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Thursday News, February 19

Hebert Found Guilty Of Threats Against White House

LE MARS, Iowa (AP) - A jury has found an Akron man guilty of making a bomb threat on a government building and attempting to fight law enforcement officials while naked in his living room.
    37-year-old Jeremy Hebert was found guilty Wednesday of making a threat to use an explosive or incendiary device. He also was convicted of three counts of assaulting law enforcement officers.
     Hebert was arrested in November, and authorities say he told them he would drop a bomb on the White House and kill George H.W. Bush, who hasn't been president since 1993.     He has been taken to Plymouth County jail where he awaits a sentence hearing that's scheduled for March 27.


Le Mars Ambulance Service Delivers Annual Report

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Ambulance Service responded to a total of 913 calls, but transported 933 patients, during 2014, according to Bill Rosacker, director of the Le Mars Ambulance Services.  Rosacker delivered the annual report to the Le Mars City Council on Tuesday.  He says the numbers reflect a flat to a slight decline trend from previous years.

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Rosacker says the ambulance service breaks down their calls into two categories:

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Rosacker says he was wondering, at times, if the Le Mars Ambulance would exceed 900 calls for the year, as it had during the two prior years. He says more than a hundred calls occured in the last six weeks.

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The ambulance director reported he has a staff of 26 volunteers with many that are trained to handle advanced life support procedures, which he says means good news for the Le Mars community.

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Rosacker says the majority of calls involved transporting a patient to Floyd Valley Hospital.

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Bretey Selected As National Merit Scholarship Finalist 

(Le Mars) -- Gehlen Catholic senior, Michaela Bretey, daughter of Dr. Keith and Teri Bretey of LeMars, has advanced to the Finalist level of the National Merit Scholarship Competition (NMSC), according to Mrs. Kristin Hausmann, Gehlen Catholic 7-12 School Psychologist.
According to the NMSC Program, to become a Finalist, Michaela and Gehlen Catholic School submitted a detailed scholarship application.  The application provided information about Michaela’s “…academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, honors and awards received.  A Semifinalist (Michaela) must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.”
Michaela’s application is now being considered for the designation as a Merit Scholar. 
The award is not determined by academic accomplishments only.  Mrs. Hausmann acknowledged that Michaela’s excellence in communication skills, true compassion, integrity, and faith are equally, if not even more so, impressive.


Senate Committee Passes Bill To Increase Minimum Wage

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Senate committee has approved bills that would increase Iowa's minimum wage and create a more detailed system for preventing wage theft.
     The committee on labor and business relations voted Wednesday to advance both bills. The full Democratic-controlled Senate can now debate them.
     The minimum wage bill would increase the state's $7.25 minimum wage to $8.75 by 2016. Democrats previously pushed to raise Iowa's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, but they now say this new bill could have more bipartisan support.
     Leaders in the Republican-majority House say they want to focus on skilled job training instead of the minimum wage.
     The committee Wednesday voted largely on party lines.
     The wage theft bill would require businesses to be more direct with workers about employment terms. Similar legislation failed last session.


Nursing Students Deliver Petition To Keep Open Mount Pleasant Mental Health Center

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Nursing students from southeast Iowa are protesting the closing of a state mental health facility in Mount Pleasant.
     Students from Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant visited lawmakers Wednesday at the Capitol. The students also left a copy on Governor Terry Branstad's desk of more than 7,100 petition signatures protesting the closing.  The governor wasn't at the Capitol at the time.
     Kaitlyn Dirth, a junior studying nursing at Wesleyan, began the petition online in late January. She says nursing students use the Mount Pleasant facility to complete required training hours for graduation. She argues its closing will force students to find limited training accommodations elsewhere.
     Branstad's spokesman released a statement saying the decision to close the facility was part of an effort to offer modern mental health treatment.


