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Thursday News, August 30

King and Vilsack To Debate In Northwest Iowa

(Orange City) -- A political debate between Steve King and Christie Vilsack has been set for northwest Iowa.  The two Congressional seeking candidates will square off on Thursday, September 27 at 7:00 p.m. from Orange City at the Northwestern College's Christ Chapel. 
Admission to the event is free, but since seating is limited, tickets to the event are required.  Tickets can be acquired by emailing This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by calling (712) 707-7100,  Tickets will not be mailed before September 10th.  The debate is being sponsored by Northwestern College, Northwest Iowa Review, and KTIV.


County Held Positions On November Ballot

(Le Mars) -- The filing deadline for county held positions was Wednesday, August 29th and Cheri Nitzschke, the county elections says many of the offices are being unopposed.  Mike Van Otterloo will appear on the general election ballot for the position of sheriff.  Van Otterloo will be running as a republican.  Stacey Feldman, a republican, will be on the ballot for the county auditor's position.  Three incumbent supervisors are running, each as a republican.  They include: Mark Loutsch for district two, Don Kass for district three, and Jim Henrichs representing district 5.  Jerry Reuter is the only name on the ballot seeking the position of Fredonia Township trustee.  Three names will appear on the November ballot for the Soil and Water Conservation Board, and the public is asked to vote for three people. Those seeking a position with the Soil and Water Conservation Board include: Sandra Fravel,
Tony Schroeder, and Steven Tonsfeldt.  There are six people seeking four positions for the Ag Extension Council.  They include: Alex Popken, Yvette Bowen, Pat Lehner, Brad Harvey, Deb
Baldwin, and Cindy Klemme.

Dry Weather Keeps Area Fire Departments Busy

(Le Mars) -- The persistent dry conditions, along with the winds, have created problems for the area fire departments.  Again, yesterday, the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department, the Merrill Fire Department, and the Kingsley Fire Department each had to respond to grass and field fires.  Le Mars Fire Department was called to a grass fire at 27793 Marble Avenue at about 7:40 p.m.  Merrill was called to fight a fire at about 4:15 p.m. one mile east of Merrill on county road C-44, and the Kingsley Fire Department was fighting a grass fire at about the same time at Highway 140 and 300th Street.  In each instance, the fire departments were able to get the fires under control.  Today, the national weather service has issued a red flag and fire danger warning for northwest Iowa.

Drought Likely To Continue For A While Longer

(Boone) -- People across the state are wondering how much longer will the drought and
extreme high temperatures continue? Iowa State University Extension Climatologist Elwynn
Taylor says there are not many signs indicating a change in the current weather patterns. 
Taylor says the drought actually started a year ago in July when the rains suddenly stopped, and it continued through the fall and winter months when Iowa did not receive much snowfall.

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Taylor says many people are hoping the weather will return to an el nino weather pattern.

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The Iowa State University Climatologist was a featured speaker at the Farm Progress Show
near Boone.  He says Iowa needs at least four inches of precipitation before the winter
freeze, or around November 15th.  He says an additional three inches of rain will be needed
in the spring.  In addition to the dry conditions, the Midwest has experienced a lot of extreme heat.  Is there any indication that the temperatures may return to normal?
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Hurricane Issac May Help Some Drought Areas

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Some key farm states punished by the nation's worst drought in decades benefited slightly from recent rains, with a bigger dousing forecast from the remnants of Hurricane Isaac.
The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows that the section of the continental U.S. in the worst two categories of drought - extreme and exceptional - remained relatively unchanged
at 23.2 percent as of the report's Tuesday cutoff.
But thanks to rains last weekend, the amount of Iowa in the two worst drought classifications fell by 9 percentage points to 58.3 percent. Illinois saw a 7 percentage point drop-off while Kansas'
numbers slid 6 points.
Forecasters expect portions of the Midwest to get as much as 12 inches of rain within days due to Isaac, now a tropical storm.

Regents Asking The Public To Help Locate Next UNI President

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Board of Regents is looking for members of the public to participate in the search for the next president of the University of Northern Iowa.
The board announced Wednesday that it is accepting applications for three members of the public to serve on the 20-person search and screen committee.
The board says anyone interested in the appointment can submit their names, contact information, and a brief summary of their qualifications to serve. Nominations are due by Sept. 5, and the
board will appoint the members of the committee the following week.
The board on Monday launched the search for a replacement for Ben Allen, who plans to retire after leading the university since 2006. The committee will evaluate candidates and recommend three to five finalists for the job.


More Paroles Mean Drop In Prison Population

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a 40 percent jump in paroles has led to a drop of about 5 percent in the Iowa prison population.
The  population had dropped to just under 8,300 by Wednesday. The figure was a little
over 8,300 at the end of fiscal 2012, compared with nearly 8,800 at the end of fiscal 2011.
The drop came despite an increase in admissions. Nearly 2,100 inmates were added in fiscal 2012, compared with nearly 1,950 in fiscal 2011.
Iowa Corrections Department spokeswoman Lettie Prell and other officials credit the increase in paroles to vacancies filled on the parole board and a more "holistic approach" in assessing candidates. The factors include the actual crime, time served and the risk that he or she will commit another crime.


