Thursday Afternoon News, March 21
NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson Visits Le Mars
(Le Mars) -- Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson was in Le Mars Thursday afternoon at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor to show off the "Helmet of Hope" as part of his foundation. The race car driver's foundation has selected the Iowa Make A Wish Campaign to raise money for terminally ill children achieve their dream. Wells Blue Bunny is a participating sponsor of the Helmet for Hope program. The NASCAR driver explains the program.
Johnson, who drives the Lowe's number 48 car says he is pleased to be associated with the Make A Wish charity. He says several thousand children benefit from the organization.
A $10,000 check was presented to the Iowa Make A Wish organization. This year's Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope campaign will run during six NASCAR Sprint Cup race weekends beginning on April 13th at the Texas Motor Speedway and culminating at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26th. Johnson will draw two charities each week to be included on the helmet. To date, the program has contributed more than $430,000 to 61 different charities.
Schneider Awarded Outstanding Service To Agriculture
(Le Mars) -- The 2013 Outstanding Service to Agriculture Award was presented to Plymouth County Extension Coordinator Carol Schneider. Schneider is an exemplary leader and dedicated employee to the local extension program, and has been affiliated with the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach program for more than 25 years. Carol moved to Plymouth County in 1980 and began working as a 4-H and Youth Coordinator. She later served as the ISU Extension Home Economist for Plymouth and Cherokee Counties. She has organized and presented hundreds of quality programs for the residents of Plymouth County as well as for northwest Iowa. Her service extends beyond the Plymouth County Extension. She has served as the President of the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce, been involved in her church, a member of the Plymouth County Fair Board, and a former member of the Plymouth County Pork Producers Board of Directors, and she has served on many Iowa State University committees. Congratulations to Carol Schneider for being honored for the 2013 Outstanding Service to Agriculture Award.
Floyd Valley Among Top 100 Rural Hospitals
(Le Mars) -- Floyd Valley Hospital was recently ranked among the top 100 rural hospitals by ivantage. Hospital Administrator Mike Donlin says the ranking is certainly good news, and he credits the hospital staff for the achievements.
The national rankings actually features nine Iowa rural hospitals within their top 100 hospitals from a survey that covered more than 1200 hospitals nationwide. Donlin says, besides Floyd Valley, other northwest Iowa hospitals were highly ranked.
The hospital administrator says it is nice to be nationally recognized, but the hospital needs to keep focus on its primary duties.
Trial Delayed For Early Man Accused Of Shooting Mother
EARLY, Iowa (AP) - A trial has been delayed for a 21-year-old northwest Iowa man who's accused of killing his mother and kidnapping another woman.
Kirk Levin's trial is now scheduled to begin on June 3. It had been scheduled to begin April 10.
Levin's attorney asked for the delay so he could complete depositions and file pretrial motions.
Levin is charged with first-degree murder and third-degree kidnapping. Prosecutors say Levin repeatedly stabbed his mother,Marilyn Schmitt, at her farmhouse in Early on Jan. 3. They say he then kidnapped a 21-year-old woman who he tied up and put in the trunk of a car. The woman escaped after Levin drove into a ditch.
Levin had been released from prison days earlier after serving time for burglary.
Prison Staff Employee Smuggles Contraband
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Prison officials say a staffer smuggled contraband into the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, prompting a lockdown.
Fred Scaletta, executive officer for the Iowa Department of Corrections, says in a statement Thursday that the security breech is under investigation and the staffer is on administrative leave.
The penitentiary's maximum security unit has been on lockdown since March 12. The unit holds about 560 prisoners, many serving life sentences for rape and murder.
Union president Danny Homan says Thursday the prison is understaffed and dangerous. Homan represents correctional officers in Iowa Council 61 of the American Federation of State, County and
Prison officials responded by saying they have worked to reduce the prison population and improve the ratio of guards to inmates.