Thursday, August 27, 2015
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Thursday News, August 13

City Department Superintendents Discuss New Facility

(Le Mars) -- The city of Le Mars held an open house for the new public works facility yesterday afternoon.  The two new combined 39,700 square foot buildings now houses the equipment for both the streets department and the public facilities department, as well as the salt needed for the maintenance of the city streets during the winter.   Scott Kneip, the superintendent for the streets department believes the new building will end up saving the city money.

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Brad Eppling, the superintendent for the public facilities department echoed Kniep.

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Residences of Le Mars may not fully understand how much territory is maintained by city employees.  Eppling explains the vast number of acres of green space from the parks, cemeteries, and recreational trails.

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As for the city streets, Kneip says there are more than 73 miles of streets that need maintaining.

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Kneip says after a three to six inch snow storm, it takes the city crew nearly six hours to clean all of the Le Mars streets.  Eppling says his staff takes a week to mow all the cemeteries, parks, and recreational trails.




Chaffin Honored As "Employee Of The Month"

(Le Mars) -- An employee with the Education Station is the latest to be honored with the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce "Employee of the Month".  The honor was bestowed on Shannon Chaffin during the Wednesday Chamber coffee event.  Shannon was nominated by John and Dawn McGregor of the Education Station.  The nomination reads: Shannon does a remarkable job here at the Education Station.  She has been with the company part time since September 2012.  No matter what the job is, I can always count on Shannon to take care of it, and to do it well.  She has an amazing sense of humor and makes every day working with her a pleasant experience, and customers seem to love her.  
She is one of my go to people if I need something decorated or something done, as I know she will do it correctly the first time, with little explanation.  She just “gets it”.  Shannon is also an asset as she is willing to come in when needed or stay late, even with her full time teaching position.
Congratulations to Shannon Chaffin, the Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce August Employee of the Month.





270th Street To Be Closed For New Culvert

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Secondary Roads Department has announced it will be closing 270th Street from Tamarack Avenue to Almond Avenue beginning today.  That stretch of road is expected to remain closed until September 2nd.  Road crews will be replacing a bridge with a culvert.





Presidential Candidates Expected To Visit Iowa State Fair

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Sampling the pork chop on a stick. Snapping a selfie with the butter cow. Taking questions about foreign policy from hecklers.
For those who would be president, a visit to the Iowa State Fair may be the purest distillation of the campaign experience in the state that starts the voting in the race for the White House.
The 10-day event starts Thursday and most of the 2016 hopefuls will pass through.
It's an unscripted setting can lead to awkward moments and ill-timed soundbites.
Consider the case of Mitt Romney, who during the last campaign said while atop The Des Moines Register's soapbox: "Corporations are people, my friend."
The comment dogged the former private equity executive for the rest of his campaign.





Iowa State Fair Officials Offer Free Grandstand Entertainment On Saturday, August 22

(Des Moines) -- Today marks the start of the Iowa State Fair. Officials with the Iowa State Fair say the opening acts for singer Meghan Trainor's canceled grandstand performance will now be the main act for a free show.
Fair organizers said Wednesday afternoon that Charlie Puth and Life of Dillon will perform Aug. 22 at the grandstand. The announcement comes one day after Trainor, the artist behind the hit "All About That Bass," said she couldn't complete her tour due to a vocal cord problem.
More than 8,500 tickets had been sold for Trainor's show and they will be refunded.
Organizers did not provide additional information about the decision to make the revamped performance free.





Nine Finalists Interviewed For University Of Iowa President's Position

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The committee searching for the next University of Iowa president has recommended a slate of finalists to the Iowa Board of Regents.
Committee chair and interim school president Jean Robillard said Wednesday the names of recommended finalists will remain confidential for now. 
He said the candidates have to still be convinced to come to campus for final interviews before the regents make a selection, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 4.
Robillard spoke on a conference call after the 21-member committee concluded two days of interviews at an airport hotel in Chicago with nine candidates.
He says the interviews went well, and candidates were asked about education, research, diversity, student life and other matters. He says the committee feels "extremely good and very positive" about those who might replace retiring Sally Mason.






