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Thursday Afternoon News, March 7

Plymouth and Sioux County Authorities Make Drug Arrests

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Sheriff's Department arrested two men from Sioux City on Tuesday evening on drug charges.  A traffic stop at the intersection of County Road C-80 and Frelon Road resulted in the arrest of 20 year old Brandon Hieb and 21 year old Cody Baker. 
Hieb was charged with operating a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, and Baker was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of
drug paraphernalia.  Both were transported to the Plymouth County jail.

(Orange City) -- Sioux County authorities executed two separate search warrants resulting in
the arrest of five people.  A search warrant was issued on Tuesday at 905 Highway 10 west, Lot B in Orange City resulting in the arrest of 27 year old David Miedema and 24 year old Alyssa McConnel also of Orange City.  Both were charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.  Miedema was also cited with the intent to distribute a controlled substance, child endangerment.  The 15 month old child present was not injured.  Meanwhile, on Wednesday a second search warrant was executed, this time at 3962 Garfield Avenue, two miles west of Sioux Center.  Upon further investigation, it was determined that the occupants were growing marijuana at the residence.  26 year old Mark Pruismann and 26 year
old Justin DeBondt both of Sioux Center, and 36 year old Melissa Berg of Roberts, Wisconsin were all charged with manufacturing marijuana, child endangerment, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia.  The nine year old child present was not injured.

Floyd Valley Hospital Ask City For Expansion Project Funding

(Le Mars) -- Floyd Valley Hospital's expansion project was given a bit of a boost on Tuesday when the Le Mars City Council approved to commit up to one million dollars from the Local Options Sales Tax to the hospital.  Hospital Administrator, Mike Donlin appeared before the city council on Tuesday asking in fact for financing from the city to help with the expansion project.  Hospital officials say they were seeking at least three million dollars, but the city has only the one million available to allocate at this time.  Donlin appeared before the city council in January, and at that time, the city instructed its finance committee to meet with the hospital's finance committee to determine where extra funds could be raised.

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The city council said they would approve the other two million dollars that is being requested by the local hospital on the condition voters approve the renewal of the Local Options Sales Tax.  Donlin says a precedent has been established with voters approving construction projects with the local options sales tax when it approved the construction of the Plymouth County Law Enforcement Center.

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A major portion of financing the hospital's plan for expansion depends upon whether the U-S Department of Agriculture's Rural Development agency extends a low-interest loan to the hospital for nearly $16 million dollars.  Donlin is confident the loan will be approved for the hospital.

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The hospital administrator says there is no set deadline, but he did say he hopes actions can take place as soon as possible as to show the USDA the community support for the proposed project.  Donlin anticipates if all goes as planned, and financial commitments and pledges are received, ground breaking may occur next winter or spring.


Regulators Don't Renew Gaming License For Argosy Casino

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Iowa regulators haven't renewed the gambling license for the floating Argosy casino in Sioux City.
But the cards still will be shuffled and dealt and bets will be made, because the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission intends to keep the Argosy operating.
The Sioux City Journal reports ( that the commission gave routine license renewals to the rest of the state-regulated casinos on Thursday.
But the Argosy's wasn't because its operator, Penn National Gaming Co., and its local nonprofit sponsor, Missouri River Historical Development, no longer have an operating agreement.
Commission chairman Jeff Lamberti says the plan is to keep the Argosy operating and its more than 300 employees working until its land-based replacement opens.

State's Budget May Be Reduced By $46 Million Due To Federal Budget Cuts

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Department of Management Director David Roederer says Iowa's state budget will be reduced by $46 million due to automatic federal budget cuts.
Roederer says education, public health and workforce development will be the hardest hit areas. More than 235 budgeted positions could be impacted, though he didn't say how many of those jobs were filled or how many could face layoffs or furloughs.
Roederer said at the Thursday press conference at the state Capitol that the state's National Guard funding will be cut. But it is largely funded by the federal government and doesn't come under
the state budget.
The total state and federal budget for Iowa is about $12 billion.
The White House and Congress last week failed to meet a deadline to prevent $85 billion in budget cuts.


Airports May Lose Overnight Traffic Controllers

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Airport control towers in Des Moines and Omaha could go dark during overnight hours if the federal government follows through with a plan to eliminate midnight air
traffic controller shifts. It's because of the government's automatic spending cuts.
Executives at Des Moines and Omaha airports expect no disruption since commercial flight schedules end before midnight. Planes could still land and takeoff without controllers since all pilots are trained to use electronic Instrument Landing System equipment.
The FAA says it may eliminate overnight shifts at 72 airports beginning early April including Eppley Airfield in Omaha and Des Moines International.
Control towers at 238 smaller airports including Waterloo, Dubuque, and Sioux City in Iowa and Grand Island, Neb., could be completely closed.
The FAA is expected to decide by next week.







