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Friday News, June 21

Habitat For Humanity To Paint Two Homes Today

(Le Mars) -- Several volunteers will be helping to spruce up two Le Mars homes today and tomorrow as part of the Habitat for Humanity's Brush of Kindess program.  The two homes located at 314 2nd Avenue Southeast and 421 1st Avenue Southeast will get a new coat of paint.  Pastor Ken Vanderploeg, the program's coordinator says one resident is grateful for the assistance by volunteers.

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The program is still seeking additional volunteers to help with the project.  Habitat for Humanity provides all the necessary tools and equipment including ladders, scaffolding, brushes, rollers, trays, and drop cloths.  Vanderploeg says both structures are not that large and he anticipates both homes can be painted in short order.

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U-S House of Representative Vote Down The Farm Bill

(Washington) -- Even though each member of the Iowa Congressional delegation voted in favor of the Farm Bill, the measure failed today by a vote of 195 to 234.  Republican Iowa Congressman Tom Latham says he is disappointed with the House’s failure to join together to pass this Farm Bill. Latham says "For months now, the agriculture community in Iowa and across the United States has requested and deserved a long-term policy that gives them The five year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill would have cut $2 billion annually from food stamps and let states impose broad new work requirements on those who receive them.
Sixty-two Republicans voted no, while 24 Democrats voted in favor of the bill.
Members of both parties had signaled opposition to the food stamp cuts in the bill.
Many Republicans say the cuts are not enough; the food stamp program has doubled in cost over the last five years to almost $80 billion a year and now helps to feed 1 in 7 Americans.
Liberals oppose any reductions in food stamps, contending that the House plan could remove as many as 2 million needy recipients from receiving food assistance.

Absentee Ballots For Special Election Now Available

(Le Mars) -- Absentee ballots for the Special Election scheduled for August 6 regarding the the Local Options Sales Tax are available beginning today in the Plymouth County Auditor’s office from 8:00a.m.-5:00p.m.  County Auditor, Stacey Feldman says only certain communities will be voting on the Local Options Sales Tax measure.

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Feldman says there may be some people who are confused as to whether this is a new tax, or the continuation of a previous tax.  

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The County Auditor says the last day to vote absentee at the County Courthouse Auditor's office is Monday, August 5th. Voting hours on August 6th is 7:00a.m. to 8:00p.m.


Branstad Signs Student Tuition Organizations Bill

(Des Moines) -- Representatives from the Diocese of Sioux City recently attended a bill-signing ceremony in Des Moines that expanded the tax credit cap for Student Tuition Organizations (STO) throughout the state of Iowa thereby increasing the amount of dollars available for tuition assistance available for families choosing to send their children to nonpublic schools.
The bill increased the amount from $8.75 million to $12 million throughout the state.  In northwest Iowa, the STO known as the Monsignor Lafferty Tuition Foundation through the Diocese of Sioux City will see its share of the funds increase from approximately $2.2 million last year to nearly $3 million that will be available for the 2015 - 16 school year.
Gehlen Catholic Development Director Lisa Niebuhr, says she is impressed with the passing of this bill and excited for the opportunities it will bring to their families.  Niebuhr says Gehlen awarded $202,835.00 to 221 students in May.  Neibuhr says “With this increase we will be able to offer tuition assistance to many more Gehlen Catholic TK-12th grade and Spalding Catholic 9-12th grade families who are sending their children to Gehlen."


Iowa Great Tractor Ride To Come To Le Mars

(Le Mars) -- Come Monday, more than 500 tractors of all sizes, makes, models, and colors will roll into Le Mars.  It's all part of the 17th annual WHO Radio Great Iowa Tractor Ride. The tractors will start from Sioux City and make their trek north and have lunch at the Le Mars Convention Center.  There, they will be fed the famous Plymouth County's pork chop in a glove by the Plymouth County Pork Producers Association and Plymouth County Extension.


Data Center To Locate In West Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Another massive data center project for central Iowa is expected to be unveiled as the state continues to attract the biggest names in computer technology looking for a
place to build brain power for their growing systems.
A company proposing to spend more than $670 million on a data center in West Des Moines will be identified Friday.
Iowa Economic Development Authority officials say the company is asking for tax credits to create at least 36 jobs.
Already Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have chosen Iowa for data centers - large buildings that house thousands of refrigerator-sized racks of computer servers, processors, hard drives, and other equipment.
Industry consultants say Iowa offers plentiful, inexpensive electricity and policies that alleviate millions of dollars in property and sales taxes.


Branstad Vetoes Public Safety Pension

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad has vetoed providing extra money to the state public safety retirement system.
Branstad on Thursday announced that he would not approve a provision backed by the General Assembly to provide about $91 million in state money for the state public safety pension fund.
The fund has about 61 percent of the dollars needed to pay projected pension obligations. The measure would have increased that to 80 percent.
In a letter explaining the veto, Branstad says taxpayers should not bear all this financial responsibility and that there needs to be a long-term plan to fix the system.
Branstad approved funding to pay off some state bonds. He also signed bills dealing with spending on health care, infrastructure spending and the justice system.


Prison Fellowship Says Klunder Had Changed And Was Ready To Succeed

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Days after two Iowa girls were kidnapped, a group that gave faith-based counseling to their abductor before his release from prison was preparing to protect its image.
Records released Thursday show that Prison Fellowship vice president Sam Dye sent a statement to the Iowa Department of Corrections that it planned to release -- quote -- "only if we
receive a media inquiry" about Michael Klunder. Dye said he was sending the statement at the request of "our PR folks."
A huge search was ongoing for 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard, whose body was later found. A 12-year-old girl escaped, and Klunder committed suicide.
Klunder went through the group's program, called the InnerChange Freedom Initiative. Records show his counselor wrote that Klunder was "a changed individual with a good opportunity for success."


Tipton Girl To Have Lunch At White House With First Lady

TIPTON, Iowa (AP) - A 9-year-old girl from eastern Iowa has been selected as a winner to a national healthy lunchtime challenge organized by first lady Michelle Obama.
The White House said Thursday that Corrine VanderGaast's recipe for stone curry with brown rice was the winning selection for the state of Iowa.
The challenge asked participants to come up with a healthy recipe that featured each of the food groups, including whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods. Fruits and vegetables had to make up roughly half the plate.
Corrine is one of 54 winners ages 8 through 12 that represents all 50 states, the District of Columbia and three territories.
The children will have lunch with the first lady on July 9th at the White House.

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