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Friday Afternoon News, Feb. 15

Plymouth County To Work On 20 Road Construction and Bridge Projects

(Le Mars) -- It won't be long before spring will be upon us, and with spring also comes
those orange cones, barrels, and barricades as road construction projects begin.  Plymouth County engineer Tom Rohe says there are 20 different construction projects slated for this spring and summer for the county. Rohe says that includes two bridges that will be replaced.
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Rohe says a lot of attention in terms of road construction projects will be devoted to the Merrill area this spring and summer.

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The county engineer believes it will be April or May when construction is to start for all the projects around Merrill.  The Iowa Department of Transportation will widen Highway 75 to include a left-hand turning lane, while the city of Merrill will upgrade 5th Street, and at the same time, Plymouth County will place over-lay asphalt on  county roads C-38 and K42, the roads that serve the Plymouth County Energy and Plymouth County Oil Companies.  Rohe says the Merrill over lay projects and the two bridge replacements will come with a price tag.
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Rohe says most of the other road construction projects through out the county involve replacing old bridges with box culverts.

Sioux City Man Pleads Not Guilty To Weapons Charges

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sioux City man accused of shooting and killing his two dogs has pleaded not guilty to two weapons charges.
Jon Holloway won't be prosecuted on animal abuse charges. Sioux City Police Lt. Mark Kirkpatrick says it's technically not illegal to shoot your own pets.
Holloway is charged with reckless use of a firearm and discharging a gun within city limits. Authorities say the 51-year-old Holloway shot his two dogs Tuesday with a rifle in his backyard.
Police say Holloway had been arguing with his sister about the dogs being aggressive.
Holloway's trial is scheduled for April 24.


Four Sentenced To Prison For Meth Distribution

(Sioux City) -- Two men and two women have been sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a methamphetamine distribution conspiracy.  30 year old Joseph Hough of Dakota City, Iowa; 50 year old Diane Kletsch of Superior, Iowa; 48 year old Timothy Lamb of Fort Dodge, and 46 year old Yolanda Hernandez of Donna, Texas after pleading guilty in October to a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Hough was sentenced to nine years of imprisonment, while Kletsch received seven years and three months sentence, and Lamb got over eleven years, and Hernandez was sentenced for eight years and one month.


Mexico Man Sentenced To 24 years of Prison For Methamphetamine

(Sioux City) -- Meanwhile, a Mexico man who had been living in Sioux City was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison for the distribution of methamphetamine.  33 year old, Angel Solano-Fierro was found guilty of distributing 280 grams of pure methamphetamine.  Solano-Fierro admitted to distributing the methamphetamine between February and May of 2012.


Supreme Court Says Farmers Liable For Ag Tour Accidents

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court says farmers who host educational tours are not shielded from personal injury lawsuits under Iowa's recreational use law.
The court ruled 5-2 on Friday that the owners of a dairy farm can be sued by a chaperone injured when she fell through a hole in a hayloft during a kindergarten class field trip.
The Iowa Farm Bureau had warned that allowing farmers to face liability would jeopardize tours that teach children about animals and farming. The group says farmers may no longer host such events
if they're worried about lawsuits.
At issue is a law that bars injury lawsuits against landowners who open their land for public recreational uses such as snowmobiling and hunting. The court says playing on a hayloft in a
barn doesn't qualify.


DNA Links Suspect To Home Invasion

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Waterloo police say DNA samples taken from a pair of tennis shoes link a suspect to a home invasion.
Joseph Holmes was charged Thursday with first-degree burglary in the Jan. 19 robbery at Dennis Fix's home.
Fix told police that someone broke in his home, assaulted him and stole his television and surround sound system. Fix was treated for brain bleeds on both sides of his head.
At the hospital, officers observed a shoe print on Fix's face.
The investigation later led them to search Holmes' residence, where they found bloody white tennis shoes that were consistent with the tread marks on Fix's face. Police say DNA testing at a
state crime lab recently matched the blood on the shoes with that of Fix.
Holmes is jailed on $50,000 bond.


Branstad Wants Olympics To Keep Wrestling

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is launching a campaign to keep wrestling an Olympic sport after the International Olympic Committee announced its recommendation to drop it.
Branstad will be joined at a Friday news conference by Olympic wrestling gold medalist Dan Gable, University of Iowa associate head wrestling coach Terry Brands and University of Northern Iowa
wrestling coach Doug Schwab. They'll gather at the Iowa State High School Wrestling Tournament to kick-off their campaign called "Let's Keep Wrestling."
Branstad and each member of Iowa's congressional delegation have signed a letter they will send to the IOC on Friday morning describing the importance of wrestling to Iowans and the Olympics.
Rep. Bruce Braley on Thursday noted it would be an "absolute shame" if young Iowans' could not live their Olympic dream.







Friday News, February 15

Recorder's Office To Be Closed On Friday

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Recorder, JoLynn Goodchild, has announced the County Recorder's
office will be closed today (Friday) from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. for a funeral.