Sioux City School Board Director Being Investigated For Sexual Harassment

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Sioux City Community School District says it is investigating a sexual harassment claim against a school board member.
A school district spokeswoman Alison Benson confirmed the investigation Wednesday. 
Benson declined to identify which of the board's seven members is being investigated or the nature of the alleged incident, stating the details are a part of a "confidential personnel matter."





Officials Say Mental Health Care Is Now Better

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A top state official says Iowa is providing better mental health care after an overhaul of the system, though critics question the recent closure of two state-run mental health institutes.
Department of Human Services Director Chuck Palmer told an advisory board Wednesday that Iowa's mental health system was serving more people and providing more modern care. The effort to remake the system began in 2011 and was implemented last year.
Governor Terry Branstad has been criticized for halting funding for two Iowa mental health institutes this year.
The Des Moines Register reported Wednesday that a third patient from one of those centers died after being moved to a private nursing home.





Investigators Say Council Bluff Man's Death Is A Homicide

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say the death of a Council Bluffs man found with gunshot wounds is being investigated as a homicide.
The Council Bluffs Police Department says 55-year-old Robert Schendel was found dead Wednesday morning inside his home. His boss contacted authorities after Schendel didn't show up for work.
Authorities say Schendel had several gunshot wounds. His vehicle was also missing.
An autopsy is scheduled Thursday. Additional information has not been released.





Mall Shooting Trial To Be At Different County

CORALVILLE, Iowa (AP) - A motion has been filed to move to another county the trial of a man accused of fatally shooting a woman inside an Iowa mall.
The motion was filed Tuesday in Johnson County District Court for 22-year-old Alexander Kozak. He's pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in the June 12 slaying of Andrea Farrington. 
Kozak's attorney, Peter Persaud, has said media attention will make it difficult to find an impartial jury in eastern Iowa. The motion requesting a change of venue suggests Cerro Gordo, Pottawattamie, Story and Woodbury counties as possible sites, given their distance from local media coverage of the shooting.
A case management conference is scheduled for Aug. 28 to discuss further changes to the case's timetable and location.





Fatal Warren County Accident

INDIANOLA, Iowa (AP) - Two people have died, including a 9-year-old boy, after an RV carrying a trailer struck an SUV in Warren County.
9-year-old Eric M. Fuller and 72-year-old Karla K. Handy, who were passengers in the SUV, died Wednesday morning. According to the Iowa State Patrol, the collision happened at the intersection of Highway 69 and Highway G76.
Sergeant Nate Ludwig said the driver of the RV ran a stop sign and struck the SUV on the passenger side. He said 47-year-old Kimberly R. Fuller was taken to a Des Moines hospital in critical condition, and 10-year-old Lillian J. Fuller was transported in serious condition. The RV's driver refused treatment at the scene.
The collision is under investigation.





Wednesday News, August 12

Fire Departments To Conduct Joint Training Seminar

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars, Merrill, and Hinton Fire Departments will be coordinating a training exercise this evening.  The three fire departments, along with officials from  Plymouth Energy ethanol plant, and the Burlington Northern Sante Fe railroad will be examining the characteristics of a train car leaking crude oil.  Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says the training exercise scheduled for 6:30 p.m. won't be a full simulated emergency situation.  Instead, it is a course designed to introduce the fire fighting personnel to what are the special characteristics of the crude oil and of the tanker car.

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The training will take place on a railroad track spur that runs near the Plymouth Energy ethanol plant.  Schipper says he asked the local ethanol producer to participate in the training just in case there is ever an incident where a tanker of crude oil is leaking at, or near, the ethanol facility.

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Schipper says the Sioux City Haz-Mat team will also participate in the training seminar.

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The Le Mars Fire Chief says the three combined fire fighting units will also have the opportunity to work with fire extinguishing foam.  Something, Schipper says the fire departments don't have the opportunity to regularly use for training purposes.

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In the future, you may see more cross training with Le Mars and other surrounding fire departments.  Schipper says it is essential for the area we live in.

