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Monday News, June 17

"Friends Of Fourth" Step Forward To Save Independence Day Parade

(Le Mars) -- Rumors have been circulating around Le Mars that there may not be a 4th of July parade this year.  In the past, the American Legion has held a program at Veteran's Park which followed the patriotic-themed parade.  However, the individual mainly responsible for the organization of the July 4th parade and program is no longer living, and there is some thought that perhaps the community should pass on the parade.  There had been some local criticism of the July 4th program was too similar to the Memorial Day program.  Local American Legion officials have said the participation and interest in the Independence Day parade has dwindled over the years.  However, a group is being organized to help preserve the annual parade and celebration.  "Friends of the Fourth" intends to hold a local parade at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, July 4th.  The group came forward this week after learning that the former organizers of Fourth of July activities have stepped aside.
The Friends group will begin the day with the parade, followed by a noon picnic lunch catered by Timmy’s in “Old Central Gym” of the Plymouth County Historical Museum.  The parade will begin on the Boulevard (Eighth Street) and continue through downtown Le Mars to Second Street Northwest where it will disband. Anyone wishing to participate should be ready to go by 11 a.m. Children are especially encouraged to join the line-up and celebrate the Fourth. All floats and vehicles are welcome. Patriotic music is especially needed. Candy-throwing also will be allowed.  Following the parade, all are invited to the picnic lunch in the Gym. A freewill donation will be collected to cover the cost of the lunch.


Le Mars Still Cleaning Up After Memorial Day Floods

(Le Mars) -- City officials are still calculating the cost of clean up following the Memorial Day flooding.  Le Mars City Administrator Scott Langel says fortunately, the floods did not affect too many private homes.  However, the clean up process continues after the floods damaged the golf course, municipal park, the hiking and biking trails, and even the airport's facilities.  Langel says the clean up continues, but it has been incremental and spotty.

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Langel says the Floyd River and Willow Creek also need some repair.

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Langel says the dollar damage is still unknown.  He says it may depend upon whether city crews clean up the debris, or whether the city will need to hire outside contractors to help with the clean up.

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Le Mars Fire Department Respond To Playground Fire

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire Department was called to Franklin Elementary School on Sunday afternoon.  Someone had apparently tried to burn the wooden tower playground equipment as the fire department discovered several burn holes within the structure.  The Le Mars Fire Department has turned the matter over to the Le Mars Police Department to further investigate the matter.

Sioux City Fire Official To Visit Kosovo

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa fire official is headed to Kosovo for an exchange about disaster preparedness.
Assistant Sioux City Fire Chief Jim Clark is scheduled to be in the Balkans this week. Clark is part of a three-person team dispatched to the Balkans to help Kosovo prepare for disasters.
Clark will spend the week interviewing Kosovo officials. He says he's excited to learn what the country east of the Adriatic Sea can teach him.
Clark served as one of Sioux City's flood recovery leaders during and after the historic Missouri River flood in 2011. As a firefighter, he responded to the deadly United Airlines Flight 232
crash on July 19th, 1989, at Sioux Gateway Airport.


Harlan Man Dies In Basement Fire

HARLAN, Iowa (AP) - An 89-year-old man has died in a house fire in the western Iowa city of Harlan.
KJAN radio reports Bernard Wolfe died in the Saturday afternoon fire in his basement.
Harlan Fire Chief Roger Bissen (BEE-son) says Wolfe was trapped in his basement by the fire, which apparently started when a torch Wolfe was using malfunctioned and caught items on fire.
Bissen says he doesn't know the official cause of Wolfe's death.
The fire was contained to the house's basement.
Harlan is 25 miles northeast of Council Bluffs.

Explosion At Postville Processing Plant

POSTVILLE, Iowa (AP) - A fire has followed a small explosion at a processing plant in northeast Iowa.
Allamakee (al-uh-muh-KEE') County emergency management coordinator Chris Dahlstrom says the blast occurred before 2:20 a.m. Monday. He says the fire is out already. The state fire marshal's office has been called in to help investigate.
It's unclear whether anyone has been injured by the explosion or fire at the Norplex-Micarta plant.


Body Found In Missouri River

(South Sioux City) --  Authorities in South Sioux City say a body was recovered from the Missouri River around 1:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon.  A statement from police say they believe it is that of 25-year old Anthony J. Campbell, who disappeared into the river around 4:00 a.m. Friday morning.  Police says the body was found upriver from the railroad bridge on the Nebraska side of the river.  Authorities are expected to release more information later Monday.


