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Thursday News, November 21

Ag Economist Predicts Grain Farmers To See Lean Times

(Le Mars) -- An Iowa State University Extension Ag Economist is predicting lean times may lie ahead for grain producers.  Chad Hart spoke in Le Mars on Wednesday and he told ag lenders, farm managers, crop insurance agents, and producers that despite the delayed planting due to the cool and wet spring, this year's harvest is set to break records.  Hart told the group that the United States could produce a 14 billion bushel crop.  The reason, according to the ISU grain marketing specialist is because so many non-traditional corn producing states expanded their corn acreage and are having the best year ever.  Hart doesn't believe the recent EPA decision will have a long term negative impact upon the corn and ethanol industry, rather he sees the entire fuel demand consumption showing a lower trend in the future, and that may have more of an impact on the ethanol demand.  Hart says grain exports may be strong, up until the time South America starts to harvest its crop.


Wellmark Pokes Fun At National Health Care Plan Through Ads

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's insurance commissioner has no problem with ads by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield that make fun of technical problems with the federal online marketplace program.
     CoOportunity Health, a Wellmark competitor, has raised questions about the ads as examples "of questionable market conduct."
     Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart says that he sees nothing illegal about the ads from Wellmark, the state's dominant health insurer. The ads urge people to skip the government's troubled health insurance marketplace at and check its site instead.
     The ads don't say consumers who use Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield wouldn't be eligible for new public subsidies. The subsidies may be used only for policies from insurers participating in the new marketplace. Wellmark isn't participating.


Volunteers Needed To Check Weather

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials are recruiting people to help monitor the state's weather as part of a volunteer network.
     The state Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship says data on rain, hail and snow that's collected by volunteers will be used for flood forecasting, scientific research and general weather interest.
     The department's state climatology office works with the National Weather Service in Des Moines to make sure the data are immediately available for free online.
     Volunteers just need 4-inch-diameter rain gauges and suitable locations for the gauges.
     The Colorado Climate Center established the volunteer network in 1998, and it's available in all 50 states and Canada. Iowa joined in 2007 and has more than 300 registered volunteers.


Diesel Engine Operators May Qualify For Grant

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Owners of construction vehicles with older diesel engines in nine Iowa counties may apply for a federal rebate to help replace the vehicles or retrofit older vehicles with new cleaner burning engines.
     The Environmental Protection Agency is making $2 million available for public and private owners of construction vehicles. Those in Black Hawk, Harrison, Johnson, Linn, Mills, Polk, Pottawattamie, Scott, and Woodbury counties may apply for the money.
     The EPA says the rebates target counties facing air quality challenges.
     Since diesel engines in construction equipment can last for decades, the EPA program is geared toward replacing older less efficient engines that emit more pollutants with newer less polluting engines.
      EPA will accept applications until Jan. 15 and anticipates awarding the rebates in February.


West Des Moines Police Identify Woman Who Drove Into Lake

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have identified the body of a woman whose car plunged into a lake following a high-speed chase with West Des Moines police.
     Police say 51-year-old Brenda Lea Hatfield, of Des Moines, died after her car went into the water early Wednesday.
     An officer says he noticed a car driving recklessly and tried to stop the driver. The car sped away and eventually drove down a dead end street. The officer later saw fresh tire tracks in the direction of Crystal Lake on the Des Moines Water Works property.
      A dive team searched for the car and pulled it from the lake. Police found Hatfield inside.
     Police say the incident remains under investigation.


Man Bites Deputy

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities in central Iowa say a man faces multiple charges for biting a deputy and trying to avoid arrest.
     The Polk County Sheriff's Office says 18-year-old Devin Joseph Emery Enos was stopped Wednesday afternoon for driving a stolen vehicle.
     A deputy attempted to place Enos into custody, but the teenager allegedly began struggling with the officer. Enos is accused of biting the deputy before being placed into arrest. 
     Enos was charged with a previous warrant for attempted burglary. He also faces charges of theft, assault on a police officer causing injury, interference with official acts causing injury and no driver's license.
     Enos remains at the Polk County Jail. Court records do not list an attorney.








Wednesday Afternoon News, November 20

City Council Votes Down Pedestrian Bridge

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council voted down a proposal for a public hearing regarding a new pedestrian bridge to be constructed across the Floyd River and allowing hikers and bicyclists to cross without having to worry about competing with heavy traffic.  Presently, residents living on the west side of the Floyd River must use the bridge built for vehicle traffic.  Councilman John Leonard favors the construction of a new pedestrian bridge.  His concerns are with public safety.  Councilman John Rexwinkle says initially the bridge was to be located next to the highway bridge, but as time passed, the plans called for the bridge to be moved further south.  Rexwinkle spoke against the proposed pedestrian bridge saying he believes it would involve additional work from city crews than what was originally being called for.   Rexwinkle also thought the bridge's proposed location was not practical.  The proposed bridge and recreational trail had an estimate of nearly $205,000. 


Little Sioux River Restoration

 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Woodbury County officials agreed to spend more money to restore a levee along the Little Sioux River in western Iowa.
      The  county board Tuesday approved a $128,000 bid for work on the levee near Smithland.
      Landowners will be billed for the work, which includes placing 3,600 tons of concrete and quartzite along 1,800 feet of riverbank.
     The project follows a $232,000-taxpayer funded effort to add a berm and boulders to retain soil. Those fixes didn't work and the riverbank continued to wash away.
      The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the original flood-control device in 1964.
      Board member Larry Clausen voted against the winning bid because he favored a different contractor, but he says the county has no choice but to repair the levee.


Nebraska Man's Body Found In Iowa 

   MONDAMIN, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a man found in a wooded area in western Iowa is from Nebraska. 
     The state Division of Criminal Investigation says fingerprints submitted to a FBI database helped confirm the identity of 52-year-old Michael E. Gnirk, of Hoskins, Neb. A hunter found him on Saturday in a rural, wooded area a few miles southwest of Mondamin in Harrison County. 
     Authorities said in a news release Wednesday they're continuing to investigate the case, and they're trying to retrace Gnirk's last few weeks and days. They're looking for anyone who may have been in contact with him over the last three to six months.


Woman's Body Found In Car Following High Speed Chase

  WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities found a woman's body in a car that plunged into a pond after leading West Des Moines police on a high-speed chase.
    A West Des Moines officer noticed a car driving recklessly about 3:45 a.m. Wednesday and tried to stop the driver.
     The car sped away and eventually drove down a dead end street. The officer slowed as he approached the dead end and could see the car drove through a grassy area and into a pond.
     A dive team searched the car, which was at least 30 feet from the shore, and pulled it from the pond.
     Police found the body of a woman inside. She appeared to be in her 50s.
     Police and the Polk County Medical Examiner's Office are determining the woman's identity.


Branstad And Other Leaders Defend Ethanol

 NEVADA, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad, U.S. Rep. Steve King, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey will lead a group of industry executives Friday in an event aimed at defending the current levels of ethanol and biodiesel in the nation's fuel supply.
     The Environmental Protection Agency proposes to reduce by almost 3 billion gallons the amounts of biofuels blended into gasoline in 2014 than the law requires.
     The oil industry lobbied hard for the reduction. Biofuel supporters threaten to sue the government over the proposal.
     Branstad will gather with others at an ethanol plant in Nevada to defend current policy. He says the reduction negatively impacts thousands of jobs in Iowa, the leading ethanol producer and top grower of corn, which is used to make about 95 percent of the nation's ethanol.







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