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Tuesday Afternoon News,January 26

Ebert Pleads Not Guilty To Attempted Murder

LE MARS, Iowa (AP) - A northwestern Iowa woman has pleaded not guilty to allegations that she intentionally crashed the car she was driving into another vehicle.
Melissa Ebert entered a written plea on Friday to two counts of attempted murder and other crimes. No trial date has been set.
Prosecutors say the 29-year-old Ebert threatened to kill herself and her passenger, Damian Johnson, before purposely veering her car into the path of an oncoming car on Sept. 9. Court documents say Ebert and Johnson were arguing before the collision.
The collision severely injured Ebert, Johnson and the driver of the other car.




Democrats Release Their Plan For A State Budget

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Democratic-controlled Senate has released a state budget outline slightly below Gov. Terry Branstad's proposal for spending.
Senate leaders said Tuesday they want to spend $7.398 billion from the general fund. Branstad has recommended a little over $7.4 billion for the fiscal year that begins in July.
Democrats want to spend more on education, including basic aid to schools. The issue is a sticking point for the Republican-majority House, which proposed a 2 percent increase to basic aid in a floor vote Monday. The Senate wants a 4 percent increase.
It's unclear how Democrats would reach their cost savings. Rep. Pat Grassley, a New Hartford Republican who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, says he needs that information before commenting on the plan. 
Republicans have not released their own budget outline.





State's Historical Museum May Lose Space With Renovation Plans

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The department that oversees Iowa's flagship history museum says a nearly $80 million renovation to the building will cut its square footage but enhance its presence near the Capitol.
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Mary Cownie told lawmakers Tuesday that the State Historical Museum in downtown Des Moines would shrink from about 230,000 square feet to about 155,000 square feet under a renovation plan that would span several years.
Cownie told an appropriations subcommittee the new square footage would be more manageable and include outdoor space. It would also have a new main entrance and repurposed space for state artifacts.
The department is seeking $65 million from the Iowa Legislature through an infrastructure fund that is separate from general state dollars. The department also expects to raise private money.



Conservative Lawyer Wants Another Trial

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A conservative lawyer who sued the University of Iowa law school, claiming she wasn't hired because of her conservative political views, plans to again take her case to a federal appeals court.
Two separate juries have decided against Teresa Manning, finding the law school's former dean, Carolyn Jones, did not commit illegal political discrimination when she declined to hire Manning for a full-time professor position.
The first verdict was appealed and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back for a new trial based on verdict process errors. The second jury also found Manning failed to prove political discrimination.
Manning sought a new trial claiming errors including improper jury instructions.
Judge James Gritzner on Friday denied a new trial.
Manning's attorney said Tuesday an appeal is planned.





Sioux City Neighborhood Doesn't Want Cell Tower

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Officials in Sioux City have at least temporarily blocked plans to build a cellphone tower in a Sioux City neighborhood.
The City Council unanimously voted to send a proposal for a Verizon Wireless tower in the Morningside neighborhood back to the Board of Adjustments. That panel will work on the proposal before it can return to the council.
The council took the action after hearing complaints from neighbors opposed to the tower. They say a 150-foot tower isn't appropriate for a site surrounded by houses.
A Verizon representative at the council meeting declined to comment.






Tuesday News, January 26

Kirchoff To Address County Supervisors Regarding Le Mars Public Library

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors will convene for their weekly meeting this morning at the County Courthouse Board Room.  The supervisors will discuss the proposed fiscal budget, and possibly will schedule a date for a public hearing on the budget. The supervisors will review and possibly approve the July to December 2015 settlement of county funds.  They are also expected to appoint Matt Ahlers to the county finance committee for the County Compensation Commission.  Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff is scheduled to address the county governing board.  Kirchoff will discuss with the supervisors the current situation involving the Le Mars Public Library, and the library coalition.  Attorney Gene Collins will also address the supervisors, as he will seek approval for T-Mac Farms Addition.  




Pork Producers Prepare For Iowa Pork Congress

(Des Moines) -- The state's pork producers will gather in Des Moines this week for the 44th annual Iowa Pork Congress.  County delegates will convene for their annual meeting on Tuesday to discuss proposed resolutions and other issues important to the pork industry.  Iowa Pork Producers Association spokesman Ron Birkenholz says it will be an interesting session as he offers a preview of the issues that will be discussed by the 130 delegates.

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The large indoor trade show along with educational seminars will start on Wednesday and continue through Thursday.

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Birkenholz says the seminars will focus on many swine health issues, including the deadly disease PRRS (pronounced as purrs).

