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Wednesday Afternoon, February 27

Snowball Fight Results in Bus Accident - 21 Injured

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City police say students who pelted a school bus with snowballs caused a collision that injured 21 other students.
Sgt. Brad Bollinger says the accident occurred about 3:05 p.m. Tuesday in front of West High School. Bollinger says the driver stopped the school bus when the snowballs hit it. It was struck in
the rear by a city transit bus that couldn't stop in time.
The buses were carrying students home from West High and West Middle schools.
The students suffered mostly bumps and bruises. One student was taken by ambulance to a hospital. The bus drivers weren't hurt.
School spokeswoman Alison Benson says throwing snowballs at a bus would violate the district's code of conduct and that students could be punished.

Iowa House Republicans Announce Target Budget

(Des Moines) -- The Iowa House Republicans released their proposed budget this morning.  The number at $6.414 billion is slightly smaller than the $6.5 billion dollar budget proposed by Governor Terry Branstad, although considerably lower than the Senate Democrats proposed budget of $6.9 billion.  Chuck Soderberg of Le Mars represents most of Plymouth county and the northern section of Woodbury County.  Soderberg serves as the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.  He says the Republican budget allows for a three percent growth.
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Soderberg says the House intends to keep the state's expenditures lower than the state's revenue.

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Soderberg says the primary areas of funding were the Human and Health Services, which includes funding allocation to mental public safety.  Soderberg says there are still several uncertainties before a final budget can be passed.
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Republicans say they want to focus on keeping expenses down, while Democrats say they want to make investments to improve programs.

Northwestern College Student Learns of Family Deaths

ORANGE CITY, Iowa (AP) - A college student from Sioux Falls, S.D., who lost her entire family in a car crash was told about the accident during the intermission of a school play.
Greg Christy, president of Northwestern College, broke the news to Brittany Vollmer, a sophomore at the Orange City school who was watching the play.
Christy tells KMEG that it was painful to share such tragic news and it's something no one would ever want to do.
The Saturday crash on Interstate 90 in South Dakota killed James and Julie Vollmer and their children, 16-year-old Alyssa and 13-year-old Caleb.
Funeral services are set for 11 a.m. Friday at Sioux Falls Christian Schools.


Prison Inmate Suspected of Mailing White Powder To Federal Courthouse

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Officials suspect a prison inmate in another state sent a letter containing white powder to a federal court building in Des Moines.
Postal inspector Jim O'Hara says the inmate already is being investigated for allegedly sending a
similar threatening letter with white powder to another government building in Iowa.
O'Hara would not release the inmate's name or the state where the inmate is imprisoned.
The federal court annex in Des Moines was locked down for nearly an hour Monday after the letter was opened. The building was reopened after a test showed the powder was acetaminophen, a common over-the-counter pain reliever.

Winter Snow Storm Blankets Central and Northeast Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials warn that travel remains hazardous as snow from a surprising snowstorm continues to fall.
Travelers are urged to check road conditions by visiting, calling 511 in Iowa or 800-288-1047 nationwide. No weather-related road closures have been reported so far Wednesday.
The storm has dropped more than 9 inches of snow on some areas of Iowa and has perplexed forecasters.
National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Johnson says the storm moved 100 miles off its expected course and loosed a blanket of heavy snow instead of merely dusting central, eastern and southern portions of Iowa on Tuesday.
Johnson says he can provide long meteorological explanations about the storm's behavior, "but basically it didn't do what we expected it to do."








Wednesday News, February 27

Two Le Mars Real Estate Agencies Merge

(Le Mars) -- Two local real estate companies have announced plans to merge their businesses.  Property Pros, under the direction of Lisa Wagner and Jim Gergeni and Linda Mayrose Real Estate all of Le Mars will now combine to work under the name of Property Pros.  Mayrose and her agents will be joining the Property Pros group to expand the company's market presence and vision to provide extensive professional real estate services.  Mayrose says about the merger that it is the "best of the best", adding that she will be able to concentrate on the part of real estate she loves, the listing and selling and giving extra special care to clients.  Property Pros will move to the Linda Mayrose Real Estate building at 41 Central Avenue Northwest to accommodate the increased agent roster.


Republicans To Roll Out Budget Plan

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Republican leaders in the Iowa House plan to unveil their budget spending goals.
Lawmakers have scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to announce their "budget targets" for the 2013-2014 state budget.
Gov. Terry Branstad announced a $6.5 billion spending plan last month. Leaders in the Republican-controlled House review his plan and then develop their own budget proposal.
The Democratic-majority Senate will also put out a plan. The lawmakers must then negotiate a final version of the budget.


