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Saturday News, March 30

Le Mars Police Investigate Shooting

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Police Department is investigating a shooting that occurred at the residence of 440 2nd Avenue NE.  The incident happened at about 3:39 p.m.  Le Mars Police along with the Le Mars Ambulance responded to the scene for a male subject with a gunshot wound.  Le Mars Ambulance transported the male subject to Floyd Valley Hospital where he was pronounced dead.  At this time officers are still gathering information and conducting their investigation.  The Le Mars Fire and Rescue assisted at the scene.

 

Inmate's Death Being Investigated

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The state medical examiner says no foul play is suspected in the death of a Woodbury County jail inmate found unconscious in his cell on Tuesday.
An autopsy on the body of Anthony Josta reveals no foul play but the cause of death may not be known for six to eight weeks when toxicology tests are completed.
The Iowa Department of Public safety says in a statement Friday that the 35-year-old Josta was found alone in his cell in Sioux City. He was unconscious, and unresponsive.
Woodbury County Sheriff Dave Drew has requested assistance from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation to look into the death, a normal procure.
Josta had been in jail since last Saturday after his arrest on a warrant for contempt of court.

Branstad Signs Mental Health Funding Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad has signed into law a bill that would give some counties a share of $11.6 million to continue treatment of mental health patients as the state
transitions to a regional system.
The General Assembly approved the bill, which aids 26 of the 32 counties seeking extra funding to get them through this fiscal year.
Branstad signed the measure Thursday, though he had earlier voiced support for $3.8 million, a figure recommended by the Department of Human Services.
Lawmakers argued that the higher level of funding was needed because the mental health services in the state are struggling to provide services.

 

Lawmaker Wants Pregnant Women To Keep Jobs

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Muscatine lawmaker is trying to ensure pregnant women don't lose their jobs if they're forced to stop working due to their condition.
Democratic Sen. Chris Brase has sponsored a measure that was approved this week by the Senate Local Government Committee and now awaits a vote on the Senate floor.
It would require that employers follow the medical recommendations of a pregnant employee's physician and make reasonable accommodations to enable the worker to stay on the job.
Unlike current law, employers couldn't force workers to use up state or federally mandated temporary medical leave, even if they can't perform all their regular duties
Brase says the intention is to let pregnant women remain at work by giving them less strenuous duties.
The Iowa Association of Business opposes the bill.


Iowa's Unemployment Remains Steady

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's preliminary unemployment rate remained 5 percent in February after hitting the same figure in January and December.
Iowa Workforce Development says in a report released Friday that February's rate was 5.4 percent a year ago.
Iowa's rate is significantly lower than the national figure of 7.7 percent in February. That's down two-tenths of a point from January.
Workforce Development says there were 82,600 unemployed Iowans in February, compared with 81,600 in January. The figure was 89,300 in February 2012.

 

Fort Dodge Fined $10,000 For Not Having Backup Generator

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - Fort Dodge officials are appealing a $10,000 penalty imposed by the state Department of Natural Resources for the city's failure to have a backup generator at its
water plant and some wells.
The Messenger newspaper reports (http://bit.ly/YPzE0x ) the state agency announced the penalty Thursday, saying the city put its customers and the water supply at risk by not maintaining a
standby power source to pump and treat water.
But Fort Dodge City Manager David Fierke says the city already had plans to install backup generator by July 1. That's nearly three months before the state's Sept. 30 deadline for installing
it.
The need for backup power has been discussed since 2007, but Mayor Matt Bemrich says officials opted to install a generator in conjunction with planned water plant upgrades.
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Waterloo To Have Hot Air Balloon Festival

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Hot air balloons are set to return to Waterloo for an annual community festival.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports (http://bit.ly/YPD7vW ) the balloon rally will again be a part of My Waterloo Days, held from May 30 through June 2.
The balloons previously were a part of the event but had been missing since 2007.
The balloon rally will be held at a downtown location, and balloons will float over the main festival grounds at RiverLoop Expo Plaza and RiverLoop Arts Mall and Amphitheatre.
Doug Carter, the chairman of the festival committee, says plans are for the balloons to lift off on the evening of May 31 and again during the weekend, but weather will be a factor in those flights.

