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Saturday News, June 8

Authorities Find Body Of Missing 15 Year Old Girl

BOONE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say they have found the body believed to be a 15-year-old Iowa girl who was kidnapped by a registered sex offender while walking home from school.
Officials said early Saturday that a body believed to be that of Kathlynn Shepard was found by fishermen in an Iowa waterway Friday night. The high school freshman has been missing since May 20. She and a 12-year-old friend were lured into a truck that police say was driven by Michael Klunder. Police said Klunder took the girls from Dayton to a hog confinement where he worked.
The 12-year-old escaped. Klunder later committed suicide.
Hundreds of people searched for Kathlynn. Hopes of finding her alive were dampened when testing confirmed that blood found on Klunder's truck and at the hog building was Kathlynn's.


Officials Investigating If Klunder Was Responsible For Missing Cousins Deaths

EVANSDALE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say they're still investigating whether there's any connection between Michael Klunder, a sex offender who committed suicide, and the disappearance last year of two slain Evansdale cousins.
The Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office says investigators are still tracking the actions and whereabouts of Michael Klunder around the time that Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook went missing.
Elizabeth was 8 and Lyric was 10 when they rode their bikes in July and disappeared. Their bodies were discovered in December.
But authorities add that Klunder isn't their sole focus and they continue to follow up on other leads.


Plymouth County Well Represented For Governor's Environmental Awards

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County will be well represented for the upcoming Governor's Iowa Environmental Excellence Awards. The city of Le Mars, Van's Sanitation along with the Plymouth County Solid Waste Agency will be honored with special recognition in Waste Management, and the Plymouth County Chapter of Pheasants Forever will receive special recognition for Water Quality.  The awards ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, June 27th at Des Moines.  The city of Le Mars, Van's Sanitation and Recycling and the Plymouth County Solid Waste Agency have partnered together with the goal of making Le Mars the recycling capital of Iowa.  In 2012, Le Mars city council voted to require every commercial business to recycle.  850 totes were purchased for area businesses.  A former landfill has been converted to a recycling center.  Wood is sold to an ethanol plant, concrete is ground and used on roads, shingles are ground and reused for road projects and metals are separated and sold for scrap.  Van's purchases recyclables, then bales and markets the materials.  The collaboration and leadership by the three entities has resulted in the county exceeding the 25 percent diversion goal by nearly four percent and can serve as a model to other planning areas.

The Plymouth County Pheasants Forever will also be honored at the same ceremony for providing $15,000 in seed, labor, and equipment for an innovative way to treat the city of Remsen's drinking water.  For years, the nitrate levels in the water had been increasing. The water from eight wells on 90 acres of farmland needed to be blended before being safe to drink.  Remsen had three choices: purchase drinking water from an outside source, build a multi-million dollar filtration plant, or take a risk and try planting native prairie on the well land to naturally treat the water.  Remsen received grants and low-interest loans to purchas the land and Pheasants Forever handled the planting of native grasses.  Since the planting in 2009, the community has seen a decrease in the nitrate levels and the water is now safe to drink without being blended.  The site is also being used as an outdoor classroom and the community can use the mowed walking paths to view the grasses, wildflowers, songbirds and other prairie animals.  No other community in the state or nation has used this solution to treat groundwater and the land will now remain a native prairie.


Merrill Man Found Dead In Yard

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office received a call on Thursday at about 4:30 p.m. of a male subject that was unresponsive and not breathing at a residence in the 2500 block of K-30.
After arrival and investigation at the scene, the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office and Plymouth County Medical Examiner determined that Richard O. Kalas, age 83, of Merrill IA, had been mowing grass at his residence on a farm tractor.  Due to unknown reasons, Mr. Kalas had fallen off of the tractor and was found lying in the yard by a family member later in the day.  Mr. Kalas was pronounced dead at the scene by the Plymouth County Medical Examiner.
The Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office and Plymouth County Medical Examiner were assisted at the scene by the Hinton Ambulance and Fire Department.


