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Monday Afternoon News, April 27

More Bird Flu Cases Detected In Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State officials say the bird flu virus has been found in four more northwest Iowa poultry farms with more than 2 million chickens.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture announced Monday there were probable cases of avian influenza at two farms in O'Brien County, one in Osceola County and one in Sioux County.

Additional testing of the birds is pending, and if confirmed all of the birds will be killed to prevent spread of the disease.

Since early March, bird flu cases have prompted officials to order that turkey and chicken producers euthanize more than 7 million birds from several Midwestern states.

The latest cases include three commercial laying operations and one farm that produces young hens. The largest operation is in Sioux County, with 1.7 million birds.



Sioux City Man Sentenced To Ten Years For A Bank Robbery

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sioux City man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in connection with a bank robbery.

The Sioux City Journal reports ( ) 22-year-old Jonathan Birdnecklace was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to second-degree robbery. He has been ordered to serve a minimum of seven years before he is eligible for parole and pay $200 in restitution to Great Southern Bank in Sioux City.

Court documents say Birdnecklace admitted in October to writing a note demanding $1,500 from a bank teller and pretending to have a weapon. He was arrested about half an hour later.

A phone number for Birdnecklace's attorney could not be located to request comment on his behalf.







Cement Company Given 24 Work-Related Citations

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Mason City cement company has received several citations from a federal agency following safety inspections conducted in March.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration on Monday announced that Lehigh Cement Company in Mason City was issued 24 citations for violations of the Mine Act, which prioritizes the health and safety of employees in coal or other mining industries.

Of the 24 citations, seven were deemed violations likely to cause serious injury or illness, while the remaining 17 violations were determined less likely to pose such a risk.

Federal inspectors issued a total of 188 citations across the country and two orders to remove employees from particularly hazardous work environments.

Lehigh Cement Company produces cement and construction materials in the U.S. and Canada.





Inmate Dies

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa man serving a life sentence for first-degree murder has died.

The Iowa Department of Corrections says 62-year-old Michael Rouse died Sunday in Iowa City after he told a nurse he was having trouble breathing and was transported to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where he was pronounced dead.

According to a news release, Rouse died of natural causes resulting from worsening chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Rouse was assigned to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville, where he had been staying at the center's Long Term Ambulatory Unit for inmates who need a high-level of nursing care.

Rouse began his life sentence in May 1996.





Burnt Macaroni And Cheese Causes State Capitol Building To Evacuate

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A burnt bowl of macaroni and cheese forced a brief evacuation at the Iowa Capitol.

Iowa Department of Administrative Services spokesman Caleb Hunter says Monday that somebody's lunch burned in a microwave behind the Senate Chambers on the second floor of the Capitol. He says the smoke prompted a short evacuation of the entire building during the morning.

Hunter says he wasn't aware of any property damages or injuries due to the incident.





Concert Shooting

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Police say a Minnesota man was shot following a rap concert in Iowa.

The West Des Moines Police Department says officers were directing traffic after the concert at the Val Air Ballroom when they heard at least one shot just before 2 a.m. Monday. The show featured Chicago rappers Twista and King Louie, also known as King L.

Sgt. Brent Kock says 24-year-old Daroyce Mills, of Burnsville, Minnesota, was shot in the abdomen. He was taken to a Des Moines hospital, where police say he was listed in stable condition Monday.

No suspects have been identified.





Des Moines Police Investigate Brewery Shooting

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Police are investigating after one man sustained a gunshot wound to his rear end in a shooting outside of a Des Moines brewery.

The Des Moines Police Department were monitoring an after-hours party early Sunday morning at Confluence Brewing Company when they heard several gunshots in a nearby parking lot.

A police report says the officers heard bullets whiz overhead as they moved toward the parking lot.

Officers reported spotting Jeremy Stokes limping toward a vehicle with a gunshot wound to the buttocks. Stokes was transported to Mercy Medical Center for treatment.

No arrests have been made in the shooting. The case remains under investigation.





Iowa Education Funding

PLEASANT HILL, Iowa (AP) - The superintendent of a suburban Des Moines school district says new dollars for teacher leadership training benefit schools, but he adds that basic school funding is still needed for expenses like books.

Southeast Polk Community School District Superintendent Craig Menozzi spoke Monday at a press conference with Gov. Terry Branstad. The event highlighted the progress since the governor's plan to boost funding for teacher training was approved two years ago.

Branstad says the program will "transform education."

Menozzi praises the new program, but expresses concern over how much new basic funding that schools will get for the upcoming school year. The issue is unresolved, with lawmakers at odds over the amount. He says that the funding level supported by Branstad and Republican leaders in the state House would force cuts.














