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Thursday News, April 10

Le Mars Fire Department Responds To A Tractor Fire

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department responded to another fire Monday afternoon at about 1:45 p.m.  This time it was a farm tractor that caught fire.  The John Deere 4230 is owned by Mark Nilles, and was on the road pulling two gravity flow wagons filled with corn when it became engulfed in flames.  Preliminary investigation points to the tractor's starter as a possible cause for the fire.  Fire officials were able to salvage the engine of the tractor, but the cab and its contents, were destroyed.  The fire was reported on 200th Street, west of Wells Corporate offices, about two miles west of Le Mars. Fire officials were on the scene for about a half an hour.


Akron Fire Department Battles Grass Fire

(Akron) -- The Akron Fire Department was called to action yesterday afternoon when a control grass fire was threatening a nearby building.  That call came in at 3:20 p.m.  Fire officials responded to 14896 County Road C-16.  Fire officials were on the scene for less than an hour.


City Officials To Work On 6th Avenue Southwest

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars City officials have announced that 6th Avenue southwest between 18th Street and 24th Street will be closed on Thursday while crews install a new water main.  Gayle Sitzmann, city water superintendent says 6th Avenue will re-open at the end of the day.


George City Officials Cancel Council Meeting After Gun Ban Appears On Agenda

GEORGE, Iowa (AP) - Officials in the northwest Iowa community of George cancelled a City Council meeting after a clerk mistakenly placed a proposed gun ban on the agenda.
     The agenda for Wednesday's City Council meeting included a proposal to ban firearms on public property.
     The item led a gun rights group to post an item on Facebook, urging residents to protest the proposal.
     City Attorney Dan DeKoter says the matter was a mistake.
     City officials had discussed whether to control guns on city property after a man displayed a weapon in the public library. However, DeKoter says a new city clerk mistakenly listed the ban on the council agenda and published it in the newspaper without consulting the mayor or council.
     Officials opted to cancel the meeting.


Iowa State University Cancels VEISHEA Celebration

 AMES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa State University's president has halted a popular annual celebration after a rowdy crowd caused damage near the school that hurt one student and led to the arrest of two people.
     University President Steven Leath said at a news conference that Veishea, an annual multi-day celebration on campus, would be canceled after 5 p.m. Wednesday. Officials have not decided whether to hold it again in future years.
     The university says one student was seriously injured after a crowd disturbance near the campus late Tuesday, in which people overturned cars and threw rocks at officers. Police Cmdr. Geoff Huff says people knocked down two light poles, striking the student who was badly hurt. The school has not identified the student.
     Police told The Associated Press that the crowd dispersed early Wednesday.


Senate Approves Funding For More Pre-Schools

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A plan to enroll more 4-year-olds in preschools across the state continues to move through the Iowa Senate.
     The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the legislation Wednesday, 15-to-5. It is now eligible for floor debate.
     The bill attempts to expand the Iowa Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program, established in 2007 to fund preschool for 4-year-olds. Under the bill, Iowa school districts that expand existing programs or initiate a new program would receive more funding as an incentive. These additional funds would be offered for three years starting in 2015.
     Senator Brian Schoenjahn, an Arlington Democrat, says the intent is to serve as many 4-year-olds in the state as possible.
     Republican Senator Jake Chapman of Adel opposed the legislation, though he says he's willing to keep working to improve the bill.


Care Center Fined For Numerous Violations

ACKLEY, Iowa (AP) - Iowa inspectors have cited a care center after incidents in which residents weren't properly supervised.
     State inspectors cited the Presbyterian Village in Ackley.
     In one, a resident with dementia left the home during the early hours of February 4th and was found outside later with a 78.3 degree temperature.
     In another incident, residents with Alzheimer's engaged in sex.
     Lesser violations related to no cups or water pitchers in residents' rooms.
     The Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals in March issued a $10,000 fine for the more serious violations and $500 fine for the others.
     The larger fine was suspended because federal officials intervened and ordered a $9,750 fine.
     Presbyterian Village administrator Julie Hinders says the citations are serious, but the center offers good care.


Former DCI Agent Now Private Investigator

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - The veteran Iowa investigator fired after reporting Gov. Terry Branstad's speeding SUV is going into business as a private investigator.
     Former Division of Criminal Investigation agent Larry Hedlund said Wednesday he's obtained his private investigator's license and founded Hedlund Investigations. His business card touts 25 years of experience and a motto of, "truth, trust and tenacity." He envisions investigating everything from unsolved homicides to potential wrongful convictions and police misconduct.
     Hedlund continues to sue his former superiors for wrongful termination. He alleges that he was removed from duty and fired in retaliation for initiating a pursuit in which a vehicle carrying Branstad was clocked traveling 84 mph but not stopped.
     The 56-year-old Hedlund says he believes he has "something to offer attorneys or anybody that might need a private investigator."










