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Wednesday Afternoon News, September 17

Project Architech Gives Timeline For Downtown Facade Rennovation

(Le Mars) - The Le Mars City Council has set the date of October 30th when it will open bids from contractors interested in working on the downtown facade historical rennovation project.   The project is part of the Community Development Block Grant that allows cost-share funding from the state, the city, and building owners. The proposed plan is being submitted to the state's historical preservation office for a review.   During Tuesday's city council meeting, Project Archetech Peter Franks spelled out the timetable for the  project.

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Franks says the timetable allows city officials to make any changes if necessary, prior to the opening of the contractor bids.

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The estimated cost for the downtown facade rennovation project is $675,000.


Hamann Arrested For Sexual Abuse And Distributing Marijuana To A Minor

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Police Department has completed a sexual abuse investigation that began on August 24th. 20-year old Donovan Hamann of Le Mars was charged with two counts of third degree sexual abuse, a class C felony.  Hamann was also charged with two counts for distributing a controlled substance, that being marijuana, to individuals under the age of 18, which is a Class B felony.  Hamann was arrested for those charges on Tuesday and was transported to the Plymouth County Jail.  His bail was set at $100,000.


Sioux City Woman Arrested For Possession Of Marijuana Following Traffic Stop

(Le Mars) -- A Sioux City woman was arrested for possession of marijuana on Monday evening following a traffic stop.  Plymouth County deputies stopped 23 year old Olivia Lesko for an equipment violation on Highway 75 near county road C-70, south of Hinton.  During the traffic stop, the deputy noticed a strong odor of burnt marijuana coming from inside the vehicle.  Lesko was found to be in possession of marijuana.  She was arrested and jailed at the Plymouth County jail with bond set at $1,000.


Judge Rules Agent's Firing Was Justified

  IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The firing of a state investigator who reported Gov. Terry Branstad's speeding SUV wasn't a wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, a judge ruled Monday in dismissing one of four claims in his lawsuit.
     Former Division of Criminal Investigation agent Larry Hedlund had a duty to enforce traffic laws but that is "too vague and general" of a public policy to be a legally protected activity, Judge Dennis Stovall ruled. Hedlund didn't show a "compelling need" for protection from wrongful discharge since he had other job safeguards, including the ability to administratively appeal his firing, the judge ruled.
     Hedlund's claims of wrongful discharge under state law, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress against Branstad and three superiors can proceed, Stovall ruled.
     Hedlund initiated a pursuit in May 2013 after reporting an SUV zipped past him doing "a hard 90" mph on a state highway. A deputy clocked the vehicle traveling 84 in a 65-mph zone, but a trooper ultimately declined to issue a ticket after seeing it was a fellow trooper who was driving Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.
     Hedlund complained to then-DCI Director Chari Paulson that the vehicle should have been stopped, saying the incident jeopardized public safety. The agency removed Hedlund from duty days later.
     Hedlund's attorney, Tom Duff, said Wednesday he disagreed with the ruling and was considering an appeal. He said it might have "a chilling effect on other peace officers," if they are reluctant to enforce laws that could jeopardize their jobs.


Biden Tells Iowans To Vote For Democrats

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden is preaching a populist theme during a visit to Iowa - an important early-voting state in the presidential nominating calendar.
     He's telling voters to elect Democrats who support raising taxes on companies.
     Biden is hitting an election-year theme of restoring what he calls "basic fairness."
     The vice president spoke to about 200 Democratic activists on the steps of the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines. Bide joined a group of a dozen or so nuns who are starting a nationwide bus tour to urge people to vote.
     Biden's considering running for the top job in 2016, and his trip to Iowa follows Hillary Rodham Clinton's high-profile appearance Sunday at retiring Sen. Tom Harkin's big annual fundraiser.


Chiropractor Told He Can Again Practice

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa chiropractor accused in the past of inappropriately touching female patients can resume practicing, a state board announced Wednesday.
     The Iowa Board of Chiropractic's decision to reinstate Stuart Hoven's license is contingent on several conditions. He is on permanent probation and will need a female chaperone present when treating patients who are women. He must also submit to polygraph testing every six months.
     Hoven, of Winterset, had been accused multiple times of inappropriately touching his patients' breasts. Two women reported incidents in 2012. Other patients reported incidents in 2004 that included alleged inappropriate comments of a sexual nature.
     His license was suspended indefinitely in January 2013. Hoven later expressed interest in returning to work, but the board ruled in September 2013 that he wasn't ready.
     A document filed by the board this month said Hoven has fully complied with requirements for seeking reinstatement. That includes completing individual and group therapy, as well as finishing a coaching program on professional sexual misconduct. 
     Hoven previously had clinics in Winterset and Osceola.















