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Thursday Afternoon News, April 18

Hard Rock Casino Wins Sioux City Bid

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City Entertainment will build a Hard Rock Casino in northwest Iowa's Sioux City.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission awarded the license Thursday at the end of a meeting held in Council Bluffs, choosing from four proposals for land-based casinos in Sioux City.
Last month, the commission toured proposed sites and met with developers.
Penn National Gaming Co. submitted two proposals for a casino, and Ho-Chunk Inc. and Sioux City Entertainment also each bid for the rights to build a casino, which would replace the Argosy Sioux
City riverboat casino.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino has a $118.5 million price tag and would be at the site of the historic Battery Building in downtown Sioux City.

Akron Woman Arrested For Drug Charges

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County deputies along with the Akron Police Department arrested a 27 year old Akron woman early Tuesday morning following a report of a domestic disturbance.  Arrested was Morgan Bernard for possession of a controlled substance, a serious misdemeanor, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a simple misdemeanor.  She was transported to the Plymouth County jail.


Le Mars Public Library Acknowledges Library Week - Host Author

(Le Mars) -- This week is National Library Week, with the theme "Communities Matter". Sue Kroesche serves as the librarian for the Le Mars Public Library, and explains the significance of library week.
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With the availability of the internet, and now the popularity of e-books, are people still using libraries?
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This afternoon, the Le Mars Public Library is hosting author Colleen Bradford Krantz, a former journalist.  Krantz has written a book entitled "Train To Nowhere" documenting the events surrounding eleven immigrants as they were discovered lying dead in a rail car at Denison, Iowa.

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That event will begin at 5:30 p.m. this afternoon at the Le Mars Public Library and it is open to the public.

Recent Moisture Helps Lessen Drought Concerns

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Soaking rain across much of the nation's midsection has helped further alleviate drought in the crop growing states of Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Small portions
of Nebraska also saw improvement.
A weekly drought monitor, released Thursday by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska, showed a few regions missed out from the wet weather, including Texas, where southern counties are in exceptional drought - the driest level possible level.
Eastern Nebraska and the western edge of the state improved. Most of Nebraska remains in extreme drought. Kansas saw little change, remaining in exceptional or extreme drought.
With snow in parts of Nebraska and heavy rain in much of the Midwest, some farmers are now hoping for a dry spell so they can get into fields.

Heavy Rains Causes Mudslide At University of Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa says a mudslide behind a residence hall has damaged several vehicles in its parking lot.
The university said Thursday that heavy rains caused the mudslide behind Mayflower Residence Hall late Wednesday night.
No one was injured, but the parking lot behind Mayflower became inundated with several feet of mud and debris. The university said the lot is closed to traffic and students are urged to avoid using
the back door entrance while crews work to clean up the area.
The rains also flooded parts of Dubuque Street in front of Mayflower, which means campus bus service has been diverted elsewhere. Mayflower residents are being asked to catch the bus on
the nearby Park Road Bridge.


Senate Democrats Offer Counter Proposal For Education Funding Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Senate Democrats say they will accept an offer from House Republicans on general school funding, but they still want to implement the Democratic proposal for teacher pay and
Sen. Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, says Thursday that Democrats made a counter offer because negotiations were not moving.
Lawmakers from the Democrat-majority Senate and Republican-controlled House have been debating school funding and how to implement Republican Gov. Terry Branstad's proposed
education overhaul.
House Republicans said they would accept Democrats' requests for bigger yearly increases in general funding for schools, if Senate Democrats agreed to House proposals making teacher salary increases and incentives optional for school districts.
But Quirmbach says the Senate is insisting on more money for salaries and incentives. Republicans said they needed time to review the offer.


Senate Passes Education Funding Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Senate has approved $964 million in spending for the state's public universities and a number of other education programs.
The Senate passed their version of the higher education budget Thursday 26 to 22 along party lines. It's an amended version of the House's plan, which passed earlier.
Because the Senate's version spends far more than the $895 million bill approved by the House, the measure will end up in a joint committee.
In joint committees, members from both chambers and parties try to work out compromises.
The Senate-backed measure includes more money for student financial aid at state universities. It also includes some of the money for Gov. Terry Branstad's proposed K through 12 education



Thursday News, April 18

Be Ready For Another Winter-Like Day

(Le Mars) -- Another winter-like day is in store for us today, and authorities are suggesting you use caution during your travels as ice, sleet, and snow builds on the state's roadways and highways.  On Wednesday, the early morning rain and snow caused several vehicles to have accidents.  Plymouth County Communications Director, Kurt Hatting says it was a busy Wednesday.
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Iowa State Patrol Trooper Vince Kurtz advises to slow down this morning.

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Gaming Commission To Announce Sioux City Casino Today

(Sioux City) -- Today is the day Sioux City and everyone else learns which of the four proposed land-based casinos will be selected by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.  The decision will be announced today from Council Bluffs.  The four competing casinos include the Hard Rock Casino, the Hollywood Casino in Sioux City, as well as the Hollywood Casino of Siouxland, and the Warrior Hotel Casino.


County To Auction Surplus Property

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County will hold a public auction on Saturday to sell some collected surplus items.  The auction will take place at the County Courthouse and is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m.  County Auditor Stacey Feldman talks about what the county will be selling during this auction.