Wind and Solar Conference Scheduled

(Sioux City) -- Are you looking for ways to reduce your energy bills?  You may want to consider attending the Wind and Solar Energy Conference that is scheduled for February 26th at the Sioux City Convention Center.  Iowa State University Extension of Woodbury and Plymouth Counties are sponsoring the conference.  Sherry McGill, Extension Director for Region five, which consists of Plymouth, Woodbury, and Monona counties, says the conference will offer people an opportunity to learn first-hand about successful wind and solar projects in Iowa.

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McGill says there is increasing interest from homeowners and livestock producers in having a small wind turbine stationed on their property to help generate electricity and defray the costs of energy usage.  However, she recommends before you build your own wind turbine, you may want to do a little research on the subject.
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Carol Schneider, Plymouth county Extension Coordinator says there was a considerable amount of local input that helped organize the wind and solar conference.
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The registration fee for that wind and solar conference is $45 and you can register at either the Plymouth County or Woodbury County extension offices.


Summer May See Mandatory Water Cutbacks

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Mandatory water cutbacks may be employed this summer in some parts of Iowa if the drought lingers.
Tim Hall is bureau chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' geology and water survey staff and he told a legislative panel on Thursday that the situation was worst in northwest Iowa.
The state has the power to prioritize water use based on a system developed in the 1950s. Hall says the system has never been used and won't be used this summer either. He says conservation
decisions are best left to local communities because situations vary so widely from one county or part of the state to the next.
The National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln says nearly a quarter of Iowa remains in severe or extreme drought.

Secretary of State Matt Schultz Faces tough Questions From Lawmakers

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Secretary of State Matt Schultz faced tough questions from Democrats at a legislative hearing where lawmakers referred to election night reporting problems as
"embarrassing". They asked why he wasn't seeking more money to update technology and hire more staff.
Schultz didn't seek a budget increase at the Thursday hearing, prompting legislators to question how he can improve the election night reporting system without more funding. They also questioned
$140,000 he's spending on an investigator focusing on voter fraud.
Democrat Senator Jeff Danielson of Cedar Falls says he lost confidence after election night, when the secretary of state's online reporting system crashed, delaying election results from
precincts for hours.
Schultz says he can manage without more funding, and he defended the use of public funds to investigate fraud.


Democrats Propose Property Tax Relief Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Senate Democrats are proposing a plan for reducing commercial property taxes that they say would help small businesses more than Governor Terry Branstad's tax proposal.
Under the legislation unveiled Thursday, commercial property owners would gradually get a tax credit that's the equivalent of a 40 percent tax cut on their first $324,000 in assessed property
value. Lawmakers say roughly 80 percent of the state's 116,900 commercial properties are assessed at or below $324,000.
Properties worth more would see a smaller percentage break, but Democrats argue their plan is more effective than Branstad's plan, which gradually cuts taxable property assessments by 20 percent for all businesses at a cost of about $350 million.
The Democratic proposal would cost $250 million and be phased in over five years.


Gun and Ammunition Found In Carry-On Bag At Des Moines Airport

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say an unloaded handgun and ammunition were found in a carry-on bag at an airport in Des Moines.
The Transportation Security Administration says the gun was detected at a screening checkpoint Wednesday at Des Moines International Airport. The unloaded handgun, several magazines and
ammunition with 42 rounds were found in a bag belonging to John Thompson, a U.S. Army captain from Virginia.
The 33-year-old Thompson told authorities he didn't know the items were in the bag. He was arrested and charged with an airport regulation screening checkpoint violation.
Firearms and ammunition are prohibited in carry-on baggage, but can be checked in at the ticket counter in a locked container.
This is the second firearm found this year at a screening checkpoint in Des Moines.


Central Iowa Fires May Be Arson Related

BOONE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities in central Iowa are investigating a series of fires they say could be arson.
Boone County Sheriff's Office and Story County Sheriff's Office are investigating between 20 and 30 fires.
Boone officials say they're concerned particularly about eight or nine fires over the last year, including a late January fire that killed a dozen horses. More than two dozen lambs were killed
in early February.
Boone Deputy Andy Godzicki says there's no firm evidence of arson, but the activity is suspicious when the incidents are grouped together.
The station says the State Fire Marshal's Office is helping with the investigation.


Man Accused of Shooting Say He Was Intoxicated By Drugs

DECORAH, Iowa (AP) - An attorney for a northern Iowa man accused of shooting at several people plans to say his client was intoxicated by drugs.
Mark Anderson filed notice in Winneshiek County District Court of his intentions to rely on an "intoxication by drugs" defense for his client, Daniel Wildman. A jury trial is scheduled to begin
Feb. 27.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports the 23-year-old Wildman is accused of discharging a 12-gauge shotgun at several people exiting a car in downtown Calmar in October. He faces three counts of attempted murder, among other charges.
Authorities say after the shooting, Wildman led police on a manhunt. He was later caught in a cornfield near Castalia.
The incident placed several schools in the area on lockdown.


Cedar Rapids Attorney Named 6th District Judge

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Cedar Rapids attorney has been named a judge in eastern Iowa's 6th Judicial District.
Gov. Terry Branstad's office says Mary Chicchelly is taking over for Judge Denver Dillard, who has retired.
Chicchelly received her law degree from the University of Iowa.
The district includes Benton, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Tama counties.









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