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Friday Afternoon News, January 16

Neunaber Has Pre-trial Hearing

(Le Mars) -- A pre-trial hearing was held Friday morning for Jonathon Neunaber of Akron.  Neunaber is accused of murdering his mother Esther Neunaber. Both of his parents, Esther and Donald, were found dead at their rural Akron home last July.  Neunaber was located a day later at LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Judge Steven Andreasen announced the trial date would be set for March 31st.

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Judge Andreasen then gave instructions to the attorneys and scheduled additional pre-trial status hearing as a way for each side to be prepared for the trial.

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The judge then asked each attorney if they have conducted an evidence "discovery" process, and whether that process is still on-going?

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Neunaber was brought to the Plymouth County Courthouse by Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo and Deputy Sheriff Craig Bartolozzi, although he waived his rights and did not appear in the courtroom.  Only Judge Andreasen, Plymouth County Attorney Darin Raymond and Public Defender Billy Oyadare (pronounced Ah-ya-dar-ee) were present.

 

Branstad Officially Named Iowa's Govenor With Inauguration

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has been sworn in for a sixth term in office. 
     The 68-year-old Republican governor took the oath of office Friday morning at a convention center in downtown Des Moines. Inauguration festivities continue throughout the day, culminating with a formal ball in the evening. 
     Branstad was re-elected to a sixth non-consecutive term in November. He served four terms from 1983 through 1999 and then left public office. In 2009, he announced plans to seek the governor's office again and was elected to a comeback term the following year. 
     Branstad has already started his official duties for the year. He delivered his annual "Condition of the State" speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday and unveiled a $7.3 billion budget proposal.

 

New Jersey Governor Attends Branstad's Inauguration Ceremonies

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie is back in Iowa as he weighs jumping into the presidential race.
     Christie attended the inauguration of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad Friday morning in Des Moines.
     It's part of a tour of swearing-in ceremonies for GOP governors he helped elect as chair of the Republican Governors Association.
     Christie told reporters he'll be attending private meetings in the city before heading back to New Jersey later in the day.
     He also repeated that he doesn't feel any pressure to make a decision and urged everybody to take a deep breath.
     Christie has made numerous visits to the early-voting state as he considers whether to seek the Republican nomination for president. 
     He'll return next week to attend a conservative summit next Saturday.

 

Audit Shows Misspent Funds From School's Business Manager

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State auditors say the former business manager of a southeast Iowa school district used a district credit card to pay her own cell phone bills, eat at restaurants and buy personal items including jewelry, a massage and cosmetics.
     Cindy Steege worked at the Mid Prairie school district based in Wellman since 2009. She resigned last June. The auditor report released Friday says she admitted to making personal purchases to investigators.
     Online court records show she's been charged with second-degree theft. Her attorney, Joseph Keegan, did not immediately return a call.
     State auditors say they identified more than $7,200 in improper purchases including two charges that appear to be credit card scams the district shouldn't have paid.
     The audit report also says improper tax withholding on Steege's payroll records were discovered.

 

Trial Date Set For Courthouse Bomb Threat

  NEWTON, Iowa (AP) - A March trial has been scheduled for a man accused of making bomb threats to the Jasper County Courthouse.
      39-year-old Martin Meloche pleaded not guilty to two counts of making a false report of the placement of an explosive or incendiary device and to one count of possessing contraband at the county jail. His trial is set to begin March 4.
     Authorities say Meloche called in two threats on Dec. 29 about a bomb at the courthouse. The building was briefly evacuated. No bomb was found.
     ---

 

Eastern Iowa Theater Closes Due To Smoke Damage

TRAER, Iowa (AP) - An eastern Iowa nonprofit theater has been forced to close because of smoke damage from a fire in a neighboring building.
     The Traer Theatre has shut its doors until further notice following a downtown fire Tuesday at a flower shop next door. Smoke from the fire seeped into the theater through a shared brick wall, leaving the air in the 144-seat facility heavy with smoke and surfaces and electronics tarnished by soot.
     Traer Theatre board president Jon Panfil says the building's upper level, where the smoke was thickest, experienced the worst of the damage. He says he's unsure how long cleanup and repairs will take.
     The Traer Theatre is a community-based movie theater remodeled and reopened in 2006 to bring movie-going back to the rural Iowa town.

 

Flu Deaths

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Polk County's medical examiner says he's seen four times more flu-related deaths so far this season than he saw last winter.
     Dr. Gregory Schmunk said Friday he's received 12 death certificates since November citing flu as a main or contributing cause of death. Schmunk says he received just three such certificates last winter.
     Three are death certificates of children, most others of the elderly, and one of a 47-year-old.
     Schmunk says the spike in flu deaths shows the seriousness of this year's outbreak, when the height of flu season hasn't yet hit.
     The county medical examiner's office doesn't receive all death certificates, but Schmunk says he estimates that he sees more than half of Polk County's death certificates, which is Iowa's most populous county.
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Friday News, January 16

Ohm Returns To Police Duty

(Sioux City) -- Sioux City Police officer, and Le Mars native Jill Ohm returned back to duty on Thursday following a shooting incident last October 3rd.  Ohm was shot in the jaw and required reconstructive surgery.  She met with the local news media to describe her recovery.  Officer Ohm responded to a call of a possible suicidal person on the city's westside.  When Ohm arrived, the suspect, Noah Ironshell, came out of the house and approached her.