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The state pork official says this year's key-note address speaker will be Dr. Patrick Moore.

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Jill Kessenich of Le Mars is competing for the title of State Pork Queen, but Birkenholz says the pork producers are doing something a bit different beginning this year.

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Jeb Bush To Campaign At Dordt College

(Sioux Center) -- Yet another Republican presidential candidate has scheduled a campaign visit to Dordt College in Sioux Center.  This time around it will be former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, brother to former president George W. Bush and son to former president George Herbert Bush.  Jeb Bush is scheduled to speak at 6:45 p.m. Friday evening at the Campus Center.  Bush will have been the fourth Republican candidate to speak at Dordt College in recent weeks.  Last Saturday, Donald Trump made an appearance, and previous weeks featured Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator, Ted Cruz.  Dordt College officials say they have also been visiting with Dr. Ben Carson about a possible Saturday appearance, although nothing has been finalized at this point.





Gehlen Students Receive High Marks At Large Group Speech Contest

(Le Mars) -- Eight of twelve Gehlen Catholic Large Group Speech, which were comprised of 34 students, entries earned a “I” (Superior) rating at Districts on Saturday, January 23rd in East High School in Sioux City.  The students will advance to State on Saturday, February 6th, which will be held hosted at LeMars Community High School.  The other four entries earned a “II” rating.

Those large groups earnings “I’s” include:
• Ensemble Acting – “Almost Maine” – Sarah Henrich and Katelyn Langel (LeMars); and Atze Atsma (Hospers).
• Ensemble Acting – “My Gypsy Robe” – Malayna Hanks, Kaitlyn Norfolk, Elliotte Herbst, and Jillian Hyer (LeMars); and Katelyn Willett (Hospers).
• Ensemble Acting – “Tribute” – TJ Kruse (Le Mars) and Shiann Hansen (Alton).
• Reader’s Theatre – “The Internet is a Distract., Oh Look! A Kitten!” – Joe Schuch, Hemi Hann, Chloe Son, Sebastian Buman, and Jordan Larson (LeMars); Shiann Hansen and Megan Kellen (Alton); Andrew Kordick (Hospers).
• Choral Reading – “Troubleshooting” – Carlyn Bretey, Sarah Henrich, Krista Lipp, Sebastian Buman, Carter Sitzmann, Alexa Scheitler, Kathryn Ripley, Katelyn Langel, Colin Wise, Christopher Fuentes (LeMars); Atze Atsma (Hospers); Madison Schroeder (Granville);  Grace Kreber, James and Meredith Kellen (Alton).
• One Act – “Never Trust A Man” – Kayla Mayer and Jordan Larson (LeMars); Claire Zubrod (Merrill); Madison Schroeder (Granville); Megan Kellen (Alton).
• Group Improv – Group 1 – Joe Schuch and Liam Murphy (LeMars).
• Group Improv – Group 2 – Colin Wise (LeMars); Andrew Kordick (Hospers).

The large group entries who also competed Saturday and earned a Division “II” rating:
• Group Improv – Group 3 – Christopher Fuentes and Kimberly Arreola (Le Mars); James Kellen (Alton).
• Group Mime – “The Great Rescue” – Megan Puhl (LeMars); Claire Zubrod (Merrill); Meredith Kellen (Alton).
• Group Mime – “Lunchtime” – Elliotte Herbst  and Jillian Hyer (LeMars); Claire Zubrod (Merrill);
• Solo Mime – “Choices” – Carter Sitzmann (LeMars).

Gehlen Catholic’s Large Group Speech moderator, Mr. Mark Morehead (Merrill),   Mr. Morehead humbly stated, “I am very happy with all of our performances.  We had a very successful day.   The students have put in numerous hours of rehearsal and a lot of hard work.”

Mr. Morehead acknowledged many of the speech students are jugging multiple co- and extra-curricular activities, dual college credit courses, and some even jobs.  Therefore, he is especially proud of the students’ commitment to the speech and drama programs.

“I look forward to State Speech Contest, which will be held at LeMars Community High School.  I encourage the community to come out and support our students and all of our local schools,” he concluded.

