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Monday Afternoon News, March 24

Le Mars Man Charged For Distributing Cocaine

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Police Department have arrested a Le Mars man for the distribution of cocaine.  Early Sunday morning, 41 year old, Corey Dailey of 408 1st Avenue Northwest, was taken into custody without incident in the 10 block of 1st Street Northwest for two counts of delivery of a controlled substance.  Both are Class C felonies.  Dailey was taken to the Plymouth County jail where his bond was set at $20,000.


Le Mars Librarian To Leave For Another Position

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars is searching for a new director of library services.  Sue Kroesche has submitted her resignation effective April 25th.  Bill Cole, assistant city administrator says Kroesche has accepted another librarian position in another city.  Kroesche had been the Library Director for the Le Mars Public Library for five years.


City Issues Water Quality Report

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Water Department has issued its annual Consumer Confidence Report to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, showing residents the quality of the city's water.  Gayle Sitzmann, superintendent for the water department says Le Mars has good quality water with very low amounts of contaminants.

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Sitzmann says the state is especially interested in the nitrate level of local water supplies.  He says that is a direct result of fertilizer run-off.

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The city water superintendent says Le Mars is fortunate to have a good supply of high quality water, and he says it should continue long into the future.

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Copies of the Consumer Confidence Report can be obtained by contacting the city water department.


Wells Fargo Bank Warns of Scam

(Sioux City) -- A new scam has hit northwest Iowa.  Cell phone users are receiving text messages, presumably from Wells Fargo Bank, directing people to go to a phony website and enter their private account information.  Angie Kaipust, a spokesperson for Wells Fargo Bank, says the bank and its customers are victims of a "phishing scam".

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Kaipust suggests if you receive such a message, just erase it, and don't act upon it.

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The bank official reminds people that the bank does not need to ask for private account information, because they already have it.

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One customer reported falling victim to the scam, costing him $1700.  Kaipust says if people believe they are the victim of a bank scam to contact their bank immediately.

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Turkey Processing Plant To Remain Closed Until Tuesday

STORM LAKE, Iowa (AP) - Company officials say the fire-damaged turkey plant in Storm Lake is expected to remain closed through Tuesday.
     Saturday night's blaze caused a portion of the roof to collapse at the Hillshire Brands plant. One firefighter was injured but was soon released after treatment at a hospital.
     Fire crews from four departments were sent to the plant, which employs around 600 people. 
     The cause of the fire is being investigated.


People Unable To Pay For Utility Bills

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Thousands of Iowa households are behind on their utility bills in the wake of winter's subzero weather.
     The Iowa Utilities Board figures say that as of February, more than 243,000 households were in arrears - 4 percent more than a year ago. But because of the severe cold and the higher costs of natural gas and propane, the amount of the debt has hit $46 million - 40 percent more than the figure in February 2013.
     William Brand is administrator of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in Iowa, and he says 38,000 of the Iowa households in the program are behind on their bills by a total of $11.7 million. April 1 marks the end of the winter moratorium on utility shutoffs for those households.


State Senator Still Trying To Get Medical Marijuana Legalized In Iowa

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Legislation to legalize medical marijuana in Iowa has been declared dead this session, but lawmakers are continuing with efforts to raise awareness about benefits associated with the drug.
     Sen. Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, invited current and former Iowa residents to the Capitol on Monday to share how marijuana has helped them medically and explain why they have left or are considering leaving the state. 
     A mother from Waterloo says she uprooted her family to get her epileptic daughter medical marijuana in Colorado. A veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder says he plans to move to Colorado, too. 
     Gov. Terry Branstad has said he fears there would be unintended consequences if medical marijuana were legalized.
     A Quinnipiac University poll shows 81 percent of Iowans support medical marijuana legalization.


