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Thursday News, March 19

Fire Reported At Prime Living Apartments

(Le Mars) -- For the second time in a few weeks the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department responded to the Prime Living Apartments located at 108 1st Avenue northwest for a reported fire.  The call was at approximately 5:40 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.  Apparently a disgarded cigarette was responsible for igniting some dry leaves and other vegetation on fire.  Smoke had entered the assisted living apartment complex and fire fighters needed to use fans to help ventilate the smoke.  There were no injuries, and fire fighters were on the scene for a few minutes.

 

Vehicle Going The Wrong Direction Results In Fatal Accident

(Sioux City) -- Officers of the Sioux City Police Department responded to a two vehicle head-on accident that happened Wednesday morning at about 10:30 a.m.  The accident happened on Highway 20 where it overpasses the I-29 south ramps.  Based on preliminary investigation, a 1995 Dodge truck was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes of Highway 20 next to the center median.  It is believed the operator of the Dodge truck had entered onto the wrong lanes of Highway 20 from somewhere in South Sioux City.  A 2012 Chrysler van was traveling westbound on Highway 20 in the left lane.  The Dodge truck was being driven by an 84 year old Sioux city woman and the Chrysler van was occupied by a female driver and a child from South Sioux city.  The operator of the Dodge truck was the only occupant of that vehicle and had to be extrcated from the vehicle by the Sioux City Fire Department.  The woman driving the Dodge truck was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.  The female operator and child passenger of the Chrysler van were transported to a local hospital to be evaluated for what is believed to be non-life threatening injuries.  The names of the accident victims are not being released at this time.  The accident remains under investigation.

 

CF Industries Official Tallks About Plant Expansion At Agri-Business Luncheon

(Le Mars) -- Attendees of the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce Agri-business luncheon held Wednesday were informed about the expansion plans for the CF Industries fertilizer plant located at Port Neal near Sergeant Bluff.  Nick DeRoos is the General Manager for the fertilizer facility.  He says in 2005 CF Industries went public and in 2010 it acquired the former Terra Industries, and in November of 2012 CF Industries announced its expansion plans.

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DeRoos says there were many reasons why CF Industries chose the Port Neal site for its two billion dollar expansion project.  He says natural gas prices in North America are now lower, and it sits within its prime marketing region.

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The CF Industries official says several hundred people will be hired by contractors as it expands its operations.

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He says a permanent workforce for the new fertilizer plant will increase from 125 employees to nearly 250 employees.

 

Kruse Challenges Luncheon Attendees To Use Higher Blends Of Ethanol

(Le Mars) -- The key-note speaker at yesterday's agricultural business luncheon, David Kruse of Commstock Investments shared with the more than 250 attendees some comparisons and differences between the conditions from the 1980's ag crisis and today.  Kruse indicated although commodity prices are low again, today's conditions are not the same.  One area of noticible differences is interest rates.  Back in the early 1980's, interest rates were between 12 and 20 percent, where as today's interest rates are generally between 2 and 5 percent.  The market analyist and commentator offered a challenge to the gathering.  He says farmers can increase the value of their corn and stimulate additional demand for corn by simply using a higher blended ethanol than ten percent, especially if they drive flex-fueled vehicles.

 

Tulip Festival Reveals Costumes And Selects Parade Marshal

ORANGE CITY, IA. – The annual Orange City Tulip Festival Extravaganza was held on Wednesday, March 18. The event featured a luncheon and program during which the costumes for the 2015 Tulip Queen and Court were revealed, the 2015 Parade Marshal was introduced, and the commissioned artwork for the 75th annual festival was unveiled.

Members of the 2015 Tulip Court are Queen Cara Venema, daughter of Dan and Tonya Venema; Jennifer Droog, daughter of Rick and Sue Droog; Sydney Huizenga, daughter of Darren and Dawn Huizenga; Micah Vande Vegte, daughter of Gary and Amy Vande Vegte; and Emily Wielenga, daughter of Kevin and Dixie Wielenga.

Queen Cara and her Court will wear the authentic dress from mid- to late 19th century Friesland. This is the first time the Friesland costume from the era has been introduced at Tulip Festival.  The costumes include voluminous, ankle-length skirts and fitted jackets that feature a v-shaped overlay, fitting over the apron. The Court members’ skirts and jackets are made from a cotton calico fabric, and Queen Cara’s are made of an eggplant-colored satin. The white aprons and shawls worn by the royal Court are lace-edged and feature hand-embroidered, authentic Dutch motifs. Queen Cara’s apron is made of a fine black lace and her shawl is fine white lace edged in lace trim.

