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Wednesday Afternoon News, April 2

Third Grade Girls Credited For Saving Garage On Fire

(Le Mars) -- Two third grade girls coming home from Clark Elementary school are credited with saving a garage from burning.  The girls,  Allison Lane and Emily Peters, noticed some smoke coming from a garage.  The girls went inside a home and told an adult about the fire who then dialed 9-1-1.  Fire fighters were dispatched to 228 1st Avenue Northwest.

Initially, it was thought a tire was on fire, but upon arrival, fire fighters noticed a trash can and dried leaves were also on fire and had spread to the garage door frame.  The fire was quickly extinguished.  The cause of the fire was improperly discarded smoking material that ignited the dried leaves and had spread to the tire and the garage.  A cigarette was found in the debris.  Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper is thankful for the girls' quick action, saying they are the reason the garage was saved.


Le Mars Woman Reports To Authorities For Hit And Run Incident

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Le Mars woman wanted in a fatal 2012 hit-and-run crash in Sioux City has turned herself in to authorities.  43-year-old Victoria Lynette Ernst turned herself in Tuesday to the Woodbury County Sheriff's Office and was arrested. Authorities say she posted bond for $75,000 bail and was released from the county jail by late Tuesday afternoon.  Ernst is charged with vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident in the September 2012 death of 22-year-old Lance Knudsen.  Knudsen was found lying in a Sioux City street with head injuries and later died.


City Council Discuss Proposed City Code Changes

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council addressed the proposed city code ordinances during its meeting on Tuesday.  Scott Langel, city administrator says the council must conduct three readings of the proposed ordinances before they can become part of the city code.

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The city council held the first of three readings during Tuesday's council meeting.  Langel says the second and third readings are scheduled for April 15th and May 6th.  Council members shared some comments regarding the proposed ordinances, focussing on the winter parking proposal, and the removal of dead and/or diseased trees.


CBDG Architech To Meet With Business Owners

(Le Mars) -- The city heard an update regarding the Community Block Development Grant for the historical renovation of the downtown district.  City administrator Scott Langel says Peter Franks, the archetech of the project, has scheduled meetings to address building owners and the general public's questions.

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The city administrator says the archetech will also meet on an individual basis with each participating building owner.

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 Langel offered an update on the project's progress for the city council.

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Langel says the city is still eligible for the $500,000 grant despite having fewer businesses participate as was first expected.


Auditions Scheduled "For A Few Good Men"

(Le Mars) -- Auditions for "A Few Good Men" the next community theater play will be held Sunday and Monday, April 13th and 14th at 7:00 p.m. at the Postal Playhouse.  The story is a play by Aaron Sorkin and it involves military lawyers at a court-martial hearing who uncover a high-level conspiracy in the course of defending their clients, United States Marines accused of murder.  The play involves 13 men characters and one woman role.  Performance dates will be late May and early June.


Blacklisted State Employee Speaks Out 

  IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A spokesman says Iowa's executive branch no longer tells fired workers when they are added to the state's "do-not-rehire list" and waits to break the bad news only if they ever apply for another state job.
     Department of Administrative Services spokesman Caleb Hunter said Wednesday the change came in response to administrative law judges who ruled that state officials don't have the legal authority to issue blanket employment bans against fired workers. Instead, those judges ruled that state officials can disqualify applicants on a case-by-case basis based on previous firings.
     Instead of ending the practice of barring some ex-employees for life, Hunter says the department limited how it notifies those affected.
     The department previously notified employees at the time of their firings that they were barred from future state employment.


Federal Investigators Look At Burned Younkers Building

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Federal investigators have gotten their first look inside a downtown Des Moines building gutted by fire over the weekend.
     Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were in the building's west side on Tuesday.
     That section of the building was not as badly damaged as the east portion, where flames consumed entire floors.
     ATF spokesman John Hamm says investigators are looking for spots that might have burned hotter than others and indications of how the fire burned and what might have caused it.
     The 115-year-old Younkers building was in the midst of a $36 million housing project renovation when it was consumed by fire early Saturday. It had been vacant since 2005.


High School Students Get "Hands On" Expereince At Data Center

 COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Council Bluffs students are getting hands-on experience working at a data center operated by the school district.
     The Council Bluffs Community School District unveiled the data center Tuesday night at Abraham Lincoln High School.
     Students who are enrolled in the district's Emerging Technologies Academy monitor and make repairs when needed to servers at the data center, which is used to store medical research data.
     Google and Echo Group, a Council Bluffs electrical supplier, gave financial and technical support as part of the estimated $67,000 project. It took about six months to build the data center.
     Chris Russell, an operations manager at Google's data center in Council Bluffs, says the new facility exposes students to real work experiences and gets them interested in technology careers.