 

Vilsack To Purchase Iowa Home

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he and his wife, Christie, are buying a house in Iowa.
Vilsack was in Des Moines on Friday to visit DuPont Pioneer. He says the house is near Booneville in Dallas County, about 18 miles west of Des Moines.
Vilsack, a two-term Iowa governor, laughed when a reporter suggested buying a house in Iowa might be an opportunity to re-establish residency for a future run again at the governor's
office.
He says he's always been an Iowan and he's focused now on his job as Agriculture Secretary.
Vilsack took the job in January 2009. He was governor from 1999 through 2007. He announced in January that he accepted President Obama's offer to stay on for the second term which ends in January 2017.

 

 

   

Friday Afternoon News, March 29

Le Mars and Wells Enterprises Sign Agreement On Waste Water Treatment Facility

(Le Mars) -- The city of Le Mars recently signed an agreement with Wells Enterprises and
anticipates a similar agreement with Dean Foods with regards to the construction of the new waste water treatment facility.  City Administrator, Scott Langel explains.
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Langel says the agreements with the two industrial businesses essentially will have Wells Enterprises and Dean Foods help pay for the waste water treatment facility.
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You may wonder if the city plans to form a similar agreement with BoDeans Baking Company, another of Le Mars' large employers.

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Union Pacific To Replace Rail Crossings

(Le Mars) -- Its been a long wait, but the city of Le Mars is finally having some railroad crossings being repaired and replaced.  Union Pacific railroad officials were in Le Mars on Thursday making repairs to the Central Avenue crossing.  City Administrator Scott Langel says it was by coincidence that those repairs corresponded to other planned railroad crossing replacements.

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City officials recently met with Union Pacific rail officials to discuss other crossings that needed to be replaced.  The question, according to Langel, was which entity would pay for the repairs?
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The Le Mars city official says motorists will appreciate the rail crossings once work is completed.
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Band Director Arrested For Theft

(Sioux City) -- The band director at Sioux City North High School has been placed on leave by the school district after his arrest on a theft charge.  39 year old Kevin Massey has been charged with felony first degree theft.  He was arrested Wednesday and has been released on bond from the Woodbury County jail.  Investigators says several band instruments were allegedly stolen from the school and put up for sale on an internet website.  School district spokesperson Alison Benson confirms that Massey has been placed on leave.  She says the school district is cooperating fully with Sioux City Police regarding the investigation, but declined to further comment.  Benson could not say if Massey was on paid or unpaid leave.  Massey's next court hearing is scheduled for April 14th.

 

USDA Issues Plantings Intention Report

(Le Mars) -- The U-S Department of Agriculture issued its plantings intention report on Thursday, and according to the report, the nation's farmers intend to grow the most corn since 1936.  Nationally, the figure indicates corn growers will plant 97.3 million acres to corn.  Here in Iowa, not much change is expected as Iowa farmers intend to plant corn on 14.2 million acres.  Joel DeJong, Iowa State University extension crop specialist says the planting intention report is an early indicator, but often times the actual number changes.
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There is wide speculation that last summer's drought may continue through this summer, and DeJong says people are concerned about the available water supplies, not only to produce a crop, but for general usuage.
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DeJong says there are some farmers trying to locate drought resistant seed, but he believes those hybrids and varieties are perhaps already committed.

 

Ottumwa Hospital To Lay-off 30 Employees

OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) - The head of an Ottumwa hospital says the organization is firing 30 people in an effort to find "the right number of people to do the job."
Ottumwa Regional Health Center chief operating officer Phil Dionne tells the Ottumwa Courier (http://bit.ly/107j3YD ) that the 30 people losing their jobs are from a variety of hospital
departments.
Dionne notes that the people being fired represent a small percentage of the 785 people employed at the hospital.
Dionne says the decision came after a long look at staffing.
He says there is no chance the hospital will close, noting it's "very strong as an organization and continuing to grow."
The hospital began working Thursday with employees losing their jobs to provide help finding other employment.
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