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Wednesday Afternoon News, July 9

Le Mars Community School Foundation To Use Grant To Purchase Computers

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Schools Foundation has made a decision regarding the distribution of the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope grant monies.  After discussion on how to best advance our mission to “solicit resources that will enhance the educational opportunities for all students” and in looking at the Foundation Objectives, it was decided to purchase approximately 75 laptop computers to be used in the Le Mars Community High School in two areas.
The technology budget for the upcoming school year is being applied heavily to advancing the LCS elementary and middle schools. Due to this, high school teachers in the areas receiving these new laptops had applied for classroom laptops and were denied. The Le Mars Community Foundation is pleased to announce that they will be able to purchase approximately 25 laptops for use in Tami Dunn’s freshman science classroom as well as approximately 25 laptops each for Erin Ohrlund’s and Judy Zeka’s English classrooms.
The freshman science room is the last science room at the high school to receive laptop computers for use in the classroom to assist in the completion of experiments and other assignments. Two of the English classrooms in the high school already have laptops for use in the classroom, and the addition of laptops for two more classrooms will provide students with the ability to more easily research, prepare, and finish their paper-writing assignments. Each of the laptops purchased will be in operation for at least five years.
By purchasing these laptops, the Foundation is one step closer to reaching one of the Foundation Objectives which is to “provide laptop computers for all students.” The Foundation Board is thankful that the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope grant monies were able to assist in purchasing technology for high school students that would not have been possible without the receipt of the grant money.


Chamber Ag Committee And Fair Board Making Preparations For Round Barn Ag Exhibit

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee in cooperation with the Plymouth County Fair Board are making preparations for a new exhibit to be featured in the famous round barn. The exhibit is entitled "a ROUND the farm in the BARN", and will be an interactive agricultural education exhibit. The exhibit will be on display during the Plymouth County Fair, July 23rd - 27th. Paul Jacobson, chairman of the Chamber Ag Committee offers an explaination of the exhibit.

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The exhibit will utilize both floors of the round barn and will feature many photographs, videos, and interesting information regarding Plymouth County agriculture.  In addition, attendees of the fair and visitors to the round barn will have the opportunity to see a photo display of all of the Plymouth County barn quilt barns.  Jacobson says “Often times, the Plymouth County Fair is the only chance for many people to get a close look at agriculture, and the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee, along with the Plymouth County Fair Board believe it is important people should know that their food starts at the farm and ends at the grocery store or supermarket,” Jacobson said.

Another area of focus will be the vale-added industries.

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The exhibit will showcase the various commodities that are either grown or produced in Plymouth County, as well as, show both the social and economic impact that agriculture has upon Plymouth County residents.   A Biofuels Mobile Education Center will be on hand parked next to the round barn on Sunday of the fair, allowing visitors to enter the facility to learn more about corn production and ethanol processing.  Attendees of the "a ROUND the farm in the BARN" will try their hand at milking, learn more about grain bin safety, and learn interesting facts about each of the crops and livestock produced in Plymouth County.   A special highlight of the agriculture exhibit is a combine cab referred to as the "Ag Cab Lab"

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The agriculture exhibit will feature large screen televisions showing various aspects of Plymouth County agriculture, as well as, showing a series of quizzes testing a person's knowledge pertaining to Plymouth County Agriculture.  Jacobson says the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee is grateful for the allocation of grants, and many donations, in assisting with this educational project. 


Iowa State Fair To Feature "Field Of Dreams" Butter Sculpture

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa State Fair will feature a "Field of Dreams" butter sculpture this year along with its iconic butter cow.
     Fair officials say the sculpture will commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Iowa-based movie filmed at the Lansing Family Farm in Dyersville. 
     The molded butter sculpture will depict aspects of baseball and Iowa's farmlands. It will join the butter cow in a 40-degree cooler.
     The fair will also offer a new interactive exhibit called "Farm with Us." It will include bushels of corn and soybeans for people to touch and an interactive digital screen.
     This year's fair will be held Aug. 7-17.


