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Tuesday News, June 18

Ice Cream Days Offers Boost To Le Mars Economy

(Le Mars) -- It may be difficult to determine how much of an economic impact the recent Ice Cream Days had upon the Le Mars economy, but local officials do believe a record number of people attended the four-day event.  Jessica Lindgren serves as the Director for the Le Mars Convention and Visitors Bureau.  She says there isn't an exact dollar amount tracking system. 

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Lindgren says Saturday's parade had generated interest from thousands of people, even living outside Le Mars.

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The Convention and Visitors Bureau Director says Chamber and city officials will meet within the week to review the Ice Cream Days to determine what worked well, and what may need improvement.  Lindgren says one huge success was the festival finale at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds with the new addition of the fireworks show.

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Lindgren says this years celebration attracted more people, in part due to the 100th anniversary celebration of Wells. 

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Ireton Man Faces Multiple Charges For Saturday Incidents

(Le Mars) -- An Ireton man is facing numerous charges following several incidents that occurred early Saturday morning.  Plymouth County authorities responded to a call of a suspicious individual sitting in a vehicle behind Perera's in Merrill.  It was determined the vehicle was owned by Ronald Perera.  The subject was identified as 42 year-old Richard Perrin.  Perrin also had injuries that was sustained from an auto accident.  Through their investigation, deputies learned that Perrin had stolen a car belonging to Mandy Staab of Le Mars, then wrecked the car in an accident on Highway 75 near Merrill.  The car was found on its top in a ditch.  Perrin was initially transported to the Floyd Valley Hospital via the Hinton ambulance.  Later, that morning, Rick Wright of Radiator Works and Welding had reported that his business had been broken into and numerous tools were stolen.  Nearly all the tools were located in the vehicle that Perrin was driving.  Perrin was located in Le Mars by Le Mars Police officers and sheriff's deputies and after a short foot pursuit, he was taken into custody.  Perrin is charged with Operating While Intoxicated, a serious misdemeanor; interference with official acts, a simple misdemeanor; burglary in the 3rd degree, a class D felony; and possession of stolen property, a class D felony.  He is being held until he can appear before a judge.  The investigation is continuing.


Supervisors To Review County's Mental Health Programs

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Board of Supervisors will review the county's mental health program today as they meet with Sharon Nieman, the Plymouth County Mental Health Director.  The supervisors are also expected to approve a contract with Plains Area Mental Health, as well as approve other contracts for individuals that provide mental health services.


City Council To Hear From Floyd Valley Hospital Officials

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars City Council has scheduled two public hearings for today's regular meeting.  The city council will hear comments from the public regarding the proposed new water tower and the proposed new water booster station.  The city council will also hear from representatives from Floyd Valley Hospital as the hospital seeks permission from the city leaders for approval to start on the $25 million north addition expansion project.  The city council will take action on the offers to purchase property for the new water tower and booster station sites.


Chamber To Host "Cash Mob" For Thursday

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce will once again host a "cash mob" scheduled for Thursday at 12:15 p.m.  This time the selected business will be a downtown chamber member that focuses on food for their business.  Eligible businesses include: the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor, Fareway, Habitue Coffeehouse and Creperie, Hugo's, Piece of Cake, Pizza Ranch, and Sunshine Natural Foods.  The "cash mob" invites people to the Chamber office, then the winning business will be selected and announced, and the "mob" of people then go to that business with the understanding of making a purchase of at least $20.


Two People Testify At Utilities Board Hearing Against MidAmerican Rate Increase

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two people have testified in Des Moines against a $135 million base rate increase sought by MidAmerican Energy Co.
Bob Wessel and Jerry Bridgeman, who are both retired, asked at the Iowa Utilities Board hearing on Monday in Des Moines whether the rate hike is justified.
MidAmerican officials say the utility hasn't had a base rate increase since 1995. The company has 640,600 Iowa customers.
Bridgeman is a former accountant for the Iowa Utilities Board who retired in 2009. He suggests a mandatory audit for MidAmerican to make sure that customer costs are appropriate.
He also says the state board should ensure that MidAmerican will "stay healthy, but not become wealthy."

