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Friday April 18, 2014 News

Le Mars Easter Egg Hunt Is On

(Le Mars) -- Young children will want to be at the Cleveland Park Saturday morning for the annual Easter Egg Hunt.  This year's Easter egg hunt is being sponsored by The Education Station and Primebank.  Two year olds will hunt for eggs inside the rink area, three and four year olds will be on the west end of the park, and Kindergarten and first grade students will look for eggs left by the Easter bunny on the east end of the park.  The Easter egg hunt will begin at 11:00 a.m.


Meseum Displaying Historic Painting

(Le Mars) -- Today, is Good Friday, and the Plymouth County Historical Museum is inviting the public to visit the museum's religious heritage room to view a 119 year old painting of mural proportions.  The painting depicts the cruc-ifixion of Christ.  


Sioux City Man Sentenced To Prison

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa man twice convicted of child sex offenses have been given 18 years in prison for possessing child pornography.
     Prosecutors say 49-year-old Kevin Ammerman, of Clarion, was sentenced on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Sioux City. He must serve 15 years of supervised release after he leaves federal custody. Ammerman had pleaded guilty.
     Prosecutors say Ammerman was convicted of lascivious acts with a child in Wright County in 1985 and convicted of indecent contact with a child in Wright County in 2000.


Iowa Supreme Court Ruling Should Not Affect Prosecution

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A prosecutor pursuing several cases against felons charged with voting illegally says an Iowa Supreme Court ruling shouldn't impact them.
     Assistant Black Hawk County Attorney Linda Fangman said Thursday the prosecutions will "proceed as is" despite Tuesday's ruling suggesting that not all felons lose their voting rights. She's handling felony election misconduct cases against six offenders accused of voting in the 2012 election despite having lost their rights. A seventh may plead guilty Monday.
     Critics such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa say such prosecutions are on shaky footing following the ruling in which justices couldn't agree on which felony crimes lead to disenfranchisement.
     Three justices ruled that only felonies that raise concerns about elections integrity strip offenders of their rights. Two others said all felonies should.


List Of Disqualified State Workers Released

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The state's top human resources officer says the most common reason state workers are excluded from being considered for rehire is for bad behavior or poor performance.
     Michelle Minnehan, human resources chief operating officer for the state, told the Senate Government Oversight Committee on Thursday the reasons workers are fired and not eligible for rehire have included abuse of sick leave, falsification of records, urinating on prison inmates' food, and sexual harassment.
     Minnehan was responding to questions in a broadening investigation into state hiring and firing practices.
     The state released a list last week to The Associated Press containing 975 names of disqualified former workers. State officials had previously said no actual list existed.
     Lawmakers report getting calls from former state workers shocked to find they're on the list.


Govenor's Staff Accused Of Pressuring Employment Board

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The chairman of the state's Public Employment Relations Board says aides to Governor Terry Branstad pressured the board to hire a friend of the administration. It's the latest accusation that top Iowa government officials pushed to fill government positions with allies.
     Board Chairman Jim Riordan told the Senate Government Oversight Committee Thursday that Branstad's former chief of staff, Jeff Boeyink, and current staff attorney, Brenna Findley, threatened the board with budget cuts if it didn't make the hire. The board hired former Judge Robert Wilson to be an administrative law judge.
     Questioned by reporters, Branstad flatly denied the claims and accused Riordan, who hasn't been reappointed by the governor, of making false accusations.
     Riordan, a former Democratic state senator, will be replaced by a Republican confirmed Wednesday by the Senate.


Schools Must Report Radon Testing

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Department of Education must gather information from schools about whether they are testing for radon gas under a bill Governor Terry Branstad has signed into law.
     Branstad signed the bill Thursday to require school districts to tell the department about radon testing by the end of this year. The department must then report to the Legislature by January.
     An original draft of the bill required schools to test for the gas and deal with problems if levels exceed recommendations. The House removed testing requirements, instead opting to gather information and assess how schools handle radon.
     Lawmakers plan to use the information collected to create a proposal for testing next year.
     The EPA estimates about 21,000 people die nationally each year from lung cancer caused by radon exposure.



Democrats Look To Expand Iowa's Presidential Caucus

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Democrats are looking to expand access to Iowa's presidential caucuses to people who are typically unable to attend them. It's a tricky task with these local political meetings that thrive on in-person discussion.
     Party leaders said Thursday it's not in response to criticism, but a way to expand access to grass-roots democracy.
     Senior Iowa Democratic adviser Norm Sterzenbach said Thursday: "It's an important part of our party to see if there are ways to make it more accessible."
     Caucuses are run by parties, and held at night, unlike primaries. Democrat Hillary Clinton said after the 2008 caucuses that they excluded night workers, among others. So far, suggestions include virtual participation and proxy voting.
     In 2008, 240,000 Iowa Democrats - 39 percent - participated. That's more than twice as many as the previous record.


Thursday Afternoon News, April 17

State Gaming Commission Denies Argosy's License Renewal

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has rejected a Sioux City riverboat casino's challenge to renew its gaming license, and has set July 1 as the deadline for the gambling boat to shut down.
     Penn National Gaming, the parent company of the Argosy riverboat casino, had challenged the commission's decision last year to reject a one-year license renewal. The commission said it had issue with the Argosy's dissolving partnership with a nonprofit group. Iowa's casino gambling laws require casino operators to partner with licensed nonprofit groups that hold the license. Argosy's operating agreement with its long-standing nonprofit, Missouri River Historical Development, expired in July 2012.
     Following the commission's decision Thursday, Penn National officials released a statement saying they were "beyond dismayed" by the decision.


