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Thursday News, February 4

Road Crews Finally Able To Clear Highways After Tuesday's Snow Storm

(Le Mars) -- Snow removal continues on northwest Iowa's roads and highways.  The latest report from the Iowa Department of Transportation shows that all roads in northwest Iowa are categorized as being partially snow covered.  A stretch of roadway on Highway 3 between Le Mars and Akron is now cleared, but not before the state transportation department had to bring out a snow blower to clear high drifts. People familiar with the area say anytime the region receives a heavy snowfall, the highway is blocked and travel is limited.  Although the road is now open, passage is narrow.

 

 

 

Holz and Anderson Schedule Legislative Forums For Saturday

(Des Moines) -- State Representative Chuck Holz of Le Mars has announced that he and State Senator Bill Anderson of Pierson will host four legislative forums through out the county this coming Saturday, February 6th.  Holz and Anderson will begin their day at Kingsley at the Kingsley Community Center.  The forum is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m.  Merrill will be the second legislative forum will begin at 9:45 a.m. and will be held at the Merrill City Hall.  From 11:00 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. the two state lawmakers will visit with constituents at the Wells Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars.  Akron will be the final stop for the legislative forums.  The meeting is slated to start at 12:15 p.m. at Akron Jo's located at 150 Reed Street.

 

 

 

Neunaber Trial Now Set For May 10th

(Le Mars) -- A trial date has been set for an Akron, Iowa man accused of first degree murder in the death of his mother.  Judge Steven Andreasen has set trial for 45 year old Jonathon Neunaber to take place May 10th in Plymouth County District Court.  Last month, Judge Andreasen ruled that Neunaber was mentally competent to stand trial.  Neunaber is charged with the July 2014 beating death of his mother, 80 year old Esther Neunaber at her rural Akron home.  Jonathon Neunaber has pleaded not guilty in that case.  He remains in custody in the Plymouth County jail.

File photo: Jonathon Neunaber being escorted from Plymouth County Courthouse by Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo (right) and Chief Deputy Craig Bartolozzi.

 

 

Lawmakers Looking At Legalizing Fireworks For Retail Sale

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Legislation that would legalize the sale of fireworks in Iowa is once again advancing through the Iowa Legislature, though it may face some challenges from lawmakers.
The Senate State Government Committee voted 10-5 Wednesday in support of the bill, which would allow the sale and use of consumer fireworks such as firecrackers and roman candles. Current law allows the sale of novelties like sparklers.
The measure has bounced between the Republican-majority House and the Democratic-controlled Senate with little success. Groups have raised concerns about public safety.
An amendment to the bill passed Wednesday would give cities and municipalities more flexibility on whether to implement the bill if it becomes law. Sen. Jeff Danielson, a Cedar Falls Democrat, says the amendment makes the bill unenforceable. He plans to challenge it.

 

 

 

 

State Audit Shows Iowa Workforce Development Made Fraudulent Payments

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A state audit has revealed that Iowa Workforce Development paid more than $97,000 in unemployment benefits to people claiming to work for companies that didn't exist in 2013 and 2014s and paid more than $66,000 to people not eligible for unemployment payments in other states.
Those improper payments are part of more than $909,000 the state lost over a three-year period for which the state auditor reviewed records.
Iowa Auditor Mary Mosiman says her office was notified in May 2013 that irregularities in unemployment payments were discovered. She was asked by the U.S. Department of Labor to audit workforce development's books to determine the extent of lost funds.
Mosiman says the audit found 20 fictitious company accounts. It's unclear who set them up and no one has been charged.

 

 

 

 

King To Chair House Judiciary Subcommittee On Executive Overreach

(Washington) -- Iowa's 4th District Congressman Steve King has been appointed as chairman for the House Judiciary Task Force on Executive Overreach.

 

 

 

Trump Blasts Iowa Caucus Results

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -Donald Trump is continuing to dispute his second-place finish in Iowa's kickoff caucuses earlier this week.
Trump told a crowd of thousands in Little Rock, Arkansas on Wednesday night, "Actually, I think I came in first."
Trump is taking issue with rumors, allegedly circulated by backers of rival Ted Cruz on caucus night, that Ben Carson had decided to drop out of the race. Trump has said the results of the election should be thrown out as a result of that and other actions by Cruz.
The billionaire businessman says: "Oh that voter fraud! You know these politicians are brutal, brutal. They are a bunch of dishonest cookies, I want to tell you."
Trump is also continuing to hit Cruz on his birthplace, saying, "We don't need a president who was born in Canada."

 

 

 

Correctional Officer Sentenced To Prison

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A former Anamosa correctional officer has been sentenced in U.S. District Court to over four years in prison for smuggling contraband and being a drug user while possessing a firearm on duty.
U.S. Attorney Kevin W. Techau announced Wednesday that 29-year-old Garrett Barton received a 57-month prison term. He received the sentence after pleading guilty in October to accepting bribes to smuggle contraband into the Anamosa State Penitentiary and of being a drug user in possession of firearms.
Barton smuggled two cellphones and controlled substances into the prison for inmates.
Court records show that in December Barton sought to reduce his prison term, but before sentencing he withdrew the request and agreed with the prosecutor's sentencing range.
His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.





 



   

Wednesday Afternoon News, February 3

Iowa Department Of Transportation Still Trying To Open Highway 3

(Le Mars) -- People are trying to dig themselves out of the 13 inch snow that fell on Le Mars on Groundhog's Day. State and county road crews have been clearing the highways, and Le Mars Public Works city crews were removing the snow and hauling it away from Plymouth Street this morning.  Several schools, including Le Mars Community and Gehlen Catholic, decided to take a second day of snow vacation, as many streets and rural roads had not yet been cleared at the time classes were to begin.  As of 11:00 a.m. this morning, the Iowa Department of Transportation is still classifying State Highway 3 between Le Mars and Akron as being impassable. The Iowa D-O-T is still saying the stretch of highway is having a critical disruption. The Iowa transportation department has dispatched a large snow blower to the area.  Plymouth County Sheriff's deputy Paul Bettsworth was on Highway 3 and describes the scene.

