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Saturday News, April 27

Fire Departments Fight Grass/Field Fires

(Le Mars) --Grass fires have kept Plymouth County Fire Departments busy on Friday. The Hinton Fire Department responded to a grass fire that was reported at about 9:35 a.m. yesterday morning.  That fire was located along county road K-18 and West Loop Road.  Fire officials were on the scene for a half an hour.   Meanwhile, the Le Mars Fire Department was called to a field fire near 130th Street and Nature Avenue, near Highway 60 on Friday afternoon.  The fire was reported at about 12:35 p.m.  Fire crews needed to use three trucks to surround the fire's perimeter and keep it from spreading any further.  A brush pile was purposely set on fire, but quickly got out of control and spread to a nearby corn field burning approximately twenty acres.  Smoke could be seen for miles as fire officials arrived at the scene. There was no one attending the fire when officials arrived on the scene.  Officials were on the scene
for more than an hour. Later in the afternoon, the Remsen Fire Department was dispatched to put out a grass fire at Beck Avenue and County Road L-14.  The fire was reported at about 3:00 p.m.  Remsen fire officials were on the scene at the grass fire for nearly an hour.


Le Mars Hosts Leadership Clinic

(Le Mars) -- "Building Leaders for Life" is the theme for the first Le Mars Leadership Clinic scheduled for Saturday at the Le Mars Community High School.  Judd Kopperud serves as the coordinator for the leadership seminar.  He says the idea originated with the University of Nebraska.  The purpose for the leadership conference is to introduce ideas to help others as well as communities be successful.

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Already more than 130 people have registered for the conference, and Kopperud says you can still register at the door, and registration begins at 8:00 a.m.    The program will feature speakers that will address three areas of interest in the breakout sessions.

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The key-note speaker is Olympic wrestling champion and former Iowa Hawkeye Wrestling Coach Dan Gable.

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Registration is $20 for pre-registration and $30 at the door.


Farmers Anxious To Start Field Work

(Le Mars) -- After having temperatures in the upper 70's yesterday and expected again for today, Monday's three inch snowfall seems like a long lost distant memory.  However, farmers are wanting to get into their fields to start with this year's crop production.  Iowa State University extension crop specialist, Joel DeJong believes farmers will be seen in their fields today.  Ideally, soil temperatures in the 50's and rising make for the best planting conditions, but DeJong says he is looking at the calendar more so than the soil temperatures.  Corn yields suffer if planted after May 10th to mid-May.  DeJong is close to suggesting to farmers to go ahead and plant the seed.

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Branstad Requesting Federal Aid For Northwest Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad is requesting a presidential disaster declaration for five northwest Iowa counties due to damage caused by severe weather.
Branstad announced Friday he had signed a letter that will be delivered to President Barack Obama, requesting the designation for Dickinson, Lyon, O'Brien, Osceola and Sioux counties.
The request was prompted by severe weather from April 9 to 11, including high winds, heavy rain, thunderstorms, freezing rain, ice and snow. The conditions cause damage to utility lines, poles,
trees and vegetation.
Officials estimated there was $6 million in damage that could be eligible for help through the Public Assistance Program. The program can be used to rebuild damaged infrastructure, such as
roads, bridges and culverts, or to cover the cost of emergency work and debris removal.


Branstad Signs 9 Bills...Vetoes 2 Others

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has signed nine bills into law, including establishing a compulsory preschool attendance age, but he vetoed a measure letting gamblers decide how long they want to be banned from casinos.
Branstad reviewed 11 bills Friday, signing nine into law and vetoing two.
The governor approved legislation giving school boards power to require all 4-year-olds enrolled in a voluntary, state-sponsored preschool to follow attendance policies.
He vetoed a measure that would have given gamblers the option of banning themselves from the state's casinos and Iowa lottery for either five years or life. Current Iowa law only permits a lifetime
Branstad says he made his decision based off gambling treatment experts, who say gambling addiction is a lifelong problem, making Iowa's lifetime-only ban the best option.


Federal Government To Sue Des Moines & MidAmerican Energy

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The federal government has filed a lawsuit against the city of Des Moines and MidAmerican Energy Co., claiming a fee the city collects on a VA hospital's utility bills
is actually a tax and violates a constitutional provision against cities taxing federal agencies.
The lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Des Moines says MidAmerican recently sent the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Des Moines a notice to shut off electricity and natural gas unless
it pays $8,086 in unpaid fees.
The VA says in the lawsuit it considers the fee an illegal tax and won't pay.
The lawsuit says MidAmerican Energy agrees not to disconnect service until the dispute is resolved.
City Attorney Jeff Lester says he's can't comment until he reviews the lawsuit with city officials.

Legislature Wants To Open Unemployment Offices

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Senate Democrats are pushing to reopen some unemployment offices that closed amid a shift to offering more services by computer, but they acknowledge the governor's
opposition will likely stop their effort.
The Democrats, who hold a majority in the state Senate, have included $2.7 million in their economic development budget to reopen unemployment offices in Ames, Atlantic, Clinton, Dennison
and Newton. Supporters of the effort say those areas need extra attention to help unemployed people.
But supporters like Democratic Sen. Bill Dotzler, of Waterloo, acknowledge Gov. Terry Branstad opposes the effort and Republicans likely won't support it.
Branstad has been behind the effort to close dozens of unemployment office and install computers in more than 1,000 spots where job seeks can file for unemployment, search for jobs and
build resumes.


Upper Iowa Selects President

FAYETTE, Iowa (AP) - Upper Iowa University in Fayette has hired an internal candidate to be its next president.
The private university announced Friday its next president would be William R. Duffy, who has been working as the school's senior vice president for academic extension. In that position, he was
responsible for the university's off-campus offerings, including 19 education centers throughout the nation and its distance education programs.
Duffy replaces Alan Walker, who resigned in early January. He had led the university since 2004.
After a nationwide search, a committee recommended five candidates to the university board, but trustee Bill Cook says the board opted to forgo further interviews and chose Duffy.
Before joining Upper Iowa, Duffy worked for 12 years as executive director at the University of Tennessee at Martin.


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