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Friday Afternoon News, June 7

Frentress Honored As "Employee of the Month"

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce is recognizing the efforts of Dr. Misty Frentress as the Chamber's June "Employee of the Month".  The honor was presented this morning to Misty at the Le Mars Hy-Vee store.   Dr. Misty Frentress serves as a pharmacist with the Le Mars Hy-Vee.  Store manager, Peter Streit nominated her for employee of the month.  Streit says he has worked with Frentress for two and a half years, and has come to believe she is a vital link for the store's morale, customer service, and community involvement.  Streit says of Frentress she is a great Hy-Vee employee, simply because at the core, she is a great person.  Misty cares about every customer who enters the store.  She knows every customer by name, always asks about their family, children, or parents; she truly cares how they are doing.  Ask someone to name a professional they trust, and they will tell you it’s their pharmacist.  People come to Dr. Misty Frentress when they are looking for someone they can trust to be professional, honest and ethical.  I know that hundreds of people from this community could testify as to what an asset she is, and how many times she has gone above and beyond to take care of people.  She is also an excellent mentor and leader of the entire staff in the LeMars Hy-Vee pharmacy.  Our congratulations to Dr. Misty Frentress for being named the Chamber's "June Employee of the Month".

Sioux City Human Rights Commission Assesses Fine On Landlord

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Sioux City Human Rights Commission has upheld a $10,000 fine against a landlord accused of sexually harassing a tenant.
The commission voted Thursday to uphold a judge's decision to punish Pavel Benedic.
Benedic's attorney, Christopher Barondeau, says the allegation by Bridget McClure was meritless. McClure's complaints say Benedic had sexually harassed her and evicted her when she'd didn't respond
positively to his advances.
The commission fined Benedic $10,000 for violating Iowa's Civil Rights Act. He appealed to a state administrative law judge, who rejected the appeal and ordered Benedic to pay $10,000 more to
McClure for emotional distress. The judge sent his decision back to the commission, which upheld the original fine but asked the judge to reconsider the fine for emotional distress.

Iowa DNR Offers Free Weekend Of Fishing

(Des Moines) -- If you enjoy fishing, or even if you have never before gone fishing, this is the weekend to do so.  The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is offering a weekend of free fishing.  DNR Fish Biologist Martin Konrad explains what that means.

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Konrad says the conditions have been ideal for great fishing to take place either at the farm ponds, area lakes, or even the rivers.

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Konrad offers some advice for first-time anglers...keep it small and simple.

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The DNR official says the free weekend of fishing has encouraged those people to pick up the interest and toss their line in the water.

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Branstad Says He Wants Alternatives To Raising Fuel Tax

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says he wants to find alternatives to raising the state fuel tax to pay for road improvements.
Branstad made the statement Friday during a taping of the public television program, "Iowa Press." Branstad says he'd like to explore other options, such as allocating money from a state
infrastructure fund or using some sales tax revenues.
Branstad says there isn't public support to raise the fuel tax and that he doesn't want to increase it as fuel prices are rising.
Iowa's fuel tax -now 22 cents per gallon for gasoline including fees - hasn't been raised since 1989. A commission appointed by Branstad in 2011 recommended an increase of 8 to 10 cents a gallon
to boost funding for the state's network of bridges and roads.

Supreme Court Throws Out Environmental-Based Lawsuit

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court is throwing out a lawsuit filed by environmentalists seeking to block construction of a major Cedar Rapids highway through two nature preserves.
The court ruled Friday that that Sierra Club's lawsuit must be dismissed because the group didn't exhaust its administrative remedies.
Justice David Wiggins says the group should have asked the Iowa Department of Transportation to reverse its decision before filing the lawsuit.
The proposed extension of Highway 100 would run through the Rock Island County Preserve and adjacent to the Rock Island State Preserve, which environmentalists argue would threaten butterflies,
turtles and other rare and endangered plants and wildlife. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit say the highway would diminish their ability to hike and take photos there.
A similar federal lawsuit remains pending.


Supreme Court Rules Volunteers Can't Be Held Liable For Violating Open Meetings Laws

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court says volunteers who serve on governmental bodies cannot be held personally liable for unintentional violations of the Iowa Open Meetings Act.
The court ruled Friday that volunteers are immune from liability unless they commit "intentional misconduct or a knowing violation" of the act.
The court declined the city of Postville's request to fine members of a regional planning commission in northeastern Iowa who violated the open meetings law by holding a secret vote in 2010.
The law says violators can face fines of up to $500.
But since the violations by the Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission were self-policed and corrected, Justice David Wiggins says members demonstrated "a desire to comply with the
requirements" of the law and not sidestep it. Therefore, he says they're immune.


State Auditor To Investigate Secretary of State

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's new state auditor says she will investigate whether Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz properly used federal funds intended to improve election procedures to hire
a state agent to investigate voter fraud.
Democratic Sen. Tom Courtney says he has been informed by Auditor Mary Mosiman that her chief deputy would lead the investigation into whether Help America Vote Act money was properly
Mosiman will not be involved because she served as Schultz's deputy of elections until her appointment last month to auditor.
Courtney says Schultz improperly used the money for a "voter fraud goose chase." Schultz's office did not immediately return calls.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which oversees the federal election money, isn't investigating because it does not have enough appointed members to make decisions.






