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Thursday Afternoon News, June 4

Texas Man Accused Of Aiding Lottery Official With Scam

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Texas man accused of helping a lottery security official try to claim a rigged $14 million jackpot is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

Robert Rhodes is expected to contest his extradition to Iowa during the hearing in Texas.

The Sugar Land businessman was arrested in March and is free on bond. Prosecutors say he worked with an Iowa friend, Eddie Tipton, and others in an attempt to claim the Hot Lotto jackpot that Tipton had rigged.

Tipton was security director for the Multi-State Lottery Association, which operates Powerball.

Prosecutors allege that Tipton inserted a software program into the random number generator for Hot Lotto that allowed him to manipulate the winning combination. They say Tipton purchased the winning ticket and later passed it on to Rhodes and others.




Christie To Speak About Education During Iowa Visit

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Chris Christie is set to give a speech on education when he comes to Iowa next week.

Samantha Smith, a spokeswoman for Christie's political action committee, said Wednesday that the Republican New Jersey governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate will give the speech in Ames on June 11.

Christie is slated to speak at the Polk County Republicans' spring dinner that night. His trip will also likely include a town hall meeting.

The trip will be Christie's fifth to Iowa this year. He was last here in early March for a candidate forum and has two paid staffers in the state.

Christie is trying to demonstrate that he remains a top 2016 prospect in an increasingly crowded field.






Sioux City Officials Discuss Municipal Swimming Pools

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Declining use of several swimming pools in Sioux City has prompted officials to start discussions on how they should address the facilities that are operating at a loss.

A study, which analyzed the city's pools, recommended closing some to alleviate further financial losses. A city committee will begin discussions next month to form a recommendation on the poorly attended pools.

According to Kansas-based Waters Edge Aquatic Design, only around 1.3 percent of the city's population visits the pools.

A city council member that while closures could happen, the savings could pay for splash pads and renovations at other pools.







Mason City Man Accused Of Beating Dog With A Hammer

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - A 62-year-old Mason City man has been accused of using a hammer to beat his dog.

Police say George Harrington is charged with animal torture and other misdemeanor violations. Harrington didn't immediately return a message Thursday from The Associated Press. Online court records don't list the name of an attorney who could be contacted to comment on Harrington's behalf.

Mason City police say officers checking a report about an injured dog at Harrington's residence found an injured boxer mix. Police say the dog was taken to a veterinarian, who euthanized it because of head injuries that the vet said were caused by a hammer.





Judge Rules For Continued Sentence For Man Who Threaten School Children

CHARLES CITY, Iowa (AP) - A judge has refused to change the five-year sentence given to a Charles City man who made threatening statements against schoolchildren.

Forty-nine-year-old Loren Saxon pleaded guilty last year to charges of intimidation and public intoxication. Officers reported in August that Saxon said he was a member of the al-Qaida terrorist organization and that he would shoot as many children as he could. He was not armed at the time.

Saxon's attorney, Nellie O'Mara, said in her motion for reconsideration of Saxon's sentence that he wasn't convicted of a forcible felony and has a job and support available if he were to be placed on probation.

Judge Peter Newell said Wednesday that "the sentence previously imposed was appropriate."






Utilities Chair To Vote On Proposed Pipeline

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The new Iowa Utilities Board chairwoman will vote on whether to build a major oil pipeline even though her family law firm represented a landowner trying to block it.

Board officials say Geri Huser doesn't have a conflict that requires disqualification because her brother, attorney Brad Skinner, has withdrawn from the case.

Board spokesman Don Tormey says Huser doesn't plan to formally disclose the connection, arguing there's no reason to do so.

Huser's decision means all three members will decide whether to approve a $3.8 billion pipeline that would transport 450,000 barrels of crude oil daily across Iowa. The plan has generated intense opposition from farmers, environmentalists and supporters of private property rights.

Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Huser in a March board shakeup that removed one member and demoted another.




Woman Sent To Federal Prison For Embezzling From Bank

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A 55-year-old woman has been given 21 months in federal prison for embezzling more than $120,000 from a bank where she'd worked.

Federal prosecutors said in a news release Thursday that Ann Sperfslage, of Manchester, had pleaded guilty to embezzlement by a bank employee. She admitted at her plea hearing that, between May 2008 and August 2010, she'd created false loan documents at First State Bank and withdrawn money based on the documents.

Sperfslage also was fined $5,000.




