Friday Afternoon News, November 7
Gehlen Conducts Fall Service Day
(Le Mars) -- More than 150 Gehlen Catholic high school students have put down the pencil, and instead picked up a rake. Today, is the fall service day when Gehlen students leave the classroom and devote the day for community service by offering to rake leaves, wash windows, and perform other outdoor autumn chores. Gehlen school officials say it is a time for Gehlen students to give back to the community. Traditionally, the students assist the elderly who are no longer able to perform the household duties.
Plymouth County Fairboard To Hold Annual Meeting
(Le Mars) -- The annual meeting of the Plymouth County 4-H and Agricultural Society, also known as the Plymouth County Fairboard, will be held Thursday, November 13, 2014 7:30 p.m. at the Plymouth County Extension and Outreach Office in the lower level of the Le Mars Convention Center in Le Mars.
The following director terms expire at the annual meeting: John Ahlers, Brad Collins, Brad Harvey, Bob Kabisch, Candice Farrer, Matt Reuter, Gregg Roepke, Loren Schnepf and Gail Schoenrock.
Items on the annual meeting agenda include the election of Fair Board members, a recap of the 2014 fair, award presentation, suggestions for the 2015 fair, and other business.
Membership to the Plymouth County 4-H and Agricultural Society is open to any county resident that pays a $5.00 one-time membership fee by 4:30 p.m. the day of the meeting to the Plymouth County Extension and Outreach Office.
Judge Upholds Commission's Actions On Casino
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa judge has upheld actions of the state's gaming commission over its decision to issue a casino license last year to a new developer in Sioux City.
Polk County District Court Judge Eliza Ovrom's ruling Friday upholds actions by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission that led to a Hard Rock-themed casino and hotel.
Belle of Sioux City, operators of the former Argosy Sioux City riverboat casino, had sued to force the commission to reinstate its license and rescind the new one to the Hard Rock developer.
Ovrom dismissed claims the commission's actions were unreasonable and violated state law, among other arguments.
Belle of Sioux City is a subsidiary of Penn National Gaming. A message left for Penn was not immediately returned Friday.
ACLU Suing State Over Felon Voting Rights
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging Iowa's tough policies that bar felons from voting.
A lawsuit filed Friday seeks to restore voting rights to thousands of former offenders before the 2016 presidential election. It also seeks to end confusion over the rules for ex-felons that followed a 2011 policy change by Gov. Terry Branstad.
Iowa is one of three states where felons cannot vote after completing their sentences until their rights are restored by the governor.
ACLU attorney Rita Bettis says the widespread denial of voting rights based on felony convictions "is the single biggest denial of civil rights in Iowa." She says it disenfranchises thousands of people and wants a court to limit the number of felony offenses that trigger the loss of voting rights.
Man Was Stabbed While Visiting House Of Murder
VILLISCA, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a man staying overnight at a southern Iowa house where several brutal murders took place in 1912 has been hospitalized following a self-inflicted stab wound.
The Montgomery County Sheriff's Office says Robert Laursen Jr., of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, was found early Friday inside the Villisca Axe Murder House with a stab wound. Investigators determined it was self-inflicted.
Laursen was eventually airlifted to an Omaha hospital. A hospital spokeswoman declined to provide details on his condition.
The Villisca Axe Murder House is the location of eight unsolved murders in 1912. The house and affiliated museum are popular with tourists who believe the structure is haunted. Owner Martha Linn says Laursen was part of a family group of paranormal investigators staying overnight.
Nurse To Surrender License
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An ex-nurse at a Des Moines veteran's hospital has agreed to surrender his license after admitting to turning off equipment that would have alerted staff to a patient's low blood-oxygen level.
65-year-old Michael Deal died last March at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital after oxygen levels in his blood dropped.
Nurse Bernard Nesbit was fired following the incident and had sought unemployment benefits, which were later denied. He said he turned off the alarms because they went off even if patients weren't in distress.
Iowa Board of Nursing records show Nesbit agreed to give up his state license for at least a year to settle an ethics charge. Nesbit has declined to comment.
Teen Found Not Guilty Of Murder By Reason Of Insanity
LOGAN, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa teenager who claimed he killed his 5-year-old foster brother because he thought the child was a goblin has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Harrison County District Court Judge Kathleen Kilnoski issued her ruling Friday in the bench trial of Cody Metzker-Madsen, who was charged with first-degree murder in the August 2013 death of Dominic Elkins.
Authorities say Metzker-Madsen killed Dominic while the two played outside of their home in western Iowa. Metzker-Madsen was 17 when the boy's body was found at the bottom of a ravine.
Metzker-Madsen told the judge during the trial that he believed he was in a fantasy world and thought he was killing a goblin instead of Dominic.
Branstad Open To Idea Of Raising Gas Tax For Roads
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says providing more funding to fix Iowa's crumbling roads is a top priority and that he is keeping an open mind to all options, including raising the state's fuel tax.
Branstad said in an interview Thursday that he wants to get input from lawmakers in advance of the next legislative session, with hopes of reaching bipartisan consensus. Branstad did not back any specific plan. The Legislature has failed to find compromise on this issue in recent years.
The Republican governor, who just won re-election to a sixth non-consecutive term, said the timing was good to start this conversation because gas prices have "dropped significantly." But Branstad stressed he would like to find a new funding approach that is "not just the old gas tax."