Friday News, March 14
Dry Conditions Lead To Rash Of Grass Fires
(Le Mars) -- The warm temperatures, recent winds, and very little snow cover have made for ideal conditions for grass and field fires. The Le Mars, Merrill, Hinton, and Akron Fire Departments each had to respond to grass fires yesterday. At about 5:35 p.m. the Le Mars Fire-Rescue Department was called to a ditch fire at C-38 and Lynx Avenue south of Le Mars. Upon arrival firefighters found a ditch fire that had spread into a cornstalk field. The Merrill Fire Department was called to assist. Le Mars Fire-Rescue responded with three trucks and 10 firefighters. 2000 gallons of water were used to bring the fire under control. A cigarette thrown in the ditch was determined to have started the fire. The Le Mars Fire-Rescue Department was assisted at the scene by the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office and the Merrill Fire Department.
Akron Fire Department Responds To Hay Bale Fire
(Akron) -- The Akron Fire Department responded to a hay bale fire located in Union County, South Dakota. The alarm was sounded at about 3:30 p.m. and fire fighters were on the scene for six hours. Hawarden Fire Department was called to offer assistance. The Akron fire department had to return to the scene at 2:00 a.m. and remained there for another hour and a half.
Hinton Assist Lawton With Grass Fire
(Lawton) -- The Hinton Fire Department was called to assist the Lawton Fire Department at a fire located at 1476 110th Street at Woodbury County. Fire fighters were called at 5:20 p.m. and remained on the scene until 9:15 p.m.
Sioux City Police Investigates Vandalism To 40 Cars With Broken Windows
(Sioux City) -- Sioux City Police are investigating a series of vandalism incidents that occurred during the overnight hours of Sunday and early Monday morning. Approximately 40 vehicles had their windows broken with possibly a BB gun or airsoft gun. The vehicles were located largely on the north and west sides of Sioux City. Police say they have some suspects, but no charges have been filed.
Tyson To Keep Denison Beef Plant
DENISON, Iowa (AP) - Tyson Foods has changed its plans and has decided to keep open its beef plant in Denison.
Officials say the decision will save nearly 400 jobs in the western Iowa city of about 8,400 people.
Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said Thursday that employees were given the good news last week.
Two years ago Tyson said the aging slaughterhouse could close after completion of a $90 million expansion and modernization project at Tyson's beef plant in Dakota City. The Dakota City project originally was expected to be completed in mid-2013, but it's taken longer than anticipated. Completion now is expected this summer.
Tyson says reasons to keep open the Denison plant include the closing of some competitors' beef plants and the lower feed prices for cattle.
Holstein Man Pleads Guilty To Fraudulent Record Keeping
HOLSTEIN, Iowa (AP) - A former transportation director of a northwest Iowa school district has pleaded guilty to tampering with bus records.
52 year-old Douglas Wessling filed his plea earlier this week. Wessling will receive two years of probation and an order to pay a $1,000 fine.
Wessling was put on leave last fall and then lost his job as transportation director for the Galva-Holstein Community School District after an investigation by the Iowa State Patrol.
District Superintendent Dave Kwikkel has said three district buses were taken out of service because of damage. Kwikkel said Wessling put one of them back into use before it had been repaired. Authorities say he also falsified repair records on at least three buses.
Lawmakers Amend Minors Drinking On Property Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill originally drafted to make it illegal for landowners to allow drinking on their property by anyone under 21 has been changed.
The House Public Safety Committee approved an amended version of the bill Thursday that now limits offenses to those who permit people younger than 18 to drink on their property. The bill exempts property managers who aren't aware of minors drinking
The panel approved the bill 15-to-5. It now goes to the House floor.
First violations would carry a simple misdemeanor charge and a $200 fine. Subsequent offenses carry $500 fines.
Rep. Deborah Berry, a Democrat from Waterloo, says she's worried about how the measure would be enforced.
Republican Rep. Jarad Klein, of Keota, says the amended bill was an improvement over the earlier version.
Legislature Works On Military Sexual Abuse Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Legislation intended to ensure victims can report sexual assaults and other crimes involving state military personnel remains alive following a legislative panel's unanimous vote.
The House Veterans Affairs Committee approved the measure Thursday.
Under the bill, state military forces would be required to file an annual report with the governor and the Legislature detailing sexual abuse allegations within the forces. It would also make it illegal for a commander to interfere in the reporting process.
Democratic Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines, of Des Moines, proposed an amendment to further ensure victims feel comfortable in coming forth with their allegations, but the panel claimed a victim's rights are already guaranteed in the bill and rejected the proposal.
The legislation has already passed in the Senate. It's now eligible for House floor debate.
Senate Passes Bill To Allow Iowa Speedway A Tax Break
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill that extends a sales tax rebate for the Iowa Speedway in Newton by 10 years and allows its new owners to take advantage of the tax break has passed a Senate committee and moves to the full chamber.
The racetrack, bought by NASCAR in November, has about $9 million left on the tax rebate originally approved for the track. The original law said it could only be collected if the track was owned by an Iowa corporation and was nullified if a change of control reduced Iowa-based ownership.
The proposed bill allows NASCAR to collect the remaining $9 million through 2026.
Senator Bill Dotzler, a Waterloo Democrat, says the money will help NASCAR make improvements to the track, which he called an Iowa gem.
Tax Breaks Offered For Home Owners With Solar Power
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill that increases available state money to encourage installation of solar power systems in Iowa has passed a Senate committee and moves forward to the full Senate.
The bill, supported by environmental groups, received bipartisan support in the Senate Ways and Means Committee Thursday.
It increases the annual cap for solar tax credits to $4.5 million from the current $1.5 million. It also allows individual homeowners to get up to $5,000 in credits, up from the existing $3,000 cap and businesses to qualify for $20,000 in credits up from $15,000.
The Iowa Environmental Council says demand exceeded the cap by nearly 50 percent last year and interest in solar is growing rapidly.
So far 622 projects using more than $2.8 million credits have invested $24 million in solar energy.
Police Find Grenade In Car
WINDSOR HEIGHTS, Iowa (AP) - Police have found an inactive grenade in a car after a traffic stop on Interstate 235 in the Des Moines suburb of Windsor Heights.
The car was pulled over around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Des Moines police bomb squad was called in after an officer saw the grenade inside the car.
The area was cleared of people, and a lane of traffic was closed.
The bomb experts determined the grenade was not active. Police say the driver was arrested on other, unrelated charges.
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