Restaurant review: RedRossa offers solid, wood-fired, Neapolitan style pies

Solid, wood-fired, Neapolitan style pies. Counter service, self-serve drinks, and super fast pizzas. Crispy Prosciutto Cheese Bread is as good as it sounds.Fast-fired, Neapolitan style (or at least Neapolitan-inspired) pizza chains are having their moment, and the Des Moines metro is home to several, including the home grown Gusto (we’ll get to them another day) and imports like Pie Five and Blaze.RedRossa predates much of that craze, putting down its roots in 2008, and they use (now practically quaint) real wood in their ovens. It’s enough to admire, even if the product doesn’t tend to inspire particular excitement.Red Rossa’s menu is pretty simple — a list of pizzas, a list of salads, a few appetizers that riff on the dough that underscores the pizzas, and an indifferent wine and beer list (no local craft, disappointingly).The salads were a disappointment, comprised mostly of oversized, irregular, quadrilaterals of romaine that had been cut long in advance, the fringes sadly rusted. The Chop Chop ($10 for a full, $7 for a half) in particular failed to deliver. A great Italian chopped salad is packed with flavor, bursts of tanginess and saltiness and layers of rich flavors. This was a pallid affair, with a bland balsamic vinaigrette doing nothing to lift the sad pile of lettuce leaves or dry shaves of rosemary-sage chicken. The small scatterings of garbanzos, salami and smoked mozzarella did their best but were too scant to register.The Walnut Gorgonzola salad ($9/$6) suffered almost the opposite problem, so completely overloaded with walnuts and dry gorgonzola crumbles, backed by a pungent gorgonzola-walnut vinaigrette. It was better, and generous, but the shotgun approach to big ingredients didn’t solve the flavorless beefsteak tomato. The pizzas were fairly solid, and in a couple instances, quite delicious. We tried nine different pizzas on our visits and each one was perfectly cooked, with a few showy blackened Continue Reading

Airline under fire for accusing basketball players of blanket theft

DALLAS — American Airlines has apologized to two black professional basketball players who were kicked off a plane in Dallas after a flight attendant accused them of stealing blankets. Airline spokesman Joshua Freed said Tuesday that Memphis Hustle guard Marquis Teague and forward Trahson Burrell boarded the flight bound for Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Sunday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The flight was operated by Envoy Air. Two first-class passengers gave the players their blankets as they headed to their seats in coach. But a black flight attendant accused them of theft and forced them off the plane. “It’s 2017 and a Flight attendant for @AmericanAir sees 2 young black athletes with blankets from first class,” Hustle assistant coach Darnell Lazare‏ said on Twitter, “his 1st comment is ‘did you steal them’ how about you teach people to get the facts first before jumping to conclusions. 🤔#beingblackinamerican” Freed says an airline manager apologized to the players and that they later flew first class to Sioux Falls. Chief executive Doug Parker told employees last month that American Airlines will implement implicit-bias training. Continue Reading

Family of 6, including 4 kids, found dead after South Dakota house fire: ‘It’s like a bad dream that we can’t wake up from’

PLATTE, S.D. — A rural South Dakota community is mourning a family of six found dead in the ruins of their burned home, as authorities investigate what one official described as an unusual house fire. Hundreds of people turned out for a memorial service at the Christian Reformed Church on Thursday night to remember Scott and Nicole Westerhuis and their four children. “It’s like a bad dream that we can’t wake up from,” the Rev. Harry Koops told the crowd. “We realize we can’t wake up, and that it is our reality.” Firefighters were called to the Westerhuis home, 3 miles south of Platte, about 5:30 a.m. Thursday after a passerby reported the blaze. Authorities did not immediately name the fire victims, but Platte-Geddes School Superintendent Joel Bailey said local agencies informed him that the family had perished. He said the children killed were Kailey, a third-grader; Jaeci, a fifth-grader; Connor, an eighth-grader; and Michael, a high school sophomore. “Their family was inseparable,” family friend Kristina Sprik told the Argus Leader. “They did everything together.” Local, state and federal officials are investigating the cause of the fire. Investigators aided by cadaver-searching dogs completed their search of the home Friday and recovered the last of six bodies, said Charles Mix County Sheriff Randy Thaler. He said investigators are confident that all the victims have been recovered, but are awaiting autopsy results to positively identify them. He offered no comment on a suspected cause. Platte Fire Chief Rick Gustad told The Daily Republic newspaper that the house was “pretty well destroyed” when firefighters arrived. “It’s not a real common occurrence to have a fully engulfed structure fire on arrival,” Gustad said. It took three dozen firefighters seven hours to extinguish the blaze, authorities said. Continue Reading

