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Monday Afternoon News, May 11

City Crews Busy Picking Up Downed Tree Limbs

(Le Mars) -- City crews have been busy Monday picking up tree limbs and branches that fell as a result of the strong winds from Sunday afternoon.  Scott Kneip, city public works director, explains the schedule.


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Kneip says if the tree fell on the parking area, it is the city's responsibility to remove.


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The Public Works Official says if a tree is resting on the lawn between the sidewalk and the home, then it becomes the responsibility of the homeowner to remove and dispose. Kneip says he knows of four large trees, mainly located in the southeast area of town, that had toppled due to the strong winds. Kneip reminds Le Mars residents the tree, limb, branch, and leaves disposal site located on the west side of town is open Wednesdays and Saturdays.


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Kneip says if residents are able to place their large tree limbs that fell during Sunday's winds, alongside the curb, then the city will assist with the disposal. City crews will travel the streets Tuesday morning finishing up on the removal of downed trees.




Assessment Crews Study Damage After Lake City Tornado

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Assessment crews have been dispatched to gage the damage caused by a tornado that tore through a central Iowa town, uprooting trees, ripping apart the roof of the local high school and leaving shreds of pink insulation strewn throughout the streets.

The Des Moines office of the National Weather Service says a survey team arrived Monday morning in Lake City to determine the extent of damage in the area.

Stephen O'Connor with Calhoun County Emergency Management says about half of the roof of South Central Calhoun High School was ripped from the building when the twister hit. He says about 100 people were inside the high school at the time, but nobody was hurt when it ravaged the structure.





Historic Home Tour Attracts 150 People

(Le Mars) -- Nearly 150 people participated on the Historic Tour of Homes that was held on Saturday.  Le Mars Historic Commission Director, Linda Mayrose says the attendance was at the same from previous years.  She says people took advantage of the good weather, and enjoyed viewing the four homes.





Two People Arrested On Drug Charges Following Traffic Stop

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County authorities made two drug-related arrests following a traffic stop on Saturday evening. A Plymouth County deputy stopped a vehicle on the south end of Merrill on Highway 75 for a traffic violation.  As a result of the stop, 32 year old Corbin Tyndall of South Sioux City, Nebraska and 31 year old Adrienne Godfrey of Sioux City were arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia.  Tyndall was also arrested for Operating a vehicle while drugged, and for not having a valid driver's license.




29 Year Old Woman Arrested For Possession Of Drug Paraphernalia

(Le Mars) -- In a separate incident, Plymouth County authorities arrested 29 year old Amanda Hiatt of Sioux City for possession of drug paraphernalia.  Hiatt was arrested shortly after midnight Sunday going into Monday.  She, too, was stopped on Highway 75 near Merrill.





Court Clerks To Be Given New Job Title

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - More than 725 court clerks who work at courthouses in Iowa's 99 counties are getting new job descriptions and titles.

Their duties are being updated to reflect changes in the way Iowa courts do business, especially the adoption of a paperless system that requires litigants to file their own court documents electronically.

The clerks' new title will be judicial specialists. Their new job descriptions show they may be expected to have a bigger role assisting judges with courtroom operations.

One goal of the changes is to increase service and efficiency in a system that sees 75,000 cases filed every year.

State court system spokesman Steve Davis says even with the revised job descriptions, trial courts will continue to be understaffed. He says the changes won't lead to job cuts.





Ernst To Host Republican "Roast And Ride"

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Sen. Joni Ernst is going to treat Republican presidential hopefuls to a pig roast and a motorcycle ride.

The freshman senator's political action committee on Monday announced details for a fundraiser they are calling the "Roast and Ride." The event will be held on June 6.

The confirmed attendees are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former executive Carly Fiorina.

Ernst will lead a motorcycle ride from Des Moines to the event site in Boone for those who wish to participate. Tickets to the fundraiser are $30 for adults and $12 for children.

Ernst says she hopes to hear "fresh ideas and vision" from the candidates.





Former Juvenile Home Staff Member Must Pay Fine For Abuse

TAMA, Iowa (AP) - A former Iowa Juvenile Home employee who state officials say was caught on video mistreating a teenage girl must pay a $315 fine and serve a year of self-supervised probation, after which his record will be cleared.

48-year-old Robert McFatridge was convicted Monday of assault causing bodily injury after he entered an Alford plea. He was charged following a November 2012 incident at the now-closed juvenile home in Toledo.

In an Alford plea, a person doesn't admit guilt but acknowledges there is enough evidence for a likely conviction.

Security cameras allegedly captured McFatridge dragging a female resident, placing her in an isolation cell and later slamming her forehead against a cement wall.

McFatridge declined to comment following his plea and sentencing Monday.






Oskaloosa Downtown Buildings Destroyed By Fire

OSKALOOSA, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say the cause of an overnight fire in Oskaloosa is considered suspicious after a man with burns on his hands reported the blaze to police.

Fire officials responded around 2 a.m. Monday to the report of flames engulfing an Oskaloosa sporting goods store. The fire was contained by 7 a.m.

Oskaloosa Fire Chief Mark Neff says no charges have been filed in the case, though the cause of the blaze is considered suspicious. He says the man who entered the police station to report the fire is being questioned.

The man was taken to an area hospital for treatment of his burns.







Branstad Promotes Annual Iowa Preservation Summit

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is promoting an annual summit that will focus on preservation efforts around Iowa.

Branstad told reporters Monday that the Preserve Iowa Summit, now in its third year, will include sessions on best practices for community leaders to save historic buildings in the state. The event is scheduled June 25-27 and will be held in Winterset, where the community helps promote a John Wayne museum and Madison County's famous covered bridges.

