Friday News, February 14
Le Mars Fire Department Called To Check Suspicious Electrical Odor
(Le Mars) -- A suspicious electrical odor during the overnight hours prompted a call to the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department. The call was made at 2:41 a.m. from 857 Ann Avenue. Fire officials responded and were on the scene for more than an hour and ten minutes. No further word about the incident is known at this time.
Car Collides With Train In Alta
(Alta) -- A car, filled with four passengers, collided with a Canadian National train Thursday afternoon in Alta. According to Buena Vista County sheriff, Gary Launderville, the accident happened on the main street of Alta at about 4:22 p.m. Upon arriving on the scene, it was reported that all four occupants of the car were severly injured. Alta Fire and Rescue Department extricated the victims in the car, and all four were transported to the Buena Vista Regional Medical Center in Storm Lake. Two of the victims, were children, ages 2 and 4 were then air lifted by helicopter to a pediatric trauma center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The preliminary investigation shows that the car was traveling northbound on Main Street in Alta was struck by a westbound train coming through Alta. Authorities say it appears that all audible and visual warning signals were functioning properly. The names of the victims are being withheld at this time pending further investigation. Medical conditions of all four victims are unknown at this time. Assisting at the scene an in the investigation were the Alta Fire and Rescue Department, Iowa State Patrol, Aurelia Police, Storm Lake Police, Buena Vista Regional Medical Center Ambulance, and the Buena Vista County sheriff's office.
Northey Concerned About Projected Lower Farm Income
(Le Mars) -- After seeing the past few years of farmers enjoying higher commodity prices, Iowa Agriculture Secretary, Bill Northey, says he is concerned about a possible decline in farm income this year. Northey was in Le Mars Thursday morning. He says this coming crop year may prove to be interesting as farm income is projected to be lower. The question is how much lower?
Northey expects the lower farm income will definately have an impact on ag businesses.
Federal Reserve Reporting Lower Land Values
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Federal Reserve says the value of agricultural land dropped a percentage point in the last quarter of 2013 and a total of 2 percent for the year.
The drop suggests the surge in farmland prices over the past few years may be coming to an end, depressed by lower commodity prices that have reduced farmer income.
Iowa State economics professor Chad Hart says that "we'll likely see lower farm values tied to those lower farm incomes that we're going to experience in the next year to year and a half."
An Iowa State University survey suggested that land values might have peaked in some parts of the state last year, with prices dropping in northwestern Iowa.
AFSCME Now Endorses Hatch For Governor
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Several major Iowa labor unions are endorsing Democratic State Sen. Jack Hatch for governor.
Iowa Council 61 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees announced their backing for Hatch Thursday, along with four local Teamsters unions.
AFSMCE represents about 40,000 workers in state and local government, schools and some private jobs. Teamsters Locals 90, 120, 238 and 554 represent over 15,000 workers and retirees.
Hatch, of Des Moines, says he expects the unions will offer financial and volunteer support. Hatch is the leading Democrat seeking the nomination for governor. He will likely face Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who is running for a sixth term.
AFSCME previously endorsed state Rep. Tyler Olson, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, who dropped out of the race last year amid marital problems.
Lawmakers Discuss Gun Rights
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa House Republicans are continuing their effort to amend the state constitution to add the right to bear arms.
Lawmakers debated the proposal in a House subcommittee Thursday. They did not vote to move the measure forward, instead pledging to have more discussions. The proposal from House Republicans would add language to the Iowa Constitution stating that the right to "acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer, and use arms to defend life and liberty" cannot be denied.
Changing the state constitution is a multi-step process, which would require approval by the current General Assembly and then by the one elected in 2014. After that it would go to Iowa voters.
A similar bill was passed in the GOP-majority Iowa House in 2012 but did not advance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
More People Are Touring Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new study shows travelers in Iowa are spending more money.
The Iowa Tourism Office says in an annual report that travel party spending per day on lodging, entertainment, transportation, food and shopping in 2013 was an average of about $285. That's an increase of 8.5 percent from 2012.
The Iowa Welcome Center Survey Report also shows visitors took more trips in the state than the previous year.
Historical attractions, museums, scenic byways, outdoor recreation and shopping were the most popular destinations.
The study was conducted by the tourism office, which is under the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
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