6 found dead in South Dakota house fire were fatally shot: officials

The six members of a South Dakota family found dead in the ruins of their burned home were fatally shot, with one death believed to be a suicide, authorities said Monday. The office of South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley issued a statement Monday night saying preliminary autopsy results show all six members of the Westerhuis family died of shotgun wounds. The deaths of Nicole Westerhuis and children Kailey, Jaeci, Connor and Michael have been ruled homicides, the statement said. The manner of death for Scott Westerhuis, Nicole Westerhuis' husband, is suspected suicide, it said. The Charles Mix County Sheriff's Office and state investigators are looking into the circumstances of Scott Westerhuis' death, according to the statement. Interviews, evidence collecting and forensic testing are ongoing. A spokeswoman for Jackley couldn't immediately be reached for questions late Monday. "Based on evidence of foul play continuing to be uncovered, law enforcement remains committed to a complete and thorough investigation," Jackley said in the statement. Firefighters were called to the home near Platte early Thursday morning after a passer-by reported the blaze. The Platte fire chief said the home was "pretty well destroyed" by the time firefighters arrived. "It's not a real common occurrence to have a fully engulfed structure fire on arrival," Chief Rick Gustad said. Authorities did not immediately name the victims, and Jackley's statement Monday did not include their ages. But the Platte-Geddes school superintendent has said Kailey was a third-grader, Jaeci a fifth-grader, Connor an eighth-grader and Michael a high school sophomore. Jackley called the deaths a "tragic loss" that has affected the entire community. About 1,200 people live in Platte, about 110 miles west of Sioux Falls. Scott and Nicole Westerhuis both worked for Mid-Central Educational Cooperative, providing speech, language and Continue Reading

‘Fargo’ creator Noah Hawley calls his firing of Allison Tolman a ‘crime and a tragedy’

Not a frame has been filmed yet for the second season of FX's "Fargo" and creator Noah Hawley admits it has already committed its first serious crime: not bringing back actress Allison Tolman. Tolman, the breakout newcomer of the first "Fargo" series that became a major hit this spring, played Detective Molly Solverson and survived the whole show, in the end marrying Colin Hanks's former policeman Gus Grimley. Not keeping them for the second series "is a crime and a tragedy, and you should all be very angry at us for doing that," writer Noah Hawley told TV writers, "because I would like nothing more than to see the continuing adventures of Molly and Gus. "But it felt like it would just be disingenuous, in the service of truthiness, to give them another crazy Coen Brothers case." The next "Fargo," which will premiere no earlier than fall 2015, will also be set in 1979. So "unless Allison can channel her 4-year-old self," said Hawley, her participation just won't be possible. At least one character from the first "Fargo" will return as his younger self: Lou Solverson, Molly's father, who was played in the first series by Keith Carradine. A new actor will play the younger Lou, though Hawley joked that the show could bring Carradine back by "using clips of all his old movies." The series will be set in cold-weather Sioux Falls, to which Lou alluded in the first episode. "Lou is a 33-year-old man," Hawley said, "recently back from Vietnam. We'll meet Molly's mother, who was not a character in season one. And we may learn what happened to her. We also will wee Pete Breitmayer's character, Ben Schmidt, the lieutenant. "A lot of clues were left from the first season, and we will do our best to hit those in unexpected ways." .The late '70s works for a "Fargo" series, said Hawley, because it was on the brink of a shift, from the Watergate-defined era of the 1970s into the presidency of Ronald Reagan. It's a good showcase, he said, for the core Continue Reading

Midwest remains locked in deep freeze: International Falls, Minn., the so-called ‘Nation’s Icebox,’ records HIGH of 3 below on Tuesday

