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Monday News, May 13

Fire Department Responds to House Arson Fire

(Le Mars) -- Fire officials responded to a house fire last evening at 36 3rd Avenue Northeast.  The alarm was reported shortly after 9:00 p.m.  When fire officials arrived on the scene, smoke could be seen coming from the building.  Five different people were renting and living at the home at the time.  Each were able to escape the house fire with no injuries.  Fire Chief Dave Schipper says fire crews were able to contain the fire within a few minutes.

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The fire did an estimated $10,000 worth of damage.  The origin of the fire was confined to a small bathroom located on the main floor.  However, the fire chief says the cause of the fire was determined to be arson.

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The Le Mars Police have charged 29 year old Sarah Smith with first degree arson, a class B felony.  Smith was arrested Sunday evening and taken to the Plymouth County jail. Assisting at the scene were the Le Mars Police Department, Le Mars Ambulance, MidAmerican Energy and the American Red Cross.


Hinton Fire Department Fights Grass Fire

(Hinton) -- The Hinton Fire Department was called to fight a grass fire on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. That fire was reported at 32278 Indigo Road.  Officials were on the scene for about a half an hour.


Oyens Fire Department Battles Grass/Field Fire

(Oyens) -- Oyens fire officials also were called on Sunday to fight a grass fire located at the range.  The fire was reported at about 12:30 p.m.  Fire officials were able to contain the fire within a half an hour.


Akron Fire and Rescue Unit Helps Auto Accident

(Akron) -- The Akron Fire Department was called upon Sunday to assist with an auto accident that occurred at the intersection of County road C-16 and Diamond Avenue.  The accident involved one vehicle and it happened at about 9:30 p.m.  No other details are known at this time about that accident.

Le Mars School Board To Discuss Affordable Health Care Program

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education is scheduled to meet this evening at the Education Service Center.  The local school board is expected to discuss the upcoming senior awards night, commencement, and the employee recognition coffees.  Superintendent of schools Dr. Todd Wendt will also discuss with the board information regarding the implications of the Affordable Health Care Act and how the district can comply with the requirements.  The board is expected to act upon three resignation requests.  The school board will hear from Assistant Superintendent Steve Webner and two faculty members discuss a professional development class and its component of the district's comprehensive professional development plan.


Galva Man Tries To Evade Police On Chase

ONAWA, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa man is facing charges after trying to evade police at speeds up to 120 mph.
The chase happened on Friday afternoon when the Ida County Sheriff's Department tried to stop 28-year-old Barry Young of Galva.
Authorities say Young fled south on Highway 175 and drove erratically while as many as six police cars pursued him. Young is suspected of stealing packages off the front porches of homes.
The Iowa State Patrol says Young drove across a farm field and through a fence surrounding a cell phone tower during the chase.
Young was arrested a few miles east of Onawa.
Young faces a felony charge of eluding arrest, several drug charges and numerous traffic violations.


Morningside College Plans Expansion

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Morningside College in Sioux City is investing $13 million in a new classroom building.
The project will be the first new academic building on its Sioux City campus since the early 1970s.
Morningside is also planning to renovate the Hickman-Johnson-Furrow Learning Center on campus. The work is scheduled to be ready by the fall of 2014.
The projects are part of a $50 million campaign of upgrades at Morningside. School officials say they have already raised $30 million.
Morningside Chairman Mike Bennett says the rest of the money will support the library portion of the school's planned academic village.


Lawmakers Say School Bus Inspections Need To Change

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Most Iowa lawmakers agree that changes need to be made to the state's system for inspecting school buses, but it's unlikely a bill will pass this year because lawmakers can't agree on what should be done.
A bill that would help close loopholes in the inspection system by requiring buses with serious problems to be re-inspected before returning to service passed the Iowa Senate on a 46-2 vote.
Some lawmakers now want to shift bus inspections out of the Education Department and into the state Transportation Department.
Republican Rep. Kevin Koester, of Ankeny, says school buses should get the same inspections commercial vehicles receive.
But former lawmaker Mike Cormack, who works for the Education Department, says moving the inspections would only delay needed improvements.

