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Monday News, June 24

Le Mars and Merrill Fire Departments Respond To Storage Shed Fire

(Le Mars) -- Both the Le Mars and the Merrill Fire Departments responded to an early morning structure fire in Le Mars.  The alarm was sounded at about 2:25 a.m. when a storage shed located behind the Dinger's Bar on 2nd Street was filled with smoke.  Fire officials worked for nearly an hour on the blaze.

Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper describes the scene upon arrival.

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Schipper believes the fire may have been intentionally set.

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Schipper says the matter will be turned over to the Le Mars Police Department for additional investigation.


Tractor Ride Comes To Le Mars

(Le Mars) -- More than 500 tractors of all sizes, makes, models, and colors will roll into Le Mars today.  It's all part of the 17th annual WHO Radio Great Iowa Tractor Ride. The tractors started from Sioux City at about 7:30 this morning and will make their trek north and have lunch at the Le Mars Convention Center.  Marc Dorenkamp says the ride started as a result of the late farm broadcaster, Mark Pearson having a speaking engagement at Grinnell.

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Many on today's tractor ride are either past or present farmers, or perhaps they were raised on a farm, and Dorenkamp says the appeal of the tractor ride is because they are reliving their history.

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The drivers of the tractor ride will eat lunch at the Le Mars Convention Center, where they will feed on the famous "pork chop in a glove" as provided by the Plymouth County Pork Producers Association and the Plymouth County Extension and Outreach.


School Board To Vote On Superintendent's Contract

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education are scheduled to meet this evening. The school board is expected to act upon the three year contract for school superintendent Dr. Todd Wendt.  The contract proposal would offer a 12 percent increase for the salary base pay for Wendt during the first year and a four percent increase for year two and year three.  If approved, starting July 1st, Wendt's salary would be $149,628.  Year two would make the salary $155,613 and for the third year of the contract the superindentent's salary would be $161,838.  The contract includes hospitalization, life and disability insurance.   The school board will also discuss the upcoming school board election.  The first date for candidates to file nomination papers is July 8th.  Fifty signatures are required for a nomination, and the last day to submit nomination papers is August 1st.  As a result of
re-redistricting, district one is vacant.  Scott Kommes is eligible to run in district 2. Mark Hemmingson and Chris Collins can run for director in district 3, and Brenda Phelan is eligible to run in district 4.

MRHD Spent Thousands On Legal Fees Over Casino Dispute

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Documents show that legal costs for Missouri River Historical Development soared last year as the nonprofit group and its former casino partner battled in court over
their disintegrated relationship.
The nonprofit group spent $324,769 in legal fees in 2012. That's more than six times the $50,795 reported in 2011. A year before that, the nonprofit's fees were $11,641.
The nonprofit and Argosy Sioux City riverboat casino operator Penn National Gaming Company have been locked in a legal battle over their contract for more than a year.
Nonprofit president Mark Monson says the rising legal costs will not hamper his group's ability to distribute casino proceeds to charitable causes, as Iowa law spells out.


Correctionville Man Shoot Himself While Trying To Shoot A Raccoon

CORRECTIONVILLE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a 45-year-old northwest Iowa man who was trying to shoot a caged raccoon accidentally shot himself.
The accident occurred a little before 10 a.m. Sunday at Copeland Park in Correctionville.
Woodbury County Sheriff's Maj. Greg Stallman says Tim McCormick had set out traps at his home in Correctionville and caught a raccoon. Stallman says McCormick took the caged raccoon to the park
to shoot it, but instead accidentally fired his .38 caliber revolver into his left leg.
He was taken to Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City. The uninjured raccoon was released back into the woods.
The shooting is being investigated.


Child Falls From Des Moines Apartment Window

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a child was injured in a fall from a second-story window at a Des Moines apartment complex.
The accident occurred Sunday afternoon at the Oakridge Apartments. The boy's mother told police she left her son alone for a moment while she used a bathroom. She soon heard pounding on her apartment door and screaming from outside. She then learned her boy had fallen from an apartment window.
Officers say the boy's head was bleeding and he was crying when they arrived. He was taken to Blank Children's Hospital.


