Tuesday, January 27, 2015
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Saturday News, January 10

Fire Department Responds To Two Alarms

(Le Mars) -- Shortly after 4:00 a.m. this morning, the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department responded to a general fire alarm at 2375 Industrial Road, which is Bo-Dean's.  No additional details are known at this time.  On Friday afternoon, about 4:30 p.m. the Le Mars Fire Department was called to residence at the 300 block of 1st Avenue northeast.  Minor damage was reported when an electrical outlet had arched and shorted out.


State Republicans To Decide Fate Of Straw Poll Today

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Targeted as a costly sideshow that ought to be retired, Iowa's Republican straw poll appears set to survive for another go as summer's favorite political circus.
     Leaders of the Iowa Republican Party meet Saturday to decide the straw poll's fate.
     Despite the best efforts of high-profile Republicans to put it out to pasture, the event that draws thousands of Republican activists to the college town of Ames will likely end up with enough support to continue.
     First held in 1979, the straw poll has grown from a county GOP fundraiser to an all-out event on the campus of Iowa State University.
     Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann says he has a "hunch" that enough Iowa GOP members will vote to continue the event.


Ryan Selected To Head Public Safety Commission

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An attorney in the Iowa Department of Public Safety will serve as acting commissioner for the agency.
     Governor Terry Branstad announced Friday that Roxann Ryan will serve as acting commissioner. She will replace Commissioner Larry Noble who is retiring.
     Ryan joined the department in 2006 and serves as the in-house legal counsel. A spokesman for Branstad said there was no timeline for appointing a permanent commissioner.
     Noble announced last month that he would step down January 9th, about 16 months after he returned to lead the agency amid turmoil. He served as commissioner under Branstad from January 2011 until retiring in July 2012. Noble returned in September 2013 after a series of problems during the 11-month tenure of his replacement, Commissioner K. Brian London.


Off-Duty State Patrol Officer Cited For Speeding

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa State Patrol official has been cited for speeding following an off-duty November incident in which a trooper initially let him go without a ticket.
     The Iowa Department of Public Safety said Friday that Captain Ken Clary was cited for driving 92 miles per hour in a 70-mile per hour zone along Interstate 80 near Newton.
     The stop became public after a reader contacted The Des Moines Register.
     The patrol acknowledged trooper Bryan Guill stopped Clary on November 24th while he was driving a van belonging to Special Olympics Iowa. No report was filed about the stop.
     Department spokesman Scott Bright said an internal affairs investigation into Clary concluded Friday. Bright said the investigation didn't focus on Guill because officers have discretion on when to write tickets.


Iowa Congressional Delegation Votes For Keystone XL Pipeline

(Washington) -- All four of Iowa's Congressmen voted for a bill on Friday to move ahead with construction of the Keystone X-L Pipeline that would bring oil to the U-S from Canada. Congressman Steve King, a Republican from Kiron, issued a video message after the vote, acknowledging the president has threatened to veto the bill.

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King says if the oil doesn't come to the U-S for refinement, it will go to China. The bill passed the U-S House with 238 Republican votes and 28 Democrats.

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King says it also helps a U-S ally.

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Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack was one of the 28 Democrats to vote for the bill. 


$51 Million In Grants To Be Distributed To Iowa Cities

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A state economic development board has approved $51 million in grants to 16 cities in Iowa to complete housing projects designed to replace facilities lost in 2008 flooding.
     The grants funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development were approved by the Iowa Economic Development Authority Thursday. They fund 21 multi-family housing projects.
     Five projects in Cedar Rapids are funded in addition to projects in Cedar Falls, Davenport, Des Moines, Waterloo and West Des Moines.
     In smaller communities, grants of at least $3 million are approved for Burlington, Ottumwa, Hampton, Clinton, Ft. Madison and Windsor Heights.
     A project in Mount Pleasant received $2.7 million and projects in Marshalltown and Iowa Falls are getting just over $1 million. A Woodbine project received $442,000.







Friday Afternoon News, January 9

Woodbury County Authorities Investigate Suspicious Death

(Sioux City) -- Woodbury County authorities are investigating a suspicious death.  Deputies were dispatched to a Sloan residence at about 7:20 a.m. Friday morning in reference to an injured party.  While at the scene, deputies found a deceased partly along with evidence to indicate the death to be of a suspicious nature.  A preliminary investigation is being conducted to gather more facts concerning the circumstances of the death.  Woodbury County Sheriff's Deputy, Lieutenant Charles Hertz says more information will be provided as it is obtained.


Nine People Arrested In Sioux County Drug Raid

(Orange City) -- Nine people in their late teens and early 20's have been arrested on various drug charges in a Sioux County drug sting.  Search warrants were issued early Wednesday morning, January 7th allowing for the Sioux County Sheriff's Office to conduct an investigation at an Orange City apartment.  Upon further investigation, Sioux County deputies found marijuana, cocaine, acid paper, THC wax and drug paraphernalia.  Those arrested include: 18 year old Elizabeth Winship of St. John, Indiana; 21 year old Zacariah Wothe of Le Mars, 19 year old Chance Wetter, 21 year old Kevin Moore, 19 year old Trey Beltman, 20 year old Sierra Johnson, 19 year old Cody Langel, 18 year old Samantha Van Grouw, and 21 year old Sarah Eubank all of Orange City.  They each were arrested for possession of controlled substances and possession of drug paraphernalia, and taken to the Sioux County jail.


