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Wednesday Afternoon News, April 10

Ice + Wind = Power Outages

(Orange City) -- The spring storm that dumped up to an inch of ice on parts of northwest Iowa is creating problems for the local rural utility providers.  More than 1300 customers throughout northwest Iowa are without power as a result of the storm.  Gaylene Eshuis (Es-hise) is the Operations Coordinator with Northwest Rural Electric Cooperative. 

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Northwest Rural Electric Cooperative, based at Orange City, has pulled crews from other service areas to assist with the restoration of power.

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Eshise doesn't have a cost estimate as to how much damage was done by the storm.  The Rural Electric official says they hope to have power restored to all customers by late afternoon or early evening.

Downed Power Lines Start Tree Fires

(Le Mars) -- As a result of the ice storm, fire department crews have also been busy this morning extinguishing tree fires.  Both the Le Mars Fire Department and the Akron Fire Department responded to separate incidents where power lines being weighed down by the ice had sparked trees to catch on fire.   


Floyd Valley Hospital Ready To Launch Capital Campaign For Expansion

(Le Mars) -- The Floyd Valley Hospital Board of Trustees met Tuesday to be briefed on the latest developments regarding the possible expansion of the hospital.  Hospital administrator Mike Donlin says recent surveys conducted by the Renaissance Group, a consulting firm, and community meetings hosted by hospital personnel, show a wide range of support for the future expansion.

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Donlin says the hospital wants to move ahead on at least 12 percent of the expansion project, noting it is a small piece of the entire project, but never-the-less, and important part of the expansion.  Donlin says the hospital will consult again with the Renaissance Group,before officially launching the capital fund-raising campaign, but he says it may occur within the near future.

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Donlin reported to the hospital trustees another customer satisfaction survey conducted by the Healthgrades organization, once again shows the hospital staff excelling with personalized health care.

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Band Instructor Accused of Theft Quits Teaching

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sioux City high school band director accused of stealing more than $50,000 in instruments from the school and pawning them has resigned.
39-year-old Kevin Massey, of Sergeant Bluff, resigned from North High School on Monday. Massey has agreed to pay $5,000 in restitution to the school district.
Massey was charged last month with first-degree theft and is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on April 15 in Woodbury County Court.
School officials became aware of the matter after another teacher shopping for musical instruments online noticed some that looked familiar.
Sioux City police say Massey pawned the instruments to cover gambling debts. Police have recovered 62 instruments from three pawn shops. It's not clear how many instruments are still missing.


Judge Blocks Records on Fine Lean Textured Beef

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A judge has blocked Iowa State University from releasing documents about food safety research conducted for the maker of the beef product that critics call "pink slime."
District Judge Dale Ruigh ruled last month that releasing the information would cause "irreparable harm" to Dakota Dunes, SD-based Beef Products, Inc., by revealing information about proprietary food-processing techniques.
BPI filed legal action seeking to block the release in 2010 after the records were requested by a Seattle law firm specializing in food safety. The New York Times later sought the documents.
The research was conducted by professor James Dickson, who was hired by BPI as a consultant in 2002. Dickson says his research has found that a process in which ammonia is applied to meat makes the product safer by killing bacteria.


Marion Woman To Win $1000 For Knowing When Car Fell Through Ice

OKOBOJI, Iowa (AP) - A Marion woman has won $1,000 for predicting when a car would fall through the ice on West Lake Okoboji (oh-koh-BOH'-jee) in northwest Iowa.
Paula Schwers hit it right with her guess of 1:51 a.m. on Thursday last week.
The Spirit Lake Sunrise Kiwanis Club and American Red Cross sell tickets as a fundraiser each year. Buyers record their best guesses for when the car placed on ice in Smith Bay will fall through. The
car engine and all fluids are removed from the car so it won't pollute the lake.
Last year it plunged by mid-March. It took until April 4 this year.
A search and rescue team and a towing company recovered the car so a clock rigged to record the plunge could be checked.

Ankeny Man Sentenced For Stabbing Ex-Girl Friend

ANKENY, Iowa (AP) - An Ankeny man has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for stabbing his ex-girlfriend multiple times.
Michael Stewart appeared Wednesday at a Polk County courtroom for the sentencing.
Police say Stewart stabbed the woman in October 2011 at a residence she shared with the couple's three children. The woman had recently moved out of their home after breaking up with
The children were at home during the stabbing. The station reports the woman's 3-year-old son helped comfort her. Her other children had a neighbor call 911.
The woman was taken to a Des Moines hospital and has recovered from her injuires.
Stewart was sentenced on charges of attempted murder, third-degree sexual abuse, willful injury and going armed with intent.


