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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.




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 healthcare.gov 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.








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