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Wednesday News, June 24

Plymouth County Secondary Roads Department To Close 260th Street

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Secondary Roads Department is closing 260th Street from Sunset Avenue to Tamarack Avenue beginning today.  That stretch of road is expected to remain closed until at least mid-July.  County work crews are replacing a wooden bridge with a culvert pipe.




Branstad Declares Emergency For Southern Iowa Counties

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad has issued a disaster proclamation for four Iowa counties affected by recent severe weather.
Branstad issued the proclamation Tuesday for Davis, Humboldt, Monroe and Wright counties. The areas were affected by severe weather Monday.
The proclamation allows officials to use state resources to help affected people. It includes an assistance program that provides grants of up to $5,000 for certain households needing food, clothing and temporary housing.
In Monroe County in southern Iowa, a tornado ripped into a grocery store and nearby homes Monday.




Marcus Cleaning Up After Monday Morning Storms

(Marcus) -- The town of Marcus also suffered some damage due to the strong winds from Monday morning.  Gary Huseman serves as the mayor of Marcus.  He says numerous trees and homes were damaged.

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Husman says at least ten homes have been damaged by the strong winds, and he wonders if possibly a small tornado may have hit his community.

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The Marcus mayor says he is proud of the response by his towns people, and for the number of volunteers that came to help with the clean up of the debris.

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Husman says at every corner there would be at least ten to twenty people helping.  He estimates more than 100 people came to the rescue of Marcus.  The mayor says the damage was mainly confined to the eastern portion of the small town.  He says there were no businesses that suffered any major damage from the Monday morning strong winds.




Weather Officials Confirm Tornado Hit Albia

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado damaged homes and a grocery store in southern Iowa.
Meteorologist Craig Cogil says the tornado received an EF-3 rating after peak winds were estimated at 142 mph near a damaged house in Lovilia on Monday night.
The tornado developed in Marion County and briefly moved through Lucas County before ending in Monroe County, where the house was located. The tornado had wind speeds of 103 mph when it later ripped into a grocery store in Albia.
About 40 to 50 people in the Hy-Vee store took shelter inside as the storm shattered store windows. Homes in the area lost roofs and windows. 
No injuries have been reported.





Sioux City Council Approves Land Sale For New Pork Processing Plant

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City officials have approved a land sale for a planned $264 million pork processing plant. 
The City Council unanimously voted Monday to finalize the transfer of a nearly 245-acre lot at the Bridgeport West Industrial Park. 
The 600,000-square-foot plant is expected to employ around 1,100 workers. The joint venture between Kansas-based Seaboard Foods and Missouri-based Triumph Foods is anticipated to open in 2017. 
Seaboard Foods President and CEO Terry Holton says the hiring process already has begun for management positions.
City officials in May announced plans to bring the plant to Sioux City. The facility will be designed with technologies to mitigate odor and will have the capacity to slaughter 10,000 to 12,000 hogs per day.




Sioux City Woman Stabbed To Death

(Sioux City) -- A Sioux City woman is dead and a suspect is in custody following a fatal stabbing early Tuesday morning on Sioux City's Westside.  Police responded to a 9-1-1 call from 521 West 16th Street at 12:47 a.m. where they discovered the body of a female victim.  Sioux City police have identified the woman as 43 year old Cornelia A. Stead of Sioux City.  Witnesses identified the suspect as 35 year old Isack Mahad Abdinur, who police say is a Somali transient.  A Police K-9 tracked down Abdinur in a near-by garage where he was apprehended.  Court documents say Abdinur had an argument with Stead, who had locked herself in a bedroom to escape.  Abindur allegedly then forced open the door and attacked Stead, first punching her in the face several times, and then stabbing her with a kitchen knife, resulting in her death.   Police say the couple were romantically involved.  Abdinur is being held in Woodbury County jail on a 1st degree murder charge.  His bond has been set at one million dollars, and he has been appointed a public defender as his attorney.




Food Supplier Files Lawsuit Against Egg Company

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A food supplier has filed a lawsuit alleging an Iowa farm breached an egg supply contract after its parent company lost millions of chickens to bird flu.
Michael Foods Egg Products Co. filed a complaint in federal court in Des Moines on Monday alleging Hawkeye Pride Egg Farms is violating a January 2014 contract.
Michael Foods is a subsidiary of St. Louis-based cereal-maker Post Holdings Inc. It claims it's suffering irreparable harm.
The company primarily sells liquid and precooked egg products. Its attorney declined to comment Tuesday on the lawsuit.
Hawkeye Pride is a division of Sioux Center-based Center Fresh Group, which owns egg farms that lost 5.5 million hens to bird flu. A spokeswoman declined to comment on the lawsuit, and an attorney did not return a message.





Committee Suggest Adding Computer Science To STEM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A computer science committee has recommended to Gov. Terry Branstad's STEM Advisory Council that Iowa high school students should have to complete computer science coursework to graduate.
The STEM Support of Computer Science working group made the recommendation Tuesday.  Group co-chairs Mark Gruwell and Ann Watts discussed a list of recommendations to integrate computer science into Iowa schools, including an endorsement to recognize teachers and technology professors qualified to teach courses.
The STEM council will have to vote on the recommendations before they can be presented to the governor's office. STEM Council's executive director Jeff Weld said the group will vote in September. A change would need legislative approval.
The governor's STEM Advisory Council focuses on developing initiatives around science, technology, engineering and math education.





