(LE MARS)–These final days of voting will help decide whether Le Mars, a town named for ladies on a train, is a railroad excursion destination.
Union Pacific’s “Great Excursion Adventure” is a contest to route a legendary steam locomotive.
Le Mars Convention and Visitors Bureau Manager Jessica Lingren wants residents to put the famous train’s travel on Le Mars’ tracks.
Lingren is partnering with a host of help to attract Union Pacific Steam Locomotive No. 844
Voting can be done daily with the final date of December sixth.
Next Tuesday, the votes will be tallied to choose four routes. Voting in January will set the route.
The person with the most contest points wins tickets for part of the trip. “Honorary Engineer” is the title for the person who rides in the locomotive cab because they had the most points. Route and individual winners will be announced January 18th.
For details www.upexcursion.com
(DES MOINES)–Sioux City is one of five locations where planners will gather information about a health exchange.
The state-based exchanges for health benefits are designed to make purchasing health insurance easier by providing eligible consumers and businesses with one-stop “shopping.” The goal is a way to compare and possibly purchase health insurance coverage.
The Affordable Care Act requires states to have an operational exchange by January of 2014.
Information gathered at regional meetings by Iowa Department of Public Health staff will help develop recommendations as Iowa moves forward in planning for a health benefits exchange.
The public meeting in Sioux City is at the Wilbur Aalfs Library December 21st from 9:30 to 11 in the morning.
(WASHINGTON) Republican Congressman Steve King is railing against a proposal that sets up a process for settling the discrimination claims of black farmers who say they were denied government loans. Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson reports.
Smith gets Democratic nomination in Senate race
CRESTON, Iowa (AP) Ruth Smith, of Lamoni, is the Democratic nominee in the race for Iowa’s Senate District 48, the seat vacated by Kim Reynolds when she was elected lieutenant governor.
Smith was chosen by delegates at a special nominating convention on Wednesday in Creston. She faces Republican Joni Ernst, of Red Oak, in a special election on Jan. 4.
Senate District 48 includes seven counties in southern Iowa.
Reynolds, a Republican from Osceola, was elected along with Gov.-elect Terry Branstad.
Democrats hold a 26 to 24 seat majority in the Senate.
Iowa sees surge in past-due court debts
MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) Iowa’s new program to recoup past-due court fines and fees has netted $2.5 million, due in part to a late surge in payments.
The Globe Gazette reports at least 13,700 people took advantage of the state’s first-ever court-debt amnesty program, which ended Tuesday.
Roger Stirler of the state revenue department says about 1,000 people came forward in the final week to pay about $500,000.
Overall, about 246,000 people owe outstanding court debt of over $213 million that’s more than four years old. Under the program, if they pay 50 percent of the overdue debt in a lump sum, the other half is forgiven.
Stirler says between 1 and 2 percent of those with overdue debt came forward. That’s about the same response to past amnesty programs for income tax.
Iowa teen appeals conviction in child’s death
CHARLES CITY, Iowa (AP) A Charles City teenager sentenced to two life sentences for the death of his 3-year-old cousin in 2009 has appealed his convictions.
Fifteen-year-old Edgar Concepcion Jr. was sentenced on Nov. 22 after being convicted in June of murder, sexual abuse and child endangerment in the death of Krystel Banes, also of Charles City.
Concepcion was tried as an adult.
The Globe Gazette of Mason City says his attorney, Judy O’Donohoe, filed the appeal on Nov. 23. She argues that sentencing Concepcion, a juvenile, to life without parole was cruel and unusual punishment.
Concepcion is being held at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale pending a decision on where he will serve his sentence.
Iowan won’t face charges in bear killing in WY
HUDSON, Iowa (AP) An Iowan who killed a grizzly bear in Wyoming won’t be charged with killing an endangered animal.
Glen Fortsch, of Hudson, shot the attacking grizzly while elk hunting on Sept. 22, 2009 the day after grizzles were added, again, to the federal endangered species list.
Fortsch faced a $25,000 fine and prison instead of a lesser state penalty if his self-defense claim wasn’t upheld.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier featured Fortsch after he killed the bear. The newspaper now says he won’t be charged.
Roy Brown of the U.S. Department of the Interior called Fortsch earlier this year and said the U.S. attorney’s office in Wyoming won’t file charges.
Brown says in Fortsch’s case, he was retrieving a dead elk when the grizzly claimed it too and charged.
Farmers may up security after hog lot vandalism
WEST UNION, Iowa (AP) Some livestock producers in northeast Iowa are considering extra security measures in the wake of vandalism at three hog operations last weekend.
Fayette County Sheriff Marty Fisher told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier that farmers are looking at additional lights and other measures.
Vandals broke into hog confinements near Sumner and West Union late Saturday and early Sunday and caused thousands of dollars in damage. Several hogs were released at two sites.
Fisher says the items taken were small, if anything, and a motive hasn’t been determined.
Iowa inmate dies at Waterloo hospital
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) Authorities say an 18-year-old inmate at the Black Hawk County jail in Waterloo died after telling a deputy he didn’t feel well.
The sheriff’s office says the deputy entered the cell about 2 p.m. on Wednesday and found Justin Ray Johnson, of Waterloo, was having trouble breathing.
Johnson was taken to Waterloo hospital where he died. An autopsy is pending.
Authorities say Johnson had been in jail since Nov. 9 on an aggravated assault charge.
Neglected horses rescued from western Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Animal rescue groups say 39 sick and neglected horses have been rescued from a farm near Glidden in western Iowa.
Tom Colvin of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa told KCCI-TV of Des Moines that the horses were without food, shelter and veterinary care for an undetermined amount of time, and face a long recovery.
The two-day rescue ended on Monday.
Eight horses are getting medical care in Des Moines. The rest have been placed with foster families.
The Animal Rescue League says once the horses are healthy, they will be available for adoption.
The Carroll County attorney’s office says officials filed civil charges to remove the horses, but no criminal charges have been filed.
Iowa prisons testing in-house toilet paper
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Iowa prisoners could soon be making their own toilet paper to save taxpayers money and provide jobs.
The Des Moines Register says inmates at prisons in Anamosa and Mitchellville are testing a single-ply tissue processed at a Missouri prison.
Iowa Prison Industries Director Roger Baysden says there have been no complaints about the product from the Cross Roads Correctional Center at Cameron, Mo.
Iowa inmates already make dozens of products, including license plates and office furniture. Baysden says inmates could start processing toilet paper next year if the Legislature supports the idea.
Iowa’s nine prisons use about 900,000 rolls of toilet paper annually. Processing it in-house would save about $100,000 a year compared with buying it from a vendor. It would also create jobs for about 50 inmates.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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