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Monday Afternoon News, December 10

Cold Weather and Holidays Bring More Fire Dangers To Home

(Le Mars) -- With the cold weather setting in and the fact that the holidays means more candles are burning in homes, officials with the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department want people to think safety.  Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says space heaters and candles are often the cause for fires during the cold months.
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Representative Steve King Comments on Lame Duck Session

(Sioux City) -- Congress is in its lame duck session and many issues still remain unresolved.  Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King says some type of an agreement between President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner needs to occur before the pending mandatory budget cuts and tax increases occurs sending the nation's economy over the so-called financial cliff.
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King says other legislation, such as the pending farm bill, may be held hostage to whether an agreement can be reached involving the sharp budget cuts and pending tax increases.  King says he doesn't like the direction that Congress is proposing with the farm bill.
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The Republican Congressman says he is not certain whether or not the farm bill will be passed on its own merits, or if it will be thrown in with several other pending legislative bills.
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Ruth Harkin Fights With Iowa State Over Husband's Research Facility

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Emails show Regent Ruth Harkin has fought for months to allow an Iowa State University institute honoring her husband, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, to research agriculture.
Iowa State released e-mails Monday detailing the dispute over research restrictions on the Harkin Institute of Public Policy. The Harkins say the university is suppressing academic freedom, while ISU President Steven Leath says the policy avoids duplication and protects the prominence of another ISU agriculture research center.
The dispute dates to July, when Leath told Ruth Harkin that a campus memo banned the institute from conducting agriculture research. Leath says he instructed the university's foundation to remove language about agriculture from a Harkin Institute brochure.
Ruth Harkin says the restriction doesn't make sense because agriculture has been the centerpiece of her husband's legislative agenda.


Branstad Says He Supports Death Penalty

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says he supports institution of the death penalty but won't push for such legislation because he doubts it would clear the Senate.
Branstad noted Monday he's long supported approval of a death penalty in cases of kidnap or rape where the victim is killed. In his earlier stint as governor, he tried unsuccessfully to approve capital punishment in Iowa.
Some lawmakers have called for changing Iowa law to allow the death penalty following the discovery of two bodies believed to be Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook, who went missing last summer.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Council Bluffs Democrat, opposes reinstatement of the death penalty.
Branstad says he's focused on legislation that has a "realistic chance of being approved."
Iowa outlawed capital punishment in 1965.


Authorities Processing Evidence In Missing Cousins Case

EVANSDALE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities are processing evidence collected from a wildlife area in northern Iowa where hunters discovered bodies believed to be two missing cousins.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier ( ) reports authorities left the Seven Bridges Wildlife Area in Bremer County on Friday. They had been searching the secluded area for any
evidence connected to the case of Elizabeth Collins and Lyric Cook.
Elizabeth was 8 and Lyric was 10 when they vanished in July while their riding bikes in Evansdale. Hunters found the bodies last week in a wildlife area about 25 miles away from where they
were last seen.
The newspaper also reports officials on Friday completed the autopsies of the remains, though results won't be finalized until further tests are done.


Monday News, December 10

Street Closure Due To Crane Rail Installation

(Le Mars) -- Wells Enterprises will be installing a new crane rail which will mean the closure of 18th Street SW on Monday.  The street will be closed between 6:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon to accommodate the installation of a new crane rail at the high rise freezer.  18th Street SW will be closed between 6th Avenue SW and 12th Avenue SW.

Le Mars School Board Concerned About Allowable Growth Funding

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School Board is scheduled to meet this evening, and on its agenda, the board will review two recent legislative seminars hosted by the Northwest Area Education Agency and the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce.  A concern the Le Mars Community School Board has, along with many other school boards across the state, is the unknown amount of funding to be allocated to schools as part of the allowable growth as determined by the state legislature.  At last week's Chamber Legislative Luncheon, Le Mars Community School Board Director Mark Hemmingson summed up the feelings of many school board officials.
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State representative Chuck Soderberg of Le Mars says the percentage of allowable growth can be misleading.
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The School Board will hear reports from each of the principals, as well as a report from Ted Hallberg explain the Orchestra's trip next spring.  The school board will begin discussing their position for teacher salaries. The Le Mars Education Association is expected to present their initial bargaining proposal for the 2013-14 master contract to the Board of Education on January 7th.

First Snowfall Causes Several Accidents

(Orange City) -- The first snowfall of this winter lead Sioux County authorities to investigate ten separate auto accidents that occurred Friday evening, December 7th.  The accidents occurred between 4:30 p.m. and 12:00 midnight.  In each instance the drivers lost control of their vehicle, presumably due to the snow and ice on the roadways.  Fortunately, with each accident, there were no injuries reported.  The area had between a half an inch and an inch of snow reported from Friday's snowfall.


Hospitals Adapt New System To Share Patient Information

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Some Iowa hospitals and clinics have begun using a state computer system to quickly share patient records.
Most hospitals and clinics have begun using electronic medical records, but many of their systems are so different they can't share information. The Iowa Health Information Network aims to
solve that problem.
The network also lets hospitals search for records of patients seen at other Iowa hospitals or clinics that also are on the network.
Kim Norby, of the Iowa Department of Public Health, says that the system is mostly financed by more than $8 million the federal government granted Iowa under the 2009 economic stimulus.
A standard patient confidentiality form will, with patient consent, give a hospital authority to share information via the new system.


Branstad Indicates He Will Compromise With Democrats

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -Governor Terry Branstad is approaching the 2013 legislative session open to compromise and chastened by Iowans' reaffirmed preference for divided government.
Branstad says in an interview with The Associated Press that as an improved economy brings in more tax revenue, he would be willing to accept higher spending requests from Democrats, if that's what it takes to gain approval of his proposals, especially those
dealing with education and property taxes.
The Republican governor's conciliatory tone comes as he signals plans to seek re-election in 2014 and marks a change to his approach.
Now, with Democrats retaining a Senate majority and cutting into the GOP's margin in the House, Branstad says he's willing to bargain during the 2013 session before campaign politics again
descend on the Capitol.


Iowa Spends $25 Million On Overtime Pay

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa spent more than $25 million on overtime pay during the last fiscal year, but that is less than the state spent in recent years.
The state's overtime spending has been around $30 million for the four previous years.
A nursing assistant at the University of Iowa Hospitals collected nearly $226,000 in overtime last year - the most in the state - by working 8,507 extra hours.
Officials say the $25 million total remains a concern, but there's been improvement.
Iowa Management Department Director Dave Roederer says the state adopted new practices to limit overtime, and the state is trying to do a better job of predicting vacancies.
Roederer says the overtime should continue to decline because the state is becoming more efficient.


Hunter Finds Body Under Bridge

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Authorities are investigating a man's death after an Iowa hunter found his body under a bridge east of Cedar Rapids.
The Linn County Sheriff's office is leading the investigation. KCRG reports the death is considered suspicious.
Officials aren't sure how long the middle-aged man's body was there before the hunter found it under the Squaw Creek Bridge on Saturday.
Officials would not discuss the condition of the body or release the man's identity.
The man's body was taken to Ankeny for an autopsy.


Davenport Dead Man Identified

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have identified a man whose body was found in a field outside Davenport, but they are still investigating his death.
The Des Moines Register reports that 41-year-old Robby Kohn was found dead early Saturday morning. Davenport police released his identity on Sunday.
Kohn's body was discovered by a Scott County deputy around 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
Davenport Police haven't released many details about Kohn's death, but Assitant Chief Donald Shaefer says visible trauma to his body prompted a full investigation.
An autopsy will be performed on Kohn's body on Monday.




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