Thursday News, March 7

Gehlen Mission Trip Changed

(Le Mars) -- For the past twelve years, students of Gehlen Catholic High school have traveled to the Central American nation of Honduras as part of a mission trip.  However, due to an escalated amount of violence reported in the region, Gehlen officials made the decision to cancel this year's trip to Honduras.  However, Gehlen will still make their traditional missionary tour, but instead of going outside the U-S  Gehlen officials were able to quickly organize a missionary tour and  the students will work instead in Mississippi.


Proposed Sioux City Casino Owners Check Out OK

(Des Moines) -- Extensive background checks conducted by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission and the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation  showed "no serious issues" with any of the applicants for a state gaming license to be located in downtown Sioux City.  The Sioux City Journal reports the suitability reports focused on the prospective casino operators, and a handful of key personnel, including managers, corporate executives, major shareholders, and board members of local non-profit groups partnering with the casino developers.


Roederer Plans News Conference To Explain How Federal Budget Cuts Will Hurt Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Department of Management Director David Roederer plans to discuss how automatic federal budget cuts will impact Iowa.
Roederer has scheduled a news conference for Thursday morning at the state Capitol. He said last week that the National Guard, education and workforce development were likely to be the hardest
hit areas.
The White House and Congress last week failed to meet a deadline to prevent $85 billion in budget cuts. The cuts are hitting a wide range of government services.


Branstad and AFSCME Union Go To Arbitration

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An arbitration award is expected to be announced for the state's largest public sector union.
Danny Homan, president of Iowa Council 61 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, says the two-year contract is expected Thursday. The two sides went to
arbitration earlier this year because they couldn't reach a deal through negotiation.
The union, which represents about 20,000 workers statewide, has clashed with Gov. Terry Branstad over terms. Branstad has called for union members to start paying a portion of their health care costs, while the union is seeking to maintain current health benefits and 3 percent raises over the life of the contract.
Contracts have been settled through arbitration just twice since state workers started collective bargaining in 1977.

Gun Permit Records To Remain Private

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gun permit records would be kept private under a bill that has cleared a state House committee.
The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved the measure, which would make the name, address and other personal information on gun permit records private.
The records of people seeking to buy or carry guns now are currently public in Iowa.
The issue came up after a suburban New York City newspaper published an interactive online map listing the names and addresses of thousands of permit holders.
Republican Representative Matt Windschitl, of Missouri Valley, says the bill would protect Iowans who don't own guns from criminals who could seek the information and then target them.


No Changes To Red Light Traffic Laws

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa lawmakers have decided not to change state law dealing with traffic cameras that ticket motorists for speeding or running red lights.
The chairman of the House transportation committee Wednesday decided against allowing a vote on a measure introduced by Republican Representative Walt Rogers of Cedar Falls.
The proposal would have required cities and counties to get a permit from the Department of Transportation before installing new traffic cameras. Local governments also would have needed to
justify existing cameras by submitting traffic data to the department.
The transportation committee chairman, Representative Joshua Byrnes of Osage says he killed the bill because it lacked input from city leaders and support in the Senate.
Steve Gent, the transportation department's director of traffic and safety, expressed disappointment, saying the bill followed agency guidelines.


UNI Receives $15 Million Donation

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - University of Northern Iowa officials say a $15 million donation from Des Moines businessman Richard O. Jacobson will bolster the school's teacher preparation program and
provide better-trained teachers for classrooms across Iowa.
The donation announced Wednesday is the largest in school history. It will be used to recruit top professors for reading and science education, to conduct research on education reform and for
scholarships to encourage high-performing students to become educators.
College of Education Dean Dwight Watson says the gift will allow the university to aspire to lofty goals, such as seeking to ensure all Iowa children can read by third grade and are exposed to more
hands-on science learning in elementary school.
UNI President Ben Allen says the gift will enhance the university's already well-regarded education training programs.


Imposter Voted During Cedar Rapids Casino Vote

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A Linn County official says an impostor voted during the special election on allowing casino gambling in Linn County.
Auditor and elections commissioner Joel Miller says that the impostor voted at a southeast Cedar Rapids precinct on Tuesday.
Miller says the incident came to light when a woman went to vote but found that someone had used her name to vote earlier in the day.
Miller referred the matter to the Linn County Sheriff. An investigator is interviewing precinct poll watchers.
Miller says the woman was allowed to cast a provisional ballot. The local absentee ballot board will decide whether to count it.
The measure was overwhelmingly approved.


Des Moines Police Set Up Tip Line For Teens

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Des Moines police plan to set up a special phone tip line that students can use to help officers keep weapons out of schools.
Des Moines Police Chief Judy Bradshaw told the City Council recently that the department wanted something "to sell to students."
The line will operate through the Polk County Crime Stoppers program. If the tip proves accurate and useful, the tipster might receive a reward.
Since 1995 a similar line in the Davenport area has generated calls about drugs, weapons and vandalism of school property.
Bradshaw unveiled her plan for the council during a presentation on gun violence and what the city is doing to prevent it and how the city would respond if it were to occur.




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