Robber Uses Unusual Get A Way Vehicle

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A man who robbed a Des Moines area fast food restaurant had an unusual getaway car.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office says a man entered a Wendy's Restaurant just before 5 p.m. Sunday. He told an employee he had a weapon and demanded money.
He was given an undisclosed amount of cash, and then fled across a parking lot of an adjacent building.
He got into a maroon Ford Ranger pickup pulling a large trailer that contained furniture, covered by a dark tarp.
Witnesses say the trailer had blue, out of state license plates.

Iowa Can Do More To Prevent Flooding According To Experts

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Experts say Iowa could do more to avoid flooding by limiting how much rain runs into the state's rivers and streams. Stemming that runoff would include moves to tackle climate
change and expand grasslands and wetlands to absorb rain where it falls.
Figures show that Iowa's participation in the federal Conservation Reserve Program - which pays farmers to keep some land in native grasses and out of crop production - has dropped sharply as corn prices have steadily increased.
In 1993, Iowa peaked with 2.2 million acres in the CRP. By 2008, acreage had dipped to 1.8 million. This spring, it stood at just 1.5 million.
Experts predict the threat of flooding will only grow as rainfall increases in the future due to climate change.

U-S Supreme Court To Act On Ethanol Case

WASHINGTON (AP) - It's a dilemma for drivers.
Do they choose a gasoline that's cheaper and cleaner even if, as opponents say, it could damage older cars and motorcycles?
That's the peril and promise of a high-ethanol blend of gasoline known as E15. The fuel contains 15 percent ethanol, well above the current 10 percent norm sold at most U.S. gas stations.
The oil industry's chief lobbying group has asked the Supreme Court to block sales of E15, saying the high-ethanol blend could leave millions of drivers with broken down vehicles and high repair
bills. The ethanol industry calls that a scare tactic and notes that no documented cases of engine damage have been caused by ethanol.
The court could decide as soon as Monday whether to hear the case.


Two Million Dollar Powerball Lottery Ticket Sold In Decorah

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A $2 million Powerball ticket has been sold at a gas station in Decorah.
The Iowa Lottery says the ticket was for Saturday's Powerball drawing and was sold at a Casey's in Decorah. It matched the first five numbers, but missed the Powerball. The lottery says the purchaser of the ticket also added Power Play, which doubled the prize from $1 million to $2 million.
It was one of two tickets to win $2 million in the country for the Saturday drawing. A $131.5 million jackpot-winning ticket was sold in Pennsylvania.
Casey's in Decorah will receive a $2,000 bonus for selling the winning ticket.








Saturday News, June 22

Optimist Club Honors Lenny Flack

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Optimist organization held a family picnic on Thursday evening at the West Floyd Park to pay tribute to all law enforcement agencies, and to specifically honor Senior officer Lenny Flack of the Le Mars Police Department.  Each year, for the past 28 years, the Le Mars Optimist has held it's Respect the Law appreciation dinner.  The Optimist organization focuses its attention on elementary age students to stay away from drugs. During the recognition ceremony, Optimist president, Mike Baas told the gathering,  “We want to thank the Le Mars Police Department for everything they do, and we realize they are not thanked enough. “This year we are honoring Sr. Officer Lenny Flack .  Baas continued, “Optimists believe it’s important for children to respect law enforcement, and to abide by the law.” The local Optimist organization honors local law enforcement officials in appreciation of their job. Flack is a graduate of Aurelia High School as well as a Westmar College alum.  He joined the Le Mars Police Department in 1996.  He is part of the Plymouth County - Le Mars drug task force, certified law enforcement driving instructor, a member of the Special Response Team, bicycle patrol, and he serves on the police department's hiring committee for new officers.  Flack is a member of the Plymouth County Peace Officers Association having served on its board of directors and as the organization's president.


