Thursday, April 24, 2014
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Tuesday Afternoon News, April 22

Hawarden Man Sentenced To Prison For Burglary, Marijuana

(Orange City) -- Sioux County Attorney Thomas G. Kunstle has announced that Matthew Wayne Zinnel, age 19, of Hawarden, IA, was sentenced on Monday, in Sioux County District Court for the crimes of Burglary in the Third Degree, a Class D Felony, Burglary in the Third Degree (automobile), an Aggravated Misdemeanor, and Possession of Marijuana – 1st Offense, a Serious Misdemeanor.  The first case arose on September 14, 2013, when a rural Rock Valley resident reported a stolen 4-wheeler. The second case arose on September 23, 2013, when the Sioux Center Police Department received a report of a stolen vehicle. A Sioux County Sheriff’s deputy noticed a vehicle matching the description of the stolen vehicle in a field driveway about three-quarters of a mile from Defendant’s residence. The deputy’s K-9 was deployed to the location to track footprints which led from the vehicle to the Defendant’s residence. The tread on Zinnel's shoes matched the footprints found on the gravel road. Defendant admitted that he took the 4-wheeler and showed officers where it was hidden.

Defendant further admitted that he committed two other burglaries and that he had marijuana inside the house.  Zinnel was sentenced to five years in prison on the felony burglary charge and to two years in prison on the aggravated misdemeanor burglary charge. Defendant was also sentenced to 180 days in jail on the possession of marijuana charge.


Le Mars Community Foundation Still In The Running For Charity Grant

(Le Mars) -- There's still time to vote for the Le Mars Community School District Foundation as a benefactor of the Helmet to Hope charitable campaign.  Voting ends on Thursday, and at the present time Le Mars Community School District Foundation is in fifth place with only a few votes that separate Le Mars school with the sixth place charity.  The voting is happening nationwide with the top five charities that focus on K-12 education to receive $25,000 from NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson Foundation with collaboration of Wells Blue Bunny.  In order to vote, log on to

Iowa State Has Breach Of Data

  AMES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa State University has reported a data breach that exposed the Social Security numbers of nearly 30,000 people enrolled at the school over a 17-year period.
     The university said Tuesday that five information technology servers on the Ames campus were hacked. They contained the Social Security numbers of people who took certain classes at the school between 1995 and 2012. The servers also had university ID numbers for nearly 19,000 additional people.
     Officials say an unknown person or persons intended to generate enough computing power to create the virtual currency bitcoin. But officials do not believe the personal information was a target. There is no evidence that any of those files were accessed.
     Officials have notified law enforcement. Individuals with exposed Social Security numbers will be offered free credit monitoring.


Legislature Fails To Adjourn Before Deadline

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa lawmakers have work to complete before adjournment, but they'll be finishing up without daily payments for their expenses.
     The session has no specific end date, but Tuesday, the 100th day of the session, marks the last day lawmakers will receive their per diem payments. Pages will be sent home and Capitol staff will be reduced, but lawmakers must stick around to wrap up budget bills and finish work on other measures.
     The key task is approving budgets. Those measures have bounced back and forth between the House and Senate, but only two have cleared both chambers.
     Gov. Terry Branstad's four main priorities remain alive. They deal with school bullying, veterans programs, broadband expansion and apprenticeships.
     But time is running out, as legislative leaders hope to adjourn within days.


Government Oversight Committee Makes Demands

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Senate Government Oversight Committee is proposing a bill that would make sweeping changes in some state government practices.
     The bill would make all personnel settlement agreements subject to review by the attorney general, prohibits confidentiality provisions, and posts all agreements on a state website.
     It requires the state auditor to conduct an examination of all settlement agreements issued since Gov. Terry Branstad began his current term.
     It also requires the state to disclose any bonuses over $200 paid to executive branch employees and offers new whistleblower protections for state workers reporting abuse of authority or other issues.
     It also would revise state hiring and firing practices requiring job openings to be posted publicly. Fired workers would have new appeal options if they're placed on a do-not-hire list.


