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Saturday News, February 14

Sunday Is Deadline To Sign-up For Affordable Health Care 

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa residents seeking health care coverage on the federal exchange have until Sunday to sign up.
     This is the second open enrollment period under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, known as the Affordable Care Act. For the most part, enrollment has gone more smoothly this time, with fewer complaints about technical glitches.
     Federal authorities say nearly 40,000 people in Iowa had signed up or had been re-enrolled in a plan as of last week. 
     In Iowa, some consumers have been scrambling to find new coverage since the state took over a cooperative that was selling insurance to residents in Iowa and Nebraska.


Knoxville Teens Arrested For Terrorism Against School

 KNOXVILLE, Iowa (AP) - Police say they've arrested two eighth-grade boys in connection with a threat against a central Iowa middle school.
     The Knoxville Police Department says two Knoxville Middle School students were arrested Friday on the charge of conspiracy to commit terrorism. The 13- and 14-year-old have been transported to a juvenile holding facility.
     Authorities say they responded Thursday night to a threat against the middle school. According to a news release, officers determined the school wasn't in immediate danger and continued investigation Friday morning.
     Information on the nature of the threat has not been released.


Des Moines Attorney And Real Estate Agent Arrested For Fraud

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Des Moines area attorney and a real estate agent have been convicted of bank fraud after an eight-day federal court trial.
     A jury on Thursday convicted attorney Jason Springer on seven counts of bank fraud and real estate agent Rick Makohoniuk on one count. 
     Prosecutors allege Des Moines area banks lost $400,000 when the men bought 18 homes in short sales at prices they claimed were fair market value then quickly resold them for more than they paid. Short sells are homes on which the owner owes more than the property is worth.
     Two other men - Nathan Smith and Patrick Steven - earlier pleaded guilty to bank fraud and Jerod Hogan, a mortgage broker, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make a false statement.


Republican Party Has Received Four Bids To Host Straw Poll

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Republican Party has received four bids to host the 2015 straw poll later this year. 
     The party announced Friday that four venues have submitted proposals to host the August event, which has traditionally been held in Ames the summer before a contested presidential caucus.  
     The locations are the Central Iowa Expo in Boone, the Iowa State Center in Ames, the Iowa Speedway in Newton and Drake University in Des Moines. 
     A committee will review the bids and recommend a location. No timeline has been set for the decision. 
     First held in 1979, the Iowa straw poll has grown from a county GOP fundraiser to a large event. The poll draws a small percentage of caucus attendees. It's one early test of campaign organization.


Florida Senator Mulling Over Run For President

 WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he's still mulling a presidential decision, but if he runs, he'll come to Iowa. 
     Rubio signed copies of his latest book Friday at a Barnes and Noble in suburban Des Moines. After chatting with the more than 100 people who lined up, Rubio said he and his family are still deciding on a 2016 presidential bid.
     Should he run, Rubio says he'll spend time in the early voting state. He noted that candidates "have to come to Iowa more than once or twice."
     Iowa was the first stop for Rubio as he promotes "American Dreams: Restoring American Opportunity for Everyone." He says he was also going to try to meet with Republican Gov. Terry Branstad.


Jeb Bush Making Donations To Political Action Committees

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Jeb Bush is focusing the first round of his political action committee's donations on candidates and state Republican organizations in early-voting presidential states and general election swing states, leaving little doubt the former Florida governor is planning to seek the 2016 GOP nomination.
     Bush announced Friday that the group he formed in December is contributing $122,800, more than half of which is going to candidates and state Republican parties in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. The four states are scheduled to hold the nation's first GOP nominating contests in February 2016.
     The rest of the money Bush has been raising aggressively this year is going to his home state's Republican Party and a mix of younger and diverse candidates and candidates from swing-voting Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia.





Friday Afternoon News, February 13

Water Line Insurance: Is It Worth The Money?

(Le Mars) -- Several Le Mars residents have been solicited to purchase water line insurance.  Sioux City recently approved the program, with more than 1500 residents making the purchase for insurance against water line breaks.  Waterline Coverage Plus also known as Home Serve has been contacting residents encouraging them to purchase the insurance.  Le Mars City Water Superintendent Gayle Sitzmann says he has heard of many people being contacted.  sitzmann says whether a home owner decides to purchase the water line insurance is entirely up to the home owner.  The city water department superintendent explains what is the city's responsibility and what is the home owner's responsibility when a water line should break.

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Sitzmann says he has been contacted by several Le Mars residents asking questions about the water line insurance program.

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Sitzmann says people need to weigh the risks versus the benefits, if and when, they decide to purchase water line insurance.  He sees older homes may need the insurance while newer homes would not necessarily need the additional coverage.  He says the program is like an extended warranty.

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The city of Sioux City has endorsed a program offering water line insurance, but according to City Code Enforcement Officer, Jason Vacera, the city of Le Mars has not given any endorsement.  Residents may wonder if thier home owners insurance policy would cover water line breaks and repairs.  Rob Bixenman of Bixenman Insurance says probably not.

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Bixenman says he does not offer any water line coverage insurance, but is aware of some companies that do.  He says people should first do research before investing money into water line insurance.

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Gayle Sitzmann says there were 15 water main breaks last winter, and this winter only two breaks have occurred, and none since December 18th.  He says last year he was aware of seven total residential water line breaks resulting from frozen pipes, and this year he has not heard of any water service line breaks.


