Friday News, March 28
Le Mars House Fire
(Le Mars) -- Fire officials from Le Mars and Orange City responded to a house fire at 44 5th Avenue Southeast in Le Mars at about 11:55 a.m. Thursday morning. Nobody was home at the time when the fire was reported by neighbors. Upon arrival, fire fighters could see black and grey smoke billowing from the structure. Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says the fire started in the basement and had been burning for quite some time before it was reported.
Schipper says basement fires are perhaps the worst type of structure fires.
There were no injuries with the fire, but Schipper says a family dog did perish in the blaze.
Fire fighters used two aerial and ladder trucks from Le Mars and Orange City to attack the fire in the attic and roof areas.
Fire officials were on the scene for nearly three and a half hours. The Le Mars Fire Chief says the structure is totally destroyed.
School Officials Discuss Budget
(Le Mars) -- Le Mars Community School officials are deciding upon a budget for the next school year. School superintendent Dr. Todd Wendt earlier this week, offered a proposed budget for the school board's consideration. In that budget, Wendt projects the general expenditures to total more than $20,764,387. He says this represents an increase of more than $1.3 million dollars from the 2014 budget.
Wendt says there is a good reason for the substanial increase.
The Le Mars Community School Superintendent says school board officials have made a pledge with the public to reduce the property tax levy.
Wendt says Fiscal year 2015 finances should be fine, but he does have some concerns with 2016, depending upon what the state legislature does for educational funding.
The school superintendent says the worst case scenerio would be to drop programs, and layoff faculty and staff members.
A public hearing for the school district's budget is set for April 14, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at the Education Service Center.
Judge Rules BPI Can Proceed With Lawsuit Against ABC News
(Elk Point) -- A South Dakota judge has ruled Beef Products, Incorporated can proceed with a defamation lawsuit against ABC News network. BPI is seeking $1.2 billion in damages from the news network for its coverage of of a meat product called finely textured beef, which critics have dubbed "pink slime". BPI says ABC news coverage led to the closure of three plants and roughly 700 layoffs by misleading consumers into believing the product is unsafe. Attorneys for ABC say the network in each of its broadcasts stated the Food and Drug Administration deemed the product safe to eat. In her ruling, Circuit Judge Cheryle Gering dismissed six of the 26 counts.
Branstad Turns Down Commutations For Inmates
(Des Moines) -- Governor Terry Branstad has denied the applications of 18 inmates seeking commutation. The governor made the announcement on Thursday in a news release. The individuals seeking commutation are serving different sentences, including life in prison. Some have been convicted of crimes like first-degree murder. Other convictions involve kidnapping and robbery. The inmates range in age from 24 to 66. Branstad did not provide any other details about his decision.
Dallas County Has Largest Population Increase In Iowa
(Des Moines) -- New data shows Dallas County in central Iowa grew by 3.5 percent from a year earlier, the largest such gain in the state. U.S. Census Bureau says in estimates being released Thursday that the suburban Des Moines county grew to more than 74,600 residents by July 1 of last year. That's an increase of 3.5 percent over the preceding 12 months. The county population has jumped nearly 13 percent since the 2010 Census. Eight of Iowa's nine metropolitan areas had population increases in the latest estimates while rural counties had population declines.