The latest local news

UnityPoint announces it’s scrapping proposed merger

WQAD News -

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – UnityPoint Health, which operates hospitals in Moline, Rock Island, Bettendorf, and Muscatine, is dropping plans to merge with one of the largest operators of hospitals in the country.

In a statement, UnityPoint says "after significant consideration, we will not be moving forward with a formal partnership" with Sanford Health of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

President/CEO Kevin Vermeer also said UnityPoint "will continue to work tirelessly to evaluate any avenue that improves the delivery of health care."

The proposed merger was announced in July with UnityPoint Health's 32 medical centers in Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin combining with Sanford's 44 hospitals and more than 200 Good Samaritan Society senior care locations in 26 states and nine countries.

"The executive management teams and physicians worked diligently for 18 months to provide a merger recommendation to the boards," said Sanford President/CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft in a statement.

"We are disappointed that the UnityPoint Health board failed to embrace the vision.”

"Sanford is an exceptional organization with a bright future ahead," said Vermeer in his statement.   "UnityPoint Health moves forward with strong roots and a fierce commitment to improving the experience of the people we serve.”

Here's the entire statement from UnityPoint Health:

West Des Moines, Iowa (Nov. 12, 2019) – UnityPoint Health today released the following announcement on its potential merger with Sanford Health.

Over the past several months, UnityPoint Health has seriously explored the opportunity to join together with Sanford Health. After significant consideration, we will not be moving forward with a formal partnership.

We have great respect for Sanford Health and the relationships we’ve developed. UnityPoint Health remains strong, focused on delivering exceptional patient care and is competitively positioned for the future.

“I’m tremendously proud of our organization and we will continue to work tirelessly to evaluate any avenue that improves the delivery of health care,” said Kevin Vermeer, president and CEO of UnityPoint Health.

“Sanford is an exceptional organization with a bright future ahead. UnityPoint Health moves forward with strong roots and a fierce commitment to improving the experience of the people we serve.”

Iowa preparing to launch new improved rape kits

WQAD News -

IOWA- The attorney general's office is preparing to launch the "Track Kit," a reporting and tracking system for rape kits.

Officials say police use these kits to collect DNA evidence after a sexual assault.

With the new software, police, survivors, and doctors can get updates on the kits from the initial exam until the case is done.

Police and resource officers say that the new system will help ensure accountability.

The software will also let survivors get their information confidentially, locate their kit and connect with resources and police.

The Track Kit rolls out next July.

Officer accused of killing Oklahoma police chief in Florida

WQAD News -

A small-town Oklahoma policeman was charged with killing his chief after what authorities described as an alcohol-fueled brawl in a Florida Panhandle hotel room.

The two men had been staying at the Hilton on Pensacola Beach over the weekend for a law enforcement conference, said Escambia County Sheriff's spokeswoman Amber Southard.

At some point early Sunday evening, hotel security was called because the two men were being disruptive, Southard said. Later that evening, hotel staff called the sheriff's department because the men were fighting.

"An actual physical altercation," she said.

When deputies arrived, they found Chief Lucky Miller dead, she said, and there was no weapon. She added that alcohol was involved and that an autopsy is underway.

A person who answered the phone at a number associated with Miller declined to comment and asked that The Associated Press not call again.

Michael Patrick Nealey, 49, was arrested Monday morning and charged with killing Miller, according to records.

Miller was the police chief in Mannford, Oklahoma, a small town about 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Tulsa. It has a population of about 3,200.

Nealey was being held without bond at the Escambia County Jail. He's charged with homicide. A lawyer for Nealey wasn't listed on jail records and no additional details were immediately available.

Miller, 44, had been police chief since 2007. He and his wife had three children.

"We are heartbroken by the news," Mayor Tyler Buttram said in the statement. "Please keep both families in your prayers as we work to move forward."

The town administrator has appointed another officer as interim police chief.

The conference was to be held Monday to Wednesday at the hotel, but it's unclear if it is still scheduled. An email to the organization wasn't immediately returned. One of the presenters said his session had been cancelled. A Mannford police officer told The Tulsa World that the pair was in Florida to learn about death scene investigations.

"Mike Nealey was our detective. Lucky was a hands-on guy, so he always wanted to be there to learn things like that," Officer Jerry Ridley said.

