.8 inches but only 0.4 inches have fallen so far, Hillaker said.

In 2016, the first accumulating snow fell on Dec. 4, but snow fell frequently during the middle of the month, with 11.3 inches total by Dec. 18.

“The slowest start to the snow season came back in the winter of 2001-2002,” Hillaker said. “Only 0.2 inches fell through Jan. 13, 2002.”

Though this winter has been dry, there is a chance for a “white Christmas” this year. A “white Christmas” is loosely defined as having an inch or more snow on the ground on Christmas, Hillaker said.

“Historically, Mason City has recorded a white Christmas 63 percent of the time,” Hillaker said.    

Recent trends show promise as 11 of the past 14 years have brought a white Christmas.

Last year, 9 inches of snow covered the ground on Christmas morning it rained for much of Christmas Day.   

The snowiest white Christmas in recent years occurred in 2010, Hillaker said, with 18 inches of snow. 

“Only a trace of that total fell on Christmas Day that year, but 8.7 inches fell on Christmas Eve," Hillaker said. 

Arian Schuessler / ARIAN SCHUESSLER, The Globe Gazette 

Larry Whaley enters a Cerro Gordo County District courtroom with State Public Defender Michael Adams on Thursday, Nov. 16.

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Jury selected in Mason City man's homicide trial

MASON CITY | An all-white jury of five men and nine women was selected Monday from a pool of 28 people to preside over a second-degree murder trial in Mason City.

Larry Whaley, 61, is accused of fatally shooting Samantha Teeter, 19, through his apartment door in Mason City last December. 

Whaley, who is black, has written a number of letters to Cerro Gordo County District Court Judge Christopher Foy, alleging his rights have been violated and that he is being discriminated against because of his race, among other issues. 

“Don’t black lives matter in this county,” Whaley wrote on Aug. 6.

He also told the judge he fired into the door because he believed two people he knew were breaking into his apartment. 

Douglas Hammerand, one of the state's assistant attorney generals, spent over an hour Monday afternoon questioning potential jurors about topics ranging from whether they knew Mason City officers who investigated the shooting, to being able to realize that CSI — a popular TV series — is not a reflection of how actual court cases work.

After Hammerand finished, Jill Eimermann, an assistant state public defender, spent less than an hour questioning the same pool of 28 potential jurors.

Her line of questioning asked whether they believed Whaley had to testify, and what they believed "presumption of innocence" meant, among other topics.

Hammerand and Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen are prosecuting the case. Whaley's attorneys are Eimermann and Mike Adams, who are court-appointed attorneys. 

Throughout the process, some potential jurors helped pass the time with colorful answers to the attorneys' questions. One example was when Hammerand asked if any of the 28 jurors knew each other.

One man did, as a relative was sitting right next to him. Both were picked as part of the final 14 people to preside over the trial.

"We're co-workers, related, beer-drinking partners," the man said, which was received by laughter throughout the crowded courtroom.

After both Hammerand and Eimermann had finished questioning, they took about 10 minutes to select the final jury, which occurred about 5 p.m.

The trial is scheduled to continue tomorrow at 9 a.m., and expected to last at least through this week.

Manly couple seeks Christmas cheer from fund (with Dec. 18 donations)

A Manly couple is hoping the Christmas Cheer Fund can boost their spirits over the holidays.

This year has been “a little sad” for the couple, a 71-year-old woman and a 72-year-old man, because of medical procedures and unexpected expenses, according to their application.

The woman said her husband had two heart surgeries this year, and now, the couple’s truck needs a new heater core and tires, which they can’t afford.

“A little Christmas cheer would help,” she wrote in the application, noting they are low-income.

If awarded Christmas Cheer Fund assistance, the woman said they’d use it for food.

Since the Cheer Fund began in 1927, more than $3 million has been raised.

This year’s goal is $125,000.

The Christmas Cheer Fund was established by Globe Gazette Publisher Lee Loomis in 1927 so every child could have a present on Christmas morning. In the years since it has come to mean a little help at Christmastime to people of all ages.

Donations may be dropped off or mailed to the Globe Gazette office, 300 N. Washington Ave., Mason City, IA 50402-0271.

Any remaining funds not distributed for the holidays will be given to local nonprofits. The Christmas Cheer Fund balance will return to $100 in January to maintain the checking account.

Those in need can apply for help from the Cheer Fund at the Globe Gazette between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays. Applicants must use the 2017 request form. Applications will close at noon Thursday, Dec. 21.

