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Tuesday News, March 31

Four Fire Departments Fight A Grass Field Fire

(Le Mars) -- Four area fire departments consisting of six grass rig pick up trucks and two tankers responded to a grass field fire that started shortly after 4:00 p.m. Monday afternoon at 17674 Kesterel Avenue.  The fire was located about a half mile northwest of West Le Mars, near Highway 3.  Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says the fire started from a controlled brush pile that quickly got out of control when winds, blowing up to 35 mph, kicked up the embers.  The fire burned about eight acres of corn stalks crossing over two terraces before fire fighters were able to get the blaze under control.  Schipper says approximately 1800 gallons of water were used to kill the grass field fire.  A neighboring farmer with a tractor and disk assisted fire fighters with extinguishing the blaze.  Fortunately, the winds drove the fire away from a homestead residence.  Although, Schipper questions why people would want to burn when conditions are dry and winds are blowing up to 25 mph.  Schipper says the burn ban may again be implemented until such time when more moisture is received.


Bullet Responsible For Monday Morning Grass Fire

(Akron) -- Earlier on Monday, at around 11:00 a.m. the Akron Fire Department responded to a grass fire that came close to igniting and possibly destroying a wooded area.  Apparently, according to Akron Fire Chief Shane Coyle, a person was target shooting when a discharged bullet shell from the handgun was responsible for starting a grass fire in the southwestern area of Plymouth County.

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Coyle says the fire department was fortunate to stop the spread of the fire before it had reached a wooded area.  He says a few more yards further and it would have been a different story.

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Coyle says only about four to five acres had burned before fire fighters were able to control the grass fire and extinguish it.

Supervisors To Hear LOST Grant Suggestions

(Le Mars) -- During today's Plymouth County Board of Supervisor meeting, the
county governing board will declare county items as surplus property for the county auction.  The supervisors are also expected to approve a partial of land release of mortgage located in the Le Mars Industrial Park, second addition. The county supervisors will hold a public hearing for the proposed issuance of indebtedness and approve related resolutions.  The supervisors are scheduled to hear from Josh Peterson who is seeking approval of Eastern Slope, a minor
subdivision.  Tom Letsche, the chairman of the Local Options Sale Tax Advisory Board, will present the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Local Options Sales Tax grant recommendations for approval.  County NRCS director, Jim Lahn is scheduled to appear before the supervisors to review and ask for approval of the compatible use agreement.  County Engineer Tom Rohe will ask for a resolution for a change of the posted speed zone located on Key Avenue.  Rohe will also establish bid letting dates for proposed construction projects.  The county engineer will submit final vouchers for two bridge projects.  Concluding the meeting, will be Plymouth County Historical Museum administrator Judy Bowman making a request from the County supervisors seeking funds to assist with the moving of the Joy Hollow Log Cabin from the fairgrounds to the Museum grounds.

School Board Approves Concession Stand And Middle School Restroom Construction

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School Board approved a plan to construct a new concession stand and remodel the Middle School restrooms during their regular meeting held Monday evening.  Wiltgen Construction of Le Mars submitted the lowest bid of $855,000, and the school board gave approval for Wiltgen Construction.  However, even though the bid was the lowest submitted by four contractors, it was nearly $180,000 over the initial estimate which caused the school board to pause and discuss the options before approving the project. After some discussion, most school board members thought any further delays with the project would only increase construction costs. Some board members wondered if there were enough reserve funds to cover the added expense.  Dr. Todd Wendt, superintendent of schools, offered assurance to the board that there indeed was enough money in the cash reserves to cover the additional cost of the project. Wendt also informed the school board he didn't believe the added unexpected amount would place the school district's cash reserves in any jeopardized position.