Branstad Says School Start Dates Need To Change

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says the rules governing school start dates in Iowa are "too lax."
Branstad told reporters Monday that the existing policy hurts summer tourism in the state and that he expects to see some changes made by the Department of Education.
Under current Iowa law, schools are supposed to start the week that includes Sept. 1. But nearly all districts apply for and get waivers to start earlier in August.
A group led by Iowa State Fair Manager Gary Slater has filed a petition with the state Department of Education seeking tougher enforcement of the law.
Department of Education Director Jason Glass says the department is reviewing the petition with the governor's office, but no final decision has been made.

Iowa City Man Pleads Guilty To Selling Cocaine To Undercover Police Officer

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - One of the men involved in an alleged Iowa City drug ring involved in a deadly police sting has pleaded guilty to federal charges.
Norman Dudley pleaded guilty Monday to selling crack cocaine to an undercover Iowa Division of Narcotics Enforcement agent in the parking lot of a K-Mart store last August.
Authorities have said the transaction came days before undercover agent Daniel Stepleton went to an Iowa City trailer as part of an undercover operation, where he was ambushed by masked
men wielding weapons. Police say Ivan Hardemon pointed a gun to Stepleton's head, but the agent managed to grab his own weapon and open fire.
Stepleton shot and killed the 24-year-old Hardemon and injured Demarco Dudley, Norman's brother, before escaping unharmed. Investigators determined Stepleton acted in self-defense.


Police Chase 13 Year Old Boy Driving Car

ANKENY, Iowa (AP) - Police in central Iowa say a 13-year-old boy led officers on a weekend car chase through a residential area.
Ankeny police say the boy drove the car with a flat tire early Sunday morning over curbs and around 50 mph in a residential area.  The car also went through a construction zone and several
barricades before speeding off again.
The chase ended after the boy crashed the car into a tree. He was taken to a hospital for a minor injury to his face.
The boy has been charged with reckless driving, operating while intoxicated, eluding police and driving without a license. The Associated Press generally does not name juveniles suspected of crimes.

World Food Prize To Announce Winners On Wednesday

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The World Food Prize foundation will announce the winners of its annual award on Wednesday at a ceremony in Washington featuring Secretary of State John Kerry as the
keynote speaker.
The prize was founded in 1986 by Norman Borlaug, recipient of the Nobel Prize in 1970 for boosting agricultural production in what has become known as the "Green Revolution."
The prize honors individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Past laureates have come from 13 countries and the United States
The World Food Prize Foundation is based in Des Moines. It will host the recipients at the Iowa State Capitol in an award ceremony on Oct. 17 with more than 800 invited guests.


Weekly Crop Report Shows Poor Crop Performance

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The latest crop report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows Iowa's cornfields have been hit hard by the wet spring.
Twelve percent of the crop is in poor condition, worse among the 18 leading corn growing states. Monday's report says 4 percent is very poor while 34 percent is fair and 50 percent is good or excellent. Eleven percent of corn plants haven't emerged from the ground yet and 6 percent of the crop hasn't been planted. Normally the crop is all in by now and 99 percent emerged.
The USDA already assumes the average amount of corn expected to be harvested per acre in the U.S. to be reduced to 156.5 bushels per acre down from 158 bushels estimated a month ago.





