Friday, December 19, 2014
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Thursday Afternoon News, December 18

Plymouth County Conservation Board Eligible For Grant 

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Conservation Board was recently notified it is eligible for a grant to help with the new River's Bend Lake located near Akron.  Nick Beeck serves as the executive director for the Conservation Board, and explains how the grant money will be utilized.

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Beeck says before the County Conservation Board can obtain the funding, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources still needs to agree to the plan.  However, Beeck is confident the local conservation board will be given approval.  He says of the $9,600 requested, the state DNR would finance 90 percent of the costs, and the Plymouth County Conservation Board would need to finance the remaining 10 percent.  The grant proposal was scored at a recent district conference.

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The rennovation of the lake is scheduled for March or April, depending upon when the lake is free of ice.  Beeck says within a month after the application, the Conservation Board will be able to re-stock the new lake with desired game fish.

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Beeck says River's Bend used to be a gravel pit.  He says the county made a land swap deal with the Higman Sand and Gravel Company.  The Conservation Board is on year two of a three year plan to upgrade the facilities to include a boat ramp, camping area, restrooms, and a shelter house.


AGP To Expand Sergeant Bluff Facilities

SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa (AP) - An Omaha, Nebraska, soybean processing company plans to build a $90 million vegetable oil refinery in western Iowa.
     Ag Processing Inc. plans to build the refinery at its complex near Sergeant Bluff, creating at least 20 new jobs. The information comes from documents by Ag Processing seeking nearly $1 million in Iowa loans and tax breaks released by the state Wednesday.
     The company's complex in Woodbury County currently includes a soybean processing plant, biodiesel plant and grain storage facilities.
     The vegetable oil refinery proposed for the same 85-acre site would be designed for 30 rail tank cars per day. Estimated project costs include $2.5 million for site preparation, $14.5 million for construction and $71.5 million for new machinery and equipment.


Argosy Casino's Final Remnants May Remain In Place For A Year  

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The final remnants of Sioux City's former riverboat casino will remain in the river for up to a year.
    Two large moorings in the Missouri River are all that is left at the former site of the gambling boat. The reddish-orange moorings protrude about 15 feet above the surface near the shoreline. 
     The Argosy riverboat casino closed in July after the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission ordered it to cease operations because it wasn't partnered with a state-licensed local nonprofit group as required by Iowa law. An Illinois marine business bought the riverboat and other assets, which it plans to sell. 
     A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spokesman says the business has until December 2015 to remove the moorings.


High School Students Building Home For College Credit

 HUMBOLDT, Iowa (AP) - Four Humboldt High School students are earning college credit as they help build a house through a program at Iowa Central Community College. 
     The students are participating in the Early Bird Program with the community college that allows them to spend their school day mornings building a house.
     Senior Colby Miller says he'll likely use his work experience to enter the construction industry. He says he's already been able to use his time in the program, which is in its 13th year, to his advantage. He spent part of his summer working on a building's roof.
     The Humboldt County Housing Development Corporation funds the annual project.


Iowa's Blacklisted Employees Findiing It Difficult To Obtain State Employment

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Challenges to Iowa's practice of barring from re-employment former workers who resigned under pressure or were fired are failing in courts and the executive branch.
     The Associated Press disclosed in March that the state has for years been quietly declaring such workers ineligible. Outraged union leaders called the practice illegal blacklisting and lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit.
     But months later, little has changed. A judge dismissed the lawsuit in October, saying workers have to challenge their disqualification through the executive branch, not the courts.
     Administrative law judges and the Employment Appeal Board have rejected appeal after appeal from workers trying to get re-employed. Not one challenge has been successful this year.
     Former state worker Holly Rider says agencies are "missing out on a lot of people with great potential."


University Of Iowa Defends Decision To Reassign Employee

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa is defending its decision to reassign a law school employee while she brings a lawsuit claiming political discrimination.
     The university last month transferred Teresa Wagner from her eight-year job as associate director of the law school's writing center to a position in the main library.
     The move came after Wagner last month accused her boss at the writing center of going through her backpack, and said the two could no longer work together. 
     In her federal lawsuit, Wagner claims she was passed over for faculty jobs because of her conservative politics. 
     Her attorney has alleged the reassignment amounts to a demotion and is retaliation. The university denied that, noting the transfer didn't affect Wagner's pay.
     A judge will hold a hearing next month on the issue.


Iowa City Businesses Feeling Uneasy About Homeless Shelter

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Some business owners are uneasy about a planned temporary homeless shelter in Iowa City aimed at keeping people warm during the winter.
     Owner Jim Rogers of Jim's Instrument Manufacturing says the short-term housing solution, which will be open only in January and February, could draw more criminal activity to the area. He says there's already a homeless shelter in the area.
     Paul Young, who owns Sweet Livin' Antiques, tells KWWL-TV that he supports helping those in need, but worries the temporary shelter could be permanent.
     The Iowa City Council on Tuesday approved to spend up to $20,000 on the project that will be housed in a former grocery store building.








