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Wednesday News, December 26

Le Mars Fire Department Respond To Christmas Calls

(Le Mars) -- Local fire officials were not able to enjoy the holiday without responding to a couple of calls.  The Le Mars Fire-Rescue Department was called to 35947 220th Street southeast of Le Mars at 7:36am for a reported natural gas main leak.   It was determined that this was a vent pipe that was venting properly, however it was venting more pressure than usual and was a concern by neighbors.   Fire officials contacted Northern Natural Gas and the situation was remedied.  There was no action needed by firefighters at this incident.  The Le Mars Fire-Rescue Department was assisted at the scene by the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office.
At 7:42 am while en-route to the gas leak, the Le Mars Fire-Rescue Department was called to a fire alarm activation at 524 Sunset Drive.   This is the Sunrise Apartments.   Firefighters located a smoke detector that had activated in Apartment #9.   There was no smoke or fire.   It was determined that this was a faulty detector and it was taken out of service.   The Le Mars Fire-Rescue Department was assisted at the scene by the Le Mars Police Department and building management.

Sioux County Authorities Investigate Two Separate Incidents Involving Dead Hogs

ROCK VALLEY, Iowa (AP) - Northwest Iowa authorities haven't found any links between the fire deaths of several hundred pigs and the deaths of several hundred hogs after someone changed settings on a climate control system.
The fire was reported around 9:50 p.m. on Saturday at a confinement facility four miles southeast of Rock Valley. About 650 30-pound pigs were killed.
Authorities say an estimated 475 hogs died last week at a confinement facility five miles south of Rock Valley. The Sioux County Sheriff's Office says someone entered the building and
tampered with the climate control system between 3 p.m. Tuesday and 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Sheriff's spokesman Nate Huizenga (huh'-ZENG'-uh) said Monday that the investigations are continuing, but "at this point it looks like the incidents are not related."


Linn Grove House Fire

(Storm Lake) -- Buena Vista County Authorities report a house fire that occurred on Sunday evening at about 6:30 p.m.  The Linn Grove, Sioux Rapids, Petersen, and Marathon Fire Departments battled the blaze at Linn Grove.  The cause of the house fire was determined to  be from a juvenile that was playing with matches in the upstairs bedroom.  No injuries occurred during the fire.  But the house was listed as a total loss.


City Council To Hold Special Meeting

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council will hold a special meeting slated for Thursday, December 27th.  The meeting will take place at the city council chambers and will begin at 12:00 noon.  The council will award the bids for the new wastewater treatment facility improvements.  The city council is also expected to introduce plans for whitetopping 4th Avenue SE.  A public hearing on the matter will be set for the next council meeting on January 8th.


Marne Man Charged After Shooting Dog

MARNE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a western Iowa man was cited after fatally shooting a dog that had been playing near his house.
Collins Cutler, of Marne, was charged with firing a gun inside city limits.
The year-old chocolate Labrador retriever named Wrigley had been traveling from Denver with owner Stacey Ernat. Ernat told officers that Wrigley and another dog were playing in a yard on Monday when Cutler fired a shotgun at Wrigley from about 40 feet away.
Cass County Sheriff Darby McLaren says Cutler told a deputy that he thought he had a right to shoot Wrigley because the dog had gone onto Cutler's property.
A phone listed for Cutler rang busy during several Associated Press calls on Monday. Online court records don't list the name of Cutler's attorney.


Two People Are Dead After Head-on Collision Near Fort Dodge

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa State Patrol has released the names of two people killed in a head-on collision in Fort Dodge.
The deceased are 23-year-old Joseph Reigelsberger of Rolfe and 57-year-old Debra Lundt of Pocahontas.
The Fort Dodge Messenger ( ) reported that the Friday accident happened when a 2002 GMC pickup driven by Austin Brown, 20, of Fort Dodge lost control, crossed the center
line and struck a 2002 Ford station wagon being driven by Reigelsberger.
Another passenger in the station wagon, 23-year-old Anastashia Lundt, was injured. Austin Brown was injured as well.
The State Patrol continues to investigate.

Trial Is Set For Two Men Accused of Attempted Murder

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A February trial has been scheduled for two Cedar Rapids men accused of attempted murder in a drug-related shooting.
The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports ( that 20-year-old Peter Thullen and 19-year-old Andrew Meyer have pleaded not guilty to several charges stemming from the shooting on
Nov. 18. Police say Thullen and Meyer went to an Iowa City man's home to collect a drug debt and that Thullen shot the man.
If they were convicted of all the charges, the men could face 50 years or more in prison.


Snowmobile Accident Injures Coggon Man

CENTRAL CITY, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a 42-year-old man has been injured while driving a snowmobile through a farm field in eastern Iowa.
The Linn County Sheriff's Office says Shawn Vandivier, of Coggon, lost control of the snowmobile around 5 p.m. Monday on the south side of Central City.
Vandivier was taken to St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids and then transferred to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.
The accident is being investigated.


Authorities Release Name of Council Bluffs Burn Victim

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have released the name of a 90-year-old man who was injured in a fire at his Council Bluffs home.
He was identified as Robert Kissel Sr.
The fire began around 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Firefighters found Kissel in his bedroom, and his daughter, 59-year-old Robin Krause, escaped to safety through a basement window.
Krause told firefighters she'd tried to reach her father but couldn't because the staircase was in flames.
Kissel was taken to a burn center in Lincoln, Neb., about 55 miles west-southwest of Council Bluffs.


