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Monday Afternoon News, March 31

Hillshire Brands To Keep Workers After Fire

STORM LAKE, Iowa (AP) — Hillshire Brands has decided to keep paying hundreds of its plant workers although the company's turkey plant in northwest Iowa remains closed for fire repairs.  The March 22 fire in Storm Lake caused a section of roof to cave in, but no injuries have been reported. The fire cause is being investigated.Hillshire's group human resources manager Tim Steffen says it will take at least three months to rebuild that portion of the plan. He says the company also will improve the design of the production floor.  The company says it will use as many of its workers as possible to help clean up the site.


Weekend Fire Leaves Congested Traffic In Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Several normally busy streets in downtown Des Moines remain closed following a massive weekend fire at a former department store.  Police were blocking traffic Monday on two-block sections of Locust and Walnut streets around the former Younkers building, causing some traffic delays as motorists were detoured around blocks in the heart of the city's downtown. Street closures are expected to continue for at least several days.  Firefighters were called to the 115-year-old building early Saturday and could do little more than contain an intense blaze that destroyed the structure.  Investigators haven't determined the cause of the fire. The building has been vacant since 2005. A developer was in the midst of a $36 million project to convert the building into apartments.


Florida Man Returns To Iowa For Murder Charge

SAC CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Florida man suspected killing a northwest Iowa man in 2009 has been returned to face a murder charge.  Authorities say 54-year-old John Green arrived Friday night and is being held without bond in Sac County Jail. He's scheduled for a hearing next Monday. It's unclear whether he has a lawyer. He was arrested Tuesday at a dog track in Orange Park, Fla.  Green is accused of killing 58-year-old Mark Koster, of Sac City. Police say Green briefly lived with Koster in 2009. Relatives say they last saw Koster that year. Koster was reported missing in 2010. His skeletal remains were found buried in the basement of his Sac city home in 2012.



Monday News, March 31

Fire Officials Determine Electrical Short Cause For Le Mars House Fire

(Le Mars)- An investigation into what caused a fire in a Le Mars home on Thursday has been ruled to be an accident. Le Mars fire and rescue was called to the home of David Stinton at 44 5th Ave SE Thursday morning.  Le Mars fire and rescue has determined the fire started in the basement of the home. The most probable cause of the fire was determined to be when the main power supply going into the breaker box arced and sparked the fire. The fire then spread across the basement ceiling under the kitchen, up the pipe chase to the second floor and into the roof areas of the home. Damage is estimated at $180,000.


Le Mars And Merrill Fire Departments Respond To Sunday Grass Fire 

(Le Mars) -- Both the Le Mars and Merrill Fire Departments responded to a grass fire at 24002 200th Street.  The fire alarm was sounded at about 3:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon.  Fire officials were on the scene for nearly a half hour.


Fire Fighters Extinguish Car Fire

(Le Mars) -- About three hours after fighting the grass fire, the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department was called to extinguish a car fire.  A Jeep Wrangler belonging to Derek Kellen caught on fire at 32547 County Road C-38.  The vehicle was fully engulfed when fire officials arrived on the scene. Fire fighters were able to put out the blaze fairly quickly, but they had concerns about the winds and a nearby house.  The car fire was ruled to be accidental, possibly caused by corn stalks up under the frame of the vehicle.  The fuel line had ruptured and accelerated the fire. 


Investigators Look At Youinkers Building Fire 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A team of federal experts will investigate the fire that decimated a century-old building in downtown Des Moines this weekend.  Structural experts were evaluating the former Younkers store on Sunday to ensure it will be safe for the team from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  Des Moines Fire Department spokesman Brian O'Keefe says the ATF team will spend at least a week examining the site.  The ATF team is being brought in because of their expertise and because of the size of the fire.  O'Keefe says there no evidence of a crime at this point, but the cause hasn't been determined.  City workers were cleaning up ash from the fire, but Sunday's strong winds made that work difficult.


150,000 Chickens Die From Fire

GALT, Iowa (AP) — Thousands of chickens have been killed in a fire at an egg farm in northern Iowa.  The fire was reported Sunday at the Centrum Valley Farms' operation in Galt. Company officials say no farm employees were injured.  Centrum Valley Farms Chief Operating Officer Steve Boomsma said in a release that the fire began in a barn where about 75,000 hens were housed. Boomsma said that in addition to that loss, smoke from the fire resulted in the loss of a flock of 75,000 hens in an adjacent barn.  The fire cause is being investigated.


Boy Scouts Released From Hospital

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) — Two Boy Scouts who were hospitalized with burns after gunpowder explosions in Council Bluffs last week have been released.  The two boys, Jared Holcomb and Scott Brown, had been treated at St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln since the incident on Thursday.  The boys were hurt while experimenting with gunpowder at a Council Bluffs home in preparation for a spring ceremony.  Two other boys and two adults were also injured but didn't have to be hospitalized as long. Holcomb and Brown were released from the Lincoln hospital on Saturday.


Sioux County Healthiest Iowa County

(Des Moines) - A new report ranks the overall health of all 99 Iowa counties. The study used some 30 factors to compile the rankings. Things like childhood poverty, smoking, college attendance, physical activity and access to physicians. Julie Willems Van Dijk (WILL-ums van-DIKE), deputy director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says Sioux County, ranked as the state's healthiest county.

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She says Sioux County also ranked high in categories that surveyed social and economic factors, clinical care and the physical environment.

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The study found Appanoose County, in southeast Iowa on the Missouri border, was the least healthiest Iowa county.

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While Sioux County ranks as Iowa's healthiest county, the rest of the top five are: Winnesheek, Chickasaw, Lyon and Mitchell at number-five. On the other end, the bottom five are: Montgomery, Wayne, Mills, Adams and Appanoose at 99th.

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Plymouth County came in at number 9 overall in the state with health outcomes 9th, length of life 9th, and health factors 10th.  The rankings come from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest health-focused philanthropy. This is the fifth year of the rankings, published online at:


Iowa's Newes Prison Ready To Open 

FORT MADISON, Iowa (AP) — Iowa's new maximum-security prison in Fort Madison is nearly ready to house prisoners.  Prison officials expect to move into the new facility sometime in the next few weeks once the State Fire Marshal approves.  But Rebecca Bowker with the penitentiary in Fort Madison says the moving date won't be announced ahead of time for security reasons.  The new $132 million prison was built about a mile north of the current Iowa State Penitentiary. It has 800 beds, which 250 more than the current facility.  The current Iowa State Penitentiary was built in 1839 and is the oldest operating prison west of the Mississippi River.


Democrats Push Energy Efficient Bills

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Democrats are pushing to pass a package of bills designed to increase the state's production of energy from solar power, wind and renewable fuels.  The wind and solar bills passed the Senate without opposition Thursday and were sent to the House, but the biofuels bill was delayed by Senate Republican leader Bill Dix, who says he wants more time to study it. The measure is estimated to cost $23 million over six years.  The bill increases the tax credit for E15 to 10 cents per gallon from June 1st through September 15th. During the remaining months the credit is 3 cents. The fuel must be reformulated during summer when it's more volatile, increasing distributors' costs.  Democratic Senator Robb Hogg says it will help encourage use of E15 year around.






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