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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.






Thursday Afternoon News, November 21

Le Mars Convention and Visitors Bureau Accepting Applications For Grants

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Convention and Visitor's Bureau are accepting applications for the city's hotel/motel sales tax grants.  Approximately $35,000 is available to non-profit and not-for-profit organizations.  Preference is given to projects with a tourism event scope of work.  Projects can not begin any earlier than July 1, 2014.  Applications must be returned to city hall no later than noon Tuesday, December 31st.  Applications must be typed.  Organizations will be notified of awards in mid-February after city budgets have been approved. Since the inception of the five percent hotel/motel tax, more than $1.2 million dollars have been distributed to local organizations.


Kristi Utesch Named "Employee Of The Month"

(Le Mars) -- The November Chamber "Employee of the Month" was presented to Kristi Utesch today.  Utesch is a registered nurse and the director of nursing at Plymouth Manor Care Center in Le Mars.  She has been employed with the Plymouth Manor for 25 years.  Coleen McCarty nominated Utesch and she writes: "Kristie is well liked by everyone and goes beyond expectations to make our lives better.  She is extremely thorough in everything she is involved with and takes full responsibility in her work".  The nomination continues to say Kristi Utesch is a true resident advocate and a leader in healthcare and believes in providing the very best quality of care for her residents.  She exemplifies one of the very best dedicated employees that Plymouth Manor has employed throughout the 40 years of serving the elderly.  Congratulations to Kristi Utesch as being named the November "Employee of the Month."


Woodbury County Sheriff Warns Of Social Security Scam

(Sioux City) -- The Woodbury County Sheriff's office has been made aware of recent calls being circulated in the Moville area involving individuals claiming to be with the Social Security Administration.  Callers are claiming they are collecting information to confirm the replacement of Social Security cards.  Callers are asking for personal information to request banking information and records. Woodbury County officials are warning people of the scam.  Woodbury County officials advise people to never answer any questions or give out personal information over the phone.  Business should never be conducted over the phone or internet. The Social Security Administration does not conduct business in this manner and would never request this type of information over the phone.


Gaming Commission Tells Argosy To Give Money To Charitable Organization

JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) - Iowa gaming regulators have denied a request from the owner of the Argosy Sioux City riverboat casino to redirect a portion of its revenues to a new nonprofit group.
     The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission's unanimous decision Thursday means 3 percent of the casino's gross revenue set aside for charitable purposes is in limbo.
     The commission ruled only nonprofits that jointly hold a casino license are eligible for the funds.
     Argosy's money previously went to Missouri River Historical Development. Since May, Penn National Gaming Inc. has withheld the funds over litigation involving a contract dispute.
     The contract expired in July, but MRHD is still entitled to the money because the commission still recognizes the group as holding the nonprofit portion of the Argosy license.


Casino Targeted For Discrimination Lawsuit

OSCEOLA, Iowa (AP) - Lakeside Casino executives targeted in a sexual harassment lawsuit have asked a judge to keep court filings and a hearing closed to the public.
     The hearing is scheduled for Friday morning.  Judge John Lloyd has granted the motion to temporarily seal the court records.
     A lawsuit filed last year by Gail Wilson, a former guest services manager at Lakeside Casino in Osceola, alleges race discrimination, sexual harassment, sex discrimination and retaliation in violation of Iowa's Civil Rights Act.
     Casino general manager Bob Thursby and Carol Eckels, the casino's human resources manager, have denied all of the allegations.
     Wilson says in her lawsuit that she was fired in November 2011 after speaking up about some incidents at the casino.


Bank Survey Shows Economy To Grow At Slow Rate

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - The overall index in a new monthly survey matches the previous index and also suggests the economy will continue growing at a slow pace in rural areas of 10 Midwest and Plains states.
     The report for the Rural Mainstreet Index was released Thursday and says the index remained unchanged at 54.3 in November.
     The index is based on surveys of rural bankers in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. It ranges from 0 to 100, with 50 representing growth neutral. A score above 50 suggests growth in that factor in the months ahead.
     The confidence index, which reflects expectations for the economy six months out, rose to a still weak 48.3 from 44.7 in October.




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