Branstad Declares Five More Counties As Disaster

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad has issued a disaster emergency proclamation for five more counties affected by recent storms and flooding.
The governor made the announcement Friday for Appanoose, Lee, Muscatine, Wayne and Webster counties. It's in addition to other counties affected by storms and flooding that began May 19.
The declaration helps counties access state resources in response to the damage.
Branstad also activated an assistance program for Fayette and Muscatine counties. The program provides grants of up to $5,000 for home or car repairs, clothing or food replacements and temporary
housing expenses.


Supreme Court Says Stiffer Penalties Cannot Be Given For Invoking 5th Amendment Right

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court says criminal defendants cannot be punished with stiffer sentences for invoking their right to remain silent to avoid answering questions about
whether they're using drugs.
Justices ruled 5-2 on Friday that a Polk County judge unfairly penalized Kenneth R. Washington III when he ordered him to complete five times as much community service than had been envisioned under a plea deal for possessing marijuana.
Washington had invoked his right against self-incrimination after Judge William Price asked whether his urine would be positive for drug use if it was tested that day.
Price ordered Washington to serve 250 hours of community service rather than the 50 hours that had been recommended by prosecutors and the defense. Justices said that was retaliation for exercising a constitutional right.


Branstad Will Need To Give Approval For Medicaid Funded Abortions

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - If approved by Governor Terry Branstad, Iowa would likely be the first state to require the governor to personally approve reimbursement for every abortion for Medicaid
Iowa's Medicaid program covers a small number of abortions each year due to rape, incest, fetal deformity or to protect a mother's life. If Branstad approves this measure, he will have to sign off
on these reimbursement dollars on a regular basis.
The Roman Catholic, anti-abortion Republican said he is likely to approve the legislation, which effects reimbursements after the abortions, not authorizing the procedures ahead of time.
Abortion rights advocates say Iowa would be the first state to set such a policy.


Northey To Travel To Turkey On Agricultural Trade Mission

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Nebraska Agricultural Trade Representative Stan Garbacz are packing for Turkey to accompany officials from four other
states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a trade mission to promote exports.
Officials from Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and Pennsylvania also have reserved space for the trip to be led by Acting USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Michael Scuse next
Representatives from 20 U.S. companies will also travel with the group including from Iowa: Hagie Manufacturing from Clarion, Sukup Manufacturing from Sheffield, and Tri-States Grain Conditioning
from Spirit Lake.
Also included are representatives from the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission and Kelly Bean Co. of Scottsbluff, Neb.
Northey says Turkey's growing middle class provides opportunities for expanded agricultural exports.


Des Moines Police Identify Homicide Victim

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Des Moines police have identified a man killed in a shooting in an industrial area.
The Des Moines police identified the man as 35-year-old Steven Allen Harmon, of
Des Moines.
He was found fatally shot early Thursday in a parking lot where trailers are stored.
Police say Harmon had a trailer at the site, but investigators are still trying to learn why he was at the location Thursday morning.
The killing was Des Moines' fifth homicide this year and the sixth in Polk County.





Friday Afternoon News, June 7

Frentress Honored As "Employee of the Month"

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce is recognizing the efforts of Dr. Misty Frentress as the Chamber's June "Employee of the Month".  The honor was presented this morning to Misty at the Le Mars Hy-Vee store.   Dr. Misty Frentress serves as a pharmacist with the Le Mars Hy-Vee.  Store manager, Peter Streit nominated her for employee of the month.  Streit says he has worked with Frentress for two and a half years, and has come to believe she is a vital link for the store's morale, customer service, and community involvement.  Streit says of Frentress she is a great Hy-Vee employee, simply because at the core, she is a great person.  Misty cares about every customer who enters the store.  She knows every customer by name, always asks about their family, children, or parents; she truly cares how they are doing.  Ask someone to name a professional they trust, and they will tell you it’s their pharmacist.  People come to Dr. Misty Frentress when they are looking for someone they can trust to be professional, honest and ethical.  I know that hundreds of people from this community could testify as to what an asset she is, and how many times she has gone above and beyond to take care of people.  She is also an excellent mentor and leader of the entire staff in the LeMars Hy-Vee pharmacy.  Our congratulations to Dr. Misty Frentress for being named the Chamber's "June Employee of the Month".