Monday News, June 17

"Friends Of Fourth" Step Forward To Save Independence Day Parade

(Le Mars) -- Rumors have been circulating around Le Mars that there may not be a 4th of July parade this year.  In the past, the American Legion has held a program at Veteran's Park which followed the patriotic-themed parade.  However, the individual mainly responsible for the organization of the July 4th parade and program is no longer living, and there is some thought that perhaps the community should pass on the parade.  There had been some local criticism of the July 4th program was too similar to the Memorial Day program.  Local American Legion officials have said the participation and interest in the Independence Day parade has dwindled over the years.  However, a group is being organized to help preserve the annual parade and celebration.  "Friends of the Fourth" intends to hold a local parade at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 4th.  The group came forward this week after learning that the former organizers of Fourth of July activities have stepped aside.
The Friends group will begin the day with the parade, followed by a noon picnic lunch catered by Timmy’s in “Old Central Gym” of the Plymouth County Historical Museum.  The parade will begin on the Boulevard (Eighth Street) and continue through downtown Le Mars to Second Street Northwest where it will disband. Anyone wishing to participate should be ready to go by 11 a.m. Children are especially encouraged to join the line-up and celebrate the Fourth. All floats and vehicles are welcome. Patriotic music is especially needed. Candy-throwing also will be allowed.  Following the parade, all are invited to the picnic lunch in the Gym. A freewill donation will be collected to cover the cost of the lunch.


Le Mars Still Cleaning Up After Memorial Day Floods

(Le Mars) -- City officials are still calculating the cost of clean up following the Memorial Day flooding.  Le Mars City Administrator Scott Langel says fortunately, the floods did not affect too many private homes.  However, the clean up process continues after the floods damaged the golf course, municipal park, the hiking and biking trails, and even the airport's facilities.  Langel says the clean up continues, but it has been incremental and spotty.

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Langel says the Floyd River and Willow Creek also need some repair.

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Langel says the dollar damage is still unknown.  He says it may depend upon whether city crews clean up the debris, or whether the city will need to hire outside contractors to help with the clean up.

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Le Mars Fire Department Respond To Playground Fire

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire Department was called to Franklin Elementary School on Sunday afternoon.  Someone had apparently tried to burn the wooden tower playground equipment as the fire department discovered several burn holes within the structure.  The Le Mars Fire Department has turned the matter over to the Le Mars Police Department to further investigate the matter.

Sioux City Fire Official To Visit Kosovo

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa fire official is headed to Kosovo for an exchange about disaster preparedness.
Assistant Sioux City Fire Chief Jim Clark is scheduled to be in the Balkans this week. Clark is part of a three-person team dispatched to the Balkans to help Kosovo prepare for disasters.
Clark will spend the week interviewing Kosovo officials. He says he's excited to learn what the country east of the Adriatic Sea can teach him.
Clark served as one of Sioux City's flood recovery leaders during and after the historic Missouri River flood in 2011. As a firefighter, he responded to the deadly United Airlines Flight 232
crash on July 19th, 1989, at Sioux Gateway Airport.


Harlan Man Dies In Basement Fire

HARLAN, Iowa (AP) - An 89-year-old man has died in a house fire in the western Iowa city of Harlan.
KJAN radio reports Bernard Wolfe died in the Saturday afternoon fire in his basement.
Harlan Fire Chief Roger Bissen (BEE-son) says Wolfe was trapped in his basement by the fire, which apparently started when a torch Wolfe was using malfunctioned and caught items on fire.
Bissen says he doesn't know the official cause of Wolfe's death.
The fire was contained to the house's basement.
Harlan is 25 miles northeast of Council Bluffs.

Explosion At Postville Processing Plant

POSTVILLE, Iowa (AP) - A fire has followed a small explosion at a processing plant in northeast Iowa.
Allamakee (al-uh-muh-KEE') County emergency management coordinator Chris Dahlstrom says the blast occurred before 2:20 a.m. Monday. He says the fire is out already. The state fire marshal's office has been called in to help investigate.
It's unclear whether anyone has been injured by the explosion or fire at the Norplex-Micarta plant.


