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Wednesday Afternoon News, February 11

Police Chase Stolen Vehicle

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars Police was able to apprehend two suspects accused of stealing a vehicle following a car chase.  The incident occured Tuesday evening at about 9:30 p.m. Police were alerted to a stolen vehicle from 805 3rd street southwest.  The stolen vehicle was a 1997 White Dodge Intrepid.  While responding to the call, an officer noticed the vehicle at the intersection of 3rd St and 9th Avenue southwest.  The officer attempted to stop the suspect vehicle by activating his lights and siren. However, the occupants of the vehicle tried to elude the police.  The Le Mars Police, along with deputies from the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office pursued the stolen vehicle.  The driver lost control of the vehicle at 3rd Street and 14th Avenue Southeast.  Arrested were 16 year old Nicole Daughtery of Le Mars and 23 year old Mark Meerdink also of Le Mars.  Daughtery was charged with theft in the 2nd degree, a class D felony; eluding law enforcement which is an aggravated misdemeanor; and possession of a controlled substance, a serious misdemeanor.  Meerdink was charged with theft in the 2nd degree, a class D felony.  He was booked into the Plymouth County jail, and Daughterly was released to a family member since she is a juvenile.  


Fire Department Responds To Afternoon Grass Fire

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department along with the Merrill Fire Department responded to a grass fire this afternoon located about five miles west of Le Mars on county road C-38.  The fire was reported at about 12:50 p.m.  Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says he believes the fire perhaps started as a result of someone disgarding a cigarette.  The strong northwest winds aided the blaze, burning a stretch of grass measuring approximately 550 feet along the road's shoulder.  Snow in the ditches prevented the fire from spreading into the ditch.  Fire officials were able to quickly extinguish the grass fire as they were on the scene for approximately 20 minutes.


Remsen Honors Citizen and Business Of The Year At Chamber Banquet

(Remsen) -- The Remsen Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards banquet on Saturday evening.  Selected as the Remsen "Citizen of the Year" was Jane Bork.  Bork is employed at Smith Insurance Company.  The Remsen "Business of the Year" was awarded to Mid-Sioux Opportunity. Mid-Sioux is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  Bork was nominated by her son and co-worker Shane Bork.  He says Jane Bork has been the smiling face for the past 35 years, and she places the customer first, and is always available for her customers, often times taking phone calls during the weekend.  She doesn't leave work until she completes the work. Bork has also given time over the last 25 years volunteering on the Remsen Library Board.  Mid-Sioux Opportunity is a private non-profit community action agency serving 23 Iowa counties, and employs 110 people. Our congratulations to Jane Bork and to Mid-Sioux Opportunity.


Legislators Look To Make Fireworks Legal In Iowa

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - July 4th celebrations could get colorful in Iowa under proposed legislation that would legalize more fireworks sales in the state.
     The bill got subcommittee-level approval in the Senate Wednesday. Under the proposal, retailers could sell firecrackers, roman candles and other fireworks. Currently, the state only allows sales of certain "novelty fireworks" like sparklers.
     Bill sponsor Sen. Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, said that Iowa residents are already going to border states to buy fireworks. He said the current restrictions are not working and that a more permissive law could promote better safety education.
     Representatives from the fireworks industry offered support for the bill, while health care groups questioned the plan, saying it could lead to more injuries.
     The measure now moves to a Senate committee for review.


New Workforce Director Fires Administrative Judge

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The new Iowa Workforce Development director has fired an administrative law judge who alleged the Branstad administration is undermining judicial independence.
     Susan Ackerman, an unemployment benefits appeals judge for 14 years, was fired Jan. 30 by then-acting IWD Director Beth Townsend.
     Ackerman contended in court documents Tuesday there's no grounds for her dismissal. She claims it's retaliation for testifying to lawmakers last year that IWD director Teresa Wahlert attempted to pressure judges to rule in favor of employers.
     Ackerman was suspended Dec. 11 amid an investigation into unspecified misconduct allegations. She filed a lawsuit last month against Wahlert, who retired abruptly Jan. 11.
     Gov. Terry Branstad made Townsend the agency's permanent director days after she fired Ackerman. He praised her for holding misbehaving employees accountable in her previous position.