Wednesday News, April 10, 2013

Independent Study Rates The Proposed Casinos

(Sioux City) -- An independent study rates the four proposals for a new land based casino in Woodbury County.  Wells Gaming research of Reno, Nevada conducted the study. 

The Wells gaming study indicates Hard Rock Casino and the Hollywood Casino near Port Neal would have the best major highway access and that their parent companies, Warner Gaming and Penn Gaming, have the most experienced casino management. 

The Warrior would have the most limited ability for access and expansion, while the Hollywood Port Neal casino would have the most room for unrestricted development. 

The study gives the Hard Rock Casino an edge over the Warrior with community benefit from the use of tax increment financing.  Hard Rock and Warrior rank 1 and 2 in estimated revenue generated, gaming taxes paid, and contributions to their qualified sponsor organizations.  

Wells Gaming also surveyed 719 Woodbury County voters, 71 percent of whom reside in Sioux City.  69 percent of those surveyed prefer the casino to be located downtown, with 55 percent favoring Hard Rock, 27 percent the Warrior and 13 percent the Hollywood Casino.  The study has been forwarded to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. 

Wells Gaming research has previously conducted market studies in Waterloo, Davenport, Emmetsburg, Bettendorf, Ottumwa and Spencer.


Spring Storm Delays Schools, Creates Power Outages

(Le Mars) -- Most roads in northwest Iowa are either wet or ice covered, making for slick conditions.  The Plymouth County Sheriff's Department reports that at least five vehicles slid into the ditch as a result of the hail and ice that fell yesterday afternoon and evening.  Iowa State Patrol trooper Vince Kurtz says to use caution when traveling on the ice.  Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative is reporting several customers in Lyon, Osceola, Cherokee, Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, and Palo Alto counties are without power.  MidAmerican Energy reports of some power outages in Sioux City and Fort Dodge.


Supervisors Approve L.O.S.T. Allocations

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors approved the funding of 23 requests as recommended by the Local Option Sales Tax advisory Board.  A total of 43 applications were received.  The amount of money allocated for the next fiscal year will amount to $200,000 of the $466,833 requested.  Those entities and organizations to receive funding include the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department, the Le Mars, Oyens, and Merrill Fire Departments, the Council on Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence, Plymouth County Historical Museum, Plains Area Mental Health, and Plymouth County Emergency Medical Services, Perry Board of Trustees, Siouxland Paramedics, City of Remsen, Akron Park and Recreation Board, Plymouth County Senior Helpmates, Gehlen Catholic Schools, City of Merrill, Plymouth County 4-H and Agricultural Society (fairboard), Friends of the Le Mars Public Library, Remsen St. Mary's High School, Le Mars YMCA, Floyd Valley Hospital, Remsen Heritage Museum, and the Oyens Veterans Memorial.


Regents To Meet With University Professors

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Accused of disrespecting academic freedom, the top two members of the Board of Regents will meet with a University of Iowa group dedicated to defending that principle.
The university's chapter of the American Association of University Professors says President Craig Lang and President Pro Tem Bruce Rastetter will address its meeting Saturday.
Lang's service on the board will end April 30 after the Democratic-controlled Senate declined Monday to confirm him for another term.
Democrats have accused Lang and Rastetter of not respecting faculty independence. They say the two tried to limit the research that could be conducted at an Iowa State University center honoring
Sen. Tom Harkin, which they deny.
Rastetter has faced criticism for intervening on behalf of an ethanol lobbyist after a researcher was critical of the industry.

Senate Approves Required Pre-school Attendance

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Senate has approved legislation that would require children enrolled in the state's voluntary preschool program to attend regularly.
The Senate passed the bill 32 to 17 on Tuesday. It earlier passed the House and now moves to Gov. Terry Branstad.
The measure would allow school districts to require that children enrolled in preschool attend regularly.
Bill sponsor Sen. Mary Jo Wilhelm, a Democrat from Cresco, says without the legislation there's no reason for parents to talk with educators about why their children aren't attending.
Lawmakers note that there are waiting lists for preschool in many districts.
Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Red Oak voted against the bill, saying she's worried the measure could eventually lead to mandatory preschool. She says that should remain a choice left to parents.


Feenstra Introduces Tax Relief Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Republican state senator is proposing legislation that would reduce income tax rates in Iowa.
Sen. Randy Feenstra, of Hull, on Monday introduced a bill that would gradually reduce income tax rates for taxpayers by at least 5 percent.
Under his plan, taxpayers could eventually realize a total 15 percent reduction if they opted into a new tax system with changes like fewer rates and no deduction on state taxes for federal taxes
paid. Those who didn't want to participate in the new system could get a 5 percent rate reduction and stay in the current system.
Feenstra says the plan would reduce state revenue by $623 million over five years.
The bill has little chance of advancing in the Democratic-majority Senate.






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