Thursday Afternoon News, Feb. 28
Union Pacific Train Derails Near Sheldon
(Ritter) -- Clean up is underway in O'Brien County after several cars of an Union Pacific train derailed early Thursday morning. Union Pacific spokesperson Raquel Espinoza says the accident happened three miles north of Sheldon.
Espinoza says Highway 60 is not affected, but some county roads are blocked by the derailment.
The cause of the derailment remains under investigation.
Pheasants Forever Schedules Annual Banquet
(Le Mars) -- This Saturday, the Plymouth County chapter of Pheasants Forever will hold its 28th annual banquet at the Le Mars Convention Center. Chapter President Bob Puetz says the event usually attracts up to 550 people, and in addition to raising money for pheasant habitat, the evening's festivities prove to be a lot of fun for everyone.
Puetz says, again this year, the Pheasants Forever chapter will raffle several shotguns and recreational outdoor retreats.
The Pheasants Forever chapter president says in addition to creating sufficient habitat and to increase the population of pheasants and other wildlife, an additional mission is to introduce youngsters to the outdoors.
The Plymouth County chapter sponsors several events through out the year directed towards youth and typically more than 100 youth participate. The Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter ranks as one of the more active chapters in the nation, at one time having the most sponsors of any chapter in the nation. The Pheasants Forever organization recently ranked Plymouth County as being the 25th best pheasant hunting spot in the nation. The Pheasants Forever banquet will start with 5:00 social hour and dinner at 6:30 p.m.
State Senate Democrats Announce Plan To Reduce Property Taxes
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A plan from Senate Democrats to reduce commercial property taxes is moving forward, though Republican lawmakers and Gov. Terry Branstad have questioned the proposal.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee on Thursday approved a bill that would gradually reduce commercial property taxes by providing credits. Sen. Matt McCoy, of Des Moines, calls it a "Main Street
Under the plan, commercial property owners would gradually get a tax credit equivalent to a roughly 40 percent tax cut on their first $324,000 in assessed property value. Democrats say their plan
would help small businesses more than Branstad's plan.
The Democrats' plan would cost $250 million, and credits wouldn't be funded in weak budget years.
Branstad's $350 million plan gradually cuts taxable property assessments by 20 percent for all businesses.
Democrats Want To Help Community Colleges
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Citing the high number of Iowa residents without a high school diploma, Democratic senators want to provide additional funding to community colleges for adult education and
Sen. Brian Schoenjahn, of Arlington, noted Thursday the legislation would provide $25 million to community colleges to help people get high school equivalency diplomas, technical training and
job placement assistance. He says that about 300,000 working age adults in Iowa do not have high school diplomas.
The bill has been approved by the Senate education committee with support from Democrats and Republicans. It will now go on to the Senate for full approval.
Schoenjahn says Gov. Terry Branstad had also indicated support for the ideas in the bill.
Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht says the governor hasn't taken a position on the proposal.
Public Defender Considered For Court of Appeals Position
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A coalition of progressive groups is calling on U.S. senators to confirm a federal public defender from Cedar Rapids as a member of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday considered President Barack Obama's nomination of Jane Kelly to the court, which hears cases from Iowa and several other states. Kelly has been an
assistant federal public defender since 1994, and she recently represented white-collar criminal Russ Wasendorf Sr.
Kelly's nomination to the federal bench has been endorsed by Iowa's two senators, Democrat Tom Harkin and Republican Chuck Grassley.
The Iowa Fair Courts Coalition on Wednesday called Kelly highly qualified and asked the Senate to schedule a floor vote on her nomination.
The coalition includes the state's largest gay rights group and pro-labor groups.
Budget Cuts May Hurt Meat Industry
COLUMBUS JUNCTION, Iowa (AP) - Federal budget reductions set to take effect Friday could fall like a meat ax on the small Iowa town of Columbus Junction, where a Tyson Foods hog processing plant dominates the economy.
The White House is warning that 6,300 meat and poultry plants could be forced to temporarily suspend production because the cuts may require U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors to be
furloughed for 15 days.
The impact would hit meatpacking towns such as Columbus Junction, which has long been driven by the business of turning Iowa's nation-leading hog population into food.
Grocery store owner Griceli Amigon says 95 percent of her customers work at Tyson, and they'd have no money to spend during a furlough.
Mayor Daniel Wilson says he believes the warning is "political posturing" that won't happen