MADISON, Wis. - The Upper Midwest remains locked in the deep freeze, with bitter temperatures stretching into a fourth day across several states. The cold snap arrived Saturday night as waves of Arctic air swept south from Canada, pushing temperatures to dangerous lows and leaving a section of the country well-versed in winter's pains reeling. Authorities suspect exposure has played a role in at least four deaths so far. RELATED: COLD WINTER TEMPERATURES HIT NEW YORK "I am wearing a Snuggie under a top and another jacket over that," said Faye Whitbeck, president of the chamber of commerce in International Falls, Minn., a town near the Canadian border where the temperature was minus 30 on Tuesday morning. The so-called "Nation's Icebox" reached a balmy 3 below for a high. "I pulled out a coat that went right to my ankles this morning and I wore two scarves." PHOTOS: CHICAGO FREEZES OVER Among the coldest temperatures recorded Tuesday was 35 below at Crane Lake, Minn., a National Weather Service forecaster said early Wednesday. John Gress/ REUTERS Firefighters spray down hot spots on an ice covered warehouse that caught fire in Chicago. The coldest location in the lower 48 states Monday was Embarrass, Minn., at 36 below. On Sunday it was Babbitt, Minn., at 29 below, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters said late Tuesday that overnight temperatures wouldn't get that low, but warned it was still frigid: Embarrass, Minn., was up to 15 below by late Tuesday night. Nighttime temperatures round 10 degrees made it harder for Chicago firefighters to battle a warehouse blaze described by officials as one of the largest in recent years. The Chicago Sun-Times reported late Tuesday that more than 170 firefighters responded to the five-alarm blaze at an abandoned warehouse on the city's South Side that took nearly three hours to get under control. The Northeast was also feeling the chill from Ohio to Maine. MIKE Continue Reading

4 dead in fiery crash after small plane nosedives near Sioux Falls Airport; reason undertermined

A plane leaving the Sioux Falls Regional Airport nosedived into the ground Friday and burst into flames so powerful that there was never a chance the four people trapped inside could survive, officials said. Witnesses described a bloody and charred scene. Officials declined to identify the four victims pending family notification. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said the Cessna 421-C departed Joe Foss Field for Rapid City at 2:24 p.m. Shortly after, the small, two-engine plane began experiencing problems and started circling back to the airport before it slammed into the ground, killing the pilot and three passengers. Sioux Falls Fire Chief Jim Sideras said investigators do not yet know what problems the plane was experiencing or whether the pilot radioed for help. The plane was a charter, and Sideras said he did not know who the owner was. FAA records indicate it was registered to an Ipswich, S.D., business. Attempts to reach that business were unsuccessful Friday. "Right now, it's a shell of a plane. It's essentially just a charred area right now," Sideras told reporters gathered in a parking lot overlooking the crash site. "That amount of fire is not survivable." John Dahlin, 28, of Sioux Falls, was driving to work when he saw the plane out of the corner of his eye. Dahlin said he thought the pilot was performing a stunt before he realized the plane was out of control. "It was a spinning, straight-nosed dive into the ground," he said. A split-second later, the plane burst into flames, he said. Dahlin drove closer to the site to try to help as he called 911. Jack Sundet, 54, a retired Sioux Falls firefighter who used to work at the airport's crash center, said he pulled over after seeing smoke billowing from a field near the airport as he drove home from the grocery store. Sundet said he pulled out a pair of binoculars and spotted the tail of a plane. The wreckage was compact on the ground, meaning there was Continue Reading