Thursday News, December 18

Fire Department Responds To Carbon Monoxide Alarm

(Le Mars) -- This time of year when we want to keep the cold weather outside and the warmth inside, can, at times prove to be deadly.  Carbon Monoxide poisoning can occur when our homes are shut tight, and we are operating gas fueled furnaces, fire places, water heaters, or other gas appliances. Improper ventilation or faulty equipment can cause high levels of carbon monoxide within a few hours.  The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department responded to a carbon monoxide alarm at 610 Greenwood Street Wednesday evening.  Upon arrival, fire fighters were able to determine the carbon monoxide level to be at 55 parts per million.  Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says any level above 35 parts per million over an eight hour time period can be deadly.  Schipper says carbon monoxide is referred to as "the silent killer."

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Schipper says the fire department has responded to seven carbon monoxide related calls since October.  He says the colorless and odorless gas moves through a home much the same way as smoke.

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The residents were fortunate to have a detector that sounded and alerted them of the dangers.  Schipper says the cause was a faulty furnace. He says the levels detected in the home, may cause people to get a headache, feeling tired or nauseaed.  Extended exposure to carbon monoxide can kill.

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During the winter cold months, many people start their cars while still inside their garage.  Schipper says that is a bad idea, even if you open the garage door.

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The affected family evacuated the home and did go to Floyd Valley Hospital for observation. Schipper says they stayed with friends overnight. Schipper advises people to purchase carbon monoxide detectors, which are similar in size and costs to smoke detectors.


Woman Hits Floyd Valley Hospital With Car

(Le Mars) -- Shortly before 3:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon an elderly woman driving a 2013 GMC Terrain hit the front of Floyd Valley Hospital near the entrance.  Officials believe the elderly woman, identified as Pat Hawkins was attempting to park at a handicapped reserved parking stall, when she mistakenly stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake causing the vehicle to hit the building.  Le Mars Fire Department and Le Mars Ambulance was called to the scene to help extricate the woman from the vehicle.  Fire and hospital officials needed to cut a portion of an evergreen tree in order to gain access to the vehicle.  The woman was placed on a stretcher and ambulance crew members then transported her inside the hospital for observation.  The hospital entrance had minimal damage, while the vehicle's front end suffered extensive damage.  The accident remains under investigation by the Le Mars Police Department.


Voters May Be Able To Register Online 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Voting rights advocates say a proposed rule that would allow Iowans to register to vote online would exclude anyone without a driver's license or state-issued ID and must be fixed. 
     The Iowa Voter Registration Commission is moving forward on the rule that would allow Iowans to register to vote online in addition to the paper registration process. 
     Commissioner Charlie Smithson says it's a great step that benefits 94 percent of Iowans with minimal cost.
     A public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 30.
     The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa and other organizations say the proposal excludes about 145,000 Iowans eligible to vote but without a driver's license or state-issued ID.
     A state association of county election officials plans to ask the Legislature for a law that improves upon the rule.


Democrat Organizers Encouraging Senator Warren To Run For President

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Liberal activists eager to draft Senator Elizabeth Warren into a run for president are bringing their effort to Iowa, the pivotal early-voting state.
     They'll find there's already a well-established organizing effort in place in Iowa - for Hillary Rodham Clinton. will hold a meeting Wednesday evening in Des Moines as part of their new "Run Warren Run" campaign. The group is trying to persuade Warren to seek the Democratic nomination in 2016, even though the Massachusetts senator has repeatedly said she is not running.
     Brad Anderson, a Democratic consultant who was state director for President Barack Obama in 2012, says Warren's statements have not gone unnoticed in Iowa.


Prosecutors Give Up On Death Penalty For Woman Convicted Of Abetting With Murders

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Federal prosecutors are giving up their long pursuit of the death penalty against a woman convicted of helping kill five people in 1993.
     The government said in a court filing Wednesday that it will no longer seek to execute Angela Johnson. Johnson is expected to be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
     Johnson has been convicted of five counts of aiding and abetting murder in one of the most heinous crime sprees in Iowa history. Prosecutors say Johnson and her boyfriend, methamphetamine kingpin Dustin Honken, killed three adults and two children.
     She was sentenced to death following a 2005 trial, making her the first woman on federal death row in decades. But a judge in 2012 ordered Johnson a new sentencing hearing after finding flaws with her defense team.


Obama Commutes Iowan Witih Drug Charges

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Muscatine woman is one of eight drug convicts whose prison time has been cut short by President Barack Obama.
     Obama announced Wednesday that Jennifer Regenos' 20-year prison sentence has been commuted to expire in April. She was sentenced in 2002 on a conviction of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine.
     The president also pardoned 12 convicts for a variety of offenses.
     The commutations are the first issued under new guidelines designed to cut costs by reducing the nation's bulging prison population and grant leniency to nonviolent drug offenders sentenced to double-digit terms. Inmates must meet certain requirements, particularly serving a sentence that, if imposed today, would be substantially shorter than what they were given at the time.


Food Pantries Given Grants

AMES, Iowa (AP) - Three Iowa food pantries are among 75 across the country that will receive $20,000 grants from Walmart to help pay for renovations and new equipment.
     The Iowa organizations receiving the grants are the Good Samaritan Food Pantry in Adel, Food at First in Ames and Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank in Mason City.
     The winning pantries were selected by a vote on Walmart's website over the past two weeks.
     The grants will help pay for renovations and purchases such as new refrigerators, ovens, storage units and refrigerated trucks.
     The U.S. Department of Agriculture says as of last year, 49 million people in the U.S. lived in food-insecure households. Of those people, nearly 16 million are children.






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