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Monday Afternoon News, March 9

Concrete Is Being Poured At Floyd Valley Hospital North Addition

(Le Mars) -- Several changes are occuring at the Floyd Valley Hospital.  Hospital Administrator Mike Donlin reports construction on the new north addition continues as work crews are pouring concrete this week.

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Donlin says as people drive by the hospital campus they will  see the progress being made with the framing of the new addition, however, Donlin says it won't be long before crews will be focusing their work on the inside.

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Another change at the hospital is a new face.  Donlin says the hospital has hired a new physician.

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Donlin says Oden is a native of northeast Nebraska.

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Storm Lake Police Arrest 9 Men On Prositution Ring

STORM LAKE, Iowa (AP) - Police say they used social media to arrest nine men in an online prostitution investigation over the weekend in Storm Lake.
     The Storm Lake Police Department conducted its investigation throughout the day Friday. Of the nine men arrested, eight are from Iowa and one is from Minnesota.
     Police say the investigation was geared toward those soliciting prostitution. They say the men connected with an undercover officer through social media and later met with the officer at a Storm Lake motel, where they were arrested.
     All men face charges of solicitation of prostitution.


Iowa Drivers Slow To Convert To REAL ID

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Many licensed drivers in Iowa have not converted their identification to a version that is designed to help reduce identity theft and fraud.
     Two years after Iowa implemented the REAL ID program, only about 250,000 of Iowa's 2.1 million licensed drivers have switched to identification that may be needed in the future to enter some federal buildings or board a plane.
     Mark Lowe, the director of the Iowa Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Division, says he is not surprised by the low number, and that the department needs to continue its awareness campaign to increase conversion.
     REAL ID was adopted in 2005, in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, to help states verify the identities of people applying for driver's licenses and cut down on identity theft.
     Iowa residents are not required to get a REAL ID driver's license.


Branstad Says He Will Restore Broadband Internet Bill 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says he will try to restore state funding to his broadband bill that was designated for a grant program.
     Branstad said Monday the grant program could receive the money again through other funding mechanisms in the legislative process, including a bill or amendment.
     A House committee recently voted to remove the $5 million in state funding for the program, which is aimed at assisting service providers with the cost of establishing broadband, also known as high-speed Internet, in Iowa. Lawmakers expressed concern about the sustainability of the funds.
     The program remains in the bill, but it designates funding through federal and private dollars. Information about how the money will be secured has not been released.


Branstad Announces Financial Literacy Summit For College Students

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad wants Iowa students to learn how to make good financial decisions, particularly when it comes to college loans.
     Branstad announced Monday that the state will hold a financial literacy summit for students, parents and educators. Branstad said he wants the May 5 event in Des Moines to help prepare students and parents for college borrowing decisions.
     Branstad expressed concerns about the debt load assumed by many students and said students must learn "not borrow money for things they don't need."
     Iowa school districts are expected to teach certain financial lessons to K-12 students. A group formed by the state Department of Education last year recommended revising the current standards to provide more clarity to districts and establishing ways to measure if school districts are meeting the goals.


Defense Rests In Trial Involving Killing Of 5 Year Old Girl 

WEBSTER CITY, Iowa (AP) - The defense has rested in the trial of a man accused of killing his former girlfriend's 5-year-old daughter.
     Attorneys called just three witnesses to the stand Monday in its defense of 35-year-old Casey Frederiksen, who is charged with first-degree murder and sexual assault. Prosecution failed to offer physical evidence in their case against the man. Prosecutors allege Frederiksen sexually abused Evelyn Miller and stabbed her to death while baby-sitting her in 2005.
     The girl's body was found in the Cedar River five days after she was reported missing.
     Before testimony began, a judge denied the defense's request to acquit Frederiksen. Defense attorneys say the prosecution failed to offer physical evidence in its case against the man, but prosecutors disagreed.
     Closing arguments are expected Tuesday.


Suspect In Amber Alert Arrested

  IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a 48-year-old man accused of abducting his 9-year-old stepdaughter in Solon will be returned to Johnson County to face domestic abuse, weapons and other charges.
     The abduction of Brianna Crane on Saturday prompted officials to issue an Amber Alert. The Iowa Public Safety Department says the girl was dropped off safely to law enforcement by a third party around 1:30 a.m. Sunday through an arranged meeting.
     Her stepfather, Kenneth Johns, was arrested about 9:35 a.m. Sunday after holding officers at bay for about 2 1/2 hours at a residence in Davenport.  Online court records don't list the name of an attorney who could be contacted for comment about the case.






Monday News, March 9

Le Mars Police Involved With Car Chase

(Le Mars) -- Late Friday night into early Saturday morning, Le Mars Police was involved in a pursuit.  At around 12:11 a.m. a Le Mars police officer was attempting to stop a vehicle for speeding.  The vehicle actually did stop at Lincoln and 6th Avenue southwest, but as the officer was getting out of his squad car the suspect fled.  After a short pursuit, the vehicle was finally stopped in the alley of the 300 block of Central Avenue Southeast.  24 year old Alex Watterson of Alton, Iowa was placed under arrest.  Watterson was charged with eluding law enforcement, an aggravated misdemeanor, second offense for operating while intoxicated another aggravated misdemeanor, and failure to obey a stop sign.  He was also held at the Plymouth County jail on several warrants issued out of Sioux County.  Le Mars Police were assisted in the matter by the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department.


