Monday, December 22, 2014
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Sunday News, December 14

Sergeant Bluff Man Dies From Tractor Accident

(Sergeant Bluff) -- A 76 year old Sergeant Bluff man died on Saturday as a result of a tractor rolling over.  The Woodbury County Sheriff's Office, Sergeant Bluff Fire and Ambulance Department, and Woodbury County Emergency Services were dispatched to the 1900 block of Glenn Ellen Road at about 4:45 p.m.  Initial investigation at the scene shows the man, who has not yet been identified, was operating the tractor, clearing tree limbs and yard debris, when the tractor rolled down a small hill.  The victim was thrown from the tractor.  He was treated at the scene and was transported to Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City by the Sergeant Bluff Ambulance where he had died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.


Animal Control Takes Possession Of Animals In Mall Zoo

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Des Moines officials have taken charge of more than 30 wild animals - including black bears and wolves - that had been on display at a now-closed "mall zoo."
     The Polk County deputies evicted Pella Wildlife Co. and its owner, Ron DeArmond, from Merle Hay Mall this week. The organization had operated the Academy of Wildlife at the mall until closing its doors in October.
     Police Sgt. James Butler says 32 wild animals were on the premises, including three black bears, wolves and a cougar. All appeared to be healthy and were in cages. 
     If DeArmond is unable to relocate the animals within seven days, they will be turned over to the Blank Park Zoo and Animal Rescue League.


Cold Storage Facility May Locate In Council Bluffs

 COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - A cold-storage warehouse that would create at least 50 new jobs has been proposed along Veterans Memorial Highway in Council Bluffs, just across the river from Omaha, Nebraska.
     The Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil reports that the company, XTL Incorporated, has an option to purchase and develop real estate at the location.
     Mike Dellinger, executive director of Advance Southwest Iowa Corporation, says the project would involve a 155,000-square-foot, cold-storage facility on 51 acres offering warehousing and logistical support to major food processors in the region.
     Its construction value is estimated at $27 million, and the automated facility would include $27 million in equipment, shelving and furnishings. About 50 jobs with an annual payroll of about $2.5 million would initially be needed to operate the facility.


Roads Closed At DeSoto Bend During Deer Hunting Season

 MISSOURI VALLEY, Iowa (AP) - Roads and nature trails will be closed for safety during deer hunts at DeSoto and Boyer Chute national wildlife refuges.
     At Boyer Chute, the roads and trails will be closed to nonhunters this weekend through December 21st. At DeSoto, roads and trails will be closed beyond the visitor center on December 20th and 21st. The center will be open and accessible from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
     Both hunts are muzzleloader and antlerless deer only.
     DeSoto and Boyer Chute national wildlife refuges sit north of Omaha, Nebraska, along U.S. Highway 30 between Missouri Valley, Iowa, and along U.S. Highway 75 near Fort Calhoun, Nebraska.


Man Wounded While Hunting Deer

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa man is recovering from a shotgun wound after being shot by a fellow hunter who was trying to hit a moving deer.
     The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said 47-year-old Eric Winkler was hit in the abdomen Saturday by a shotgun slug fired by someone else in his hunting party.
     The Carroll man was helping to drive deer at the time of the shooting. He was taken to an area hospital and later transferred to a Des Moines hospital.
     Recreational Safety Officer Jeff Barnes says hunters should make sure they know where everyone in their party is at all times. And hunters shouldn't fire in the direction of other hunters.
     Barnes says most hunting incidents happen when shots are fired at moving deer.


Des Moines Apartment Complex Catches Fire

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Firefighters say no one was injured in a blaze inside a Des Moines apartment.
     Fire crews quickly put out the fire that occurred Friday afternoon at the Wakonda West Apartments, just north of the Des Moines Airport.
     Firefighters say one unit was damaged, with other units suffered smoke damage.
     Des Moines Fire Department spokesman Steve Brown tells television station KCCI that the fire started in a pan on a stove. The resident tried to put it out by putting a blanket over it, but the fire spread.
     Brown says it's unknown yet how many people will be displaced by the fire.


Man Forged Checks Stolen From Church

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Police say an Iowa City man forged checks that had been stolen from a local church.
     Police tell the Iowa City Press-Citizen that 24-year-old Jerrell Clemons twice cashed fraudulent checks at a credit union bank inside a grocery store. Police say Clemons forged signatures to write checks to himself in September for $645 and $350.
     Police say the checks were stolen from an office at the Church of the Nazarene.
     Clemons has been charged with forgery, a felony, and third-degree theft, a misdemeanor.
     Clemons could not be reached for comment Saturday.


