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Thursday Afternoon News, May 21

Legislators Watching Avian Bird Flu's Impact On State Economy

(Le Mars) -- The outbreak of the avian bird flu and its impact on the state's poultry industry has caught the attention of the state legislature.  Le Mars State Representative Chuck Soderberg says state lawmakers are wondering if funds should be appropriated to chicken and turkey producers who have had their flocks wiped out due to the bird virus.  He says the estimates of economic losses may affect the state's budget projections.

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Government Discontinues Offering Military Hardware To Law Enforcement Agencies

(Le Mars) -- This past week the Obama Administration announced that no longer would the government allow the donation or sale of surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies.  Le Mars Police Chief Stuart Dekkenga says in the past, Le Mars was able to obtain a military vehicle.

 

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The Police Chief says at about the same time the city acquired the military vehicle, the local police department also acquired three M-16 military rifles.

 

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Dekkenga says the reason he would like to return the military rifles is because of too many regulations, and too much bureaucratic red tape. He says the government's decision not to allow law enforcement agencies to acquire military hardware will not affect the Le Mars Police Department. However, Dekkenga says it is a shame the government decided to discontinue the program.

 

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Dekkenga says its too bad the government has issued the order, because as he says, many city budgets simply cannot afford to purchase new armored equipment that may be needed because of its cost.

 

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Dekkenga says he often times questions the wisdom of our government's decisions with regard to military surplus items.

 

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Huckabee Says He Will Skip Iowa Straw Poll

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says he won't participate in the Iowa Straw Poll, where he competed and placed second eight years ago.

In an opinion piece published Thursday in The Des Moines Register, Huckabee said his resources are better spent on other efforts. He argued that the straw poll is likely to draw only conservative candidates and that the competition could weaken them.

Huckabee has declared his candidacy for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. In 2008, he won the Iowa caucuses but did not win the nomination.

State GOP officials have fought to keep the Aug. 8 event alive. But critics say the poll has become a costly sideshow.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will skip the poll and attend a conservative gathering in Georgia.

 

 

 

Sioux City Man Sentenced To 15 Years For Synthetic Marijuana

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sioux City man accused of burglary and possessing synthetic marijuana has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

19-year-old Javen Mobley pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary, and in a separate case, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.

Authorities say Mobley admitted breaking into a house Sept. 1 to steal items, and other people he was with started a fire. Mobley had been charged with second-degree arson in connection to the fire, but the charge was dismissed as part of his plea agreement.

According to court documents, Mobley was arrested in April during a traffic stop when police found six plastic bags containing synthetic marijuana. The documents say Mobley told officers he was on his way to deliver the substance to a woman.

 

 

 

Branstad Appoints New Civil Rights Director

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A woman who's worked since 2012 for the Iowa Civil Rights Commission has been named its executive director.

The office of Gov. Terry Branstad on Wednesday announced his appointment of Kristin Johnson to the post. Johnson replaces Beth Townsend, whom Branstad appointed to be director of Iowa Workforce Development.

Johnson has been working for the commission as a civil rights specialist. Previously she was an arbitrator and mediator for the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a consultant for the Iowa Association of School Boards, an attorney in private practice and a labor relations attorney for the Iowa Department of Personnel.

Johnson earned her bachelor's degree and law degree from the University of Iowa.

 

 

 

Con-Agra Expands In Waterloo

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - ConAgra Foods says it plans to expand its Waterloo plant and add 55 jobs to the local payroll.

Officials say Omaha, Nebraska-based ConAgra expects to break ground next month on the 99,000-square-foot expansion, pending approval of state and local incentives. ConAgra says the expansion project could be finished by late 2016. The expansion will provide space for production of the company's David sunflower seed snacks.

ConAgra has produced Snack Pack and Swiss Miss products in Waterloo since 1997.

 

 

 

Two Landfills Given Permission To Accept Bird Flu Carcasses

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two Iowa landfills have been given approvals from federal and state officials to dispose of some of the millions of chicken, turkey and duck carcasses amassing from the outbreak of bird flu.

The carcasses will go to the Northwest Iowa Area Solid Waste Agency landfill near Sheldon and the Iowa Waste Systems landfill near Malvern in southwest Iowa.

On Wednesday Iowa officials added two turkey farms to the state list of cases, raising the number to 62.

The USDA says confirmed outbreaks have claimed nearly 40 million birds in 15 states since early March, mostly in Minnesota and Iowa.