Brett Graves, the President of Carterson Public Safety, the company that organized the event, said in a statement that he was saddened by the news.

"We would like to extend our condolences to the families and agency of those involved."

Mayor Buttram said the two men were "the best of friends" and told The Associated Press that he can't fathom what happened in Florida.

"That's what makes everything so hard. We can't even wrap our heads around this," he said. "The city's just stunned. The police department's stunned. Nothing makes sense, nothing adds up."

Former President Carter out of surgery, no complications

WQAD News -

ATLANTA (AP) — Former President Jimmy Carter was recovering Tuesday following surgery to relieve pressure on his brain from bleeding linked to recent falls.

A statement from his spokeswoman said there were no complications from the procedure, performed at Emory University Hospital for a subdural hematoma, blood trapped on the brain's surface.

Carter, 95, will remain in the hospital for observation, said Deanna Congileo, his spokeswoman at the Carter Center.

The statement said the Carters thank everyone for the many well-wishes they have received, and Congileo doesn't anticipate making more announcements until he's released.

It was unclear how long Carter might be hospitalized, said his pastor, the Rev. Tony Lowden.

"If anybody can make it through this Jimmy Carter can. His will to serve is greater than his will to give up," said Lowden.

The Carter Center said the bleeding was related to Carter's recent falls. He used a walker during his most recent public appearance.

The first fall, in the spring, required hip replacement surgery. He hit his head falling again on Oct. 6 and received 14 stitches, but still traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, to help build a Habitat for Humanity home shortly thereafter. And he was briefly hospitalized after fracturing his pelvis on Oct. 21.

Carter's wife of 73 years, Rosalynn Carter, is with him at the hospital, Lowden said. "She won't leave his side," Lowden said.

Large bleeds, usually after major trauma, can be life-threatening. But often, especially in elderly patients, the injury is a slow leak that takes a while to build up until initial symptoms such as headaches and confusion appear, said Dr. Lola B. Chambless, associate professor of neurological surgery at Vanderbilt University.

"It's very typical in this setting to see these develop a few weeks or even a month or so after a fall," said Chambless, who has not treated Carter.

To relieve pressure, surgeons most commonly drill one or two small holes through the skull to drain the leakage site. Larger bleeds causing more severe pressure may require removing a piece of skull.

Carter has been through a series of health problems in recent years.

He received a dire cancer diagnosis in 2015, announcing that melanoma had spread. After partial removal of his liver, treatment for brain lesions, radiation and immunotherapy, he said he was cancer-free.

Despite his increasingly frail health, the nation's oldest-ever ex-president still teaches Sunday school about twice monthly at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains in southwest Georgia.

The church asked for prayers for Carter and his family in a message on its Facebook page. The church has announced that Carter will not be teaching his Sunday school class this week.

Carter candidly discussed his own mortality on Nov. 3, during his most recent appearance at their church. Referring to his cancer diagnosis, Carter said he assumed he'd die quickly after finding out the extent of his illness.

"Obviously I prayed about it. I didn't ask God to let me live, but I just asked God to give me a proper attitude toward death. And I found that I was absolutely and completely at ease with death," he said.

Since then, Carter said he's been "absolutely confident" in the Christian idea of life after death, and hasn't worried about his own death.

Quad City area propane supplier looks for other options after Chicago refinery runs out

WQAD News -

MANLIUS, Illinois – The Federal Crop Report came out Tuesday afternoon which shows more than 33% of the Iowa corn crop and 25% of the Illinois corn crop is still in the fields.

The USDA Crop Report shows most of the Iowa soybean crop is harvested, but only 64% of the corn crop is harvested.  North of the Quad Cities less than 50% of the corn is harvested, which is the worst percentage in the state.

In Illinois 87% of the soybeans are in from the fields and almost 75% of the corn is harvested.  In 2018, more than 90% of both crops were out of the field.

But that’s only part of the problem.  If farmers could get their corn out of the fields it would still need to be dried and on Tuesday a major supplier of much-needed propane (Bp Amoco Refinery in Morris, Illinois) announced it had no more gas to sell.“It’s been harder than we could ever remember,” says Dan Baum, a corn and soybean farmer near Geneseo.

Mitch Doty is co-owner of Manlius Oil Company, which services 4,000 to 5,000 customers in the Quad City area down to Peoria.