Thursday News, June 4

Remsen-Union and MMC Agree To Whole Grade Sharing

(Marcus) -- Nearly 200 people gathered in the M-M-C gymnasium at Marcus Wednesday evening to listen to discussion about whole grade sharing proposals between the Remsen-Union school district and the Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn school district. Most of the people who spoke before the joint school board meeting encouraged the two school boards to work together and find a suitable resolution.  Both school boards had presented reasons why their school building should serve as the high school for the possible sharing agreement.  After nearly an hour and a half of comments from concerned citizens, a motion was made to enter a three-year whole grade sharing agreement with the high school to be located in Marcus, and the junior high would be located in Remsen.  Jan Brandhorst serves as the superintendent for both school districts.  He says it was a big step for the boards to finally reach an agreement.


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Brandhorst says the agreement is for the start of the 2016-2017 school year. This coming school year, both schools will remain separate.  Brandhorst says he was pleased to see so many people from both communities with the message to the school boards to "come together".


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At one point during the discussion, Remsen-Union school board directors had proposed a "two and two" program, in which the students would attend one high school in a community for two years, then after a two-year period, the high school would switch to the other community.  Brandhorst says school board members from both schools soon realized the program would not be practical, especially when dealing with possible capital improvements.


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The superintendent says there are still many decisions that will need to be made, including the name of the new school system, which school would host various school activities, and how many teachers will be needed?


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In its final outcome, the vote to proceed with a whole grade sharing program for three years, with the high school to be located in Marcus, was an unanimous decision by both school boards.


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American Pickers Coming To Le Mars

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars is excited to welcome Mike Wolfe, Frank Fritz and Antique Archeology to the area. The team will film episodes of their hit series AMERICAN PICKERS throughout Iowa. Filming will begin next month.

AMERICAN PICKERS is a documentary series that explores the fascinating world of antique ‘picking’ on History. This hit show follows two of the most skilled pickers in the business, Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, as they embark on an epic road trip across the U.S. in search of America’s most valuable antiques from motorcycles, classic cars and bicycles to one-of-a-kind vintage memorabilia. Mike and Frank are on a mission to recycle America, restore forgotten relics to their former glory, and learn a thing or two about American history along the way.

Filming is scheduled to start next month.  AMERICAN PICKERS is looking for leads and would love to explore what you may have. They are on the hunt for interesting characters with interesting and unique items.  Some of what they look for: vintage bicycles, toys, unusual radios, movie memorabilia, advertising, military items, folk art, vintage musical equipment, vintage automotive items, early firefighting equipment, vintage clothing, pre-50’s western gear.

AMERICAN PICKERS is produced by Cineflix Productions for History. New episodes air Wednesdays at 9pm ET on History.

If you have a large collection or want to refer someone to Mike and Frank, email: your name, number, address and description of the collection and photos to: , or call 1-855-old-rust.




4th Street SW Remains Closed While Crews Work On Rail Line

(Le Mars) -- City officials have announced 4th Street Southwest near Lincoln Street southwest remains closed today as railroad crews continue to work on the tracks.  Meanwhile, Lincoln Street southwest past Dean's Foods has reopened for traffic.




Supervisors Abandon Agreement With Higman Sand And Gravel

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to abandon a previous agreement the county held with Higman Sand and Gravel of Akron. Originally, the county had a long-term agreement with Higman Sand and Gravel which would allow the county to mine particulate and gravel.  Higman Sand and Gravel has been sold to L.G. Everist of Sioux Falls.



Health And Human Services Budget Keeps Mental Health Institute Open

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A health and human services budget approved by the Iowa Legislature would keep open one of two mental health facilities slated for closure and would seek to find a private provider to run the other.

The Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate voted in favor of the plan Wednesday night. As part of the $1.84 billion budget plan, a facility in Mount Pleasant will remain open and one in Clarinda will stay open through mid-December and the state will seek to turn it over to a private operator.

Gov. Terry Branstad had removed funding for the facilities in his proposed budget.

The Legislature also approved budgets for the education and justice departments, as lawmakers push to adjourn the session this week.





U-S Department Of Education Investigates U of I Athletic Program

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The U.S. Department of Education is launching an investigation into the University of Iowa's handling of gender discrimination claims against athletic director Gary Barta.

In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the department's Office for Civil Rights notified the school of the investigation last week and requested numerous documents.

Four members of the women's field hockey team filed a complaint in August alleging that Barta's decision to fire coach Tracey Griesbaum was part of a pattern of discrimination against strong female coaches.

Barta has denied the allegation and says Griesbaum was fired after an investigation found concerns about how some players were treated.

The federal office says it will look into the school's failure to investigate a sex discrimination complaint against Barta filed by students in October.







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