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Tuesday Afternoon News, March 17

Five Fire Departments Respond To Grass Fire

(Le Mars) -- Another major grass fire occured on Monday afternoon near Kingsley.  Kingsley Fire Chief Scott Bohle says the fire department actually had two separate fires.  The first happened at about 1:15 when a fence line fire got out of control.  Bohle says a tractor was lost in that fire.  Kingsley Fire Department was called to a second grass fire two hours later that was a controlled burn that got out of control. Bohle says fire fighters encountered some difficulty in fighting the blaze.

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Bohle says the grass fire destroyed a large area in southeastern Plymouth County.

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Bohle says the Kingsley Fire Department had to call for backup assistance from neighboring towns.

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The Kingsley Fire Chief says in addition to the muddy conditions, the strong winds were also a major factor in yesterday's efforts to extinguish the grass fire.

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As a result of the many grass fires, the Plymouth County Fire Departments requested from the State Fire Marshal to issue a burn ban for Plymouth County.  The burn ban will take effect Wednesday morning at 8:00 a.m.

 

Transportation Officials Tell Cities Remove The Traffic Cameras

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State transportation officials have ordered the removal of some traffic cameras operated by cities on state supervised roadways.
     The Iowa Department of Transportation on Tuesday released evaluations on speed and red-light cameras that six cities operate on state roads. DOT officials want to remove cameras at ten locations - out of 34 locations total throughout the state. Cameras at one of those targeted locations had already been deactivated due to construction. 
     This was the first oversight action since the DOT implemented rules dictating where and why cameras can be installed along state roads and requiring local jurisdictions to submit annual reports justifying camera placement. 
     Local agencies must show cameras are targeting "high-crash or high-risk locations." They have 30 days to comply with or appeal the DOT ruling.

 

Iowa's Unemployment Rate Falls

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new report shows Iowa's unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent in January from 4.3 percent in December.
     Iowa Workforce Development said in the report released Tuesday that the rate is one-fifth of a point below the January 2014 rate of 4.4 percent. The new Iowa figure places the state below the national jobless rate of 5.7 percent in January.
     The report also shows Iowa added 3,100 nonfarm jobs from December to January, with the state's trade, transportation and utilities sector alone gaining 2,200 jobs. Professional and business services saw an increase of 1,800 jobs across the state, but a loss of 1,300 positions in education and health services offset some employment advances.
     Since January 2014, Iowa added 24,800 jobs, led by the state's construction sector with 6,500 new positions.

 

 

 

 

   

Tuesday News, March 17

Police Involved With Car Chase Of Stolen Vehicle

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Police Department along with Plymouth County Sheriff's deputies were involved in a car chase Sunday evening.  Authorities were notified at about 8:10 p.m. of a 2002 Chevy Suburban that was stolen from Merrill .  A short time later, a Sheriff's Deputy spotted the vehicle.  Law enforcement officers than pursued the vehicle which drove into Armel Acres located on the southwest area of town. The suspect struck two other vehicles, one of which was in traffic and the other a parked vehicle in Armel Acres.  The suspect drove across lawns in an effort to elude the pursuing officers.  Officers were finally able to stop the stolen vehicle at the 300 block of 2nd Avenue southeast, near the Plymouth County Historical Museum.  Arrested was 22 year old Jordon Townsley of Sioux City.  He was charged with Eluding law enforcement, possession of stolen property, reckless driving, driving without a valid driver's license, and criminal mischief.  Townsley was taken to the Plymouth County Jail.

 

Grass Fires Common Across Plymouth County

(Hinton) -- Many of the county fire departments were busy Monday fighting several grass fires in rural areas of the county.  Kingsley, Remsen, Oyens, Merrill and Hinton fire departments were all involved with one or more grass fires.  Chad Beck serves as the fire chief for the Hinton Fire Department.  Beck says although the grass is very dry, with the frost coming out of the ground and the snow melt made for muddy conditions which sometimes hampers the fire fighters efforts. He says yesterday's grass fire burned approximately three to four acres. Beck suggests if you need to burn brush to first observe the weather forcast.

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Museum To Save Log Cabin From Destruction

(Le Mars) -- Efforts are underway to save a log cabin from being torn down.  A log cabin located at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds is in bad shape and the Plymouth County Fairboard had decided to tear down the historic cabin that at one time served as a cabin for a Girl Scouts camp.  However, members of the Plymouth County Historical Museum appealed to fair board officials last week during the monthly fair board meeting, requesting an opportunity to save the log cabin and move it to the museum grounds to sit next to another historical log cabin.  Musuem officials informed the fairboard that they have some financial backing to pay for the cabin to be moved and restored. The fairboard reversed their earlier decision and instead will allow the county museum the opportunity to transport the cabin.  In recent years, the Plymouth County Historical Museum had utilized the cabin during the fair.  One popular event was the serving of cherry pie on the porch of the cabin in honor of the late Cherry Cliff, a long time museum and fair volunteer. Fair board officials asked that the cabin could be moved within 60 days.  

 

Supervisors To Meet 

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors have a busy agenda for today's meeting.  The supervisors will hear a financial report from Jeff Peters of Williams and Company.  The supervisors will also be presented with a request for a minor subdivisions as presented by Dave Wilberding, and a second request from Dave DeRocher and Alan Fagan.  County engineer Tom Rohe will update the county governing board on construction projects and seek a signature for a FEMA financed bridge construction project.  It is expected the supervisors will sign a letter of support for Plymouth Energy Company asking the state legislature to consider changing the Iowa Natural Gas Replacement tax.

