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Monday News, July 16

Merrill and Hinton Fire Departments Respond to Weekend Fires


(Le Mars) -- Both the Merrill and the Hinton Fire Departments had to respond to calls over the weekend.  The Merrill Fire Department had a tree that had caught on fire.  That incident occurred at about 2:30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at 714 3rd street.  The fire department was able to extinguish that fire within a few minutes.  Meanwhile, the Hinton Fire Department responded to a field fire on Sunday afternoon.  The fire was reported at 27684 on County road C-60.  Fire officials received the call at about 2:15 p.m. Sunday afternoon.  Fire officials had the fire contained within 45 minutes.



Storm Lake Man Drowns At Lake

(Storm Lake) -- The Buena Vista County Sheriff's Department is reporting a drowning that occurred Friday night at about 9:05 p.m.  A 9-1-1 call to the sheriff's office indicated a male subject was in the lake unconscious and not breathing.  Upon arrival, CPR had already been initiated and continued along with the use of a defibulator by the sheriff's office.  The man was transported to the Buena Vista Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.   The male subject has been identified as 64 year old Steve McCullough of Storm Lake, Iowa.


Concession Stand Catches Fire

(Alta) -- Buena Vista County authorities are also investigating a fire that started early Saturday morning at the concession stand building at the Buena Vista County fairgrounds at Alta.  Upon arrival by emergency crews, flames were coming from the northwest corner of the building and up into the roof.  The Alta Fire Department was able to contain the fire to the building and within 20 minutes had it under control.  The Buena Vista County Fair was in its third day and the concession stand had been heavily used Wednesday and Thursday nights, but had not been open on Friday evening.  The cause of the fire revealed that an electrical malfunction inside the building was the cause.  The damage was contained to the building and the contents, however, there were other food vendors next to the building that had electrical hookups for frozen foods and those foods are possibly a total loss.  The damage is estimated at about $80,000.


Sioux County Youth Fair Continues

(Sioux Center) -- Speaking of fairs, the Sioux County Youth Fair continues today with several judging events, including  the 4-H Horse Show, 4-H Rabbit show, and 4-H Communications Evaluations.  There is also a little bull riding contest.  Fairboard president, Adam Fedders explains.
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Justice Bruce Zager Key Component on State Supreme Court

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new study of Iowa Supreme Court rulings has identified Justice Bruce Zager as a key swing vote on the seven-member court.
Des Moines attorney Ryan Koopmans noticed the trend while analyzing the court's decisions since April 2011. Koopmans says Zager has consistently voted with the majority in cases that
divided the justices.
Zager was one of three justices appointed in February 2011, after voters denied new terms to three others who participated in the ruling that allowed same-sex couples to marry in Iowa.
Court watchers caution that it's difficult to tag any justices as conservative or liberal. Koopmans says the vast majority of Iowa Supreme Court opinions are unanimous, and most cases the justices
hear don't involve partisan issues.
Convicts Slow To Pay Debts

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Despite more aggressive efforts to collect court-ordered debts, legal experts say most Iowa crime victims will never see all the money they're owed.
Data obtained by The Des Moines Register shows that Iowa judges have ordered convicted criminals to pay $159 million in victim restitution over the last five years. But offenders have only paid
$19 million in that time, or less than 12 percent of the new debts.
Legal experts say restitution is a key part of society's commitment to make victims whole, and to get criminal offenders to face what they've done.
Some critics are calling for better collections.
State Court Administrator David Boyd says the total restitution owed to Iowa crime victims will continue to grow, because improved collections still can't keep pace with new debts.
New Prison Nears Completion

FORT MADISON, Iowa (AP) - The warden of a new Iowa prison says the facility will be one of the nation's most secure once the project is finished.
The new Iowa State Penitentiary will house more than 275 convicted killers once construction ends. Those inmates will move from the current, out-of-date facility, and more will arrive later
to relieve crowding in other state prisons.
Work crews are on pace to complete the project in January. The new, 800-bed facility is expected to cost $130 million.
Warden Nick Ludwick says the prison will feature electrified, razor-wire fencing. Locks on cell doors will be wired to a central hub. Members of the state Board of Corrections toured the old
prison and the new construction site on Friday.
Hawkeye Community College Helps Displaced Workers

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - A community college is preparing to help workers who suddenly lost their incomes when their company's chief executive admitted to embezzling at least $100 million. Hawkeye
Community College has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday about the displaced workers of Peregrine Financial Group. CEO Russell Wasendorf Sr. has admitted he orchestrated a multimillion dollar fraud scheme.
Marion Looking At Turning Trash Into Electricity

MARION, Iowa (AP) - The city of Marion is looking into whether it could turn its trash into electricity for a municipal utility.  The city council has hired a consultant for a feasibility study that's due in the fall. The project would require electricity from Plasma Power, which is taking garbage and converting it into a gas burned to create steam for commercial customers.


