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Thursday News, April 26

(Hinton) -- Two men were injured yesterday afternoon when a massive and powerful explosion occurred as the result of an earth moving construction crew accidently hit an underground natural gas pipeline. The men were digging a trench to place a drainage tile when the explosion happened at about 1:50 p.m. at 31165 Marble Avenue, about 14 miles south of Le Mars. Flames shot up at least 60 feet in the air and stretched for hundreds of yards, and could be seen for miles. Witnesses say the heat from the wall of fire could be felt a half mile away. Fire and rescue crews from seven different communities responded to the scene, but because of the intensity of the fire were kept at bay. Plymouth County Sheriff, Mike Van Otterloo says the injured men were transported to a local hospital. Listen here

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In addition to fire and rescue crews, ambulance units from several communities also responded as did work crews from Northern Iowa Power Cooperative (NIPCO), Mid-American Energy, and Northern Natural Gas. The fire was extinguished shortly after 3:00 p.m. when gas company officials were able to shut off the gas. Van Otterloo says it was fortunate that the explosion was in the middle of a farm field and was not near any homes, or farm buildings. The identities of the injured men have not yet been released. (Le Mars) -- Absentee ballots for the June 5th primary election are available as of April 26th in the Auditor's office at the Plymouth County Courthouse. Absentee ballots may be cast in the Auditor's office until Monday, June 4th until 5:00 p.m. Absentee ballots to be mailed to voters must be requested in writing. Forms are available at the Plymouth County Auditor's office. Absentee ballot request forms can be mailed to the Auditor's office at 215 4th Avenue SE, Le Mars, Iowa 51031. Voters may contact the Auditor's office and an absentee ballot request form can be mailed to the voter. (Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School Board gave its approval for the hiring of Gabe Tardive as the new head football coach for next year. In other action, the school board approved the new districts for board representation. The local school board gave its approval for the Iowa Association for Educational Purchasing to act as an purchasing agent particularly with food vendors for the school lunch program. (Orange City) -- On Tuesday, Sioux County sheriff's officials investigated a report of an assault that occurred at 112 Highland Avenue in Hospers. During the investigation, deputies found that 36 year old Jessica Van Roekel of Hospers had committed the assault. There were no serious injuries as a result of the assault and the victim refused medical treatment. Van Roekel was arrested and charged with simple assault, a simple misdemeanor. DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Democratic legislative leader says he's sending many of his members home because differences over the state budget are growing and no end to this year's session is in sight. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters Wednesday that Democrats want to spend up to $50 million more than Republicans, and the difference hasn't narrowed despite weeks of negotiations. McCarthy says there's no reason for most lawmakers to be at the Statehouse, so he sent Democrats home. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican, disagree. He says all sides are bargaining in good faith and have narrowed their differences. Senate Democratic Leader Michael Gronstal agreed with Paulsen, saying the two sides get closer together every time they meet. The Legislature was scheduled to adjourn more than a week ago.
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