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KLEM News Update June 22, 2011

The Council Tuesday approved the concept of abolishing wards and set a July 5th noon public hearing. Three of the five Council members are elected from wards which are specific areas of the city.

An election, if citizens requested it, could be held on the issue during the November city elections. According to City Attorney Joe Flannery, the petition would need to signed by 10 percent of the total number of votes in the last city election.

The Council awarded the bid for a building to house airport snow removal equipment to Holtze Construction of Sioux City. The firm had the apparent low bid. The Council action is subject to funding and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval.

A tie-vote on a trail on Le Mars' west side kept the Council from moving forward on the project to the point of design and bidding the work.

Several Council members and the mayor gave a "thumbs up" award to Ice Cream Days organizers, volunteers and those who visited for the event or other local residents who enjoyed the four days flavored with the theme of a sweet treat.

 Tri-State pleads, Van Zee sentenced for concrete price-fixing

(WASHINGTON, DC)--A northwest Iowa ready-mix concrete company has pleaded guilty to participating in a price-fixing scheme for the sale of ready-mix concrete.

Associated Press reports Rock Valley based Tri-State Ready Mix pleaded guilty Monday to conspiring with Steven VandeBrake of G-C-C Alliance Concrete of Orange City.

The U-S Justice Department filed federal court documents in Sioux City claiming the conspiracy was from January of 2006 to August of 2009.

Under the Sherman Anti-trust act, Tri-State could be fined twice the amount of the gain from the crime or twice the loss the victims of the crime had. The maximum fine is one-hundred million dollars.

On Tuesday, federal Judge Michael Bennett sentenced Tri-State's President, Chad Van Zee, to 45 days of probation. Van Zee was also fined $50,000. Van Zee had pleaded to the conspiracy guilty in December. 

VandeBrake and a third concrete company executive,  Kent Stewart of  Great Lakes Concrete, have also been sentenced.

(Associated Press contributed to this news report)

Storm damage assessment being made

(LE MARS)--Cleanup is underway in rural areas north of Kingsley after a storm packing high winds and heavy rain moved through the area about 9:30 last night.

The damage in Plymouth County is around Union Center, an area six miles south and six miles east of Le Mars.

Bob Bohnenkamp operates a service station in Union Center, along Plymouth County Road C-44, east of the intersection with County Road K-64.

Bohnenkamp and his wife are among nine people living at four residences at Union Center. They were watching television when they saw a report that the storm was to be at their location so he looked outside.

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Southwest of Union Center a hog confinement on Omega Avenue, near the Chris Kessenich residence, is damaged and as you travel further south, steel crumbled like paper is spread through the field. That's north of another set of hog confinements that have visbile damage on the east side of both roofs.

Many of the rural residents were picking up debris, raking tree limbs and assessing just what damage they had this morning. All said they were grateful no one was hurt.

The extent and kind of damage is being assessed through Plymouth County Emergency Management and the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office.

Schneider to serve prison time for drug conviction

(ORANGE CITY)--A Rock Valley woman could spend up to 10 years in prison for a drug conviction in Sioux County.

According to County Attorney Coleman McAllister, a judge ordered 31-year-old Christine Schneider to serve a mandatory minimum of one-third of the 10-year sentence.

Schneider was convicted of conspiring to sell less than five grams of crystal meth to a confidential informant in Hull last October. The informant was working with the Sioux County Sheriff's Department.

Another person who was charged, Dallas Dodge, was also sentenced to 10 years for his involvement in the drug sale.

Students' experiment will be in space

(HOLSTEIN)--When the space shuttle Atlantis launches on its final mission next month, it will be carrying aloft a science experiment assembled by students from northwest Iowa. Patty Wheeler, a biology teacher at Ridge View High School in Holstein, says seven of her students designed and built the self-contained experiment that uses microscopic creatures called tardigrades (TAR-dah-grades), also known as "water bears."

While the shuttle is in orbit, the astronauts will set the process in motion as the students simultaneously grow their own water bears using identical techniques. They'll compare the two sets of creatures after the shuttle lands to see what impact the weightless environment may have had on their growth. Wheeler says water bears are tough critters.

They've had them in space before and they've even put them in the vacuum of space and they survived." She hopes being involved in the project will spark her students to pursue careers in science. As an additional incentive, the entire group will be going on a field trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to witness the scheduled launch on July 8th.

Knowing shuttle launches are frequently delayed, she says she just hopes if they get all the way to Florida for the liftoff, that it goes as scheduled. Ridge View High is among only 11 schools in the nation with experiments aboard this final shuttle mission and it's the only one from Iowa.  (News report by Radio Iowa)

Suspect pleads not guilty

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) A Yankton man accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

The Press Dakotan reports that defense attorney Dan Fox told the judge Monday he is likely to request a psychiatric evaluation of Nicholas Hines. Judge Glen Eng also approved a defense request to hire a private investigator at the county's expense.

A trial date was not immediately set. A hearing to review the status of the case is set for July 25. Hines remains jailed.

Authorities accuse the 28-year-old Hines of killing his girlfriend and then shooting himself on April 9. The murder charge against him is punishable by life in prison or death. Prosecutors have not said if they would seek the death penalty if Hines is convicted.

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

Iowa Senate approves 6 spending measures

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Majority Democrats in the Iowa Senate have approved six spending measures in an effort to reach a deal with House Republicans and GOP Gov. Terry Branstad.