Body Found In Missouri River

(South Sioux City) --  Authorities in South Sioux City say a body was recovered from the Missouri River around 1:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon.  A statement from police say they believe it is that of 25-year old Anthony J. Campbell, who disappeared into the river around 4:00 a.m. Friday morning.  Police says the body was found upriver from the railroad bridge on the Nebraska side of the river.  Authorities are expected to release more information later Monday.


Boater Rescued At Clear Lake

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa (AP) - A boater was rescued from Clear Lake after he grew exhausted while swimming to his children.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says 40-year-old Scott Davis of Clear Lake, was boating with his wife and four children on Saturday. Two of the children were being pulled on tubes behind the
boat on the southwest side of the lake when one of the tubes briefly went under water shortly after 5 p.m.
Authorities say Davis jumped into the water fully clothed and without a life jacket. As he swam back toward the boat with one of his children, he quickly grew tired and began struggling in the
water. His wife threw him a life jacket.
Davis was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated for exhaustion.


Boone Woman Killed By Train

BOONE, Iowa (AP) - Boone police say a train has struck and killed a woman in the central Iowa city.
Police responded to a call late Friday that a pedestrian had been hit.
Officers found 47-year-old Nancy Ilse Vartanian, of Boone, who died at the Union Pacific Railroad crossing.
Her death was at least the sixth train crash fatality in Iowa in the past three months.

Trial Set For Trucker Accused Of Murder

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A September trial has been scheduled for a former trucker who's been ruled mentally competent for a murder trial in Des Moines.
Ronald Hawkinson, 40,  faces two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of 30-year-old Sherif Hidic and 49-year-old Robert Smoot. Hawkinson has pleaded not guilty. His
trial is set to begin on Sept. 23.
Authorities say Hawkins had feuded with Hidic over money. Their dispute turned violent on May 17, 2012, on the grounds of Seibert Trucking and LCS Logistics in southeast Des Moines.
Questions had arisen about Hawkinson's competency last December, forcing a delay of his January trial date. Last week Hawkinson's lawyer cited four doctors who had vouched for Hawkinson's ability
to understand the case against him.


Peace Protesters To Rally In Iowa City

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Peace activists are marching across eastern Iowa to protest a plan to fly unmanned aircraft from an air base in Des Moines.
The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports that the activists want to send a message. More than a dozen demonstrators are walking from Rock Island, Illinois to Des Moines, to raise awareness about drone
The Iowa Air National Guard in Des Moines is ending its F-16 operation in the next few months. The unit is planning to replace those manned fighter jets with unmanned drones that will be controlled in Iowa but flown overseas.
Military leaders and some Iowa officials have praised the transition, saying it will preserve military jobs in Iowa.


Pay Day Loan Businesses Under Scrutiny

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Efforts to limit payday lenders in Iowa have repeatedly failed in the Legislature, but more cities are approving zoning changes that make it harder to open the
Cedar Rapids last week became the latest city to approve an ordinance that bans the short-term loan businesses from certain areas. It became the sixth Iowa city to approve such a law, leaving
opponents of the loan shops hopeful that the city-by-city limits will prompt the Legislature to take action.
Lawmakers have introduced measures that would cap interest rates at 36 percent, but the proposals have stalled. Opponents of payday lenders argue they can trap people in a cycle of debt.
Community Financial Services Association of America, which represents storefront payday lenders, says a statewide interest rate cap limits options for consumers.


Flood Victims May See Buyout

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - More than 100 victims of the 2008 Iowa floods could receive buyouts well above their property's assessed value before the disaster struck.
An investigation shows that some of the buyouts are more than $1 million above their pre-flood
Property owners in Cedar Rapids received the higher payouts after appealing the city's appraised values and paying for their own private assessment with a licensed appraiser.
Despite sometimes wide disparities in appraised values, the newspaper found that those private assessments were generally accepted by city and state officials without question or without an
independent review.
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett defended the city's actions, saying city staff relied on the work of a contracted company, ProSource Technologies, to present them with finalized buyout




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