Saturday News, July 14th

Convenience Store Robbers Arrested

(Sioux City) -- Sioux City Police have arrested four suspects they believe were responsible for the robbery at a convenience store on the West side.  Sarg's Mini Mart located at 2329 W. 2nd Street in Sioux City was robbed on Friday morning at about 9:45 a.m.  No one in the business received any phyisical injuries, although it was reported the suspects were armed.  Police are not looking for any other suspects in the incident.  The investigation continues and suspect names and photographs are being withheld at this time pending detectives showing photograph lineups to witnesses.


Sioux City Man Guilty of Vehicular Homicide

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sioux City man is charged with vehicular homicide and drunken driving in an accident that killed a passenger last winter.   Eighteen-year-old Oscar Ramirez was charged on Friday.  Authorities say he was driving an SUV that crashed on Jan. 30 in Sioux City.

A passenger, 18-year-old Nino Segura, of Sioux City, was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene.
Ramirez appeared in Woodbury County District Court on Friday. An arraignment is set for July 27.
A telephone call to his attorney, Priscilla Forsyth, was not returned Friday afternoon.
Sioux County Fair Begins On Saturday

(Sioux Center) -- The Sioux County Youth Fair gets underway today at Sioux Center.  Judging of 4-H Static exhibits and fashion revue will start at 8:30 this morning.  The Northwest Iowa Horse show is slated to start at 9:00 a.m. The Open Class exhibits will be entered at 11:30 a.m.  The 4-H Cow-calf show and 4-H feeder calf show will begin at 12:00 noon, and later this afternoon is the Open Class Beef Show and the Open Class Lamb Show.  Meanwhile at Cherokee, its the third day for the Cherokee County Fair.  Today is Lady's Day and Kid's Day on the Midway.  Tonight's entertainment will be the Two-wheel and Four-wheel Drive pickup truck pull.  Also today, is the second day of the Merrill Pioneer Days. Some of the events scheduled include the Antique Tractor Ride, the downtown
sidewalk flea market, horse rides, and sand volleyball.
Man Arrested For Using Electric Cattle Prod on Girl

VINTON, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say an eastern Iowa man has been arrested for allegedly using a cattle prod on a teenage girl.
The Gazette (http://bit.ly/SjpOSS ) says the Benton County sheriff's office says 50-year-old Eric Kolsrud, of Shellsburg, is charged with assault causing bodily injury and contributing to the
delinquency of a minor.
Kolsrud is accused of a using a shocking device that's used on cattle on a 16-year-old following a dispute. Authorities say he also told a 15-year-old girl that she had to lie to officers if she
was asked about the incident.
Kolsrud's case is not on the online court system, and it's unclear if he has an attorney.
Grassley Calls For Courts To Change Hawaiian Retreat
HONOLULU (AP) - Political controversy persists over a conference planned for federal judges on Maui, with two Republican senators calling for the event to be canceled or at least scaled back.
Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa question the need to hold the August conference at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa, with optional activities offered
including surfing lessons, snorkeling, yoga and Zumba dancing.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has said the gathering will be for serious business meetings and the venue is within the circuit's jurisdiction. The senators continue to say holding a conference in a "far-flung island paradise" is extravagant during a time of government budget cuts.
A spokesman for the circuit didn't immediately respond to the senators' latest letter on Friday.
Financial Investment CEO To Face Prison

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A federal prosecutor says the chief executive of an Iowa-based brokerage firm carried out a $200 million fraud scheme that could land him in prison for years.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan said Friday that Peregrine Financial Group Incorporated CEO Russell Wasendorf Senior could face "a wide range of criminal charges" for the scheme. Wasendorf allegedly falsified bank records to embezzle customer funds for 20 years.
Deegan made the comment during Wasendorf's initial federal court appearance in Cedar Rapids on charges that he made false statements to financial regulators. Another hearing is scheduled for
Wasendorf appeared healthy during the hearing. He'd been hospitalized after attempting suicide outside the company's headquarters on Monday.
Investigators say he admitted in a suicide note to carrying out an elaborate embezzlement scheme.
State Auditor and Treasurer Say IPERS Needs To Change

(Des Moines) -- The state's top two financial officials say it's time to re-establish upper limits or "caps" on the pension checks government employees draw from the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System. The system is commonly called IPERS (EYE-perz) and State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald is a voting member of the system's board of directors.
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In 1998, the legislature and the governor agreed to get rid of the limits or caps on pensions for teachers, local government workers and employees in state government.
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Fitzgerald advocates a cap that would limit a yearly IPERS pension to 60-thousand dollars. State Auditor Dave Vaudt (VOWT) supports that kind of a move and, in addition, Vaudt suggests some of the state government surplus should be used to shore up the pension system.
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Vaudt is quick to say "in the short term," the system is o.k., but it's time for state officials to start making plans for the future.
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Any changes in IPERS benefits must be approved by the legislature and the governor. Republicans in the House and Governor Branstad have talked about reducing taxes next year rather than using the state government surplus to shore up the state pension system as the auditor, who is a Republican, suggests. Vaudt and Fitzgerald, who is a Democrat, made their comments during taping of the "Iowa Press" program which airs on Iowa Public Television.



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