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Wednesday Afternoon News, August 21

Hinton House Fire (Updated)

(Hinton) -- A house in Hinton was destroyed by fire last evening.  At about 10:19 p.m. several 9-1-1 emergency calls were received at the Plymouth County Communications Center advising of a house on fire located at 1520 Mercury Drive in Hinton.  Hinton Fire Chief Chad Beck describes the scene.

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The house was fully engulfed when fire officials arrived at the scene.
Beck says four adults, and two children under the age of five, were in the home when the fire started, but fortunately, all were able to escape the blaze.  Beck says there were no injuries to any of the family members or to the fire fighters.  Both the Hinton and Merrill Fire Departments responded to the house fire and battled the blaze until nearly 5:00 a.m. this morning.  Beck says the State Fire Marshall arrived to investigate the fire.  It has been determined the fire was accidental in nature, but the cause is still undetermined. The house was a total loss and Beck estimates the damage at $215,000.

 

Le Mars Beauty School Ask City For Consideration Of CDBG Grant

(Le Mars) -- Representatives of the Le Mars Beauty School College met before the city council on Tuesday to formally request assistance for the cosmetology school be included as part of the Community Development Block Grant.  Stacy Anderson says the school has done a lot of recent renovation and hopes to one day have the building designated as part of the National Historic Registry.

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Anderson says with the renovations, the building can still serve today's needed functions in terms of both the beauty school and the dance studio.

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In addition to the restoration efforts, the Le Mars Beauty School College recently had a transfer of ownership.  Rod and Sheila Anderson have sold the business to their son Todd Anderson.

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Anderson says the school is expanding its services to include skin care and products, as well as, nail care services and products.

 

Report Shows Governor Did Not Play A Role In Agent's Firing

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A review commissioned by Gov. Terry Branstad has concluded that the
governor's office played no role in the firing of a criminal investigator who had complained about the governor's speeding SUV.
Former Chief Justice Louis Lavorato said in a report released Wednesday that Branstad
took a "hands off approach" toward the investigation and termination of former Division of
Criminal Investigation special agent Larry Hedlund.
Lavorato says he found no direct evidence that Hedlund's superiors retaliated against
Hedlund in putting him on administrative leave in April, days after Hedlund warned the governor's speeding was a safety risk.
But Lavorato says he reaches no conclusion on whether there was retaliation or whether Hedlund's firing is justified. He says retaliation is seldom established directly and "in most cases must depend on circumstantial evidence."

 

Dean Returns To Iowa

ALTOONA, Iowa (AP) - Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean says Democrats must focus on winning legislative seats and called on union members to knock on doors frequently and get to know voters personally.
He says in a speech Wednesday to the Iowa Federation of Labor's annual convention in Altoona that statehouse campaigns need to run as if every legislative candidate were running for president.
He says it's important as Democrats counter Republican efforts to change voting rules and other measures.
Dean encouraged union members to recruit strong candidates now and volunteer to knock on doors so frequently that they get to know voters personally.
If Democrats do that well, Dean predicted the party would do well in the 2014 election.


Court Rules In Favor Of Iowa State University Whistle blower

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An appeals court says a former Iowa State University employee was the victim of an outrageous and vicious harassment campaign by his superiors, but he failed to prove that it was because he reported his boss for financial misconduct.
The Iowa Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected a jury's finding that former ISU College of Engineering marketing employee Dennis Smith was the victim of whistleblower retaliation, and threw out a judge's landmark $784,000 damage award in his favor.
But the court says Iowa State did intentionally inflict emotional distress on Smith through the actions of his superiors, which included repeated false accusations that Smith was a security threat and unfair attempts to force him out. The court is upholding the jury's $500,000 award for Smith on that violation.

 

 

 

 

   

Wednesday News, August 21

Fire Destroys Hinton Home

(Hinton) -- A house in Hinton was totally destroyed by fire last evening.  At about 10:19 p.m. several 9-1-1 emergency calls were received at the Plymouth County Communications Center advising of a house on fire located at 1520 Mercury Drive in Hinton.  Upon arrival of fire and rescue crews, the home was fully engulfed in flames.  There were no reports of injuries at the time of the call.  Both Hinton and Merrill Fire Departments responded to the house fire and battled the blaze for several hours before getting the fire under control.  According to Hinton Fire Chief, Chad Beck, the State Fire Marshall has been contacted to conduct a complete investigation as to the cause of the fire.

 

Sheriff Releases More Details Relating To Clarey's Death

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo released additional information regarding the death of Jeremy Clarey of Akron.  Clarey was initially reported as being missing on Thursday, but his body was found on Friday by Plymouth County authorities and the Akron Police Department in a wooded area along Highway 12.  The state's medical examiner in Ankeny conducted an autopsy on Clarey, and determined that Clarey had died of self-inflicted knife wounds.  Further tests are being conducted, including, but not limited to toxicology tests.  The Plymouth County Sheriff's Office is continuing their investigation.  Interviews and record searches are being conducted.  The case remains open
and under investigation.


