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Thursday News, January 31

Change of Location For Legislative Forum

(Des Moines) -- State Representative Chuck Soderberg of Le Mars has announced a change in location for the Legislative Forum scheduled for Saturday morning.  The forum was originally to be held at the Habitue Coffehouse and Creperie.  Now, that forum will instead take place at the Le Mars Public Library.  The time will remain the same at 10:00 a.m.  The public is invited to attend the legislative forum.

Le Mars Community School District To Host Educational Legislative Forum

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School District will host a legislative forum focusing on educational issues.  The meeting will occur on Saturday morning at the Le Mars Community School Education Service Center and is open to school board and school administrative officials of Plymouth County.  State Representative Chuck Soderberg and State Senator Bill Anderson will be attending the educational legislative forum.


Sioux City Selected As A Blue Zone Community

(Sioux City) -- The second time around was a success for Sioux City.  After a year and a half of trying, the city has been chosen as one of six new Blue Zone demonstration sites.  In achieving healthy city status, Sioux City will receive program and funding assistance to develop a blueprint to help transition residents into behaviors that can lead to longer healthier lives.  Derek Carmona spearheaded the city effort and says strategy changed in the second application.

Mayor Bob Scott says new jobs will be created through the Blue Zone effort.


Those jobs will be for around three years and are funded by Blue Zone grant money and not local tax dollars.  Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has donated five million dollars towards the program each year since it started in 2011.  The Blue Zone project is the centerpiece of an initiative to make Iowa the healthiest state in America by 2016.


Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Killer

(Le Mars) -- It's known as the silent killer and it can strike any home.  It's Carbon Monoxide poisoning, and during these cold winter months, it becomes even more dangerous.  Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless gas.  The Le Mars Fire Department has responded to a few calls recently that were carbon monoxide related, and Fire Chief Dave Schipper says it doesn't take much to greatly affect people.
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Schipper says the symptoms, especially at this time of year can be confused with influenza.
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When a home is sealed up tight to keep the cold weather outside is when carbon monoxide poisoning can occur.  Schipper says faulty fireplaces, chimneys, propane space heaters, gas ovens and stoves, gas water heaters, furnaces, and even propane Barb-B-Ques can be responsible for carbon monoxide poisoning.  But this time of year, Schipper says the most common occurrence is something most of us may consider.
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The Le Mars Fire official advises people to purchase Carbon Monoxide detectors. He says they can be placed nearly anywhere, but especially they should be near the sleeping quarters.


Jeep Falls Through Ice

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa (AP) - A 1999 Jeep Cherokee is being removed from a lake in northern Iowa.
The state Department of Natural Resources says David Hand of Mason City was driving the vehicle Wednesday afternoon on ice over Clear Lake. Hand was aiming to ice fish when the vehicle broke
through the ice and submerged into 10 feet of water. The 20-year-old Hand was uninjured.
A recovery firm from Spirit Lake will remove the vehicle.
The DNR says people need to remember about the inconsistency of ice. The agency says it doesn't recommend that vehicles travel across frozen bodies of water because several factors can affect
ice thickness.


Condition Of The Guard To Be Delivered To Legislature

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Major General Timothy Orr, head of the Iowa National Guard, is scheduled to address a joint session of the General Assembly.
The annual speech, known as the "Condition of the Guard" address, will update lawmakers Thursday on the work of the Iowa Army National Guard.
Some changes are in store for the military presence in Iowa this year. The F-16 jets that have been flown out of the Des Moines Air National Guard Base will be removed and plans to set up a drone
operation center are under way.
A spokesman for Orr says he's likely to discuss this transition in his remarks.


Legislator Wants To Legalize Marijuana For Medicine Purposes

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Some Democrats in the state Senate want to make marijuana available to critically ill Iowans.
Legislators on Wednesday introduced a bill that allows some use of medical marijuana in the state. Under the bill, a patient with a qualifying condition, such as cancer, could get a prescription for
medical marijuana. The law also allows for the creation of nonprofit dispensaries to provide marijuana to eligible patients.
Sen. Jack Hatch, one of the bill's sponsors, says the proposal would help those with chronic pain. He acknowledged the legislation has little chance of becoming law because of opposition by
Republican lawmakers, but he says the bill increases public awareness of the potential benefits of medical marijuana.
Marijuana is legal for medical use in 18 states and Washington, D.C.