Safety Organization Wants Tougher Rules For Teenage Drivers

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A safety research organization is urging Iowa to toughen its rules for teenager driver's licenses.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says a study shows Iowa could more than
halve its rate of fatal teen accidents if a stronger driver's license law were adopted.
The institute says Iowa should increase its licensing age to 17 years old from the current 16. And the institute suggests Iowa not issue instructional permits until someone reaches age 16 instead of the current 14.
Two lawmakers and the state's chief highway safety expert said Monday that it would be difficult to adopt tougher teen driver rules in Iowa, where many teenagers in rural communities rely on cars and pickups to drive to school, work and other activities.
New Trial For Sac City Man Accused Of Killing Roommate

BOONE, Iowa (AP) - Attorneys are expected to deliver their opening statements Tuesday in the second Iowa trial of a man accused of killing his former roommate in 2009.
The Boone County jury was seated Monday for the trial of 55-year-old John Green. Green is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 58-year-old Mark Koster in Sac City.
Green's first trial was held in Webster County because his attorney had argued that pretrial publicity would make it impossible for Green to receive a fair trial in Sac City. The same argument was used against holding the second trial in Fort Dodge. The first trial ended in a mistrial.
Koster was declared missing in 2010. His remains were found in the basement
of his Sac City home in 2012.
House Committee Approves Plan To Offer Time Off For Adoptive Parents

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A House panel has approved a bill that would require some businesses in Iowa to offer more leave benefits to parents who adopt children.
Members of a labor subcommittee approved the bill Monday. A committee must approve it by Friday for it to survive a legislative deadline. The Senate passed it earlier this month.
The bill would require businesses offering leave benefits to parents of newborns to do the same for adoptive parents. A business that doesn't already offer such benefits would not be required to start.
Supporters of the bill say it would treat biological parents and adoptive parents more equally.
Some lawmakers have expressed concern about the financial impact on businesses.
Federal law requires unpaid leave to biological and adoptive parents under certain guidelines.

Senate Panel Approves Limited Strip Search Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Senate panel has approved a bill that would allow law enforcement officials in Iowa to conduct limited strip searches on certain jail inmates without probable cause.
A Judiciary subcommittee agreed Monday to advance the bill, which passed in the House. A committee must approve it by Friday to beat a legislative deadline.
The bill would allow a strip search involving visual inspection of a person, including genitals, without probable cause if he or she is arrested on suspicion of a simple misdemeanor or scheduled violation and is in a holding area with others. A scheduled violation can involve offenses while driving or consuming alcohol, among others.
Supporters say the bill allows for better confiscation of items entering the jail. Critics say such searches are invasive and require probable cause.

Woodbine Man Accused Of Kidnapping Girl Friend

WOODBINE, Iowa (AP) - A western Iowa man accused of confining his girlfriend and psychologically torturing her has been arrested.
Online court records on Monday listed a first-degree kidnapping charge against 50-year-old Daniel Yate, of Woodbine. He was detained after his girlfriend told police last week that he assaulted her at his home and wouldn't let her leave.
Woodbine Police Chief Michael Jensen says the girlfriend accused Yates of binding her and threatening to throw her in a nearby river. The girlfriend says Yates also sat on her chest and opened and closed a knife.
Records show the woman had injuries consistent with her allegations and a hospital visit revealed a broken rib.
Court documents don't yet list an attorney for Yates to seek comment on his behalf.

Carter Lake Man Accidentally Shoots Himself

CARTER LAKE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a western Iowa man accidentally shot himself in the hand.
The Council Bluffs Police Department says 21-year-old Marvin Naggatz, of Carter Lake, arrived at the hospital around 4:30 p.m. Sunday with a gunshot wound to the hand. He was treated for non-life threatening injuries and released from CHI Health Mercy Hospital.
Naggatz told police and hospital staff that he was in a parking lot trying to adjust his holster when the .40-caliber handgun discharged. The bullet struck him in the hand.
Naggatz has a permit to carry weapons. Police say no charges have been filed at this time.