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Bettsworth anticipates it will be awhile before D-O-T road crews have the entire highway cleared.

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As for the county roads, Bettsworth says crews from the Plymouth County Secondary Road Department are busy doing their best to clear the roads as quickly as possible.

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Tow bands continue to be in effect for Plymouth, Sioux, Lyon, Osceola, and O'Brien counties. Highways 3, 60, 12, 75, 20, 59, 71, 18 and 9 are still covered with snow and ice.

 

 

 

 

Highway Patrol Troopers Comment On Area Road Conditions

(Le Mars) -- Iowa Highway Patrol officials are reporting Highway 20 and Sioux City is the dividing line in terms of good winter road conditions, and highways that are still covered with snow and ice and considered a bit trecherous.  Trooper John Farley says from Sioux City heading south, roads and highways are improving, but highways extending north of Sioux City are still creating some concerns for motorists.

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The Iowa Highway Patrol trooper says very few vehicles were in the ditch and stranded from yesterday's storms, however, now that roads are beginning to be cleared, he has noticed more stranded motorists.

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Farley says within his patroling area, the winds have decreased offering motorists better visibility. Looking to the northern regions, Iowa Highway Patrol trooper Vince Kurtz has been traveling in the Sioux and O'Brien County areas.  He says road conditions are still not good.

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Kurtz advises to delay your travels, if possible, to allow state and county snow plows the opportunity to clear the roads and highways.  He says there are still several abandoned vehicles in the ditches, and even on the roads.

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Kurtz says the winds are not as strong as they were yesterday, but he cautions thereare still times when motorists may encounter white-out conditions.

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Holz And Anderson Schedule Legislative Forums

(Des Moines) -- State Representative Chuck Holz of Le Mars has announced that he and State Senator Bill Anderson of Pierson will host four legislative forums through out the county this coming Saturday, February 6th.  Holz and Anderson will begin their day at Kingsley at the Kingsley Community Center.  The forum is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m.  Merrill will be the second legislative forum will begin at 9:45 a.m. and will be held at the Merrill City Hall.  From 11:00 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. the two state lawmakers will visit with constituents at the Wells Ice Cream Parlor in Le Mars.  Akron will be the final stop for the legislative forums.  The meeting is slated to start at 12:15 p.m. at Akron Jo's located at 150 Reed Street.

 

 

 

 

Storm Lake Man Pleads Not Guilty To Kidnapping Conspiracy

STORM LAKE, Iowa (AP) - A May trial has been scheduled for a Storm Lake man accused of keeping the Iowa Human Services Department from taking custody of his children.
Scott Banks entered written pleas of not guilty Monday in Buena Vista County District Court to two counts of kidnapping conspiracy and one count of perjury. His trial is set to begin May 17.
Court documents say Banks kept the two children from department employees on Dec. 14 and lied while under oath at a court hearing that same day. The children were found later at the home of a relative who wasn't aware of a court order regarding the children.
The children's grandmother, Dionne Pamon, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping charges.
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Police Identify Killed Pedestrian

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Police have identified pedestrian who was killed while crossing a street in West Des Moines. 
Police announced Wednesday that 69-year-old Richard Carstensen, of West Des Moines, was struck and killed Monday night while crossing Ashworth Road. 
Carstensen was pronounced dead at the scene. There are no traffic control devices or crosswalks at the site of the crash. 
Police say the driver of the vehicle was not hurt. He was identified as 55-year-old Robert Irving, of Urbandale. Police say a preliminary investigation shows Irving did not violate traffic laws.

 

 

 

 

Jackpot Rigging Scandal

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - It was one of those feel-good moments that lotteries love to promote when "Lucky Larry" Dawson claimed a $9 million jackpot, surrounded by his kids and grandkids.
But five years later, the Iowa man could become a key player in litigation that threatens to cost state lotteries tens of millions of dollars in damages in an insider jackpot-rigging scandal.
A Des Moines law firm filed a lawsuit Wednesday on Dawson's behalf seeking to declare that his Hot Lotto jackpot in May 2011 should have been nearly three times as big, had the previous one not been fixed.
It's the first in what could be several lawsuits filed by players who claim they were ripped off by games allegedly rigged by Eddie Tipton, former security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association.

 

 

 

 

Woman Makes Deal On  Sex With Teen Charge

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - A 27-year-old woman has been given two years of probation after taking a plea deal in an Iowa sex-with-a-teen case.
Court records say Jessica Pritchard was sentenced Monday in Pottawattamie County District Court. She'd pleaded guilty to enticement of a minor and dissemination of obscene material to a minor. Prosecutors had lowered the charges in return for her pleas.
Pritchard was given a deferred judgment, which means her two convictions will be removed from her record if she successfully completes probation.
She must register for 10 years as a sex offender.
Authorities say Pritchard now lives across the Missouri River in suburban Omaha, Nebraska. She was arrested in July in Alliance, Nebraska.

 

 

 

 

Simpson Students Submit Petition Against Shooting Club

INDIANOLA, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa college is receiving pushback for its plan to hire a full-time coach for its shooting sports club.
The petition for a weapons-free Simpson College garnered more than130 signatures by Wednesday morning. It calls on the college's board of trustees to reverse a decision to hire a coach and to stop letting students store firearms in a locked safe on campus.
Petition supporters argue that the college should fund academic programs instead of a firearms club in an era of mass shootings that have left campuses broken and students dead.






 


 


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