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Scoop The Loop Scheduled For This Evening

(Le Mars) -- Tonight at the Olson Cultural Events Center will be the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce annual "Scoop the Loop" event featuring several antique and classic cars, motorcycles, and trucks.  People will have the opportunity to view the classic vehicles up close and personal.  The band "The Jammers" will perform on stage from 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Food and refreshments will also be available during the event.




Grassley To Hold Town Hall Meeting In Le Mars

(Washington) -- U-S Senator Chuck Grassley has announced he will be holding a town hall meeting in Le Mars scheduled for Wednesday, August 26th.  The town hall meeting will be held at the Floyd Valley Hospital conference room beginning at 4:00 p.m. and will continue until 5:00 p.m.




Jindahl To Make Campaign Stop In Le Mars

(Le Mars) -- Louisiana Governor and Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindahl has announced he will make a campaign stop in the "Ice Cream Capital of the World".  Jindahl plans to stop in Le Mars on Tuesday, August 18th beginning at 12:00 noon.  Jindahl will appear at the 4 Brothers restaurant.





City To Hold Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies And Open House

(Le Mars) -- A reminder that the city of Le Mars will hold two separate ribbon cutting ceremonies today.  City officials will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Burlington Junction short line railroad at 11:45 a.m. then immediately following, city officials will dedicate the new Public Works Building at 12:00 noon.  All afternoon, city officials will offer tours and provide food for the city residents at the new facility.





Branstad To Write A Book

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is marking his record time in office with the publication of a book about his life.
Branstad announced Tuesday that the authorized biography will be available before the end of the year and coincides with his status this December as the nation's longest serving governor.
Mike Chapman, a longtime writer on Iowa history, says he was contacted by Branstad in 2013 to write the book. Branstad says he only reviewed Chapman's writing for accuracy.
Branstad says an Iowa foundation will handle proceeds from the book, and the money will be distributed to causes that Branstad says focus on historic preservation efforts.
The book will be printed through a local publishing house and will be about 200 pages. It will be available in hardcover, paperback and e-book format.




Sioux City Man To Serve Weekend Jail Time For Assisting Son To Escape

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A man has been placed on three years of probation and ordered to spend 15 weekends in jail for helping his son avoid getting arrested after shooting a Sioux City officer.
Fifty-five-year-old Levon Dean Sr. and several others were sentenced Tuesday for their roles in aiding Jamal Dean avoid arrest. Levon Dean had pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. by obstruction or interfering with governmental functions. Several others, who are family members and friends of Jamal Dean, were sentenced as well.
According to prosecutors, Jamal Dean shot Sioux City police officer Kevin McCormick during a traffic stop on April 29, 2013. Prosecutors say his father picked him up near the scene of the shooting.
Jamal Dean was sentenced 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted murder for the police shooting.






Newton Police Officer Accused Of Hitting Fiancée

NEWTON, Iowa (AP) - A central Iowa police officer has been accused of assaulting his fiancée.
The Newton Daily News reports ( ) that 29-year-old Dustin Hamell, of Newton, is charged with domestic assault and has been placed on administrative leave. His attorney didn't immediately return a call Wednesday from The Associated Press, seeking comment about the case.
Court records say Hamell slammed a door on her arm and pushed her twice on July 29.
Hamell has been on the Newton force for three years.





State Fair Needs To Find Grandstand Entertainment For Saturday, August 22nd

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa State Fair has been left with a big hole in its grandstand entertainment schedule because pop singer Meghan Trainor says she can't complete her tour due to a vocal cord problem that requires surgery.
Trainor, a popular 21-year-old who scored a No. 1 hit last year with "All About That Bass," says she's devastated.
Fair spokeswoman Mindy Williamson says the fair must find a replacement to fill a key Saturday night grandstand slot on Aug. 22. Traynor's show had sold 8,500 tickets.
Rockers Def Leppard and country artist Carrie Underwood have sold-out shows. Williamson says shows selling at least 10,000 tickets are considered sold out.
Country singer Reba McEntire's show on Aug. 16 has sold nearly 9,800 tickets so far.



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