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Ohm remembers hearing two shots, one of which struck her in the chin.  Ironshell then ran away up the street.

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The bullet shattered Ohm's jaw and remains in her.  Surgeons decided it was safer to leave it because it lodged near her spinal cord.


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Ironshell was found later that day in a nearby abandoned house.  He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  Residents of Sioux City and Le Mars showed support for Ohm and the police department by shining blue lights on their porches and in windows.

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Ohm was to be married last year, but the shooting and her recovery from her injuries caused the event to be postponed.  She and her fiance, who is also a Sioux City police officer, will be married on February 21st.

 

Soderburg And Anderson To Hold Legislative Forum

(Le Mars) -- State Representative Chuck Soderberg and State Senator Bill Anderson have announced their first scheduled legislative forum will be held on Friday, January 23rd at the Pizza Ranch restaurant in Le Mars.  An hour has been set aside starting at 11:30 a.m. and continuing through the lunch period until 12:30 p.m.  The legislators will be discussing various issues concerning the 2015 Iowa Legislative Session.  The public is invited and encouraged to attend the meeting and discuss any issues that are of concern.

 

School Board To Hold Special Meeting

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School District Board of Education will hold a special meeting scheduled for Monday, January 19th at 5:00 p.m.  The meeting will be at the Le Mars Education and Administration Center.  It is expected the Le Mars Teachers Association will present to the school board their initial bargaining proposal relating to the master contract for the 2015 - 2016 academic school year. 

 

Le Mars Community School Board Review Ten Year Facilities Plan

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School Board recently reviewed its ten-year facilities plan.  Superintendent of schools, Dr. Todd Wendt says the school was able to scratch off the list "Project Playground" when new playground equipment was installed at each of the elementary schools.

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Wendt reviews some of the other finished projects from this past year.

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Wendt says another project nearing completion is the new lighting system for the little theater auditorium in the high school.

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Jorgensen Introduces Bill To Allow School Districts To Decide When To Start School

(Des Moines) -- Sioux City state representative, Ron Jorgenson, has introduced a bill in the state legislature that would allow local school districts the opportunity to start school at their discretion.  Jorgenson serves as the chairman of the House Education Committee.  Iowa law says school districts are to start school the week of September 1st, however, many schools seek a waiver to that provision and begin classes in August.  Recently, Governor Terry Branstad directed State Education Director Brad Buck to enforce the law of having schools start classes at the later date.  Iowa State Fair officials and summer resort and recreation facilities have lobbied to have classes begin following the Labor Day holiday.

 

Ernst To Give Rebuttal Address To State Of The Union 

HERSHEY, Pa. (AP) - Republican officials have tapped newly elected Iowa Senator Joni Ernst to deliver the party's formal response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday.
     Ernst was elected to her seat in November, capturing it after years of Democratic control. She is also the first woman to represent her state in Congress.
     Ernst appeared at a news conference with Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Hershey, Pennsylvania, site of the GOP retreat.
     It is customary for the party not in power in the White House to be granted national television time for a response to the president's State of the Union address. In this case, Republicans hold control of both houses of Congress for the first time since Obama took office in 2009.

 

Banker's Survey Shows Midwest Economy Slowing Down

   OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A monthly survey of bankers suggests the economy will remain weak in rural parts of 10 Midwestern and Western states because of low grain and oil prices.
     The region's overall economic index improved slightly to 50.9 in January from December's neutral score of 50. The index ranges from 0 to 100. Any score above 50 suggests growth while a score below 50 suggests decline.
     Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says growth is being restrained in rural areas because of low corn and fuel prices. But bankers say ethanol plants haven't slowed production much.
     Despite the concerns, rural businesses have adding some jobs. The January hiring index was 52.8, down from December's 55.2.
     Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.

 

Missouri River Flow Levels Expected To Be Near Normal

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The amount of water flowing into the Missouri River this spring is expected to be close to normal levels.
     The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it expects 25.6 million acre feet of water to flow into the Missouri River this year. Typically, the river receives 25.2 million acre feet of water.
     Going into the year, the Corps has released enough water to make sure that the full flood control portion of the reservoirs along the river is available.
     Corps officials will continue to monitor the mountain snowpack levels and spring rain forecasts. At this point, officials expect to offer full navigation on the river at least through the first half of 2015.

 

Lottery Employee Arrested For Fraud

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials say a lottery employee has been arrested after being identified as the mystery winner of a multimillion-dollar Hot Lotto ticket that baffled investigators for years.
     The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation said Thursday that 51-year-old Eddie Raymond Tipton, of Norwalk, faces two felony counts of fraud. He is being held at the Polk County Jail. Court records do not list an attorney.
     Tipton is the security director for the Multi-State Lottery Association in Iowa. Officials say he bought the Hot Lotto ticket in 2010, despite being legally prohibited. He is accused of asking others to claim the ticket.
     A New York lawyer in 2011 waited shortly before the one-year deadline to try to claim the ticket but later withdrew. Authorities say the case remains under investigation.



 

 

 

 



   

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