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Wednesday Afternoon News, November 20

City Council Votes Down Pedestrian Bridge

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council voted down a proposal for a public hearing regarding a new pedestrian bridge to be constructed across the Floyd River and allowing hikers and bicyclists to cross without having to worry about competing with heavy traffic.  Presently, residents living on the west side of the Floyd River must use the bridge built for vehicle traffic.  Councilman John Leonard favors the construction of a new pedestrian bridge.  His concerns are with public safety.  Councilman John Rexwinkle says initially the bridge was to be located next to the highway bridge, but as time passed, the plans called for the bridge to be moved further south.  Rexwinkle spoke against the proposed pedestrian bridge saying he believes it would involve additional work from city crews than what was originally being called for.   Rexwinkle also thought the bridge's proposed location was not practical.  The proposed bridge and recreational trail had an estimate of nearly $205,000. 


Little Sioux River Restoration

 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Woodbury County officials agreed to spend more money to restore a levee along the Little Sioux River in western Iowa.
      The  county board Tuesday approved a $128,000 bid for work on the levee near Smithland.
      Landowners will be billed for the work, which includes placing 3,600 tons of concrete and quartzite along 1,800 feet of riverbank.
     The project follows a $232,000-taxpayer funded effort to add a berm and boulders to retain soil. Those fixes didn't work and the riverbank continued to wash away.
      The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the original flood-control device in 1964.
      Board member Larry Clausen voted against the winning bid because he favored a different contractor, but he says the county has no choice but to repair the levee.


Nebraska Man's Body Found In Iowa 

   MONDAMIN, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a man found in a wooded area in western Iowa is from Nebraska. 
     The state Division of Criminal Investigation says fingerprints submitted to a FBI database helped confirm the identity of 52-year-old Michael E. Gnirk, of Hoskins, Neb. A hunter found him on Saturday in a rural, wooded area a few miles southwest of Mondamin in Harrison County. 
     Authorities said in a news release Wednesday they're continuing to investigate the case, and they're trying to retrace Gnirk's last few weeks and days. They're looking for anyone who may have been in contact with him over the last three to six months.


Woman's Body Found In Car Following High Speed Chase

  WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities found a woman's body in a car that plunged into a pond after leading West Des Moines police on a high-speed chase.
    A West Des Moines officer noticed a car driving recklessly about 3:45 a.m. Wednesday and tried to stop the driver.
     The car sped away and eventually drove down a dead end street. The officer slowed as he approached the dead end and could see the car drove through a grassy area and into a pond.
     A dive team searched the car, which was at least 30 feet from the shore, and pulled it from the pond.
     Police found the body of a woman inside. She appeared to be in her 50s.
     Police and the Polk County Medical Examiner's Office are determining the woman's identity.


Branstad And Other Leaders Defend Ethanol

 NEVADA, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad, U.S. Rep. Steve King, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey will lead a group of industry executives Friday in an event aimed at defending the current levels of ethanol and biodiesel in the nation's fuel supply.
     The Environmental Protection Agency proposes to reduce by almost 3 billion gallons the amounts of biofuels blended into gasoline in 2014 than the law requires.
     The oil industry lobbied hard for the reduction. Biofuel supporters threaten to sue the government over the proposal.
     Branstad will gather with others at an ethanol plant in Nevada to defend current policy. He says the reduction negatively impacts thousands of jobs in Iowa, the leading ethanol producer and top grower of corn, which is used to make about 95 percent of the nation's ethanol.







Wednesday News, November 20

FAA Approves Water Tower

(Le Mars) -- The Federal Aviation Administration has delivered good news to the city of Le Mars.
In a letter written to city officials, the FAA confirms the fact the city can proceed on the construction of a new 140 foot tall water tower at the proposed site located on the southwest corner of town.  The FAA previously had concerns about the new water tower as it could pose a risk and interfere with air traffic patterns for the Le Mars airport.   The FAA ruling means pilots will need to approach Le Mars from the west.  He says other Iowa communities have similar provisions due to obstacles.   The Le Mars City Council approved the contracts for both a water tower and a water booster station.  Washburn says construction for both projects could start in the spring.