Cheer Fund donations: Monday, Dec. 18

MONDAY'S TOTAL: $8,624.84

TO-DATE TOTAL: $76,327.26

TO REACH GOAL: $48,672.74

Bob and Steve, in memory of John and Kay Strom, $100

Kramer Hardware Inc., $100

For the love and meaning of the Christmas story to be remembered all year long, $50

Jim and Teresa Geitzenauer, in memory of Lorenz, Rosella and Kay Geitzenauer and Robert and Florence Lynch, $100

Trinity Altar Guild, $50

Bud King, in memory of Kay, $50

Knights of Columbus St. Patricks Council No 7898 – remember to keep Christ in Christmas, $200

In memory of my grandparents Lila and Joe Halfman, $50

In memory of my grandparents Laura and Emil Bentten, $50

Holly Sagar, in memory of Bob and Lynne Wisman, $100

Fred and Paula Petersburg, in memory of Guy and Helen Roark, $100

Carolyn, in memory of loved ones, $50

Anonymous, $75

Gene Schinnow, $25

Donald and Sharon Kruckenberg, $30

In loving memory of Ray Cooper, $500

Clarice Bartz, in memory of my parents and brother, $200

Gene and Dorothy Evans Clear Lake, $100

Sharon Raymond, in memory of Dan Raymond, $100

R & D, $100

Ronald and Donna Grein, $25

St. Joseph Mercy School of Nursing Alumnae Association, $50

Larry and Sharon Hicok, in memory of our parents, $25

Jan, in memory of St Patricks in Dougherty, $13

John and Cheryl Fiorini, $25

Marylu Barnekow, in memory of Myron Barnekow and Harper Atherton, $25

Richard and Julie Salvesen, $250

Charles Stephenson, $50

Anna Cradduck, in memory of my daughter Mindy Cradduck, $25

Sharon and Robert Marsh, in memory of our parents and loved ones, $100

J. Hart, $50

Wayne and Joan Ashland, $50

Anonymous, $20

Mary Everhart, in memory of loved ones, $50

Don and Donna Anderson, in memory of family members and friends, $50

Steven and Carolyn Shoger, in memory of family and friends, $25

In memory of Mitchel Hartwig, Harm and Ruth Suntken and Tom and Irene Hartwig, $250

Dr. Dan Waters and Cardiac Surgery Staff, $500

Mark Frohling, in memory of my father Merle Frohling, $20

Mark Frohling, in memory of my aunt Doris Flores, $20

Arnold and Madelyn Duitscher, $25

Velma Brannon and family, in memory of Emmett Brannon and Thomas Brannon, $100

Marjorie Enabnit, in loving memory of Duane Enabnit, $30

Gary and Linda Schotanus, $25

Alice Nielsen, in loving memory of my husband Floyd and daughter Nany Whaley. Happy Holidays, $50

Anonymous, in memory of Terry Joe Knutson – we love you, $25

Hobbie and Brenda, in memory of loved ones, $25

Paul and Marsha Gordon, $100

Lori Blue and Mike Sjoberg – Merry Christmas, $100

Jim and Jane Ollenburg, $100

William and Denise Martin, in memory of loved ones, $40

Connie Rosenberg, in memory of Harper Grace Putz and in honor of Olivia, Madelynn, Leighton and Nolan, $25

Robert Huntington, $25

Dola Shannon, in memory of Jack Shannon and my parents Carsten and Addie Bahnsen, $25

Thursday Bridge Group, in memory of Vernell Alexandres and Linda Sauer, $45

PEO Chapter OT, $100

Brian Sturges, in memory of Dad and Dave, $50

Angeline Mayer, in memory of niece Keri Hohl, $15

Gary and Vicki Wattnem, in honor of our soldiers, $75

Dave and Sue Kingland, in memory of Clarence Deardeuff and in honor of Mavis Deardeuff, $100

Terry Allen, $20

Colleen Dutcher and family, in loving memory of Bob Dutcher, $50

Russ, Cindy and Miles – Merry Christmas, $250

Deloras Frohling, in memory of my parents Lloyd and Hattie Stevens and my sisters Dorothy, Donna and Doris, $20

Deloras Frohling, in memory of my late husband’s parents Herman and Annie Frohling and his brothers Donald, Dale and Byrone and his sisters Lola, Gladys and Loretta, $20

Callum James Frayne and Maeve Evelynn Frayne, $50

Lorretta Kreider, $50

Lon and Kendra, $100

Dave Evans Memorial Fund and all the generous bowlers in North Iowa in memory of Dave Evans, $1,000

Their 4 boys, in memory of Roy and Lois Severson, $25

Bette Hejlik, in loving memory of my husband Arnold, $100

Marlene Brown, in memory of Terry Brown, $50

Lincoln Intermediate Staff, in memory of Shaun Cesar, $242

Love from Pat, Steven and Linda Thompson, in loving memory of Charles, Mildred and Charles Steven Thompson, $25

