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Friday News, December 14

Le Mars Fire Department Responds To Alarm At Econolodge Motel

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire Department responded to a call at the Econolodge Motel last evening shortly after 6:00 p.m.  Fortunately there was no fire at the motel.  Fire officials determined that water vapor had gotten into the alarm system, triggering the alarm.


Hinton Battles Shed Fire

(Hinton) -- Hinton's Fire Department battled a shed that was on fire yesterday afternoon.  The call came in at about 2:00 p.m.  Fire officials were dispatched to 28215 Marble Avenue.  Fire officials were on the scene for approximately an hour.  No word on the extent of damage or the cause of the fire that burnt the shed.


Le Mars Police Arrest Le Mars Man For Forgery

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars Police have placed under arrest 24 year old Robert McDougall of Le Mars.  McDougall was arrested after an investigation was conducted into his involvement in forging documents to obtain controlled substances from the local pharmacies.  While at the police department, he was also found to be in possession of a controlled substance. The prohibited acts counts are a class C felony, the forgery charge is an aggravated misdemeanor and the possession of a controlled substance is a simple misdemeanor.   McDougall was transferred to the Plymouth County Jail and held on a $10,000 bond.


Iowa Land Values On The Rise...Again

(Ames) -- Iowa land values have once again risen over last year and according to Mike Duffy, Agricultural Economist with Iowa State University, in many cases, new records were established. Duffy noted northwest Iowa saw the largest increase in land values.
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Duffy says there are a number of factors that are helping drive the land values higher including good investment opportunities, the need for additional land for manure application for livestock and poultry producers, but he says the most mentioned driving factor are higher commodity prices.

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There are some people, including Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who believe farmers are entering an era much like the 70's when grain and land prices were high, only to see the bubble burst, causing a recession era which occurred in the 1980's.  Duffy says although there are some farmers that may be over-extended with their financing, he doesn't see it being a wide spread problem, at least not just yet.


Harkin Worried About Rising Land Values

(Washington) -- Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says this week's report on rising Iowa farmland values is worrisome. The annual study from Iowa State University found the average selling price for an acre of Iowa farmland was nearly 83-hundred dollars, an increase of 24-percent from a year ago.
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Harkin acknowledges it appears Iowa farmers will "be in good shape" in terms of future demand for feed grains and for grain and stover used in ethanol production. Still, he fears changes in the weather and other factors could quickly prompt another farm crisis like the nation saw in the 1980s.
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The ISU report found farmland prices were widely varied across the state. For example, prices in northwest Iowa were up almost 34-percent, while prices in southeast Iowa were up only nine-percent.
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The 24-percent price increase found in the ISU report marks the third straight year the state's farmland values have increased by at least 15-percent.

Soybean Association Applauds Governor's Action On Nutrient Runoff

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Environmentalists say it doesn't go far enough, but the Iowa Soybean Association is praising Gov. Terry Branstad's strategy to keep harmful nutrients from reaching Iowa
waterways and the Gulf of Mexico.
Association leaders who met in Ankeny this week reaffirmed their support for the plan, which was released last month. ISA President Mark Jackson says the plan is based on science, recognizes the
diversity of the state's landscape and is "much more effective than a costly, one-size-fits-all effort to improve water quality."
The plan calls on wastewater treatment plants to make upgrades to reduce their discharges into waterways. But it asks farmers to take voluntary steps to reduce the runoff caused by fertilizers and
manure on farm fields.
Critics say they doubt a voluntary approach will have much impact.


State Historical Museum To Celebrate 25 Years

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the State Historical Building.
Gov. Terry Branstad and others will attend a gala Friday night aimed at raising funds for the in-house State Historical Museum. It will feature a display of objects from the museum's permanent
collection to represent the past 25 years. More than 500 people are expected to attend.
Officials also are currently trying to raise funds to restore the building. The state Department of Cultural Affairs presented a proposal to Branstad on Thursday projecting costs of up to $101
The State Historical Building opened in 1987. It houses several divisions of the cultural affairs agency, State Historical Museum and other offices.