With little debate Tuesday, Democrats approved spending measures paying for programs ranging from transportation to economic development. Most bills passed with the bare minimum of 26 votes and with no debate. Democrats hold a 26-24 majority in the Senate.

Late in the day, Senate leaders broke off debate and left for a private bargaining session with Branstad.

Earlier, Branstad told reporters the Democrats' spending plan wasn't acceptable but he appreciated that they was moving closer to his proposals. Branstad is seeking deeper cuts in business property taxes and wants changes in how Democrats want to fund Medicaid.

Democrats will take up more budgets Wednesday.

Jury hears evidence against MN man in Iowa killing

CARROLL, Iowa (AP) A Minnesota police officer says the father of a man on trial for a convenience store worker's killing in Iowa told police he kept his guns locked up because he and his wife feared their son.

St. Louis Park, Minn., officer, Matt Reilly testified Tuesday in the first-degree murder trial of Michael Swanson. Swanson, of St. Louis Park, was 17 when he was charged with killing convenience store clerk Sheila Myers in Humboldt in northern Iowa on Nov. 15.

Reilly told the jury that Robert Swanson, an avid hunter, kept all his guns locked up because he and his wife ``were afraid of their son.''

Earlier Tuesday, the prosecution showed a crime scene photo and called witnesses who re-traced Swanson's steps the day of the killing.

Swanson is also charged with killing another store clerk in Algona the same night. But he hasn't gone to trial in that case yet.

GOP presidential candidate Pawlenty on air in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty plans to run the first television advertisement of the 2012 campaign by a GOP candidate.

His introductory spot is scheduled to begin Wednesday in several markets across Iowa.

The former Minnesota governor is using the commercial to build support for Iowa's leadoff caucuses next winter as well as the Iowa Republican Party's August straw poll in Ames, an early test of caucus support.

The ads are to run in six media markets that touch most Republican areas of the state, including Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.

Pawlenty is less well-known than some of his rivals for the GOP nomination. He plans to spend roughly half of July in Iowa campaigning ahead of the Aug. 13 straw poll in Ames.

Farmers, ethanol makers likely OK with no subsidy

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) A bill including language to end a $5 billion-a-year ethanol subsidy has been blocked, but an earlier vote by the U.S. Senate likely still signals that Congress may be willing to let the tax credit go.

The ethanol subsidy is due to expire at the end of the year. The ethanol-related language was part of a jobs bill the House rejected Tuesday and would have killed it early.

Ethanol experts like Iowa State University economist Bruce Babcock believe signs point to the 45-cent-a-gallon subsidy not being renewed. And they believe the ethanol industry will be fine without it.

Babcock says it's a federal mandate to use alternative fuels like ethanol that drives demand, not the subsidy. And there's no guarantee that ending the tax credit will ease high corn prices.

DM Register lays off 13 as Gannett cuts jobs

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) The Des Moines Register is laying off 13 employees as its owner, Gannett, cuts 700 jobs to cope with an advertising slump.

Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper publisher, also owns USA Today and more than 80 other daily U.S. newspapers. The company hoped to complete the cuts on Tuesday, which represent about 2 percent of its 32,600 employees.

The Register says the cuts hit primarily its newsroom.

Laura Hollingsworth, the Register's president and publisher, says the economic conditions are ``unpredictable and inconsistent.''

The layoffs are Gannett's biggest in two years and the latest measures triggered by a steep drop in newspaper and advertising that began in 2006. The company's annual revenue has fallen more than $2 billion, or nearly 30 percent, since then.

Iowa attorney loses bid for his case to be tossed

AMES, Iowa (AP) An Ames attorney accused of assaulting a female client has lost his bid for dismissal of his case.

The Ames Tribune reports that the judge rejected Gerald Moothart's motion on Monday.

Moothart had said in his motion that Story County prosecutors haven't shown the charge against him is warranted. He's charged with assault with intent to commit sexual abuse.

The client told police she hired Moothart in January 2010 to represent her in a drunken-driving case. According to court documents, the woman says Moothart made comments about her body during their meetings and once was served four alcoholic drinks by Moothart and ended up on his lap on a couch.

She told police she doesn't know how she got into the compromising position or how she made it home.

Battle ax reportedly used in Oskaloosa slaying

OSKALOOSA, Iowa (AP) Authorities say an Oskaloosa man accused of using a medieval-style battle ax to kill his mother's boyfriend is out of a hospital and in jail.

Bradley Arterburn faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of Robert Horovitz, of Davenport. He's accused of attacking Horovitz Sunday night at the home Arterburn shared with his mother in Oskaloosa.

Arterburn was being treated for what are believed to be self-inflicted wounds. The Oskaloosa Herald says Arterburn was released from a Des Moines hospital and is now in the Mahaska County jail. Jail officials said Tuesday he's being held on no bond.

It's unclear whether Arterburn has an attorney. The case is not listed on online court records.

Man sought in W. Iowa shooting found in Missouri

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) A man being sought in the shooting of a rural Minden woman has been caught in Missouri.

Craig Finney, of Macedonia, was arrested Saturday at a residence near Lake of the Ozarks, about 300 miles from where the shooting occurred.

The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs says the 50-year-old Finney is charged with two counts of attempted murder and one count of willful injury in the shooting of 48-year-old Patricia Harker at her rural Minden home Friday. Authorities say he shot himself in the shoulder and fled in a stolen SUV.

Harker remains hospitalized. Finney is in a Morgan County, Mo., hospital being treated for his injury.

No attorney is listed for Finney in Missouri court records.

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

Submit your news release, photos, 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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