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Here’s a retailer opening brick-and-mortar stores

WQAD News -

(CNN Money) — Everyone has heard about the flood of store closings in recent years. Tuesday there was some news about store openings.

Gap Inc. updated expansion plans for its Old Navy brand, announcing it will to open 60 stores this year. It is also remodeling about 150 other Old Navy stores.

That comes even as it moves ahead with plans announced last year to close underperforming Gap and Banana Republic stores.

“Investing in Old Navy’s retail presence is central to our continued growth,” said Sonia Syngal, CEO of Old Navy.

Despite shoppers’ increasing preference to buy items online, the overwhelming majority of purchases are still made in traditional brick-and-mortar stores, according to government and industry sales figures.

Retailers can fail for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with the customer traffic at a specific property, such as excessive debt load or lack of funds for competitive marketing. Thus when a retailer closes a store, very often it can free up space that can be attractive to another retailer.

Related: 2017 set a record for store closings

Last year, the number of store closings more than tripled to a record 7,000, according to Coresight Research, which tracks closing and opening announcements. But the number of store openings also increased 50%, to 3,400, or about half the number of stores that closed, according to Coresight, which used to go by the name Fung Global Retail & Technology.

That trend of both store closings and openings, with closings still more common, is evident at Gap Inc., which last year opened 118 company-owned stores worldwide, while closing 153. In September, Gap announced plans to close 200 Gap and Banana Republic stores over the next three years while at the same time adding 270 Old Navy and Athleta stores. Tuesday’s statement about the Old Navy store openings for 2018 was an update to those plans.

Related: Local toy stores are thriving as Toys ‘R’ Us is dying

The segment of retail with the greatest growth is the low-priced dollar stores, with Dollar General and Dollar Tree leading the way with nearly 2,000 new US stores between them last year.

But it wasn’t just dollar retailers adding stores. TJX, which operates TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods, among other brands, added about 260 stores last year and plans to add almost as many this year, according to company filings. Longer term it expects to add another 1,800 stores in coming years.

Tracking one shower chance this week.. Even that chance is small

WQAD News -

Another fabulous spring day it turned out to be as temperatures have once again returned in the 70s!  By tonight. we’ll start seeing a few more clouds as a cool by fairly dry front slides on through.  No worse than an isolated sprinkle or two, otherwise we’ll stay dry with overnight lows dropping around the mid 40s.

Passage of the front will lead to bright skies but much cooler temperatures for your Wednesday.  By afternoon, highs will reach between 60 to 65 degrees.

Warmer 60s on Thursday will be cooler on Friday with highs approaching 60 degrees.  That transition is part of another boundary that may have a passing light shower Thursday night.

Afterwards, temperatures will surge again, with lower 70s on Sunday replaced with lower 80s to start the new week.  Next shower chance may not occur until later next week!

Chief meteorologist James Zahara

Download the News 8 Weather App — for iOS, click here and for Android, click here

Download the free News 8 App — for iOS, click here and for Android, click here

Teacher who showed up drunk loses license for 2 years

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MAQUOKETA, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a teacher who showed up drunk at his eastern Iowa classroom has lost his teaching license for two years.

The Dubuque Telegraph Herald reports that Brendon Good signed an agreement last month with the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners. Good received a formal reprimand and must complete at least 15 hours of an ethics course in addition to losing his license.

Good was an industrial tech teacher for the Maquoketa Community School District. An investigation determined that, on Oct. 10, Good was under the influence of alcohol at Maquoketa High School.

Maquoketa Superintendent Chris Hoover said Monday that Good was sent home that day. Hoover says Good resigned after the incident.

Iowa’s Democratic farmers not counting on Trump to protect them in the trade war

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With fears increasing over how President Donald Trump’s trade policy will impact them, many rural Iowa farmers are voicing their anger over his lack of solutions and coming up with their own.

Following Gov. Kim Reynolds meeting with Trump to push for protections against tariff retaliations in early April, rural Iowa Democrats convened on a call to demand concrete and thorough solutions for farmers and the agriculture-based economy.

Chris Petersen, a hog farmer and Vice Chair of the Democart’s Rural Caucus, said that GOP leaders need to “quit listening to agribusiness and monopolies—who are taking control of profits—and listen to actual farmers.”

