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Tuesday Afternoon News, March 31

Supervisors Approve Local Option Sales Tax Advisory Board's Grant Suggestions

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors approved $100,000 of the Local Options Sales Tax grants as recommended by the LOST advisory board.  Tom Letsche serves on the LOST advisory board and summarizes how the grant requests were divided.

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Letsche suggests organizations to first attempt to raise the needed funds, then use the Local Options Sales Tax grant as a last resort, not the first resort.

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Those organizations that did receive grant approval include: the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department, Merrill Fire Department, Life Skills Training Center, Akron Parks and Recreation Board, Plains Area Mental Health, Plymouth County EMS Association, Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, Kingsley Ambulance and Rescue, The Dwelling Teen Center, Hinton Fire and Rescue, Oyens Fire and Rescue, Akron Fire Department, and Plymouth County Senior Helpmates.

Akron Man Arrested For Domestic Assault

(Akron) -- An Akron man has been arrested for domestic assault.  Plymouth County authorities responded to an incident on Monday morning at about 9:30 a.m. at 19734 county road K-13.  After investigating the incident, deputies determined the resident, 46 year old Ricky Hughes had assaulted a female residing at that residence.  Hughes was arrested and charged with domestic abuse assault in the first offense.  Hughes was taken to the Plymouth county jail for booking.

Former Missouri Valley Fire Chief Faces Trial

MISSOURI VALLEY, Iowa (AP) - A May trial has been scheduled for a former western Iowa fire chief accused of lying to investigators about a fire.
Forty-four-year-old Johnnie Walker entered the plea on Monday and described the situation as "just a big misunderstanding." His trial is set to begin on May 8.
Court documents say Walker is charged with interference with official acts and reporting false information. Both are misdemeanors. Walker resigned from his post as chief of the Missouri Valley volunteer department after he was arrested.
The charges stem from a March 7 fire at a vacant house. The Iowa State Fire Marshal Division says Walker provided false information to police who later investigated the fire.

Des Moines Train Derailment
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say seven freight train cars have derailed in Des Moines, blocking a roadway.
Officials responded to a report of the accident around 6:30 a.m. The cars derailed as the train pulled out to leave a Des Moines station. All cars remained upright, but went off the tracks, blocking Hull Avenue.
Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis says the freight train was traveling from Council Bluffs to Kansas City with a scheduled stop in Des Moines. He says four of the cars that derailed were empty, two contained soy flakes and one was carrying roofing shingles.
No injuries have been reported. The cause of the derailment remains under investigation.
Mason City Toddler Struck By Van

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Mason City toddler has been severely injured after she was hit by a van near her home.
The Mason City Police Department says 2-year-old Akira Cully was taken to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa following the incident Monday evening. She has since been airlifted to a hospital in Iowa City, where she is listed in critical condition.
Authorities say Akira moved into the street and was struck by a van traveling northbound. Sgt. Steve Klemas says the little girl's parents and several others were in the area at the time.
No citations have been issued against the 29-year-old woman driving the vehicle, but police say the investigation is ongoing.
No further information has been released.
Senate Passes Anti-bullying Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Senate has passed legislation that would give school educators more authority to respond to student bullying in Iowa.
The Senate voted 43-7 Tuesday for the bill. It now heads to the House, where lawmakers are considering a similar measure.
The bill would give school educators more authority to respond to bullying, including guidelines to respond to bullying off school grounds. It also expands language on cyberbullying to include social media.
The legislation was briefly debated on the Senate floor Monday before the vote Tuesday. Some lawmakers expressed reservation about the bill not having funding for teacher training and a student pilot program. That differs from the House bill, which has a $200,000 appropriation.
Gov. Terry Branstad, who supports anti-bullying efforts, released a statement Tuesday applauding the vote.

Early School Start

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa schools will be able to start the upcoming academic year no earlier than Aug. 23, under a compromise bill that is now headed to Gov. Terry Branstad for approval.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal on Tuesday lifted a procedural hold he placed on the bill last week. The state House and Senate both approved the legislation, but Gronstal stalled, citing concerns that high schools would be excluded from setting year-round calendars.
Gronstal says it was time to move on. Branstad promised to sign the bill into law.
The state announced plans late last year to stop issuing automatic waivers to allow districts to bypass current start date rules. Many lawmakers wanted districts to have control over their calendars, but Branstad argued that early start dates hurt tourism.

Farmers To Plant More Soybeans

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Farmers are expected to plant a record number of soybean acres this year, but less corn as that grain's profit potential remains low due to slumping prices
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's first report of the new crop season says farmers will plant 84.6 million acres in soybeans, up 1 percent from last year's previous record of 83.7 million acres.
Corn planting will fall to 89.2 million acres, down 2 percent from last year. It's the third year of acreage decline.
Soybeans are favored because they cost less to grow and prices haven't fallen as quickly as corn.
The report is based on 84,000 farmer surveys completed in early March.



