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Saturday News, December 20

New Vegetable Oil Refinery Approved


(Sioux City)--BOTH STATE AND WOODBURY COUNTY OFFICIALS GAVE THEIR APPROVAL FRIDAY TO A PROPOSED 90-MILLION DOLLAR VEGETABLE OIL REFINERY PROJECT IN SGT. BLUFF FOR AG PROCESSING INCORPORATED.
FIRST THE IOWA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY APPROVED THE AGP PROJECT BY GRANTING THE COMPANY $152-THOUSAND DOLLARS IN DIRECT ASSISTANCE PLUS TAX CREDITS THROUGH THE HIGH QUALITY JOBS PROGRAM.
     WOODBURY SUPERVISORS THEN MET WITH AGP OFFICIALS AND APPROVED A SEVEN YEAR TAX ABATEMENT SCHEDULE FOR THE PROJECT BASED ON A MINIMUM ASSESSED PROPERTY VALUE OF 14 AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS.
     SUPERVISORS CHAIRMAN GEORGE BOYKIN SAYS THE AGP EXPANSION WILL PROVIDE A NUMBER OF BENEFITS IN THE COUNTY:


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    AGP WILL CONSTRUCT THE VEGETABLE OIL REFINERY NEXT TO THEIR EXISTING SOYBEAN PROCESSING AND BIODIESEL PLANTS.
    COMPANY VICE PRESIDENT CAL MEYER SAYS SGT. BLUFF WAS THE BEST CHOICE TO BUILD THE FACILITY:


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MEYER SAYS AROUND 20 GOOD PAYING JOBS WILL BE CREATED WITH THE EXPANSION;

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SUPERVISOR MARK MONSON SAYS THIS WILL BE A BENEFIT TO AREA FARMERS:

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A NEW WATER COOLING TOWER IS PART OF THE PROJECT AND A NEW TANK FARM WOULD ALSO BE BUILT FOR THE FINISHED SALAD OIL.
    CONSTRUCTION OF THE PROJECT WILL BEGIN BY JUNE WITH COMPLETION SET FOR THE SPRING OF 2017.

Unemployment Rate Drops

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's unemployment rate dropped in November but remains slightly higher than the rate a year ago.
     Iowa Workforce Development announced Friday that the November unemployment rate was 4.3 percent, down from 4.5 percent in October. The November 2013 rate was 4.2 percent.
     The agency says the number of unemployed residents dropped to 73,900 in November.
     The number of residents with jobs was nearly 1.64 million.
     Iowa's unemployment rate remained significantly lower than the national rate of 5.8 percent in November.

Attorney General Will Look Into Drowning Death

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley says U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will personally review the case of an Iowa man who drowned while in a Missouri state trooper's custody.
     Grassley said Friday he recently spoke with Holder about 20-year-old Brandon Ellingson's drowning in late May on the Lake of the Ozarks. He says the attorney general told him he would personally review information about the case before providing it to staff attorneys at the U.S. Justice Department. 
     Witnesses say Ellingson had been detained on suspicion of boating while intoxicated. He was handcuffed when he slipped through a life jacket and drowned.
     A jury ruled the death an accident during a coroner's inquest in September. Ellingson's family says there are unanswered questions about the circumstances of the death.

Latham Gives Advice To House And Senate


(Washington DC)--Retiring Congressman Tom Latham is offering this advice to those who'll serve in the U.S. House and Senate next year: "do some big things" in 2015.


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House Speaker John Boehner (BAY-ner) and President Obama were rumored to be on the verge of what was called a "grand bargain" a few years ago, but the deal fell through. Latham and Boehner have become best friends during their time in congress over the last 20 years and Latham says he's told his friend to "think big" and seize "the opportunity of a lifetime."


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With the 2016 presidential campaign essentially underway today, Latham cautions that "it's going to be difficult" for a "big deal" to emerge.


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Republicans will hold a huge majority in the U.S. House and the G-O-P will take over control of the U.S. Senate in January. Latham suggests a good first step would be for the president to sit down and start negotiating with congressional leaders from both parties.