Branstad Orders Secret Settlements To End

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says he has signed an executive order prohibiting state agencies from signing confidential settlement agreements.
     Branstad, back in Iowa from vacation, is responding to criticism of agreements reached between state agencies and several state employees who were fired and then paid more than $280,000 to keep quiet.
     Branstad says Monday that Iowans expect more from state government and deserve better. He says he didn't know about the settlements.
     His order requires settlement agreements to be reviewed by the attorney general's office and all agreements to be posted on a state website.
     He's also ordered all past settlement agreements to be posted - that's more than 321 since he took office. He says 24 contain confidentiality agreements and 10 included lump sum payments to workers.


Branstad Supports Work Force Director

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is standing behind the director of Iowa Workforce Development who has been criticized by Democratic lawmakers for allegedly improperly pressuring judges who hear unemployment cases to rule against workers and in favor of employers.
     Branstad says he has tremendous confidence in Teresa Wahlert and says she's an outstanding administrator and very fair.
     He calls the criticism last week led by Sen. Bill Dotzler, of Waterloo, a partisan political attack. 
     Dotzler sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor asking the agency to investigate whether Wahlert is violating federal laws requiring fair and impartial administration of unemployment benefits. 
     He alleges Wahlert has created a hostile work environment and interferes with the independence of administrative law judges.
     Wahlert and Branstad deny the accusations.











Monday News, March 24

Fire Reported At Storm Lake Turkey Processing Plant

(Storm Lake) --  The Storm Lake Fire Department responded to the Hillshire Brands Turkey Processing Plant on  Saturday evening at approximately 7:15pm, in reference to an automated fire alarm.  Upon arrival, fire fighters observed heavy black smoke and flames coming from the roof of the production area near the south side of the plant.  An area approximately 50’ by 50’ section of the roof burnt and collapsed into the plant. 

The Storm Lake Fire Department requested assistance from three additional fire departments and over 50 fire fighters fought the fire and brought it under control in about three hours.  Small spot fires continue to flare up and as of 8:00am Sunday morning crews from the Storm Lake Fire Department remain on scene overhauling the scene and putting out the small reoccurring fires.  The assisting fire departments have all cleared from the scene.

Fire, smoke, and heat have extensively damaged the facility.  No damage estimate is available at this time.  The Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office will be joining the Storm Lake Fire Department in investigating the cause of the fire. It’s anticipated the investigation will require several days.

One Storm Lake Fire Fighter sustained an injury to his shoulder during the incident.  He was treated and released at the Buena Vista Regional Medical Center.  The Storm Lake Fire Department was assisted by the Alta Fire Department, Newell Fire Department, Sioux Rapids Fire Department, Storm Lake Police Department, Buena Vista County Sheriffs Department, Buena Vista County Paramedics, and Hillshire administration and staff.  Company officials say the fire-damaged turkey plant in Storm Lake is expected to remain closed through Tuesday.


Le Mars Fire Department Respond To Weekend Grass Fire

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire-Rescue Department responded to a control burn that got out of control Saturday afternoon at about 12:15 p.m. at the Lynch Livestock located at 16694 Madison Ave.  Upon arrival Firefighters found a large burn pile that had got out of control when the wind switched directions.  Firefighters cooled down a retaining wall and tamed the flames so that the radiant heat did not ignite the building located nearby.  Firefighters responded with three trucks and 10 firefighters.  5000 gallons of water was used to calm the blaze.   Firefighters were on scene for one hour and there were no injuries.


School Board To Hold Hearing On Purchase Of Playground Equipment 

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School Board will hold a public hearing this evening (Monday) at 7:30 p.m. prior to the regular school board meeting.  The board will listen to public comments regarding the purchase of new playground equipment for each of the three elementary school buildings.  The new playground equipment will have a price tag of about $370,000 which includes the playground equipment and construction.  A fund raising campaign has been started by the Le Mars Community parents organization which has raised nearly one-fourth the cost of the equipment.  The board of education will also discuss the high school formative assessment.  High School principal Iverson and members of his staff will present a report to the board on the formative assessment process being implemented at the high school through their professional development activities.  The school board will also review the budget estimates for the 2014-2015 school year as presented by Dr. Todd Wendt, school superintendent.  The hearing for the school budget is set for April 14th.


