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Saturday News, November 16

Environmental Protection Agency Reduces RFS - Ethanol Production To Be Reduced

(Des Moines) -- The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday it plans to  reduce the number of gallons required for the Renewable Fuels Standard for the year 2014.  The reaction from Monte Shaw, the executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, is the E.P.A. just handed the petrolieum industry an early Christmas present.

 In addition to creating an extra-legal waiver mechanism, the proposal lowers the “corn ethanol” level from 13.8 billion gallons in 2013 to only 13 billion gallons in 2014.  The proposal also freezes the biodiesel level at 1.28 billion gallons despite the fact the biodiesel industry is currently operating at an annualized rate of 2 billion gallons.
The ethanol industry official believes there is still enough consumer support for the ten percent blended fuel, but he is concerned about the marketing of higher blends of ethanol, such as the 85 percent that can be used for flex fuel vehicles.

This past week the Associated Press wrote a scathing article about ethanol.  Shaw says he doesn't believe the article will have long term negative effects upon the biofuels industry, but he questions what the reaction will be toward agriculture.

Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds today vowed to join agricultural groups, family farmers and all Iowans in fighting for renewable fuels in light of the misguided and dumbfounding decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to lower the volumes of renewable fuels utilized on America’s streets and highways.  Branstad stated in a release that it is 'baffling" to him and he cannot understand why President Obama would side with the big oil companies over Iowa's homegrown renewable fuels.  Branstad says "the EPA has turned its back on rural America, and our economy and family farms will suffer as a result". 

Brandstad further stated that Iowa has more than 50 ethanol and biodiesel plants in the state and the EPA reductions would negatively impact thousands of Iowa jobs.  Branstad says the debate is not over and he encourages Iowans to officially comment to the EPA.

Branstad Hears Comments From State Agencies Regarding Budget

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is starting a series of public budget hearings to get input from state department heads.
     Branstad on Friday heard from several departments, including Iowa Veterans Affair, the Iowa Board of Parole and the Iowa Public Defender. The departments spoke about budget needs for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, as well as their ongoing goals.
     Branstad says he will take further department testimony and hear from the public before he finalizes a budget plan.
     Branstad will present a spending plan to the Iowa Legislature in January. The current budget includes about $6.2 billion in general fund spending.


Northwestern Student Organizes Benefit For Phillippines

ORANGE CITY, Iowa—Tec Sun, a Northwestern College senior who grew up in the Philippines, is organizing a benefit concert to raise money for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.  The concert is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 23, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Hub in the Rowenhorst Student Center. The $2 entrance fee will include unlimited coffee and fountain drinks. The event will feature performances by Sun, the Usual Suspects, This Much, Nayely Becerra, Amalia Vasquez and more. Sun will also accept freewill donations during the concert.

The tropical storm struck the central Philippines on Nov. 7, causing colossal damage to the island country. The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan (named Yolanda by Philippine authorities) resulted in a death toll of over 2,000 and has left hundreds of thousands of citizens displaced. With little access to food, clean drinking water or shelter, residents are relying heavily on aid provided by other countries.

Sun, a music ministry major, has taken this call to aid on a more personal level.  “I was born and raised in the Philippines,” says Sun. “My dad is a pastor and a missionary from Korea. I attended Faith Academy in Manila, where a lot of missionaries’ children go.” Sun’s parents, who reside in Quezon City, and family friends continue to serve as missionaries in the Philippines.


Northwestern and Dordt Tied For First Place For Best Colleges For Veterans

ORANGE CITY, Iowa—A new U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges for Military Veterans ranking has Northwestern College tied with Dordt College for first place among Midwestern regional colleges. Also among the top 15 institutions, representing eight states, are Hastings College, third; Clarke University, fifth; Mt. Marty College, 11th; Grand View University, 12th; and Midland University, 14th.

The ranked colleges participate in federal initiatives that help veterans and active service members apply, pay for and complete their degrees. All the schools are part of the Servicemembers Opportunity College (SOC) Consortium, certified for the G.I. Bill, and participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. The qualifying institutions are ranked in order based on their 2014 U.S. News Best College ranking, of which Northwestern tied for sixth in the Midwest.