William and Pat Bjerke, in loving memory of Matthew and Robert Murphy, $50

Larry and Barbara Soland, $25

Dixie and Howard Christopherson, in memory of our parents, $100

Wishing joy and peace this holiday season and New Year to my friends, family, neighbors and strangers for their kindness shown to me at the time of my fire, $100

Audrey and Terry Peterson, in loving memory of Nancy Whaley, $100

Craig and Carol Mennenga, $50

Don and Flo, in honor of the veterans, family, friends and lost members of family, $100

St. Paul Lutheran Church, $50

Dean and Gloria Heimdal, in memory of loved ones, $25

Deb Groath and Troyce Fisher, in memory of Duey Groath and Delbert and Hilda Lindaman, $100

Dick and Jan Wells, in loving memory of Aunt Ev (Evelyn Downing) and other family members, $25

Richard and Susan Johnson, $25

In memory of John Axelsen, Jack Bonner and Lonnie Bosch, $20

Gordy Wiemann, in memory of Leonard, Lyda, Judy and Heidi Wiemann, $30

Richard and Janice Noss, $50

Tony and Mary Servantez, in loving memory of our parents and Mae Fern, Fred and George, $40

Dennis and Jane Behr, in loving memory of Beverly and Jack Bonner and Mary, LeRoy, Chuck and Lindsay Jane Behr, $25

Kay Haugen, in memory of Bob Haugen and Marie Marsh, $25

Dale and Ilene Timmerman, $50

Michael and Paula Halverson, $100

Albert and Doris Ralph, in memory of loved ones, $20

Elmer and Marolyn Brodersen, $50

Marlene Steenblock, in memory of my parents and brothers, $25

Vince and Mavis, $20

Carol Schulz, $25

Anonymous, $100

James and Marcia Latham, $50

Wade and Bobbi Bendickson, $50

Gi Gi, Merry Christmas in memory and honor of my loved ones near and far, $60

Anonymous, $50

Dee Miles, in memory of my deceased loved ones, $25

Linda, Tom and Marnie, in memory of David, $100

Lois Olson, in memory of loved ones, $50

Anonymous, $20

Herminia Flores, in loving memory of my husband Albert, my sons Steve and Louie and daughter-in-law Marci, $50

Jayzek Charlson – fifth-grader at Lincoln, $4.84

Iowa Capitol home to nativity, Bill of Rights holiday displays

DES MOINES — Visitors Monday to the Iowa Capitol had two new exhibits to view along with the usual array of murals, statues and displays — a Nativity scene with the baby Jesus and a separate depiction of the Bill of Rights featuring some of the Founding Fathers and the Statue of Liberty.

For the second straight year, the Thomas More Society — a national not-for-profit law firm — and the American Nativity Scene organization installed a privately funded manger scene in the Capitol rotunda to promote a “Christ-centered” holiday observance, said Martin Cannon, a society attorney.

ROD BOSHART, Globe Gazette Des Moines Bureau 

The Freedom from Religion Foundation has installed a Bill of Rights "nativity" in the Iowa Capitol building rotunda depicting Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and the Statue of Liberty honoring the document placed in a manger with a sign stating: “there can be no religious freedom without the freedom to dissent. Keep religion and government separate.” The display denotes it is “not owned, maintained, promoted, supported by or associated with the state of Iowa” to those viewing it. 

And, directly across the rotunda, the Freedom From Religion Foundation installed a Bill of Rights display, depicting Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and the Statue of Liberty honoring the document placed in a manger with a sign stating: “there can be no religious freedom without the freedom to dissent. Keep religion and government separate.”

The display notes it is “not owned, maintained, promoted, supported by or associated with the state of Iowa.”

“People are a little befuddled at first because it’s a little unusual and it shouldn’t be unusual,” Cannon said of the religious display in the rotunda. “The questions that arise about the propriety of such a thing in the public space are easily resolved and very well settled. It’s really not a difficult issue.

“We hope that this just becomes an annual celebration of Christmas and not an annual argument over the propriety of having it here,” he added.

Both groups were required to sign a contract with the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, spelling out how each display will be handled, said Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa, R-Council Bluffs, who was on hand at a ceremony marking the arrival of the traditional Christian crèche that will be on display until Dec. 26.

Groups putting up holiday displays also must purchase an insurance policy to protect the state from expenses, such as if someone trips over the objects, she added.

Hanusa and Gov. Kim Reynolds, who also attended the nativity ceremony, noted that the Capitol is open to all faiths and traditions that wish to convey their beliefs, and the two displays make that point.

“We are excited to share our Christmas message with the public, as the Constitution allows us to do,” said Cannon. “More than just an opportunity to share our faith, it is a chance to invite everyone to seek peace on earth and goodwill to all.”