Monday, April 27, 2015
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Monday Afternoon News, April 13

Secondary Roads Department Closes Two Roads For Bridge/Culvert Repairs

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Secondary Roads Department has announced Fawn Avenue between County Road C-38 to 200th Street will be closed beginning Monday at 12:00 noon and it will remain closed until July 28th.  The road is closed due to the replacement of a bridge.  In addition, 280th Street between county road K-30 to Hedge Avenue will be closed beginning today until Wednesday for a replacement of a culvert pipe.




Water Main Break Interrupts Hydrant Flushing Schedule

(Le Mars) -- Last week while the city was flushing some fire hydrants, they encountered a water main break, resulting in an interruption of the flushing, and causing the city water crews to be delayed with their schedule.  Gayle Sitzmann is the city water department superintendent, and says the water main break occurred near 501 2nd Avenue northwest.


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Sitamann says hydrant flushing will continue on Tuesday.


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Local Ethanol Producer Reacts To Supreme Court Ruling

(Marcus, Iowa (AP) - Rejecting a challenge from the ethanol industry, the Iowa Supreme Court says the state's tax on the use of natural gas is constitutional.

Several ethanol plants argued the law is unfair because it requires them to pay higher taxes than many competitors for natural gas, which is heavily used in the manufacturing process.

The affected plants are those that obtain natural gas directly from interstate pipelines rather than local utilities. They are assessed the tax based on the amount they use and their geographic location.

Little Sioux Corn Processors, which operates an ethanol plant in Marcus, and Plymouth Energy, an ethanol plant in Merrill are both affected by the higher taxes.  They, and other ethanol plants, argued the tax was unconstitutional because it treats similar plants differently and punishes consumers who buy gas from out-of-state suppliers.

The court says the tax may not create uniform results, but it is constitutional.

Steve Roe is the manager of the Little Sioux Corn Processors ethanol plant and explains how he believes the tax is unfair.


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Roe says under the current law, the Little Sioux Corn Processors have to pay about six times the amount in the tax rates, as opposed to some other ethanol plants.


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The Little Sioux Corn Processors executive says the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, the lobbying organization that represents ethanol and biodiesel plants, were trying to convince lawmakers to change the law.  He says it is too late for this legislative session to act upon it, but the ethanol industry will bring the matter to the attention of lawmakers in future sessions.




Farmers Making Progress On Field Work

(Le Mars) -- Farmers have been taking advantage of the warm weather by preparing their fields for crop production.  Iowa State University Extension Crop Specialist for Northwest Iowa, Joel DeJong says so far, farmers are off to a good start.


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Soil temperatures have been rising according to DeJong, but still a bit cooler than desired for crop production.


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As for sub-soil moisture levels, and despite some reports indicating drought-like conditions, the crops specialist says for most of Northwest Iowa the levels are sufficient.


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Most Iowa farmers will probably plant this year's corn crop between April 20th and May 10th.




Osceola Authorities Looking For Person Who Dumped Puppies In River

SIBLEY, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say they're searching for the person who dumped a bag of dead puppies near a northwestern Iowa bridge.

The Osceola County Sheriff's Office says the bag was located near a bridge north of Sibley, Iowa on Northwest Boulevard. The sheriff's office received a report of the puppies April 6.

The puppies have been described as medium or large breed dogs. Officials say they were seemingly left near the bridge sometime in the winter.

The case remains under investigation.






Bank Robbery Case Sent To Federal Trial

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The case of an Urbandale man accused of robbing a central Iowa bank at gunpoint has been sent to a federal grand jury.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Iowa says 35-year-old Hussam Fayiz Abusharkh appeared in federal court Friday on a criminal complaint. He is accused of robbing the Farmers and Merchants State Bank in St. Charles on March 25, when Madison County deputies responded to reports of a man with a handgun ordering employees to fill a bag with money.

Abusharkh turned himself in to authorities Thursday on a state first-degree robbery charge.

It was unclear Monday whether Abusharkh has an attorney. Online court records don't yet list the case.

A judge ordered that Abusharkh remain detained pending the grand jury's review of his case.





Two People Killed In Brandon, South Dakota Home Fire

BRANDON, S.D. (AP) - A homeowner and a firefighter have died in a house fire in the Minnehaha County city of Brandon.

Police Chief David Kull says 47-year-old homeowner David Smith was taken late Sunday to a Sioux Falls hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Authorities identified the firefighter as 38-year-old Steven Ackerman, a volunteer with the Valley Springs fire department.

Firefighters responded to the scene shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday. They were ordered out of the burning home about 40 minutes later. Ackerman was reported missing about 11 p.m. His body was found in the home's basement about 1:30 a.m. Monday.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the fire but authorities say they do not believe it is suspicious. Kull says it appears the blaze started in the basement.




Carbon Monoxide Death

DELHI, Iowa (AP) - An 18-year-old man found unresponsive in a running car in eastern Iowa has died.

The Delaware County Sheriff's Office say Cole Haan died Monday morning after he and 17-year-old Nichole Lucas breathed in carbon monoxide from the car. Deputies found the pair in the car near Maquoketa Valley High School in Delhi on Saturday night.

The  car had been running for about an hour when authorities found the teens. They were transported to the Regional Medical Center in Maquoketa before being airlifted to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

Investigators say the vehicle's exhaust pipe was broken, allowing fumes to enter the vehicle.

The sheriff's office says Lucas remains at the Iowa City hospital, where her condition is said to be improving.