Gay Marriage Bill Introduced

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Republican senator has introduced legislation that would begin the process of referring a constitutional ban on gay marriage to Iowa voters.
A 2009 Iowa Supreme Court ruling legalized gay marriage in the state. Sen. Dennis Guth says Tuesday that voters should get to decide whether gay marriage is permitted in the state. His
resolution has a total of 18 sponsors in the Senate.
The measure would need to be approved by the current legislative assembly and then one elected in 2014 before it could go to voters.
The effort has little chance of advancing since Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has repeatedly blocked debate on such proposals.
Nine states and Washington have legalized gay marriage.


Durham Defends Deal With Fertilizer Company

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Economic Development Authority director told lawmakers her team knew an Egyptian company seeking tax breaks to build a fertilizer plan in southeast Iowa was being sued by the federal government, but no one told her.
Agency director Debi Durham earlier said the state's vetting didn't uncover the lawsuit, which alleges a company subsidiary defrauded U.S. taxpayers out of millions of dollars. Durham says "I'm
not sure how anyone would have found that."
On Tuesday, Durham told lawmakers she has learned her team knew of the 2004 lawsuit against the subsidiary of Cairo-based Orascom.
Durham told lawmakers, "I'm not proud of it, but that's what happened."
Legislators at the hearing criticized Durham and the $200 million in tax breaks given Orascom.


Study Shows More Troopers Are Needed

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The head of the Iowa State Troopers Association says budget cuts have thinned ranks so much that many counties don't have a trooper on duty overnight.
Iowa State Troopers Association President Darin Snedden met with legislators and staffers from the governor's office Tuesday, asking the state to allocate funding to hire an additional 87 troopers.
Snedden says the Iowa State Patrol has 363 troopers, down from 455 in 2000 before repeated budget cuts. He wants the state to hire 29 more troopers a year, for three years. The cost of adding 29 troopers is $4.3 million in the first year and $2.9 million in subsequent years.
Branstad's budget does not include any funding for more troopers.


EPA Official To Speak At Ames

AMES, Iowa (AP) - The Midwest regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency will discuss Iowa water quality issues at Iowa State University on March 5.
Karl Brooks, who oversees EPA operations in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, will talk about water pollution that comes from no specific source but from runoff after rainfall or snowmelt. It's known as nonpoint source pollution and it can carry fertilizer, chemicals and other manmade and natural contaminants into lakes and streams.
Brooks will discuss collaborative efforts of the EPA, Iowa farmers, state agencies and Iowa State University to address water quality concerns related to agriculture.
Brooks is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. March 5 in the Memorial Union Great Hall at ISU.


Waterloo Man Charged With Meth Explosion At Loras

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - A 26-year-old Waterloo man blamed for a meth-related explosion at Loras College in Dubuque has been given 10 years in prison.
Brent Brown had made a plea deal with prosecutors on charges of arson and manufacturing methamphetamine. He was sentenced on Monday.
Court records say Brown tried to make meth in a bathroom of the Lynch-McCarthy apartment complex while visiting his girlfriend in February 2012.
Judge Thomas Bitter says Brown owes $10,000 in restitution to Loras College.

Iowa Public Radio Fires Chief Executive

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Public Radio's board has fired its chief executive because of concerns about her management style.
The board voted 6-1 to fire CEO Mary Grace Herrington on Tuesday.
The only vote against the firing came from University of Iowa Chief of Staff Mark Braun. Braun says he just recently joined the board and didn't feel like he knew Herrington well enough to support her firing.
The Iowa Public Radio board spent four hours discussing Herrington's management style and the climate at Iowa Public Radio during a conference call before the vote Tuesday.



Utility Company To Help Ospreys Nesting

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A utility is working with state and local officials to build nesting sites in Cedar Rapids for ospreys.
Interstate Power and Light Company says it's working this week with the Cedar Rapids parks department, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Indian Creek Nature Center to install new
platforms for ospreys along the Cedar River.
Ospreys are birds of prey with wingspans of nearly 6 feet that primarily eat fish. They migrate to Central and South America for the winter and will return to Iowa in the spring.
Interstate Power and Light says the platforms will be visible from the Sac and Fox walking trail and a hard-surface trail at the Prairie Park Fishery.


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