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Friday News, February 15

Recorder's Office To Be Closed On Friday

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Recorder, JoLynn Goodchild, has announced the County Recorder's
office will be closed today (Friday) from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. for a funeral.

Wind and Solar Conference Scheduled

(Sioux City) -- Are you looking for ways to reduce your energy bills?  You may want to consider attending the Wind and Solar Energy Conference that is scheduled for February 26th at the Sioux City Convention Center.  Iowa State University Extension of Woodbury and Plymouth Counties are sponsoring the conference.  Sherry McGill, Extension Director for Region five, which consists of Plymouth, Woodbury, and Monona counties, says the conference will offer people an opportunity to learn first-hand about successful wind and solar projects in Iowa.

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McGill says there is increasing interest from homeowners and livestock producers in having a small wind turbine stationed on their property to help generate electricity and defray the costs of energy usage.  However, she recommends before you build your own wind turbine, you may want to do a little research on the subject.
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Carol Schneider, Plymouth county Extension Coordinator says there was a considerable amount of local input that helped organize the wind and solar conference.
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The registration fee for that wind and solar conference is $45 and you can register at either the Plymouth County or Woodbury County extension offices.


Summer May See Mandatory Water Cutbacks

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Mandatory water cutbacks may be employed this summer in some parts of Iowa if the drought lingers.
Tim Hall is bureau chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' geology and water survey staff and he told a legislative panel on Thursday that the situation was worst in northwest Iowa.
The state has the power to prioritize water use based on a system developed in the 1950s. Hall says the system has never been used and won't be used this summer either. He says conservation
decisions are best left to local communities because situations vary so widely from one county or part of the state to the next.
The National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says nearly a quarter of Iowa remains in severe or extreme drought.

Secretary of State Matt Schultz Faces tough Questions From Lawmakers

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Secretary of State Matt Schultz faced tough questions from Democrats at a legislative hearing where lawmakers referred to election night reporting problems as
"embarrassing". They asked why he wasn't seeking more money to update technology and hire more staff.
Schultz didn't seek a budget increase at the Thursday hearing, prompting legislators to question how he can improve the election night reporting system without more funding. They also questioned
$140,000 he's spending on an investigator focusing on voter fraud.
Democrat Senator Jeff Danielson of Cedar Falls says he lost confidence after election night, when the secretary of state's online reporting system crashed, delaying election results from
precincts for hours.
Schultz says he can manage without more funding, and he defended the use of public funds to investigate fraud.


Democrats Propose Property Tax Relief Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Senate Democrats are proposing a plan for reducing commercial property taxes that they say would help small businesses more than Governor Terry Branstad's tax proposal.
Under the legislation unveiled Thursday, commercial property owners would gradually get a tax credit that's the equivalent of a 40 percent tax cut on their first $324,000 in assessed property
value. Lawmakers say roughly 80 percent of the state's 116,900 commercial properties are assessed at or below $324,000.
Properties worth more would see a smaller percentage break, but Democrats argue their plan is more effective than Branstad's plan, which gradually cuts taxable property assessments by 20 percent for all businesses at a cost of about $350 million.
The Democratic proposal would cost $250 million and be phased in over five years.


Gun and Ammunition Found In Carry-On Bag At Des Moines Airport

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say an unloaded handgun and ammunition were found in a carry-on bag at an airport in Des Moines.
The Transportation Security Administration says the gun was detected at a screening checkpoint Wednesday at Des Moines International Airport. The unloaded handgun, several magazines and
ammunition with 42 rounds were found in a bag belonging to John Thompson, a U.S. Army captain from Virginia.
The 33-year-old Thompson told authorities he didn't know the items were in the bag. He was arrested and charged with an airport regulation screening checkpoint violation.
Firearms and ammunition are prohibited in carry-on baggage, but can be checked in at the ticket counter in a locked container.
This is the second firearm found this year at a screening checkpoint in Des Moines.


Central Iowa Fires May Be Arson Related

BOONE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities in central Iowa are investigating a series of fires they say could be arson.
Boone County Sheriff's Office and Story County Sheriff's Office are investigating between 20 and 30 fires.
Boone officials say they're concerned particularly about eight or nine fires over the last year, including a late January fire that killed a dozen horses. More than two dozen lambs were killed
in early February.
Boone Deputy Andy Godzicki says there's no firm evidence of arson, but the activity is suspicious when the incidents are grouped together.
The station says the State Fire Marshal's Office is helping with the investigation.


Man Accused of Shooting Say He Was Intoxicated By Drugs

DECORAH, Iowa (AP) - An attorney for a northern Iowa man accused of shooting at several people plans to say his client was intoxicated by drugs.
Mark Anderson filed notice in Winneshiek County District Court of his intentions to rely on an "intoxication by drugs" defense for his client, Daniel Wildman. A jury trial is scheduled to begin
Feb. 27.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports the 23-year-old Wildman is accused of discharging a 12-gauge shotgun at several people exiting a car in downtown Calmar in October. He faces three counts of attempted murder, among other charges.
Authorities say after the shooting, Wildman led police on a manhunt. He was later caught in a cornfield near Castalia.
The incident placed several schools in the area on lockdown.


Cedar Rapids Attorney Named 6th District Judge

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Cedar Rapids attorney has been named a judge in eastern Iowa's 6th Judicial District.
Gov. Terry Branstad's office says Mary Chicchelly is taking over for Judge Denver Dillard, who has retired.
Chicchelly received her law degree from the University of Iowa.
The district includes Benton, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Tama counties.








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