Petersen, who is from Clear Lake, emphasized that he is “proud to be a farmer, [and] proud to be from rural Iowa.”

He spoke for his associates when demanding that Trump specify concrete solutions to the impending trade war he has been beckoning.

“How is he going to make it up to farmers?” asked Petersen. “He needs to be pressured to say how.”

Troy Price, the chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, is from Durant. He joined Petersen in pinning blame on Gov. Reynolds and GOP leaders for not doing enough to stand up to Trump on behalf of farmers and the state’s agriculture economy.

Price said that he would have preferred to see Reynolds protesting what’s happening to rural communities outside the White House instead of praising Trump for his actions from inside.

“This shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Price said. “We should all be speaking with one voice as Iowans about the impact on our state economy. Unfortunately, we are only seeing tepid, empty rhetoric from the GOP.”

Price made sure to emphasize that the point of contention wasn’t limited solely to the issue of tariffs.

“We’ve seen an economic development strategy out of Gov. Reynolds’ office that prioritizes large, out-of-state corporations, leaving small business owners like my parents behind.”

Coming from a small town like Durant, Price spoke firsthand of the struggles he has seen his community face under Republican leadership over the last several years.

“Rural communities have been hurting for years. We’ve seen cuts to our schools, which are like community centers in small towns,” he said. “We’ve seen the privatizing of Medicaid, putting healthcare at risk for hundreds of thousands of Iowans and having a severe adverse effect on rural hospitals and clinics across Iowa.”

Bryce Smith, a small business owner from Dallas County, said his income is directly impacted by the amount of money that farmers have left to spend.

Smith cited Trump’s neglect of Iowa’s renewable fuels and biofuels industries to back up his opinion that the “administration takes for granted Americans who supported [him]…thinking that it would positively impact their lives. The EPA changed everything, leaving farmers and the fuel industry behind. It’s disrespect for rural Iowans who make a living off agriculture.”

Worst of all, Smith said, is that the trade war could be prevented. “Instead, they hope it will be swept under the rug and that everyone will forget by fall elections. Well, we won’t.”

Smith made it clear that farmers and small businesses would stand up for themselves and outline solutions to protect and revive the rural economy where he sees Trump and Reynolds failing to do so.

“I think one of the main reasons that farmers are concerned over the trade is that no one is really sure that there is a plan. No one is really sure what is going to be gained in the end,” said Tim Gannon, the Democratic candidate for Secretary of Agriculture.

Gannon pointed out that Trump had pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) shortly after being elected, but recently reconsidered it in early April, followed almost immediately by a return to attacking it as a bad deal for the U.S.

Trump’s stance on NAFTA is even more uncertain for the agriculture economy.

“Mexico—our largest partner for corn and pork exports—has started looking elsewhere. Once you lose that market share, you don’t know if you’ll get it back,” said Gannon.

“I think we’ve seen that the administration is pretty good at breaking things -- it’s yet to be determined whether they’re able to put things back together in a way that is beneficial for everyone.”

Gannon posited a few solutions if prices go low and stay low through harvest, meaning many farmers will end up with indemnity payments on their policies:

“I think what’s going to be important is how we develop new markets for us to sell our products, and one of the tools the USDA is a commodity credit corporation,” said Gannon. “We need to do more research to create a value-added agriculture industry, the way we helped create the biofuel industry.”

“We need to invest in Iowa State University rather than implement mid-year cuts,” said Gannon. “We need to create jobs and industries to put more money in farmers pockets.”

13 semis join forces to help save suicidal man on Detroit freeway

WQAD News -

OAK PARK, Mich. – A line of truckers along with the Michigan State Police helped a man who was considering suicide on a highway overpass.

Police received a call about a man on a bridge over I-696 early Tuesday morning around 1 a.m., according to WJBK,

This photo does show the work troopers and local officers do to serve the public. But also in that photo is a man struggling with the decision to take his own life. Please remember help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

— MSP Metro Detroit (@mspmetrodet) April 24, 2018

Michigan State Police troopers blocked all lanes of traffic, then waved through several semi-truck drivers and asked them to park under the overpass on both the westbound and eastbound sides of the interstate.