Monday News, April 27

Le Mars Community School Board To Meet With Remsen-Union School Board

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education and the Remsen-Union Board of Education will hold a joint meeting this evening.  The Remsen-Union school board requested to hold the joint meeting.  The Remsen-Union school board is taking the opportunity to visit with all school districts that neighbor the R-U school district as they decide the future of the school district.  Following the joint meeting, the Le Mars Community School Board will hold its regularly scheduled meeting.  The school board will hear an update regarding the early literacy program. The school board will also discuss the upcoming annual Foundation Banquet which is scheduled for Wednesday, April 29th at the Le Mars Convention Center.  Kaye Schipper intends to retire as a kindergarten teacher at Clark elementary school effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.  High School principal Mark Iverson will present to the school board the list of anticipated seniors to graduate.  Senior awards night is scheduled for Wednesday, May 13th and Commencement is scheduled for Sunday, May 17th.





Bullying Bill Struggling To Get Pass In House

(Des Moines) -- With only one week left in the scheduled legislative session, there are many people who doubt if there will be a bullying bill that will emerge and pass the legislature.  Governor Branstad has placed the bullying bill as one of his priorities.  State Representative Chuck Soderberg says he is uncertain whether the House will pass an anti-bullying bill.

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Soderberg says the House is trying to work through the issues, in order to salvage the bill.

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Soderberg says the bullying bill is still an "iffy" issue.

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Lower Farm Income Means Fewer Farm Equipment Sales

(Le Mars) -- Farm income has dropped over the past year with commodity prices falling and land values making a bit of decline, so it is only natural to think farm equipment sales have seen a drop.  Adam Timmerman, general manager of ICON Ag and Turf with five different dealerships through out northwest Iowa, including one in Le Mars, says equipment sales are lower, but farmers attitudes remain positive.

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Timmerman believes when commodity prices make a turn and show signs of improving, farmers will return to make purchases of new and used farm equipment.

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Timmerman says surprisingly, short-line equipment has been selling.


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Farmers Market Sales On The Decline

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - With farmers markets set to begin in dozens of cities across Iowa, vendors and market managers alike are pulling out all the stops to keep consumers coming back for more.

National data suggest the tremendous growth in farmers markets has begun to ebb, with a slight decline in sales adjusted for inflation, but officials say customer and vendor retention efforts in Iowa have helped the state's markets so far evade such a fate.

Kelly Foss, director of the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market, says finding ways to ensure incremental growth each year is crucial to success as the market enters its 40th season.

Todd Mills sells gourmet mushrooms, and he says his latest venture in Des Moines fills a niche currently unserved at the downtown market.





Sioux City Police Hand Out Trading Cards To Children

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City Police are using officer trading cards as a way to connect with children in the community.

The collectible cards, similar to baseball cards, offer a photo of a police officer on the front, and some statistics and personal information on the back. Sioux City police have been handing out the cards for nearly 20 years, and in that time, the cards' popularity among children has only grown stronger.

Sioux City officers usually stuff a handful of cards in their shirt pockets or hand them out to children when their squad cars are waved down in residential neighborhoods.

Officer Valerie Rose says the cards are so popular with neighborhood children, "It's almost like the ice cream truck."





Woodbury County Parks To Open May 1st

(Sioux City) -- Woodbury County park facilities will open for the 2015 season on Friday, May 1st.  Campgrounds, restrooms, and shelters will all be available for pubic use beginning on that date.  County parks opening on May 1st include Snyder Bend, Brown's Lake, Bigelow Park near Salix, Southwood Conservation Area and Fowler Forest Preserve near Smithland, and Little Sioux Park near Correctionville. Cabin facilities at Synder Bend and Little Sioux Park will also be available for rental beginning May 1st.  Swimming beaches at Brown's Lake, and Little Sioux Park will open for the 2015 season on Saturday, May 23rd.  The public is reminded the beaches are "swim at your own risk" as lifeguards are not provided.





Future Of Des Moines Civil Rights Office Is Unclear

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The future of the Des Moines agency that handles civil rights issues is unclear after losing two of its three employees.

City officials are considering closing the office and asking other departments or a state agency to handle the concerns.

Des Moines has been spending between $322,000 and $374,000 a year to run the office.

Des Moines City Manager Scott Sanders said the city still wants to protect its citizens' rights, but officials are trying to decide whether to maintain a separate office for that purpose.

Even if the vacancies are filled, the Des Moines civil rights three-person office will still be smaller than similar ones in several other Iowa cities.






Cedar Rapids Man Arrested For Grocery Store Shooting

MARION, Iowa (AP) - Police arrested the 32-year-old man suspected of killing a woman in a grocery store parking lot in eastern Iowa.

Marion Police said Sunday that Nicholas Luerkens, of Cedar Rapids, was arrested on a warrant for first-degree murder after he was released from the hospital.

Luerkens was treated for self-inflicted stab wounds after Tuesday's stabbing death of 29-year-old Lynnsey Donald of Marion.

Police have said Donald and Luerkens had previously lived together but Donald moved several months before her death.







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