Monday Afternoon News, March 30

Auditions Begin For "Calendar Girls" Community Theater Play

(Le Mars) -- Auditions for "Calendar Girls", the second show of the season for the Le Mars Community Theater are scheduled for both tonight and Tuesday evening, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the Postal Playhouse.  Performance dates are scheduled for the end of May through early June.  Danna Schuster will be the director for the play and explains the story-line that takes place in England.

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Schuster says there won't actually be any nudity involved with the play, but it will provide for some comical moments.

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Schuster says she needs 13 people, four men and nine women, for the cast.

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Auditions are scheduled for both tonight and Tuesday evening at the Postal Playhouse, and Schuster explains what to expect.

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For a copy of the script, or for additional information, you can contact Danna Schuster at phone number 540-2532.



Questions Relating To Law Enforcement Agencies Purchases Using Drug Seized Money

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Questions are being raised about some purchases by Iowa law enforcement agencies using money seized under state and federal civil forfeiture laws passed to help fight the scourge of illicit drugs.

The money is supposed to be spent on enhancing law enforcement and crime fighting capabilities, not on items that normally would be covered by departmental budgets.

Among the purchases reported by the Register: scented candles, mulch and tropical fish; sewer and water bills; a $27,000 sport utility vehicle for a county prosecutor; respirators for firefighters.

Former Cass County Attorney Daniel Feistner says his office used forfeiture money to buy the scented candles in 2013. He says the candles helped mask unpleasant body odors from some people visiting the office.



Branstad And Reynolds Attend STEM Summit

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is appearing at the fourth annual summit devoted to STEM education in Iowa.

Branstad on Monday stressed the importance of teaching kids about science, technology, engineering and math. The daylong event at a downtown Des Moines convention center features talks on teaching and job creation efforts around the state. It was put on by a STEM advisory group appointed by the governor.

Branstad says Iowa students "must be equipped with a 21st Century education."

Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds have made enhancing STEM learning a top education priority. Reynolds says STEM education creates new opportunities for students.



O'Malley Visits Iowa Says The Country Doesn't Need Another Clinton Or Bush For President

WASHINGTON (AP) - Potential Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley says the country needs new perspectives, and he's criticizing the prospects of another Clinton and Bush seeking the White House again.

The former Maryland governor tells ABC's "This Week" that the presidency is "not some crown to be passed between two families."

He also questions whether former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would take on special interests.

Clinton is a likely presidential candidate and would be the strong favorite for the Democratic nomination.

O'Malley recently came to Iowa. He says he'll decide this spring whether he'll run.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also recently visited Iowa.



Quarterly Hog Report Shows A 7 Percent Increase

WASHINGTON – As of March 1, there were 65.9 million hogs and pigs on U.S. farms, up 7 percent from March 2014, but down slightly from December 1, 2014, according to the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report published today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Other key findings in the report were:

Of the 65.9 million hogs and pigs, 60.0 million were market hogs, while 5.98 million were kept for breeding.

Between December 2014 and February 2015, 28.8 million pigs were weaned on U.S. farms, up 9 percent from the same time period one year earlier.

From December 2014 through February 2015, U.S. hog and pig producers weaned an average of 10.17 pigs per litter.

U.S. hog producers intend to have 2.87 million sows farrow between March and May 2015, and 2.93 million sows farrow between June and August 2015.

Iowa hog producers accounted for the largest inventory among the states, at 20.4 million head. North Carolina and Minnesota had the second and third largest inventories with 8.40 million and 7.85 million head, respectively.


Empty Prison

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A public record shows that Iowa's new prison for male offenders wasn't expected to be fully operational until fall 2015 even before workers discovered the latest delay-causing problem.
An extension signed by the Department of Corrections with a contractor in June 2014 said that occupancy of the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison would be "completed in the fall of 2015."
The next month, testing found that smoke evacuation systems in the inmate housing units were flawed. Workers are trying to bring the buildings up to the fire code.
Corrections' deputy director Brad Hier said the fall 2015 date was a conservative ballpark estimate and no longer has relevance. He says the department hopes to open the prison as soon as it's safe, which could still be sometime this year.



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