In total, 13 semi trucks parked under the overpass to shorten the distance the man would fall if he jumped, WJBK reports.

Negotiators spoke with the man for several hours, and thankfully he did not jump off the bridge. He walked off the overpass, and Huntington Woods officers took him to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

You can also call a loved one, member of the clergy or 911. There are so many people that can help you make the choice to get help and live! It is our hope to never see another photo like this again.

— MSP Metro Detroit (@mspmetrodet) April 24, 2018

Important note: If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, please remember help is available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can also call a loved one, member of the clergy or 911.

Accused murderer’s grandmother: ‘He’s a sick boy’

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) — The grandmother of Travis Reinking, charged in Sunday’s deadly Waffle House massacre, said the man the nation has seen is not the grandson she knows.

“It’s not him. He is a sick boy,” said Marilyn Hopper.

Hopper is among the family members listen in arrest records who spoke with police in Illinois, starting in 2016, growing ever concerned about Reinking’s behavior.

After Sunday’s shootings that killed four people and wounded four others, Hopper said she’s devastated.

“My heart goes out to those people who have loved ones they’ve lost. I’ve lost two children myself and I know what that feels like. My heart really does go out to them. But you know, we have a side too,” Hopper said by phone.

It’s a side that’s growing ever complicated.

On May 27, 2016, Hopper joined Reinking’s parents, Jeff and Judith Reinking, in expressing their concern to police that Reinking believed Taylor Swift was harassing and stalking him.

In the police report, Hopper and Reinking’s parents warned police that he had access to firearms at his residence.

And in June 2017, Jeff Reinking told police that he took three rifles and a handgun away from his son after his son experienced “problems.”

Yet police believe Jeff Reinking ultimately gave weapons back to his son.

When Reinking was stopped trying to enter the White House in July 2017, Illinois state investigators took away four of his weapons.

Police believe his father gave them back, after promising to keep them away from Reinking.

ATF agent Marcus Watson said Jeff Reinking could be charged.

“It is possible. If you transfer weapons to a person knowingly who is prohibited, it could potentially be a violation of federal law,” Watson said.

The News4 I-Team repeatedly tried to reach Jeff Reinking today by phone without success.

With her grandson now charged in the nation’s latest deadly shooting, all Hopper can do is offer her remorse.

“I’m just so sorry for those people and their loss and my heart goes out to them,” Hopper said.

NRA supporters are blowing up their expensive Yeti coolers

WQAD News -

The NRA’s charitable arm is calling the maker of a premium brand of cooler “unsportsmanlike” after the manufacturer ended a discount program. That’s per a letter from NRA Foundation lobbyist Marion Hammer, who was the NRA’s first female president and says Yeti “should be ashamed,” USA Today reports.

In a statement, Yeti took issue with the NRA’s characterization, saying Hammer’s letter is “inaccurate” and that it’s simply halting some “outdated discounting programs” and setting up an “alternate customization program.”

Yeti—which sells coolers that can go for up to $1,300 and is the latest company to modify its relationship with the NRA after the Parkland shooting, per the Hill—added it’s “unwavering in our belief in and commitment to the Constitution of the United States and its Second Amendment,” the Austin American-Statesman reports.

No matter the details, gun owners are railing against Yeti and saying they’ve “shot themselves in the foot.”

One prominent detractor who now supports a boycott: Chris Loesch, husband of NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch. “Do you not understand who your base is?,” Chris Loesch tweeted. “Will never buy or use any of your products again and we had a bunch.”

Some are even taking to destroying their Yeti products—including by blowing them upshooting them with rifles, and crushing them in vises—using #YetiCoolerChallenge.

Not everyone agrees this is the most sensible reaction.

“Let me get this straight: #yeticoolerchallenge = fill $500 cooler with $20 of tannerite. Blow up cooler. Outcome: @Yeti keeps $500, @NRA foundation receives no benefit, and you are left with no cooler and a huge mess to clean up … seems reasonable,” one observer sarcastically notes.

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IDOT, Illinois State Police launch weeklong distracted driving crackdown

WQAD News -

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois(Illinois News Network) — Put down the phone while driving.

