Tuesday, April 21, 2015
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Monday Afternoon News, March 30

Auditions Begin For "Calendar Girls" Community Theater Play

(Le Mars) -- Auditions for "Calendar Girls", the second show of the season for the Le Mars Community Theater are scheduled for both tonight and Tuesday evening, beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the Postal Playhouse.  Performance dates are scheduled for the end of May through early June.  Danna Schuster will be the director for the play and explains the story-line that takes place in England.

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Schuster says there won't actually be any nudity involved with the play, but it will provide for some comical moments.

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Schuster says she needs 13 people, four men and nine women, for the cast.

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Auditions are scheduled for both tonight and Tuesday evening at the Postal Playhouse, and Schuster explains what to expect.

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For a copy of the script, or for additional information, you can contact Danna Schuster at phone number 540-2532.



Questions Relating To Law Enforcement Agencies Purchases Using Drug Seized Money

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Questions are being raised about some purchases by Iowa law enforcement agencies using money seized under state and federal civil forfeiture laws passed to help fight the scourge of illicit drugs.

The money is supposed to be spent on enhancing law enforcement and crime fighting capabilities, not on items that normally would be covered by departmental budgets.

Among the purchases reported by the Register: scented candles, mulch and tropical fish; sewer and water bills; a $27,000 sport utility vehicle for a county prosecutor; respirators for firefighters.

Former Cass County Attorney Daniel Feistner says his office used forfeiture money to buy the scented candles in 2013. He says the candles helped mask unpleasant body odors from some people visiting the office.



Branstad And Reynolds Attend STEM Summit

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is appearing at the fourth annual summit devoted to STEM education in Iowa.

Branstad on Monday stressed the importance of teaching kids about science, technology, engineering and math. The daylong event at a downtown Des Moines convention center features talks on teaching and job creation efforts around the state. It was put on by a STEM advisory group appointed by the governor.

Branstad says Iowa students "must be equipped with a 21st Century education."

Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds have made enhancing STEM learning a top education priority. Reynolds says STEM education creates new opportunities for students.



O'Malley Visits Iowa Says The Country Doesn't Need Another Clinton Or Bush For President

WASHINGTON (AP) - Potential Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley says the country needs new perspectives, and he's criticizing the prospects of another Clinton and Bush seeking the White House again.

The former Maryland governor tells ABC's "This Week" that the presidency is "not some crown to be passed between two families."

He also questions whether former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would take on special interests.

Clinton is a likely presidential candidate and would be the strong favorite for the Democratic nomination.

O'Malley recently came to Iowa. He says he'll decide this spring whether he'll run.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also recently visited Iowa.



Quarterly Hog Report Shows A 7 Percent Increase

WASHINGTON – As of March 1, there were 65.9 million hogs and pigs on U.S. farms, up 7 percent from March 2014, but down slightly from December 1, 2014, according to the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report published today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Other key findings in the report were:

Of the 65.9 million hogs and pigs, 60.0 million were market hogs, while 5.98 million were kept for breeding.

Between December 2014 and February 2015, 28.8 million pigs were weaned on U.S. farms, up 9 percent from the same time period one year earlier.

From December 2014 through February 2015, U.S. hog and pig producers weaned an average of 10.17 pigs per litter.

U.S. hog producers intend to have 2.87 million sows farrow between March and May 2015, and 2.93 million sows farrow between June and August 2015.

Iowa hog producers accounted for the largest inventory among the states, at 20.4 million head. North Carolina and Minnesota had the second and third largest inventories with 8.40 million and 7.85 million head, respectively.


Empty Prison

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A public record shows that Iowa's new prison for male offenders wasn't expected to be fully operational until fall 2015 even before workers discovered the latest delay-causing problem.
An extension signed by the Department of Corrections with a contractor in June 2014 said that occupancy of the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison would be "completed in the fall of 2015."
The next month, testing found that smoke evacuation systems in the inmate housing units were flawed. Workers are trying to bring the buildings up to the fire code.
Corrections' deputy director Brad Hier said the fall 2015 date was a conservative ballpark estimate and no longer has relevance. He says the department hopes to open the prison as soon as it's safe, which could still be sometime this year.