 

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Thursday News, May 21

Le Mars Ambulance Celebrates 40 Years Of Service

(Le Mars) -- This week is National EMT-First Responder Recognition Week and the Le Mars Ambulance Service will celebrate 40 years of existence with a Chamber After 5 event scheduled for Thursday evening.  The event will be held at Fire Station #2 located on 12th Street southeast.  Bill Rosacker, the director of the Le Mars Ambulance Service reviews Thursday evening's events, including the start of a new program.

 

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Rosacker says the Le Mars Ambulance Services responds to three times as many calls today, compared to when the city ambulance service started 40 years ago.

 

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The Le Mars Ambulance Service is fortunate to have 26 volunteers.  Rosacker says by having that many volunteers, the city is saving money.

 

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As some smaller communities find it more difficult to find and retain volunteers to operate a community ambulance service, Le Mars is finding itself in a position to cover a larger territory.

 

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Rosacker says the state is aware of the problem and is trying to find a suitable solution to fully staff and equip the smaller towns with an ambulance service.  Rosacker admits stricter bureaucratic regulations may have discouraged people from volunteering as an Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedic.

 

 

Former Fire Chief Remembers How City Ambulance Service Started

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Ambulance service has been active for 40 years, and former Le Mars Fire Chief Wayne Schipper remembers its beginnings.  Schipper says it was the responsibility of the fire department to operate the rescue squad. However, the ambulance service was originally operated by a local funeral director.

 

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Schipper says in 1972 the state organized a pilot program involving the training of Emergency Medical Technicians, and he says Plymouth county was one of the first in the state to adopt the concept.

 

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Schipper says it was 1974 when Gary Johnson informed the city of Le Mars that he would be ending his ambulance service in 1975.  At that time Don Paulin was the mayor of Le Mars and he formed a committee to see how the city might be able to operate the ambulance service.  Schipper says the city's residents at that time were in favor of having the city manage the ambulance services, and properly train its volunteers.  He talks about the early years when the city ambulance service was getting started.

 

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Schipper says through out the history of the Le Mars Ambulance Service, there have been several good, dedicated, people willing to volunteer their time to serve the medical and rescue needs of the community.

 

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The Le Mars Ambulance Service is celebrating its 40 years of existence with an open house this evening beginning at 5:00 p.m.

 

 

Legislators Still Negotiating School Funding Budget

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Many schools, including Le Mars Community, will dismiss classes for the summer tomorrow, and yet school administration officials and teachers have not been able to sign contracts because everyone is still waiting on the state legislature to approve a school funding budget.  As lawmakers struggle to resolve the state budget, a new conflict has sprung up about how much new money to give schools in the 2016-2017 school year.

The Appropriations Committee in the Republican-led House on Wednesday approved a plan that would provide about $125 million in new dollars in that year, with some of the money going to a teacher leadership program. But Democrats say the funding level is inadequate.

Republicans had previously supported spending more money, but Representative Chuck Soderberg, a Republican from Le Mars, said they didn't want to "overcommit and under-deliver."

The Republican-controlled House and Democratic-majority Senate are still at odds over how much new money to provide in the upcoming school year, with Democrats wanting to offer more than Republicans.

 

 

 

Bird Flu Continues To Strike Iowa Poultry Farms

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa agriculture officials say tests on two new turkey farms indicate presence of the bird flu raising the number of cases to 62.

The sixth turkey farm in Sac County and the first case in Calhoun County were added Wednesday to the state's list of contaminated farms on which all birds will be euthanized if the virus is confirmed. The number of turkeys on each farm was not immediately released.

Calhoun County becomes the 15th Iowa County to have bird flu cases reported.

Samples will be sent to a U.S. Department of Agriculture lab in Ames for confirmation of the H5N2 virus.

The USDA says confirmed outbreaks have claimed nearly 40 million birds in 15 states since early March, mostly in Minnesota and Iowa.

 

 

 

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sioux City man accused of burglary and possessing synthetic marijuana has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

19-year-old Javen Mobley pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary, and in a separate case, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.

Authorities say Mobley admitted breaking into a house Sept. 1 to steal items, and other people he was with started a fire. Mobley had been charged with second-degree arson in connection to the fire, but the charge was dismissed as part of his plea agreement.

According to court documents, Mobley was arrested in April during a traffic stop when police found six plastic bags containing synthetic marijuana. The documents say Mobley told officers he was on his way to deliver the substance to a woman.

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House Approves Fireworks Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa House has approved a measure that would legalize the sales of more kinds of fireworks.

The  measure passed on a 53-43 vote late Wednesday night. It now heads to the Senate, where a similar bill is being considered.

Under the proposal, retailers could sell firecrackers, Roman candles and other fireworks. Currently the state allows sales only of sparklers and snakes. The bill would take effect Dec. 1, 2015, too late for July Fourth this year.

 

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