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Friday News, January 4

City To Pick Up Christmas Trees


(Le Mars) -- The City of Le Mars Public Works Department will be picking up live Christmas Trees beginning the week of January 7th.  Steve Hanson, superintendent for the city's public works department says They will do one pass through of the entire town; therefore, he asks that residents please have your tree out next to the curb by Sunday January 6th. 
Listen to

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Hanson says the city will dispose of the trees.  Depending upon the number of trees to be picked up will determine what may happen to the trees.
Listen to

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Hanson wants to remind residents to remove all lights, plastic covers, tinsel, stands and garland.

 

Le Mars Community School Board To Hold Special Meeting

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education will hold a special meeting scheduled for Monday, January 7th at the Le Mars Education Service Center Administration building.  The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m. The school board is expected to receive the initial proposal from the Le Mars Education Association as for the bargaining negotiations contract for the school year 2013-2014.

 

Museum To Host "Jammin January"

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Historical Museum has announced it will host "Jammin in January" a benefit dance featuring the band "The Jammers".  The benefit dance is scheduled for Saturday, January 19th at the Plymouth County Historical Museum's Old Central Gymnasium. Dance hours will be from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. with a concession stand that will open at 7:00 p.m. in the gym's lobby.  Proceeds from the benefit dance will go to help defray the Museum's expenses, especially during the winter months.

 

Sac County Authorities Investigate Kidnapping and Dead Body

EARLY, Iowa (AP) - Police in western Iowa discovered the body of a woman while investigating the apparent kidnapping of another woman.
The Sac County sheriff's office says authorities received a call about 8 a.m. Thursday after someone encountered a 21-year-old woman trying to run from a vehicle and claiming she had been kidnapped.
After talking with the woman, deputies found a suspect hiding in a nearby barn.
Deputies arrested 21-year-old Kirk Riley Levin. He was being held Thursday night at the Sac County Jail on charges of assault with intent to commit sexual assault, assault while participating in a felony and third degree kidnapping.
While investigating the matter, authorities found the body of another woman near Early. The name of the dead woman isn't being released until police can notify her family.

 

Record Number of Lives Saved By Smoke Alarms

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials say smoke alarms saved a record number of people's lives in the state last year.
The Iowa State Fire Marshal says more than 215 people survived because of working smoke alarm systems in their homes. That's a jump from about 185 in 2011, and about 145 in 2010.
Most people saved by smoke alarms were asleep during the night.  Officials say advance warning also reduces property damage. The state estimates $20 million in property damage for fires with
working smoking alarms. Property damage climbs to $46 million for fires with no smoke alarm.
Officials say 42 people were killed in fires in the state last year.


Wellmark/Blue Cross-Blue Shield Wants To Raise Insurance Rates

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Dozens of Iowans have asked the state health insurance commissioner to deny another premium increase sought by the state's dominant health insurer, Wellmark Blue Cross
and Blue Shield.
The company wants to raise premiums on 150,000 individual policyholders by 12 percent to 13 percent starting in April.  Wellmark has been raising premiums for the past several years, including 9.4
percent last year and 8.5 percent in 2011.
Wellmark says it needs more money to pay for the higher costs of medical services.
The company sells about 86 percent of the nonemployer health insurance policies in Iowa.
On Saturday state Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss will hold a public hearing on the company's request.
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People Speak Out Against Voting Eligibility Rules

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - About 40 people spoke at a public hearing to oppose a proposed new rule that would establish a process for removing voters from registration rolls if they cannot prove citizenship.
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz is pushing the rule. He says it's needed because he believes people who are not U.S. citizens are registering to vote in Iowa.
Many of the speakers say the rule will intimidate and scare voters, especially recent immigrants, from voting.
The hearing was carried statewide on the Iowa Communications Network to allow broad participation. Comments came from several locations including Des Moines, Sioux City, Bettendorf and Iowa City.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa says Schultz doesn't have the authority to pass the rule himself without legislative approval.

 

Stewart Iverson To Head Tax Appeal Board

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Former Iowa Senate GOP leader Stewart Iverson has been appointed to lead a state agency monitoring property tax appeals in the state.
The Des Moines Register reports Gov. Terry Branstad announced the appointment Thursday. Iverson's annual salary to be chairman of the Iowa Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board will be $137,000.
Iverson is filling the term left by Richard Stradley, who resigned in November. It will run through April 2017.
The tax board is a state agency that conducts administrative hearings regarding the appeal process of an assessment or valuation.


Pawlenty Asks ISU For Hefty Speaking Fee

AMES, Iowa (AP) - It would've cost big bucks to get Tim Pawlenty to return to Ames, where his presidential campaign ended in 2011 after a poor finish at the Iowa Straw Poll.
Emails released by Iowa State University show its Harkin Institute of Public Policy wanted Pawlenty to come speak this year about Iowa's leadoff role in the presidential nominating process.
Pawlenty's agent told school officials his speaking fee was $25,000 plus expenses. Institute director Dave Peterson wrote that fee was "well beyond" what the institute could afford, but started asking others whether they could "cobble together enough" university funds from elsewhere.
The idea was dropped after lectures program director Pat Miller objected to the payment. Miller argued the university has long claimed "Iowans don't pay for politicians," given the state's first-in-the-nation caucuses.