Sioux City Man Pleads Not Guilty To "Hit and Run" Accident

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A 22-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to leaving the scene of a fatal hit-and-run accident in Sioux City.
     Mark Beltran entered the plea Tuesday in Woodbury County District Court. A trial date hasn't been set.
     Police say 70-year-old Robert Ibsgaard, also of Sioux City, was on a crosswalk on May 29 when he was struck by a car driven by Beltran.  Ibsgaard died several days later. Police say Beltran then drove to a parking lot and ran off. He was arrested a short time later.
     Beltran also is charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, failure to report a crash, no proof of insurance and driving with a suspended license.


Woman's Death Found Suspicious

 WALKER, Iowa (AP) - Authorities in eastern Iowa say the death of a woman found in the middle of a road is suspicious.
     The Linn County Sheriff's Office says authorities received a call Wednesday morning about an unresponsive woman lying in the middle of a road in rural Walker.
     Emergency responders pronounced the women dead. Her identity and cause of death are unknown at this time.
     An autopsy will be performed at the state crime lab in Ankeny.


Man Growing Marijuana For Medical Purposes Found Guilty

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa man who says he grew marijuana to treat his cancer has been found guilty of drug charges.
     A jury returned the verdict Wednesday for Benton Mackenzie in Scott County District Court. His wife and adult son were also found guilty of drug charges.
     The charges were in connection to dozens of marijuana plants found at Mackenzie's parents' home last year.
     The 48-year-old Mackenzie said he wanted to testify in his trial that he grew the marijuana to treat a rare cancer condition with oil derived from the plant. A judge denied his motions to use that defense.


Report Questions Branstad Claims Of Reducing Size Of Government

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new report from a nonpartisan state agency questions whether Gov. Terry Branstad is cutting the cost and size of state government as he claims.
     Branstad says the state is on track to meet his promised 15 percent reduction in the cost of government. He says he's cut more than 1,000 state jobs.
     The Legislative Services Agency is responsible for providing financial reports for lawmakers. It says state employment has increased and state expenditures have fallen only slightly since Branstad took office.
     Branstad's job cuts figure includes only the executive branch under his control. It doesn't include state universities or the legislative and judicial branches of government.
     He insists he's on track to cut expenditures by 15 percent when compared to the projected spending of his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Chet Culver.


Authorities Believe Mother And Daughter Worked Together On Murder

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have seized a computer and flash drives from the Iowa home of a woman whose daughter was convicted of a high-profile murder, based on a search warrant alleging the two worked together to harass prosecution witnesses by spreading defamatory information about them online.
     Records obtained by The Associated Press show the items were seized Tuesday at the Urbandale condominium of 68-year-old Anna Richter. Her daughter, Tracey Richter, was convicted of the murder of a neighbor in what prosecutors said was a plot to frame her ex-husband. 
     The warrant application says the Richters and their associates are targeting witnesses who testified against Tracey Richter.
     No one has been charged. Anna Richter and an attorney for Tracey Richter didn't immediately return messages.












Wednesday News, July 9

Local Church Helps Those In Need With Construction and Painting Of Home

(Le Mars) -- A local church, along with a youth group from Manitoba, Canada are assisting with a construction and painting project in Le Mars.  Pastor Ken Vander Ploeg of the Calvin Reformed Church of Le Mars is overseeing the project. He says the "Prairie Project" identifies families of limited means, or who are physically unable to make needed repairs to their homes.  The group focused its attention on a home located at 315 2nd Avenue northwest, and belonging to Steve and Jan Sneller.

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Vander Ploeg says the youth group are in the area for only three days, but have worked on several projects.

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Vander Ploeg says the groups are an extension of the Habitat for Humanity.


Sioux City Council Tells Police There Isn't Enough Money For Repairs To Building

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The City Council says Sioux City doesn't have nearly $4 million to repair its police and fire department headquarters. The city has budgeted $2.5 million for the repairs to the leaky, 28-year-old building. Police officials say they will revise their plans and come back to the council in a few weeks.


Attorney General Secures Refunds From Club Membership

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - More than 400,000 Iowans who were tricked into signing up for buying club memberships will be eligible for refunds ranging from $6 to hundreds of dollars or more.
     Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced Tuesday that refund notices are being sent to Iowans who had memberships with Connecticut-based Vertrue Inc. and two other buying clubs.
     The $40 million refund is the culmination of Miller's 11-year investigation and prosecution of Vertrue, which was found to have tricked Iowans into buying 864,000 memberships dating back to 1989. Most of the memberships weren't used.
     Miller says the checks will be sent later this year, likely between October and December. Des Moines man Richard Schulz says he expects to receive $1,500 in refunds from Vertrue after he unknowingly had a paid membership for years.


