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Monday Afternoon News, February 16

Police Imposter Stopping Traffic

 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say they're investigating a man who has been posing as a police officer and making traffic stops in western Iowa.
     The Woodbury County Sheriff's Office says two traffic stops were conducted late Saturday night and early Sunday morning near Correctionville and Anthon, Iowa.  No threats were made during the fake traffic stops.
     According to a news release, the vehicles were pulled over by a seemingly new Dodge Charger with red and blue lights in the dash. The release says the man driving the Dodge identified himself as a member of law enforcement. Those who were pulled over later reported the incidents to police.
     The sheriff's office says officials making traffic stops will be dressed in complete uniform and can display their credentials upon request.


Iowa Corrections Department Being Investigated For Abusive Penalties

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A state watchdog agency says Iowa Department of Corrections officials unfairly lengthened an offender's sentence by excessively punishing him for bumping a guard.
     In a report called "Neither fair, nor impartial," the Office of Ombudsman says the case of Randy Linderman highlights systemic problems with inmate disciplinary hearings.
     The report says Linderman's punishment of 180 days in isolation and 180 days of lost earned time was harsher than allowed under department policy. Investigators say a prison judge issued the punishment after being privately pressured by the warden for a stiff sanction, and revised her decision after-the-fact when investigators noted it violated policy.
     The report says department officials gave "dubious and contradictory answers" in seeking to justify the punishment.
     Corrections officials are rejecting the report's recommendations and standing by their actions.


Transition Of Farmland Depicted In Play

  LYTTON, Iowa (AP) - Farmers and their families reflected on the ways the transition of farmland ownership has affected them following an Iowa play depicting such situations.
     During Sunday's performance of the play titled "Map of My Kingdom" at The Friendship Center in Lytton, Angela Martin, portrayed by Elizabeth Thompson, told the audience how her grandmother's decision to sell the farm without consulting the family affected her and how similar situations affected other families.
     Darsi Haddleson, of Lytton, says she related to the story because her husband's father sold their family farm in a similar manner.
     Theresa Opheim, executive director of the Practical Farms of Iowa, says such transitions will likely become more common since 35 percent of farmland is owned by people over 75 years old.


Hard Rock Casino And Hotel To Expand Outdoor Facilities

 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A new downtown Sioux City casino has announced plans to convert a grass-covered outdoor spot into a hard surface that will be used for outdoor events, such as concerts, as well as more parking. The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in downtown Sioux City plans new landscaping, decorative street lamps, a beer garden, an expanded restaurant patio and a barrier to control concert noise also are part of the $850,000 project awaiting city approval.


Branstad Says He Is Open To Working With Illinois On Medical Marijuana

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says he's open to establishing a system that would allow residents to travel to neighboring Illinois to access some form of medical marijuana.
     Illinois lawmakers passed legislation last year for a pilot program that allows companies to manufacture and distribute medical marijuana in the state. Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, who took office in January, recently awarded licenses to businesses.
     Branstad on Monday mentioned a future dispensary in Rock Island in the Quad Cities that could help Iowa residents. Branstad's spokesman says the governor needs to discuss potential changes with Rauner.
     Branstad signed a law last year that allows the use of oil derived from marijuana to treat chronic epilepsy. Critics say the legislation didn't address other legal hurdles in bringing the oil into Iowa.


North Liberty Property Owner Loses Condemnation Hearing

  NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (AP) - At a condemnation hearing, North Liberty has won access to land it says it needs to run a sewer line to a new high school.
     Johnson County compensation commission ruled Friday that the city must pay landowner Gary Weinman $80,000. Of that total, $70,000 is for a permanent easement for about three-quarters of an acre. Construction on the line to Liberty High School is expected to begin next month.
     A lawsuit Weinman filed against the city is pending. The lawsuit says among other things that the city didn't properly analyze how the project could affect the endangered Indiana bat and ornate box turtle. City officials have said they conducted proper analyses.


Waterloo Care Center Worker Given Probation

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - A former Waterloo care center worker has been given probation for submitting fake bills for services.
     31-year-old Renae Minikus was granted a deferred judgment, meaning the case will be removed from her record if she successfully completes probation. She'd pleaded guilty to fraud and forgery charges.
     Officials with the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Medicaid Fraud Unit say Minikus, who had worked at the Respite Connection, had submitted false records about providing two months of care for a client.
     Respite Connection provides services for caregivers of people with brain injuries and disabilities.




