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Thursday News, February 28

Remsen Fire Department Responds To Oven Fire

(Remsen) -- The Remsen Fire Department responded to a late night alarm. Shortly after 1:30 a.m. this morning, the Remsen Fire Department was called to 512 Madison Street for what turned out to be an oven fire.  No report as to how much damage was sustained as a result of that oven fire.


Local Banks Help Le Mars Fire and Rescue Acquire A Defibrillator

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department recently upgraded some equipment with the help of three participating local area banks.   The fire and rescue department was able to purchase a new defibrillator.  Three local banks: American Bank, Primebank, and the Kingsley State Bank all stepped forward and donated funds to the fire and rescue department, in order to purchase the defibrillator. The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department appreciates the support exhibited by the banks and all citizens with their donations throughout the year.


Freking Chosen As Chamber Vice President

(Le Mars) -- Life-long Le Mars resident Allie Freking has taken over as the new Vice-President of the Le Mars Main Street Program.  Beginning in mid-February Freking filled the shoes of Jenni Smit, previous vice-president, in the volunteer position. Allie says the vice-presidential role puts her on the executive board for the chamber.  She'll oversee promotions, design, business improvement and primarily events, working alongside Main Street Manager Mary Reynolds.

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Freking will help with fundraising throughout the year also, including the fall dinner theater fundraiser and the holiday dollars promotion.  Allie said that volunteering in the capacity as the Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce Main Street Program Vice President was a natural step for her.

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She adds that new promotions and ideas are in the works, but they'll have to be a surprise! Allie Freking is a 2003 graduate of Le Mars Community and is employed as the program director at the Le Mars YMCA.


Trial Set For Argosy Casino

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Trial has been scheduled next year for Penn National Gaming Co.'s lawsuit against the co-holder of its gambling license for the Argosy floating casino in Sioux City.
The trial is scheduled to begin April 14, 2014, on the lawsuit filed in September last year.
Penn National's Iowa subsidiary, Belle of Sioux City, says Missouri River Historical Development violated terms of their operating agreement. Penn National and the nonprofit historical development group jointly hold the gambling license.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is expected to announce April 18 its choice from four proposals to replace the Argosy with a land-based casino.


Sioux City West High School Official Resigns Due To OWI

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sioux City high school administrator has resigned following his arrest on suspicion of drunken driving.
A trial is scheduled to begin April 9 for 47-year-old Dale Veatch. He's pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges of drunken driving and lacking registration for his vehicle.
An Iowa state trooper stopped Veatch for a broken headlight on Jan. 20. A court affidavit says Veatch failed field sobriety tests and recorded a blood alcohol content of nearly twice the legal
limit in a breath test.
Veatch has been school activities director at West High School. District spokeswoman Alison Benson says Veatch's resignation is effective June 30.


Iowa High School Graduation Rates Rise

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The state Department of Education says Iowa's graduation rate increased to more than 89 percent, the highest in the nation.
The department reported Wednesday that 89.26 percent of Iowa's class of 2012 graduated, up nearly 1 percentage point from 2011.
Iowa's four-year graduation rate ranks first nationally.
Graduation rates increased in 172 of Iowa's 318 school districts that had high schools.
Of the 10 largest districts, eight saw graduation rates rise.  The biggest jump among those districts was in Des Moines, where the rate climbed 3.47 percentage point to 79.15 percent.
Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass noted the strong numbers but added that the state needs to ensure graduating students are adequately prepared.
State lawmakers are considering reforms aimed at improving Iowa's public school system.


Latham Says He Won't Run For Senate Seat

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Republican Congressman Tom Latham of Iowa is saying he will not run for the U.S. Senate seat left open by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin in 2014.
Latham, a 10-term Republican from Clive, says in a statement Wednesday that he could not "in good conscience launch a two-year statewide campaign that will detract from the commitment" to the
new district he was elected to in November.
Attention now turns to U.S. Representative Steve King of Kiron. King, a conservative from northwest Iowa, has also said he is weighing a Senate bid, but was not expected to challenge Latham in a primary.
Democratic Representative Bruce Braley, a four-term House member from Waterloo, is the only announced Democrat for the seat.


Lawmakers Consider Photo ID For Voting

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Lawmakers in the state House are set to consider a bill that would require voters to show photo identification at Iowa polling places.
The state government committee is scheduled to consider the legislation at a Thursday meeting. The measure is backed by Secretary of State Matt Schultz, who has filed identical bills in
the House and Senate.
Schultz, a Republican, has made voter ID one of his key issues. GOP lawmakers largely support him, saying identification is needed to prevent fraud. Democrats say there is little fraud and claim
Republicans want to discourage voting by minorities and the elderly, who tend to favor Democrats.
Opponents of the legislation say a photo ID requirement would disenfranchise voters who don't have required documents. They also say the rules could slow vote-counting.