The Illinois Department of Transportation and the Illinois State Police are promoting Distracted Driving Awareness Week in Illinois.

That means drivers will see a lot more police officers out on the roads, looking to make sure that they are paying attention behind the wheel.

The Illinois Department of Transportation is spending $500,000 to help local police departments across the state enforce distracted driving laws. IDOT Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said that may be the only way to get people to focus on driving.

“People understand that it is a problem, but they don’t practice it,” Blankehorn told reporters at the Illinois Capitol on Monday. “As I see people eating a cheeseburger, talking on the phone, texting. It is a death waiting to happen.”

Illinois lawmakers are pushing a few resolutions this week, and at least one new law that would end the practice of giving people a warning on their first distracted driving offense.

Beth Moser with AAA Chicago said her group is also working with new drivers to make sure they avoid as many distractions as they can.

“In our work with teen drivers in the schools, we focus on being a safe and good passenger,” Moser said. “Because for teens, the biggest distraction is that passenger – that other teen sitting next to them.”

Illinois has laws that dictate how many passengers teens can have in the car at the same time. Just like the state has laws that prohibit holding a phone while driving and texting while driving.

But Moser said there’s no appetite to ban passengers for eating or listening to music while driving.

U.S. Dept. of Labor says Sterling nonprofit exploited 250 workers with disabilities

WQAD News -

STERLING, Illinois --  The U.S. Department of Labor is forcing a Sterling nonprofit of exploiting nearly 250 workers, violating labor laws and occasionally paying workers with gift cards instead of wages.

Self-Help Enterprises Inc., which employs people with developmental disabilities, is being forced to pay back wages to workers from the last two years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Self Help Enterprises, a nonprofit recycling, packaging and pallet manufacturer, has a Section 14(c) certificate, which allows them to pay workers under the federal minimum wage, based on productivity.

However, the Department's Wage and Hour Division found the nonprofit in violation of their certificate.  Under Section 14(c) Self Help Enterprises was required to perform appropriate wage surveys and conduct proper time studies on the jobs being performed by workers.  An investigation by the department found the nonprofit was not doing these things in a timely fashion.

In addition, a statement from the department revealed that the employer tried to hide information needed for the investigation.  They also hid work that employees were performing.

"On some weekends, Self Help unlawfully paid workers with gift cards instead of wages," read the statement.

Because of these violations, the 14(c) certificate was pulled.  Without the certificate Self Help has to pay all workers at least $7.25 per hour, which is the federal minimum wage. The nonprofit also has to pay back wages to all workers who were paid less than that for the last two years.

Any pending applications for certificate renewal have been denied.

Self Help Enterprises can appeal these determinations to the Work and Hour Division of the Department of Labor.

In response, the Executive Director of Self Help Enterprises, Carla Haubrich, issued the following statement:

"Self Help has been a productive agency serving the developmentally disabled workforce for 54 years. We are proud of the services that we offer and the community, family, that we have created for our workforce. We are obviously disappointed in the decision made by the United States Department of Labor, disagreeing with this outcome, but will take all necessary steps to comply with the decision as we pursue our available options to have the matter duly reviewed. At this point, however, until we can meet with the full Board of Directors, with our attorneys and wage consultant, I will have no further comment." 

Workers at Self Help Enterprises told WQAD News 8 that they will continue to conduct normal business hours.

“The Department of Labor is committed to protecting Americans with disabilities from exploitation in the workplace,” said Ruben Rosalez, Acting Regional Administrator. “When employers violate federal law and obstruct investigators, we take decisive action to protect vulnerable workers, their families, and other employers who play by the rules.”

The labor department is working to help any Self Help workers who may be impacted by the revocation and require additional assistance. If you have questions, you can call the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE.

Video shows man being tasered on flight after allegedly groping, screaming insults at passenger

WQAD News -

MIAMI — 28-year-old Jacob Garcia is facing charges of disorderly conduct for allegedly groping a female passenger on an American Airlines flight from Chicago to Miami, according to WGN.

A Miami-Dade police report says the flight crew told officers they tried to move 28-year-old Jacob Garcia of Chicago to another seat, but he continued to be unruly, screaming and insulting the woman and her boyfriend.

