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Friday Afternoon News, Aug. 10

Iowa Attorney General Fines Le Mars Company $20,000

(Des Moines) --  After completing an investigation, Iowa's Attorney General Tom Miller held a news conference this morning regarding the gas pipline explosion incident that happened last April near Hinton.   Miller is assessing the maximum fine upon Patrick and Cynthia DeRocher and DeRocher Construction for failing to provide a 48 hour notice of excavation.  One week after the initial explosion, it was determined the DeRocher Construction Company again conducted excavations to install drainage tile within a quarter mile from the same pipelines, and again failed to provide 48 hour notice of the excavation.  Attorney General Miller has fined the DeRochers a civil penalty of $20,000.
Miller called the episode "a serious case that warranted the maximum penalty."  Miller says the incident "caused injuries, and it put themselves, emergency responders and the public at great risk".  Miller continued to say, "all they had to do was make one free phone call that the law requires, and they didn't do it." 

Marcus Fair Underway

(Marcus) -- The Marcus Community Fair is celebrating its 76th year and fair board member, Paul Wilkens says the Marcus Fair offfers a lot of entertainment for no admission charge.

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The fair got started on Thursday evening and continues through Sunday.  Wilkens previews today's schedule of events.
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Saturday the Marcus Fair will feature the beef judging show, a 5K and one-mile Fun Run and

Walk, and an antique farm equipment show, as well as a car show.  Wilkens says one of the highlights for Saturday is the parade.
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Sunday's highlights at the fair include the Fire fighters water fights, a cooking school, vet camp, and an antique tractor pull.


New Akron Conservation Park iIs Officially Named

(Le Mars) -- And the winning name is....River Bend Wildlife Area.  That was the most popular name selected by Plymouth County fair attendees as they voted with their coins and dollar bills for the naming priviledges of a new park and lake located near Akron.  Plymouth County Conservation Board Members officially acknowledged the new name with an unaminous approval during their Thursday board meeting.  The new lake and park will cover about 20 acres.


USDA Crop Report Shows Lowest Production In 17 Years
ST. LOUIS (AP) - The federal government says U.S. corn growers could end up with their lowest average yield in 17 years as the drought continues to take its toll.
     The U.S. Agriculture Department is slashing its projected U.S. corn production to 10.8 billion bushels. That's down from its forecast last month of close to 13 billion bushels and 13 percent
lower than last year. That also would be the lowest production since 2006.
     The USDA says it expects corn growers to average 123.4 bushels per acre, down 24 bushels from last year. That would be the lowest average yield since 1995.
     Soybean production is now forecast at 2.69 billion bushels, a 12 percent decline from last year. Expected yields on average of 36.1 bushels per acre would be the lowest since 2003.


Christie Vilsack To Hold "Value of Hard Work Tour"

(Ames) -- Democratic 4th District Congressional candidate, Christie Vilsack has announced she will conduct a two-day "Value of Hard Work Tour" beginning Tuesday, August 14th.  Vilsack says she will discuss her plans to create layers of economic opportunity in rural America and support middle class families across the district. Vilsack will make stops at Templeton, Holstein, Crystal Lake, Pocahontas, Humboldt, Fort Dodge and Storm Lake.


DCI Investigating Voter Fraud

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent has been assigned to a two-year term in Secretary of State Matt Schultz's office to look into cases of potential voter fraud.
     County auditors told The Associated Press they were surprised when they were introduced to Special Agent Daniel Dawson during a meeting Wednesday in Cedar Rapids.
     Auditors say Dawson told them that he was looking into 2,000 or more voters already.
     Schultz's spokesman wouldn't confirm that number, noting many of them would turn out to be data errors. The Republican has vowed to prove that voter fraud exists in Iowa as he pushes for a voter identification law.
     Schultz's aides have used data to look for people who voted in two states, noncitizens who voted illegally and deceased people who remain registered.









Friday News, August 10

Northern Natural Gas Sues DeRocher Construction For Gas Line Rupture

(Le Mars) -- Northern Natural Gas Company of Omaha, Nebraska has filed a lawsuit against the DeRocher Construction Company of Le Mars for the gas line rupture that occured east of Hinton last April.  The lawsuit was filed at the U-S District Court in Sioux City.  The accident occurred when employees of the DeRocher Construction were trenching for a tile line and had hit the underground gas line producing an explosion and a fireball that could be seen for miles.  Northern Natural Gas is seeking $439,273 in compensation for what it says is for emergency response, inspection and repair, labor, equipment usage, gas loss, and third-party contractor costs while repairs were made.  Northern Natural Gas claims that the DeRocher Construction Company did not call Iowa One-Call, a utility locater hotline prior to their trenching work.  Iowa's Attorney General is investigating the accident.