Federal Investigators Say Changes Are Needed At Iowa Veterans Hospital

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Federal inspectors have recommended that operational changes be made at the Iowa City Veterans Affairs hospital before the quality of medical care there is hurt.
A report released Wednesday says inspectors found no significant problems with medical care when they visited in May and talked to employees. The Department of Veterans Affairs surveyed the workers
in response to their complaints about working conditions.
The report says inspectors found operational problems and "an adversarial relationship between managers and staff."
Iowa City VA spokeswoman Valerie Buckingham declined to comment until she could review the report.
VA Inspector General's Office spokeswoman Cathy Gromek says the Iowa City hospital has 90 days to provide an update on how the hospital management has addressed the problems.






Wednesday news, August 29

Plymouth County To Build New Bridge For 160th Street

(Le Mars) --  The permits are in and bids on a new bridge will be coming into the county late fall/early winter.  Plans are drawn up for the 226 foot bridge over the Floyd River on 160th just east of Highway 60 north of Le Mars.  County Engineer Tom Rohe informed the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors that the amount of traffic on the gravel road warrants a new structure.

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The amount of traffic is over double what an average gravel road in the county has. Rohe says the current bridge is in ill-repair, and discussion concerning closing the bridge entirely was addressed.  Rohe said flooding of alternative routes could be a problem.

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The railroad sees 160th as a busy road, as made evident by the fact they added gates and lights to the crossing at 160th street near the bridge this year.  According to Rohe, that project cost the railroad 170 thousand dollars.

The bridge will be raised seven and a half feet from it's current placement, and 2.5 acres around the existing road will need to be acquired.
The replacement of the bridge over the Floyd on 160th north of Le Mars is estimated to cost 800-900 thousand dollars.  Eighty percent of that cost would be covered by the Federal Bridge Replacement Funds the county has available.


Two Men Sentenced For Possessing K2 In Correctional Facility

(Orange City) -- Two men have been sentenced to prison terms for possessing synthetic cannabinoids while being held in a correctional facility.  34 year old Jesse Armstrong of Spencer and 35 year old Clarence Paulsen of Spirit Lake were sentenced on Monday.  The men were arrested out of the same incident.  Sioux County attorney Coleman McAllister prosecuted the cases on behalf of the state of Iowa.  The cases arose on June 13th when the Sioux County Sheriff's Office received information that a resident of the Iowa Department of Corrections Residential Treatment Facility in Sheldon, was potentially involved in possessing and/or selling K-2 as classified as a synthetic cannabinoid under Iowa law and it is illegal to possess.  A deputy went to the residential treatment facility and located two packages of the illegal drug.  Both men were sentenced to five years in prison.  Armstrong was serving a ten year prison term for a felony controlled substance conviction in Clay County, Iowa and Paulsen was serving a two year prison sentence for weapons and drug convictions also in Clay County, Iowa.

Erratic Driver Leads To Arrest and Sentencing For Marijuana Possession

(Orange City) -- A complaint of an erratic driver led to the arrest and conviction of a Sergeant Bluff man for possession of, and intent to deliver nearly a pound of marijuana.  47 year old Sakdarif Lokhamkouak was sentenced to five years in prison by Sioux County District Court on Monday.  Last March a concerned citizen called 911 to make a complaint of an erratic driver southbound on Highway 75.  A Sioux County deputy observed the vehicle and was able to match the description.  The deputy stopped and searched the vehicle in question, and besides finding 14.8 ounces of marijuana, he also found $2,400 in cash. 


Iowa Has Fewer Hunters

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Fewer Iowans are buying hunting and fishing licenses, but state officials say that doesn't necessarily mean interest in the sports are waning.
Sales of hunting licenses to Iowa residents dropped 13 percent from 2007 to last year, and resident fishing licenses declined about 4 percent during that period.
Nationally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates hunting is up 9 percent and fishing has increased 11 percent.
Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau, tells The Gazette in Cedar Rapids that the national numbers are based on interviews. He says fishing remains
strong in Iowa and license declines could reflect recent flooding.
DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins says declining pheasant populations hurt hunting license sales. That decline is blamed on grassland losses and recent harsh winters.


(Boone) - Farmers, crop inspectors and grain elevators in Iowa and other corn-producing states are
keeping an eye out for corn contaminated by a poison-producing fungus.
They're watching for signs of aflatoxins which are produced by mold fungi and at high levels are poisonous to humans and animals.  They tend to show up during hot, dry summers.
Charlie Hurburgh, grain quality specialist with Iowa State University says the problem is starting to get serious.

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Iowa agriculture officials say they're requiring dairy farmers to test milk as it leaves farms. Aflatoxins can appear in the milk of dairy cows fed contaminated corn.


National Guard Send-off

JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) - About 1,000 people turned out for a sendoff ceremony for 60 Iowa Army National Guard troops heading to Afghanistan. The event took place yesterday at Camp Dodge in Johnston. The soldiers will head to Fort Hood in Texas for about a month of training before going overseas.




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