Police then asked Garcia to leave Flight 2446, which was waiting to take off from Miami to Chicago, but he refused.

After Garcia was asked to move seats he began screaming at the female passenger and her boyfriend. A passenger on the plane said he said a racial slur to the guards.

“Right before the guy sits down in his seat, he turns to the security guard and shouts at him he said, ‘My people were building civilizations while you monkeys were still swinging from the trees,’” Adisak Pochanayon said. “There was a couple people on the flight who wanted to get up and leave. There was a black gentleman two rows in front who was like, ‘I can't be on this flight with this racist.”

Pochanayon recorded video from the incident. He said after Garcia refused to leave the plane, the pilot announced the whole plane would have to be emptied.

Pochanayon said he believes something just wasn't right with Garcia who showed great physical strength and an ability to be unfazed by the Taser.

Passenger videos show police zapping the man as they struggled to get him off the plane. He kept asking why they were removing him. Passengers can be seen clapping and cheering as Garcia is later escorted through the airport.

Garcia faces disorderly conduct and other charges. Jail records don't list an attorney.

An American Airlines statement says crew members asked the man to get off the plane after he had a "disagreement" with another passenger Sunday night; the man refused to leave and the crew began deplaning passengers. The statement says during that process, a physical altercation broke out between the two passengers.

The plane left an hour late.

Former President George H.W. Bush is alert and talking, but remains in intensive care

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(CNN) — Former President George H.W. Bush is awake, alert and talking after he was admitted to intensive care earlier this week, a family spokesman said Tuesday.

Bush, 93, was admitted to the Houston Methodist Hospital Sunday morning after contracting an infection that spread to his blood, family spokesman Jim McGrath said, a day after a funeral was held for his wife, Barbara Bush.

According to McGrath, the 41st President has said he is determined to get healthy and get to Maine this summer. On Monday, McGrath said Bush was “responding to treatments and appears to be recovering.”

According to a source close to the former Republican President, Bush was admitted to the hospital with an infection that led to sepsis, which can be life-threatening. He was in critical condition, the source said.

The source added that Bush’s blood pressure kept dropping and a couple of times there was serious concern about whether he was going to come through, but that he had been stabilized.

But with Bush’s age, his health and with this infection, this is very serious, the source explained.

Speaking at a ceremony to welcome French President Emmanuel Macron to the White House on Tuesday, President Donald Trump offered his prayers for Bush and his family, and wished the 41st President a “speedy recovery.”

Bush revealed several years ago he suffers from a form of Parkinson’s disease, which has left him unable to walk, so he gets around either in a wheelchair or a scooter.

The former President’s hospitalization is especially upsetting for his family because it follows so closely on the death of his wife of 73 years last Tuesday. The family had been worried about how he would deal with her death and such an emotional week, according to the source.

“Right after a big loss — certainly like he has had — there is some data that shows that some people can develop problems with immunity and become more susceptible to infections,” CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said. “Infections they otherwise would have been able to fight become more serious.”

The day after his wife’s death, the former President paid tribute to her in a statement.

“I always knew Barbara was the most beloved woman in the world, and in fact I used to tease her that I had a complex relationship about that fact. But the truth is the outpouring of love and friendship being directed at The Enforcer is lifting us all up,” he said, using her nickname.

“We have faith she is in heaven, and we know that life will go on — as she would have it. So cross the Bushes off your worry list.”

Reynolds takes ‘first step’ in children’s mental health plan

WQAD News -

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued an order to begin establishing a children's mental health service system in the coming years.

Reynolds signed an executive order Monday creating a state board, calling it a "first step." The board will submit recommendations on how Iowa can better serve children in the state's "inadequate" mental health system.

The board will be made up of mental health professionals, state agency representatives, lawmakers and others. Reynolds said it will build on efforts by previous groups. A similar process resulted in bipartisan legislation Reynolds signed last month to expand mental health systems for adults.

Reynolds said initial funding for the children's system might be found within existing funds. She said "at some point" the effort would require additional money. The expanded adult services are expected to cost more than $31 million in the first two years.


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