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Thursday News, June 14

Fire Departments Battle Grass Fires

(Le Mars) -- Despite some recent rains, it is still relatively dry.  On Wednesday, the Kingsley, Oyens, and the Remsen Fire Departments all responded to three separate grass fires.  All three fires were able to be extinguished fairly quickly.

 

Day Two for Ice Cream Days

(Le Mars) -- It's day two for Ice Cream Days. One of the highlights for today is a tour of the Plymouth County Courthouse.  Brad Pick serves as the Chamber of Commerce vice president and chairman of events.  He says the tour will offer attendees an unique perspective and more than what they may imagine.

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Later this evening is another ice cream social and people will have the opportunity to view a movie at the Olson Cultural Arts Center.

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Sioux City Couple Beaten -- Suspect Arrested

(Sioux City) -- A Sioux City man is in custody facing charges after a home invasion early Wednesday morning that left one man dead and one woman severly injured.  Sioux City Police Chief Doug Young says officers responded to a call at 504 39th Street Place around 3:00 a.m.

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The man and woman, who are each 54 years old, were severly beaten with a crowbar and were transported to Mercy Medical Center where the male victim later died from his injuries.  Their names have not been released.  Yong says the suspect, 23 year old James Kroll, surrendered without a struggle after officers located him in the Leeds area.

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Young says the victims were acquainted with Kroll and that a crowbar was recovered at the crime scene.  Another woman, who lives in the home, was inside the residence at the time of the attack, but was not injured.  Kroll remains in custody in the Woodbury County Jail pending charges from the county attorney.

 

Highway Patrol Wants Bridges Named For Fallen Troopers 

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa State Patrol wants Johnson County's support in naming two interstate bridges after troopers who died while serving the state.
     The  effort is part of a statewide drive to honor the 10 troopers who have died on duty in
the patrol's 77-year history.
     The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss the request at an informal meeting on Thursday.
     The patrol wants to name the Interstate 380 bridge over the Iowa River in northern Johnson County after Trooper Harold DeGear. He was struck and killed by a vehicle in 1954 while writing a ticket.
     A bridge over the Iowa River on I-80 in Coralville would be named for Trooper Allen Nieland. He died in the crash of a search airplane in 1990.

 

U of I To Hold Hearing On Professor

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - After months of delay, the University of Iowa has called a hearing to consider whether a suspended radiology professor should be terminated for a pattern of abusive behavior toward colleagues.
     The university administration is expected to lay out its case against Malik Juweid during a two-day hearing that begins Thursday.  Just like a trial, the university is expected to make arguments,
call witnesses and present evidence.
     Afterward, a hearing officer will determine whether Juweid violated school policies and recommend to President Sally Mason what level of discipline he should face. Mason will have the final
decision.
     Juweid has been suspended from his $241,000-per-year job since January 2011 for what the school called "disruptive behaviors."  The university says he sent dozens of e-mails attacking colleagues
that were "prejudiced, insulting and inflammatory."

 

Hospitals To Share Helicopter

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Hospitals in Clarinda and Des Moines and an air ambulance service are teaming up to bring a helicopter to southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri.
     The partners are Clarinda Regional Health Center, Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines and Air Methods Lifenet. The companies say the new service will be based in Clarinda and will serve an area within 40 miles of the city. It will also transport patients to hospitals in Des Moines, Omaha and Lincoln in Nebraska and St. Joseph, Mo.
     Mercy Medical Center, which has two helicopters, will staff the helicopter's medical crew, and will be hiring flight paramedics and flight nurses who will be based in Clarinda. Air Methods will hire
pilots and a mechanic.
     The Clarinda program is to start in September.

 

Emmetsburg Man Pleads Guilty to Meth Charge

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A 51-year-old northern Iowa man has been given 10 years in federal prison for his role in a methamphetamine operation.
     Prosecutors say Michael Kesterson, of Emmetsburg, had pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge.
     Kesterson was sentenced on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Sioux City. He must serve five years of supervised release after he leaves prison.
     Prosecutors say that at his plea hearing in March, Kesterson admitted his involvement in meth sales from 2009 through April 2011.
     Prosecutors also say Kesterson was convicted on an Iowa meth charge in Emmet County in November 2009.

 

California Man Sentenced for Illegal Immigrant Trafficing

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A U.S. District Court judge in Sioux City has sentenced a Californian for hauling illegal immigrants across the country.
     24-year-old Maurelio Diaz-Alfonso, of Riverside, Calif., had pleaded guilty in March. He was sentenced on Tuesday to 13 months in prison.
     Diaz-Alfonso was arrested after a traffic stop on Interstate 29 near Onawa in western Iowa. A state trooper who pulled over the sport utility vehicle Diaz-Alfonso was driving searched it and
found 12 people inside. They were illegal immigrants.
     Diaz-Alfonso later told federal agents that he was paid to drive his passengers from Mesa, Ariz., to Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York.