Sioux County Authorities Make Two More Arrests From Assault Case

(Orange City) -- Sioux county authorities have made two more arrests in connection with an assault complaint.  Last Saturday, Sioux County Sheriff's Office investigated an assault that occurred at a residence in Hull.  As a result of that altercation, one person sustained serious injuries and was transported to the Sioux Center Hospital.  That person was later airlifted to Avera-McKennan hospital in Sioux Falls for further treatment of his injuries.  Deputies initially arrested 32 year-old Joel Gonzales of Rock Valley for willful injury.  On Wednesday of this past week, deputies arrested 46 year old Ruben Lupercio-Lopez and was charged with aggrvated assault.  He is accused of displaying a dangerous weapon. 
Then yesterday morning, authorities arrested 31 year old Holly Esquivel, also of Hull and charged her with criminal mischief in the third degree, an aggravated misdemeanor.  She is accused of damaging a vehicle.


Fort Dodge Fire

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - An early morning fire in Fort Dodge has destroyed a building housing the mayor's business.
KVFD radio reports ( ) the fire at Bemrich Electric was reported about 2:45 a.m. Friday.
It took firefighters more than two hours to control the blaze. The building's roof collapsed and the structure appeared to be destroyed.
Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich says he'd like to have his business back in operation by next week, but it's too soon to tell how long that will take.
It's unclear what caused the fire.


Iowa's Unemployment Rate Drops

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's seasonally adjusted unemployment dropped slightly in May to 4.6 percent.
Iowa Workforce Development on Friday released Iowa's unemployment figures, which show a drop from 4.7 percent in April. The rate in May 2012 was 5.3 percent.
The state's figures compare to a national unemployment rate of 7.6 percent in May.
There were an estimated 76,800 unemployed people in Iowa in May. Total employment rose in May to 1,576,800.


Microsoft Builds Data Center In West Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Microsoft is the latest business planning to build a massive data center in Iowa as the state continues to attract some of the biggest technology companies looking for a place to expand their computer processing and storage abilities.
Microsoft is proposing to spend more than $677 million on the West Des Moines data center. The company is receiving $20 million in tax credits to create 29 jobs. The Iowa Economic Development
Authority on Friday approved the incentives.
Already Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have chosen Iowa for data centers. Microsoft's total investment is expected to exceed $1 billion in Iowa with the new project.
Industry consultants say Iowa offers plentiful, inexpensive electricity and policies that alleviate millions of dollars in property and sales taxes.


Economic Development Authority Approves Tax Break Projects

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A state economic development board has approved tax breaks and other incentives for 13 companies promising to create 177 jobs and spend $725 million to expand or build new businesses.
Among them is Danisco, a subsidiary of DuPont, which plans to expand in Cedar Rapids. The $19.9 million project would create 11 jobs.
Other companies proposing expansions include Helena Industries in Des Moines, three jobs; Iowa Corn Processors in Glidden, two jobs; MediRevv in Coralville, 56 jobs; and Northern Iowa Die Cast
in Lake Park, 18 jobs.
Precision Tank and Equipment Co. plans to build a new facility in Humboldt creating 14 jobs and Illinois computer software developer Design Mill Inc. plans to open a Dubuque office hiring 16
The Iowa Economic Development Authority approved the projects Friday.


Iowa Finance Authority Lowers Interest Rate On Municipal Loans

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - More than 100 Iowa cities that have borrowed money to improve their drinking water systems or their wastewater treatment plants will save $6.5 million thanks to lower
interest rates.
Iowa cities can borrow from the State Revolving Fund, a program managed by the Iowa Finance Authority and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. They announced Friday that the interest rate has been lowered on 20-year revolving loans to 1.75 percent from 3 percent. Because of the program's success, the interest rate reduction applies to all existing loans that are at least 10 years
That will save Sioux City more than $905,000 on five loans, Mason City $630,000, and Fort Dodge $509,000 on four outstanding loans.
Other cities to realize big savings are Grimes, $328,000; Fairfield $273,000; and Oskaloosa $220,000.


Maynard Dumps Untreated Sewage Into River

MAYNARD, Iowa (AP) - A pump failure cause about 200 gallons of
untreated sewage to flow into the Little Volga River in the
northeastern Iowa city of Maynard.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the sewage bypass
happened Friday morning when one of two pumps overheated.
The DNR says city workers acted quickly to repair the pump and
stopped the sewage discharge within 10 minutes.



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