Democrats Want To Expand Medicaid --Branstad Says No

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Democratic effort to expand Medicaid in Iowa is moving forward, but Republican Governor Terry Branstad remains firm in his opposition.
Democrats in the Senate Human Resources Committee on Wednesday approved a proposal to expand the state's Medicaid program. Under the plan, the Medicaid eligibility limit would be raised to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $15,400 annually for an individual.
Branstad has opposed such an expansion and instead wants to seek a federal waiver to continue IowaCare, a program that provides limited benefits to 70,000 low income adults using state and
federal funds. That program is set to expire by the end of the year.
If Medicaid is expanded, as many as 150,000 people could be added to Iowa's rolls, including those on IowaCare.



Fort Dodge City Council Votes Down Pay Raise

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - City Council members in Fort Dodge have rejected a proposed $1,300 a year raise.
Six of the seven council members at the Monday meeting voted against what would have amounted to a 27 percent raise. One councilor was absent.
The city's Salary Advisory Review Board recommended the increase from $4,800 to $6,100 beginning Jan. 1, 2014.
Council member Andy Fritz says he voted no because he knew what the salary was when he opted to run for office. Fritz says, ''I don't do this job for the money."
Jim Koll, who was on the salary advisory board, says Fort Dodge council members haven't had a raise since 2002.






Wednesday Afternoon, February 27

Snowball Fight Results in Bus Accident - 21 Injured

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City police say students who pelted a school bus with snowballs caused a collision that injured 21 other students.
Sgt. Brad Bollinger says the accident occurred about 3:05 p.m. Tuesday in front of West High School. Bollinger says the driver stopped the school bus when the snowballs hit it. It was struck in
the rear by a city transit bus that couldn't stop in time.
The buses were carrying students home from West High and West Middle schools.
The students suffered mostly bumps and bruises. One student was taken by ambulance to a hospital. The bus drivers weren't hurt.
School spokeswoman Alison Benson says throwing snowballs at a bus would violate the district's code of conduct and that students could be punished.

Iowa House Republicans Announce Target Budget

(Des Moines) -- The Iowa House Republicans released their proposed budget this morning.  The number at $6.414 billion is slightly smaller than the $6.5 billion dollar budget proposed by Governor Terry Branstad, although considerably lower than the Senate Democrats proposed budget of $6.9 billion.  Chuck Soderberg of Le Mars represents most of Plymouth county and the northern section of Woodbury County.  Soderberg serves as the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.  He says the Republican budget allows for a three percent growth.
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Soderberg says the House intends to keep the state's expenditures lower than the state's revenue.

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Soderberg says the primary areas of funding were the Human and Health Services, which includes funding allocation to mental health...education...and public safety.  Soderberg says there are still several uncertainties before a final budget can be passed.
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Republicans say they want to focus on keeping expenses down, while Democrats say they want to make investments to improve programs.

Northwestern College Student Learns of Family Deaths

ORANGE CITY, Iowa (AP) - A college student from Sioux Falls, S.D., who lost her entire family in a car crash was told about the accident during the intermission of a school play.
Greg Christy, president of Northwestern College, broke the news to Brittany Vollmer, a sophomore at the Orange City school who was watching the play.
Christy tells KMEG that it was painful to share such tragic news and it's something no one would ever want to do.
The Saturday crash on Interstate 90 in South Dakota killed James and Julie Vollmer and their children, 16-year-old Alyssa and 13-year-old Caleb.
Funeral services are set for 11 a.m. Friday at Sioux Falls Christian Schools.


Prison Inmate Suspected of Mailing White Powder To Federal Courthouse

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Officials suspect a prison inmate in another state sent a letter containing white powder to a federal court building in Des Moines.
Postal inspector Jim O'Hara says the inmate already is being investigated for allegedly sending a
similar threatening letter with white powder to another government building in Iowa.
O'Hara would not release the inmate's name or the state where the inmate is imprisoned.
The federal court annex in Des Moines was locked down for nearly an hour Monday after the letter was opened. The building was reopened after a test showed the powder was acetaminophen, a common over-the-counter pain reliever.

Winter Snow Storm Blankets Central and Northeast Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials warn that travel remains hazardous as snow from a surprising snowstorm continues to fall.
Travelers are urged to check road conditions by visiting http://www.511ia.org, calling 511 in Iowa or 800-288-1047 nationwide. No weather-related road closures have been reported so far Wednesday.
The storm has dropped more than 9 inches of snow on some areas of Iowa and has perplexed forecasters.
National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Johnson says the storm moved 100 miles off its expected course and loosed a blanket of heavy snow instead of merely dusting central, eastern and southern portions of Iowa on Tuesday.
Johnson says he can provide long meteorological explanations about the storm's behavior, "but basically it didn't do what we expected it to do."








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