Iowa Gov. launches education awareness campaign
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad wants more people in Iowa to know about the benefits of science, technology, engineering and math education.
Branstad on Monday announced a new public information campaign about the study of those topics, collectively known as STEM. The campaign will include billboard advertisements and a public service announcement. Those are set to be released in early 2014.
Branstad says that increased public awareness will help the state as it tries to create more STEM learning opportunities and train more people for jobs related to these topics.
The state will spend $150,000 on the campaign, which is being put on by West Des Moines marketing firm Strategic America. The firm is donating an additional $160,000 in time.
TOWBOAT SINKS-MISSISSIPPI RIVER
Partially sunken towboat raised, ready to be towed
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The U.S. Coast Guard says a partially sunken towboat is ready to be raised from the Mississippi River at LeClaire two weeks after it hit something in the river and took on water.
Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Mariana O'Leary says a big crane is rigged to lift the boat. As it is raised Monday, workers will pump out the remaining water, fuel and oil.
Once workers confirm the boat has no other damage and it's ready to move, it will be towed to a repair facility in Illinois about 300 miles downriver.
A hole measuring about 12-by-30 inches along a seam on the bottom near the rear has been patched so the boat can be towed.
Most of the spilled diesel fuel and oil has been cleaned up.
VAN FIRE-KIDS RESCUED
Iowan saves 7 kids before van erupts into flames
SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (AP) - A northwest Iowa baby sitter has saved seven children from a van that erupted into flames.
The Sioux County Sheriff's Office says the incident occurred about 3:30 p.m. Friday about six miles southwest of Sioux Center.
Thirty-six-year-old Tara Dekkers was driving the 15-passenger van when she heard a sound like a backfire. She soon pulled over the van when it filled with smoke.
Dekkers quickly unloaded the children, who ranged in age from 1 to 7, before the van was engulfed. No injuries were reported.
The Sheriff's Office says a mechanical failure caused the fire.
Iowa family's new home damaged by late night fire
CLIVE, Iowa (AP) - A central Iowa family is picking up the pieces after a late night fire caused extensive damage to a home they had just moved into.
Kari Bassett Engesser and her husband, Danny Engesser, awoke early Sunday to find their new Clive home in flames. They grabbed their 6-month-old son and escaped into the frigid weather.
The Des Moines Register reports the house sustained $150,000 in damage. Officials are still determining the cause of the fire, which the Engessers believe is connected to the fireplace.
The family has since been staying with new neighbors, but insurance will cover a hotel stay. In the meantime, they're using social media to keep others updated on their progress, and donations for clothing and other items are being accepted.
CHOMPEY NEEDS A HOME
Officials seek home for Waterloo alligator
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Animal control officials in Waterloo are seeking a new home for a baby alligator named Chompey.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports Monday that a resident bought the alligator after spotting an online advertisement but later learned Iowa law doesn't allow people to keep alligators or other exotic animals.
The resident turned the gator into animal control officials, who kept the creature in an aquarium while figuring out what to do with it.
Maria Tiller, Waterloo's code enforcement forewoman, says the alligator was "kind of cute, but he was also kind of naughty."
The alligator acquired the name "Chompey" during a short stay at a pet care center before being quarantined in Des Moines while officials seek a permanent home at a sanctuary in a warmer climate.
ICY DIP FOR CHARITY
Clear Lake plunge raises about $21K for charities
CLEAR LAKE, Iowa (AP) - About 550 people have braved the icy water of Clear Lake in northern Iowa for two good causes.
The Mason City Globe Gazette says the Polar Bear Club dip on Sunday raised around $21,000 that will be divided between Toys for Tots and Make-A-Wish.
Lori Schade says that "if it wasn't for the kids I'd just write a check out."
Newcomer John Berding was expecting the experience to be worse, considering the weather. The wind chill Sunday afternoon was around zero.
Berding says "it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The worst part is getting out."
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