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Monday News, March 17

Fire Departments Busy With Weekend Grass Fires

(Le Mars) -- Local fire fighters had another busy weekend extinguishing grass fires.  The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department was called twice on Sunday afternoon.  The first alarm came in at about 2:30 p.m. when fire officials were called to 33300 County Road C-38.  Nearly two acres of grassland and wildlife habitat area had burned.  The fire was a controlled burn that soon got out of control. Fire officials were on the scene for nearly an hour. Merrill assisted the Le Mars Fire Department by dispatching their pickup truck used for grass fires.   An additional challenge fire officials faced  was being able to drive on the soft ground that is thawing.  The grass is dry, but with mud underneath, causing poor traction.  Shortly after the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department returned from the first fire, they were called to a second grass fire.  The second alarm was sounded at 5:08 p.m. from 35647 Muskrat Drive. Again, fire officials were on the scene for nearly an hour.  Like the first fire, the second grass fire was a controlled burn that got out of control. 


Hinton Battles Grass Fire 

(Hinton) -- The Hinton Fire Department also responded to a grass fire on Sunday afternoon.  Fire officials were at the scene of 30945 Forest Road for nearly an hour battling a blaze.


Mid-Sioux Opportunity Raises $3,000 During Comedy Night

(Remsen) -- Mid-Sioux Opportunity was able to raise more than $3,000 during its 12th annual Comedy Night.  The event, featured comedian Buzz Sutherland was held on March 8th at the Avalon Ballroom in Remsen.  More than 235 people attended the event, helping Mid-Sioux to raise funds for individual and community needs through educational, health, financial and outreach services. 


Iowa State Agricultural Economics Professor To Speak At Agri-Business Luncheon

(Le Mars) -- After a long delay, the Farm Bill was finally passed by Congress, and it will soon be implemented. Farmers are now wanting to know how this latest farm legislation is different than previous farm bills.  Steve Johnson, an agricultural economics and policy professor from Iowa State University, says farmers will need to learn the new programs.  Johnson is scheduled to speak at 10:30 during the Le Mars Chamber Agri-business luncheon scheduled for Wednesday at the Le Mars Convention Center.  Johnson's speech is entitled: "Managing 2014 Crop Risks and the New Farm Program".  He says farmers will have to know about ARC and PLC.

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Johnson says farmers will be looking at a revenue program when dealing with crop losses.

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Branstad To Face Republican Challenger In June Primary Election

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Five-term Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad will face a challenger in the June 3 Republican primary, and one Democrat has been disqualified from his party's race.
     53-year-old Tom Hoefling of Lohrville collected enough signatures to appear on the Republican primary ballot. He will face Branstad, who is seeking re-election.
     Meanwhile, the Iowa secretary of state's office determined that former Des Moines school board member Jonathan Narcisse did not meet the state's requirements to appear on the Democratic ballot. That would leave state Sen. Jack Hatch of Des Moines as the only Democrat running for governor.
     Narcisse's campaign says it exceeded Iowa's requirements to appear on the ballot, and will challenge the secretary of state's decision.
     The deadline to file signatures was 5 p.m. Friday.

School Radon Bill May Still Survive

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Plans to require radon testing in schools statewide have been sidelined but supporters of the idea are emboldened that a bill remains alive this legislative session.
     Republican lawmakers and school officials worry positive tests would open districts and the state up to serious liability and expensive repairs. They supported a bill that surveys schools to see how many have tested for the natural occurring gas that seeps out of soil into buildings.
     Supporters of the Democratic-led legislation say delaying testing when radon is considered a serious risk in Iowa by the Environmental Protection Agency is irresponsible.
     Republican leaders counter that it makes more sense to assess the problem then deal with how to pay for fixing buildings to keep if it's needed.


State Paid Six Secret Settlements

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The state of Iowa has paid more than $282,000 in secret settlements to six former employees over the last three years.
     All were asked to sign confidentiality agreements that would have kept the settlements out of public view.
     The settlements were shuffled through state agencies, avoiding the typical process of being approved by and made public through the Iowa State Appeal Board. They were obtained through Iowa's open-records law.
     The employees held positions ranging from a public health supervisor to a design engineer. They were considered merit-based employees, which gives them the ability to move into other available state jobs ahead of workers with less experience. The workers contend they would have kept their jobs if the state hadn't violated workplace employment practices.


St. Patrick's Day Means More Law Enforcement On Roads

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa law enforcement is stepping up its patrols through Monday for St. Patrick's Day festivities.
     Local and state officers will be out in greater numbers to keep watch for drunken drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says at least 269 people were killed in drunken-driving related crashes nationwide on the holiday between 2007 and 2011.
     Iowa State Patrol Lieutenant Randy Kunert says spring fever can contribute to people drinking outdoors in beer tents, which in turn can increase the number of alcohol-related incidents.
     Des Moines police Sergeant Dan Blom says officers will be working overtime to patrol the streets and a noon parade. Monday's forecast for St. Patrick's Day calls for sunny skies and a high of 56 degrees in Des Moines



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