‘Their family was inseparable’: Platte grieving after fatal fire

PLATTE — Pastor Harry Koops has known the Westerhuis family for 11 years.The news that a fire engulfed their home Thursday morning has been "hanging over the whole community," as authorities work to identify the bodies of the victims, Koops said.The fire was reported at about 5:30 a.m. at 36705 279th Street, three miles south of Platte, at the home of Scott and Nicole Westerhuis and their four children, according to the Charles Mix County Sheriff's Office.Platte Volunteer Fire Department Chief Rick Gustad said the house was destroyed, but that he couldn't comment on whether there were any fatalities.Hundreds of people turned out for a memorial service at the Christian Reformed Church on Thursday night.“It’s like a bad dream that we can’t wake up from,” Koops told the crowd. “We realize we can’t wake up, and that it is our reality.”Platte-Geddes School District Superintendent Joel Bailey said local agencies informed him that the four siblings and their parents died in the fire. Law enforcement officials haven't released the victims' names or ages."Everyone in the community is affected by this because in many ways, we're a big family," Koops said.The Westerhuis family were active members of the First Reformed Church in Platte, according to Koops, and all four children participated in the church youth group."Their family was inseparable," family friend Kristina Sprik said. "They did everything together."Sprik has children the same age as two of the Westerhuis children, and she said she's been close with the family for about 15 years. She said she was "devastated" to hear of the fire.The Westerhuis children participated in several activities including baseball, football, basketball, track, swim team, gymnastics and choir, Sprik said."Their kids were in everything, just like mine," Sprik said. "We spent a lot of time over the years watching our kids' events together."All students were dismissed after school officials Continue Reading

Whitney: Sioux Falls joins veto push

As Gov. Dennis Daugaard considers the fate of a transgender “bathroom bill” that critics call discriminatory and potentially damaging to South Dakota, his stated strategy is to downplay opinions from outside the state.But what about backlash from South Dakota’s largest city?From Mayor Mike Huether to major employers such as Sanford Health, Citibank and First Premier Bank, there is concern about how Sioux Falls could be impacted by legislation that puts the state on the firing line of national debate over lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights.“When it comes to the potential economic impact, many groups in Sioux Falls are watching this like a hawk,” Huether said. “There is little doubt it will have an impact on all kinds of fronts.”That includes the NCAA, set to hold its Division I women’s basketball regional finals next month at the Denny Sanford Premier Center, in addition to seven Division II national championships slated for Sioux Falls between now and 2018. The athletic association has weighed in on discriminatory legislation at other sites and is keeping tabs on the South Dakota situation, according to public relations director Stacey Osburn.“Our commitment to the fair treatment of individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, has not changed and is at the core of what we believe,” the NCAA said in a statement released to Argus Leader Media. “We’ll continue to monitor current events in all cities bidding on NCAA events, as well as cities that have already been named as future host sites.”Daugaard has until Tuesday to decide whether to veto HB 1008, which would ban transgender students in public schools from using bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender with which they identify. Transgender students who don't want to use restrooms based on their biological sex would be required to submit a request for a “reasonable Continue Reading

Thousands join women’s march in Downtown Sioux Falls

Downtown Sioux Falls was flooded with colorful signs and spirited speeches as thousands of South Dakotans joined a national movement in the wake of President Donald Trump's inauguration.The Saturday morning Women's March in Sioux Falls, prompted by the Women's March on Washington, was a rally for women's rights and other civil issues some fear may come under fire during Trump's presidency.The peaceful march garnered more attention than organizers expected. About 3,300 were estimated to have marched from Calvary Episcopal Cathedral to City Hall, with a pause at the federal courthouse for a few speeches from active women in the community."I feel amazing," said co-organizer of the march Kelly Sullivan. "We're here to stand in solidarity, to bring our community together."Children bundled up to battle the 30-degree temperatures to join their parents at the march. Men and women of all ages carried flags and signs with varying messages, such as "Love trumps hate", "Who run the world? (girls)", "Mighty is her roar" and "Say no to hate. Say yes to pancakes.""I'm here to stand in solidarity with all these great people out here for women's rights," said Deitrich Thompson, 26, of Sioux Falls.Thompson wasn't surprised he was one of numerous men in the crowd."I think it all comes down to equality," he said. "We all (should) stand together for the disenfranchised people in our country."It was a family affair for the Ridgway women. Becky Ridgway, of Yankton, joined her daughters Samantha and Shannon, in sporting condom earrings to support reproductive rights."Women's rights have been fought for so hard over the years," Becky Ridgway said. "I needed to come today to be with the other women of the world."The group took time in front of the federal courthouse and City Hall for a few speeches about women's healthcare and other civil issues in and around the state. Paula Hawks, former Democratic challenger for Rep. Kristi Noem's spot in Congress, encouraged marchers to Continue Reading