Rembrandt Man Arrested For Sexually Assaulting 15 Year Old Girl

(Storm Lake) -- A Rembrandt Iowa man has been arrested and charged with four counts of sexual abuse in the third degree, a class "C" felony for sexually assaulting a 15 year old girl.  Buena Vista County authorities received a complaint on Wednesday, August 7th.  Arrested was 36 year old Cory Wernimot.  He is currently being held at the Buena Vista County jail on a $40,000 bond.  Assisting with the investigation was the Iowa Department of Human Services and the Buena Vista County Attorney's office.  The investigation continues with possible further charges.


Plymouth County Has New Park Ranger

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County has a new park ranger.  Derek Christoffel was sworn in during the Plymouth County Conservation Board meeting held last evening.  Christoffel is a Le Mars native who graduated in 2009 from Briar Cliff with a degree in environmental science.  This is Christoffel's first job as a park ranger.  He says his duties will include the law enforcement of the county parks, conservation, and managing the seasonal help.


Woodbury County Conservation Board Opens Grasslands For Haying

(Sioux City) -- The Woodbury County Conservation Board announced that it will accept competitive signed bids to hay multiple parcels of county grassland located in several conservation areas.  The total acreage open to haying represents no more than 200 acres and less than four percent of the public lands managed by the Conservation Board.  Bids will be accepted for individual areas ranging from 13 to 110 acres and must be submitted to the Dorthy Pecaut Nature Center by 3:00 p.m. Friday, August 17th.  Federal disaster guidelines for haying will be in effect, and maps of specific parcels open to haying will be provided to the successful bidders.  Executive Director Rick Schneider says that the haying must be completed by August 31st and all bales removed from county lands by September 15th.


Museum Hosts Bus Tour To Civil War Re-enactment

(Le Mars) -- Its not too late for you to join the bus tour to Pipestone, Minnesota this Saturday to see history in action with the reinactment of the civil war.  The Plymouth County Historical Museum is hosting that tour.  The all day tour will leave Le Mars at 8:00 a.m.  Museum Administrator Judy Bowman says the tour will start with a look at the soldier camps.

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Bowman says the civil war demonstrations take place on what was the former Hiawatha pagent area.  She says following the civil war camp grounds, the tour will then visit the stone quarries, and Native American displays.

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Bowman says the town of Pipestone has a connection with the town of Le Mars.

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For additional information regarding the tour and all the activities, you can contact the Plymouth County Historical Museum at 539-0223.


Schultz Defends His Actions On Voting Rights

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz says his office plans to use a federal citizenship database to investigate whether more than 1,000 registered voters should be
disqualified because they're ineligible non-citizens.
     The Republican said in a statement Thursday his office identified the voters and recently was promised access to a government database of naturalized U.S. citizens to check their
status. The individuals could include those who are in the U.S. legally on green cards but do not have voting rights.
     Schultz says rules adopted last month lay out the process that will be used to notify individuals affected and remove them from the rolls.
     Schultz's statement was the first attempt to explain the rules, which were the challenged in a lawsuit filed Wednesday by civil rights groups.


Iowa Lawyers Say Keep the Judges

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa lawyers believe all 75 judges and justices up for a retention vote this year deserve to stay in office.
     A new report released Thursday by the Iowa State Bar Association shows an average of 90 percent support among lawyers for the judges and justices who will appear on the 2012 ballot. But the Des Moines Register reports that Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins scored the second-lowest approval rating of any judge on the survey, with 63 percent support.
     Bar Association President Cynthia Moser acknowledged that the court's 2009 decision that allowed same-sex marriage may have played a role in the response. But she notes that all judges received majority support from lawyers.
     The head of the Iowa Republican Party is urging voters to deny Wiggins a new term.


Iowa Workforce Face Criticism With Employment Kiosks

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A federal report has criticized the self-help computer kiosks set up to replace three dozen Iowa unemployment offices.
     An unreleased U.S. Labor Department report that says the kiosks do not provide adequate service access to people looking for jobs.
     A federal review of the kiosk program this spring found the kiosks have only descriptions of services and do not aid self-help or staff-assisted services that an unemployed person might need.
     Iowa Workforce Development Deputy Director Ed Wallace describes the report as a preliminary draft and says federal reviewers probably didn't fully understand the project.
     Gov. Terry Branstad closed nearly two-thirds of Iowa Workforce Development field offices last year in an effort to save money.



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