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Thursday News, July 5th

Hinton Fire Department Respond To Two Fires

(Le Mars) -- It was a relatively quiet Independence Day, other than the Hinton Fire Department having to respond to two separate small fires.  The first fire was a mattress that was on fire in the back of a pickup truck.  That fire was reported at about 4:45 p.m. on Highway 75, just a mile north of Hinton.  The second fire was a grass fire that occured at about 10:30 p.m. at 31844 West Loop Road.


Thousands View Sky Show Fireworks Display

(Le Mars) -- Thousands of people gathered at and around the Plymouth County Fair grounds Wednesday evening for the annual Sky Show Fireworks Display.  The show lasted a little more than 22 minutes with plenty of "oohs and ahhs" heard from the crowd, as the sky was illuminated with various colors from the fireworks.  Near the finale, emergency crews responded to the area near the Armory as a woman who had been dehydrated.  Fire crews had to extinguish a few small grass fires as a result of the fireworks fallout.  In general, the show was a success with very few problems.


Father Told To Remove Sign

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A proud Iowa father who placed a huge sign on his property to congratulate his seven children for graduating from high school has been ordered to take it down.
     Clayton Mace of Sioux City erected the 24-foot-wide sign with his children's names and the years they graduated from West High School on the hill behind his house, which is visible from
Interstate 29.
     City officials told Mace the sign violates city zoning laws and he hascagreed to remove it.
     City official Jeff Hanson says code only allows small political signs and those for home-based businesses in residential areas. He says Mace's sign "is one of the largest ones we've encountered."
     Mace says he didn't mean to break the law.


Branstad Sent To Hospital After Choking Incident

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has been released from a California hospital after choking on food during a ceremony for the re-dedication of the USS Iowa battleship in Los Angeles.
     Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said Wednesday the governor choked on a carrot at some point during the event and vomited.
     He says the governor was taken to a nearby hospital out of an abundance of caution, went through a series of tests and was quickly released after "everything turned out fine."
     He says Branstad was in good spirits. He says the governor had planned to visit his uncle who lives in the area and watch fireworks before returning to Iowa on Thursday.
     The USS Iowa is a World War II-era battleship that has being turned into a museum.


Iowa Tax Revenue More Than Estimated

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Preliminary estimates show that tax collections in Iowa grew by 5 percent in the budget year that ended last week, a much larger increase than originally projected.
     The figures from the Legislative Services Agency show the growth was nearly double the 2.6 percent increase projected by a state panel.
     Tax collections for the year that ended June 30 totaled more than $6.1 billion, up from $5.8 billion last year. Collections for personal income taxes and sales taxes rose modestly, while
corporate income tax receipts jumped by 32 percent.
     Gov. Terry Branstad says there is no question it was a good year and the state's financial outlook is encouraging. He says the state's cash reserve and economic emergency fund are also fully

Boat Crash Charges

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have charged an Iowa boa tdriver with vehicular homicide for his involvement in a fatal Father's Day crash on the Des Moines River.

46-year-old Tony Starrett was arrested and booked into the Polk County Jail Wednesday morning. He was being held on a $100,000 bond.  Starrett is the brother of 49-year-old Kelly Starrett, a passenger who was killed in the June 17 crash.  Both Tony Starrett and the driver of the other boat, 54-year-old Steven Mayo, were previously charged with boating while intoxicated. Authorities say Mayo's blood alcohol level was .129, while Starrett's was .172. The legal limit for operating a boat in Iowa is .08.




Wednesday News, July 4th

Le Mars Plans for Independence Day Celebration

(Le Mars) -- Here is a run down of the schedule of events being planned for today in Le Mars.  At 10:00 a.m. this morning will be the Independence Day parade that will start at the Le Mars Community High School parking lot.  The parade route will travel east along 8th Street to 3rd Avenue Southwest then to the Plymouth County Veterans Park.  Any entries are welcome as long as they have a patriotic theme.  At 11:00 a.m. will be the Celebration Program from the Plymouth County Veterans Park.  A noon lunch will be served at the Le Mars Convention Center, upper level.  From 1 to 5 p.m. the Plymouth County Historical Museum will off root beer floats at the Miller's Lunch.  At 3 p.m. will be a watermelon feed also to be held at the Plymouth County Historical Museum.  The Le Mars Municipal Band will perform a concert beginning at 8:00 p.m.  The free concert is open to the public and will be held at the Foster Park.  To conclude the day's festivities will be the Fireworks Sky Show being held at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds.  Those fireworks will begin at 10 p.m. and you can tune your  radios to KLEM 1410 AM and 96.9 on the FM for a musical salute during the fireworks display.


City Council Discusses Former IDOT Property

(Le Mars) -- In yesterday's Le Mars city council meeting, there was much discussion focussed on city owned property near Business Highway 75 on the north end of town.  The city wants to sell the property that has a machine shed and several smaller utility sheds.  The city had acquired the property from the Iowa Department of Transportation, as it was used as a maintenance and equipment storage facility.  Real estate agent Lance Sitzmann, who is on contract with the city to assist with the selling of city-owned property, informed the council that there is some interest by people to acqire the property.  The city council decided to ask for bids on the property with a August 28th deadline.


Howard Concerned About Costs With Paving Project

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars city council heard from a concerned citizen regarding the installation of concrete paving of the curb and guttering along 6th Avenue Southwest. Jeremy Howard resides on 6th Avenue Southwest.  He says he isn't opposed to the idea of installing the concrete.  But he was worried his property taxes would increase, and the amount of money being asked by city exceeded his level of funding his share of the project.

