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Monday News, August 11

Hull Fire Destroys Machine Shed

(Hull) -- Fire fighters from three different communities were called to battle a Sunday afternoon blaze that totally destroyed a machine shed and all its contents.  The alarm came in at about 3:55 p.m. when the Hull, Sioux Center, and Boyden fire departments responded to a fire located on Highway 18 east of Hull.  Greg Van Roekel is the fire chief for the Hull Fire Department and describes the scene upon their arrival.

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The structure was on an acreage near the Van's Implement and Farm Equipment dealership. No farm equipment was damaged as a result of the fire.  Fire officials were on the scene for nearly an hour and a half.  Van Roekel says the fire caused a total loss of the structure and everything inside.

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Van Roekel is not certain what had started the fire, or the damage estimate.  He did say the state fire marshal's office has been contacted and will conduct an investigation.


Cold Air Funnels Spotted Near Le Mars

(Le Mars) -- Several people witnessed what they thought was a tornado Sunday afternoon, at about 1:40 p.m. south of Le Mars.  As it turned out, the funnel was not a tornado, but what officials call a cold air funnel.  Several cold air funnels were spotted near Le Mars and throughout Plymouth County due to an approaching cold front.  The National Weather Service assured local authorities that the funnels would occur but none were likely to touch the ground.  Three funnel clouds were observed south and east of Le Mars.   The closest one passed eastward over county roads C-38 and K-49 just southeast of City of Le Mars.    Local authorities were constantly monitoring the cold air funnels and were in constant contactwith the weather service and there was no eminent danger or the sirens would have been activated in the City  of Le Mars.    Several people did call 911 stating that they saw these cold air funnel clouds.  Remember a funnel cloud in the air and does not become a tornado until it touches the ground so there is a definite difference.   We can have funnel clouds quite often that never turn into tornados thus causing a tornado warning.


Le Mars Community School Board To Meet This Evening

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education will meet this evening at the School Administration Building.  The principals will deliver their end of the year reports to the school board.  Assistant Superintendent, Steve Webner will present a report regarding the district's progress during the 2013-2014 school year with the federal "No Child Left Behind" requirements.  The school board is also expected to approve eight different contracts.  The school board will also address six students requesting to attend Le Mars Community Schools through the open enrollment program.  The Board will also discuss the Vocational Program Sharing Agreement with Remsen-Union. 


Sioux City Reports Fewer Dog Bites Since Pit Bull Ban

 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Fewer people in Sioux City are reporting dog bites in the wake of a crackdown on pit bulls and vicious dogs.
     Officers responded to 37 percent fewer dog-bite complaints last year than they did in 2007, the year before the city banned pit bulls.
     The ban included an exception for owners who registered their pit bulls, but no new pit bulls were allowed. More than 550 were registered before the April 2009 deadline. That number has since declined to 163.
     Dog experts say it's not clear whether the decline in reported bites is due to the city's ban or other factors, such as bites that go unreported.
     Pit bull owners say the ban unfairly targets one breed.


Republicans Hopeful They Can Take Over State Senate

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Just two more seats in the state Senate could give Iowa Republicans complete legislative control for the first time in nearly 20 years.
     But capturing those seats could be a challenge for the GOP, given that there are limited competitive races and Democrats have staved off similar attempts in the past. 
     Currently Democrats hold a 26 to 24 majority in the Senate chamber. Republicans have a solid majority in the state House, with 53 seats to the Democratic 47. That chamber is viewed as likely to remain in GOP hands.
     Still, Senate Republican leaders say they're optimistic about their chances this fall, when half the seats in the 50-member Senate are being contested.


New Partnership Makes It Easier To Treat Mental Illness Patients

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - A new partnership could make it easier for some doctors in eastern Iowa to treat patients with mental illness.
     The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports that UnityPoint-Allen Hospital and Black Hawk-Grundy Mental Health Center will share electronic patient records, starting January 1st.
     The agreement will make records available online to physicians, reducing the time needed to treat patients who aren't able to tell emergency room doctors what medicines they're taking.
     Emergency room doctors say the extra information could allow patients to be released faster, once their problem is addressed. Hospitals have a limited number of psychiatric inpatient beds. Nurses are sometimes forced to call to other hospitals, even if it means transporting patients out of state.