Des Moines Woman Claims To Be Assaulted, Car Stolen And Set On Fire 

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Des Moines woman says two men assaulted her at a trailer park, stole her car and set it on fire outside of a gas station.
     According to a police report, the woman says she was retrieving her children's school clothes Wednesday at a trailer park in south Des Moines when two men with guns attacked her and took her car keys. Police later found the woman's car engulfed in flames at a Git-N-Go gas station.
     Police went to the trailer park to ask neighbors if they had spoken to the men before the assault, but no suspects have been identified.
     Fire officials responded to put out the fire that damaged the exterior of the gas station's convenience store.
     The case remains under investigation.


Legislators Looking At Legalizing Catfish Hunting With Bow And Arrow

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Capturing catfish using a bow and arrow would become legal in Iowa under a bill that is moving through the state House.
     The proposal got committee-level approval from lawmakers Wednesday. The bill would let people take catfish in state parks and preserves using a bow and arrow. Currently, catfish is not on the list of approved fish for bow and arrow capture. 
     The bill now moves to the full House for approval. Rep. Jarad Klein, a Republican from Keota, said he expects the measure will win approval in the General Assembly. He said he looks forward to trying this fishing technique if it becomes legal. 


IRS Cash Siezures

 MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - The IRS will return $344,000 in legal earnings that agents seized from a prominent Iowa neurologist over the way he withdrew his own money.
     The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Iowa dismissed a civil forfeiture case last week involving Mason City doctor Alireza Yarahmadi.
     The IRS seized $344,405 from Yarahmadi's bank account last year after suspecting he made repeated cash withdrawals in increments below $10,000 to evade federal reporting requirements.
     Yarahmadi denied wrongdoing, saying he routinely transferred cash from his bank account to safe deposit boxes for safekeeping.
     His attorney, Gail Brashers-Krug, says prosecutors made "a very honorable and professional choice" to drop the case. She says Yarahmadi is an Iran native who is suspicious of banks because his family lost its savings after the 1979 revolution.


Court Dismisses Legal Claim Against University Of Iowa Medical Official

    IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A court is dismissing an order that required a University of Iowa medical official to pay $183,000 for unfairly revoking the clinical privileges of a subordinate.
     The Iowa Court of Appeals dismissed a claim Wednesday against UI nuclear medicine director Michael Graham brought by former employee Ravi Sood.
     A jury ruled in 2013 that Graham violated Ravi Sood's constitutional right to due process when he had university hospital staff rescind Sood's ability to provide patient care without notice or a hearing.
     Jurors awarded $37,000 in damages to Sood, who said the move destroyed his career in nuclear medicine. A judge later ordered Graham to pay $145,000 in legal fees' and costs.
     But the appeals court dismissed Sood's claim, saying he failed to challenge Graham's decision through available administrative channels.







Wednesday News, February 11

Floyd Valley Hospital Scores High In Patient Satisfaction Survey

(Le Mars) -- Floyd Valley Hospital was recently informed of its high marks regarding patience satisfaction.  It was all through the latest Press Ganey survey results.  Hospital Administrator Mike Donlin says you have to go back a ways to find similar high scores.

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Donlin says it is gratifying to be recognized in such a manner, and he says the entire staff should be credited for its positive efforts of caring.

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The hospital administrator believes one reason for the recent high scores through the Press Ganey survey is the attention to detail the staff provides.

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Donlin says it is also good news for the hospital to have high satisfaction scores from patients, considering the construction that is taking place.

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Donlin says the hospital staff constantly look at ways of improving, and although the hospital achieved a lofty goal, he says the new goal will be to find ways to sustain the high marks.


State Senate Votes To Increase School Funding To $200 Million

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Democratic-controlled Iowa Senate has approved legislation to significantly boost school funding, but the plan will likely face opposition in the Republican-majority House.
     Lawmakers on Tuesday backed bills to boost funding for the next two school years, voting largely along party lines. Under the proposal, school aid would increase by more than $200 million for the upcoming academic year, according to the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency. That's more than double the amount approved by the House for the same period.
     The House and Senate proposals both include funding specifically dedicated to teacher leadership training.
     Sen. Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa, said the state's future "depends on high quality schools." But Republicans in the Senate questioned how the state could afford the plan.  Voting against the four percent increase for school funding was Republican Senator Bill Anderson of Pierson.  Anderson is concerned as to how the state will be able to pay for the proposed increases.