Wednesday News, September 17

Plymouth County Sanitation And Landfill To Hold Open House

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Sanitation and Landfill will hold an open house later today to show the public its new hazardous waste disposal unit.  Landfill manager Mark Kunkel says the open house will be from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m.

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Kunkel says the receiving facility will be open weekdays, year-round, however appointments are necessary.  He says during the summer, the landfill will have a mobile unit that will travel to various Plymouth County communities to assist with the disposal of hazardous waste materials.

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The landfill manager says the Plymouth County Sanitation and Landfill was able to obtain grants from the state Department of Natural Resources to help finance the newly constructed hazardous waste disposal facility.  This week is Le Mars Clean up Days, a week when residents are given an amnesty from the city from normal landfill disposal fees, and Kunkel says people do take advantage of the special clean-up days.

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Again, the open house is scheduled for this afternoon and evening between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.  The Plymouth County Sanitation and Landfill is located at 34898 150th Street, north of Le Mars.


Illegal Drugs Found In Iowa Prison

 ROCKWELL CITY, Iowa (AP) - Iowa authorities are trying to find out how illegal drugs got into the state prison in Rockwell City.
     Prison spokesman Fred Scaletta said in an email that "a large amount of what is believed to be illegal drugs were discovered" during a routine inspection last week.
     Prison officials won't comment on the quantity or type of drugs found until the investigation is finished. 
     Officials from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration are expected to be at the minimum-security prison on Wednesday to investigate and classify the drugs.


Two Fired D-O-T Workers Back On The Job

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two Iowa Department of Transportation workers who a judge said were unfairly fired are back on the job.
     The administrative law judge ruled in April decided that Steven Scott and Ken Morrow should be reinstated to their jobs. The judge also ordered the state to pay back wages, legal fees and other compensation. The total could exceed $400,000. 
     State officials have declined to comment, citing confidentiality in a personnel matter.
     Morrow and Scott had worked for the state for several years and been promoted to an Osceola garage from other jobs. The two men successfully argued that the other employees at the garage treated them like outsiders and resented the fact that they were hired as managers. The judge said several state employees lied as part of an effort to end Scott's and Morrow's careers.
     Attorney Mark Sherinian, who represented Scott and Morrow, said the state has not punished the employees who lied.


Supreme Court To Release Video To Students

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court on Wednesday will offer a short video to high school students about the state constitution.
     The nine-minute orientation video will be available to social studies classrooms across the state. The high court is encouraging schools to show the video prior to two oral arguments that will be streamed live on the judicial branch website.
     The video includes an explanation from Chief Justice Mark Cady on how the state constitution is used to resolve disputes between residents. Justice Daryl Hecht also explains the appeal process and what happens during oral arguments.
     The court is releasing the video in partnership with the state Department of Education and the Iowa State Bar Association to celebrate Constitution Day, a national holiday honoring the U.S. Constitution.


Biden To Visit Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Several roads around the Iowa Capitol will be closed Wednesday due to a visit from Vice President Joe Biden, according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
     Biden will join with a Catholic social justice group called Nuns on the Bus on the Capitol's West Terrace. 
     Biden is considering running for president in 2016. His visit comes just days after former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed Iowa Democrats at Sen. Tom Harkin's annual fundraiser. Clinton is also weighing a 2016 bid.


1.8 Million Iowans Gamble

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Nearly 1.8 million Iowa adults gambled last year, according to a study released Tuesday by state health officials.
     The data means the percentage of adults who gamble is up nine percent since 2011, according to the state Department Public Health.
     The study, prepared by the University of Northern Iowa Center for Social and Behavioral Research, also estimates about 8,000 adults in the latest figure could be "problem" gamblers. Symptoms include the need to gamble with larger amounts of money.
     The report concludes 77.8 percent of Iowans gambled during the past 12 months. That's a jump from 68.9 percent in 2011.
     The most common forms of gambling were lottery tickets, raffle tickets, scratch and pull-tabs, slot machines and card games played outside a casino.






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