Judge Declares Mistrial As Jury Undecided On Murder Case Involving Pregnant Woman

MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa (AP) - A judge has declared a second mistrial for a former Iowa jail guard accused of fatally shooting his pregnant wife.
    Judge Daniel Wilson granted the mistrial Friday after a Henry County jury deadlocked in the trial of Seth Techel. Jurors told the judge that further deliberations wouldn't lead to a verdict, and the defense motioned for a mistrial.
      Techel's first trial ended in a mistrial in March after another jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. Techel is charged with first-degree murder in the May 2012 death of his wife, Lisa Techel.
     Prosecutors argued Seth Techel killed his wife to be with another woman. Defense attorneys focused attention on whether a former neighbor, who's now deceased, was a better suspect.


Planned Parenthood To Close Clinics

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Planned Parenthood of the Heartland is announcing the closure of four Iowa clinics.
     The organization says Friday it will close centers in Ankeny, Fort Dodge, Mount Pleasant and Washington effective Dec. 12.
      Board Chairman Bob Shaw says in a statement the closures reflect an effort to "focus our limited resources where our patients are located." Less than 10 percent of Planned Parenthood's Iowa patients visited those four centers.
      After the closure, Planned Parenthood will operate 16 Iowa centers. The organization provides a variety of reproductive health care services, including abortions at some locations.
     Responding to the closures, Jenifer Brown, executive director of Iowa Right to Life, says "not only are the lives of the unborn safer when they leave, but so are the lives of the women seeking their services."


Organizers Try To Save Courthouse

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Community organizers trying to save one of Iowa's oldest county courthouses are criticizing how city leaders have handled the promotion and funding for a new building.
     Friends of the Mitchell County Courthouse and the Mitchell County Historic Preservation Association say the Mitchell County Board of Supervisors did not properly communicate with them about their final plans to tear down the courthouse. In the end, it's unclear how the county will pay for the new building.
     That's because voters turned down a measure Nov. 5 that would have sold $7.2 million in general obligation bonds to pay for a new building. It's the second time the measure has been shot down.
     Supervisors may try for the vote again in six months. In the meantime, the old courthouse is coming down.









Friday News, November 15

Le Mars Chamber of Commerce Hosts Dinner Theater Fundraiser

(Le Mars) -- Last evening the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce hosted a dinner theater
fund raiser.  More than 500 people attended the event held at the Le Mars  Convention Center featuring more than a dozen notable community people as the  cast.  The dinner theater consisted of a cruise to Alaska in which a famous  investment officer, B.S. Sutton, turned up missing, and each of the members of  the cruise ship, from the staff to the entertainers, to the tourists were all  suspects in his disappearance.  11 of the 13 cast members delivered a monolog as  to why they would have reason to get rid of the investment officer, but with each  denying they were responsible for the finance and investment officer's  disappearance.  The audience was able to participate in the interaction of the  play, first by voting on which cast member was perhaps responsible for the  missing ship's guest, and second by listening to the monologs presented by both  of the ship's activity directors and listing all the common known card and board  games, and sporting activities.


Plymouth County Fairboard Elects Officers

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County 4-H and Agricultural Society, perhaps better  known as the Plymouth County Fair, elected officers and directors during its  annual meeting held last evening.  Tony Schroeder was re-elected to serve as  president, Rich Benson will serve as the fairboard's vice president, Micheal  Bietelspacher was elected as treasurer, and Gail Shanerock will be the  fairboard's secretary.  Keith Korselman and Brad Collins were newly elected board  directors.  Four other directors were re-elected to serve another term.  They  include: Brett McNaughton, Tom Bainbridge, Tom Lehner, Terry Reuter, and Dan  Sheehan.  Outgoing fair board member Carol Scheinder was presented the  fairboard's person of the year award.  Two directors were recognized for their  long service to the fair.  Wayne Bietelspacher had served as a fair board  director for 12 years and Tom Galles was a director for 31 years.  Both directors  retired from the Plymouth county fairboard.


Plymouth County To Save $70,000 On Employee Insurance Premiums

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Supervisors were told they can expect to save nearly  $70,000 on employee insurance premiums. That good news was delivered by Jessica  Trobough who coordinates the wellness program for county employees.  Trobough  says Plymouth County was able to achieve 100 percent compliance, which in turn,  means a savings for the county on its insurance premiums.