Inmate Death Due To Asphyxiation

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Department of Public Safety says an inmate at the Woodbury County Jail has died by strangulation.
The agency says in a news release Tuesday that 32-year-old Thomas Huisman was found
unresponsive in his cell on Saturday and couldn't be revived.
An autopsy showed he died of "asphyxiation by ligature," and the death was classified as a
suicide.
Huisman is the second inmate found dead at the Woodbury County Jail this year. The other inmate died in March of a medical ailment.

 

City Council Considers Removing Some Stop Signs

(Le Mars) -- The topic of Stop signs, and the possible removal of some stop signs was again
discussed at the Le Mars City Council meeting on Tuesday.  
The Le Mars city council has asked city officials to identify potential stop signs within the city limits that could possibly be eliminated.  The city has identified a total of 23 intersections where they believe stop signs could be removed.  City councilman Rex Knapp has advocated the action of removing identified stop signs for a number of years, and explains his reasons.

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Many people wonder about the safety of the intersections if the stop signs were to be removed.  Knapp says he wants to know if the traffic signs are absolutely necessary.

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Le Mars Police Chief Stuart Dekkenga spoke before the council members and says there is a reason for each stop sign.

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The police chief says he can see only one stop sign that could be removed and not pose a safety risk.

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The council decided to allow the city's Public Safety Committee evaluate the proposal and gather public comments and to report back to the city council with its recommendations.

 

"Scoop The Loop" Scheduled For Wednesday Evening

(Le Mars) -- Classic cars of all makes and models from past eras will be cruising down Central Avenue in Le Mars this evening.  Its part of the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce's "Scoop the Loop".  The antique cars and even some motorcycles will gather first at the parking lot of the Le Mars Convention Center at 6:30 p.m., then they will stroll downtown to the Olson Cultural Events Center, where the public will have the opportunity to get a close-up view of the classic vehicles.  The musical group, "The Jammers" will perform between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. and food consisting of hot dogs, chips, pop, and ice cream will be sold.


Branstad's Driver Issued Ticket For Speeding

WEBSTER CITY, Iowa (AP) — A trooper has been convicted of speeding while driving Gov. Terry Branstad after declining to fight a citation.
Steven Lawrence opted not to challenge the $181.50 ticket Tuesday in Hamilton County for
driving 84 mph in a 65-mph zone on Highway 20 in April.
The ticket has been paid.
Lawrence was ticketed three months after the April 26 incident in which he was transporting
Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. A trooper responded to a complaint of a speeding SUV
but didn't stop the vehicle after seeing it was "Car 1," the governor's state-assigned vehicle.
The Iowa State Patrol disciplined and ticketed Lawrence last month, only after audio and
video of the incident were released and the case created political controversy for Branstad.

 

Branstad Signs Executive Order Relating To Juvenile Home

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Terry Branstad has signed an executive order designed to
improve the care of children at the Iowa Juvenile Home in Toledo where the use of physical
restraints and isolation rooms has been criticized.
Branstad's order, signed Tuesday, also establishes a five-member task force charged with
recommending additional improvements and assisting in implementation.
The group is to recommend a plan for eliminating seclusion rooms and transferring the
home's education plan to management by the local area education agency instead of the Iowa
Department of Human Services.
The task force report is due Oct. 15
Branstad's spokesman says in a statement the increased standards will lead to greater safety, transparency and oversight at the state-run juvenile home.

 

Iowa DNR Sends Fire Crews To California

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Two wildfire engines and two crews from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' Forestry Bureau are joining the fight against fires in California.
The agency says officials dispatched the equipment and crews Monday to help battle fires in
Northern and Southern California.
The engines are operated by eight Iowans who are certified by the National Wildfire
Coordinating Group.
The DNR sends wildfire engines to other states at the request of the U.S. Forest Service.
The National Interagency Fire Center says more than 3.3 million acres have burned across
the country so far this year.

 

Iowa Students Perform Better On College Entrance ACT Exams

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — ACT scores show a higher percentage of Iowa's 2013 high school graduates demonstrated readiness for college-level coursework than 2012 graduates.  In scores released Wednesday, 32 percent of the Iowa 2013 graduates were deemed college-ready in English, reading, math and science. That's up 2 percentage points from 30 percent in 2012.
Other findings are less rosy. The report shows that minority students were less likely than
white students to take the test and that scores of African-American and Hispanic students
were lower than those of fellow students.
Iowa's state composite score for 2013 was 22.1, compared with the national average of 20.9.

 

Low Income Families Forced To Move For Building

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The renovation of a downtown Des Moines building will mean about 100 low-income people will have to move and three businesses must relocate.
The planned $16.5 million renovation of the Randolph Hotel promises to add new housing and business space in the city's bustling Court Avenue district.
But it also will create difficulty for the low-income people who live in the nine-story hotel built in 1911. Many rent by the week or the month.
Developer Sherman Associates will present a relocation plan for residents to city
officials. The developer won't help the businesses, which consist of a tattoo parlor, bail bond operation and a convenience store.
Sherman is requesting city assistance in financing the project. The company hopes to being
construction this winter.


   

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