Wenesday Afternoon News, April 9

Floyd Valley Hospital Honors Volunteers

(Le Mars) -- Floyd Valley Hospital of Le Mars honored its many volunteers and auxillary members during a morning luncheon.  One of those honored, was Delores Wenzl of Kingsley.  Over the course of 20 years, Wenzl has volunteered more than 2500 hours of service to Floyd Valley Hospital.  She says she is able to volunteer without coming to the hospital.

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Wenzl explains she enjoys helping others, and that is why she volunteers her time for Floyd Valley Hospital.

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Wenzl has volunteered her services for more than 20 years, but she recalls her first volunteer project of making hand towels for the hospital.

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The Kingsley resident concluded the interview with a rhyme as to why she volunteers, and why she encourages others to volunteer their time for Floyd Valley Hospital.

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The top honored volunteer is Marilyn Neyens who has accumulated more than 5000 hours of volunteer time.  Neyens, however was unable to attend the volunteer luncheon due to a broken  foot.

Floyd Valley Hospital Auxiliary President Terry Pauling and Floyd Valley Hospital Communications Manager, Ann Cole-Nelson stand beside Delores Wenzl of Kingsley.  Wenzl was honored during the Floyd Valley Hospital Volunteer Luncheon.  Wenzl has offered more than 2500 hours of service time to Floyd Valley Hospital.


Two People Arrested On Drug Charges And False Identification

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Sheriff's Office has arrested two out-of-state residents on various charges, including possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.  Anthony Russo, age 23, of Wilmington, DE and 25 year old Amber VanBoening of Grand Island, NE were arrested on Sunday afternoon, April 2nd.  Initially, the vehicle being driven by Russo was stopped for not having license plates on the vehicle.  Deputies found seven individuals selling magazines door to door.  Russo was not using his correct name at the time of the traffic stop.  As a result of the traffic investigation, Russo was arrested possession of a controlled substance.  VanBoening was also arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia.  Once at the Plymouth County jail, it was found that Russo had provided a false name.  He provided a second name which was also found to be false information.  It was determined Russo had a traffic warrant in New Mexico with a bond of $1,000 and also a warrant for forgery in Texas with a $10,000 bond.  Russo was charged with possession of a controlled substance, first offense, a serious misdemeanor, and two counts of identity theft, a class D felony.  Bond was set at $5,000.  Texas placed a detainer on Russo and will pick him up on their warrant when his Iowa charges are done.  VanBoening knowingly concealed marijuana when she was booked into jail.  She was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, and possessionof contraband in a correctional facilitiy.  Bond was set at $5,000.


Branstad Confident New IDAS Interim Director Will Follow The Law

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says he's confident his interim Iowa Department of Administrative Services director will protect records and will thoroughly review the staff to ensure the agency functions properly.

Branstad says he sent his chief of staff and a staff lawyer to the office of DAS Director Mike Carroll Tuesday to tell him he's been fired.

Branstad says Carroll led him to believe no confidential payments were made to laid-off employees. When he found out Tuesday documents clearly showed secret settlement payments were made he fired Carroll.

He named Janet Phipps interim director and says she will review staff at the agency and ensure documents are preserved.

Senate Oversight Chairwoman Janet Petersen says two other DAS executives should be put on leave and documents should be preserved by officers.


Former UNI Employee To Receive $125,000 In Settlement Suit

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's executive branch has agreed to pay $125,000 to a former University of Northern Iowa employee who claimed she suffered discrimination and retaliation.
The State Appeal Board approved a settlement Monday between the state and Dianne Bascom, a former account clerk for the university's fundraising foundation.
In exchange for the payment, Bascom agreed to drop a lawsuit in which she claimed school officials discriminated against her due to her disabilities and retaliated against her for opposing discrimination and taking medical leave.
Bascom also agreed that she will be barred from working again for any of the state's three public universities or their sponsored programs.
The money for the settlement will come from the state's general fund. Lawyers for the Iowa Attorney General's Office and Bascom negotiated the deal through mediation.


Revised Iowa Broadband Bill Offers Local Control On Tower Placement

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - City officials and local governments in Iowa would maintain their control over where cell towers are placed within city limits under a broadband-expansion proposal adopted by a legislative panel.
A Senate Appropriations subcommittee unanimously approved changes Wednesday to a bill intended to expand broadband access to rural Iowans. The legislation, which now includes language about cell tower placement, is now subject to full committee review as early as Thursday. 
The Senate's proposal strays from a draft in the House, which local officials have said could strip their authority in tower placement decisions. Lawmakers in the Senate have vowed to maintain this authority while still adhering to cellular companies' concerns.
Democratic Sen. Steve Sodders, of State Center, says the language in the bill has been considered and approved by local officials.










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