Watershed Review Board Approves 10 State Projects Amounting $2 Million

DES MOINES - The Watershed Improvement Review Board recently approved ten  applications totaling $2,307,554 in grants to support projects that will improve  water quality or reduce flooding in the state.
The grant funds will be matched by recipients, who will provide $6,523,949 in  funding from the local communities to support these projects.  As a result, $8.8  million will be going to support conservation work in priority watersheds  throughout the state.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says "These projects are a partnership  between federal, state and local organizations that are committed to improving  Iowa's water quality. By supporting projects that address runoff and drainage,  sedimentation, urban stormwater, livestock runoff, streambed and bank  stabilization and a number of other issues, these projects are focused on issues  that directly impact the state's waterways and water quality."
The approved projects have already completed watershed assessments that  identified critical water resource areas and will focus on implementing specific  water quality or flood reduction improvements.
The projects will start after a grant agreement is signed between the applicant  and the Watershed Improvement Review Board.  Soil and water conservation  districts, public water supply utilities, counties, county conservation boards,  cities, and local watershed improvement committees were eligible to apply.  Individual projects could request up to $300,000.
WIRB received a total of $3 million this year and at least half of the funds must  be used to support voluntary, science based water quality practices referenced in  the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.  In this area, the Gere Creek watershed in Cherokee County will receive just short of $300,000.


Water Advisory Lifted For Elliot

ELLIOTT, Iowa (AP) - The Department of Natural Resources says officials in the  southwest Iowa city of Elliott have lifted an advisory that encouraged residents  to drink only bottled water after contractors hit a water main.
     The DNR and city officials lifted the advisory Thursday after water samples  showed the water was clean.
     The advisory was implemented Tuesday after the water main was damaged,  causing water pressure to drop and leaving the water supply more vulnerable to  bacterial contamination.
     Bottled water was recommended rather than boiling water because Elliott's  supply already has high levels of nitrates. Boiling the water would cause it to  have a higher nitrate concentration.


Democratic Governor Candidate Wants To Raise Gas Tax

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Democratic candidate for governor Jack Hatch says he  wants to hike Iowa's fuel tax to pay for road improvements in the state.
     In a policy plan released Thursday, the Des Moines lawmaker says he would  raise the tax - now 22 cents per gallon for gasoline, including fees - by two  cents a year for five years. That money would go to fixing deteriorating bridges  and roads. Hatch also wants to direct some surplus budget dollars to  infrastructure projects.
     Iowa's fuel tax hasn't been raised since 1989. A commission appointed by  Gov. Terry Branstad in 2011 recommended an increase of 8 to 10 cents a gallon to  boost funding for the state's network of bridges and roads. But changing the tax  rate has been unpopular in the state legislature.

Zebra Mussels Found In Iowa Great Lakes

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (AP) - Juvenile zebra mussels have shown up attached to boat  hoists removed this fall from East Okoboji, West Okoboji and Lower Gar lakes in  northern Iowa. 
      The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the discovery comes after four  juvenile zebra mussels were found in East Okoboji and Upper Gar Lake last fall. 
      Summer monitoring for zebra mussels resulted in little evidence of an  expanding population but inspection efforts continue on hundreds of boat hoists.
     It is required by law for boaters to remove all invasive species and to  drain all water from boats and equipment before leaving a water body.
     Zebra mussels can compete with other aquatic organisms for food. They kill  native mussels. They also attach to water intakes and pipes of power plants and  water supply facilities causing damage.

Jury Adjourns On Murder Trial Of Guard Accused Of Killing Pregnant Wife

 MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa (AP) - A jury has adjourned in the murder trial of a  former Iowa jail guard accused of fatally shooting his pregnant wife.
     The Ottumwa Courier reports that a judge granted the adjournment Thursday.  The Henry County jurors will return Friday to resume deliberations.
      The jury is trying to reach a verdict in the case of Seth Techel. He is  charged with first-degree murder in the May 2012 death of his wife, Lisa Techel.  She was found shot in the couple's Agency trailer in southeast Iowa.
      Prosecutors say Seth Techel killed his wife to pursue a relationship with  another woman. Defense attorneys say a former neighbor, who is now deceased, was  a better suspect in the case.
     This is Seth Techel's second trial. A judge declared a mistrial in March.


Man Injured In Bar Fight Is Suing Bar

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Des Moines man who was severely injured in a bar fight  two years ago is suing the bar and a party bus company, claiming both could have  prevented the attack.
     The Des Moines Register says 63-year-old Forey Jacobson, known around the  area for his tendency to run without shoes, filed the lawsuit against Johnny's  Hall of Fame and B-Bumpn Party Lines. Jacobson says the bar and company should  have recognized his attacker's intoxication, which the lawsuit says was a leading  factor in the assault.
     Jacobson says he suffered brain damage from the attack by 33-year-old  Benjamin Vogl, who was sentenced last year to five years in prison but was  released last month. He is named in the lawsuit.
     Jacobson is seeking damages, including for medical expenses.






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