Monday News, February 16

Le Mars City Council To Convene On Tuesday

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council is scheduled to meet on Tuesday and among the action items scheduled include: the approval of the funding allocations as recommended by the Convention and Visitor's Board.  The council will also discuss engineering projects for 2015, as well as engineering project involving the sewer and water line along 27th street southwest.  The council is scheduled to discuss the CDBG Main Street facade rehabilitation project.  The city council will again be discussing the proposed fiscal year 2015-2016 budget.


Supervisors To Hold Two Public Hearings

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Board of Supervisors have scheduled a couple of public hearings for Tuesday when they convene for their weekly meeting.   The Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the amendment to the Plymouth County and Le Mars Highway 75 Bypass Urban Renewal Area and to approve a resolution of the urban renewal plan amendment and to approve a resolution of a tax increment financing or TIF revenue sharing agreement with the city of Le Mars.  The County Board of Supervisors will also hold a public hearing on vacating part of Otter Avenue.


Advocates Say Slow Down When Closing Mental Institutions

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Closing some of Iowa's four state mental hospitals might be needed, but people who work in the field warn that any changes should be made carefully.
     Governor Terry Branstad said last month he plans to close state mental institutions at Clarinda and Mount Pleasant and move any remaining patients to the other two state institutions this summer.
     Ron Honberg with the National Alliance on Mental Illness says it can be dangerous to close facilities like this quickly.
     Suzanne Watson is CEO of the new, nine-county Southwest Iowa Mental Health and Disabilities Region. She hopes to open a crisis center by the time the Clarinda hospital closes, but she would like to have more time to prepare.


Two California People Arrested On Forgery Charges

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Two Californians are accused of using fake credit cards and identification in a scheme to defraud Iowa banks and credit unions.
     A 45-year-old man and 53-year-old woman were arrested Thursday. Both face several forgery charges and one charge each of ongoing criminal conduct.
     Court documents say the pair visited two credit unions in Sioux City and requested $9,800 cash advances on credit cards. When the bank called to verify the credit card, an accomplice would provide answers.
     When police searched the car they rented, the pair had a map of credit unions throughout Iowa. Authorities say the pair had attempted to get cash from Iowa credit unions and banks more than 100 times in the past three weeks.


Mason City Man Arrested Following Standoff

 MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Mason City man has been arrested and charged after a standoff with police at a residence over the weekend. 
     Fifty-four-year-old Philip Todd Geilenfeld is charged with felony domestic assault strangulation. 
     Sgt. Steven Klemas of the police department says dispatchers received a report about an assault on Saturday and that firearms were involved. 
     Authorities were able to get an injured woman safely outside of the home, but Klemas says Geilenfeld refused to leave. Other law enforcement officials were called to the scene, including the Iowa State Patrol.
     Klemas says after several hours of attempted negotiations with Geilenfeld, authorities entered the house and found him inside the basement. 
     He was arrested and booked into the Cerro Gordo County jail. Online jail records don't list an attorney for him.


West Des Moines High School To Add Security

   WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A high school says it's increasing security efforts following three fights in a single day on its campus last week.
     Principal Tim Miller of West Des Moines Valley High School sent a message to students' families on Sunday night, saying more police will be at the school. 
     He also says there will be increased supervision of hallways and backpack checks at the school's main entrances.
     The increase in security measures follows three fights that broke out Thursday. School officials reported that about 75 percent of students came to school the next day. The school's average attendance rate is 97 percent.
     Miller says the additional security will continue until "we return to our normal and expected learning environment."


Street Potholes That Cause Damage To Vehicles May Qualify For Insurance Claims

(Des Moines) -- The freeze-thaw cycle we're in is making some monster potholes in Iowa's streets. The road craters can ruin tires and rims, damage suspension and alignment and they can even knock the exhaust system off your vehicle. Ann Avery, a spokeswoman for State Farm Insurance in Iowa, says if there's a lot of damage from a pothole, you may be able to file a claim. 

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Avery says you can't prevent potholes but you can help protect your vehicle by driving carefully. 

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If you spot a chuckhole, Avery says to break before impact, as there's less damage when the tire is rolling, rather than skidding over a hole during breaking. She offers another tip:

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She reminds, always check with your agent first to see what is -- and what is not -- covered.





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