Thousands Honor Missing Cousin Elizabeth Collins

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) - A huge crowd of well-wishers joined the friends, relatives and family at a memorial service Thursday for one of two Iowa cousins whose remains were found by hunters last
week, months after their summer disappearance.
More than 1,000 people turned out to honor Elizabeth Collins, who was 8 when she and her 10-year-old cousin, Lyric Cook, vanished after setting off on their bicycles last July.
Elizabeth's mother, Heather Collins, told those at the Cedar Falls gathering not to lose faith, saying her family knows the girls are in a better place.
"You sometimes feel like God is not with you when you go through all this. But he is. He's by your side," she said.
The event was meant to celebrate Elizabeth's life, and a band played uplifting tunes while those gathered sang along and prayed. Lyric's family said they would hold something for her after Christmas, the paper reported.
Heather and Drew Collins, Elizabeth's father, said at a news conference prior to the memorial service that their faith in God is stronger than ever. Heather Collins said she knows God was with the girls, whose remains were found in a wooded area about 25 miles from Evansdale, where the girls were last seen.
"We know God was with them the whole entire time," she said. "We know where they are now. They're in such a much better place. They're going to have such a much better Christmas than we are."
Heather Collins said her and her husband's three other children are coping with their sister's death by getting counseling and finding ways to speak to their sister through drawing and looking
up at the sky.
Drew Collins said that although the family may never find closure, they are determined to find who hurt the girls. He said he suspects the person may have been a sex offender.
"We want whoever is responsible to have to answer for what they've done," he said. "I think we'll get a little more closure then. We don't want this person to be able to hurt anybody else."
The couple said they will meet with Gov. Terry Branstad and other families next week to discuss death penalty legislation. Drew Collins said he supports the death penalty and he believes there should be changes to the judicial system on how prison sentences are issued to sex offenders who may commit again.
"If someone murders a child, they need to be punished severely," he said.
Heather Collins said the family had always planned a celebration for when their daughter came home, though the circumstances are different.
"She did come home, even though it wasn't on earth," she said.


Cedar Rapids Woman Drowns In Cedar River

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say the death of a Cedar Rapids woman whose body was pulled from Cedar River was an accidental drowning.
The body of 50-year-old Teresa Cooling was found near the Ellis Boat Harbor around 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 18.
Cedar Rapids Police Sgt. Cristy Hamblin says that investigators have concluded that no crime was involved in Cooling's death and that she drowned after accidentally falling into the river.







Thursday News, December 13

Le Mars Police Investigate Taco John's Burglary

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars Police are investigating a burglary that occurred on Saturday morning at about 3:00 a.m.  The burglary was at the Taco John's Restaurant located on Business Highway 75.  Entry was gained  to the business by forcing the rear door open.  Once entry was made, an undetermined amount of cash was removed.  This burglary is similiar to a rash of burglaries in other communities reported in the last couple of months.  The case is under investigation.

Three Vehicle Collision On Highway 75 Near Sioux Center

(Sioux Center) -- A personal injury collision occurred on Highway 75 Wednesday afternoon at
about 5:30 p.m. about two and a half miles south of Sioux Center.  The Iowa State Patrol reports a chain reaction accident happened when 69 year old Linda VanBerkum of Antonito, Colorado was traveling southbound and failed to stop, rear ending 29 year old Erik Wagner of Le Mars, who then rear-ended 63 year old Stanley Oordt of Sioux Center.  Oordt was stopped and about to make a left hand turn while waiting for oncoming traffic to clear.  VanBerkum and Wagner were transported to the Sioux Center hospital by the Sioux Center ambulance, both with non-life threatening injuries.  Oordt was transported to the Sioux Center hospital via a private vehicle. All drivers were restrained, saving them from more severe injuries.  All vehicles involved were totaled.  The Iowa State Patrol is investigating.  Assisting at the scene were the Sioux County sheriff's office, Sioux Center Police, and Sioux Center Fire Department.


Rockwell-Collins Lands Navy Communications Contract

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Cedar Rapids-based military contractor Rockwell Collins says it has been awarded a $295 million contract to update communications systems for U.S. Navy aircraft.
Initially, Rockwell Collins will upgrade communications equipment on three Navy E-6B planes under a $54 million contract.  The planes are used to convey orders from the president, secretary of defense, and other top commanders to Navy fleets.
The contract includes an option for upgrades on 11 planes for an additional $241 million.
The company says the upgrade includes expanded capability to move data to and from the aircraft and a new secure network for message processing, radio control and monitoring.
The company says the contract signifies the continuation of a 40-year relationship supporting the Navy and the U.S. Strategic Command Airborne Command Post missions.


Electric Groups Look To Modernize Electric Systems

AMES, Iowa (AP) - Electric groups from several states are continuing their visit to Iowa for workshops and training on modernizing the electric power system.
More than thirty rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities from six states will gather Thursday at Iowa State University for the end of a two-day, peer-to-peer workshop.  Training on cyber security is scheduled for Friday.
The workshops are co-hosted by the Department of Energy and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
The association represents more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives around the country.