45,000 Iowans Sign Up For Federal Health Care Program

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Federal officials say that over 45,000 people in Iowa have signed up for health care coverage on the federal exchange.
     The second open enrollment period under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul - known as the Affordable Care Act - ended Sunday. In a Wednesday news release, federal officials say over 45,000 people in Iowa signed up or were automatically re-enrolled in a plan.
     That's more than the roughly 29,000 who signed up during the first enrollment.
     Over 2,000 people who shopped on the exchange are still enrolled in plans with an insurance cooperative that the state plans to liquidate. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart is urging them to seek new coverage before the end of the month so they can maintain federal tax credits to help pay premiums.


Democrats Appoint New Director

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Democratic Party has appointed a new executive director.
     Party chairwoman Andy McGuire announced Wednesday that Ben Foecke will take over the role. He previously worked for the Iowa Senate Majority Fund, which worked to keep Democrats in the majority in the state Senate in 2014.
     McGuire said in a statement that Foecke would be well served by his decade of experience in Iowa politics. He has also worked for the state party.
     Outgoing executive director Troy Price will step down March 3. A news release says he will pursue other opportunities.









Wednesday Afternoon News, February 18

Woman Pleads Guilty To Hiding Jamal Dean After Officer Shooting

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A woman has pleaded guilty to lying to investigators of a man's whereabouts in the hours after he shot a Sioux City police officer. 
    Kimberly Smith of Sioux City pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to defraud the United States by obstruction or interfering with governmental functions. 
     Smith admitted that Jamal Dean arrived at her residence in 2013 shortly after shooting officer Kevin McCormick during a traffic stop. She helped Dean's father, Levon Dean, hide the vehicle he used to pick up his son near the shooting scene. 
     Smith later told police she hadn't seen Jamal Dean that day. 
     Dean's father has pleaded guilty to helping his son evade arrest.
     Jamal Dean has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the shooting, but was also sentenced to life in prison by judge for his other crimes.


Iowa Farm Bureau Lobbies Legislature For Increase In Fuel Tax

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Members of an influential farming group are lobbying lawmakers to approve a fuel tax increase to pay for road improvements. 
     Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill said Wednesday that 200 members of his group were in the Capitol, talking to legislators. Hill appeared at a news conference where a national transportation research group released a report detailing weaknesses with Iowa's bridges and roads.
     The report says 27 percent of Iowa's urban roads and highways are in poor condition and that 21 percent of Iowa's bridges are structurally deficient.  
     Lawmakers in the state House and Senate are reviewing bills that would raise the state fuel tax by 10 cents a gallon to pay for roads. The governor and legislative leaders have offered support for providing more money for infrastructure.


House Bill To Allow Community Colleges To Hire Adjunct Teachers

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A House panel has approved a bill that would allow Iowa community colleges to expand teaching hours for certain adjunct professors.
     Members of an education subcommittee approved the bill Wednesday. It now moves to a full committee for review. Similar legislation failed to advance in the House last session.
     Adjunct professors are currently allowed to work up to 35 hours per week. This bill would expand it to 40 hours for certain adjunct professors.
     Rep. Josh Byrnes, a Republican from Osage, is sponsor of the bill. He says it would help community colleges seeking to slightly expand an instructor's hours.
     Melissa Peterson with the Iowa State Education Association says she wants to make sure the bill doesn't encourage community colleges to hire more adjunct professors instead of full-time faculty.


Waverly Closes Bridge

 WAVERLY, Iowa (AP) - The city of Waverly has closed the aging Third Street Bridge over concerns about its condition.
     The city closed the bridge Friday due to bridge's significant corrosion. 
     City engineer Mike Cherry expressed frustration at a council meeting on Monday about the lack of action on the structure that was built in 1917. In 2003, a panel studied the bridge and looked at options to renovate it as a pedestrian bridge, relocate it or replace it. No action was taken after the study was completed.
     Cherry says that repairs would be costly. He also says that the structure's load and lane restrictions would likely disqualify it from receiving state funding. 
     The state would likely provide funding to replace the bridge.





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