Chamber, Mainstreet, And LIBC Submit Quarterly Reports

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce, Le Mars Main Street Organization, the Le Mars Business Initiative Corporation, have submitted their quarterly reports to city officials.  Mainstreet cordinator Mary Reynolds reports the Le Mars Mainstreet organization has been coordinating the Alley Art Public Art project, continuing to work on the historic tax credit application for the Le Mars Beauty College.  The Mainstreet organization is continuing to work on developing second floor housing in downtown Le Mars.  The Chamber continues to recruit new businesses as members of the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce.  Hosting Chamber coffees and After 5 events, coordinate the newcomers welcome basket program, and have started work on a new Le Mars Chamber Visitor's Guide.  The Le Mars Business Initiative Corporation reports they have begun participation in "comprehensive development strategies for the region.  The LBIC also indicated they hosted Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham for a day visit to Le Mars.  Durham was given a tour to the industrial park region that included IML Iowa, SmithCo, and Gus Pech.  The LBIC discussed future expansion of rail service, and the grant of authority to establish foreign trade zones with Le Mars as being a "magnet site".  The LBIC also worked with four small business entities offering assistance that included building information, business plans and demographic information.


Convention and Visitors Bureau Gives Annual Report

(Le Mars) -- During the recent Le Mars City Council meeting, Jessica Brownmiller submitted the annual Convention and Visitor's Bureau annual report.  She indicated some of the highlights from this past year include the Girl Scouts "Cow to Wow" conference which had attracted nearly 100 people to Le Mars.  Brownmiller also informed the city council about Le Mars hosting the WHO radio Iowa Tractor Tour which had 557 participants and served 802 meals.
Brownmiller also reported the Hotel/motel sales tax grant had received 15 applications requesting $55,594 and awarded $35,000.


Public Health Department Says No To Sioux Center Birthing Center

(Sioux Center) -- This week the Iowa Department of Public Health denied the request made by Promise Community Health Clinic of Sioux Center for a birthing center that would have been operated by a mid-wife.  The vote was 4 to 1 against the clinic from establishing a birthing center.  Nancy Dykstra serves as the executive director for the Sioux Center clinic.  She says the Public Health's Department decision was disappointing.

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Dykstra says the Promise Community Health Clinic already provides pre-natal care for expecting mothers.  She says there is a need in northwest Iowa for the mid-wife services.

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Dykstra says the clinic contracted with the Sioux Center Community Hospital to provide a hospital mid-wife employee to provide services to the under priviledged at the Promise health clinic.  Dykstra says business grew, but the hospital did not want to share employees anymore.

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The health clinic executive director says a second mid-wife was added to the clinic's staff.  She says as the popularity of the clinic was increasing, so was the tension between the local hospital and the clinic.

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Many local community hospitals went on record with the state's public health department opposing the clinic's request for a birthing center. 


17 Year Old Declared "Mentally Competent" To Stand Trial For Murder

 LOGAN, Iowa (AP) - Two psychiatric experts say an 18-year-old suspect is competent to stand trial on a charge that he killed his 5-year-old foster brother in western Iowa's Harrison County.
     The two University of Iowa experts testified Wednesday that Cody Metzker-Madsen was extremely immature but said his "brain works very well." 
     Metzker-Madsen has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge in the slaying of Dominic Elkins on Aug. 31 last year. Authorities say the little boy died of head injuries and drowning. His body was found at the bottom of a rural ravine north of Logan. 
     Metzker-Madsen was 17 at the time.
     The final decision rests with Judge Kathleen Kilnoski, who did not say Wednesday when she would rule on the defendant's competence for a murder trial.


Law Enforcement Academy Official To Resign

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The assistant director of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy will retire after facing months of criticism for making inappropriate sexual and threatening remarks to female cadets and colleagues.
     A letter released Thursday to The Associated Press shows 71-year-old Michael Quinn will retire June 30.
     The move comes after Senate Democrats held him up as an example of personnel mismanagement by Republican Gov. Terry Branstad's administration.
     Quinn was the subject of reports by the AP last year showing that he was allowed to keep his job despite a state investigation that found he violated anti-discrimination and violence-free workplace policies.
     The investigation found that he made remarks to cadets and employees about his testicles and his sex life and told one subordinate that he would "slit your throat" if she acted up.


Group To Study If VEISHEA Celebration Should Continue In Future

 AMES, Iowa (AP) - A task force has been formed to determine if an annual celebration at Iowa State University should continue in the future following a large crowd disturbance near campus.
     University President Steven Leath announced the 20-member group Thursday. Tom Hill, senior vice president for student affairs, will lead it.
     The group includes student leaders and staff, as well as the mayor of Ames and the police chief.
     Plans for the task force were announced shortly after a crowd disturbance this month near campus. People gathered during the multi-day Veishea celebration are accused of overturning cars and toppling light poles. One student was injured.
     The disturbance led to Veishea's suspension this school year. The group will study the celebration's history and offer recommendations to Leath before the end of June.








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