The hats worn by the 2015 festival royalty are made of fine white lace that was pleated, starched and sewn to a crown of similar lace. Two gold filigree decorations adorn the Court members’ hats from the year 1900, while Queen Cara’s hat from the year 1860 is embellished with two gold hatpins and four gold filigree decorations.

The Friesland dress is accessorized with gold teardrop earrings, necklaces, bracelets and velvet purses that feature hand-beaded work.

An additional highlight to the Extravaganza was the introduction of this year’s parade marshal. The Tulip Festival Steering Committee was pleased to honor Harley Kleinwolterink as the parade marshal for the 75th annual Tulip Festival.

As a trained carpenter, Kleinwolterink has served the festival for over 20 years through the construction and refurbishing of several parade entries and floats.  Kleinwolterink’s first Tulip Festival project was the construction of the scissors-sharpening cart in the mid-1980s. The cart continues to be pushed in each parade during the Dutch Heritage Walk.  Utilizing his innate craftsmanship, Kleinwolterink has led and assisted with the construction and refurbishing of several floats seen in Tulip Festival parades, belonging to both the festival and First Reformed Church. His work continues in 2015 as he is assisting with the construction of a float celebrating the 75th year of Tulip Festival.

 

BPI Owners Encouraged Branstad To Dismiss Godfrey

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad says the founders of a beef company who were major donors to his political campaign were among those raising concerns about a state official he tried to force out of office.
     In a Nov. 26 deposition released Wednesday, Branstad says Beef Products Inc. founders Eldon and Regina Roth complained about workers' compensation decisions issued under then-Commissioner Chris Godfrey.
     The Roths were the second largest donors to Branstad's 2010 campaign, giving $152,000. Their company makes a lean, finely textured beef. Branstad says concerns from the Roths and other businesses prompted him to seek Godfrey's resignation and later to cut his pay. Godfrey alleges he was targeted because he's gay, which Branstad denies.
     Brandstad's attorney said Wednesday "no one person or business influenced the governor."

 

Senate Approves Bill To Encourage Time Off From Work To Participate In Caucus

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill that would allow non-essential workers to take unpaid time off to participate in Iowa's presidential caucuses has received approval in the Senate.
     The Senate voted 26-24 Wednesday along party lines. It now heads to the House, where it is unlikely to advance.
     The legislation would allow a person in Iowa to take up to four hours off to attend the caucuses. The bill would not apply to workers with jobs that affect public health or safety, among others.
     Sen. Robert Dvorsky, a Coralville Democrat leading the bill, says it would increase attendance in Iowa's first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. Sen. David Johnson, a Republican from Ocheyedan, says the bill is inappropriate because the caucuses are political party events.

 

Senate Passes Bill To Ban Powered Alcohol

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Senate has passed a bill that would ban people in Iowa from buying powdered alcohol.
     The Senate voted 48-2 Wednesday in support of the legislation. It now heads to the House, where lawmakers are considering a similar bill.
     The legislation would prohibit a person or business with a liquor license or permit in Iowa from selling powdered alcohol, which is not currently available in the state.
     Powdered alcohol is supposed to be consumed by mixing it with water. Federal officials approved this month the sale of a powdered alcohol product called Palcohol. But critics say young people and others may abuse it. Several states have either banned powdered alcohol or are considering a ban.
     Supporters of powered alcohol say its use is misunderstood.

 

Auditor Questions Health Department's Spending On Computers

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A state audit of the four boards operating below the Iowa Department of Public Health has questioned computer equipment purchases made over a three-year period.
     Auditor Mary Mosiman issued a report Wednesday detailing the investigation that questions money the Iowa Board of Pharmacy spent on electronic equipment from July 2001 through August 2014.
     The review was conducted after concerns were raised about how employees are reimbursed.
     The report says the pharmacy board spent $42,553 to repay employees for technology-related charges, including $19,666 for 24 iPads. Mosiman reported that the board didn't follow appropriate purchase protocol and questioned the need for some of the equipment.
     Pharmacy board director Lloyd Jessen tells the Des Moines Register he's retiring at the end of March, but the decision is unrelated to the audit.