Floyd Valley Hospital To Hold Ground Breaking Ceremonies On New Addition

(Le Mars) -- Although construction has already started for the Floyd Valley Hospital expansion of the north addition, the hospital will hold a ceremonial "ground breaking" event on Wednesday afternoon scheduled for 5:00 p.m.  Hospital officials, trustees, and city officials are expected to participate in the official ground breaking for the new addition.


Flood Insurance Premiums Expected To Drop, But Not Much

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new law will roll back the eye-popping federal flood insurance premium increases that have hit the wallets of some Iowa homeowners and business owners, but the relief may not be long-lived.
     Congress passed a federal flood insurance reform act in 2012 that was aimed at reducing the government's burden in subsidizing the National Flood Insurance Program. It had policyholders paying rates based on the true flood risk of their property.
     The president signed a bill Friday that softens the blow, but will still hike premiums for more than 4,500 Iowa homeowners up to 18 percent annually. Some 1,800 policyholders on second homes and businesses will face a mandatory 25 percent increase.
     A Fort Dodge woman had faced a 575 percent increase, but may get some money back.


Spiker Supports Medical Marijuana

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The outgoing chairman of Iowa's Republican Party supports legalizing the medical use of marijuana.
     GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker wrote an opinion column The Des Moines Register ran Sunday arguing that Republicans should support medical marijuana.
     Spiker says doctors know better than politicians what treatments are needed.
     Spiker submitted his resignation earlier this month, and a vote on his replacement is scheduled for March 29th.
     Spiker plans to work for U.S. Senator Rand Paul's political action committee. Rand Paul is a potential 2016 presidential candidate, and Spiker had previously backed Paul's father, former Texas Congressman Ron Paul.


Borlaug Statue To Be Unveiled On National Agriculture Day

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new statue of Iowa's Norman Borlaug will be unveiled in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday.
     The statue will become one of two representing Iowa in the Capitol's National Statuary Hall. It will be officially installed on the 100th anniversary of Borlaug's birth, as well as National Agriculture Day.
     Borlaug was a Cresco native who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his role in combating world hunger.
     Donations from DuPont Pioneer and an anonymous individual covered the statue's roughly $268,000 cost.
     The Borlaug statue replaces one of former U.S. Sen. James Harlan who also served as Interior Secretary. 
     The Harlan statue will be sent to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, to be displayed at Iowa Wesleyan College. Harlan once served as that school's president.


Rootworms Building Resistance To Bt Corn

 LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Researchers say bugs are developing resistance to the widely popular genetically engineered corn plants that make their own insecticide, so farmers may have to make changes.
     Cases of rootworms eating roots of so-called Bt corn have been confirmed in Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota and Minnesota.
     Iowa State University researchers say rootworms have developed resistance to two of the four genetic traits in corn plants that are engineered to kill rootworms.
     Iowa State professor Aaron Gassmann says the problem isn't widespread yet, but farmers and seed companies should consider changing their approaches to pest control.
     In areas where Bt corn has failed to control rootworms, farmers turned to insecticides. The USDA says 76 percent of all corn planted last year was Bt corn.


Tama To Re-open Former Beef Plant 

TAMA, Iowa (AP) - Officials in the central Iowa town of Tama are optimistic that an idle beef processing plant will reopen soon and add hundreds of jobs.
     The former Tama Pack facility is expected to reopen as Iowa Premium Beef sometime this year once remodeling is complete.
     Tama Mayor Dan Zimmerman says he's optimistic about the company's prospects although the timing of the reopening remains uncertain.
     Company officials and local economic development officials declined to discuss the project's timeline.
     The plant is expected to employ 600 when it is fully operational. It will focus on custom processing and specialty brands.
     Zimmerman says the plant will be a big boost to the economy.






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