Advocates Want Fine Arts To Be Inclluded As Core Curriculum

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Fine arts advocates in Iowa are renewing an effort to get music, drama and art included in state education standards. 
     The Iowa Alliance for Arts Education will lobby lawmakers again next year to amend the Iowa Core to add the fine arts. Leon Kuehner, the group's executive director, says a similar attempt failed in 2014, but he and others hope they will have more luck this time. 
     State law dictates that schools teach the arts, but the fine arts are not listed in the Iowa Core, which was established in schools statewide in 2008 after approval from the Legislature and the governor. 
     Democrats who control the Iowa Senate have been supportive of this effort, but it is not clear there is interest in the Republican-dominated House.  







Saturday News, December 13

Gehlen Catholic Awarded $25,000 From "Celebrate My Drive"

(Le Mars) -- Santa Claus delivered a special gift to Gehlen Catholic School Friday evening between the girls and boys basketball games. With the help of his elf Michael Crank, a local State Farm Insurance agent, and several community leaders to witness the event, Gehlen school officials unwrapped a check for the amount of $25,000.  Lisa Niebuhr, Development Director for Gehlen Catholic school says Gehlan finished among the top 50 schools nationwide in the "Celebrate My Drive" campaign in order to qualify for the grant.

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This marks the second year Gehlen has qualified for the grant, and Niebuhr says the award was perhaps more special the second time.

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Niebhur says the school won't know until Monday as to how many votes Gehlen received, or the exact placing. Ten percent of the $25,000 grant is to be shared with Floyd Valley Hospital.  Father Kevin Richter, president of Gehlen Catholic School explains why the school selected Floyd Valley Hospital.

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Richter indicated he is not certain how the grant will be utilized. He says Gehlen has a list of possible projects, and a committee will help determine how the grant will best be used.


Schools Told No Waivers To Be Given For Early Start

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Department of Education says it will stop granting automatic waivers to school districts seeking to start classes earlier in the summer.
     Department director Brad Buck sent a letter Friday to state education leaders saying the change is effective immediately.
     The announcement came shortly after Gov. Terry Branstad sent a letter to Buck asking that officials only grant a waiver if a school district demonstrates a "significant negative educational impact" of beginning classes on time, as required by law.
     Districts must start school no earlier than the calendar week that includes Sept. 1. But nearly all of them obtain waivers allowing them to begin classes earlier.
     Branstad's letter says starting earlier "unnecessarily interferes" with families' summer plans, seasonal hiring and the Iowa State Fair.

     Le Mars Community School Superintendent Dr. Todd Wendt says the issue has been discussed several times in the past.  He believes the letter from the Iowa Department of Education will start additional conversations, and the issue may be far from being resolved.

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Wendt says the Le Mars Community School District hasn't yet established the school calendar for next year.  He says that process will begin next week.

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Wendt says the Le Mars schools finishes the first semester after the Christmas break, but he says there are some schools that prefer to begin classes early in mid-August in order to complete the first semester before the Christmas vacation break.  Wendt says even if classes begin in September, some sports and other extra curriculum activities will still need to begin in August, which he says doesn't follow Governor Branstad's wishes.

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Iowa Revenue Slowing Down

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A panel of state budget experts says state revenue continues to grow but at a slower pace than recent years which means lawmakers may need to show spending restraint in next year's state budget.
     The Revenue Estimating Conference met Friday and estimated state revenue for fiscal year 2016 at $7.19 billion, a 4.9 percent increase over the current year. The fiscal year begins in July.
     State law requires Gov. Terry Branstad and lawmakers to use December estimates to draft the budget. 
     Department of Management director David Roederer, one of the three members of the panel, says the figure shows Iowa's economy is showing strength but there are signs of slowing down which means closely watching spending.
     For the current year revenue is estimated at $6.86 billion, a 5.7 percent increase.


Inmate Leaves Work Release

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials are looking for an inmate accused of leaving his work release facility.
     The state Department of Corrections says 54-year-old Robert Lee Garrett was placed on escape status Friday after he failed to return to a Fort Des Moines work release facility from an authorized appointment. Additional information was not released.
     Garret is serving a 54-year sentence on various convictions, including first-degree robbery and domestic assault. He began his sentence in 1990 and was transferred to work release in November.



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