Pictured (left to right):
Front row:  Madison Schroeder, Hemi Hahn, Sarah Henrich, Shiann Hansen, Jillian Hyer, Kathryn Ripley, Malayna Hanks, Katelyn Willett, Grace Kreber, and Kimberly Arreola.
Second row:  Kayla Mayer, Carlyn Bretey, Katelyn Langel, Alexa Scheitler, Kaitlyn Norfolk, Elliotte Herbst, Claire Zubrod, Krista Lipp, Jordan Larson, Megan Kellen, Megan Puhl, Emily Oetken.
Final row:  TJ Kruse, James Kellen, Sebastian Buman, Carter Sitzmann, Christopher Fuentes, Chloe Son, Atze Atsma, Meredith Kellen, Joe Schuch, Liam Murphy, Andrew Kordick, Colin Wise, Mr. Morehead.






State House Begins State Education Funding Discussion

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The debate over K-12 education spending in the Iowa Legislature has begun to take shape with a set of procedural votes.
The Republican-controlled House voted Monday for legislation that would set a new growth rate for basic aid to schools in the fiscal year that begins in July. The bill now heads to the Democratic-majority Senate, where lawmakers have indicated the proposed increase is not adequate to properly support school districts.  State Representative Chuck Holz of Le Mars offers the details of the House approved education spending.

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The chambers are expected to go back and forth with procedural votes before the issue is debated through special legislative meetings.
K-12 education takes up about $3 billion of the state's roughly $7 billion budget. Gov. Terry Branstad has proposed a growth rate that is lower than what Democrats want, but also higher than what is supported by Republicans.




Lawmakers Want More Clarity On Early Grade Reading Initiatives

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A group of Iowa lawmakers say they want more clarity from education officials on the implementation of early literacy initiatives in the state.
Members of the Senate Education Committee told officials from the Iowa Department of Education on Monday that they want more data on how some state dollars are being used to improve reading proficiency for students between kindergarten and third grade.
A 2012 state law aimed at improving literacy for young students includes monitoring, programming and testing. It also requires a summer reading program for third-graders, though education groups have expressed concern about how it will be funded and implemented.
Some lawmakers suggested state officials give school districts more guidance on programming for students. A department spokeswoman says the agency appreciated the meeting and will provide follow-up information.





Iowa Human Services Director "Confident" State Is Ready For Medicaid Privatization

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The head of Iowa's Medicaid program says she's "very confident" the $4.2 billion system will be ready for private management on March 1, though some lawmakers expressed lingering concerns.
Mikki Stier from the Iowa Department of Human Services told lawmakers Monday her confidence comes from more signups of Medicaid health providers and better communication to Medicaid recipients about the switch. 
The state's Medicaid program provides care to some low-income people, children and disabled individuals. Three private companies are scheduled to take over the program amid growing criticism from some lawmakers that the new setup needs better state oversight.
Stier told lawmakers about 45 percent of Medicaid service providers have signed up with all three private insurers. Some lawmakers on the Senate Human Resources Committee said the number should be higher.




Subcommittee Passes Bill Allowing Minors To Handle Handguns

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A House panel in the Iowa Legislature has given initial approval of a bill that would remove the age limit for children to use a handgun under the supervision of a parent.
A House Judiciary subcommittee agreed Monday to send the legislation forward to its full committee. A similar measure last session had little support in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
The bill would allow a child of any age to possess a pistol or revolver under direct supervision of a parent or guardian. Current law requires the child to be at least 14 years old. State law has no age limit for a minor to possess a rifle or shotgun if there is consent from a parent or guardian.
Several bills in the House this session propose expanding gun rights.





U-S Supreme Court Rules Minors Convicted For Life Sentences Must Be Changed

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A U.S. Supreme Court decision that makes retroactive a 2012 ruling striking down automatic life prison terms for people sentenced as teenagers is not expected to have much impact in Iowa since the state's Supreme Court already extended the federal court ruling.
The federal court justices on Monday voted 6-3 to extend the 2012 decision to previous cases involving teenage killers. Now, even those who were convicted long ago must be considered for parole or given a new sentence.
Iowa's high court in the 2013 appeal of Jeffrey Ragland had already concluded the federal court's 2012 ruling applies retroactively to teenagers previously sentenced to life.
The Iowa Attorney General's office says the ruling affected 39 Iowa juvenile life offenders and most of them have already been resentenced.





Des Moines Bus Crashes Into House


DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bus crashed into a Des Moines home during an afternoon snowstorm that swept through the area.
A Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority bus crashed into a home Monday afternoon. 
The crash was reported around 5 p.m. north of Park Fair Mall.   A woman who was inside the home was able to escape. 
The bus driver and a passenger were taken to a local hospital and their injuries are not believed to be life threatening. 
The bus crashed into the corner of the home and stopped in the living room, about six feet inside.






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