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Friday Afternoon News, May 16

Fire Department Receives Donations

(Le Mars) -- "The Fire Department watches the community and so the community should watch over the fire department".  That's how Duane McLay of Emily's Home Furnishing of Le Mars explains why he recently donated two beds complete with box springs and mattresses to the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department.  The beds were delivered to the fire station on Friday morning.

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Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says the fire department is grateful, not only for the bed donation by Emily's, but for all the contributions and donations whether it be financial or as in-kind contributions from various Le Mars businesses.  Schipper says the beds were needed because the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Station is now a fire house, meaning at least one member of the fire department always residing overnight at the fire station.  Schipper says the fire department had been using old used mattresses that were picked up at a rummage sale, and were severly worn.  Schipper also is appreciative for food that is donated.  He says the fire department has a budget for food expenses when the entire volunteer crew gather on Wednesday evenings for training sessions.  However, according to Schipper, he has not had a need to use the appropriated funds for food expenses because many area restaurants and caterers donate food to the fire brigade.  The Le Mars fire chief says "one night it may be Taco Johns, another night it may be Bob's Drive Inn, or pizza from one of the many pizza places in town".  Last month, Timmy's catering stepped up to donate a complete meal to the fire and rescue squad.  This past Wednesday, the fire department was treated to authentic Italian pizza made from a fire oven by Dan and Deb Ritz of the new Catalona's Pizza.

In the coming weeks, a new mural will be painted on the north outside wall of the fire station at a cost of nearly $3,000.  But none of that expense is coming from the tax payer or the city budget, several community businesses and industries have secured the financing of that project.  Going back to the beds, McLay says the in-kind donation is a top quality bed valued at about $600. 

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McLay says he has received so much from the community, and in fact the donation is not just from his business, but from the people of Le Mars.  


Sioux City Police Investigate Home Invasion and Burglary

(Sioux City) -- Sioux City Police are investigating a home invasion and burglary.  An employee of a local Sioux City Credit Union reported that on Thursday evening at about 9:10 p.m. two males had forced their way into the victims personel residence in Morningside and demanded that the employee accompany them to the bank and open the safe.  The victim refused and the two suspects stole items from the residence and left.  The victim was uninjured.  The suspects are both described as white males between 19 and 20 years of age.  The first suspect stands six foot tall with a thin build and was last seen wearing a red and white hooded sweatshirt with a tan bandana over his face.  He may have blonde hair.  The second suspect is slightly taller with a thin build and was last seen wearing a long sleeve black shirt and black baseball cap.  Limited information is being released at this time based on the continuing investigation.

Supreme Court Rules Political Rhetoric Not Defamation 

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court says a state senator cannot sue for defamation over a rival's campaign ad that misleadingly suggested he marketed dangerous drugs to children.
     The court voted 5-0 to dismiss a lawsuit Friday filed by Republican Sen. Rick Bertrand of Sioux City against his 2010 Democratic opponent, Rick Mullin, and the Iowa Democratic Party.
     Jurors awarded Bertrand $231,000 in damages in 2012 after finding the ad was false and defamatory. It accused Bertrand of putting "his profits ahead of children's health."
     Bertrand worked for a large pharmaceutical company that faced FDA criticism for marketing a sleep drug to children, but was in a different division and never sold that drug.
     Chief Justice Mark Cady says the ad's false implication may have been negligence, but wasn't a "reckless disregard for the truth."


Iowa Unemployment Rate Declines

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's unemployment rate dropped to 4.3 percent in April as the state added more than 5,000 jobs.
     Iowa Workforce Development reported Friday that the rate was down from 4.5 percent in March. Last year, the April rate was 4.7 percent.
     The national unemployment rate was 6.3 percent in April.
     Iowa's rate declined as the state added 5,600 jobs, bringing the total nonfarm employment to 1,544,400.
     The state had an estimated 73,700 unemployed residents in April.


Milford Business Gets Tax Break For Expansion

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State officials have approved tax credits to companies planning expansions in Cedar Falls and Milford.
     The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board on Friday awarded more than $1.3 million in tax credits to Deer & Co., which plans to add two buildings and more equipment to a tractor testing lab in Cedar Falls.
     The state requires Deere to retain 29 jobs in order to receive the tax credits.
     The board approved a $300,000 forgivable loan and $706,000 in tax credits for Minnesota-based Polaris Industries. The snowmobile and ATV manufacturer plans to install a new assembly line to produce off-road vehicles at its plant in Milford, in northwest Iowa.
     The company says it will add 150 jobs in Milford.


Police Discover Marijuana Growing Operation In Southeast Iowa

FAIRFIELD, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say they have discovered a marijuana growing operation at a home near a southeast Iowa high school.
     The Fairfield Police Department says it executed a search warrant Wednesday at a home close to Fairfield High School owned by 63-year-old Campbell John Hair. Officers found more than 100 plants growing that they suspected to be marijuana.
      Hair faces multiples charges, including growing marijuana within 1,000 feet of a school and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. Court records do not list an attorney.
     Authorities say Hair may receive additional charges as the investigation continues.


No Pro Baseball At Field Of Dreams

   DYERSVILLE, Iowa (AP) - The president of the group that owns the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa, says the site won't host professional baseball this year.
      Denise Stillman, who leads the group Go the Distance Baseball, says the Northern League won't have teams ready to play this season.
     Go the Distance Baseball plans to build a sports complex near the Field of Dreams that initially would feature six fields, including one that could be home to a Northern League team. The group wants to expand in the future with ultimate plans for 24 fields for youth baseball and softball.
     Stillman says plans to find an owner for a local team are ongoing.
     The Field of Dreams was the site for a 1989 movie starring Kevin Costner.


Veterans Told No Float In Parade

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Parade officials in Council Bluffs say a local Vietnam Vets of America group's float is inappropriate for the event.
     The group's float features a tiger cage meant to represent what Vietnam prisoners of war endured. Officials say the float doesn't accurately reflect Saturday's Celebrate CB parade theme, which this year is CB Better Together.
     Veterans group president Ben Wiese says the tiger cage was used in last year's parade, and he didn't hear any complaints. He says it's not meant to scare anybody, only to show Vietnam War history.
     He's heard parade organizers think it could be detrimental to children.
     Celebrate CB committee member Lynne Branigan says that's not true and that organizers only want all participants to adhere to the parade's theme.


Man Accused Of Killing Rockwell City Police Officer To Stand Trial

 FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - A mental health evaluation has determined a man charged with killing a Rockwell City police officer is competent to stand trial.
     The Fort Dodge Messenger reported ( ) Friday that a sealed mental health evaluation indicates Corey Trott is able to stand trial. He's pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the shooting death of officer Jamie Buenting during an early morning standoff in September 2013.
     The trial, which was moved to Wright County at the request of defense attorneys, was scheduled to begin Sept. 2.
     Trott is being held in the Webster County Jail in Fort Dodge.


For Profit College Settlement

   DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa-based Ashford University and parent company Bridgepoint Education Inc. have agreed to a $7.25 million settlement following allegations that they misled students and misrepresented their program.
     Attorney General Tom Miller announced the settlement Friday, capping a three-year investigation into complaints that alleged the for-profit online school used coercive recruitment efforts and omitted necessary information. The money will go toward a program to reimburse current and former Iowa students affected by the school's conduct.
     Ashford and Bridgepoint are also required to change certain practices.

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