Wind Farm Begins Operations

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A company has begun operation of a 60-turbine wind farm in northern Iowa.
Franklin County Wind LLC announced Tuesday it had started operation of the wind farm in Franklin County. The company says its 60 turbines can produce nearly 100 megawatts of energy, which is
enough to power 25,000 homes.
The project cost about $235 million.
Franklin County Wind is a subsidiary of Alliant Energy Corporation, based in Madison, Wis.


Miller Announces Retirement From Iowa Public Television

JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Public Television's top leader has announced he's retiring after 37 years with the statewide television network.
Daniel Miller made the announcement Wednesday during a meeting of the Iowa Public Broadcasting Board. His departure as executive director and general manager will be effective in April.
During his tenure at the helm of the network, he is credited with tripling Iowa Public Television's broadcast offerings.
Miller has served on various boards and committees for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Public Broadcasting Service and other public television organizations.
The Iowa Public Broadcasting Board says it will begin an extensive search for a replacement.

U of I To Change Admissions Applications To Ask About Sexual Orientation

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa has become the nation's first public university to include optional questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on its admissions application.
The university announced Wednesday that its new application asks students whether they identify with the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer community. The application also offers
transgender as a gender option.
University officials say the move sends a strong signal that that they value the diversity that gay and lesbian students bring to campus. They say knowing some students' sexual orientations will allow them to track their enrollment and retention rates and promote programs that might improve their social and academic success.
Elmhurst College became the first U.S. college to include similar questions on its application last year. Elmhurst is a private college in Illinois.

U of I President Sally Mason Under Fire

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - University of Iowa President Sally Mason says she hopes to lead the school for years to come and was moved to tears by support from student, faculty and staff leaders concerned she's on the hot seat.
Mason told reporters Wednesday that she isn't concerned about the Iowa Board of Regents' decision not to extend her employment contract when it expired in August.
She says the board last year gave her deferred compensation benefits that run through 2016, and she still hopes to finish the university's $1.5 billion fundraising campaign and the rebuilding of its flood-damaged music and arts buildings during her presidency.
Key campus leaders issued a statement Wednesday praising Mason's leadership, in response to recent criticism from Regents President Craig Lang and Governor Terry Branstad.


Branstad Says Mental Institutions Need Review

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad says Iowa has some "ancient" mental health institutions that need review.
Branstad says the state should revamp those institutions to deliver services more efficiently. He noted specifically facilities at Cherokee, Clarinda, Independence and Mount Pleasant.
Branstad says any review of those facilities would need to be in coordination with affected communities.
The governor made the comments during a discussion with state health officials about the 2014 budget.
Lawmakers overhauled the state's mental health system last session. New legislation creates a regionalized system that coordinates services statewide.


New Rules For Teachers About To Be Implemented

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa will soon begin implementing its new testing requirements for people seeking to be licensed to teach in the state.
A legislative panel on Tuesday cleared the way for the state Department of Education to begin implementing on January 2nd new rules for teacher preparedness tests.
The rules require candidates to score above the 25th percentile, which means test takers must be in the top 75 percent nationwide.
It's all part of a law that went into effect in July. It's been delayed to accommodate candidates completing student teaching in the fall.
Some critics say they want to delay the changes because it would be unfair to seniors at public and private schools who are just about to finish their training.

Jury Undecided On Sexual Harassment Case Involving Madison County Sheriff

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A second jury has failed to return a verdict in a lawsuit filed against Madison County Sheriff Craig Busch by a former dispatcher alleging sexual harassment.
Kathryn Frank originally filed a lawsuit in 2005 against the county, then-sheriff Paul Welsh, and Busch, who was a deputy.
She alleged Busch made offensive sexual remarks and groped her. The county settled the case, paying Frank $60,000.
After Busch became sheriff in 2009, Frank claims he retaliated against her. She filed a civil rights complaint in August 2009 and later that month was fired. She sued claiming civil rights
A jury trial last December ended in mistrial when jurors deadlocked. A second trial early this month has ended with the same result.
Jurors were dismissed Monday unable to reach a verdict.

Escaped Inmate Captured in Indiana

MANCHESTER, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say they've captured a man in Indiana who escaped from a county jail in northeast Iowa.
The Delaware County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday that Timothy Reynolds was captured in Lafayette, Indiana. The U.S. Marshal's Service and Indiana authorities arrested the 20-year-old without incident while he was hiding in a basement crawl space.
Reynolds escaped from the Delaware County Jail in Manchester, Iowa on November 18th. Authorities say he assaulted a jailer and stole his sport utility vehicle during the escape.
Reynolds will be held in Indiana pending extradition back to Iowa.





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