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Thursday Afternoon News, Oct. 25

Plymouth County Crime Stoppers Investigating Two Burglaries

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Crime Stoppers are investigating two separate burglaries that occurred in Le Mars on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.  At about 1:00 p.m. the resident at 49 Oak Street in Le Mars reported a robbery to her residence.  An unknown male knocked on the door, displaying a handgun and demanding money.  The victim gave the suspect an undisclosed amount of cash and he fled the area.  The offender was described as a white male in his early twenties wearing a white shirt with ripped jeans.  The second burglary was reported this morning at 9:00 a.m. when someone apparently had broken into the Monterrey's Restaurant on Busines Highway 75.  Sometime during the night-time hours an
unknown suspect used force to gain entry into the business.  Once inside, an undisclosed amount of cash was taken.  Similar burglaries were reported in Cherokee during this same time span.  Anyone with information regarding either of the crimes is encouraged to call the Le Mars Police Department or Crime Stoppers at (712) 548-4968.


Judge To Rule On Sioux City Casino Next Week


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A judge says he expects to rule early next week on a breach-of-contract lawsuit involving a casino in Sioux City.
Judge Robert Hanson heard arguments Wednesday afternoon in Polk County. They came from lawyers for Penn National Gaming, whose subsidiary operates the Argosy riverboat casino, and Missouri River Historical Development, the nonprofit group that holds the state gambling license.
Penn National's attorneys say the historical development group has violated a contract signed in June. The group says the contract hasn't been approved by state regulators and isn't valid.
Penn National wants a temporary injunction to keep the group from partnering with another casino operator that would run a land-based casino in Sioux City.


Sioux City Man Pleads Not Guilty To Robbing Bank

SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (AP) - An Iowa man has pleaded not guilty to a federal charge that he robbed a bank in northeast Nebraska.
The Sioux City Journal says (http://bit.ly/WozpKb) 67-year-old Max Lafferty, of Sioux City, Iowa, made his plea Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Omaha.
Lafferty is accused of robbing a Bank of the West branch in South Sioux City on Sept. 11. Police say he flashed a steak knife when he demanded cash from a bank worker and left the building with
about $1,500. He was arrested about a block away.
Lafferty originally was charged in Dakota County Court, but the state case was dismissed after the federal charge was filed.

 

Pheasant Hunting Season Starts Saturday

(Boone) -- Officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources say pheasant hunters should see an increase of birds this year.  Pheasant hunting begins on Saturday, and according to Todd Bogenschutz, Game Biologist with the DNR, pheasant numbers are up about 16 percent.

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Bogenschutz says some habitat may have been jeopardized due to landowners making hay from grasslands because of the summer drought, but he says the best pheasant hunting will likely be located in northwestern and northern Iowa.

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The DNR Biologist says new this year is the I-HAP program.

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Bogenschutz says hunters can view the DNR website to locate the I-HAP acres.  Hunting regulations are the same, with shooting hours between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and a bag limit of three roosters.


Missouri River Flooding Will Cost Council Bluffs $4.5 Million

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Council Bluffs officials say the Missouri River flooding last year will cost the city about $4.5 million.
Finance director Art Hill told The Daily Nonpareil that the city's total estimated cost for dealing with the 2011 flooding is expected to be $19.4 million.
The city's portion includes its required 15 percent share of costs eligible for federal assistance, as well as $1.9 million in costs that were not eligible for assistance. The state and federal governments are paying the rest of the bills.
The costs include infrastructure repairs, debris removal and the purchase and demolition of structures damaged by high water.
Hill says Council Bluffs won't have to raise taxes to pay flood bills, because the money will come from what he says is the city's healthy general fund.


State Audit Critical Of U of I Medical Clinics

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A state audit has criticized financial controls at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics because of alleged misuse of more than $272,000 by an employee.
The audit says 35-year-old Jennifer Whitmore-Meier, an information technology support specialist, got irregular reimbursements for purchases and travel. The audit also says that between December 2002 and January 2012, Whitmore-Meier used department money to buy equipment that she resold.
The audit says her department wasn't managed "in a fiscally responsible manner."
The audit says the university put Whitmore-Meier on paid leave in November 2011 pending the investigation. She left for good two months later.  A home phone listing for her could not be found.
Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness says her office is reviewing the audit to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.


Regents Considering "Freezing" Tuition Costs

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Members of the board that governs Iowa's three public universities are supporting a proposal to freeze tuition for in-state undergraduate students next year.
The Iowa Board of Regents discussed plans Thursday in Iowa City to keep tuition at $6,678 at the University of Iowa and $6,648 at Iowa State University and the University of Iowa.
Final approval is expected in December, and regents said they could later impose a tuition hike if lawmakers do not approve their request for a 2.6 percent increase in funding.
The board also approved a plan that would allow universities to phase out the controversial practice of using tuition revenue to provide grants and scholarships to students.
The plan requires universities to raise more private money and lawmakers to create a new financial aid program.


