Thursday News, April 11
Utility Crews Work Overnight To Restore Power
(Le Mars) -- Utility crews have been working through the night to restore power to hundreds of northwest Iowa residents that have been without electricity as a result of the spring storm. Northwest Rural Electric Cooperative have brought crews from other parts of their service areas to assist with the restoration of power. Gaylene Eshuis is the Operations Coordinator for the Northwest REC.
In a news release issued late yesterday, Lyle Korver, the General Manager of Northwest REC says line personnel continue to make good progress on the electric service restoration efforts for our members. By 3:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, there are approximately 140 members out of power. The most extensive damage has been in northwest Sioux County. We also have a small number of members out of power in O’Brien and Plymouth counties. We have had 15 to 20 broken poles and a number of line breaks. Korver stated he believes that most of their members will have had restored power by 10:00 p.m. However, we will have a few members that will likely be out of power overnight due to the pole replacements that are necessary in order to restore service.
Road Crews Deal With Latest Blanket of Snow
(Le Mars) -- Road crews have been trying to stay ahead of the storm by pushing the snow and ice off roadways as soon as they can. The Iowa Department of Transportation reports that all highways in northwest Iowa are wet and many are either partially or completely covered with snow. U-S Highways 75, 18, 71, 59, and State Highways 60, 3, 12, and 9 are completely snow and ice covered and motorists are urged to use caution during their early morning commute. Iowa State Patrol trooper Vince Kurtz says north of Le Mars was the heavier snowfall. Kurtz says Orange City has at least five inches of snow. He says the heavy snowfall will make it more difficult to travel.
The Highway Patrolman says, if possible delay your travel so to allow road crews the opportunity to clear the roads. He says there have been some accidents related to the snow and ice.
State Lawmakers Try To Compromise On Education Funding Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Republicans lawmakers are offering an education compromise that includes more general funding for schools if Democrats agree to GOP policy proposals.
Legislators from the Republican-majority House and the Democratic-controlled Senate met Tuesday on GOP Governor Terry Branstad's education plan.
State Representative Ron Jorgensen of Sioux City says House Republicans would support increasing general school funding if Democrats agreed to the policy language in the House version of the
bill. House Republicans want to make some items optional, like boosting minimum teacher pay.
Under the new House offer, schools would get a 2 percent increase to general school funding in the upcoming school year, plus a one-time payment equal to another 2 percent.
Democrats have supported a 4 percent funding increase for schools. They said they needed time to review.
House Approves New Laws Against Taking Police Radios
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa House has approved legislation that creates a new criminal offense for trying to remove a communication device from a law enforcement officer.
The House passed the bill 77 to 17 on Wednesday. It earlier passed the Senate and now moves to Governor Terry Branstad.
The measure makes it a simple misdemeanor to steal an officer's radio or cellphone. Penalties can be enhanced to a felony if the officer is injured during the theft.
Representative Ako Abdul-Samad of Des Moines voted against the bill, saying it creates another way to incriminate minorities, who make up more than 26 percent of the state's prison population.
The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency reports the bill would apply to nearly 30 cases each year.
Branstad Denies Inmate Commutations
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad has denied ten applications from Iowa inmates seeking commutation.
Branstad announced the decision Wednesday. Six of the applicants are serving life sentences for murder. The others were convicted of robbery and kidnapping. They range in age from 40 to 71.
A spokesman for Branstad says he has not yet made a decision on the application for commutation from 66-year-old Rasberry Williams.
Williams is serving a life sentence for the 1974 fatal shooting of a neighbor. His bid to have his sentence commuted to a set number of years so he can become eligible for parole has won the
backing of prison wardens, the prosecutor who convicted him and the judge who oversaw his trial.
Des Moines Bar Ordered To Stop Serving Home Brew Beers
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A downtown Des Moines bar has stopped customer sampling of local home-brewed beers, fearing retribution from state regulators.
El Bait Shop's Jimmy Carter Happy Hour has been a weekly event. It's named in honor of former President Jimmy Carter, who signed into law a bill that allowed home brewing.
The Des Moines Register reports (http://dmreg.co/16UdnCz ) that the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division notified the bar earlier this month that it was breaking the state law that allows home-brewed
beer to be consumed only in homes.
Bar manager Mike Gauthier says it's the first time legal concerns have been raised in the five years or so the event has been held.
He says the bar stopped holding the event so its liquor license
wouldn't be imperiled.