Wednesday Afternoon News, Jan 30

Sohl Retires After 38 Years with the Conservation Board

(Hinton) -- After being on the job for 38 years, Plymouth County Conservation Executive Director, Dennis Sohl has announced he intends to retire.  The announcement was made official when Sohl mailed a letter to inform the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors. Sohl says he is proud of the accomplishment's during the span of 38 years, with the most recent, the completion of the Outdoor Learning Center
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Sohl says he decided to retire when the County Supervisors reduced the Conservation Board's budget.  He says a position would needed to be cut, and he thought it may be best for him to step aside.
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After retiring, Sohl says he wants to stay in the area, and he hopes to get additional education.  The conservation official says the Plymouth County Conservation programs will offer people a better quality of life.
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Sohl's official last day will be August 15, 2013.

Sioux City To Become A Blue Zone Community

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City is among six Iowa communities that will become Blue Zones as part of a privately funded program designed to reduce obesity.
The other cities include Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Muscatine, Oskalooska and Marion were also named Blue Zone demonstration sites Wednesday. They join 19 other Iowa cities that are participating in the effort.
Under the program, teams will work with the communities for two years to develop healthier food options and create effective public health policy.
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has donated $5 million toward the program each year since it started in 2011.
Gov. Terry Branstad says the program is essential to reaching his goal to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation by 2016.

State Senate Passes Education Finance Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The state Senate has approved a plan to boost funding for Iowa schools in the coming school year, though it's not clear the bills will get backing from the rest of the
Legislature or the governor.
The proposal would increase state school support by 4 percent, or $135 million. Legislators in the Democratic-majority Senate on Wednesday also approved a plan to provide additional money from a
budget surplus fund to prevent local property tax increases for schools and to reduce the property tax rate in some districts.
Sen. Herman Quirmbach, who sponsored the plan, says districts need to know what funding to expect.
Gov. Terry Branstad opposes setting funding until lawmakers approve his education reform plan, which raises minimum teacher salaries and provides incentive bonuses to some educators.


State Budget Director Hospitalized

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An aide to Gov. Terry Branstad says the state's budget director has been taken to a Des Moines hospital.
Spokesman Tim Albrecht says Department of Management director Dave Roederer was taken to a hospital Wednesday morning from his Capitol office. Albrecht says he doesn't have details but noted
that Roederer was alert at the hospital and in good spirits.
The 62-year-old Roederer is a key to aide to Branstad and oversees many state budget issues.


Casey's Settles Lawsuit Over Breast Feeding

GARNER, Iowa (AP) - A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit against Casey's General Stores Inc. filed by a former employee who says a video camera was placed in an office she used to pump breast
The Mason City Globe Gazette reports ( that the details of the settlement are confidential.
Stepheni Salz gave birth in March 2011. Her lawsuit says when she returned to work at a Casey's store in Garner, she was told she could use an office to pump breast milk.
The lawsuit says on July 28 she discovered a video camera had been installed in the office and had been operating since July 15.
The lawsuit claimed the company violated her privacy and a federal law that says employers must provide women a private place.


State Auditor Finds Improper Handling of Funds in Buffalo

BUFFALO, Iowa (AP) - A state audit shows more than $9,000 has been mishandled by officials in the small eastern Iowa city of Buffalo.
State Auditor David Vaudt's report Wednesday shows officials gave more than $5,000 in improper disbursements between September 2008 and September 2010. That includes payments to the former
assistant city clerk and city council members. Additional disbursements and charges were made with the city's credit card.
The report says some of the mishandling stems from the city clerk using paid vacation days she had not earned. Money also was incorrectly entered into the city's accounting system.
Vaudt says it is impossible to determine if more money was improperly disbursed or collected because of inadequate records.
Buffalo is located in Scott County and has a population of about 1,200 people.

Braley To Meet With Democratic Leaders About Senate Race

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley says he'll meet soon with Democratic leaders in Washington to discuss running for the Senate next year.
In an Associated Press interview Wednesday, the Waterloo Democrat says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has encouraged him to run for the seat that will be vacated by Sen. Tom Harkin. Harkin
announced Saturday he wouldn't seek a sixth term in 2014.
Braley plans to meet Thursday with Reid and Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. Braley says Harkin has encouraged him to consider making
the race.
Other possible candidates include Democrat Christie Vilsack, who lost a House race last year, and Republican U.S. Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham.


Man Arrested For Shooting Horses

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Police have arrested a 31-year-old Cedar Rapids man they suspect of shooting three horses in a Johnson County pasture.
One horse was killed and two others injured in the weekend shooting.
Ryan Grafft is being held at the Johnson County Jail on $17,500 bond. Investigators say Grafft fired a rifle at the animals from inside his truck as he passed by their pasture Sunday afternoon.
Grafft faces multiple charges, including shooting a rifle over a highway and injury to animals. He was arrested and jailed Tuesday morning.
Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek says Grafft fired about 20 shots into the pasture. The owner of the horses says he doesn't know Grafft and doesn't know why someone would want to harm his animals.










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