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Monday News, February 10

Barn Fire Kills Hogs

(Merrill) -- A heat lamp in a rural Merrill hog barn was responsible for a fire that destroyed the building and  killing several hogs.  The fire was reported Saturday night at about 9:15 p.m. at 23578 County road K-22, about five miles west of Merrill.  Both the Merrill Fire Department and the Le Mars Fire Department responded to the hog barn fire.  Merrill Fire Chief Bill Merchant says the building was fully engulfed when fire fighters arrived on the scene.  The hog building served as a farrowing unit with nearly a dozen female hogs and their piglets.  Merchant says all the hogs within the building had parished.

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Merchant says straw was being used as bedding for the hogs, which ignited once the heat lamp came in contact.  The Merrill Fire Chief says the fire had spread to a second building that also caught on fire, but fire officials were able to save the second barn from being destroyed. Merchant says the close quarters of the farm made it difficult to get close access to the burning barn.

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Merchant says the Merrill Fire Department was holding its annual stag fundraiser Saturday evening, which limited the number of fire officials able to respond to the hog barn fire.

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The Merrill Fire Chief could not estimate the value of the barn and hogs that were destroyed due to the fire. 

 

Apartment Fire Investigation Results In Arson Arrest

(Le Mars) -- The investigation of the apartment complex fire located at 18 4th Street Southeast that caught on fire Friday morning has led to an arrest.  The Le Mars Police Department, Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department and the State Fire Marshal's office all participated with the investigation.  It has been determined the cause of the fire was due to arson.  Charges of burglary, arson, criminal mischief, failure to comply with a no contact provision, and possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernaila have been issued to Zachery Dean Port, age 23, of Le Mars.  Port had been residing in the apartment, but was currently ordered by the court not to be on the premises.  Port was detained by Le Mars Police who had located him near the scene of the fire.  Port was arrested and booked into the Plymouth County jail.

 

School Board To Review Annual Report

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education will discuss the school district's annual progress report to the community when it convenes for its monthly meeting this evening.  In addition, the local school board will review the evaluations of the recent informative retreat held in late January.  The school board will discuss the eduational legislative forum held on February 1st.  The school board will act upon the resignation requests from Kindergarten teacher Pam Reeves and softball coach Doug Heidebrink.  Reeves wishes to resign at the conclusion of the current school year, and Heidebrink has indicated he would like to resign following the conclusion of the 2014 softball season.

 

Phone Companies Split On Internet Bill

(Des Moines) -- A bill that would further deregulate telephone service in Iowa stalled at the statehouse this past week. More than two dozen lobbyists crowded into a committee room to argue about the bill, which would affect phone companies that use the Internet as the link between a call from one landline to the landline the caller's trying to reach. Some giant phone companies say this new internet-based phone service will be slowed if they can't get out from under the oversight of the Iowa Utilities Board. Michael Sadler is an executive with CenturyLink.

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CenturyLink, Verizon, and AT&T all want the service to be regulated by the Federal Communications Commission -- like cellphones are. Critics say that would mean unhappy customers could no longer go to the Iowa Utilities Board for relief. Kerri Johannsen, a spokesman for the board, says recent complaints include dropped calls.

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Rural phone providers oppose the bill. So do telecommunications giants Sprint and U.S. Cellular who worry how it will affect their connections with the other providers. Lawmakers say the issue needs more study and they've tabled the proposal.

Le Mars State representative Chuck Soderberg serves on the House Commerce Committee.  He says he has heard comments of concern from several area telephone companies.

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State House Working On Budget

(Des Moines) -- Last week the Iowa legislature was crunching the numbers for the new fiscal year's budget.  State Representative Chuck Soderberg says the House of Representatives are very close to releasing its budget.

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$7 Million Worth Of Checks Go Uncashed

   DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Nearly $7 million of checks the state of Iowa issued have gone uncashed in the last 19 months, and it's not easy to find out if any of that money is yours.
      An online database of 45,197 unclaimed checks on Sunday to help people get their money. The checks are for income tax refunds, contract work and a variety of other things.
     Farmer Dan Kregel says finding out his 2012 state income tax refund of $16,525 was never deposited was easy money. Now he just has to wait six weeks for a new check.
     Technical problems have kept the state from including its own unclaimed checks in the "Treasure Hunt" database on the state treasurer's website. Officials hope to fix that later this year.
     ---

 

 

 

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