Supervisors Hear Report From County Conservation Board

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Conservation Board Executive Director Nick Beeck (Beck) delivered the Conservation Board's annual report to the county supervisors on Tuesday.  Beeck says a highlight for the year was the acquistion of a land parcel near Highway 12.  Beeck says the Conservation Board is making preparations for the popular sledding hill located at Hillview Park near Hinton.  He says the Conservation Board is probably the only county agency hoping for snow, and lots of it.  Beeck also gave an update to the supervisors regarding the new Riversbend Wildlife Area, a parcel of land near Akron that had been a gravel pit and is now being converted to be a county owned lake and park, after a land swap deal.   Beeck says the county is supposed to take ownership by the end of the year.  He says progress has been made on the new lake, but he isn't certain if the project will be completed by the scheduled deadline.


Clovis Wins Straw Poll

(Ida Grove) -- In a straw poll among the six Republican candidates seeking the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, Plymouth County resident and former radio talk show host Sam Clovis, came out on top.  The straw poll was held in Ida Grove following a republican forum, in which each candidate was given the opportunity to speak and address issues.  Republicans from Ida, Sac and Cherokee counties participated in the informal straw poll.  A total of 97 votes were cast with Clovis winning with 57 votes compared to 15 for David Young, a former staff member of Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley.  Former state attorney Matt Whitaker gathered 13 votes, State Senator Joni Ernst received six votes, and former car dealer Scott Schaben earned three votes.  Attorney Paul Lunde did not participate in the event.


District 13 Voters Elect New State Senator

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Voters in a district south of Des Moines have elected Republican Julian Garrett in a special election to fill a state Senate seat.
      Garrett, who had been serving in the state House, received about 60 percent of the vote, beating former Democratic lawmaker Mark Davitt in the Tuesday election for Iowa Senate District 13.
     The Senate seat was vacated when former Sen. Kent Sorenson, a Republican from Milo, resigned after an independent investigator concluded he likely broke ethics rules in receiving money from presidential candidate Michele Bachmann's political action committee and presidential campaign.
     Garrett's victory means the state Senate will remain nearly evenly split, with Democrats controlling 26 seats and Republicans holding 24.
     The District 13 seat will go before voters again in 2014.


USDA Approves Grants For Local Food To Go To School Lunches 

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved grants to 71 organizations in 42 states working on getting locally grown farm products into school cafeterias
     In Iowa, Decorah-based Northeast Iowa Food & Fitness Initiative will get $95,600 to expand their program to more schools with a goal of increasing their local food purchase by 200 percent.
     In Nebraska, the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons will get $99,600. The organization plans to help 10 pilot schools set up farm-to-school programs and hold farm summits in eastern Nebraska to help build connections between farmers and schools.
     The projects across the U.S. will serve more than 13,000 schools and 2.8 million students.


McCaughey Septuplets Turn 16

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Do you remember The McCaughey septuplets?  Well, they  are 16 now and say they don't mind that they're taking a lower profile than years ago.
     The children, of Carlisle, became internationally famous when they became the world's first surviving septuplets in 1997. They were on the cover of national magazines and featured on network television shows.
     But as the seven children celebrate their 16th birthday Tuesday, the family says it's nice to live a more normal life.
     Nathan McCaughey says the attention was fun, "but in other ways I never liked it, all these cameras following you around everywhere."
     The parents, Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey, say they enjoy being able to have conversations with their children now that they're older.
      And Bobbi notes, "It's fun to see the work pay off."


Judge Rules U of I Did Not Violate Public Records Law

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A judge says the University of Iowa did not violate the public records law when it allowed a doctor to delay release of a settlement deal showing he was allowed to resign after a personnel dispute.
     Judge Douglas Russell ruled Tuesday that the university acted in good faith in 2011 when it gave John Chaloupka time to seek an injunction to challenge the document's release, which had been requested by The Associated Press. The ruling means the university doesn't have to pay the AP's attorney's fees.
     It took two years and two court orders for the AP to obtain the document, which showed Chaloupka received his $380,000 salary for a year after he was removed as director of the university hospital's neurointerventional radiology division and transferred to a non-clinical job.




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