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Thursday Afternoon News, July 16

Rain Amounts Vary Across County

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County was fortunate to receive some showers last evening, but how much depends upon where you lived.  At the KLEM offices located on 2nd Avenue Northwest in Le Mars, our rain gauge measured .81 one-hundredths of an inch.  However, we received numerous phone calls from various listeners telling us about different amounts.  In the area in the far northwest corner of the county near Craig, listerners report having received only 15 one-hundredths of an inch.  Residents living on the southern edge of Le Mars report having two-plus inches of rain.  Still there were those living east of Merrill and towards Remsen that reported having any where from three inches up to five inches of rain.






Medical Cannabis Cards

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa has spent more than $100,000 to create and issue registration cards to about 50 people getting cannabis oil under the state's medical marijuana program.
The Iowa Department of Transportation last fall asked Massachusetts-based MorphoTrust USA to design and create the cards, which were approved last year by the state Legislature.
According to documents obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request, MorphoTrust USA billed the Transportation Department $115,000 for its work. It was paid for through the state general fund.
Agency spokeswoman Melissa Spiegel said the cost was reasonable based on similar work on other cards.
The card program has faced criticism that it's cumbersome and largely useless.






Branstad Declares Additional Counties As Disaster Areas

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad has issued another disaster proclamation in response to recent severe weather in Iowa.
Branstad says in a press release that he signed a proclamation of disaster emergency Wednesday for Jefferson and Wayne counties in the southern half of the state. The areas were affected by severe storms and flooding toward the end of June.
The proclamation allows officials to use state resources to respond to effects from the severe weather. Branstad made similar proclamations for other Iowa counties last month.





Sioux City Library Shuts Down Due To Flooding

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The main library branch in Sioux City has reopened, a day after street flooding caused by a water main break shut it down.
The  Wilbur Aalfs Library branch was forced to close Wednesday.
The water main break was on the east side of the building under a sidewalk. Library director Betsy Thompson says the break flooded parts of the sidewalk and a nearby alley, but the interior of the library wasn't affected.
The decision to close was made because the library had no running water or air conditioning as crews worked to stop the flow of water and repair the main.





Bankers Survey

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A new survey suggests modest economic growth ahead in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states, but the predicted decline in farm income this year remains a concern.
The overall Rural Mainstreet economic index inched into positive territory in July at 53.4. In June the index registered a neutral score of 50.
The index has risen for four months. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the trend is encouraging, but the bankers surveyed still aren't very optimistic. The confidence index remained in negative territory at 46.6 after improving from June's 45.9.
The survey indexes range from 0 to 100. Any score below 50 suggests decline in that factor in the months ahead.
Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.





University Of Iowa To Hire Communications Consultant

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa college says it'll spend up to $145,000 to hire an Atlanta-based consultant to oversee its strategic communications for the next six months.
The move comes after the University of Iowa's vice president of strategic communications, Joe Brennan, announced last month that he was leaving for a similar post at a New York college.
The Iowa school confirmed to the Iowa City Press-Citizen on Tuesday that it's contracting with Terri Goren of Goren & Associates.
Goren will be paid $20,000 per month with a $25,000 cap on flight, meals and reimbursement. She won't be an official college employee but rather an independent contractor. Her contract expires Dec. 31.
A school spokeswoman says that Brennan's last day is scheduled for Aug. 3, but that Goren's contract began July 1.





Drug Court Closes

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Budget concerns have led officials in western Iowa to announce a plan to shut down the region's drug court.
The Fourth Judicial District drug court will shut down on Oct. 1.
Drug court started in January 2000. It offers people who are convicted of drug felonies a chance to complete a rehabilitation program instead of going to jail. If they are successful, the charges can be wiped from their records.
District director Kip Shanks says there are about 40 offenders in the program, which is no longer accepting applications.
Shanks says the program cost $250,000 a year to run, but funds allocated to his department for 2016 did not cover both drug court costs and employee raises.




Mall Of The Bluffs Up For Sale

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Mall of the Bluffs in Council Bluffs will be sold at auction.
The  property, which sold for $8.5 million in 2013 to Namdar Realty Group of Great Neck, N.Y., is listed on with a $1.5 million opening bid.
The auction runs for three days starting Aug. 3.
Namdar leasing manager Chiam Wiater confirmed that the main 492,000-square-foot building is for sale. 
Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh says other properties on the grounds are for sale, but not as part of the auction.






