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KLEM News PM Update April 21, 2011

Twenty-six-year-old Sanjuanita Rodriguez-Martinez was arrested Tuesday night by the Sioux County Sheriff's Office.

The Sheriff's Office reports Rodriguez-Martinez was charged after someone in McAllen, Texas reported an identity theft.

Authorities arrested Rodriguez-Martinez claiming she got a job at Sioux Preme Packing of rural Sioux Center by using the identity of someone in McAllen.

She is being held in the Sioux County jail on felony charges and a charge of interfering with official acts when authorities tried to arrest her.

SIBLEY - A Spirit Lake man died after his vehicle left Highway 9 Wednesday near Ocheydan.

The Osceola County Sheriff's Office identified the man as 74-year-old Robert Dean Graves. Graves was driving west and his car ended up partially submerged in the creek in the south ditch.

The Sheriff's Office reports Graves was pronounced dead at the hospital in Sibley.

SIOUX CITY - A country performer will be at the Orpheum Theatre this fall as a benefit for Girls Inc.  of Sioux City.

Girls Inc. Board Chair Michelle Lewon says Wynonna Judd continues in a long tradition of inspiring, talented artists who've given of their time and energy to support Girls Inc.
Rolling Stone magazine called Wynonna Judd "the greatest female country singer since Patsy Cline."

The duo performers Wynonna Judd and her mother, Naomi, ended their initial run in 1991. Wynonna launched a solo career. Her eighth studio album is due to be released later this year.

Tickets will be available for the September 22nd benefit concert beginning April 30th.

DES MOINES - The Iowa Senate has passed a bill which calls on the Racing and Gaming Commission to study how the state's casinos might operate internet poker games. The proposal is included in a bill that also changes the rules for county gambling referendums and sets policy for the prizes awarded to the owners of horses that race at Prairie Meadows. During the debate, Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, suggested it was time to end greyhound racing in Iowa.

Zaun offered an amendment to the wide-ranging gambling bill that would have ended greyhound racing in Iowa, but he withdrew the idea before a vote could be taken.

Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, tried to get the senate to vote to forbid smoking on the casino gaming floors -- a loophole granted to casinos when the legislature passed the statewide smoking ban in 2008.

Senate President Jack Kibbie ruled a proposal to ban smoking at the casinos was outside the boundaries of the bill, so debate on that proposal was forbidden.

Senators passed the gambling bill on a 38 to 12 vote, but its future in the Iowa House is uncertain. (News report by Radio Iowa)

MAPLETON - The top elected official in the western Iowa town that was heavily damaged by a tornado nearly two weeks ago says his community -will- recover and rebuild. Mapleton Mayor Fred Standa says the mood has improved as progress is being made to clean up the tons of debris from the town's worst-ever disaster.

"We've got most of the curbside stuff picked up, trees, debris that all the property owners have pushed out toward the right of way," he says, and there will likely be one more pick-up next Monday. Standa says the stacks of debris are mountainous -- and still growing.

"We've got two sites and the tree pile is about four stories high and we've got a couple place we're taking the debris and that's probably two or three stories high," he says. The tornado that struck on April 9th damaged or destroyed 140 homes and businesses in the Monona County town. Stanza says FEMA officials were in Mapleton on Monday to do a comprehensive survey and red-labeled about 80 homes as unsafe to enter.

They went around in a school bus and identified all of the structures that were destroyed or damaged and will make a final determination on the damage within a few weeks to a month. Volunteers have streamed into the town from all across Iowa and several other states to help with the clean-up process. Stanza says he's touched that so many people have contributed to helping them to rebuild, but he says Mapleton could still use one thing.

"Money," he says, laughing. "We have a relief fund set up at both banks and I can't tell you the dollar amount but I will tell you that it's sizeable. Donations are being received from all the way across the nation, just unbelievable." Stanza says many homes that weathered the storm are in need of repair. He says the community will survive. 

 "The attitude of the people is phenomenal, it's what's going to bring this community back together again," he says. "We'll rebuild and it's already taking place. We've sold lots. We've seen some new construction going on. We've got a new house going up. It's just amazing to see how much effort these people have put into this thing." About half of the town's 12-hundred residents were displaced by the tornado, which hit at about 7:20 on a Saturday night. The twister was categorized as an EF3, which carries winds between 136 to 165 miles an hour. (News report by Radio Iowa)

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Police say a former employee suspected of stealing about $470,000 from Drake University has surrendered.