 

Le Mars Community School Foundation Plans For Awards Banquet

(Le Mars) -- Mark your calendars to attend the upcoming LeMars Community School District Foundation’s annual banquet to honor the Teacher of the Year, Employee of the Month recipients, district employees of 25 years, the top 5% of the 2015 graduating class, and the “Distinguished Alumnus” award recipient.
The celebration will be held on Wednesday, April 29, at 6:30 p.m. in the lower level of the LeMars Convention Center. Tickets may be purchased at the Superintendent’s Office by stopping in or calling 546-4155. Adult tickets are $20.00 and student tickets are $10.00. Please reserve your ticket by Friday, April 24. The public is invited and encouraged to attend to help honor these students, staff, and alumni.

 

Gehlen Students To Participate On Mission Trip To Honduras

(Le Mars) -- This afternoon a group of Gehlen students, faculty advisors, and parents will be heading to Hondurus for a mission trip.  A send-off ceremony will take place in the Kellen Memorial Gym, and the group will leave Le Mars at 1:30 p.m.

 

Northey Says Share The Story Of Agriculture During National Agriculture Week

(Des Moines) -- This week is recognized as National Agriculture Week, and according to Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, agriculture has a great story that needs to be told.

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Northey just returned home to Iowa from a trade mission to Malaysia and the Phillippines.  He says people around the world appreciates Iowa agriculture, and he says Iowans should too.

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The state agriculture secretary says National Agriculture Week is a time we get a special chance to inform others as to the importance of agriculture, both for its economic contributions, and also for its cultural aspect. He says this week is a time to say "thanks" to those involved with agriculture, and he encourages people to participate in the ag department's photo contest.

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Prosecutors Dismiss Child Endangerment Charges

   SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Prosecutors have dismissed their case against a Sioux City father of a 5-month-old who suffered a skull fracture, but the boy's mother is still charged.
     Woodbury County Attorney Patrick Jennings said Friday in his motion to dismiss the case that it was unclear whether Aaron Tucker was at fault. Jennings says the case can be refiled if more evidence surfaces.
     The boy's mother, 25-year-old Kara Jackson is charged with child endangerment resulting in serious injury. Her arraignment is set for Monday. Her attorney didn't immediately return a call Tuesday from The Associated Press, seeking comment on the case against her.
     According to court documents, Tucker and Jackson accused one another of dropping the child on several occasions.
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Des Moines Water Works Files Lawsuit Against Counties For High Levels Of Nitrates

   DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Des Moines Water Works has filed a lawsuit against three northern Iowa counties, alleging they are violating federal law by running drainage systems that contribute to high nitrate levels in rivers the utility uses for source water.
     Details of the lawsuit against Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties were released Monday. The  lawsuit was filed Friday and seeks reimbursement after spending $540,000 to operate a nitrate removal facility for 97 days this winter.
     Water Works officials say the counties' 10 drainage districts allow excessive nitrate levels into the Raccoon River, a primary central Iowa water source. In the lawsuit, the utility alleges such systems limit the area's drinking supply.
     The law firm representing the counties didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment Monday.
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Federal Officials Send Letter To Iowa Work Force Center

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Federal officials say the former director of Iowa's workforce agency created a "perceived pressure" to favor employers over workers in unemployment benefits decisions.
     The U.S. Department of Labor made the assessment about Teresa Wahlert in a recent letter to Beth Townsend, the new director of the Iowa Workforce Development. The letter was released Monday after a Senate subcommittee meeting over Townsend's appointment.
     Labor officials met with administrative law judges last year over allegations that Wahlert tried to influence the judges. The letter says officials spoke with Wahlert about its findings in December.
     The letter makes recommendations, including that the position of a chief administrative law judge be merit based. That protects certain state workers from being fired for political reasons.
     A spokeswoman for Townsend says she is reviewing the letter.

 

Medicaid Plan Under Review By Senate

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A plan for Iowa to hire an outside contractor to vet some Medicaid recipients is under review in the Iowa Senate.
     A Senate subcommittee opted Monday to hold the bill, which has received approval in the Iowa House, for further review. The proposal would require the state to contract with an outside vendor to set up a computerized system that would assess whether people who are elderly, blind or disabled meet Medicaid eligibility rules.
     This would apply to about 78,000 people currently on Medicaid, out of about 550,000 in Iowa. The program serves poor children, families and disabled people, as well as low-income adults. 
     The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency says setting this up would cost the state general fund about $69,000 in the next fiscal year.

 

House Panel OK's Plan To Verify Car Insurance

     DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A House panel has approved a bill that would allow a private company to monitor whether people in Iowa have up to date car insurance.
     Members of a Ways and Means subcommittee approved the bill Monday. It now heads to a full committee for consideration. The bill would then be available for debate in the House.
     The bill would allow a third party to maintain a database of motor vehicle insurance information. The company would then contact a person if records show he or she has outdated insurance information. The person could have their car registration revoked and face fines.
     Supporters say the legislation would lower cases in Iowa of people driving without car insurance. Lobbyists for several insurance groups say there are liability issues if there's a database breach.
 

 







   

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