Lawmakers Still Trying To Keep Mount Pleasant Mental Health Facility Open

MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa (AP) - A handful of Iowa lawmakers have reiterated their support for keeping open a state mental health facility in Mount Pleasant.
Democratic Sen. Rich Taylor and Republican Rep. Dave Heaton made remarks Tuesday at the Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institute in support of keeping the facility open with state dollars. The lawmakers, both of Mount Pleasant, were joined by Democratic Sen. Amanda Ragan, of Mason City, and local leaders.
The facility's future became uncertain this year after Gov. Terry Branstad's budget proposal removed funding for it and the state mental health facility in Clarinda.
Lawmakers eventually approved legislation that would keep Mount Pleasant open and would seek a private provider to run Clarinda.
Lawmakers Tuesday urged Branstad to approve the legislation. Branstad's spokesman says the governor will make a decision soon.





Authorities Identify Man Found In Iowa River

HILLS, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have identified a man found dead in the Iowa River.
Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek says in a news release Tuesday that 41-year-old Shawn L. Warrington was recovered from the water on June 17. Authorities described him as homeless.
People fishing in the river near Hills contacted authorities after seeing a pair of pants and boots protruding from a brush pile.
The cause of death remains under investigation, but foul play is not suspected at this time.


Tuesday News, June 23

Plymouth County Board of Supervisors Will Not Meet This Week

(Le Mars) -- Due to a lack of agenda items, the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors will not be holding a meeting today.  The county supervisors will be back next Tuesday, June 30th.



Le Mars School Board Sets Supplemental Aid For K-12 As Top Legislative Priority

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School Board reviewed the legislative priorities as submitted by the Iowa Association of School Boards, and decided the utmost top legislative priority is a battle they have been fighting for the last few years.  The local school board believes the state legislature should support setting supplemental state aid at 400 days, or 14 months prior to the certification of the school district's budget.  In addition, the Le Mars Community School Board would like to see the state supplemental assistance set at six percent to encourage continuous school improvement and reflect the actual cost increases experienced by school districts and area educational agencies.  The school board says their priority is to increase the state cost per pupil and the spending authority associated with it to build a strong base for future education resources.    School Board president Scott Kommes believes the school board should remain consistent.

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School Board Directors Dr. Mark Stelzer and Patrick Murphy both believe the state legislature will again delay the decision for K-12 educational funding next year.

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Pat Murphy says school officials and constituents need to keep the pressure on state lawmakers for adequate school funding.

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In other action last evening, the school board approved the contracts for the Teacher Leadership Program offering extended contracts to 32 instructors.





Westfield Man Pleas Not Guilty To Sexual Abuse Charges

(Le Mars) -- A Westfield man has pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing a young girl.  Dennis Kroll, age 62, entered his written plea Friday in Plymouth County District Court to two counts of second-degree sexual abuse and one count of lascivious acts with a child.  According to court documents, Kroll is accused of committing a sexual act with the girl, who was under age 12, from July 2009 through December 2012.  He was arrested in May as the result of an April investigation when a school guidance counselor reported the incidents that led to Kroll's arrest.




Former Cherokee Teacher Pleas Not Guilty To Having Sex With Student

(Cherokee) -- A former teacher in the Cherokee school system has pleaded not guilty to having sex with a student.  Chad Osler, 32, of Manchester, Iowa entered his written plea Thursday in Cherokee County District Court to charges of sexual exploitation by a school employee, lascivious conduct with a minor and third degree sexual abuse.  His trial was set for September 15.  According to court documents, Osler, who had been a physical education teacher and coach in Cherokee, had sex with the student in July of 2013.  Court documents said the two continued to have contact throughout 2014 and again on January 16.  Osler resigned in Cherokee in 2013 and had been employed as a physical education teacher in the West Delaware Community school district in Manchester.  He submitted his resignation there prior to his arrest to take a teaching and coaching job at Lynnville-Sully Community School District in Sully, Iowa.  He has since withdrawn from that position and will not be employed there.






National Weather Service To Investigate Monday Storm Damage

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The National Weather Service is sending a survey team to check damage and confirm a suspected tornado that ripped into a grocery store and nearby homes in southern Iowa.

An estimated 40 to 50 Hy-Vee store employees and customers in Albia took shelter in the store cooler when the storm struck Monday evening, shattering store windows and sending glass flying into a nearby neighborhood. Homes in the area lost roofs and windows as well. 
Trees and power lines were knocked down around the city, but no injuries have been reported.
In northwest Iowa, straight-line winds approaching 100 mph destroyed a hangar at Sheldon Regional Airport and disabled five aircraft. Assistant Sheldon fire chief Randy Harms says firefighters and a hazmat unit were called out to contain airplane fuel that spilled.




Dykstra Dairy To Hold Open House Farm Tour

(Le Mars) -- June is recognized as Dairy Month and to help celebrate, the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance will again be hosting an open house farm tour scheduled for this coming Thursday, June 25th.  The farm tour is open to the public and will be held at the Dykstra Dairy farm located at 34450 county road C-12, or about three miles east of Highway 75 on county road C-12. The dairy operation sits about halfway between Le Mars and Orange City.

Activities will start at 4:00 p.m. and will continue through 7:00 p.m. LeAnn Philips is the executive director with the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance.  She says the dairy producers from this area offer the open house as a way to educate the public about dairy production.

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Philips says this will be the eighth time the dairy alliance has offered the farm tour.  She says in past year's the event has attracted up to 1500 people. Philips says many people are surprised by what they witness on a dairy farm.

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The dairy alliance executive talks about what will be offered during the farm tour.

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The Dystra Dairy milks approximately 3000 head of cows three times daily.  Philips says Iowa has about 1400 dairy farms with many located within northwest Iowa, and with each cow contributing to the state's economy.

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Philips says consumers are always interested in purchasing locally produced, and fresh foods.  She says milk, and the milk based products, such as ice cream, butter, cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese definitely falls into that category.

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Again, that open house will be held on Thursday, June 25th between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 pm at the Dykstra Dairy operation located on county road C-12, halfway between Highways 75 & 60, and halfway between Le Mars and Orange City.



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