Sioux City Human Rights Commission Assesses Fine On Landlord

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Sioux City Human Rights Commission has upheld a $10,000 fine against a landlord accused of sexually harassing a tenant.
The commission voted Thursday to uphold a judge's decision to punish Pavel Benedic.
Benedic's attorney, Christopher Barondeau, says the allegation by Bridget McClure was meritless. McClure's complaints say Benedic had sexually harassed her and evicted her when she'd didn't respond
positively to his advances.
The commission fined Benedic $10,000 for violating Iowa's Civil Rights Act. He appealed to a state administrative law judge, who rejected the appeal and ordered Benedic to pay $10,000 more to
McClure for emotional distress. The judge sent his decision back to the commission, which upheld the original fine but asked the judge to reconsider the fine for emotional distress.

Iowa DNR Offers Free Weekend Of Fishing

(Des Moines) -- If you enjoy fishing, or even if you have never before gone fishing, this is the weekend to do so.  The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is offering a weekend of free fishing.  DNR Fish Biologist Martin Konrad explains what that means.

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Konrad says the conditions have been ideal for great fishing to take place either at the farm ponds, area lakes, or even the rivers.

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Konrad offers some advice for first-time anglers...keep it small and simple.

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The DNR official says the free weekend of fishing has encouraged those people to pick up the interest and toss their line in the water.

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Branstad Says He Wants Alternatives To Raising Fuel Tax

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says he wants to find alternatives to raising the state fuel tax to pay for road improvements.
Branstad made the statement Friday during a taping of the public television program, "Iowa Press." Branstad says he'd like to explore other options, such as allocating money from a state
infrastructure fund or using some sales tax revenues.
Branstad says there isn't public support to raise the fuel tax and that he doesn't want to increase it as fuel prices are rising.
Iowa's fuel tax -now 22 cents per gallon for gasoline including fees - hasn't been raised since 1989. A commission appointed by 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.

Supreme Court Throws Out Environmental-Based Lawsuit

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court is throwing out a lawsuit filed by environmentalists seeking to block construction of a major Cedar Rapids highway through two nature preserves.
The court ruled Friday that that Sierra Club's lawsuit must be dismissed because the group didn't exhaust its administrative remedies.
Justice David Wiggins says the group should have asked the Iowa Department of Transportation to reverse its decision before filing the lawsuit.
The proposed extension of Highway 100 would run through the Rock Island County Preserve and adjacent to the Rock Island State Preserve, which environmentalists argue would threaten butterflies,
turtles and other rare and endangered plants and wildlife. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit say the highway would diminish their ability to hike and take photos there.
A similar federal lawsuit remains pending.


Supreme Court Rules Volunteers Can't Be Held Liable For Violating Open Meetings Laws

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court says volunteers who serve on governmental bodies cannot be held personally liable for unintentional violations of the Iowa Open Meetings Act.
The court ruled Friday that volunteers are immune from liability unless they commit "intentional misconduct or a knowing violation" of the act.
The court declined the city of Postville's request to fine members of a regional planning commission in northeastern Iowa who violated the open meetings law by holding a secret vote in 2010.
The law says violators can face fines of up to $500.
But since the violations by the Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission were self-policed and corrected, Justice David Wiggins says members demonstrated "a desire to comply with the
requirements" of the law and not sidestep it. Therefore, he says they're immune.


State Auditor To Investigate Secretary of State

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's new state auditor says she will investigate whether Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz properly used federal funds intended to improve election procedures to hire
a state agent to investigate voter fraud.
Democratic Sen. Tom Courtney says he has been informed by Auditor Mary Mosiman that her chief deputy would lead the investigation into whether Help America Vote Act money was properly
Mosiman will not be involved because she served as Schultz's deputy of elections until her appointment last month to auditor.
Courtney says Schultz improperly used the money for a "voter fraud goose chase." Schultz's office did not immediately return calls.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which oversees the federal election money, isn't investigating because it does not have enough appointed members to make decisions.






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