A news release from the Des Moines Police Department says 49-year-old Robert Harlan turned himself in on Thursday morning and was arrested. Harlan was booked into Polk County Jail, pending $50,000 bail.

Online court records don't list the case or the name of Harlan's attorney.

According to The Des Moines Register, university President David Maxwell said during a faculty meeting that small sums had been taken from a petty cash fund ``on a fairly regular basis'' since 2004. Maxwell also said two university audits had failed to detect the pattern of thefts.

Harlan worked at Drake for 20 years, the last 10 as director of student accounts.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) A 24-year-old Wilton man convicted of voluntary manslaughter in the beating death of an elderly Iowa City man has been denied parole.

In May 2009, Curtis Fry was given 10 years in prison. He had broken into the home of 75-year-old Jerome ``Patrick'' McEwen on Feb. 7, 2008, and beat him to death. Fry had gotten drunk in downtown Iowa City after celebrating his 21st birthday.

Fry was given 10 years in prison. The Iowa City Press-Citizen says Fry lost his parole bid on Wednesday.

A Department of Corrections official says the department had recommended parole.

PLEASANT HILL, Iowa (AP) There has been no public discussion at Southeast Polk school district board meetings about plans to pay a total of $292,000 to four administrators who agreed to resign or retire.

The district also agreed to maintain insurance for three of them.

According to The Des Moines Register, officials say the settlement plans would have been available to anyone who asked.

The board president signed some of them in March, but the full board must vote on them. They're scheduled for consideration at a meeting set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Board President Lori Slings says the inducements give the board opportunities to hire people who will bring new perspectives to district issues.

The 6,000-student district covers Runnells, Altoona and Mitchellville and parts of Pleasant Hill, Bondurant and Des Moines.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) The governor has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of two Iowa National Guardsmen who were killed in Afghanistan.

A news release from the office of Gov. Terry Branstad says flags should be lowered from 8 a.m. Friday through 8 a.m. Monday in honor of Sgt. Brent Maher (MAY'-er) and Spc. Donald Nichols.

A funeral is scheduled Friday in Council Bluffs for Maher, of Honey Creek. The 31-year-old was killed by a roadside bomb on April 11.

On Saturday, a funeral will be held in Waverly for Nichols, of Shell Rock. The 21-year-old soldier died April 13 when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb.

The governor's office says his order applies to all U.S. and state flags under the control of the state.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has hired two Iowa staffers to assist as he explores a race for Iowa's leadoff precinct caucuses.

Santorum announced Thursday that Cody Brown will manage his efforts at testing the waters for a caucus campaign. Brown managed Republican Ben Lange's congressional campaign in the 1st District last year.

In addition, Santorum says Lucas Draisey will serve as field director for the effort. He's a former chairman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans.

Santorum has already retained veteran GOP consultants Nick Ryan and Jill Latham to advise him as he ponders a race for the GOP presidential nomination. Santorum has made 11 trips to Iowa, and has another visit scheduled beginning Monday.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) Linn County will consider new restrictions on the sale of smokeless tobacco.

The Gazette is reporting the county Board of Supervisors will vote next month on ordinances that would prohibit the sale of dissolvable tobacco products, such as strips and sticks. The measure would also ban buy one get one free sales of products and prohibit adult-only temporary structures like fair tents from giving away samples of smokeless tobacco.

Supervisor Linda Langston is predicting the measures will pass.

Langston and others say the ordinances are being proposed to protect children.

A public health official says some tobacco products are packaged to look like candy or breath mints.

Linn County received a two-year $2 million federal grant to target tobacco policies.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) A man calling a Des Moines restaurant pretending to be a state health inspector was interrupted when a real inspector got on the phone.

Emily Wegner says she was at the restaurant Wednesday when she heard a server yell into the kitchen that the state health department was on the phone. Wegner, whose job it is to inspect restaurants, says she got on the phone and told the caller that he was not an inspector and that she was.

WHO-TV is reporting that the fake inspector wanted to schedule an appointment but asked for a deposit for the visit.

Wegner says the state does not charge for inspections.

Wegner says she got the caller's information and reported the scam to police.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Submit your news release, photo, confidential news tip or news idea by email klemnews@lemarscomm or by calling 712.546.4121 or 712.546.9672 fax.

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