Bills Introduced To Raise Fuel Tax

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A plan to increase the state fuel tax to pay for road improvements is moving forward in the state Legislature.
     Lawmakers in the state House and Senate said Tuesday that identical legislation had been introduced in both chambers to hike the tax by 10 cents. That would provide $215 million annually for the state's network of bridges and roads, many of which are in disrepair.
     The hearing process is expected to start tomorrow in both chambers, with full votes coming perhaps later in the month.
     Iowa's fuel tax - now 22 cents per gallon for gasoline, including fees - hasn't been raised since 1989.
     Sen. Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa, and Rep. Josh Byrnes, a Republican from Osage, expressed optimism that the legislation could find support in both chambers.


Pregnant Employees May Have Better Accomodations If Bill Passes

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Senate panel has approved a bill that would require Iowa businesses to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees.
     Members of a labor and business relations subcommittee approved the bill Tuesday. It now heads to a full committee for consideration.
     The bill would define reasonable accommodations as anything from modifying equipment that a pregnant employee must use to assisting them with their work schedule. The bill states the action cannot impose an undue hardship on the business or employer.
     A few business groups oppose the bill.
     The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa says the bill would affirm a decision by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, which enforces the state's civil rights act. The commission said in 2013 that employers must provide such accommodations to pregnant employees.


Farmers Income Expected To Drop

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Net income for U.S. farmers is expected to fall by nearly 32 percent this year because of low crop prices and increasing expenses, placing many farmers in an unprofitable situation.
     The U.S. Department of Agriculture released estimates on Tuesday that show 2015 is expected to be the second year in a row that farmers will see their income fall. Income was down 16 percent from 2013 to 2014.
     The report estimates net farm income will be $73.6 billion in 2015, down from $108 billion in 2014. It was at a record $129 billion in 2013.
     The report also anticipates that as income falls, expenses will increase by one-half percent.
     Government programs that pay farmers when commodity prices are low are expected to increase 15 percent this year.


Iowa Corrections Budget

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The newly appointed acting chief of Iowa's corrections system says the department will keep employing some workers at state mental health institutions in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant that have been ordered to close.
     Jerry Bartruff, who recently took over corrections, told a legislative panel Tuesday that about $2 million will be transferred from the state Department of Health and Human Services to corrections to continue administrative staffing and other jobs that had been shared between the agencies at both facilities.
     The state Department of Corrections currently has operations at Clarinda and Mount Pleasant, which houses two of the state's four mental health institutions. Gov. Terry Branstad has proposed phasing out state health services at the two facilities later this year, though corrections will continue to operate.


Wisconsin Governor Rents Office Space In Iowa

 MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has opened an office in Iowa, the first of the potential 2016 presidential candidates to take such a step.
     Walker spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski confirmed Tuesday that Walker's tax-exempt fundraising group, Our American Revival, has leased the space in a suburb of Des Moines.
     Kukowski says the campaign is in the process of opening other offices, but she had no further details on where they would be or the timing.
     The office has been used for numerous other political campaigns in recent years, including Mitt Romney's general election effort in 2012 and prior to that Michele Bachmann's campaign during the Iowa caucus that year.
     Walker's director of Iowa operations previously worked for Bachmann in that race.
     The Des Moines Register first reported on Walker securing the space.


IRS Cash Seizure

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa widow is charged with a crime and had nearly $19,000 seized from her bank after depositing her late husband's legally earned money in a way that evaded federal reporting requirements.
     Janet Malone of Dubuque faced civil and criminal proceedings under a law intended to help investigators track large sums of cash tied to criminal activity such as drug trafficking and terrorism. Some members of Congress and libertarians have complained that the IRS and prosecutors are unfairly using the law to target ordinary people who deposit lawfully obtained money in increments below $10,000.
     Malone allegedly made several deposits under $10,000 when transferring money left by her husband, who'd been warned against the practice.
     One libertarian group is criticizing the government for prosecuting Malone since her money was legally obtained.










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