The summit is being coordinated through state and local officials. It is open to the public through registration.







Monday News, May 11

Winds Topple Trees In Le Mars

(Le Mars) -- Strong winds that blew in Le Mars Sunday afternoon caused several trees to topple, especially in the southeast part of town.  A tree landed on a parked van at 823 4th Avenue Southeast, at 420 South Lynn a tree was uprooted and hit a garage and house.  At 507 Lee Drive a tree fell on some power lines, causing a small fire, prompting the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department to respond.  Another tree fell on a fence or dog kennel at 906 4th Avenue southeast. Several smaller branches were down throughout the town.  Plymouth County Sheriff's Department said there were no reports of damage in rural Plymouth County.



Tornadoes Touch Down In Lake City And Pocahontas County

(Des Moines) -- Severe storms have prompted reports of tornadoes in central Iowa.

Meterologist Frank Boksa with the Des Moines office of the National Weather Service says an apparent tornado hit Lake City, in Calhoun County, on Sunday night and authorities have reported structural damage and uprooted trees.

Boksa says a school was damaged and multiple roofs were blown off houses. There were no immediate reports of fatalities or injuries.

A tornado was also reported in Pocahontas County.

Two-inch hail and wind gusts of 70 mph were reported.




Le Mars Community School Board To Meet This Evening

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education is scheduled to meet this evening.  The school board will hear reports from each of the principals.  The school board will also discuss Senior Awards Night scheduled for Wednesday, at 6:30 p.m. in the new high school gym.  The school board will also discuss the Commencement exercises, which will be held on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m.  The school board is scheduled to discuss the Le Mars Community School District Foundation Chamber Coffee that will be held on Wednesday, May 20th beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Education Service Center.  The school board will acknowledge school employees that will be leaving during a employee recognition coffee scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Friday, May 22nd at the High School cafeteria.  During this evening's school board meeting, the board will be presented with a preliminary list of considerations regarding the request by the Remsen-Union Board of Education regarding a one-way sharing arrangement.  May is recognized as School Board Recognition Month, and Superintendent of school, Dr. Todd Wendt will present board members with certificates of appreciation for their service.  The school board will act upon two resignations and three contracts.  The school board will also review some revisions for the 2015-2016 Student Handbook as well as discuss school fees.




Two Of Branstad's Priority Bills Remain Unpassed

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two of Governor Terry Branstad's key priorities remain unresolved as the Iowa Legislature winds down this session.

Branstad announced in January that he wanted lawmakers to update Iowa's anti-bullying law and pass legislation to expand high-speed Internet.

The Senate approved an anti-bullying bill but it remains in limbo in the House. A broadband bill passed in the House but it's still making its way through the Senate.

Time is running out to advance the bills. While lawmakers are at odds over the budget for the next fiscal year, party leaders are expected to reach compromise soon, which could quickly lead to adjournment.

Branstad prioritized both issues last year, but they failed to garner enough support. He told reporters Thursday he's still hopeful this year's bills will reach his desk.





Farmers Nearly Completed With Spring Planting

(Spencer) -- Northwest Iowa farmers are nearing completion of planting corn, and many are also finishing up with their soybean planting.  Iowa State University Extension Crops Specialist for Northwest Iowa, Paul Kassel says this spring has provided excellent conditions for field work.

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Kassel believes at least 95 to 99 percent of the corn has been planted in his area, and he estimates at least 50 percent of the soybean crop has been planted. He says the early stages of crop production looks good, with very few noted problems.


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At this time of year, many farmers are concerned about the migration of cut worms coming from the south, that tend to feed on new emerged corn.  But, Kassel says that has not been a problem as of yet.

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Due to the low price of corn, the U-S-D-A had predicted Iowa growers would plant two percent more soybean acres, at the expense of corn acres, but the Iowa State University Extension crops specialist says he hasn't noticed much of a shift from corn to soybean acres.

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Life Skills Training Center To Hold Banquet And Awards Program

(Le Mars) -- Life Skills Training Center of Le Mars, a facility that assists mentally challenged adults,  will hold its annual banquet and awards program on Monday evening.  Shelly Thomson, the Marketing and Development Director says at this year's banquet, Life Skills will unveil its new website, and present awards to retiring board member, Wayne Pick, and the organization's outstanding client.




Benzene Found In Air Samples Of Woodbury County Law Enforcement Center

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - New concerns are being raised about the air quality inside a northwest Iowa jail that was built on the site of a former gas station.

Officials are looking at ways to address the concerns at the Woodbury County Law Enforcement Center.

Health officials have been monitoring conditions for years with regular tests, but a test performed in the building last fall showed elevated levels of benzene.

Officials thought the problems were solved in 2003 when an air filtration system was added, but the recent tests suggest more steps might be needed.

Matthew Graesch with the state Department of Natural Resources says officials are looking for a better long-term solution to make sure petroleum vapors won't cause problems.




Des Moines Authorities Search For Missing Boy

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa authorities are searching the Des Moines River for a 12-year-old boy who disappeared while swimming Saturday evening.

Emergency responders were called shortly after 8 p.m. Saturday after Abou Sheriff failed to resurface.

Sheriff had been swimming with three other kids - ages 9, 11 and 12 - on the north side of the Des Moines River. He jumped in but didn't resurface.

Dan Burke with the Des Moines Fire Department says rescuers were having a hard time finding the boy because the water in the area is nearly 15-feet-deep.









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