 

   

Wednesday News, June 13

Sprayer Collides With Train

(Remsen) -- A sprayer applicator collided with a train on Tuesday evening at about 6:00 p.m. sending the driver of the sprayer to be life flighted to Mercy Hospital in Sioux City. The accident took place near 160th Street and Sunset Avenue, about a mile north of Highway 3.  30 year old David Keffeler of Remsen was operating a John Deere self propelled sprayer.  He was approaching a railroad crossing and did not see a westbound Canadian National Train. The sprayer ended in the west ditch.  Keffeler was ejected from the sprayer. The train applied its emergency braking prior to impact in order to slow the train.  The sprayer was listed as a total loss valued at $265,000.  The train sustained over $10,000 in damage to the locomotive.  Witnesses to the accident say trees may have obstructed the view of the on coming train.  The railroad crossing did not have warning lights or a cross arm. The train's engineer did not have any injuries.  Assisting at the scene were the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department, Remsen Fire, Remsen Ambulance, Remsen Police, Marcus Police, Marcus Ambulance, and the Iowa State Highway Patrol.  

Primary Election Expenses

 (Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Board of Supervisors officially canvassed the primary election results during today's regular meeting.  There were 2184 Republican votes and 86 Democrat votes.  The cost of the election was $19,397.85 or $8.54 per vote.  The majority of the election expense went to wages and mileage for election precinct officials.  Other expenses associated with the election was the election register, envelopes, programming of memory cards, publications, printing of absentee ballots, postage, and the royalities of the software used for elections. 

Supervisors Approve Joining SIMPCO For Housing Trust Fund

(Le Mars) -- In other action, after some long discussion, the supervisors approved the action to join with SIMPCO for a housing trust fund.  Plymouth County found themselves in a middle of a battle between two regional housing trust funds, each asking for Plymouth County's participation.  The first, which includes Ida and Cherokee counties, and the second being SIMPCO that includes Woodbury and Monona counties, with Sioux City having their own housing trust fund, aside from SIMPCO. Supervisor Craig Anderson is the Plymouth County representative to SIMPCO.  He says he urged the two groups to consider combining their efforts to make one regional housing trust fund for the five-county area.  However, those efforts were not acknowledged.  Kristi Quinn of SIMPCO offered an explaination as to the mission and goal of the newly created housing trust fund.

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Supervisor Don Kass questioned if Plymouth County could join the SIMPCO group without making an investment.

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The Plymouth County Supervisors approved the resolution to join SIMPCO for a year trial basis, and not to invest any funds in the project.

 

Plymouth County To Drop Commercial Driver's License Testing

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County may be forced to discontinue the testing of commercial driver's licenses due to new regulations stipulated by the state and federal government.  Plymouth County Treasurer, Linda Dobson told county supervisors the county is currently out of compliance.  Initially, the state had set up a June 1st deadline to be in compliance with the new rules.  One of those new rules was to have a testing area for truck drivers seeking their commercial drivers license that measured 240 x 138 feet of paved area and clear of any obstacles.  Dobson informed the supervisors that the county hasn't been able to locate such an area.  Supervisor Jim Henrich asked if there were  other counties within the area that are in the same situation as Plymouth County?  He wondered where could a person obtain their commercial drivers license and be tested?

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Dobson informed the supervisors the number of people seeking a commercial drivers license has dropped in half over the last few years going from over 100 licenses issued to now under 50.  Keri Borchers, the Drivers License Deputy even further clarified Dobson's remarks.

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Dobson suggested that Plymouth County consider the option of discontinuing the issuance and testing service of commercial driver's license as of August 1, and instead look at expanding other drivers licenses, such as for motorcycles. 

 

Ice Cream Days Kicks Off Today    

 (Le Mars) -- Today is the start of Ice Cream Days.  There are a number of events taking place, including the "Sittin Pretty Art Exhibit at the Art Center, and the ongoing exhibits featured at the Plymouth County Historical Museum.  Brad Pick, the vice president of the Le Mars Chamber highlights some of the other activities slated for today.
 

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One of the highlights at the museum is the opportunity to get a refreshing cold root beer float at the 1940's era Miller's Lunch Diner.

 

Iowa Unveals Plan For Highway Funding

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa has a $2.6 billion plan to rebuild
and upgrade the state's highways over five years.
     The IowaTransportation Commission approved the plan on Tuesday for fiscal
2013 through 2017.
     It includes reconstruction projects on interstate highways in Sioux City, Council Bluffs and the Quad Cities, as well as work on dozens of other highways across the state. In the Des Moines area,
the plan includes finishing widening Interstate 35 in West Des Moines and building new rest stops on I-35 near Ankeny.
     The road program is financed by a mix of state and federal money. This year, the Legislature balked at proposals to raise Iowa's gasoline tax to generate more revenue.

 

Two Men Sentenced For Child Pornography

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say two Iowa men have been given federal prison sentences for downloading child pornography.
     News releases from the office of U.S. Attorney Stephanie Rose identify the men as 28-year-old Justin Funck, of Spencer; and 59-year-old Charles Melchert, of Humboldt.
     Funck had pleaded guilty in November and on Monday was sentenced to 65 months. He must serve five years of supervised release after he leaves prison.
     Melchert had pleaded guilty in December and last week was sentenced to five years. He must serve five years of supervised release after he leaves prison.
     Both men must register as sex offenders.

 

Branstad Wants Unions To Share In Health Insurance Costs

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says he'll propose during union negotiations that state employees pay 20 percent of their health care costs.
     Branstad told The Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/KTfscL ) on Tuesday that, "Everybody ought to have some skin in the game and ought to pay something toward health insurance."
     Iowa legislators and most state employees don't share the cost of the insurance premiums.
     Officials calculate that Branstad's initiative could save the state almost $111 million a year.
     State union leaders have said that not having to pay health care premiums is the employees' trade-off for the lower pay in government jobs.
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