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Feldman says they hope to hold the auction at the courthouse parking lot. She suggests bidders to register their name and pick up an auction number from the Courthouse annex. Feldman says each of the county's departments will have items on the auction.

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The county normally holds an auction of surplus property every two years. The Brock Auction Company will serve as the auctioneers.  A listing of the surplus items are featured on the county's website which is www.co.plymouth.ia.us

Wall Lake Couple Sentenced To Prison For Bank Robberies

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa man who asked for mercy in his sentencing for robbing banks has been given 15 years in federal prison.
Jeffrey Schoon was sentenced Wednesday in Sioux City. His wife, Roxena, was given more than two years in prison.
The couple pleaded guilty to robbing four banks within 20 miles of their Wall Lake home in December 2011 and January 2012.
Jeffrey Schoon asked the judge for the 15-year sentence required by a plea agreement in the hopes of seeing his teenage children again. He told the judge in a letter that he's raised an
18-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son who has cystic fibrosis. He says the average life span of someone with cystic fibrosis is 30, and the deal gives hope his family someday will be reunited.


Branstad Says China Trip Is Productive

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says his trade trip to China has been "extremely productive."
Branstad spoke with reporters via conference call Wednesday morning. He says he has been promoting trade between Iowa and China during meetings with top officials and business leaders in four cities.
Branstad met with Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jeen ping) on Monday. He says the conversation was "warm and cordial."
The group is scheduled to return Thursday. Branstad's ties to Xi date back to a 1985 diplomatic trip that Xi took to Iowa, during Branstad's first stint as governor. Xi returned to Iowa in February 2012 for stops in Muscatine and theDes Moines area.


House Approves Property Tax Reform Plan

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Republican-controlled Iowa House has approved a version of Governor Terry Branstad's plan to cut commercial property taxes, setting up a battle with the
Democratic-majority Senate which favors an alternate proposal.
In a 54-45 vote Wednesday, the House approved a plan to amend a Senate tax bill to include key items from Branstad's proposal, which gradually reduces taxable assessments for commercial property
owners by 20 percent. The House version also includes a provision that the state would pay a larger portion of general school funding.
The Senate plan provides tax credits and tries to offer more relief to small business owners.
Given the differences between the two sides, the legislation will likely move to a joint committee where lawmakers from both chambers will try to reach a compromise.

Teen Drivers May Have To Wait A Year Before Getting License

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa teenagers who want a driver's license before turning 18 would have to wait a little longer under a measure passed Wednesday by the state House.
Representatives on Wednesday voted 87 to 9 in favor of the bill, which requires that minors have their learners permit for a year instead of the current six months. The measure now goes to Governor
Terry Branstad for his signature.
The bill also would limit minor drivers to carrying one unrelated minor for the first six months after they get a license unless accompanied by a parent, guardian or driving instructor.
Osage Representative Josh Byrnes, who sponsored the bill, says it's important teens have practiced driving in all seasons before getting a standard license.


Grassley Says He Has Confidence In Capital Security

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - U.S. Senator Charles Grassley says he has confidence in security at the Capitol complex as authorities take precautions after letters containing a possible poison were
addressed to a fellow senator and President Barack Obama.
The Hart Senate Office Building, which houses the offices of senators including Grassley's, was locked down briefly Wednesday as authorities investigated suspicious packages.
Grassley, who was in the Capitol for Senate debate, says his staff told him police swarmed the Hart Senate Office Building, keeping anyone from entering the building. Workers had been told to
stay in their offices.
The FBI says a substance in letters sent to President Barack Obama and Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker have preliminarily tested positive for ricin, a potentially fatal poison. Both letters were
intercepted at off-site mail facilities.


Pella Woman Sentenced To Prison For Fraud

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A 61-year-old southern Iowa woman who persuaded friends and relatives to lend her thousands of dollars has been given four years in prison and ordered to pay more than
$680,000 in restitution.
Federal prosecutors say Beverly DeRonde, of Pella, also must serve three years of supervised release after she leaves custody. She'd pleaded guilty to mail fraud.
DeRonde has acknowledged that she fraudulently asked relatives and acquaintances to lend her money so she could buy birthday and anniversary presents to surprise her husband or equipment so he
could open a boat shop. She promised to pay them high interest rates.
Instead, she used the money to buy antiques, jewelry and Rolex watches for herself while failing to repay them. The scheme ran from 2003 to 2010.


DNR Reports Cities Released Wastewater In Streams

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Department of Natural Resources is reporting several wastewater releases by Iowa cities.
The largest was Tuesday morning in Cedar Falls, where an electrical problem caused pumps to fail, causing several thousand gallons of untreated wastewater to back up at the downtown treatment plant, then flow onto nearby ground. The water reached a bike path.
Workers took about a half hour to fix the problem. They then cleaned up the area.
In Dubuque, a pipe broke Wednesday afternoon, causing about 200 gallons of wastewater to flow into Catfish Creek before the city could stop the release.
In Cresco, about 500 gallons of untreated wastewater flowed into a creek Monday night. City and DNR officials are investigating the cause of the release but a surge of rainwater could be a factor.


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