Tuesday News, February 18
County Supervisors To Appoint New County Treasurer
(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors will appoint a new county treasurer today during its weekly meeting held at the County Courthouse boardroom. Long time county treasurer, Linda Dobson retired from office on Monday. The new treasurer will fill the remaining portion of Dobson's elected term. The people of the county will then elect a new treasurer later this fall.
Le Mars City Council To Discuss Recreational Trail During Meeting
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council will hold a public hearing regarding the water systems improvement and the water main extensions. Also on the city council agenda for today is expected action on bids relating to the Iowa 3 West Pedestrian Trail and Pedestrian bridge. The council will review the STP Enhancement project bids. The council has also set aside some time to review the proposed 2014-2015 proposed budget. The city council will convene at 12:00 noon at the council chambers at city hall.
Candle In Bathroom Starts House Fire
(Le Mars) -- An unattended candle burning in a bathroom was the cause of a fire located at 1384 4th Avenue Southeast. The Le Mars Fire Department responded to the call on Monday at about 5:00 p.m. Upon arrival firefighters encountered smoke throughout the main floorof the home. Firefighters entered the home and extinguished the fire in the bathroom. Damage was limited to the bathroom on the main floor. Smoke was ventilated from the home by firefighters. The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental. An unattended candle ignited nearby combustibles on a bathroom vanity. Fire and smoke damage could reach $8000. Fire officials were on the scene for approximately one hour. Assisting the Le Mars Fire Department were the Le Mars Police Department and the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office. One other footnote regarding the call, Fire Chief Dave Schipper says the fire department has responded to 22 calls in the 17 days of February.
Sabre And Clean Line Energy Team Up For Electric Transmission Lines
(Sioux City) -- A Sioux City manufacturer will partner with a Texas based company to build a 500 mile long transmission line for wind generated electricity in Iowa. The partnership between Sabre Industries and Clean Line Energy was announced Monday morning at Sabre's Southbridge Industrial Park site. Sabre Industries will build the towers to hold the overhead transmission line. Sabre President and CEO Peter Sandore says the project will help the company eventually expand its workforce of 269 to over 500 and provide a multi-million dollar boost to the state's economy.
Sabre will provide 4 to 5 poles per mile along the 500 mile "Rock Island" power line route, which Clean Energy development director Hans Detweiler says will run across Iowa and into Illinois.
Detweiler says Iowa's wind generated electricity will provide energy to areas out east who need it.
State Economic Development Director, Debi Durham, says wind power will become an important export for Iowa.
Construction of the project will begin in mid-2015 with completion scheduled by late 2017. Land access rights are still being negotiated along parts of the proposed route.
Sioux City Police Officer Cleared Of Shooting Murder Suspect
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - State investigators have cleared a Sioux City SWAT officer who fatally wounded a homicide suspect last month.
The Iowa Attorney General's Office said in a report released Monday that the unnamed officer was acting within Iowa law. The officer shot 29-year-old Felix Navarette on Jan. 28 as he tried to flee out a second-floor window from other officers who were trying to arrest him.
The report says the officer told investigators that he saw a dark object in Navarrete's hand when Navarrete leaned out the window. The officer says he fired his rifle because he feared Navarrete posed a threat to other officers below. A handgun was found tucked into the back of Navarrete's pants. A state prosecutor says Navarrete had time to tuck it away before the officer fired.
House Veterans Affairs Committee Approves Bills To Assist Retired Military
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa lawmakers have approved legislation that would help veterans transition into life after military service.
Members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee unanimously approved three bills Monday that would help veterans more easily obtain occupational licenses or own a home.
The first bill would appropriate $2 million for research on how military skills apply to existing occupational license requirements. It would also further market efforts to attract veterans to Iowa. The second bill would give credit to veterans for those skills when trying to obtain a license.
The third bill would increase the current appropriation for the Military Homeownership Assistance Program by $900,000.
The bills are now up for debate on the House floor. Republican Rep. Dwayne Alons, who heads the committee, says the unanimous support displayed is encouraging.
