Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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Tuesday News, April 8

Gasoline Fumes Ignite, Causing House Fire

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire Department was called to yet another house fire late Monday afternoon.  The alarm was sounded at about 5:10 p.m. when a house located at 551 Central Avenue Northwest was billowing smoke.  Fire Chief Dave Schipper says the cause of the fire was due to gasoline fumes in the basement that was ignited from a hot water heater pilot light.

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Schipper says the fire fighters were able to control the blaze within a few minutes, but they also wanted to make certain the fire was only contained to the lower level.

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The Le Mars Fire Department has been busy during the last few months having 30 calls in February, 44 calls in March, and already April has produced 11 calls in the first week.  Monday afternoon house fire makes the third house fire in Le Mars during the past three months.

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Assisting the Le Mars Fire Department was the Merrill Fire Department, MidAmerican Energy, Langel's Electric, Le Mars Ambulance, Le Mars Police Department, and the American Red Cross.  Schipper says the house had five family members living in the dwelling.  Everyone was able to escape the fire without any injuries.  The fire chief estimates the damage at $25,000.

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One good news to this story, fire fighters were able to rescue the two family pet cats from the fire.  The house is owned by Rick Singer, and was being leased by Eric and Brandy Franke.


Supervisors To Hear Report On Domestic Violence

(Le Mars) -- April is recognized as domestic violence and sexual abuse awareness month, and today the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors will hear a report about those topics from Cathy VanMaanen and haley Meis as they will appear before the county governing board.  In addition, JoLynn Goodchild, the county recorder, will submit her quarterly report to the county supervisors.  Tom Rohe, the county engineer will offer another update to the county board.  The supervisors are also expected to review and approve the revised Sioux Rivers Regional Mental Health agreement, and the supervisors will discuss county property in a land transaction to Higman Sand and Gravel for the county pond.


City To Continue Flushing Hydrants And Water Mains

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars City water Officials were not able to complete the process of flushing hydrants in the southeast portion of town, so city water crews will continue flushing on Wednesday. They will start at 8:00 a.m. on 3rd Street and 14th Avenue SE, then off Central Avenue on 16th and 18th Street Southeast.  Some discolored water may occur in other parts of the system besides the area's mentioned.  If you notice discolored water, try to refrain from using hot water and monitor the clarity with hard cold water.  This may be your outside hose bib.


Hospital Trustees To Meet

(Le Mars) -- The Floyd Valley Hospital Board of Trustees are scheduled to meet this morning.  The trustees will review the financial situation from Daryl Friedenbach, as well as hear a medical update from Dr. Sheila Holcomb, and an administrative report that will also cover the progress on the north addition expansion project from hospital administrator Mike Donlin.


Sheldon Man Sentenced To Ten Years In Prison For Lascivious Acts On A Child

(Orange City) -- A Sheldon man has been sentenced to ten years of prison for lascivious acts with a child.  Thomas VanHorsen, age 28, was sentenced on Monday in Sioux County District Court for two counts of lascivious acts with a child, a class C felony.  The case arose on October 13th when a man contacted the Rock Valley Police Department regarding inappropriate comments on his daughter's facebook page from VanHorsen.  An investigation revealed that VanHorsen had touched the 11 year old girl's genitals inappropriately on two occasions.  


House Passes Secret Settlements Bill

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill that would open state employee records to the public and put into law Gov. Terry Branstad's executive order prohibiting confidential settlement agreements has won the support of a divided Iowa House.
     The Republican-controlled House voted 63-35 Monday in favor of the legislation. It now goes to the Democratic-majority Senate, where its fate is unclear.
     The bill would forbid the use of confidentiality provisions and secret payments in settlement agreements between employees within the executive branch and the state. These agreements would be made accessible to the public online, along with termination or disciplinary action documents.
     Republican lawmakers say the intent is to increase government transparency. House Democrats say the bill is a premature response to the settlement issue.



Monday Afternoon News, April 7

Donated Trees

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) - A group of University of Northern Iowa students is helping bring thousands of free saplings to Cedar Falls to help the city replace trees lost to disease or flooding.
     UNI Hardwoods recently transported 6,500 oak tree saplings from a nursery in East Moline, Ill.  More than 100 student volunteers will plant some of them on April 12 at a new nursery in the North Cedar neighborhood.
     The saplings will replace trees infected by the emerald ash borer or destroyed by historic flooding in 2008. City officials say funding for tree removals and replacements has dwindled.
     The saplings will mature for several years before they're either moved or kept in place to reforest the area.


Lawmaker Returns Home Before Session Adjourns

   DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A southwest Iowa lawmaker has stopped participating in the legislative session, saying he's too busy working on his farm.
     Sen. Hubert Houser hasn't cast a vote on the Senate floor since March 4.
     Houser, a Republican who has served 22 years in the House and Senate, says he asked GOP leaders for a light load this session, which will be his last. They obliged, and Houser says he now doesn't have much to do at the Legislature, other than vote on bills making it to the Senate floor.
     Because Democrats are in the majority, Houser says his vote makes little difference.
     Houser says he's busy on his farm, where his family is building new livestock facilities.
     Houser says he's "more than ready to move on."


Branstad Stands Behind IDAS Director

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is standing firm in support of the director of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, who says no money was offered to former workers for silence about their dismissals.
     Branstad, at his weekly news conference Monday, says he believes Mike Carroll when he says no money was offered to keep settlement agreements confidential.
     At least two state workers have testified they were offered additional cash to remain silent about their dismissals in 2011. Carroll told a joint legislative Government Oversight Committee last week that no money was offered.
     Branstad says he believes Carroll that no state agencies offered money for silence. He says the workers are disgruntled former state employees.
     Branstad in an executive order signed last month prohibited future confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements.


Inmate Gets Work Release Parole After 30 Years In Prison

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa inmate who has spent most of his life in prison for playing a minor role in a 1984 slaying has been granted work-release privileges.
     Todd Hoffer has left the minimum-security prison in Rockwell City and transferred to a halfway house in West Union in northeastern Iowa.
     The Iowa Board of Parole ordered work-release for the 53-year-old Hoffer after interviewing him last month. If he's successful in that facility, he could be released on parole.
     Hoffer was one of three men convicted in the 1984 killing of Juanita Weaver, who was shot during a Des Moines home invasion. 
     Gov. Tom Vilsack commuted Hoffer's life sentence in 2007, noting that Hoffer wasn't the shooter and never intended for Weaver's death. Even the man who prosecuted Hoffer supported his clemency application.





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