Thursday News, June 11
Hinton and Le Mars Fire Department Called To Grain Elevator Fire
(Hinton) -- The Hinton Fire Department responded to a fire at the Farmers Cooperative Elevator on Wednesday afternoon. Fire Chief Chad Beck says a grain dryer had caught on fire.
Beck says the grain dryer at the time held between 400 and 600 bushels of corn. The Hinton Fire Chief says he called for assistance from the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department to have access to the aerial truck.
No word yet as to what may have started that fire. Fire officials were on the scene for approximately two hours.
Law Enforcement Officials Ride The Train To Watch For Rail Crossing Violators.
(Le Mars) -- Local law enforcement officials were on board some trains yesterday to watch for violators crossing in front of an on coming train. Le Mars Police Senior Officer Jay King was one of the officers to sit in an Union Pacific locomotive. King offers an explanation as to the purpose of the program.
Union Pacific railroad had three locomotives that passed through Le Mars between the Fairway supermarket on Plymouth Street and continuing past the 12th Street rail crossing near the Hy-Vee supermarket. King says he witnessed several vehicles that may have gotten too close to the railroad crossings.
Officer King says one fact the train companies informed the local law enforcement officials is that it takes a great distance to be able to stop a train.
King says he had never before yesterday had the opportunity to ride in a train locomotive. He says it is an unique perspective to view the scenery from the engineer's viewpoint.
King says law enforcement officials did issue one warning to a motorist for being too close to the rail crossing during the time of an approaching train.
Sioux City Water Treatment Plant Under Investigation
(Sioux City) -- Sioux Ciity's Wastewater Treatment Plant is under investigation by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency. The investigation was prompted by a complaint about the plant.
Moyor Bob Scott read a statement following a closed door session of the city council Wednesday afternoon that was called because of the issue.
Myor Scott says the city cannot provide any additional details on the complaint until the investigation has concluded.
City Attorney Nicole Jensen says the city was informed of the complaint on Monday.
She can't confirm if any staff at the plant are on paid or unpaid leave because of the complaint.
Sergeant Bluff Call Center To Add Jobs
More new jobs are coming to Sergeant Bluff. Convergys, which operates a customer service call center at the Pioneer Mall,
announced Wednesday that they are expanding and adding 400 new jobs to the facility.
Barry Belcher is the Sergeant Bluff facility's site director.
80 new hires are currently training at the facility, and the rest of the jobs will be filled as soon as possible, hopefully before the end of the year.
Sergeant Bluff mayor Jon Winkel helped found the facility years ago when it was owned by Long Lines Wireless.
Winkel says both Sergeant Bluff and the Siouxland area will benefit from the expansion.
Veterans Affairs Investigates Des Moines Veterans Hospital
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Department of Veterans Affairs investigators say the Des Moines VA hospital didn't deny mental health services to a veteran whose body was found frozen at a Des Moines park in February.
The death of 41-year-old Richard Miles was ruled a suicide. The suicide prompted U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst to call for a federal investigation into VA programs and the treatment Miles was provided.
The Iraq war veterans suffered from anxiety, a stress disorder and depression and had a history of suicide attempts. He'd sought care at the hospital five days before his death.
The investigators say Miles wasn't denied the services he sought, but the investigators also say Miles' VA case management worker should not have removed Miles from the worker's client list.
Sheriff's Deputy Sentenced To 13 Years For Fraud
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A former sheriff's deputy in Jones County has been given 13 years in prison for fraud linked to a fire he set at his vacant home.
Prosecutors say 50-year-old James Plower, of Olin, was sentenced on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids. Plower had pleaded guilty to mail fraud and using fire to commit a felony.
At his plea hearing, Plower said he made up a scheme to defraud his insurance company. He said he set fire to his vacant home in Martelle and submitted an insurance claim asserting the fire was accidental. He collected more than $66,000 from the insurance company.
Republicans Ponder Over The Fate Of Iowa Straw Poll
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Republican Party officials are pondering the future of the state's traditional straw poll for presidential favorites.
Iowa GOP spokesman Charlie Szold confirms that a conference call has been set up for Friday, but declines to provide further details. The call was first reported in the Des Moines Register.
State GOP officials have fought to keep the August 8th event alive. But critics say the poll has become a costly sideshow and few candidates have committed to participate this year.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham are among the White House hopefuls who plan to skip the event. Others say they won't spend money to participate.
Christie Says Republicans Need To Welcome Minorities
WASHINGTON (AP) - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is faulting his party for taking an unwelcoming tone at times toward minority voters.
In a speech to a Latino Coalition small business conference, the potential Republican presidential contender also boasted about getting 51 percent of the Hispanic vote in his re-election as governor.
Christie portrays himself as the kind of Republican who can attract female, black and Hispanic voters normally drawn to Democrats.
Mitt Romney won just 27 percent of the Latino vote nationally as the 2012 Republican nominee.
Christie says he'll decide this month whether to run for his party's nomination.
Four Democrat Presidential Hopefuls Attend Iowa Gathering
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Four Democratic presidential hopefuls will appear at an Iowa Democratic Party event next month.
The state party organization announced Wednesday that their "Hall of Fame" dinner will be attended by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb. All but Webb have officially announced they are running for president.
The event will be held July 17th in Cedar Rapids. Clinton's Iowa spokeswoman Lily Adams confirmed that this is the first announced multi-candidate event for Clinton, the front-runner in the field. Some other Democratic candidates have previously appeared together.
Iowa Democrats have seen less big candidate round-ups than Republicans, given the smaller field of declared and potential contenders.
Murder Conviction Overturned
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Court of Appeals has overturned the murder conviction of a Des Moines man serving a life prison sentence and ordered the case dismissed.
The court, in a decision posted Wednesday, says a jury didn't have enough evidence to convict 48-year-old Spencer Pierce in November 2013 along with Deanna Hood. They were tried together for first-degree murder and robbery, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. They were charged in the shotgun death of 35-year-old Steve Harmon, who was found dead June 6, 2013, in a parking lot on the north side of Des Moines.
Polk County prosecutors could seek further review from the Iowa Supreme Court. They didn't immediately return a message.
The appeals court upholds Hood's conviction saying prosecutors presented enough evidence against her to justify conviction.