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Wednesday Afternoon News, August 13

Blacks Discrimination

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Lawyers representing black workers are asking the Iowa Supreme Court to reconsider the decision throwing out a class-action lawsuit challenging executive branch hiring practices.
     In a petition Monday, the attorneys say the decision last month found evidence showing blacks were disadvantaged in hiring and promotion decisions but left them "without a collective remedy to address those wrongs."
     At a minimum, they say the court should reinstate the lawsuit to focus on eight departments where the state's own expert found racial disparities in hiring.
     The justices rejected the lawsuit, ruling that the employees and applicants failed to prove which specific hiring practices disadvantaged them.
     The plaintiffs' lawyers say that outcome isn't in line with the court's history of landmark equality rulings dating back to slavery.
     The court rarely grants rehearing requests.


Gun Found In Baggage At Des Moines Airport

     DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A loaded gun and an extra magazine have been found by security officials at the Des Moines airport.
     The Transportation Security Administration says the weapon and magazine were found Monday morning in an Ankeny man's carry-on bag at a security checkpoint. Des Moines police cited the owner, 57-year-old Charles Scott, of Ankeny.
     Scott told police he'd put the gun in the bag after returning from a trip to Montana and forgot the gun was in the bag when he went to the airport on Monday.
     TSA says it's the third firearm its agents have found this year during security screening at the airport.
     Firearms may be transported in checked baggage but not in carry-on bags.


Officials Release Additional Information On Medical Helicopter Crash

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - Federal investigators have released more information about a north Iowa helicopter crash that killed three medical workers.
    A National Transportation Safety Board report details circumstances of the January 2013 crash near Ventura. The Mercy Air Med helicopter carrying a pilot, nurse and paramedic was on its way to pick up a patient in Emmetsburg when it crashed into a farm field.
     Investigators focused on weather conditions at the time of the crash. The report says witnesses and first responders reported mist, drizzle, freezing precipitation and icy roads. Investigators said the helicopter wasn't certified for such conditions.
     Investigators will use the report to determine a probable cause of the crash.


Davenport Development

 DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - A Davenport building partnership has announced a $50 million plan to create an urban community college campus and build housing downtown.
     Restoration St. Louis and Eastern Iowa Community Colleges are teaming up to bring a campus and 80 apartments to downtown Davenport. The project also includes restorations of the Capitol Theatre and the Kahl Building.
     The Capitol Theatre will be transformed into a movie theater, while the Kahl Building will be renovated to house the apartment units.
     The senior vice president of development for Restoration St. Louis says the project will provide amenities and retail locations that will make the downtown area more attractive.
     Eastern Iowa's board of trustees signed a letter of intent Tuesday to move forward with development.


Prisoners Sue State Over Religious Rights

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A federal judge says two Iowa prison inmates must be provided nightly meals and chapel time during Ramadan and allowed the same religious accommodations as other Muslims.
     The inmates, Michael Williams-El and James Blair-Bey, sued prison officials in 2012 when they were at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison.
     Magistrate Judge Thomas Shields says in a Tuesday ruling federal law requires the men to be able to participate in their religion. He says prison officials may prevent them from taking scented oil into cells for security reasons and are not required to replace beans with soy or other meat substitutes.
     The men identify themselves Moorish Islam. In 2012 they were denied participation in Ramadan activities by the prison Imam who says their beliefs are contrary to traditional Islam.





Wednesday News, August 13

Economic Development Discussed At Business Builder Seminar

(Le Mars) -- Economic Development was discussed during the second Building Business seminar held Tuesday at the Blue Bunny ice cream parlor.  Neil Adler, the executive director with the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce and the Le Mars Business Inititative Corporation told the gathering that economic development has been constantly changing over the course of the past few decades.  Adler offers his definition of economic development.

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Adler says there are some communities, during their eager efforts to attract a potential business or industry to locate within their town, the civic leaders may offer various tax break incentives, and in some instances, perhaps try too hard and offer too much.

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The Chamber Executive points to the industrial park located on the south side of Le Mars as a success story for the town's economic development.  He says within the past few decades such companies as Bo-Deans, IML Containers of Iowa, Nor-Am, Wells Enterprises, Dean's Foods, Clover Leaf Cold Storage, and Schuster Trucking among others are examples of growing enterprizes that are conducting business within the Le Mars Industrial Park.  Adler says Le Mars has had success with finding companies and helping them expand and grow.

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Adler says Le Mars is fortunate to have a nice mix of businesses that can support each other.

