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Thursday News, November 13

Three People Convicted For Helping Felon

   SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Three people have pleaded guilty to helping a convicted Iowa felon escape the state in 2012.
     The U.S. Attorney's Office says Mark Hill, Brandon Hinesly and Janelle Zoch pleaded guilty recently to conspiracy to obstruct justice. The convicted felon, Darwin Zoch, also pleaded guilty to the same charge.
      Hill, Hinesly and Janelle Zoch were accused of helping Darwin Zoch flee the area in February 2012 while he awaited sentencing on a federal firearms charge. Darwin Zoch was eventually arrested in Texas.
     Hill was placed on probation for three months. Hinesly was sentenced to three months in prison. Janelle Zoch was sentenced to more than 2 years in prison. Darwin Zoch was given an additional 28 months to his 15-year sentence on the firearms charge.

Prosecutor Amends Charges Against Couple For Death Of Son

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A prosecutor has amended charges against a Sioux City couple for the death of their 2-month-old son.
      27-year-old Michael Williams and 24-year-old Rebekah Williams-McCarthy now are both charged with child endangerment resulting in the death of a child, child endangerment resulting in bodily injury of a child and three counts of neglect of a dependent person. The baby, Leonard Williams, was taken to an emergency room on April 29. An autopsy showed that he died of malnutrition and dehydration.
     His father originally was charged only with neglect and had pleaded not guilty. The charge of child endangerment resulting in bodily injury is new for Rebekah Williams-McCarthy. She, too, has pleaded not guilty.


Former State Senator Tested Positive For Marijuana

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A probation officer says former Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson has now tested positive three times for marijuana in his system while awaiting sentencing in a campaign money case.
     Federal court documents filed Wednesday reveal that two urine samples from Sorensen tested positive for the presence of marijuana on October 7th and 21st.  An earlier test on September 30th also found the drug in his system.
     Probation officer Priscilla Davidson writes that a toxicologist with an outside laboratory believes the most recent tests were from fresh drug use, which Sorenson has denied.
     Sorenson pleaded guilty in August to concealing payments he received to work for Michele Bachmann's 2012 presidential campaign. He also kept quiet a $25,000 check and additional payments he negotiated to switch allegiances to Ron Paul's campaign.


New Jersey Governor Listens To Advice From Iowa Pork Producers

 NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - There are not that many pigs in his home state. But there are millions in the early presidential voting state of Iowa. And that's making for a tough decision for Chris Christie, both New Jersey's governor and a potential presidential candidate.
     Christie has until early December to decide whether to sign a bill that would ban pig farmers in the state from using devices called gestation crates.
     The bill has the support of Republican and Democratic state lawmakers in New Jersey. But it is opposed by the pork lobby, which is based in Iowa, a state that's home to millions of pigs. And that could cause problems for Christie if he decides to run for president in 2016.

      Bill Tentinger, a Plymouth County pork producer, and a past president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association addressed this very issue with Governor Christie during a recent pheasant hunt fundraiser event held at the Hole In The Wall hunting preserve near Akron, and sponsored by Iowa Congressman Steve King.  Tentinger says Christie has vetoed the measure in the past.

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Tentinger says Governor Christie has consulted with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad regarding the issue, and he realizes the movement is being pushed by the United States Humane Society.

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Tentinger says pork producers hope to be successful from having the New Jersey state legislature over-ride Christie's veto. 

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Vermont Senator Sanders To Again Visit Iowa

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will headline a liberal advocacy group event in Iowa next month. 
     Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic says Sanders will give the keynote address Dec. 16 at the group's holiday party in Altoona.
     Sanders, an independent who is supported largely by Democrats, says in a press release provided to The Associated Press that he is excited to speak with a group that is a "strong voice in the fight for America's middle class." 
     Sanders has made several visits to Iowa in recent months, prompting speculation about his presidential ambitions for 2016.
     Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is widely expected to run in 2016, but that hasn't stopped other Democratic prospects from visiting the state.


Carroll Residents Resist Corn-Crib Gazebo 

 CARROLL, Iowa (AP) - Some residents of Carroll are annoyed when they look into a neighbor's backyard and see a corncrib that's been turned into a gazebo.
     Allen Nieland lives near the property, and he says the corncrib would look nice on an acreage or a farm, but it just doesn't fit the character of his subdivision. The corncrib is the see-through type with a metal roof.
     Nieland says he's started a petition to have the corncrib removed. But city officials say the corncrib meets zoning and building codes and is legal because it's being used for outdoor entertainment, not to store or dry corn.
     Another neighbor, Brad Kirsch, says the corncrib is better to look at "than junk cars or an old boat."


Autopsy Complete On Missing Iowa State University Student

 AMES, Iowa (AP) - A medical examiner's office says an autopsy report has been completed on an Iowa State University student found dead in her car in September.
     Mike Hensch, administrator of the Johnson County Medical Examiner Department, says an autopsy report on the body of 20-year-old Tong Shao was submitted October 31st to the Iowa City Police Department and the Johnson County Attorney's Office.
     Hensch says his office is complying with a request by the Iowa City Police Department to not release information about the cause of death.
     Shao's body was found on September 26th in the trunk of her car. Authorities say they're looking for 23-year-old Xiangnan Li (zi-ON'-nan Lee), a friend of Shao's. Authorities say he may have information about the circumstance surrounding her death.