House Rejects Senate Plan To Re-Open Juvenile Home

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa House has rejected a Senate amendment to the health and human services budget that would have reopened the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo. The House action Tuesday morning sends the bill to a conference committee where members of both parties will work out the differences in the bill.
     The Senate Monday evening passed it along party lines with only Democratic support. The Republican-led House rejected it on a voice vote only.
     Democratic House Minority Leader Mark Smith says it's important to provide the services to some of the state's most troubled youth.
     Rep. David Heaton, a Mount Pleasant Republican, says the funding in the bill may be inadequate to reopen the home, which was closed by Gov. Terry Branstad following allegations that delinquent girls were being mistreated.


Fertilizer Dangers

  IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Doctors at the University of Iowa Burn Treatment Center say they are worried by a spike in injuries from anhydrous ammonia, a chemical used to fertilize corn crops.
     The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports the center usually sees one or two cases of burns in a year. In 2014, there have been at least five cases in a matter of weeks.
     Medical personnel say there's no clear reason for the jump in cases, which have been farm- or industrial-related accidents. Officials say people familiar with the chemical can sometimes become lax with following safety precautions.
     Alice Fagin, a surgeon at the UI burn center, says people need to be careful with the fertilizer.







Tuesday News, April 22

Firefighters Battle Large Field Fire Monday Afternoon

(Merrill) -- Smoke could be seen for miles, as fire fighters from Merrill, Le Mars, Hinton and Akron battled another grass and field fire Monday afternoon about five miles southwest of Le Mars, and a half mile west of County Road K-42.   Possibly two hundred acres or more had burned as strong winds gusting up to 40 mph from the northwest kept fanning the flames, giving fire officials an added challenge in their attempts to contain and control the blaze.

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Jacob Conley is the fire chief for the Merrill Fire Department. 

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Seven different grass rigs and a couple of ATV Rangers were used to battle the fire, as the terrain and location of the fire made it difficult for the large fire trucks to gain access to the fire.  The tankers were used to constantly refill the pick-up grass rigs with water. The fire appears to have started in a ravine near a creek, then followed the ravine going northwest to the southeast.  Conly explains the path of the fire.

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Once it reached a cornfield, the fire spread quickly, burning everything in its path.  Early reports indicated the fire was near the Plymouth county Energy ethanol facility, but the fire remained at least a half mile away from that plant. Conley says the strong winds and low humidity made it difficult to contain the fire. Neighboring farmers also assisted the fire officials by using large tractors with tillage discs.  Fire officials were on the scene for more than two hours. 


Le Mars Man Arrested For Possession Of Marijuana

(Le Mars) --  After receiving a complaint of an odor of marijuana, Le Mars Police arrested a Le Mars man last evening.  22 year old, Andrew Macklem of 1072 7th Avenue Southeast, apartment 4 was taken into custody and charged with possession of a controled substance, marijuana, a serious misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a simple misdemeanor.  He was held until he could see a judge this morning.


Supervisors To Discuss Outreach Opportunity

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors are scheduled to meet this morning at the County Courthouse Boardroom.  The supervisors will hear from Todd Rausch from the Small Business Development Center discuss an outreach opportunity for Plymouth County.


County Treasurer Staff To Visit Communities To Offer Help With Tax Credits

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Treasurer, Shelly Sitzmann, has announced staff from the County Treasurer's office will be visiting various communities to assist applicants who qualify for a state credit on their house taxes, mobile home taxes, or for rent reimbursements. To qualify and to receive a credit on real estate taxes, residents must be 65 years or older by December 31, 2013, or totally disabled and 18 years of age or older.  They must also have a household income under $21,698, including your social security earnings.  The treasurer's staff will be at the Hinton Community Building on Monday, May 5th from 9:00 - 9:45 a.m.  Following Hinton, the treasurer's staff will be at Merrill Kissinger Senior Center on May 5th from 10:00 - 10:45 a.m.  The Remsen Library will host the meeting on Tuesday, May 6th from 9:30 until 11:00 a.m. On Wednesday, the treasurer's staff will be at Kingsley, Akron, and Westfield.