Soderberg Believes Budget Will Consume Much Of Legislature's Time

(Le Mars) -- State lawmakers return to Des Moines on Monday to begin the 86th General Assembly, and 5th District Republican State Representative Chuck Soderberg of Le Mars expects the budget to consume the vast majority of the legislator's time. 

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Soderberg says estimates for the Iowa budget is to see an additional $200 million above what was spent last year.  However, he says, that doesn't necessarily mean the state has extra funds.

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Attention has been focused on Iowa's deteroriating infrastructure system including repairing the highways, roads, and bridges.  One proposal is to raise the fuel tax, since gasoline prices have come down.  However, Soderberg doesn't believe there is enough support in both chambers for an increase in the fuel tax.

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Saturday, we will have additional comments from State Representative Chuck Soderberg as he looks to the start of the legislative session.


Mary Klein Selected As January Chamber "Employee Of the Month"

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce honored its January "Employee of the Month" earlier this week.  Gehlen Catholic faculty, staff, students, and administration nominated Mary Klein for the honor.  In their nomination, it states, in business and in life, it's the first impression that often determines the success of a relationship.  The same is true for Gehlen Catholic School.  As one of the first contacts for those who enter or interact with our school, it is Mary's hospitality and heartwarming smile as an employee, along with her service as a fellow parent volunteer, which allows Gehlen Catholic to enjoy quality relationships, to succeed.  Although her roles have changed over the years from librarian assistant to Development Office, Mary epitomizes the values of Gehlen Catholic in an extraordinary way.  Mary handles a multitude of duties in the most humble manner, setting an example of God's work displayed before our very eyes.  Mary prepares, organizes, and assists with the implementation of events, directs crowds, enters then gathers and analyzes data, solves issues, revises systems, sends communications, sends pledge reminders, makes courtesy reminder calls, thanks benefactors and volunteers, creates documents, meets staff needs, reports problems, offers advice, deciphers messages, protects confidences, sees through the confusion, promotes Gehlen Catholic, comforts those with problems, cheers on successes, lifts spirits, lowers other's stress levels, runs traffic control, offers humor to lighten the load, answers and asks questions, deciphers and distributes materials and messages...all with a smile.  Our congratulations to Mary Klein for being named the January Chamber of Commerce "Employee of the Month".


Gehlen Sophomore Art Student Creates Winning Ice Cream Days Logo

(Le Mars) -- A Gehlen Catholic sophomore student has been selected as the winner for creating the chosen logo for the upcoming Le Mars Ice Cream Days. Courtney Sitzmann is the daughter of Jason and Becky Sitzmann of Hinton.  The official Ice Cream Days 2015 logo will be displayed to the public in March.  Courtney's design will be featured on marketing and promotional materials.  She will receive a free T-shirt, along with ice cream related gifts, and will be asked to participate in the 2015 Ice Cream Days Parade. Ice Cream Days are scheduled for June 17th - 20th.  This will mark the 29th year for the summer celebration. 


Authorities Release The Name Of Killed Person From Fertilizer Plant Explosion

 CRESTON, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have released the name of a man who was fatally injured in an explosion at a fertilizer plant in southern Iowa.
     Creston Fire Chief Todd Jackson on Friday identified the man as 71-year-old Eldon Ray, of Creston. Jackson says Ray and two other people were injured Thursday morning when an overpressurized air pipe exploded at Green Valley Chemical. 
     Jackson says Ray died after leaving the scene in an ambulance, and the other two people were taken by private vehicle to Greater Regional Medical Center in Creston, where they were evaluated and released. Jackson did not have their names. 
     Jackson says the explosion cause is being investigated. He says the blast didn't cause a fire.
     A plant representative didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press.


Planted Corn Used To Block Snow

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Department of Transportation is paying dozens of Iowa farmers to leave rows of corn that can create snow barriers along highways.
    The state agency has about 70 contracts with farmers.
     Agency transportation planner Cathy Cutler says farmers are asked to leave four to 10 rows adjacent to roads. The corn acts as a natural barrier, keeping the snow off highways.
     Dean Williams, who farms near Vinton, participates in the program. He says his corn can cause up to 4 feet of snow to pile up in the stalks, keeping Highway 150 clearer.
     The farmers are paid a little more than they would earn from the corn, and they still can harvest the rows in the spring.


Inmate Ordered To Give More Money To Victim's Families

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court says an inmate can give more of his earnings back to his victims at the expense of the state.
     The court reinstated a judge's order Friday allowing Beau Morris to apply 50 percent of his income to restitution, up from the traditional 15 percent for inmates with private-sector prison jobs.
     Morris petitioned a court in 2012 to increase the percentage of his earnings for restitution after reading about how millions of dollars in court debts go unpaid. 
     But the Iowa Department of Corrections argued the change was illegal and a judge rescinded it. Increasing restitution payments meant less money would go to the department and the state's general fund.
     But justices say lawmakers intended for victims to receive restitution from inmate wages ahead of the state.


Developer Proposes 12 Story Hotel For Iowa City

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A developer proposes building a $33 million, 12-story hotel in Iowa City, but the plans are contingent on a lot of help from the city.
     Kinseth Hospitality, of North Liberty, has submitted plans for the 144-room Hilton Garden Inn Hotel to the city. The building, located near the University of Iowa campus, would include a meeting and events center and a rooftop restaurant.
     It would be the first nationally branded hotel to open downtown since 1984.
     Kinseth is seeking $8.8 million in financial help from the city.
     City staff has suggested meeting that request with tax-increment rebates and grants as well as money from hotel-motel tax revenue. The city would pay the refunds over 13 years.
     The hotel would employ 150 people.



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