Wednesday News, April 2

Le Mars Fire Department Had A Busy Month

(Le Mars) -- If you think the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department has been busier than normal, you would be correct.  The numbers are in for the month of March, and the local fire fighting brigade was called a total of 44 times.  16 calls were for fires, they performed five rescues, 13 officer investigations, twice the Le Mars Fire Department was called to offer mutual aid, once with Oyens to fight a hog barn fire, and also to Hinton to help with a house fire.  During the month of March, there was $450,000 of damage from fires, including the Oyens hog barn and the Hinton House fire. 


Two Third Graders Credited With Saving Garage On Fire

(Le Mars) -- April is looking to be a continuation of the fire calls for the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department.  The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department responded to two calls on Tuesday.  First, fire officials were called to Fastener located on north Business highway 75 Tuesday morning for what turned out to be a heater in the ceiling that had gotten too hot and started a small fire and melted the plastic ventilator.  Employees of Fastener reported smelling smoke at about 9:00 a.m.  When fire officials arrived on the scene, they immediately saw smoke coming from the ceiling of the entryway.  Fire officials were able to quickly extinguish the fire before it had an opportunity to grow.  Officials were on the scene for about half an hour.  Later in the afternoon at about 3:30 p.m. school children on their way home from school noticed smoke coming from a garage located on 228 1st Avenue Northwest.  Fire figthers soon saw the fire started in a garbage can and had spread to an old tire, as well as dried leaves near the garage door.  Upon arrival, fire fighters found the fire had spread from the tire and leaves and had spread to the frame of the garage door.  The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental.  It was started from an improperly discarded smoking material that ignited the leaves and spread to the tire and to the garage.  A cigarette was located in the debris.  The two third graders, Allison Lane and Emily Peters were walking home from Clark school, saw the fire, and ran home and told an adult who called 9-1-1. Fire chief Dave Schipper is grateful for the actions of the two young girls, and credits them for the fast action of notifying the fire department and saving the garage.


Soderberg And Anderson To Hold Legislative Forums On Saturday

(Le Mars) -- The state legislature is starting to wind down from its general session, but before the final gavel is pounded indicating the conclusion of the law making process, State Representative Chuck Soderberg of Le Mars and State Senator Bill Anderson of Pierson will host a series of legislative forums scheduled for Saturday.  The two Republican legislators will be at the Le Mars Public Library at 10:00 a.m.  The next stop will be at the Struble City Building at 11:00 a.m.  The Mid-Sioux Opportunity Office in Remsen will host the legislators at noon, Following the Remsen meeting, the two legislators will go to Moville at the city fire station at 1:15 p.m. and finish their day of legislative forums at the Pierson Community Center at 2:15 p.m.  Soderberg and Anderson will be discussing various issues concerning the 2014 Iowa legislative session.  The public is invited and encouraged to attend the meetings and address any issues that are of concern.


Senator Wants To Stop Tax Breaks For Fertilizer Plant

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa Senate Democrat has introduced legislation intended to halt the last transfer of state tax credits to a fertilizer plant in southeastern Iowa. Sen. Joe Bolkcom, of Iowa City, proposed a bill Tuesday meant to prevent Orascom, an Egyptian multinational corporation, from requesting a final $25 million tax credit installment.

In 2012, Gov. Terry Branstad promised the company $100 million in investment tax credits, in addition to other federal, state and local incentives, in exchange for the creation of 165 permanent jobs in Iowa. Bolkcom's proposal would cap the amount of investment tax credits any corporation can receive at $75 million.

Bolkcom said in a statement that this is Iowa's last chance to avoid "needlessly" giving away more money.

Senate Republicans defended Branstad's negotiation on the floor last month.


Senate Passes Bill To Help Educate Drivers About Dangers Of Texting While Driving

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Lawmakers in the Iowa Senate have taken a new route to address distracted driving across the state.  The Senate voted 27-22 Tuesday in favor of an appropriation bill for Iowa's Department of Transportation. It would include $200,000 to go toward an educational campaign about the risks associated with distracted driving.

The bill now goes to the House, where legislation approved by the Senate to specifically crack down on texting while driving has stalled.  Republican Sen. Mark Chelgren, of Ottumwa, proposed an amendment to the provision, saying the money shouldn't come from funds allotted to the department. He suggests the money should instead come from funds used for map creation in the state.

Sen. Matt McCoy, a Des Moines Democrat, says the department can afford to fund the campaign.


Senate Rejects Protective Order Bill Changes

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Senate has voted against a provision to add property of emotional value to domestic abuse protective orders, instead choosing to adhere to original legislation which only allowed the inclusion of pets.

The Senate rejected a House amendment Tuesday that would give judges discretion to also include property if a victim is emotionally attached.

The version approved by the Senate included only pets, with the intent that it might encourage victims to escape abusive situations without the fear that a family pet would be harmed.

Sen. Janet Petersen, a Des Moines Democrat, says adding anything of sentimental value would make administration difficult for the courts.  Republican Sen. Mark Chelgren, of Ottumwa, says the bill should be more inclusive.  Lawmakers from both chambers must now convene to settle differences.







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