Fair Board And Chamber Ag Committee To Feature Ag Education Exhibit At Fair

(Le Mars) -- A new exhibit will be featured at this year's Plymouth County fair, July 23-27th.  According to Fair Board president, Tony Schroeder, the famous round barn will be home to an agricultural education exhibit, entitled: "a ROUND the farm in the BARN."  Schroeder says the exhibit will showcase many displays from various commodity and farm organizations.  The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Committee is partnering with the fair board on the display.  Chamber Ag Committee chair, Paul Jacobson says everyone that views this exhibit will learn a little more about Plymouth County agriculture, and how our food is produced, processed, transported, marketed, and ultimately placed on a shelf at the local grocery store or supermarket, ready for our consumption”.  Jacobson added, “Our focus is for fair attendees to experience the economic impact of Plymouth County agriculture, including the many businesses and industries, within Plymouth County, that provide value-added products.  Many times, we forget these businesses have an agricultural connection,” said Jacobson.  Schroeder says the display will show many photos and videos of Plymouth County agriculture.  He says funding of the project is from contributions of the Local Options Sales Tax.  Schroeder says "this agricultural education exhibit is about Plymouth County and for the people of Plymouth County."


Judge Says Teen Can Stand Trial For Murder

LOGAN, Iowa (AP) - A judge has declared an Iowa teen competent to stand trial for the murder of his 5-year-old foster brother.
     District Court Judge  Kathleen Kilnoski said an evaluation of 18-year-old Cody Metzker-Madsen showed that he understands the charges against him and can actively participate in his defense.
    Metzker-Madsen is charged with first-degree murder for the death of Dominic Elkins. Authorities say Dominic was killed while the boys were playing outdoors on Aug. 31 at their home near Logan, in western Iowa. Dominic died as a result of blunt-force head injuries and drowning.
     Metzker-Madsen has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
     Psychology experts who examined the teen say he has developmental problems. Metzker-Madsen's mother used methamphetamine during her pregnancy with him.


State Senate Wants To Re-Open Juvenile Home

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Senate has renewed its effort to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home, with a budget amendment designed to re-establish and improve programming at the Toledo facility.
     Lawmakers voted 26-22 Monday to approve the budget bill. It now returns to the House, where a similar amendment was rejected last week .
     The proposal attempts to reopen and revamp services at the home, which was closed Jan. 15 by Gov. Terry Branstad following allegations that delinquent girls were being mistreated.
     Sen. Jack Hatch, a Democrat who's running for governor, says the plan accounts for the concerns that led to the facility's closure.
     Jimmy Centers, a Branstad spokesman, says the governor won't make a decision until it's sent to his desk in its final form.


State Auditor To Investigate Secret Settlements

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Auditor Mary Mosiman says she is conducting an audit of confidential secret settlements that have enveloped Gov. Terry Branstad's administration in controversy for more than a month.
     Mosiman says in a letter to Democratic Sen. Jack Hatch she began to review the settlement agreements shortly after she learned of them. She says her office is working to identify anything improper or inappropriate. She says she'll issue a public report when the investigation is concluded.
     Hatch, who's running against Branstad for governor, sent Mosiman a letter April 8 asking for an audit.
     He also wants the Legislature to approve funds for a broader independent audit from a firm outside the government to ensure politics is removed from the process.
     Mosiman, a Republican, was appointed by Branstad last year.


Economic Development Officials Unveil "Cultivation Corridor"

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State and local economic development officials in central Iowa have come up with a brand name and logo for the region in an effort to create an identity similar to that of Silicon Valley in California.
     U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and Gov. Terry Branstad were among the dignitaries at the unveiling of the "Cultivation Corridor" branding of an area within a 60-mile radius of Des Moines.
     The idea is to focus attention on the marketing of agribusiness, biotechnology and renewable fuel products.
     Iowa State University President Stephen Leath helped lead the 3-year process of identifying concepts and coming up with the idea.
     He says the primary goals are to attract and retain top quality workers in agriculture biosciences, expand job creation, and create a ripple effect in the economy statewide.


16 Iowa Towns To Receive Water Quality Project Grants

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State officials say 16 Iowa towns that received loans for water quality projects will end up saving money because of interest rate cuts.
     The Iowa Finance Authority and the Department of Natural Resources says those towns will see a combined savings of $1.5 million over the life of their loans. They have been paying 3 percent interest on the loans, but rates are being lowered 1.75 percent.
     The State Revolving Fund is one of main sources for projects to improve Iowa's drinking water, and to enhance wastewater and pollution control.
     The towns that will see savings are Ainsworth, Alleman, Audubon, Bancroft, Carroll, Fort Dodge, Fort Madison, Grandview, Kalona, Lisbon, Lovilia, Neola, Pocahontas, Rockwell City, Sioux City and Tiffin.










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