“It’s been tight, but it really got tighter today,” Doty says.

He’s starting to feel the walls close in on his company’s propane supply after the Bp Amoco Refinery ran out of gas Tuesday morning.

“We just got told there is no more gas for us to get up there indefinitely,” Doty explains. “We’ve been going up there every day.  Saturday I was there for 22 hours until Sunday morning at 10:30.”

He says he could go to another terminal nearby, but they can’t keep up with the supply either.

“Tampico the terminal 15 minutes away from us gets gas once a week,” Doty remarks.

Doty has drivers make their way across Illinois daily to fill-up semis of propane they distribute to their customers, but waiting in line 16 to 22 hours takes a toll.

“I am mentally shot, and it works on you, it works on you bad,” Doty comments.

“It’s been harder than we could ever remember,” says Dan Baum, a corn and soybean farmer near Geneseo who is also taking a hit. “I am using three times the propane to dry two-thirds of a crop.”

He’s harvesting less but needs more propane than years past because of the wet spring and early snow.

“Our moisture is running 10% higher than they typically would this time of year,” Baum states. He dries his crop with propane he gets from Doty.

“On the way home I’ve been on the phone trying to figure what this means, whether it’s two or three weeks or what,” Doty says. “So far we have not had to allocate anybody, that might change by tomorrow.”

Since News 8 talked with Doty he says a terminal in Cordova he previously did business with ships propane from Alberta, Canada in rail cars. He says that’s his solution for now, but it’s costing him an extra $.50 a gallon or another $4,500 to $5,000 a truckload.

2019 marks the earliest that Snowstar has ever starting making snow

WQAD News -

ANDALUSIA, Illinois-  Snowstar has started making snow for the slopes, but is doing so a little early this year.

The ski hill started making snow on Tuesday, November 19, which is the earliest date in Snowstar history that they've busted out the blowers.

"We are extremely excited that we even have this possibility," said Rod Leatherman, Assistant General Manager. "We know there`s some warm weather coming, but we can make enough of it, leave it in piles. So that it lasts longer and get us into possibly opening next week but stay open. And that`s always the key. Not only to open but to stay open."

Skiers and snowboarders may start hitting the slopes on an upcoming weekend, depending on weather.

Police ID suspect in Popeye’s stabbing death

WQAD News -

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (AP) — A man who had been cutting in a line for chicken sandwiches at a crowded Popeyes restaurant in Maryland was stabbed to death by another customer who confronted him, police said Tuesday.

Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski appealed for the public's help in identifying the man who fatally stabbed 28-year-old Kevin Tyrell Davis once after their argument spilled outside the Oxon Hill restaurant Monday evening.

Stawinski, who called it a "pointless crime," said only 15 seconds elapsed from when the altercation started to when it ended with the stabbing. Davis had been "methodically" cutting his way through the line for sandwiches for 15 minutes before the suspect confronted him at the front counter, the chief said.

"The question my detectives have to answer is, 'How does a confrontation lead to a homicide in 15 seconds?'" Stawinski told reporters outside a police station in Upper Marlboro. "The family of the individual who was killed is looking for closure. The families and children who were in this restaurant are looking for closure."

Popeyes resumed selling its chicken sandwich on Sunday. It was first released in August, and the chain credited popular demand to its supply selling out that month. Marketing around the sandwich has built a frenzy that's causing long lines and waits at the chain's restaurants. Stawinski said dozens of people were at the restaurant at the time.

A statement from Popeyes said the fast food chain and its Oxon Hill franchisee are cooperating with authorities and "actively working to gather more information."

"What happened in Maryland last night is a tragedy and we are saddened to hear about this senseless act of violence. Our thoughts are with the victim's family and friends," the statement says.

Police released surveillance camera images of the suspect and a woman who apparently was with him inside the restaurant and fled with him in a car after the stabbing. Investigators want to speak with that woman.

"We think she has some pretty vital information to the investigation," said police department spokeswoman Jennifer Donelan.

Stawinski said there is no evidence that the suspect and victim knew each other.

Police found a knife in Davis' possession after the stabbing, but investigators don't believe he brandished it during the confrontation, according to Donelan.

Davis, of Oxon Hill, died at a hospital. He had been stabbed once in the upper body, the police spokeswoman said.

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