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Monday News, December 9

Ireton House Fire Leaves Familly Homeless

(Ireton) --  Fire fighters from three different communities had to battle below zero temperatures Sunday morning as they were called to battle a house fire.  Ireton, Hawarden, and Sioux Center fire departments responded to an alarm at about 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning.  The fire was at 405 Main Street in Ireton.  When firefighters arrived at the scene, the house was fully engulfed.  A family of six is now homeless, as the house was listed as a total loss.  The family consisted of two adults and their four children ranging in ages from 3 to 11.  At this time the cause of the fire is unknown.


Ireton Woman Saves Seven Children After Van Catches Fire

(Sioux Center) -- Quick action by an Ireton woman prevented the possibility of seven children from being injured.  On Friday, at about 3:30 p.m. Tara Dekkers, age 36, was driving a van about six miles southwest of Sioux Center at the intersection of Elmwood Avenue and 420th Street when she heard a pop from the engine.  Soon afterwards, the interior of the cargo van started to fill with smoke.  Dekkers stopped the vehicle and removed the seven children that she was transporting.  The van became engulfed with flames and is listed as a total loss.  Apparently,, mechanical failure was to blame for the van catching fire. The Sioux County Sheriff's office, Sioux Center Fire Department, Sioux Center ambulance, and the Sioux Center Police Department responded to the call. 


Six-Year Old Boy Left In Cold Weather When Bus Dropped Him Off At Wrong Spot

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A woman says her 6-year-old son was left in the subfreezing cold at the wrong bus stop about a tenth of a mile from his West Des Moines home.
     Jennifer Cabanayan says the little boy attends a Waukee elementary school. 
     Cabanayan says her son thought his fingers were going to fall off Thursday.  The National Weather Service says that between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday, the Des Moines area temperatures ranged from 12 to 19 degrees.
     Durham School Services handles transportation for the Waukee School District. A company representative said only that the incident is being reviewed.
     Waukee School Superintendent David Wilkerson says the bus driver was reassigned to a different route.


Iowa Still Suffers From Drought

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa enters the cold weather season with about a fifth of the state still in severe drought. 
     The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says November was drier than normal with the average precipitation for the state at 1.6 inches compared with the 30-year normal of just over 2 inches.
     A small area of the state that was rated in extreme drought in October has improved and is now in severe drought.
     The area of the state in severe drought has fallen to 20 percent from 35 percent at the start of November.
     Little change is anticipated in soil moisture levels over the winter as soils are likely be frozen statewide by now, and are unlikely to thaw until spring.


Soil Conservationist Says Cover Crops Are Beneficial

(Le Mars) -- Cover crops have proven to help soil fertility, retain soil moisture, and reduce soil erosion.  Soil Conservationist, John Vogel says farmers would be interested in attending one of two scheduled seminars focusing on the value of cover crops.  Those meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, December 10th at Moville and at Boyden.  Vogel says even farmers with a corn and soybean rotation should still consider adopting a program with cover crops.  Vogel says for northwest Iowa, farmers need to look at a winter annual.  The Moville Community Center will host the morning meeting scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m.  Vogel says says the seminar will feature many area farmers offering testimonials involving cover crops, as well as crop insurance officials discussing the advantages of growing cover crops.  The Boyden meeting will be at the Demco Community Center beginning at 1:00 p.m.


Des Moines City Council Can Raise Utility Fees

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Des Moines City Council could raise its franchise fee on utility bills so it can pay back bonds issued to cover refunds on an illegally collected fee.
     The  council will consider the proposal on Monday.
     In 2009 a judge ruled that Des Moines illegally collected a fee on gas and electricity customers from September 2004 through May 2009. The Legislature later changed state law to allow for the fee collection, but the city must refund about $42 million to Mid­American Energy customers. The city issued bonds to cover the refunds.
     The temporary bump in franchise fees will be used to pay off the bonds.


Des Moines Police Collect $11 Million In Overtime Fees 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Police officers in Des Moines collected $11 million in overtime over the past five fiscal years, but city officials defend the total because much of the overtime is unavoidable.
Responding to major crimes and staffing special events are two of the biggest contributors to overtime, so the cost isn't necessarily a sign more officers are needed.
     Experts at the Police Foundation in Washington D.C. question Des Moines' policy of allowing officers to work up to 100 hours in a week. Karen Amendola says allowing officers to work that much threatens safety.
     Des Moines officials say it's rare for officers to work anywhere near 100 hours. It's more common for officers to work 60 hours a week on average.


Wellmark Makes Fun Of Government Insurance Problems

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - As the federal government hustles to fix the much-maligned insurance enrollment website, one Midwestern insurer is poking fun at the technical problems as it tries to lure away some potential customers.
     New television ads from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield launched recently in Iowa and South Dakota tell viewers that the government website isn't "the only place to buy health insurance."
     Wellmark spokeswoman Traci McBee says the company is not criticizing the federal government but is simply trying to make sure consumers know that they can buy insurance directly from Wellmark.
     Elizabeth Wilner, vice president of Kantar Media, which tracks advertising, said the Wellmark ads were the most direct she'd seen commenting on the federal insurance enrollment website.


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