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City Councilman Rex Knapp negotiated with Howard.  Knapp asked Howard if the city would extend the payments over ten years with a low interest rate, if Howard would be acceptable to the plan?

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The city has two of the three residents affected by the paving project in agreement.  The property of the third parcel has multiple owners, and the city is trying to reach some type of agreement with each owner.


City Council Evaluates Administrator's Performance and Approve Salary

(Le Mars) -- During closed session, the city council evaluated the job performance of both the City Administrator Scott Langel, as well as Assistant City Administrator Bill Cole. The council reconvened in session and approved the salary level of $92,000 plus mileage for city business at the approved city rate for fiscal year 2013 for Assistant City Administrator Bill Cole. The council also approved the salary level of $129,600 plus mileage for city business for City Administrator Scott Langel.  The council approved both salaries on a 5-0 vote.

Le Mars Officials Want Residents to Conserve Water

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Water Department is requesting residents of Le Mars to voluntarily conserve water.  Water Superintendent Gayle Sitzmann says all seven of the city's wells and pumps are active and pumping more water than the system is accustomed.  Sitzmann says on June 28, the city pumped nearly 5 million gallons of water, and under normal daily usage, the city would utilize about three million gallons of water.  City officials have had to turn down the valve on one of its wells since the pumping level is getting low due to multiple wells operating at once.

Hull Residents Are Restricted On Water Use 

(Hull) -- The residents of Hull, Iowa are being told to conserve water.  As of last Tuesday, City officials have declared a water emergency.  Les Van Roekel is the city adiministrator for Hull.  He says Hull gets its water from Rock Valley and from Sioux Center and the dry conditions forced the city to make the restrictions.

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Residents are prohibited from outdoor watering and irrigating of lawns and gardens.  No water may be used to fill private swimming pools or any other recreational use.  No water may be used for nonessential use.  Car washing is prohibited except in commercial establishments that provide the service.  Van Roekel hopes the city doesn't have to impose additional water restrictions on essential water usage.

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The Hull city official says they have implemented the restrictions so to make certain plenty of water would be available for emergency use, such as fires.


Wall Lake Couple Indicted On Bank Robbery Charges

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A federal grand jury has indicted a northwest Iowa couple on bank robbery, conspiracy and firearm charges.
     47-year-old Jeffrey Schoon and 40-year-old Roxena Schoon are accused of robbing four banks.
     Jeffrey Schoon pleaded not guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Sioux City. Roxena Schoon is scheduled to be arraigned July 12.
     The indictment alleges that the Wall Lake, Iowa couple robbed Iowa State Bank in Odebolt on Dec. 29, Citizens First National Bank in Early on Jan. 11, Westside State Bank in Vail on Jan. 28 and
Heritage Bank in Lytton on March 23. A total of nearly $33,000 was stolen.
     The indictment says Jeffrey Schoon robbed the bank, and his wife drove the getaway car.


Kroll Pleads Not Guilty To Beatings

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sioux City man has pleaded not guilty to bludgeoning two people in their sleep with a crowbar.
     23-year-old James Kroll entered the plea Monday in Woodbury County District Court.
     Kroll is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and first-degree burglary.  Police say Kroll beat 54-year-old Jeffrey Moravek to death and seriously injured 54-year-old Mary Tope after breaking into Tope's home on June 13. Tope remained hospitalized at Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City last week. An updated condition report was unavailable Tuesday.
     Police say Tope's daughter, Emily Tope, was in the house at the time and identified Kroll, her former boyfriend. Court papers say Kroll was distraught that his relationship with Emily Tope had


Highway Patrol Will Watch Holiday Travelers

(Le Mars) -- The Iowa State Patrol wants to remind people to use their seat belt and to refrain from drinking and driving during this holiday.  Trooper Vince Kurtz says the Highway Patrol will be on the roads looking for violators.  He says normally the July 4th holiday has a high rate of alcohol-related accidents and incidents, but since the Independence Day holiday falls on Wednesday this year, Kurtz says he isn't certain as to what the statistics may show, but he hopes the number of incidents may be lower.

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Kurtz says the Iowa State Patrol anticipates fewer long-distance motorists during this holiday season since the the 4th falls on a Wednesday as opposed to the weekend.  

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Kurtz suggests motorists to take along a "summer survival kit" when traveling.  He says motorists should be prepared for the heat.  He suggests taking an extra bottle of coolant for your car, in case it were to over-heat, and he says motorists should have extra bottles of water to stay hydrated, and to have a cell phone fully charged in case you were to be stranded.


Transportation Officials Warn Travelers About Highway Buckling

AMES, Iowa (AP) - State transportation officials are urging drivers to watch out for pavement problems as the high temperatures heat the highways.
     Officials say pavement blowups happen when thermal expansion forces the pavement to buckle and shatter.
     A blowup can happen anytime without warning. Officials urge drivers to pay special attention to highways when driving during afternoons when the mercury climbs to 90-degrees or higher.
     The DOT says many of the blowups result in a pothole or with small chunks of concrete on the pavement, and they take time to repair.
     Officials say the repairs cost an average of $400,000 each year.


Education Officials To Study Length of School Day

      DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A task force will study whether Iowa's public schools should lengthen the school day and make other changes to their calendars.
     Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass on Tuesday appointed the members of the Instructional Time Task Force, which was created by lawmakers as part of their education reform law.
     The committee will study whether the minimum length of the school day and year should be extended for some students or all students and whether schools should have a uniform start date. The group will also consider whether summer break should be shortened, with days off spread out throughout the year.
     Glass says time in school should be applied differently to students based on their individual needs, but that adding time should be carefully studied because of its expense.





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