Boater Rescued At Clear Lake

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa (AP) - A boater was rescued from Clear Lake after he grew exhausted while swimming to his children.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says 40-year-old Scott Davis of Clear Lake, was boating with his wife and four children on Saturday. Two of the children were being pulled on tubes behind the
boat on the southwest side of the lake when one of the tubes briefly went under water shortly after 5 p.m.
Authorities say Davis jumped into the water fully clothed and without a life jacket. As he swam back toward the boat with one of his children, he quickly grew tired and began struggling in the
water. His wife threw him a life jacket.
Davis was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated for exhaustion.


Boone Woman Killed By Train

BOONE, Iowa (AP) - Boone police say a train has struck and killed a woman in the central Iowa city.
Police responded to a call late Friday that a pedestrian had been hit.
Officers found 47-year-old Nancy Ilse Vartanian, of Boone, who died at the Union Pacific Railroad crossing.
Her death was at least the sixth train crash fatality in Iowa in the past three months.

Trial Set For Trucker Accused Of Murder

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A September trial has been scheduled for a former trucker who's been ruled mentally competent for a murder trial in Des Moines.
Ronald Hawkinson, 40,  faces two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of 30-year-old Sherif Hidic and 49-year-old Robert Smoot. Hawkinson has pleaded not guilty. His
trial is set to begin on Sept. 23.
Authorities say Hawkins had feuded with Hidic over money. Their dispute turned violent on May 17, 2012, on the grounds of Seibert Trucking and LCS Logistics in southeast Des Moines.
Questions had arisen about Hawkinson's competency last December, forcing a delay of his January trial date. Last week Hawkinson's lawyer cited four doctors who had vouched for Hawkinson's ability
to understand the case against him.


Peace Protesters To Rally In Iowa City

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Peace activists are marching across eastern Iowa to protest a plan to fly unmanned aircraft from an air base in Des Moines.
The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports that the activists want to send a message. More than a dozen demonstrators are walking from Rock Island, Illinois to Des Moines, to raise awareness about drone
The Iowa Air National Guard in Des Moines is ending its F-16 operation in the next few months. The unit is planning to replace those manned fighter jets with unmanned drones that will be controlled in Iowa but flown overseas.
Military leaders and some Iowa officials have praised the transition, saying it will preserve military jobs in Iowa.


Pay Day Loan Businesses Under Scrutiny

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Efforts to limit payday lenders in Iowa have repeatedly failed in the Legislature, but more cities are approving zoning changes that make it harder to open the
Cedar Rapids last week became the latest city to approve an ordinance that bans the short-term loan businesses from certain areas. It became the sixth Iowa city to approve such a law, leaving
opponents of the loan shops hopeful that the city-by-city limits will prompt the Legislature to take action.
Lawmakers have introduced measures that would cap interest rates at 36 percent, but the proposals have stalled. Opponents of payday lenders argue they can trap people in a cycle of debt.
Community Financial Services Association of America, which represents storefront payday lenders, says a statewide interest rate cap limits options for consumers.


Flood Victims May See Buyout

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - More than 100 victims of the 2008 Iowa floods could receive buyouts well above their property's assessed value before the disaster struck.
An investigation shows that some of the buyouts are more than $1 million above their pre-flood
Property owners in Cedar Rapids received the higher payouts after appealing the city's appraised values and paying for their own private assessment with a licensed appraiser.
Despite sometimes wide disparities in appraised values, the newspaper found that those private assessments were generally accepted by city and state officials without question or without an
independent review.
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett defended the city's actions, saying city staff relied on the work of a contracted company, ProSource Technologies, to present them with finalized buyout




Saturday News, June 15

Ice Cream Days Enters Final Day

(Le Mars) -- Ice Cream Days enters its final day, and besides the parade which will begin at 9:00 a.m., Other highlights include the Art in the Park held at Foster Park immediately following the parade.  All day long, from the Olson Cultural Arts Center, is the Grill 'n chill rib rally with the judging to take place at 5:00 p.m.  The ice cream flavor creation contest also to be held at the Olson Cultural Arts Center is scheduled to start at 2:00 with the judging at 2:30 p.m. and the kids can go fishing at the Municipal Park at 5:00 p.m. for the fishing derby.   Besides, the parade, the day's other highlight will occur with the finale with fireworks at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds.  Le Mars Chamber of Commerce President, Brad Banks explains what we can expect with the "light Up the sky" show.

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Pick says Ice Cream Days offers entertainment for the entire family.

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Smiles Prevail At Good Samaritan Center

(Le Mars) -- As part of the Ice Cream Days festivities, the annual Smile Contest was held Friday at Good Samaritan Living Center. The contest is comprised of three categories: Silliest, Toothless, and Cutest smiles with participants ranging from ages four to seven. The judges, Martha Toben, Jan Wagner, and dental hygenists Amanda Goodburn, and Tanya Gaswint, had a tough time selecting winners having to choose from the fourty-five children.
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Good Samaritan Living Center's Communications Director, Amy Harnack says the residents also enjoy the child contest.