Trial Set To Begin This Week Involving A Fort Dodge Murder

 FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - A trial is set to begin this week for a Fort Dodge man accused of fatally shooting a teenager at a bonfire party.
     The Messenger reports that 28-year-old Derrick McElroy faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of Brandyn Preston.
     McElroy is accused of shooting the 19-year-old Preston in the neck at a party in May 2011. Preston was paralyzed from the shoulders down, and he died months later in his family's care in Florida.
     Fort Dodge police say Preston died as a result of his injuries.
     The trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection at the Webster County Courthouse on Tuesday. McElroy has pleaded not guilty.









Saturday News, August 9

Crop Yields Expected To Be Near Record Numbers

(Washington)-The nation’s corn and soybean farmers are on track to produce record crops this year as a mild summer has provided optimum growing conditions.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has predicted a record soybean crop of 3.8 billion bushels.
The USDA said last month the corn crop will be just under last year’s record of 13.9 billion bushels, but many market analysts and farmers expect that to be revised upward Tuesday.
Technology is also aiding the large harvests with high-yield seeds and planting systems that use GPS.
The harvest forecast has driven corn and soybean prices significantly lower, but it isn’t expected to make much of a short-time difference in consumer food prices.


Sex Offender Caught In Oklahoma

CHEROKEE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have apprehended a 42-year-old man who failed to return to an Iowa sex offender treatment program.
     The Iowa Department of Human Services announced Friday that U.S. marshals apprehended Cory West on Thursday night at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, motel.
     Police had been searching for West since Sunday after he didn't return from his job to the Civil Commitment Unit for Sex Offender in Cherokee, Iowa.
     The Wapello County Court ordered West into the civil commitment program at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute in 2011. He became eligible for a transition release program last fall.
     The commitment program provides long-term inpatient treatment for violent sexual predators who have served their prison terms but are considered likely to commit future offenses.
     West will remain in custody in Oklahoma pending extradition to Iowa.


Judge Deciding If Confession Is To Be Allowed

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - A judge is deciding whether jurors will hear the confession of an Iowa man accused of killing a Rockwell City police officer last year.
     Prosecutors and defense attorneys argued in court Friday about Corey Trott's confession to shooting 37-year-old Rockwell City Police Officer Jamie Buenting during a standoff at Trott's house last September.
     The Des Moines Register reports that Webster County District Judge Thomas Bice heard an hour of testimony from law enforcement officers involved in the case.
     Trott's attorneys say a special agent with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation improperly questioned Trott two hours after he told a state trooper that he did not want to talk. Prosecutors say the confession was properly obtained.
     Trial for the 33-year-old Trott is scheduled to begin on September 3rd.


King Speaks At State Fair

(Des Moines)-Iowa Congressman Steve King did not mention his Democratic challenger yesterday as he spoke at the Iowa State Fair. Instead, King used much of his time on Des Moines Register's "Soapbox" to criticize President Barack Obama.

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King also talked about his recent trip to the U.S. border with Mexico.

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He was joined on the trip by Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann. King said their first stop was near Laredo, Texas and the Rio Grande River.

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A short time later, King said they spotted a pregnant woman in a raft, floating across the river to the U.S. border.

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There were some protesters who confronted King after his 19-minute long speech. King's opponent in the November election is Democrat Jim Mowrer of Boone. He is scheduled to appear on the "Soapbox" on Tuesday, August 12 at 10:30 a.m.


Judge Upholds Life Sentence

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - A Scott County judge has ruled that a man given a life sentence for his role in the 1993 killing of a teenager will remain imprisoned.
     Scott County District Judge Joel Barrows on Friday upheld the life sentence given to 38-year-old Jason Means, who was convicted of first-degree kidnapping and second-degree murder in the killing of 17-year-old Michelle Jensen.
     The Iowa Supreme Court had ordered a resentencing in Means' case because he was convicted as a juvenile. The decision followed a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2010 limiting life-without-parole sentences given to juveniles.
     The Quad-City Times reports that before upholding Means' sentence, the judge noted he already has the possibility for parole.
     Means was one of six people convicted in the shooting of Jensen.


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