Jet Blue Airliner Makes Emergency Stop At Gateway Sioux City Airport

(Sioux City) --  A Jet Blue passenger airliner enroute from New York City to San Francisco  made an emergency landing in at Sioux Gateway Airport Sunday evening.
    Authorities say the co-pilot of the plane became ill and passed out during the cross country flight.
     Upon landing in Sioux City, the man was transported to Mercy Medical Center.
     Passengers on the airliner were brought into Sioux Gateway’s terminal until another plane could be sent to complete their journey to the west coast.  The flight of the Airbus A-321 carrying 159 passengers and six crew members originated at John F. Kennedy Airport.
      That plane was expected to arrive sometime after midnight and the airline’s website stated the passengers should be in San Francisco by 4:20am.


Le Mars Community School Board To Convene This Evening

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education are scheduled to convene this evening.  The school board will discuss the recent school legislative forum which featured legislators Chuck Soderberg and Bill Anderson.  The school board will likely discuss the upcoming Spring Workshop as sponsored by the Iowa Association of School Boards.  That workshop is scheduled for April 21st and will be held in Sheldon.  The Le Mars Community School Board will discuss the annual Foundation Banquet which will be held on April 29th at the Le Mars Convention Center.  Superintendent Dr. Todd Wendt will present a preliminary fiscal year budget to the school board.  A final budget will not be determined until the state legislature decides how much money will be allocated to school districts.


State Legislature Still Undecided On School Funding

(Le Mars) -- School officials are anxiously awaiting to see what will be the amount of money to be allocated to school districts.  The state legislature is split between the HOuse wanting to offer schools about $100 million, or a 1.25 percent increase from last year, and the State Senate that approved a $200 million plan, or a four percent increase.  Le Mars State Representative Chuck Soderberg serves as the chair of the House Appropriations committee and has been selected to serve on the conference committee.  He says although there have been meetings between the House and the Senate, there has not been any compromise reached on school funding.

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School officials have told legislators that in order to avoid cuts in programs and staff, the Senate version of education spending would be needed.  However, House legislators contend the state doesn't have the available money to match the Senate's spending level.  Soderberg explains the differences between the bills.

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Soderberg says he has asked Senate Democrats where they intend to get the money to fund the schools at a four percent increase, and he says their answer is "we don't know".


Iowa Agriculture Summit Attracts Potential Presidential Candidates

(Des Moines) -- The first Iowa Agriculture Summit was held in Des Moines on Saturday, and ethanol was topic that was discussed by several potential presidential candidates.  Radio Iowa's Kay Henderson reports.

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75 mph Speed Limit Bill Fails To Move Beyond Funnel Deadline 

     DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa drivers will stay out of the fast lane for now, after lawmakers did not advance a bill that would have boosted the speed limit on interstate highways, bringing it in line with many nearby states.
     The bill sought to raise the speed limit on interstate highways to 75 miles per hour, up from the current limit of 70. It died in the state Senate several days ago, amid questions about the safety ramifications.
     That means Iowa drivers will continue at slower speeds than those behind the wheel in many nearby states. Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota all have speed limits of 75.
     Iowa's interstate highway speed limit was last increased in 2005, up from 65.


Three Fishermen Fall Through Ice And Died

  CRESTON, Iowa (AP) - Three Iowa fishermen died this weekend after falling through the ice on a farm pond in Union County.
     The Creston News Advertiser reports 71-year-old Earl Burkhalter, 73-year-old Charles Critz and 68-year-old James Oshel all died Saturday. They were from Creston.
     Creston Fire Chief Todd Jackson says the men went ice fishing Saturday afternoon and failed to return. Rescuers were called to the farm shortly after 8 p.m.
     Authorities found fishing equipment sitting on the pond's ice near a hole.
     The men were all rescued from the lake within an hour. Parmedics tried to revive the men who were flown to hospitals, but the men died.
     Iowa officials say ice fishing conditions are deteriorating across the state because of recent warm weather. So fishermen should test the ice often.


Iwo Jima Veteran To Return To Famous WWII Battleground

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Later this month, a 90-year-old Iowa veteran will have the chance to return to the volcanic beaches of Iwo Jima where he fought with the Marines during World War II.
     Frank Pontisso will be part of one of the final groups of veterans returning to the tiny Pacific island.
     Pontisso says he wants to visit certain parts of the island, such as the spot where he say a friend killed or the place where his arm was injured.
     Pontisso says he witnessed the historic flag raising on the island that became one of the war's most iconic images, but he also lost the lower part of his right arm to a mortar blast.


Decorah Eaglit Dies From Electrocution

 DECORAH, Iowa (AP) - A nonprofit has announced that a Decorah eaglet died after being electrocuted last week.
     The Raptor Resource Project said Sunday the bird, called Four, was found lying underneath a utility pole between Keota and Harper in rural Keokuk County. 
     The organization says she was the fourth eaglet from Decorah known to have died from electrocution. Two eagles hatched in 2012 died after being shocked that same year. Another eagle of the 2014 Decorah eagle group died in July.
     A consultant told the group the pole where Four was found is unsafe and suggested improvements to it. The nonprofit has forwarded the suggestions to a utility company and is waiting for a response. 
     The Raptor Resource Project specializes in the preservations of falcons, eagles, ospreys, hawks and owls.






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