Spencer Man Found Guilty Of Beating

SPENCER, Iowa (AP) - A 21-year-old Spencer man has been sentenced to 45 years in prison for fatally beating another man during a burglary in northwest Iowa.
Sioux City television station KTIV reports that Christopher Fitzpatrick was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter, first-degree robbery and conspiracy to deliver
Police say they found 59-year old Edward Kitto badly beaten in the backyard of a Spencer home on Aug. 27. Kitto died at a Sioux Falls, S.D., hospital on Sept. 8.
Fitzpatrick had been charged with first-degree murder and had faced life in prison before taking a deal from prosecutors. As part of the deal, Fitzpatrick admitted in court to hitting Kitto and
stealing money from the man's wallet.
A second suspect, 21-year old Cody Millard of Spencer, is awaiting trial.


MidAmerican Energy Wants To Raise Rates

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - MidAmerican Energy Co. is seeking permission from the Iowa Utilities Board to increase electricity rates, saying it's the first base-rate increase the utility has sought since 1995.
If approved, the rate would go into effect in August. MidAmerican says the increase would cost the average residential customer an additional $2.73 a month in 2013 and continue to rise over the next few years. By 2016, the average residential customer would be paying about $8 more a month than the current rate.
MidAmerican spokeswoman Tina Potthoff says the rate increase request is not related to the utility's announcement Wednesday of a $1.9 billion wind energy project.


Saturday News, May 11

Fire Department Responds To Apartment Fire

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire-Rescue Department was called to an apartment fire at 45 3rd Ave. N.E. (The Depot Apartments) at 3:27pm.   Upon arrival firefighters encountered flames on the outside west wall of the building.   Firefighters opened up the wall with a chain saw and extinguished the fire in the wall.   Firefighters vented the smoke in the building with fans.   All tenants were allowed back into the building.   The building is owned by Jim Driscoll.

The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental.  The most probable cause for the fire was discarded smoking material in a plastic bucket.   Garbage in the bucket was ignited by cigarette butts and the fire spread from the bucket to the exterior wall of the building.  There were no injuries and firefighters were on the scene for approximately 40 minutes. 
The Le Mars Fire-Rescue Department was assisted at the scene by the Le Mars Police Department.


Kingsley Fire Department Is Called To Grain Elevator

(Kingsley) -- The Kingsley Fire Department responded to a call from the Farmer's Co-op Elevator in Kingsley at about 2:00 p.m. when smoke was reported coming from the main grain silo unit.  Fire officials determine the smoke was caused by a worn bearing.  Fire officials watered down the grain dust so it no longer presented a hazzard of exploding.  Officials were on the scene for nearly two hours.  No grain was lost during the small fire.

Kingsley Fire Department Assist With Chlorine Spill

(Kingsley) -- Nearly two hours after putting down the fire at the grain elevator, the Kingsley Fire Department was called upon again.  This time to help ventilate a building after Chlorine had been spilled in a basement.  The call was at 32658 County Road L-21.  Fire officials were on the scene for nearly 40 minutes.


Jamal Dean Back In Iowa

(Sioux City) -- The suspect in the April 29th shooting of a Sioux City Police officer is back in Iowa.  Woodbury County Sheriff's deputies arrived at the county jail with Jamal Dean around 1:15 p.m. Friday.
Dean was captured by U.S. Marshalls in Texas after fleeing Iowa.  He is charged with attempted murder for the shooting of Sioux City Police Officer Kevin McCormick during a traffic stop.  Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew sent several deputies to retrieve the suspect once he waived extradition from Texas.

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Dean said nothing as he was walked from a patrol car into the rear entrance of the Woodbury County jail.  The alley was closed off and a near-by bank's drive through lanes were temporarily shutdown until Dean was brought into the downtown jail.  Dean was wearing a bullet proof vest as he was brought into the jail.  He was to make an initial appearance before a judge through the jail's video system after he went through the booking procedure.