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Scoop The Loop Scheduled For Tonight

(Le Mars) -- Tonight, the classic cars will return to the Olson Cultural Events Center as the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce hosts the annual "Scoop the Loop" celebration.  Cars, motorcycles, and even perhaps some trucks from eras gone by will be featured.  Along with the "Scoop the Loop" will be the band "The Jammers" as they play the music from the 50's, 60's, and 70's reminicient of the time the classic cars were cruizing the streets.  The Scoop the Loop celebration begins at 6:15 p.m. and the Jammer's will perform until 8:15 p.m.  But the fun  continues, as KLEM radio will celebrate our 60 years of broadcasting.  We will be showing an outdoor movie and handing out Jollytime popcorn, cupcakes from "Piece of Cake" and bottled water from Culligan Water.


Rock Valley Man Sentenced For Sexual Abuse

(Orange City) -- A Rock Valley man has been sentenced to prison for ten years for sexual abuse to a 15 year old girl.  22 year old Jonathan Haneklaus was sentenced on Monday in Sioux County District Court.  Haneklaus admitted to having sex with a girl, who at the time of the crime, was 14.  Haneklaus pleaded guilty in court.  The prison term was suspended and Haneklaus was placed on probation for five years.  He was further sentenced to a special sentence committing him into the custody of the Iowa Department of Corrections for the rest of his life.  Haneklaus must now register as a sex offender. 


Girl Dies In Head-on Accident

  EARLY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa State Patrol says a teenager from Sac County has been killed in a head-on car crash with a recreational vehicle. 
     The patrol reports the crash occurred Tuesday on Highway 71, south of Early. Authorities say 16-year-old Coral Deal died after driving off the road and then overcorrecting.  They say the teen's Pontiac Vibe crossed the center line and hit a Fleetwood RV driven by a 71-year-old Texas man. 
     The car was crushed under the RV's front wheels. The man wasn't injured.
     The patrol is investigating.


Blencoe Looking For A New Post Office

 BLENCOE, Iowa (AP) - Residents of Blencoe will meet with postal officials next week as they try to ensure the small western Iowa community can keep its post office.
     The Aug. 20 meeting is focused on finding a new location for the post office, which must move because of structural problems that forced the closure of its longtime building in April.
     For months, residents in the town of 220 people have received mail at temporary boxes or by driving 16 miles to the post office in Moorhead.
     The Postal Service is looking for a spot with about 700 square feet of space.
     Blencoe Mayor Rusty Collison says he knows of several vacant building that could work for a post office but the process could take a year.


Branstad Removes Iowa From Common Core Educational Program

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is removing Iowa from an organization created to develop an assessment system for the Common Core education standards. 
     A Branstad spokesman said Tuesday that Branstad last week sent a letter to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, seeking to terminate Iowa's membership. The consortium, which is comprised of states, has been working to establish a testing program.
     In his letter, Branstad says a state task force is reviewing Iowa's assessment needs and will provide recommendations in January. Out of respect for that work, he says the state will not continue in the consortium.
     The Common Core standards have been adopted by more than 40 states but have been criticized by conservatives. Iowa has blended many Common Core components into the Iowa Core.


Report Shows State Employees Receive Generous Benefit Package

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new report says Iowa state employees receive generous health benefits and pay little out of pocket for coverage.
     The Pew Charitable Trusts and John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation released the report Tuesday. It shows what states are paying for employee health care. 
     In Iowa, the state pays 97 percent of health care costs for an average worker enrolled in the plan. That's higher than a national average of 92 percent. Iowa is among six states that pay 97 percent or more of average employee health care costs. 
     The plans most people buy through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces cover 70 percent of the costs.
     Danny Homan, who heads the state's largest public employee union, says state workers have passed on raises to maintain health benefits.


Farmers Expected To Harvest Record Corn Crop

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Farmers will produce a record-breaking corn harvest this year, surpassing earlier expectations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has revised upward its estimate of this year's corn harvest to 14 billion bushels.
     That exceeds last year's 13.9 billion bushel record.
     Soybean production also will set a new record at 3.8 billion bushels, beating the 2009 harvest of 3.4 billion bushels.
     Farmers are blessed with an abundant crop but cursed that it has driven prices lower. They are taking more control of their grain marketing by building more on-farm storage, holding onto the crop and timing the sale to maximize profit.
     Rain fell at the right times and a cooler summer made for favorable growing conditions in the 18 states that produce 91 percent of the nation's corn.


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