Iowa State University Intergrating The Role Of Crop Specialists

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa State University is revising the way its crop specialists work with farmers on the best ways to plant and care for soybeans and corn.
     Traditionally corn specialists worked with corn growers and soybean specialists worked with soybean producers. Now, however, the university says it's putting together a new team of integrated cropping systems specialist.
     They will focus on how corn and soybean production interacts with soil, weather, cover crops, crop rotation and management practices and support farmers' use of data-driven technologies in precision agriculture.
     The team is led by Sotirios Archontoulis (So-tee-ree-os Ark-on-tool-is), who joined Iowa State in 2012.
    Joel DeJong, who serves farmers in northwest Iowa as a crops specialist, says the new intergration will not change much in the manner how he assists farmers.

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Iowa DOT Establishes Dates For Roadside Haying

 AMES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa transportation officials have set two schedules for harvesting hay within state-maintained highways.
     The Iowa Department of Transportation says cool season grasses and forage legumes can be harvested between July 15 and Sept. 1. Warm season native grasses can be harvested between July 15 and Aug. 15.
     People must obtain a permit to perform any type of work on state highways. They will also need to wear a fluorescent green safety vest and provide traffic control in some instances.
     DOT officials say only one cutting per year is allowed so grasses can recover before the winter season.


Hog Confinement Barn On Fire

 HUDSON, Iowa (AP) - Firefighters are battling a fire at a rural hog confinement operation in northeast Iowa.
     Officials say a structure at the confinement in Hudson caught fire Tuesday before spreading to an adjacent building. Heavy smoke and impaired visibility was reported.
     The second structure contained hogs, and some are believed to have died in the fire. It is unclear how many hogs were inside.
     Firefighters from at least three departments were battling the fire. Nearby neighbors at one point gathered to help move several items, including propane and gasoline tanks, out of the fire's path. Authorities say it's unclear what caused the fire.


Iowa WWII Pilot Remains Are Found And Identified

 MOULTON, Iowa (AP) - Officials say remains found in Germany in 2012 have been positively identified as belonging to a WWII airman from Iowa who went missing more than 69 years ago. 
     The Iowa National Guard says Staff Sgt. Robert "Bobby" E. Howard, of Moulton, Iowa, was 21 years old in April 1945 when his aircraft was shot down over Germany. He and four other crew members were officially declared dead, though their remains were never recovered.
     Officials say in a news release Tuesday that a research and analysis group concluded earlier this year that human remains found near the possible aircraft crash site belong to Howard.
     A memorial service for Howard will be held in Moulton on July 19 with full military honors.


AIDS Research Team Forfeits Grant

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An AIDS research team at Iowa State University will not get a final payment of $1.38 million it had been awarded from the National Institutes of Health after a team member admitted last year to faking research results.
     The NIH says the final payment of a five-year grant will not be made.
     Dong-Pyou Han has pleaded not guilty in federal court to four counts of making false statements in research reports. He is free on bond awaiting trial.
     Prosecutors say Han wrote a letter to university officials before resigning in 2013 in which he says he spiked samples of rabbit blood with human antibodies to make an experimental HIV vaccine appear to work. Han's letter says he acted alone.
     The team continues its research and is seeking additional funding.


Medicaid Director Resigns

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The state's Medicaid director has resigned to take a job with the University of Iowa.
     The state Department of Human Services says Jennifer Vermeer's resignation will be effective Aug. 21. She is leaving to become the new assistant vice president of medical affairs with University of Iowa Health Care.
     Julie Lovelady, the Medicaid deputy director, will become the interim director. A national search will be launched to permanently fill the position.
     Vermeer has been the state's Medicaid director since 2008.


Nashua Police Chief Demoted 

NASHUA, Iowa (AP) - The police chief of a northern Iowa city has been demoted back to officer.
     The Nashua City Council made that decision on Monday regarding the city's chief, Ernie Willsher. 
     Mayor Deanne Lantow said in the demotion notice to Willsher on June 20 that his attitude is to blame, but she did not go into specifics. 
     Willsher has 30 days to appeal the decision and request a formal hearing.
     Officer Paul Becthold was named interim chief of the four-member department. Nashua has about 1,700 residents.














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