Former Wapello City Clerk Wins Court Battle

WAPELLO, Iowa (AP) - The city of Wapello's former city clerk has been awarded $25,000 in a wrongful termination case.
The Hawk Eye ( ) reports the Louisa County jury award to Celia Drayfahl, who had filed a complaint after being fired in August 2011.
Drayfahl will not receive any back pay in addition to the $25,000 award, but she'll receive a public apology from the city of Wapello that must be placed in a local newspaper.
Drayfahl was seeking damages for wrongful discharge, breach of contract, wage payment claim and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The city's order for Drayfahl's firing said she failed to close accounting books in a timely manner and failed to keep balanced books. City officials have said there was no illegal activity.


Des Moines Man Found Dead In Waterloo

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Investigators suspect the Des Moines man who was found dead on the front porch of a Waterloo house knew the people involved in his slaying.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports ( ) that no arrests have been reported since Saturday's shooting death of 26-year-old Anthony Gardner. Gardner was found lying on the porch of a home on the city's east side.
Police Lt. Michael McNamee says Gardner lived in Des Moines but had acquaintances and maybe a girlfriend in the Waterloo area.  McNamee says Gardner apparently knew people at the Albany Street
address where he was found.
McNamee says investigators don't think the slaying was a random act. He says the people involved knew each other.






Monday News, December 24

Hinton House Fire

(Hinton) -- Both the Hinton and the Merrill Fire Departments responded to a house fire Saturday morning.  That fire, located at 32278 Indigo Road is believed to have started from a wood burning stove.  Fire crews arrived at the scene at about 6:45 a.m. and were on the scene of that house fire for nearly six hours. Hinton Fire Chief Chad Beck describes the scene upon arrival.
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Beck says the house was totally destroyed.  There were no injuries as a result of that fire.  Later in the day, the Hinton Fire Department had to return to the same address as embers had rekindled.  Officials were on the scene a second time for about an hour.


Hog Confinement Fire

ROCK VALLEY, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say several hundred pigs have been killed by a fire at a feeding operation in northwest Iowa.
The fire was reported around 9:50 p.m. on Saturday at a confinement facility four miles southeast of Rock Valley. Firefighters reported the hog confinement building was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived. About 650 30-pound pigs were killed.
The cause of the fire is being investigated.
Authorities also are investigating the deaths of an estimated 475 hogs at a confinement facility five miles south of Rock Valley.  The Sioux County Sheriff's Office says someone entered the building
and tampered with the climate control system between 3 p.m. Tuesday and 1 p.m. Wednesday.
The hogs weighed about 280 pounds each.


Council Bluffs Fire Leaves 90 Year Old Man In Hospital

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - A 90-year-old man is in intensive care after an early-morning fire at his Council Bluffs home.
KETV-TV in Omaha reports ( ) that the fire began around 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Investigators say a smoke detector saved the lives of the elderly man and his daughter.
Fire crews found the man in his bedroom. The fire had not spread to that part of the house, but the man suffered critical third-degree burns and smoke inhalation.
Investigators say the man's daughter, also living in the home, told firefighters that she tried to reach her father but couldn't because the staircase was on fire. She called 911 and crawled out a
basement window.

Tax Assessment Appeals Costs Schools and Cities

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Cities and school districts in Black Hawk County may face local tax revenue shortages because so many businesses are winning appeals of their property tax assessments.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports that some government entities may even have to refund portions of some taxes paid before the higher assessments could be successfully appealed.
Appeals have been filed on 380 parcels after a countywide reappraisal boosted many 2011 values.
So far, 119 property owners have won or settled those appeals for a combined $25.7 million reduction in value. The county has won 50 cases to sustain the assessments.
If tax collections don't meet budgeted expectations, the cities, school districts and other tax-supported agencies will have to cut spending or tap their cash reserves.


Towing Companies Busy After Snow Storm

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Towing companies are starting to remove cars and trucks that were abandoned after last week's blizzard swept through Iowa.
KCCI-TV in Des Moines reports that towing companies were busy this weekend. Towing bans imposed on Interstates 35 and 80 were lifted on Saturday, which allows crews to retrieve vehicles that
went off the road.
Tom Kirkvold, a spokesman for Hannifen Company, says his company has fielded hundreds of calls for service.
Kirkvold says the storm is one of the worst he's seen in years. He says last week's heavy snow seems to have caught many drivers off-guard.
Officials say car and truck owners are required to have their vehicles towed within 24 hours after a towing ban is lifted.


Iowa's Concealed Weapon Permits Rise

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - The number of Iowans with permits to carry concealed weapons increased dramatically in 2012, the second year of relaxed laws that govern how they're issued.
The Gazette in Cedar Rapids reports that sheriffs in Iowa's 99 counties issued more than 37,000 permits in the first 11 months of the year.
Nearly 103,000 were issued in 2011, the first year after Iowa went from a "may issue" to a "shall issue" state.
State data show that 1.3 percent of Iowans had permits at the end of 2010, before the law changed. The percentage increased to 3.3 percent at the end of last year, and stood at 4.6 percent
through the first 11 months of this year.

U of I Not Complying With Open Records Law

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A seemingly mundane issue has put University of Iowa President Sally Mason on the defensive: the interpretation of Iowa's public records law.
The university has routinely refused to release records related to employee and student controversies by citing exemptions in the law. The practice appears to have recently backfired, bringing
criticism from Gov. Terry Branstad about a lack of transparency and forcing Mason to address speculation that she could be facing pressure to resign.
Mason says she cannot release personnel records of students or employees without violating the law. She says she'll stick with her legal interpretation to protect privacy.
Bill Monroe, Branstad's government transparency adviser, says he's concerned about the legal advice Mason is receiving. He and others argue the law gives agencies the discretion to release







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