Thursday News, July 16

Plymouth County Authorities Arrest Wanted Minnesota Man

(Le Mars) -- In the early morning hours of Wednesday, the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office became aware of a wanted person out of Minnesota that was  at430 Catherine Street in Oyens. When deputies went to that location they believed the subject fled out of the back of the residence. At 6:41AM the Sheriff'sOffice received a call from a concerned citizen about some suspicious activity in Oyens. The caller report a black male comes from behind a shed and getting into a vehicle and quickly leaving the area. This matched the description of the wanted person. Deputies located a vehicle matching the
description at Hwy 3 and Nature ave. A traffic stop was conducted and with the assistance of the Le Mars Police Department Trayon Maurice Berry age
36 of Minneapolis was taken into custody. Berry was wanted out of Minnesota for Predatory Offender Knowingly Violates registration requirements an A
Felony. Berry is being held at the Plymouth County jail on NO bond and is awaiting extradition to Minnesota.





Sioux City Man Sentenced To Two Consecutive Life Sentences For Murders

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sioux City man has been sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for the shooting deaths of two people and attempted killing of a third person.
Twenty-eight-year-old Juan Nino-Estrada was sentenced Wednesday after a judge refused his request for a new trial. 
Prosecutors say Nino-Estrada killed Michael Delgado of Sioux City and Yolanda Valdez of Orange City during a disturbance at Luis Sanchez's house. He was also convicted of wounding Sanchez, also of Sioux City. 
The shootings took place in November 2014.




Former Doctor Forfeits Medical License

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A former western Iowa physician accused of molesting young patients years ago has surrendered his state medical license.
82-year-old Wing Tai Fung recently surrendered his medical license, according to documents released Wednesday by the Iowa Board of Medicine.
The documents say Fung also agreed to pay a $10,000 fine.
Fung, now of Ontario, Canada, pleaded guilty earlier this year to assault with intent to commit sexual abuse and indecent contact with a child, both misdemeanors.
A criminal complaint accused Fung of molesting a 10-year-old girl in January 1999 while treating her for a knee sprain at Myrtue Medical Center in Harlan, Iowa. He received a sentence of probation and must register as a sex offender in Iowa.





Lottery Chief Testifies At Trial

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A former lottery security chief testifying at his ex-coworker's fraud trial over a Hot Lotto winning ticket says the top threat to any lottery's integrity can be its own employees.
Ed Stefan, a former chief security officer for the Urbandale-based Multi-State Lottery Association, says expert information technology employees with ill intentions can be dangerous. 
Stefan spoke Wednesday during the trial of 52-year-old Eddie Tipton, who faces two counts of fraud.
Prosecutors say Tipton installed a malicious self-deleting computer program to pick numbers for the Dec. 23, 2010, Hot Lotto drawing. They say he bought a ticket with those numbers and unsuccessfully tried to get others to cash it without disclosing the buyer. Tipton denies the accusations.





Newspapers Want Additional Presidential Candidates To Participate In Debates

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A trio of newspapers in the early presidential nominating states is pushing back against the plan by Fox News to allow only 10 Republican candidates on stage in its August 6th debate, the first of the 2016 campaign. 
The New Hampshire Union Leader plans to host a candidate forum Aug. 3 at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, in partnership with The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., and The Gazette of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The event will be live on C-SPAN as well as TV stations in Iowa and South Carolina and a New Hampshire radio station.
All 15 candidates now in the Republican pack have been invited to participate and about half have committed so far.





Vilsack Says Food Stamp Recipients Should Not Have To Take Drug Test

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says federal law bars the drug testing of food stamp recipients that Wisconsin plans.
Vilsack responded Wednesday to a lawsuit filed by Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel asking a federal judge to declare that state budget provisions requiring food stamp recipients to undergo drug testing are legal.
In a statement, Vilsack says Congress has "repeatedly rejected the expensive, intrusive practice of suspicion-less drug testing," which Vilsack says has been shown to uncover "very little drug use."
The USDA has not yet seen Schimel's lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday.
The budget Republican Governor Scott Walker signed Sunday contains language requiring food stamp recipients to undergo drug screening. If they fail the screen they must go through drug testing and treatment to remain eligible for the benefit. Walker is a declared 2016 GOP presidential contender.







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