Wednesday Afternoon News, November 12

Iowa Pipeline To Produce $1 Billion For State's Economy

 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - An analysis by a West Des Moines company says a proposed oil pipeline across Iowa would provide an economic impact of $1.1 billion to the state during two years of construction.
     The analysis was prepared by Strategic Economics Group for Energy Transfer Partners, of Dallas, which wants to build the 1,100-mile underground pipeline across Iowa and three other states. The pipeline would carry up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, where it could be redirected.
     The analysis says construction would create enough work to keep 7,600 people fully employed in Iowa for a year. Energy Transfer has promised to hire at least half of the workers in Iowa from the state.

Reports Of More Vehicles Passing A Stopped School Bus

(Le Mars) -- The number of instances of motorists passing a stopped school bus while children are boarding is rising, and officials call it, alarming. It is against the law to pass a stopped school bus while its lights are flashing and stop sign arm is extended.  Still, people are doing it without much regard to the danger facing the children.  Iowa Highway Patrol Trooper Vince Kurtz talks about the number of reported violations from a one day survey.

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The Le Mars Community School District reported an incident to authorities last week when a motorist chose to pass a stopped school bus. Two years ago, the Iowa legislature strengthen the exisiting law when it passed Kayden's law.

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The Highway Patrol officer explains the penalties of passing a stopped school bus.

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Kurtz says enforcing the law is difficult, especially when law enforcement officials often times do not witness the vehicle passing a stopped school bus. He says schools and law enforcement have to rely upon the bus driver to give a accurate description of the vehicle, driver, and license plate number.

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Kurtz says many schools are installing cameras on the school buses to record violators who pass stopped school buses.


Branstad To Defend Policy Of Not Granting Voting Rights To Felons

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A spokesman says Gov. Terry Branstad intends to defend the state's policy of disenfranchising convicted felons during a lawsuit challenging the practice.
     Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers said Wednesday the governor's office believes the Iowa Constitution requires felons to lose their voting rights. He notes that Branstad restores them to felons who apply after completing their sentences and paying restitution.
     The Iowa Constitution says anyone convicted of an "infamous crime" loses voting rights. 
     A lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union argues that language should apply to a small number of very serious crimes, not all felonies. The Iowa Supreme Court split on that question earlier this year.
     The lawsuit filed Friday seeks to restore voting rights to thousands of former offenders, such as those convicted of drug crimes.


Viet Nam Memorial Dedicated In Fort Dodge

 FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - More than 100 people have gathered for the dedication of a Vietnam War memorial in Fort Dodge.
     The memorial, called "Gone but Not Forgotten," honors not only the 19 Webster County residents who died in the war but all others killed in the conflict.
     The memorial is located on the west side of the Fort Museum Opera House. The dedication ceremony was held Tuesday.
     According to local Vietnam veteran Ray Witzke, many soldiers weren't treated well when they returned to civilian life. He said many of them were "spat on" and called "baby-killers."
     Witzke says the memorial serves as a reminder of the sacrifices veterans made during the war.


Council Bluffs School Board Approves Free Wi-Fi Plan

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - The city of Council Bluffs and school district are pursuing citywide free wireless Internet services.
     The school board of the Council Bluffs Community School District approved a partnership agreement with the city Monday. 
     The agreement establishes the Council Bluffs Area Wi-Fi Consortium, which will study the feasibility of expanding Wi-Fi around the southwestern Iowa city. 
     The plan calls for the city and school district to create public Wi-Fi hotspots that can be used by computers, tablets, smartphones and any other Internet-ready device.
     The  partnership will last for at least five years. 
     The City Council also unanimously approved the partnership with the district Monday.


Officials Euthanize Giraffe At Blank Park Zoo

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Officials say an aging giraffe at the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines was euthanized due to health complications.
     Chad Comer, the zoo's animal curator, says 21-year-old Shani had severe ligament and joint problems that were depleting her quality of life. The giiraffe was euthanized earlier this month. Zoo staff held a private memorial for the animal.
     Shani was one of four giraffes at the zoo. She was part of an exhibit that allowed zoo visitors to feed giraffes.
     The animal was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1993. She was moved to Des Moines in 1996. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums says female giraffes typically live about 16 years.


Vehicle Has Accident With School Bus

 MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Mason City man faces multiple charges after police say his car struck three vehicles, including a school bus.
     Police say 23-year-old Eric Sombright was behind a school bus Tuesday morning when his car slid on ice and hit the bus.
     Sombright is accused of driving around the bus and fleeing the scene. Police say he then ran a stop sign and struck two other vehicles.
     There were no students on the school bus at the time. There were no injuries reported in the other crashes.
     Sombright faces multiple charges, including having no driver's license and failing to obey a traffic control device. Court records do not list an attorney.




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