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Latham decided about a year ago that he would not seek reelection in 2014. Latham, who is 66, describes serving in congress as the "honor of his life." He plans to vacation "somewhere warm" and talk with his wife about what part-time work he might choose to take in the future.

   

Friday Afternoon News, December 19

Storm Lake Wind Farm Sold

STORM LAKE, Iowa (AP) - A Duluth, Minnesota-based energy firm says it has bought a 108-megawatt wind farm near Storm Lake.
    Allete Inc.'s clean energy division paid NRG Energy Inc. $15 million for the Storm Lake wind farm, which consists of 144 turbines.
     The just-purchased wind farm is adjacent to another 78-megatt, 104 turbine wind farm that Allete Clean Energy bought in January.
     Allete President Eric Norberg says the wind farm bought this week "creates immediate efficiencies with our first Storm Lake purchase, and it complements our expanding wind fleet."
     The adjoining Storm Lake wind farms will share an operations and maintenance facility. Norberg says both are operating under power sales agreements that extend another five years.

 

Land Values Survey Shows Decline

AMES, Iowa (AP) - The average price of Iowa farmland fell nearly 9 percent in the past year but still remains far above prices seen a decade ago.
     A report from the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University shows prices fell 8.9 percent to an average of $7,943 an acre.  Despite the drop, the average price is more than double prices seen a decade ago.
     Michael Duffy, a retired Iowa State professor who conducted the survey, says the farmland value decline is due to commodity prices and farm income "settling back to more expected levels."
     It was the second time since 1999 that the survey showed farmland prices had declined.
     Eastern Iowa's Scott County had the highest average farmland price.
     ---

 

School Superintendent Faces Ethics Charges

 TREYNOR, Iowa (AP) - A school superintendent in western Iowa could face disciplinary action after education leaders say he didn't appropriately respond to allegations that a district employee sexually assaulted a student.
     The Iowa Board of Educational Examiners says Treynor Community Schools Superintendent Kevin Elwood faces two counts of unethical practice. A hearing on the charges is scheduled to start Jan. 5.
     Among the charges, the board says Elwood failed to make a "reasonable effort" to protect students after a custodian hired in 2013 was accused of sexually assaulting a student. The custodian no longer works for the district.
     Elwood's attorney, Drew Bracken, says there's no evidence to the claims against his client.
     An administrative law judge will preside over the upcoming hearing. The board will then make a final decision.

 

Candidate Charged

     GLENWOOD, Iowa (AP) - A Libertarian candidate running for the Iowa Senate seat vacated by U.S. Senator-elect Joni Ernst faces a misdemeanor sexual assault charge in eastern Nebraska.
     The Omaha World-Herald reports that 69-year-old Donald Brantz has also been charged with assault, disturbing the peace and interfering with a public service company in Sarpy County.
     Prosecutors say Brantz is accused of inappropriately touching a woman on Oct. 10 and threatening to choke her. Authorities say he hung up a phone the woman used to call 911.
     Brantz has pleaded not guilty. His attorney, Chad Primmer of Council Bluffs, did not immediately return a message Friday.
     Brantz is a former Mills County Board member. He faces Republican Mark Costello, of Imogene, and Democrat Steven Adams, of Red Oak, in the Dec. 30 election.

 

Supreme Court Rules Internet Providers Must Pay Telephone Tax

   IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court says companies that provide phone service through the Internet must be taxed the same as traditional telephone service providers.
     The court ruled 6-0 Friday that Voice over Internet Protocol providers operate "telephone lines" even if their service is provided through a broadband network. Therefore, justices say those companies are subject to annual property tax assessments based on the amount of cable and wire they use to provide the service.
     The ruling rejected a challenge from Cable One, Inc., an Arizona-based company that provides cable, internet and VoIP service in the Sioux City area. Cable One challenged two years of Iowa Department of Revenue assessments totaling $1.4 million, arguing they didn't apply because the company doesn't operate a telephone line.


 

 


 

   

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