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Thursday News, April 18

Be Ready For Another Winter-Like Day

(Le Mars) -- Another winter-like day is in store for us today, and authorities are suggesting you use caution during your travels as ice, sleet, and snow builds on the state's roadways and highways.  On Wednesday, the early morning rain and snow caused several vehicles to have accidents.  Plymouth County Communications Director, Kurt Hatting says it was a busy Wednesday.
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Iowa State Patrol Trooper Vince Kurtz advises to slow down this morning.

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Gaming Commission To Announce Sioux City Casino Today

(Sioux City) -- Today is the day Sioux City and everyone else learns which of the four proposed land-based casinos will be selected by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.  The decision will be announced today from Council Bluffs.  The four competing casinos include the Hard Rock Casino, the Hollywood Casino in Sioux City, as well as the Hollywood Casino of Siouxland, and the Warrior Hotel Casino.


County To Auction Surplus Property

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County will hold a public auction on Saturday to sell some collected surplus items.  The auction will take place at the County Courthouse and is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m.  County Auditor Stacey Feldman talks about what the county will be selling during this auction.

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Feldman says they hope to hold the auction at the courthouse parking lot. She suggests bidders to register their name and pick up an auction number from the Courthouse annex. Feldman says each of the county's departments will have items on the auction.

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The county normally holds an auction of surplus property every two years. The Brock Auction Company will serve as the auctioneers.  A listing of the surplus items are featured on the county's website which is

Wall Lake Couple Sentenced To Prison For Bank Robberies

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa man who asked for mercy in his sentencing for robbing banks has been given 15 years in federal prison.
Jeffrey Schoon was sentenced Wednesday in Sioux City. His wife, Roxena, was given more than two years in prison.
The couple pleaded guilty to robbing four banks within 20 miles of their Wall Lake home in December 2011 and January 2012.
Jeffrey Schoon asked the judge for the 15-year sentence required by a plea agreement in the hopes of seeing his teenage children again. He told the judge in a letter that he's raised an
18-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son who has cystic fibrosis. He says the average life span of someone with cystic fibrosis is 30, and the deal gives hope his family someday will be reunited.


Branstad Says China Trip Is Productive

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says his trade trip to China has been "extremely productive."
Branstad spoke with reporters via conference call Wednesday morning. He says he has been promoting trade between Iowa and China during meetings with top officials and business leaders in four cities.
Branstad met with Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jeen ping) on Monday. He says the conversation was "warm and cordial."
The group is scheduled to return Thursday. Branstad's ties to Xi date back to a 1985 diplomatic trip that Xi took to Iowa, during Branstad's first stint as governor. Xi returned to Iowa in February 2012 for stops in Muscatine and theDes Moines area.


House Approves Property Tax Reform Plan

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Republican-controlled Iowa House has approved a version of Governor Terry Branstad's plan to cut commercial property taxes, setting up a battle with the
Democratic-majority Senate which favors an alternate proposal.
In a 54-45 vote Wednesday, the House approved a plan to amend a Senate tax bill to include key items from Branstad's proposal, which gradually reduces taxable assessments for commercial property
owners by 20 percent. The House version also includes a provision that the state would pay a larger portion of general school funding.
The Senate plan provides tax credits and tries to offer more relief to small business owners.
Given the differences between the two sides, the legislation will likely move to a joint committee where lawmakers from both chambers will try to reach a compromise.

Teen Drivers May Have To Wait A Year Before Getting License

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa teenagers who want a driver's license before turning 18 would have to wait a little longer under a measure passed Wednesday by the state House.
Representatives on Wednesday voted 87 to 9 in favor of the bill, which requires that minors have their learners permit for a year instead of the current six months. The measure now goes to Governor
Terry Branstad for his signature.
The bill also would limit minor drivers to carrying one unrelated minor for the first six months after they get a license unless accompanied by a parent, guardian or driving instructor.
Osage Representative Josh Byrnes, who sponsored the bill, says it's important teens have practiced driving in all seasons before getting a standard license.


Grassley Says He Has Confidence In Capital Security

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - U.S. Senator Charles Grassley says he has confidence in security at the Capitol complex as authorities take precautions after letters containing a possible poison were
addressed to a fellow senator and President Barack Obama.
The Hart Senate Office Building, which houses the offices of senators including Grassley's, was locked down briefly Wednesday as authorities investigated suspicious packages.
Grassley, who was in the Capitol for Senate debate, says his staff told him police swarmed the Hart Senate Office Building, keeping anyone from entering the building. Workers had been told to
stay in their offices.
The FBI says a substance in letters sent to President Barack Obama and Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker have preliminarily tested positive for ricin, a potentially fatal poison. Both letters were
intercepted at off-site mail facilities.


Pella Woman Sentenced To Prison For Fraud

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A 61-year-old southern Iowa woman who persuaded friends and relatives to lend her thousands of dollars has been given four years in prison and ordered to pay more than
$680,000 in restitution.
Federal prosecutors say Beverly DeRonde, of Pella, also must serve three years of supervised release after she leaves custody. She'd pleaded guilty to mail fraud.
DeRonde has acknowledged that she fraudulently asked relatives and acquaintances to lend her money so she could buy birthday and anniversary presents to surprise her husband or equipment so he
could open a boat shop. She promised to pay them high interest rates.
Instead, she used the money to buy antiques, jewelry and Rolex watches for herself while failing to repay them. The scheme ran from 2003 to 2010.


DNR Reports Cities Released Wastewater In Streams

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Department of Natural Resources is reporting several wastewater releases by Iowa cities.
The largest was Tuesday morning in Cedar Falls, where an electrical problem caused pumps to fail, causing several thousand gallons of untreated wastewater to back up at the downtown treatment plant, then flow onto nearby ground. The water reached a bike path.
Workers took about a half hour to fix the problem. They then cleaned up the area.
In Dubuque, a pipe broke Wednesday afternoon, causing about 200 gallons of wastewater to flow into Catfish Creek before the city could stop the release.
In Cresco, about 500 gallons of untreated wastewater flowed into a creek Monday night. City and DNR officials are investigating the cause of the release but a surge of rainwater could be a factor.

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