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The winner with the silliest smile was seven-year old Gavin Clarey. Emma Sitzmann, also seven, won the toothless division, and six-year old Jack Foster, was awarded the cutest smile. This marks the sixth year Good Samaritan has held the smile contest with hopes of hosting it again.


Search Continues For Man Presumed Drowned In Missouri River

(South Sioux City) -- Authorities are continuing their search for a man who is missing and presumed drowned in the Missouri River.  South Sioux City police say 25-year old Anthony J. Campbell, who authorities say is a transient, disappeared in the river around 4:00 a.m. Friday morning.
Police Chief Scot Ford says Campbell and a female companion had waded out onto a sandbar.

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The woman's screams for help alerted the manager at Scenic Park who called 9-1-1.  Chief Ford says two emergency boats were launched, but they failed to locate Campbell.  Divers and a boat with sonar were later put on the river but were removed when thunderstorms with lightning moved through town. Ford says Campbell is presumed drowned.  His companion was not injured.


Power Is Restored To Hundreds Of MidAmerican Customers

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - MidAmerican Energy says thousands of customers have their power back following severe weather in the area.
The company says about 500 customers remain without power as of Friday night, down from more than 3,000.
Company spokesman Tim Grabinski says the power went out Friday afternoon due to the weather. Additional information was not available.
The National Weather Service says a strong thunderstorm has moved through Des Moines and surrounding areas. It included lightning, heavy downpours and low visibility.


Johnson County Residents Allowed To Return To Homes

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Residents in low-lying Johnson County neighborhoods are being allowed to return to their homes after they were ordered to evacuate during flooding.
The county on Friday afternoon lifted mandatory evacuation orders for neighborhoods located south and north of Iowa City along the Iowa River.
In all, county officials have estimated that a few dozen homes were affected by the evacuation orders issued May 30 as the river rose well above flood stage. They have also said that a few
residents refused to leave, even though their homes were inundated with water and their utilities had been shut off. The county warned they may not be rescued in an emergency.
County officials said that power may not be restored until Monday, and that residents should exercise caution when entering flooded properties.


Newton Doctor Faces Trial For Unlawfully Distribution Of Controlled Substances

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A trial date has been pushed back for a former Newton doctor charged with unlawfully prescribing controlled substances to addicted patients.
The trial for Lafayette Twyner Jr. was scheduled to start in September. But U.S. District Judge Stephanie Rose granted a request by Twyner's attorney for more time to prepare, and it's now set to
begin in January.
Twyner has been charged with 114 counts of health care fraud and unlawfully disseminating controlled substances. An indictment says he prescribed controlled substances in a manner that caused dependence, addiction and death. He's accused of prescribing drugs that resulted in a man's overdose death.
Twyner has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He surrendered his medical license in July 2012 under a settlement with regulators.


Runnels Sinkhole Is Old Septic Tank

RUNNELS, Iowa (AP) - Officials have determined a sinkhole in the Polk County town of Runnells was caused by an old septic tank, not an abandoned mine as some suspected.
A state environmental engineer, Mike Bourland, says there were coal mines in the area.
The sinkhole made its debut about two weeks ago in Bob Borg's front yard. It was nearly 10 feet deep and 10 feet wide, gaping a few yards away from his house. The soil had eroded around a power
pole, which was taken out.
Environmental engineers dug into the sinkhole on Friday and decide it wasn't an entrance to a mine.
Runnells Mayor Ron Tate says several sinkholes have appeared over the past 20 years in a field on the east side of town.


Fayette Man Accused Of Assaulting Retirement Residents

FAYETTE, Iowa (AP) - A man has been accused of assaulting people at a rural retirement home in northeast Iowa.
The Fayette County Sheriff's Office arrested 21-year-old Matthew Saul, of Waterloo, after responding Wednesday night to a report about an out of control man at Prairie View Residential Care
Facility in Fayette.
Saul faces three counts of misdemeanor assault with a weapon and felony second-degree criminal mischief. He's also accused of damaging property at the facility.
Authorities did not release additional information about the case. Court records do not list an attorney for Saul.


Iowa City Man Slips Out Of Handcuffs

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa City man who police say eluded arrest after slipping out of his handcuffs has turned himself in.
Authorities say 22-year-old Pedro Gemartino showed up Wednesday at the Johnson County Jail to face several charges stemming from an incident on May 30.
Gemartino had been pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving. He's accused of slipping out of his handcuffs as police transported him from a squad car to the county jail.
Authorities failed to locate Gemartino after he fled on foot, and they issued a warrant for his arrest.
Gemartino is charged with driving while barred, along with two felony charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and escape of a felon.







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