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Monday News, December 24

Hinton House Fire

(Hinton) -- Both the Hinton and the Merrill Fire Departments responded to a house fire Saturday morning.  That fire, located at 32278 Indigo Road is believed to have started from a wood burning stove.  Fire crews arrived at the scene at about 6:45 a.m. and were on the scene of that house fire for nearly six hours. Hinton Fire Chief Chad Beck describes the scene upon arrival.
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Beck says the house was totally destroyed.  There were no injuries as a result of that fire.  Later in the day, the Hinton Fire Department had to return to the same address as embers had rekindled.  Officials were on the scene a second time for about an hour.


Hog Confinement Fire

ROCK VALLEY, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say several hundred pigs have been killed by a fire at a feeding operation in northwest Iowa.
The fire was reported around 9:50 p.m. on Saturday at a confinement facility four miles southeast of Rock Valley. Firefighters reported the hog confinement building was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived. About 650 30-pound pigs were killed.
The cause of the fire is being investigated.
Authorities also are investigating the deaths of an estimated 475 hogs at a confinement facility five miles south of Rock Valley.  The Sioux County Sheriff's Office says someone entered the building
and tampered with the climate control system between 3 p.m. Tuesday and 1 p.m. Wednesday.
The hogs weighed about 280 pounds each.


Council Bluffs Fire Leaves 90 Year Old Man In Hospital

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - A 90-year-old man is in intensive care after an early-morning fire at his Council Bluffs home.
KETV-TV in Omaha reports ( ) that the fire began around 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Investigators say a smoke detector saved the lives of the elderly man and his daughter.
Fire crews found the man in his bedroom. The fire had not spread to that part of the house, but the man suffered critical third-degree burns and smoke inhalation.
Investigators say the man's daughter, also living in the home, told firefighters that she tried to reach her father but couldn't because the staircase was on fire. She called 911 and crawled out a
basement window.

Tax Assessment Appeals Costs Schools and Cities

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Cities and school districts in Black Hawk County may face local tax revenue shortages because so many businesses are winning appeals of their property tax assessments.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports that some government entities may even have to refund portions of some taxes paid before the higher assessments could be successfully appealed.
Appeals have been filed on 380 parcels after a countywide reappraisal boosted many 2011 values.
So far, 119 property owners have won or settled those appeals for a combined $25.7 million reduction in value. The county has won 50 cases to sustain the assessments.
If tax collections don't meet budgeted expectations, the cities, school districts and other tax-supported agencies will have to cut spending or tap their cash reserves.


Towing Companies Busy After Snow Storm

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Towing companies are starting to remove cars and trucks that were abandoned after last week's blizzard swept through Iowa.
KCCI-TV in Des Moines reports that towing companies were busy this weekend. Towing bans imposed on Interstates 35 and 80 were lifted on Saturday, which allows crews to retrieve vehicles that
went off the road.
Tom Kirkvold, a spokesman for Hannifen Company, says his company has fielded hundreds of calls for service.
Kirkvold says the storm is one of the worst he's seen in years. He says last week's heavy snow seems to have caught many drivers off-guard.
Officials say car and truck owners are required to have their vehicles towed within 24 hours after a towing ban is lifted.


Iowa's Concealed Weapon Permits Rise

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - The number of Iowans with permits to carry concealed weapons increased dramatically in 2012, the second year of relaxed laws that govern how they're issued.
The Gazette in Cedar Rapids reports that sheriffs in Iowa's 99 counties issued more than 37,000 permits in the first 11 months of the year.
Nearly 103,000 were issued in 2011, the first year after Iowa went from a "may issue" to a "shall issue" state.
State data show that 1.3 percent of Iowans had permits at the end of 2010, before the law changed. The percentage increased to 3.3 percent at the end of last year, and stood at 4.6 percent
through the first 11 months of this year.

U of I Not Complying With Open Records Law

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A seemingly mundane issue has put University of Iowa President Sally Mason on the defensive: the interpretation of Iowa's public records law.
The university has routinely refused to release records related to employee and student controversies by citing exemptions in the law. The practice appears to have recently backfired, bringing
criticism from Gov. Terry Branstad about a lack of transparency and forcing Mason to address speculation that she could be facing pressure to resign.
Mason says she cannot release personnel records of students or employees without violating the law. She says she'll stick with her legal interpretation to protect privacy.
Bill Monroe, Branstad's government transparency adviser, says he's concerned about the legal advice Mason is receiving. He and others argue the law gives agencies the discretion to release






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