Traffic Cameras Being Studied At Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Des Moines officials say they need more data to determine whether the traffic cameras at five intersections have made motoring safer in the city.
The cameras were installed 16 months ago, and the officials say that they need four more years of data to reach conclusions on the cameras' safety effectiveness and whether more intersections should be similarly equipped.
Des Moines Police Chief Judy Bradshaw has said the cameras would be a worthwhile investment if driver behavior were to change.
The newspaper says two of the intersections have had a substantial drop in the number of tickets issued during the cameras' first year of operation. At the three other intersections,
changes in driver behavior were negligible.
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Thursday News, October 25

Absentee Voting On the Increase For Plymouth County

(Le Mars) -- With less than two weeks before election, Plymouth County Auditor Stacy Feldman says the county has had more than 4000 absentee ballot requests. Feldman says it is the most number of requested absentee ballots for an election. 
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Iowa is one state that allows for early voting, and the Plymouth County auditor offers her reasons as to why people choose to vote early.

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For those people wishing to cast their vote on election day, Feldman says the polling places basically have remained the same as they were for the June primary, with one notable exception...those residents living in the city of Struble, Elgin Township, and America township will now vote at the Courthouse Annex building, instead of the Le Mars Public Library.  Feldman says if you haven't voted since the last general election, then you will see some changes.

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Aside from the Presidential, Congressional and state-wide races, Plymouth County voters will have only one other contested race...and that is for Extension Council. Election day is scheduled for November 6th.

 

County Road C-70 To Have Detour Due To Railroad Repair

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Secondary Road Department is reporting that County road C-70 from Highway 75 to Imperial Avenue will be closed on Thursday as the Union Pacific railroad officials will perform crossing repairs on the C-70 crossing.  The detour will be north on Highway 75 to Hinton, east from Hinton on County road C-60 to K-42, and then south on K-42 to C-70.

 

Burn Ban Continues Despite Recent Rains

(Le Mars) -- Despite the recent rains, Plymouth County and many of the western Iowa counties remain in a burn ban.  Both the Le Mars Fire Department and the Akron Fire Department had to respond to illegal burns on Wednesday.  Le Mars Fire chief Dave Schipper says the burn ban will probably stay in place until we get some snow cover.
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The local fire chief says many buildings and piles are still quite dry.

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ABC News Wants Lawsuit To Be Held In Federal Court

NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. (AP) - Lawyers for ABC News are asking to have a defamation lawsuit against the company filed by a South Dakota beef processing plant transferred from circuit court to
federal court.
Beef Products Inc. sued ABC News Inc. for defamation over its coverage of a meat product. The company alleges that the network created an inaccurate impression that the product is unsafe.
BPI is seeking $1.2 billion in damages.
The lawsuit was originally filed in circuit court in South Dakota's Union County in September. Lawyers for the broadcasting company want the suit moved to federal district court in South
Dakota because it says the parties involved are from different states.
A lawyer for BPI didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.

 

Le Mars Businesses Gear Up For Halloween Trick and Treating

(Le Mars) -- It's time for your kids to load up on sugar...it's time for trick-or-treating in Le Mars. This weekend the trick-or-treating fun begins with the businesses opening their doors to the masked kiddos.  Jenni Smit, Le Mars Chamber of Commerce Vice President, says multiple things are going on for kids Saturday morning.

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Then at 11am the official trick-or-treating begins at the Olsen Cultural Event Center.  A couple dozen businesses that are located away from downtown will all be set up right there at the Events Center. After making the rounds there, kids and their parents can proceed from there to go door-to-door downtown.

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Jenni added that there's a special treat for kids at the library as well.

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Residential trick-or-treating is on Halloween night in Le Mars.

 

Fired Bank Employee Says He Won't Return To Work

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A 68-year-old Des Moines man fired from Wells Fargo Home Mortgage over a minor crime 50 years ago says he won't accept an offer to return to work unless the company changes
its background checks policy.
Richard Eggers says the policy discriminates against low-level workers. He was fired in July for putting a cardboard cutout of a dime in a washing machine at a Laundromat in 1963.
Banks have been firing employees like Eggers since new federal banking and mortgage employment guidelines were enacted. The regulations are aimed at bank employees guilty of identity theft or
money laundering.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Vickee Adams says the company is disappointed Eggers rejected the job offer and didn't recognize its "responsibility to apply the law equitably and fairly" for all employees.


Landfill Fire May Be More Expensive Than Previously Estimated

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A city official says the damage from the Iowa City landfill fire is worse than expected.
Project engineer Dan Scott says  that the assessment is continuing, but "it's not good news."
He estimated the total damage costs at $5 million.
Crews on Wednesday used a remote-controlled camera to inspect underground piping. Scott says at least one 600-foot pipe will likely need to be replaced rather than repaired.
He says it's still not clear whether the city insurance policy will cover any of the damage.
The fire began May 26 on roughly 7 1/2 acres, primarily in an unused portion. The fire spread to a layer of shredded tires used for drainage. The fire cause hasn't been determined.
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Iowa Parks Hope To Make Improvements

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Armed with results from a user survey, state park supporters intend to proceed with a public-private effort to improve Iowa's 87 state parks.
The Iowa Parks Foundation said at a Capitol news conference on Wednesday that its mail survey of more than 1,200 Iowans found 79 percent of those who responded said they'd visited a state park in
the past two years. And 74 percent indicated the desire for more
trails in the parks.
Foundation leaders and Gov. Terry Branstad say it's too early to put a dollar figure on the work. But state parks division head Kevin Szcodronski says the total easily could run into hundreds of millions of dollars.
The foundation will team with an architectural and planning firm on plans for getting the parks in top condition.


   

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