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Monday News, May 11

Winds Topple Trees In Le Mars

(Le Mars) -- Strong winds that blew in Le Mars Sunday afternoon caused several trees to topple, especially in the southeast part of town.  A tree landed on a parked van at 823 4th Avenue Southeast, at 420 South Lynn a tree was uprooted and hit a garage and house.  At 507 Lee Drive a tree fell on some power lines, causing a small fire, prompting the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department to respond.  Another tree fell on a fence or dog kennel at 906 4th Avenue southeast. Several smaller branches were down throughout the town.  Plymouth County Sheriff's Department said there were no reports of damage in rural Plymouth County.

 

 


Tornadoes Touch Down In Lake City And Pocahontas County

(Des Moines) -- Severe storms have prompted reports of tornadoes in central Iowa.

Meterologist Frank Boksa with the Des Moines office of the National Weather Service says an apparent tornado hit Lake City, in Calhoun County, on Sunday night and authorities have reported structural damage and uprooted trees.

Boksa says a school was damaged and multiple roofs were blown off houses. There were no immediate reports of fatalities or injuries.

A tornado was also reported in Pocahontas County.

Two-inch hail and wind gusts of 70 mph were reported.

 

 

 

Le Mars Community School Board To Meet This Evening

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education is scheduled to meet this evening.  The school board will hear reports from each of the principals.  The school board will also discuss Senior Awards Night scheduled for Wednesday, at 6:30 p.m. in the new high school gym.  The school board will also discuss the Commencement exercises, which will be held on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m.  The school board is scheduled to discuss the Le Mars Community School District Foundation Chamber Coffee that will be held on Wednesday, May 20th beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Education Service Center.  The school board will acknowledge school employees that will be leaving during a employee recognition coffee scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Friday, May 22nd at the High School cafeteria.  During this evening's school board meeting, the board will be presented with a preliminary list of considerations regarding the request by the Remsen-Union Board of Education regarding a one-way sharing arrangement.  May is recognized as School Board Recognition Month, and Superintendent of school, Dr. Todd Wendt will present board members with certificates of appreciation for their service.  The school board will act upon two resignations and three contracts.  The school board will also review some revisions for the 2015-2016 Student Handbook as well as discuss school fees.

 

 

 

Two Of Branstad's Priority Bills Remain Unpassed

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two of Governor Terry Branstad's key priorities remain unresolved as the Iowa Legislature winds down this session.

Branstad announced in January that he wanted lawmakers to update Iowa's anti-bullying law and pass legislation to expand high-speed Internet.

The Senate approved an anti-bullying bill but it remains in limbo in the House. A broadband bill passed in the House but it's still making its way through the Senate.

Time is running out to advance the bills. While lawmakers are at odds over the budget for the next fiscal year, party leaders are expected to reach compromise soon, which could quickly lead to adjournment.

Branstad prioritized both issues last year, but they failed to garner enough support. He told reporters Thursday he's still hopeful this year's bills will reach his desk.

 

 

 

 

Farmers Nearly Completed With Spring Planting

(Spencer) -- Northwest Iowa farmers are nearing completion of planting corn, and many are also finishing up with their soybean planting.  Iowa State University Extension Crops Specialist for Northwest Iowa, Paul Kassel says this spring has provided excellent conditions for field work.

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Kassel believes at least 95 to 99 percent of the corn has been planted in his area, and he estimates at least 50 percent of the soybean crop has been planted. He says the early stages of crop production looks good, with very few noted problems.

 

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At this time of year, many farmers are concerned about the migration of cut worms coming from the south, that tend to feed on new emerged corn.  But, Kassel says that has not been a problem as of yet.

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Due to the low price of corn, the U-S-D-A had predicted Iowa growers would plant two percent more soybean acres, at the expense of corn acres, but the Iowa State University Extension crops specialist says he hasn't noticed much of a shift from corn to soybean acres.

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Life Skills Training Center To Hold Banquet And Awards Program

(Le Mars) -- Life Skills Training Center of Le Mars, a facility that assists mentally challenged adults,  will hold its annual banquet and awards program on Monday evening.  Shelly Thomson, the Marketing and Development Director says at this year's banquet, Life Skills will unveil its new website, and present awards to retiring board member, Wayne Pick, and the organization's outstanding client.

 

 

 

Benzene Found In Air Samples Of Woodbury County Law Enforcement Center

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - New concerns are being raised about the air quality inside a northwest Iowa jail that was built on the site of a former gas station.

Officials are looking at ways to address the concerns at the Woodbury County Law Enforcement Center.

Health officials have been monitoring conditions for years with regular tests, but a test performed in the building last fall showed elevated levels of benzene.