Lawmakers Discuss Broadband Internet Incentive Bills
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Lawmakers in the Iowa House are moving forward with legislation that would provide incentives for improving broadband Internet technology access in the state.
The House Commerce Committee approved the bill Monday. It will next go to the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee for review.
Under the proposal, companies that invest in broadband infrastructure could receive a property tax break. The legislation is a top priority for Gov. Terry Branstad during this legislative session.
Rep. Peter Cownie, a Republican from West Des Moines, said he thinks there may be more revisions. He said lawmakers will look at whether any other tax incentives should be offered.
A broadband bill under review in the state Senate includes income tax breaks and a loan fund for businesses making broadband investments.
Branstad Speaks At Anti-Abortion Rally
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad has spoken at an anti-abortion rally in Iowa and encouraged citizen involvement to secure future legislation on the issue.
Branstad made the comments Monday during the annual Rally for Life event at the Capitol. He also encouraged various groups and citizens to continue their education efforts about the "pro-life cause."
Branstad said he's encouraged by recent legislation that would ban the remote distribution of abortion pills in Iowa. The bill was approved in the Republican-majority House, but it's not expected to advance further in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The rally was part of a daylong event geared toward different forms of anti-abortion education. Keynote speaker Wesley Smith of the Discovery Institute spoke out against assisted suicide in the United States.
ICCI Wants Tougher Laws Against Livestock Operations
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Organizers for grassroots environmental group Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement say they plan to have at least 60 members at the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission meeting to pressure the state for stricter livestock farm regulations.
Iowa CCI wants the state to inspect large-scale farms and force operators to fix problems that can lead to manure spills. The group also wants the state to issue Clean Water Act permits for the farms and enforce policies that would shut down operations that have repeated manure spills or accidents.
Iowa, which has more than 21 million hogs, has had 76 manure spills in 2013.
The commission, made up of nine people appointed by the governor, is responsible for oversight of Iowa's environmental protection efforts. It's holding its monthly meeting Tuesday.
Hy Vee Agrees To Purchase Speciality Pharmacies
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Hy-Vee grocery chain is acquiring a specialty pharmacy based in Nebraska.
Hy-Vee said Monday that it has agreed to purchase Amber Pharmacy, which is based in Omaha, Neb.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The employee-owned grocer says the acquisition of Amber will help it expand its pharmacy services for complex cases and for patients dealing with chronic illnesses.
Amber Pharmacy has locations in Omaha, Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia. It will continue to operate independently of Hy-Vee.
Hy-Vee operates 235 stores in eight states. It is based in West Des Moines.
State Senate Wants National Guard To Report Sexual Abuse Cases
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Lawmakers in the Iowa Senate are working on legislation that would establish more rules for dealing with sexual abuse in the state military.
A Senate subcommittee gave preliminary approval Monday to a bill that would require that the Iowa National Guard provide an annual report to the state legislature about the sexual abuse allegations reported the previous year. Some other provisions - like whether there should be mandatory reporting of sexual abuse allegations to local law enforcement authorities - are still being worked out.
Democratic Sen. Steve Sodders, of State Center, said he wants to make sure that abuse victims are protected.
Officials from the Iowa National Guard said that requiring reporting to law enforcement might negatively impact some victims, who currently can access medical services without pursuing legal action.
Value Of Crops Declined In 2012
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The value of crops fell last year as corn and soybeans prices declined from record highs the year before.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says in an annual report the value of 2013 field crops fell 9.8 percent to nearly $167 billion from $185 billion in 2012.
The 2012 drought reduced the corn and soybean harvest and drove prices to record highs which resulted in increased crop value.
Friday's report says the average price of corn for 2012 was $6.89 per bushel and the value of the crop that year was $74.3 billion. Last year's average price was $4.50 and the overall value fell to $62.7 billion.
Top crop producers last year were Illinois with crops valued at $16 billion, Iowa at $15.9 billion, and Nebraska at nearly $12 billion.