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Friday Afternoon News, November 22

Branstad Blasts EPA On Decision On Ethanol

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Republican politicians from Iowa are gathering with ethanol industry executives at a central Iowa ethanol plant to speak out against the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to reduce the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline next year.
      Gov. Terry Branstad says the EPA has embarked on a war on corn threatening thousands of jobs.
     He is accompanied at Lincolnway Energy near Nevada by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, U.S. Rep. Steve King, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.
     The event is hosted by a coalition of companies and farm organizations whose members profit from ethanol production. They include DuPont, Monsanto, Syngenta, and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.
     The EPA proposes to reduce by almost 3 billion gallons the amounts of biofuels blended into gasoline in 2014 than the law requires.


Infant's Death Being Investigated

   STORM LAKE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities are investigating the death of a 1-month-old boy found in an apartment in northwest Iowa.
     Storm Lake police say an autopsy on the infant will be done Friday.
     The boy was found unresponsive Thursday afternoon at his family's apartment. His parents called 911.
     The Sioux City Journal says authorities collected evidence from the home Thursday night. Additional information about the case has not been released. No arrests have been made.
     Storm Lake Assistant Police Chief Todd Erskine told the newspaper that authorities are still interviewing people and collecting medical records.


Change In Policy After Mental Patient Chokes On Food

  CLARINDA, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials say they've revised meal distribution policies at a state mental health institute after a patient fatally choked on food he shouldn't have been served.
      The state Department of Human Services says food service procedures at Clarinda Mental Health Institute were not followed when a patient in the geriatric psychiatry program was given a peanut butter sandwich on Sept. 1 instead of pureed food. He was later found unresponsive and slumped over a dining table.
     Officials say they began an internal investigation and at least one employee has been fired. DHS Director Charles M. Palmer says the incident was isolated. 
     The Department of Inspections and Appeals surveyed the facility in early November. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services also issued a civil penalty of more than $8,000.


Woman Uses Craig's List To Hire Man To Kill Husband

  IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa woman who used Craigslist to solicit someone to kill her father has pleaded guilty to a murder for hire charge.
     Megan Schmidt of Dubuque posted the ad in July seeking someone to do a "one-time job" for $10,000. A Dubuque man identified as "M.T." responded, saying he would do just about anything for that money.
     Schmidt explained that she wanted her father killed, and it would be best to "either shoot him or stab him because he is a bigger man." M.T. contacted police.
     An undercover investigator set up a meeting with Schmidt, where she showed a picture of her father, divulged his address and promised she'd pay once he was dead.
     The 23-year-old pleaded guilty Wednesday to using a telephone in the commission of murder for hire.


Youngest Life In Prision Inmate Paroled

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa inmate who was once the youngest lifer in Iowa's correctional system has cancer and wants to die outside prison walls.
     A Polk County judge has resentenced Kristina Fetters and is recommending parole. If paroled, Fetters would be the first Iowa inmate sentenced to life in prison as a juvenile to be released after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The high court said life sentences without parole are unconstitutional for juveniles.
     A jury convicted Fetters in 1995 of killing her great-aunt, Arlene Klehm. Klehm died in 1994 after Fetters hit her on the head with an iron skillet and stabbed her at least five times.
     Fetters was 15 when she entered prison. She's 33 now. Her attorney, Michael Adams, says Fetters' breast cancer has spread to her bones.


Branstad Defends Claim For Jobs Created

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is downsizing his recent claims of job creation in the state.
      Branstad - who pledged to create 200,000 new jobs in five years during his 2010 campaign - recently claimed he has added more than 160,000 jobs since taking office.
     His administration now says the actual figure was 128,000 following new federal jobs data out Friday. 
     Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said via email that the change was simply due to calculations with revised data and the governor never sought to mislead Iowans. 
     The new figure has still drawn criticism because it counts only jobs added in Iowa, not jobs lost. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday shows the state has added 48,200 net jobs since Branstad took office.










Friday News, November 22

Le Mars Fire Department Fight Attic House Fire

(Le Mars) -- Shortly after 5:00 p.m. last evening, the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department was dispatched to 320 5th Street SE for a possible house fire.  Upon arrival, heavy smoke was found throughout the attic of the home.   Firefighters made entry into the home and accessed the attic through the attached garage.   The smoke was ventilated from the home with a large positive pressure ventilation fan.   Firefighters did have to remove part of a ceiling located in a breezeway between the garage and the home itself to remove burning insulation.   There were individuals at the home at the time of the fire and all were unharmed.   Fire and smoke damage was limited to the attic area.  
The cause of the fire was determined to be an electrical equipment malfunction in the attic that ignited insulation and a wood rafter.  Firefighters were on scene for approximately one hour.  The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department was assisted at the scene by the Le Mars Police Department, Plymouth County Sheriff's Office and Campbell's Electric.