 

Pella Woman Pleads Guilty To Fraud

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A southern Iowa woman who convinced friends to loan her hundreds of thousands of dollars under false pretenses has pleaded guilty to mail fraud.
Beverely DeRonde of Pella entered the plea Thursday in federal court in Des Moines under an agreement in which prosecutors dropped 11 other charges.
The 61-year-old acknowledged that she fraudulently asked relatives and acquaintances to loan her money so she could buy birthday and anniversary presents to surprise her husband or
equipment so he could open a boat shop. Instead, she actually used the money to buy antiques, jewelry and Rolex watches for herself while failing to repay them.
DeRonde remains free on bond, but faces a possible prison term at her sentencing in April. She also agreed to pay full restitution, which hasn't been calculated.

 

 

 

 

   

Thursday Afternoon News, January 3

City To Pick Up Disposed Christmas Trees

(Le Mars) -- The City of Le Mars Public Works Department will be picking up live Christmas Trees beginning the week of January 7th.  Steve Hanson, superintendent for the city's public works department says They will do one pass through of the entire town; therefore, he asks that residents please have your tree out next to the curb by Sunday January 6th. 
Listen to

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.



Hanson says the city will dispose of the trees.  Depending upon the number of trees to be picked up will determine what may happen to the trees.
Listen to

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.



Hanson wants to remind residents to remove all lights, plastic covers, tinsel, stands and garland.

 

E-mail Shows Harkins Worked Behind The Scenes for Institute

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An email shows an Iowa Board of Regents member worked behind the scenes to create a university institute honoring her husband, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.
The April 2011 email from then-Iowa State University Provost Elizabeth Hoffman says Ruth Harkin approached university officials a year earlier about creating the Harkin Institute of Public
Policy. The university provided the email to The Associated Press in an open records request.
Hoffman's email says Ruth Harkin "wanted it to be very private" until the institute was before the regents. Ruth Harkin abstained from the vote creating the institute, but the email says
she wanted the plan to pass before the terms of two allies on the
board expired.
The email also says the Harkins were aware of potential ethical problems.

 

Manly Bans Pitbulls

MANLY, Iowa (AP) - The city council in the northern Iowa city of Manly has voted to keep and enforce its ban on pit bulls.
The council made its decision Wednesday. Pit bull owners who had been sent letters about the ban have until Monday to move their dogs outside the city.
The ban was adopted in 2008 after a pit bull menaced two children in town. Council member Scott Heagel says Manly residents requested it then.
Mayor Kevin Isaacson says the ordinance has not been enforced since.
The council revisited the issue in April but decided against rescinding it. The issue resurfaced in November, after pit bull owners got the letters about removing their dogs.
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Decorah Woman Accused of Stealing From Nursing Home

DECORAH, Iowa (AP) - A woman in northeast Iowa has been accused of stealing money from a nursing home where she worked for 36 years.
The Gazette reports Nancy Elsbernd was charged last week with first-degree theft and ongoing criminal conduct for taking money from the Aase Haugen Nursing Home in Decorah. A police affidavit
says the 64-year-old admitted to investigators that she issued checks to herself over the past five to six years.
Investigators say more than $55,000 is missing from the nursing home's finances. Auditors are still checking the records, which Elsband had access to.
Elsbernd is out on bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 7. She faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.
A message left for Elsbernd's attorney was not immediately returned Thursday.
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Army Corps of Engineers To Release Less Water In Missouri River

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The amount of water released into the lower Missouri River will be decreased this month because warmer weather has reduced ice concerns.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Thursday it will gradually reduce the amount of water it releases out of Gavins Point dam on the South Dakota-Nebraska border to 14,000 cubic feet per second.
That's a decrease of 4,000 cubic feet per second from the releases being made over the past two weeks.
The change is not expected to make much difference in water levels downstream in the Missouri or Mississippi rivers.
Officials said last month that the water flow needed to be increased because ice forming on the river would reduce the flow.  Now the weather has improved enough to alleviate the ice concerns.

 

Tax Collections Are Up For Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Tax collections in Iowa are up compared to the same halfway point a year ago.
Net state receipts totaled more than $3.1 billion from July through December. That's
about $264 million, or about 9 percent, higher than the first six months of the previous fiscal year.
The Legislative Services Agency says the percentage growth rate will likely dip in January because of processing days in the calendar.
The Iowa Revenue Estimating Conference projected last month that the state treasury would end the current fiscal year with nearly $6.4 billion. That would be about a 3.3 percent increase over the
last fiscal year.
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