Monday News, March 30

Hargens Awarded The "Fire Fighter Of The Year"

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department held its annual banquet and awards program Saturday evening at the Willow Creek Golf Course country club. Fire Chief Dave Schipper presented the "Fire Fighter of the Year" award to Michael Hargens.  Hargens had a 100 percent attendance for the Le Mars Fire Department's training sessions, having attended all 39 sessions in 2014. Schipper said of Hargens that he was also able to respond to a majority of calls.  Other awards that were presented included the Chief's Award to Assistant Fire Chief Mike Wise, who was able to take over many tasks during Schipper's absents.  Both Wise and retired Captain Doug Harms were presented the "Fire Investigator's Bar" for having completed training in fire investigation. Retired Captain Doug Harm was also presented a special recognition award for his long term commitment to the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department.  Harms retired due to a medical condition.  An award of appreciation was presented to Kellen Excavation.  Kellen Excavation provided several abandoned wrecked cars for the Fire and Rescue Department's use during special training for extrication purposes.  Kellen Excavation also assisted the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department during a rural fire call when a 100 year old Cottonwood tree had caught on fire and threaten to fall on a building.  The crew from Kellen Excavation arrived on the scene and carefully cut down the tree, while still on fire, saving the building from being damaged.  The attending banquet crowd enjoyed the hilarious stories and observations of comedian Rex Havens as he shared with the 135 people the comical differences between men and women.  At the conclusion of the evening, the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department was called to assist the Oyens Fire Department at a residence with a high level of carbon monoxide.




Judge Overturns Sentence To Akron Man For Threatening White House

LE MARS, Iowa (AP) - A judge has overturned the conviction of a man found guilty of threatening to blow up the White house.

On Friday Judge Steven Andreasen granted a motion by the attorney for 37-year-old Jeremy Hebert, of Akron, saying the evidence didn't support the jury's guilty verdict rendered on Feb. 18.

However, Andreasen sentenced Hebert to five years in prison for three counts of felonious assault. Those sentences are to be served at the same time. He was also given suspended fines of $750 for each count of assault.

Authorities say that when Hebert was arrested at his home on Nov. 20, he threatened to kill each of the three officers present.





Le Mars Community School Board To Meet Tonight

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School Board will convene for a meeting later this evening at the Education Service Center beginning at 7:30 p.m.  The school board will take a few minutes to discuss the National Association of School Boards annual convention which was held last week at Nashville, Tennessee.  The board of education will discuss an upcoming training seminar entitled "Strategic Board Governance - The Time Is Now".  That seminar will be held in Sheldon on April 21st.  The local community school board has scheduled some time on its agenda to discuss the annual foundation banquet to recognize excellence in the school district.  That banquet will be held on April 29th at 6:30 p.m. in the lower level of the Convention Center.  Tonight, the school board will discuss the superintendent's progress on the goals established as part of the superintendent's evaluation process.  The school board will also act upon three resignations.  The Le Mars Community School Board is expected to discuss and act upon the budget estimate, as well as a resolution of intent to continue utilizing the Instructional Support Levy.




CF Industries On Pace With Fertilizer Expansion Project

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The construction of a giant $2 billion fertilizer plant remains on schedule in northwest Iowa, but the project is nearing its busiest phase when roughly 2,200 workers will be employed on the job.

Construction of the new CF Industries plant is entering its second year, but it remains on track for completion in 2016.

Nick DeRoos, who is overseeing the expansion project, says the construction work slowed over the winter because of the snow, wind and freezing temperatures, but activity is picking up.

Two dozen cranes are in use at the site this month. The biggest one can lift as much as 1,000 tons 350 feet in the air.




Will Lawmakers Contribute To Health Insurance?

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - With many state workers poised to soon make monthly health care contributions for the first time, will Iowa lawmakers follow suit?

Under a recent arbitration award, workers in the largest state employees' union will have to start making a monthly contribution of at least $20 to their health benefits starting in January. This will be a shift for the majority of the 19,000 state workers represented by Local 61 the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Lawmakers in the part-time General Assembly can get plans that don't require a monthly payment. Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen says he'd like to change that. But Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal was less forthcoming on whether he will consider such a change.




Health Officials Ask That You "Rethink Your Drink"

(Des Moines) -- Almost one in every three Iowans is obese, according to the latest rankings, and what we're drinking can be just as fattening as what we're eating. Carol Voss, a registered dietician and a nutritionist with the Iowa Department of Public Health, says just one 12-ounce soda contains around 150 calories and 40 grams of sugar, which in itself is more than the daily recommendation. It's much worse for the 20-ounce pops.

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A state survey in 2012 found that 72-percent of Iowans consumed between one and three sugar-sweetened beverages daily. For women, it was 67-percent and 77-percent for men. Voss says a campaign called "Rethink Your Drink" is urging Iowans to consider cutting out at least some of those sweet drinks and trading them for water or a non-sweetened tea.

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Drinking one soda a day can equal an extra 25 pounds of weight per year. The latest "State of Obesity" report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation finds 31-percent of all Iowans are obese, the 12th highest rate in the country. Sugar-sweetened beverages are the largest source of added sugar in the American diet, and that contributes to things like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.




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