Monday News, April 13

Le Mars Experiences A Brief Power Outage On Sunday

(Le Mars) -- Many Le Mars residents experienced a brief power outage Sunday morning.  Power was interrupted at approximately 8:20 a.m. and the cause was a tree limb that had fallen on a utility power line, near the 300 block of 9th Avenue Southwest.  In most cases, power was restored within a few minutes.



No Damage Reported From Sunday Storm

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County was able to escape any weather related damage from the season's first major thunderstorm that rolled into the area last evening. According to the Plymouth county Sheriff's office, a transformer was struck by lighting, otherwise, there were no reports of damage.  Here at the KLEM studios, we had three tenths of an inch of rain.



School Board To Hold Budget Hearing This Evening

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School District Board of Education will hold a public hearing this evening for the purpose of allowing public comment regarding the proposed 2015-2016 budget following the presentation by School superintendent, Dr. Todd Wendt.  The school board will also hold a public hearing for the purpose of allowing public input regarding the proposal to continue participation in the instructional support program as provided by in the Iowa Code Sections 257.17 through 257.21.  The school board will hear reports from each of the principals.  Other topics to be discussed during this evening's school board meeting include: a meeting with the Remsen-Union School Board, the annual Foundation Banquet, Safety Group Insurance meeting, and the Iowa Association of School Boards School Law Conference.  The Le Mars School Board will also act upon one resignation.



DeCosters Face Sentencing For Contaminated Eggs

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Two former egg industry executives are scheduled to be sentenced in Sioux City on Monday for their roles in a 2010 salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands.

Austin "Jack" DeCoster and his son Peter DeCoster pleaded guilty last June to misdemeanor charges of shipping adulterated food.

The two hope to avoid jail time, but prosecutors have argued for tough punishment because of the widespread harm caused by the outbreak.

Prosecutors also say the DeCosters knew their Iowa egg facilities were at risk for contamination.

Federal health officials linked 1,939 illnesses to the 2010 outbreak, but they estimate that up to 56,000 people may have been sickened.

The Quality Egg company agreed to pay a $6.8 million fine as part of a plea agreement, and the DeCosters will pay $100,000 apiece.




Waldorf College Student Dies At Recreational Lake

FOREST CITY, Iowa (AP) - Officials say a Forest City college student died after his small boat overturned at Torkelson Pits Conservation Area over the weekend.

The Waldorf College president sent a message to faculty and staff, confirming that Timothy Brown Jr. died Saturday. President Robert Alsop says Brown, a criminal justice student and football player, enrolled in the college five years ago and was set to graduate in May.

Alsop says a school counselor will be available to help grieving students. A remembrance to honor Brown also is being planned for Monday night on campus.

The Hancock County Sheriff's Department is investigating. Deputies say it appeared Brown was alone in the recreational watercraft when friends from the shore called for help.





Nitrates Found In Drinking Waters On The Rise

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa farmers efforts to control the spread of nitrates in recent years appears to be helping but research shows that levels of the fertilizer byproduct have soared in the state's major rivers.

Nitrate levels have more than tripled since the 1950s to more than 7 milligrams per liter in 2010.

Researcher Keith Schilling says the upward trend in nitrate levels is unmistakable. Schilling studies nitrate levels for the Iowa Geological Survey at the University of Iowa.

Last month, the Des Moines Water Works sued Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties over high nitrate levels. The utility has invested in costly measures to control nitrates in drinking water.





Legislators May Not Finish Work By May 1st Deadline

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The time is approaching when Iowa lawmakers typically start wrapping up their work for the year, but with budget negotiations moving slowly, it doesn't look like the Legislature will be adjourning any time soon.

May 1st is the final day of expense payments for the part-time lawmakers, as well as the last day for much of the temporary staff and the student pages who work in the Legislature.  With just three weeks to go, lawmakers in the Republican-majority state House and Democratic-controlled Senate are still far apart on how much additional funding to provide for K through 12 education and remain at odds over basic budget issues.

Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen declined to predict when the session may end.





Hillary Clinton To Bring Presidential Campaign To Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Hillary Clinton is taking her newly announced presidential campaign into the heart of small town Iowa this week.

Clinton will tour a community college in Monticello on Tuesday and visit a produce distribution company in Norwalk on Wednesday. That's according to a schedule provided by her campaign Sunday. She will also hold meetings with Democratic elected officials and activists in the leadoff caucus state.

Clinton announced Sunday that she'll seek the presidency for a second time. Her team has made clear that she wants to avoid big campaign events and instead focus on more personal interaction with voters in early voting states like Iowa.

Clinton's 2008 campaign faltered in Iowa, where she placed third in the caucuses.




Lottery Worker Fraud Trial To Begin Today

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The fraud trial for a former lottery worker accused of buying a Hot Lotto ticket and setting up a scheme to try to cash it in is scheduled to begin Monday.

Eddie Tipton of Norwalk faces two counts of fraud. He was arrested in January after authorities claimed he had bought the ticket in December 2010. It was worth about $14 million. The jackpot went nearly a year without being claimed until a New York lawyer tried to get the prize on behalf of an undisclosed ticket owner. He eventually dropped the claim.

Iowa doesn't award lottery prizes anonymously.

Authorities traced the convenience store ticket purchase to Tipton.

As director of information security for the Multi-State Lottery Association based in Des Moines, Tipton wasn't allowed to play or win prizes.








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