Hogs Killed During Traffic Accident

(Sioux Center) -- A truck accident at Sioux County killed 55 hogs.  It happened at 9:37 a.m. Thursday on south Grant Avenue, about three miles south of Sioux Center.  A trailer loaded with hogs was backing up and went off the road into a ditch, flipping over.  The driver, a 50 year old man from Minnesota  was not injured in the accident.  The damages was estimated at more than $40,000.

Mail Carriers Conduct Food Drive

(Le Mars) -- Postal workers are wanting to help "stamp" out local hunger, and they are asking for the assistance of their patrons.  Saturday marks the anniversary when mail carriers collect food items for the needy.  Le Mars Post Master Barry Synder explains.
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Synder says the program has been very successful both on a national basis, as well as here locally.

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If you would like to help with the mail carriers' food drive, Synder suggests you leave food items either inside or next to your mailbox.

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And for those people that use a Post Office Box, what are their options?

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Wet Spring Cause Higher Nitrate Levels In Iowa Rivers

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Last year's drought combined with the wettest April in Iowa in more than 140 years is causing a significant washing out of fertilizer from farmland and it's ending
up in the rivers used by many cities for drinking water.
The Des Moines Register reports the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers have reached record nitrate levels forcing the city Water Works to switch on its $4 million nitrate removal equipment for the
first time since 2007. The Environmental Protection Agency allows up to 10 milligrams per liter in drinking water. Untreated, the Raccoon River is running at 24 and the Des Moines River at 18.
The problem is worse because drought-stunted crops absorbed less nitrogen fertilizer last fall leaving it in soil. This spring's heavy rain washed it into rivers.

ISU Animal Science Chair To Retire

AMES, Iowa (AP) - The chairman of Iowa State University's Department of Animal Science plans to retire after 10 years in the role.
Maynard Hogberg says he will remain in his position until the university completes a search for his replacement.
Iowa State announced his retirement in a news release Friday.
Hogberg grew up near Stanton, in southwest Iowa's Montgomery County. He came to Iowa State in 2003 after working 27 years at Michigan State University.
Hogberg earned his bachelor's, master's and doctorate at Iowa State.


State Lawmakers Pass New Child Endangerment Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Department of Human Services is on the verge of taking a less-confrontational approach toward adults accused of minor acts of child neglect.
The state Legislature has approved a bill creating the new process, and it's now awaiting Gov. Terry Branstad's signature.
The new approach allows for "family assessments," in which caseworkers can work with families and let them describe their situation without fear of being placed on the state child abuse registry.
Agency spokesman Roger Munns says the change would better balance the rights of adults with the need to protect children. Cases involving sexual, physical and substance abuse will still
require a traditional investigation.
Some child advocates back the change but say the state needs to ensure quick evaluations if there is any risk to a child.


Attorney Selected To Investigate Possible Campaign Ethics Violation

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Des Moines attorney has been appointed to serve as an independent investigator to determine whether a state senator violated Senate rules by taking payment from former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.
Mark Weinhardt has been appointed by Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady as independent special counsel. The Iowa State Senate Ethics Committee voted May 1 to seek a special investigator.
Weinhardt will determine whether Republican Sen. Kent Sorenson, of Milo, was paid for campaign work on behalf Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman who campaigned for president between June 2011 and January 2012.
Two former Bachmann campaign staffers say Sorenson was indirectly paid $7,500 a month.
Iowa Senate ethics rules bar paid employment with political campaigns.
Sorenson denies payment and says the investigation is a political witch hunt.

Judge Upholds Suspension of Iowa DOT Employee

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A judge has upheld the paid suspension of a veteran Department of Transportation employee who sent inappropriate emails to colleagues, including one that depicted a
woman's genitalia.
The ruling, made public Friday, says the agency acted appropriately when it suspended 52-year-old Ilo Jon Allen, of Hornick, for five days in August and then 10 days for a different situation involving smoking on state property.
Allen, a 33-year veteran of the department, was first suspended in August for sending more than 50 inappropriate emails from his personal email account to work emails of some subordinates. One
email showed a series of cropped or staged photographs creating the impression of nudity.
Allen told The Des Moines Register that he didn't realize the emails were against state policy.



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