Three Orange City Fire Fighters Injured While Fighting House Fire

(Orange City) -- Three Orange City fire fighters were injured Thursday while battling a house fire.  Sioux County deputies said in a news release that the Orange City Fire Department responded to a house fire on the 800 block of Arizona Avenue at about 2:05 p.m.  Crews found a fire in the attic they believe resulted from a malfunctioning electric radiant heat system.  The three firefighters who were injured were treated at and released from the Orange City hospital  Damage to the house was estimated at $200,000.


Local Food Banks See Additional Need

(Le Mars) -- For many people the holidays are centered around food.  A big family meal, a seasonal pie or your favorite cookies that only grandma makes best. But for some, food is a burden that is especially heavy this time of year. 
The Christian Needs Center in Le Mars provides food and clothing to those in need.  Center Coordinator Barb Waltz says they're optimistic that they'll be able to provide the families they serve through the continued generosity of Le Mars residents.
With the coming of the cold weather, Waltz explains that the food need has changed. 

Fresh fruit and meat are not something the pantry can accept, so shelf stable items like canned tuna, salmon, chicken and fruits are needed.  Juices are needed as well.  Donations have picked up recently, but Waltz says more are needed to sustain the pantry for the next year.

Demand has doubled compared to this same time last year at the Christian Needs Center. Rejoice Christian Church has a food pantry in conjunction with the Siouxland Food Bank, and Pastor Tony De La Rosa says that he has noticed  an increase in their distrubution as well.

Because of Rejoice's connection with The Siouxland Food Bank, it's not food that they are short of, it's the funds to buy that food.  Food is distributed the 3rd Wednesday of every month at Rejoice Christian Church, with a smaller pantry that is open the first and fourth Wednesday of each month, as well as Saturday mornings.


Ethanol Industry Holds Rally

(Nevada) -- Several farmers, politicians, and ethanol industry leaders will be in Nevada, Iowa today for a rally to show support for the corn-based fuel.  Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency lowered the gallons of ethanol nearly 3 billion gallons from the amounts of biofuels blended into gasoline in 2014 as part of the Renewable Fuels Standard.  Ethanol leaders say the federal agency is caving in to the wishes of the petrolieum industry.  Governor Branstad, Senator Chuck Grassley, Congressman Steve King, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey are all scheduled to appear at the rally being held at the Lincolnway Energy plant at Nevada.
     Branstad says the reduction negatively impacts thousands of jobs in Iowa, the leading ethanol producer and top grower of corn, which is used in most of the nation's ethanol.
     The Lincolnway Energy plant is equipped to process grain corn or corn stalks and stover into ethanol.


Judge Dismisses Charges Against Teacher

 WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - A judge has dismissed exploitation charges against a former Waterloo teacher accused of engaging in inappropriate behavior with students.
      A short trial this week for 56-year-old Larry Twigg concluded Thursday after Judge James Coil ruled that the alleged actions did not amount to a criminal offense. He dismissed one charge Wednesday and another Thursday.
      The charges were in connection with Twigg's conduct with a student in 2009.  Coil ruled, among other issues, that the 18-year-old had graduated school.
      Twigg was convicted in May of five misdemeanor counts of lascivious conduct with a minor in a separate case. Prosecutors say he coerced a 17-year-old student to do several bizarre acts in 2009 and 2010. He has appealed the conviction and is currently free on bond.


DNR Investigates Wastewater Discharge Into Raccoon River

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Officials are investigating a wastewater discharge into an unnamed tributary of the Raccoon River in central Iowa.
      The state Department of Natural Resources says the discharge was verified Thursday following a report the day before. It's unknown how long the discharge has been going on.
     DNR officials say the discharge is coming from The Park at Southern Hills Townhomes and Condominiums in Des Moines. It's less than two miles from where the stream enters the Raccoon River. That's also close to Des Moines Water Works.
     The property owners have been instructed to hire a contractor to the stop the discharge, which DNR officials estimate is between 5 to 10 gallons per minute.






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