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Saturday News, December 28

Day Care Provider Pleads "Not Guilty" To Murdering Three Year Old Girl

(ORANGE CITY, Iowa)  - An Orange City day care provider charged with murder in the death of a 3-year-old girl has been released from jail after posting bond.
     Rochelle Sapp walked out of the Sioux County jail on Thursday after a judge allowed her to post 10 percent of her $250,000 bond.
     Her attorney, Edward Bjornstad, says Sapp is "happy to be home."
     Sapp pleaded not guilty Thursday to first-degree murder and child endangerment in the death of Autumn Elgersma.
     Investigators say Sapp threw Autumn to the floor after becoming angry with her while caring  for her on Oct. 29. They say Sapp falsely told Autumn's mother that the child was injured after falling down a flight of stairs.
      An autopsy ruled that the girl died of a blunt-force head injury.


Roll Over Accident Near Kingsley Injures Four

(Kingsley) -- Plymouth County authorities are investigating a roll-over accident that happened on Thursday afternoon on 330th Street, just east of County road L-21.  The vehicle being driven by 19 year old Christopher Pratt of Kingsley lost control on the gravel road and when the vehicle entered the ditch it had rolled on its top.  Injured parties included Pratt, and his passengers 18 year old Katie Eckert of Lawton, 22 year old Evan Klingensmith of Kingsley, and 20 year old Tyler Campbell of Pierson.  Mercy Air Care was called to transport Pratt to Mercy Medical Center of Sioux City. Campbell was transported to Mercy Medical Center by the Pierson ambulance, and Eckert and Klingensmith were taken to Mercy Medical Center by the Kingsley Ambulance.  


Iowans May Not Be Covered With Insurance On January 1st

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Thousands of Iowans who applied for health insurance through the federal government website may not have coverage on Jan. 1 because of a delay in paperwork.
     The Iowa Department of Human Services said Friday that those Iowans should reapply through the state website or a call center because federal officials would be late in sending their application information to the state.
     DHS says it has sent emails and letters to nearly 16,000 Iowans whose applications are being held at the federal hub. They added that if a person needs to see a health care provider in the interim, there's no guarantee of coverage.
     DHS Director Charles M. Palmer said in a statement that officials will make every effort to try to process applications in a timely manner.


Des Moines To Host Insurance Symposium

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials say a new insurance symposium set for next year is aimed at bringing top industry experts to Des Moines.
     Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart says the two-day Global Insurance Symposium will attract industry experts and regulatory authorities from around the world.
     Gerhart says the symposium is a unique opportunity to discuss issues facing the insurance industry.
     Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, says such an event is perfect for Des Moines because the city has a reputation for being an insurance industry hub. The newspaper reports insurance companies in the state employ more than 41,000 people.
     The symposium will be held at the Des Moines Marriott Hotel in May.


Unemployed Iowans To Lose Benefits

(Des Moines) -- The period of "extended" unemployment benefits for nearly four-thousand Iowans will soon end. The budget deal passed earlier this month by Congress does not continue the program into 2014. Iowa Workforce Development spokeswoman Kerry Koonce says the extension began almost five years ago.

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State officials have notified the three-thousand-nine-hundred-52 (3,952) Iowans who are currently eligible for "Emergency Unemployment Compensation" that this is the last week they can file claims. Their final unemployment check will come next week.

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According to federal officials, almost 229-thousand Iowans got extended unemployment benefits at some point between January of 2008 and September of this year. Nationally, about one-point-three million Americans who've qualified for extended unemployment benefits will be cut off at the turn of the year. The benefit averages about three-hundred dollars per week.  The Obama Administration has asked congress to renew the program, saying those benefits are a "critical lifeline for struggling Americans." A bill pending in the senate would continue the extended unemployment benefits for three more months. Republicans in congress have said there'd have to be cuts elsewhere in the federal budget if the program were to continue.


Council Bluffs Pharmacist Tackles Man Trying To Steal Painkillers

 COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - A Council Bluffs pharmacist has been credited with tackling a man accused of trying to steal prescription painkillers.
     The Council Bluffs Police Department says Bill Shipley tackled 33-year-old Kelton Houts Friday afternoon after Houts entered Union Pharmacy and demanded OxyContin.
     At some point Shipley tackled Houts, and the pair scuffled before a customer called for help. Shipley suffered a minor injury, and Houts was taken to a nearby hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
     Authorities say Houts, of Carter Lake, could be connected to a string of armed robberies at pharmacies in the Council Bluffs and Omaha, Neb., area.
    Houts was taken to the Pottawattamie County Jail on suspicion of one count of first-degree robbery. Additional charges are pending. Records do not list an attorney.


Mahaska County Supervisor Found Not Guilty Of Fraud

OSKALOOSA, Iowa (AP) - A judge has found a former Mahaska County supervisor not guilty of fraudulently adding his wife to the county's insurance plan in 2009.
     Judge Dan Morrison issued the verdict Monday for Henry "Willie" VanWeelden following a bench trial in November.
     VanWeelden was charged with first-degree theft, felonious conduct in office and tampering with documents. He was convicted of the charges in February 2012 but was later given a new trial after additional evidence was submitted.
     VanWeelden told Auxient, the county's insurance fund administrator, that county board members were "in agreement" that VanWeelden's wife had been added to the insurance plan without the standard 12-month waiting period.
     Morrison wrote VanWeelden had a reasonable belief that he had a right to the insurance for his wife.



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