Friday News, June 7

Jury Finds Levin Guilty of Murdering His Mother

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - Jurors have returned a guilty verdict in the trial of a northwest Iowa man accused of killing his mother and kidnapping another woman.
A Webster County jury on Thursday convicted 21-year-old Kirk Levin of first-degree murder in the death of his mother, Marilyn Schmitt. He also was found guilty of third-degree kidnapping in the
case of Jessica Vega, a woman he met online.
Jurors deliberated for about two hours. Sentencing is scheduled for July.
Charles Kenville, Levin's attorney, had argued the state failed to prove Schmitt's death was premeditated. Assistant Iowa Attorney General Doug Hammerand said it was an intentional act.
Levin's trial began Tuesday, and included testimony from Vega and a law enforcement official who later found Schmitt's body.


Sam Clovis Considers Senate Bid

(Sioux City) -- Conservative radio talk show host and Morningside College Professor of Business and Economics, Sam Clovis has scheduled a news conference for Monday evening in Sioux City to discuss his political future.  Clovis, a retired colonel with the U-S Air Force, is expected to announce his candidacy for the U-S Senate seat, held by current Senator Tom Harkin.  Harkin has announced he will not seek a re-election bid.  Clovis, a republican, will make his announcement during his "Coffee with Sam" session at the Holiday Inn in Sioux City.  Clovis says he has done his due diligence in both prayer and counseling
with friends and family and he believes it's time to step up and announce his decision on his intentions for the United States Senate seat.  At least two other republican candidates have announced their candidacy for the upcoming vacant seat.


Le Mars Girl Scouts Erect Ice Cream Cone

(Le Mars) -- Just in time for next week's Ice Cream Days, another painted fiberglass ice cream cone will be erected in front of the Pizza Ranch restaurant today.  The cone is being donated by the Le Mars Girl Scouts and is painted to the theme of Girl Scouts, which is honoring the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts organization held last year.  The artist is Jean Weiner.  Next Friday, at 6:30 p.m. the local Girl Scouts organization will hold a small ceremony dedicating the ice cream cone.  Le Mars has more than 50 of the fiber glass ice cream cones located at various points through out the community.

John Deere To Lay Off 65 Employees

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - A John Deere plant in Dubuque has laid off 65 employees in its manufacturing section.
Waterloo television station KWWL reports the employees at John Deere Dubuque Works were notified Thursday. The layoffs are effective June 24th.
John Deere spokesman Ken Golden says despite recent strong earnings, the decision is based on sales and demand in its construction and forestry division. That equipment is manufactured
at the Dubuque plant.
Golden says the layoffs were according to seniority. Employees will receive compensation through the union and unemployment benefits.


Johnson County Worried About Potential Weekend Flooding

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - As flood waters start to recede in eastern Iowa, officials say they are nervously monitoring heavy rains that are forecast this weekend.
Johnson County officials said Thursday they're expecting a "widespread rain event" to begin Saturday night and produce up to an inch of rain.
They say the rain could last until Monday, and there could be stronger storms next week. The National Weather Service has warned the system appears to be strengthening.
Iowa City is experiencing some flooding of streets, parks and homes, but has avoided more serious damage because water hasn't topped the spillway at Coralville Lake.
The University of Iowa announced Thursday that the Iowa Summer Rep, its long-running theatre program, will perform in alternate locations because the Theatre Building has been closed due to
potential flooding.


Firefighter Faces Arson Charges

BOONE, Iowa (AP) - A volunteer firefighter in central Iowa faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced next month for arson.
A court filing on Thursday said Brett Graham, of Kelley, was convicted of second-degree arson in Boone County. Authorities say Graham admitted starting four fires in Story and Boone counties
over several months. A dozen horses died in one of the Boone County fires.
The 19-year-old was a volunteer firefighter for the Kelley Fire Department.
Graham is scheduled to be sentenced on July 19 in Boone County District Court. His Story County trial is scheduled to begin four days later.

Altoona Police Find House Growing Marijuana

ALTOONA, Iowa (AP) - Police in central Iowa say they've uncovered a home-growing marijuana operation with 200 plants.
Altoona Police Chief Jody Matherly says officers executed a search warrant at a house Wednesday night and found an intricate system for watering, heating and growing plants. They also found
cultivated and packaged marijuana.
Police arrested 30-year-old Jacob Willis. He faces charges of possession with intent to distribute marijuana, manufacturing marijuana and tax stamp violation.
Matherly says it appeared the entire home was involved in the operation.
Court records do not list an attorney for Willis.


"Bridges Of Madison County" Going To Broadway

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Some extra Iowa marketing may precede the arrival of "The Bridges of Madison County" on Broadway.
Robert Waller's best-selling book about two people who met at one of Iowa's famed covered bridges has been turned into a musical.  It first was turned in to a 1995 movie starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep.
Producers said Thursday the show will debut in August at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. It will then open in January at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater in New York.
Madison County Chamber of Commerce executive director Heather
Riley says that she's been corresponding with a marketing representative from the musical's production company about promoting the musical during the Covered Bridge Festival in October.


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