Ankeny Plastics Company To Expand

 ANKENY, Iowa (AP) - Officials have announced the expansion of a high-tech plastics manufacturing plant located in Ankeny.
     Roger Hargens is the president and CEO of Accumold, a company that designs, develops and produces micro-sized plastic parts, and he said Friday that a $10 million expansion of Accumold's plant is expected to begin this spring.
     Hargens says the expansion will add more than 200 jobs over the next three years. Accumold currently employs 221 people.
     According to a news release, the planned expansion reflects a $7 million project in 2010. But Hargen says the latest addition is meant to strengthen the facility to be "capable of withstanding an F-5 tornado."
     Founded in 1985, Accumold manufactures miniscule parts found in surgical tools, hearing aids, antennas and other devices.


John Deere Hires Additional Employees For Dubuque Plant

 DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - John Deere has recently laid off hundreds of workers in the Midwest, but it has added jobs at its factory in Dubuque, where the company manufactures huge vehicles for construction and forestry.
     Last month, the company announced the layoff of 910 workers at five locations in Iowa and Illinois, citing reduced demand for farming equipment as the reason. But John Deer Dubuque Works has added more than 100 jobs since late 2014.
     General Manager Byron Taylor says this addition brings the total number of people working at the Dubuque site to 2,500.
     Taylor says the rollout of new bulldozer models and forestry machines, which hit the market in January, have contributed to the company's strong growth in a new customer segment.


Clive Gynecologist Fined By Iowa Medical Board

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Documents from the Iowa Board of Medicine show a Clive gynecologist has agreed to pay $7,500 to settle accusations he acted inappropriately with patients.
     Frederic Sager also has agreed to have a female chaperone present during patient appointments.
     The 64-year-old will undergo "professional boundaries" training and psychotherapy. His work will be overseen by another doctor, and he'll serve five years of professional probation.
     The licensing board says Sager had obstetrical patients stay at his Florida vacation home while he was there. It also says he prescribed medications to a woman displaying "drug-seeking behavior."
     The board says he treated a woman after hours when no one was present at his clinic.


Group Drops Funding For Popular Des Moines Shuttle Service 

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The future of a popular downtown shuttle in Des Moines is in doubt after an organization decided to stop contributing to the program.
     Operation Downtown won't make its annual contribution of $72,000 to the shuttle, operated by the Des Moines Area Regional Transportation Authority. Operation Downtown also plans to stop funding a number of other programs.
     When the shuttles began several years ago, the city and state also contributed to the program, but that funding has stopped. The transportation authority covered those costs, but it's unclear if they cover the latest expense. The total cost is $400,000.
     City Council Member Bob Mahaffey notes the shuttles are popular with people at the state Capitol as well as many downtown workers.


Storm Lake Man Given Probation After Robbery Charges

  FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - An 18-year-old who'd been charged with robbery after a lockdown at Iowa Central Community College has been given probation.
     Garhoth Dak, of Storm Lake, was sentenced on Monday to two years of probation and five years in prison, suspended. Dak pleaded guilty last month to one count of extortion.
     Prosecutors say Dak admitted threatening someone at an Iowa Central apartment on Nov. 10. College officials placed the school on lockdown when the student reported that men were in her room. Dak surrendered to Fort Dodge police the day after the incident.
     Robbery charges against three others arrested in the case have been dropped. The three are Joseph Odir and Molong Deng, of Des Moines; and Juma Deng, of Urbandale.


Man Saved After Falling Into Chemical Tank

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have identified the 28-year-old man who fell into a large tank filled with chemical cleaning solution.
     The Polk County Sheriff's Office said Friday that Eric L. Woollard, of Des Moines, remains at Mercy Hospital following his fall into a vat of chemical cleaner at Chemorse, Ltd. Information on his condition has not been released.
     Officials say Woollard's coworkers were able to help him out of the tank with a safety rope Thursday before rescue crews arrived at the Des Moines facility. They say Woollard was rinsed off before being transported to the hospital.
     Authorities say they're unsure how the man ended up in the cleaning solution.
     Chemorse, Ltd. is a producer of pesticide enhancers and a distributor of industrial chemicals.


Forest City Man Given Probation After Embezzeling From Pension Fund

 CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A Forest City business owner has been sentenced to two years of probation for embezzling funds from an employee benefit plan.
     Owner Anthony Bartleson of Bartleson Masonry also was ordered in U.S. District Court on Tuesday to pay nearly $19,500 in restitution for lost income and tax liabilities.
     The Mason City Globe Gazette reports that amount is on top of the nearly $42,000 he's already paid to the federal government.
     Court documents state Bartleson didn't deposit money from his employees into their retirement accounts. He also didn't pay the employer matching contribution.
     Bartleson admitted to using the money for himself.


Baseball League Overbilled

CLIVE, Iowa (AP) - Clive plans to repay a youth baseball league nearly $69,000 because the league's been overbilled for water.
     The Walnut Creek Baseball league has been double billed since 2005. City Manager Dennis Henderson says a billing error was discovered during discussions with league officials about league plans. League games are played along the Greenbelt Trail at the Brownell Sports Complex.
     City officials say a meter was improperly set and was overstating the number of gallons used for irrigation and other reasons.









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