Officials thought the problems were solved in 2003 when an air filtration system was added, but the recent tests suggest more steps might be needed.

Matthew Graesch with the state Department of Natural Resources says officials are looking for a better long-term solution to make sure petroleum vapors won't cause problems.

 

 

 

Des Moines Authorities Search For Missing Boy

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa authorities are searching the Des Moines River for a 12-year-old boy who disappeared while swimming Saturday evening.

Emergency responders were called shortly after 8 p.m. Saturday after Abou Sheriff failed to resurface.

Sheriff had been swimming with three other kids - ages 9, 11 and 12 - on the north side of the Des Moines River. He jumped in but didn't resurface.

Dan Burke with the Des Moines Fire Department says rescuers were having a hard time finding the boy because the water in the area is nearly 15-feet-deep.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

   

Saturday News May, 9

Branstad Supporting Switch To Private Care

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad is supporting a proposal to switch two state mental health facilities to private care next year.

Representatives Dave Heaton and Cecil Dolecheck say Friday there's an agreement with Branstad's office and the state Department of Human Services to keep state-funded services available at facilities in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant through December 15th. It includes psychiatric services at Clarinda and substance abuse services at Mount Pleasant.

State officials would then secure private health providers to operate the facilities in 2016.

Democratic Senator Amanda Ragan, chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Appropriations subcommittee, says she needs to review the proposal.

Branstad's budget proposal removed funding for the facilities starting in July. His spokesman says the delay is a compromise to help patients and employees with the transition.

 

Bird Flu Infects More Birds

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa agriculture officials say bird flu will claim an additional 4 million Iowa egg-laying chickens on two more farms in a county already hit by the disease.

Officials are waiting for preliminary tests on two farms in Wright County to be confirmed. The county earlier reported a farm with 2.8 million chickens affected.

Iowa's chicken loss is approaching 25 million, more than 40 percent of the state's egg-laying flock.

Officials on Friday also announced detection of the virus on five more turkey farms, including one with 42,000 birds.

That brings the state to 44 cases in 12 counties.

Minnesota and Wisconsin, two other states hit hard with the disease, reported no new bird flu cases Friday.

The virus has spread to well over 30 million birds in 13 states.

 

Man Convicted Of Murder Asks For New Trial

CHARLES CITY, Iowa (AP) - A judge plans to hear a man's request for a retrial after he was convicted in March in the killing of his former girlfriend's 5-year-old daughter.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports 36-year-old Casey Frederiksen's request for a new trial will be considered prior to his sentencing hearing Monday. Jurors found him guilty of first-degree sexual assault and first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Evelyn Miller while baby-sitting her in 2005. Her body was found in the Cedar River  after she was reported missing.

Frederiksen's attorney argues that the judge presiding over the trial erred in allowing child pornography found on Frederiksen's computer to be used as evidence. He also says the jury returned verdicts that defy state law.

Frederiksen faces a mandatory life sentence without parole.

 

 

Ernst Looking For Compromise In NSA Data Collection

(Washington DC)--Senator Joni Ernst says she's looking for a compromise that would still allow the National Security Agency to collect raw data on phone calls, but place some limits on the practice to protect Americans' privacy rights.

 

 

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A federal court this week ruled the bulk collection of phone records was unconstitutional. The issue is among those soon to be addressed when Senators consider a bill to reauthorize the so-called Patriot Act that was passed after 9/11, giving the federal government broad powers for terrorism investigations.

 

 

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Ernst says the National Security Agency is NOT listening in on everyone's phone conversations or reading texts, but rather collecting the raw data of which numbers are calling what numbers and how long the calls last. That information can later be used in terror investigations to build a circle of contacts an alleged terrorist may have made before being identified as a suspect. Ernst made her comments Friday during an appearance on the "Iowa Press" program which will be rebroadcast Sunday at noon on Iowa Public Television.

 

 

 

Ernst Considering Retirement From Natonal Guard

(Des Moines)--First-term Republican Senator Joni Ernst is pondering retirement -- from the Iowa National Guard.

 

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Ernst made the announcement Friday morning during taping of the "Iowa Press" program that airs on Iowa Public Television. Ernst says it's been "very hard" to balance her work as a senator, her obligation to the Guard and her desire to spend time with her husband and teenage daughter.

 

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Ernst enlisted in the Iowa National Guard in 1993. After her election last November, Guard leaders moved Ernst from command of a unit to a position at Iowa Guard headquarters in Johnston. She's likely to retire within the next year and coordinate her exit with superiors, to ensure there is someone in place to take over her duties. There is no prohibition against members of the Guard serving in the U.S. Senate. Half a dozen Guard members are currently serving in the House and the freshman Senator from Alaska is in the Marine Reserve.

   

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