 


 

 
 




   

Wednesday Afternoon News, March 18

House Passes Measure That Changes Arbitration For Teachers

   DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Republican-controlled Iowa House has approved a bill that would change the arbitration process for teachers and other school employees in the state.
     Under the proposal, which passed in a 56-41 vote Wednesday, an arbitrator would have more flexibility in determining final contract terms. Debate over the bill started Tuesday and concluded just after noon Wednesday, after an overnight break.
     Currently, if a district cannot reach a labor agreement with teachers or school employees, an arbitrator chooses between two final offers on items like raises. The bill would allow the arbitrator to set a number in the middle.
     Republicans say the change would help districts manage their budgets, while Democrats say it would worsen teacher compensation and educational attainment.
     The bill is not expected to advance in the Democratic-majority Senate.

 

Two People Hospitalized From Being Sprayed By Ammonia

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Two DuPont employees have been transported to the hospital after a hose sprayed them with liquid ammonia at a Cedar Rapids plant.
     The Cedar Rapids Fire Department says rescue crews responded around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday to a report that two men, ages 36 and 45, had been exposed to ammonia at DuPont. They were taken to the hospital Wednesday morning following the splash, and officials say their injuries are not severe.
     Fire officials say the employees were unloading a tanker when a hose came loose and squirted them both with liquid ammonia. They say the men's personal protective equipment prevented further exposure and more serious injuries.
     The leak has since been contained and cleaned up. The names of the men have not yet been released.

 

Des Moines Police Arrest Man Believed To Be Responsible For Cigarette Thefts

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Police say they have arrested a man in connection with a string of cigarette thefts throughout Des Moines.
     47-year-old Randal Jon Caswell, of Des Moines, was arrested early Wednesday morning. He is charged with eight counts of third-degree theft, one count of ongoing criminal conduct and violation of parole.
     Authorities say Caswell stole cigarettes from several area convenience stores and gas stations beginning Feb. 25. He was arrested following a report that he had taken cigarettes from a Casey's General Store, where a witness took down his license plate number. Police say officers then were able to track Caswell down.
     Caswell remained in Polk County Jail Wednesday on no bond.

 

Remembering The Bertrand

 MISSOURI VALLEY, Iowa (AP) - The DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa will host events to commemorate a Civil War-era steamboat that sank in the Missouri River.
     The refuge group plans to host a weekend of events March 27-29 to highlight the history of the Bertrand that sank on April 1, 1865.
     Visitors will be able to see thousands of artifacts that were rescued from the Bertrand after private salvagers discovered the wreckage in what is now the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge.
     The Bertrand was making its way to Montana territory with passengers and mining equipment on board when it struck a snag in the shallow river 25 miles north of Omaha. The steamboat's passengers abandoned ship and waded to shore as the boat sank into the mud.  All survived, but the cargo was lost.

 

Board Approves Shooting Range

  GRAF, Iowa (AP) - Officials have voted to advance a proposed law enforcement shooting range in eastern Iowa.
     The Dubuque County Zoning Board voted 4-2 Tuesday, granting the Dubuque County Drug Task Force permission to use nearly 68 acres of county-owned land southwest of Graf for a law enforcement shooting and training facility. The application now goes to the Dubuque County Zoning Board of Adjustment for final approval.
     The approved proposal sets a condition that the facility cannot be used as a shooting range by any entity other than Dubuque County.
     Board member Richard Kaufman, who voted against the plan, says his concerns about safety influenced his vote. But Dubuque County Sheriff's Sgt. Gary Pape says the location is the safest option that's also affordable.

 

Police Arrest McDonald's Manager For Theft

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Police say they have arrested the manager of an Iowa City McDonald's who is accused of making fake returns to steal money from the restaurant.
     The Iowa City Police Department says 22-year-old Cordero L. Graham was arrested on charges of second-degree theft.
     Police say Graham processed 121 fraudulent returns from Nov. 16 until Jan. 22 and kept the money from the transactions. According to a police complaint, Graham says he took $1,401.13 from McDonald's.
     Graham was released March 12 from the Johnson County Jail. Graham was referred to the public defender's office but has not yet been assigned to an attorney to request comment on his behalf.
     ---

 

Audit Questions Health Department's Computer Purchases 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A state audit of the four boards operating below the Iowa Department of Public Health has questioned computer equipment purchases made over a three-year period.
     Auditor Mary Mosiman issued a report Wednesday detailing the investigation that questions money the Iowa Board of Pharmacy spent on electronic equipment from July 2001 through August 2014.
     The review was conducted after concerns were raised about how employees are reimbursed.
     The report says the pharmacy board spent $42,553 to repay employees for technology-related charges, including $19,666 for 24 iPads. Mosiman reported that the board didn't follow appropriate purchase protocol and questioned the need for some of the equipment.
     Pharmacy board director Lloyd Jessen says he's retiring at the end of March, but the decision is unrelated to the audit.


 

 

 

 

   

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