Tuesday News, March 31

Four Fire Departments Fight A Grass Field Fire

(Le Mars) -- Four area fire departments consisting of six grass rig pick up trucks and two tankers responded to a grass field fire that started shortly after 4:00 p.m. Monday afternoon at 17674 Kesterel Avenue.  The fire was located about a half mile northwest of West Le Mars, near Highway 3.  Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says the fire started from a controlled brush pile that quickly got out of control when winds, blowing up to 35 mph, kicked up the embers.  The fire burned about eight acres of corn stalks crossing over two terraces before fire fighters were able to get the blaze under control.  Schipper says approximately 1800 gallons of water were used to kill the grass field fire.  A neighboring farmer with a tractor and disk assisted fire fighters with extinguishing the blaze.  Fortunately, the winds drove the fire away from a homestead residence.  Although, Schipper questions why people would want to burn when conditions are dry and winds are blowing up to 25 mph.  Schipper says the burn ban may again be implemented until such time when more moisture is received.


Bullet Responsible For Monday Morning Grass Fire

(Akron) -- Earlier on Monday, at around 11:00 a.m. the Akron Fire Department responded to a grass fire that came close to igniting and possibly destroying a wooded area.  Apparently, according to Akron Fire Chief Shane Coyle, a person was target shooting when a discharged bullet shell from the handgun was responsible for starting a grass fire in the southwestern area of Plymouth County.

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Coyle says the fire department was fortunate to stop the spread of the fire before it had reached a wooded area.  He says a few more yards further and it would have been a different story.

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Coyle says only about four to five acres had burned before fire fighters were able to control the grass fire and extinguish it.

Supervisors To Hear LOST Grant Suggestions

(Le Mars) -- During today's Plymouth County Board of Supervisor meeting, the
county governing board will declare county items as surplus property for the county auction.  The supervisors are also expected to approve a partial of land release of mortgage located in the Le Mars Industrial Park, second addition. The county supervisors will hold a public hearing for the proposed issuance of indebtedness and approve related resolutions.  The supervisors are scheduled to hear from Josh Peterson who is seeking approval of Eastern Slope, a minor
subdivision.  Tom Letsche, the chairman of the Local Options Sale Tax Advisory Board, will present the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 Local Options Sales Tax grant recommendations for approval.  County NRCS director, Jim Lahn is scheduled to appear before the supervisors to review and ask for approval of the compatible use agreement.  County Engineer Tom Rohe will ask for a resolution for a change of the posted speed zone located on Key Avenue.  Rohe will also establish bid letting dates for proposed construction projects.  The county engineer will submit final vouchers for two bridge projects.  Concluding the meeting, will be Plymouth County Historical Museum administrator Judy Bowman making a request from the County supervisors seeking funds to assist with the moving of the Joy Hollow Log Cabin from the fairgrounds to the Museum grounds.

School Board Approves Concession Stand And Middle School Restroom Construction

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School Board approved a plan to construct a new concession stand and remodel the Middle School restrooms during their regular meeting held Monday evening.  Wiltgen Construction of Le Mars submitted the lowest bid of $855,000, and the school board gave approval for Wiltgen Construction.  However, even though the bid was the lowest submitted by four contractors, it was nearly $180,000 over the initial estimate which caused the school board to pause and discuss the options before approving the project. After some discussion, most school board members thought any further delays with the project would only increase construction costs. Some board members wondered if there were enough reserve funds to cover the added expense.  Dr. Todd Wendt, superintendent of schools, offered assurance to the board that there indeed was enough money in the cash reserves to cover the additional cost of the project. Wendt also informed the school board he didn't believe the added unexpected amount would place the school district's cash reserves in any jeopardized position.

Safety Organization Wants Tougher Rules For Teenage Drivers

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A safety research organization is urging Iowa to toughen its rules for teenager driver's licenses.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says a study shows Iowa could more than
halve its rate of fatal teen accidents if a stronger driver's license law were adopted.
The institute says Iowa should increase its licensing age to 17 years old from the current 16. And the institute suggests Iowa not issue instructional permits until someone reaches age 16 instead of the current 14.
Two lawmakers and the state's chief highway safety expert said Monday that it would be difficult to adopt tougher teen driver rules in Iowa, where many teenagers in rural communities rely on cars and pickups to drive to school, work and other activities.
New Trial For Sac City Man Accused Of Killing Roommate

BOONE, Iowa (AP) - Attorneys are expected to deliver their opening statements Tuesday in the second Iowa trial of a man accused of killing his former roommate in 2009.
The Boone County jury was seated Monday for the trial of 55-year-old John Green. Green is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 58-year-old Mark Koster in Sac City.
Green's first trial was held in Webster County because his attorney had argued that pretrial publicity would make it impossible for Green to receive a fair trial in Sac City. The same argument was used against holding the second trial in Fort Dodge. The first trial ended in a mistrial.
Koster was declared missing in 2010. His remains were found in the basement
of his Sac City home in 2012.
House Committee Approves Plan To Offer Time Off For Adoptive Parents

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A House panel has approved a bill that would require some businesses in Iowa to offer more leave benefits to parents who adopt children.
Members of a labor subcommittee approved the bill Monday. A committee must approve it by Friday for it to survive a legislative deadline. The Senate passed it earlier this month.
The bill would require businesses offering leave benefits to parents of newborns to do the same for adoptive parents. A business that doesn't already offer such benefits would not be required to start.
Supporters of the bill say it would treat biological parents and adoptive parents more equally.
Some lawmakers have expressed concern about the financial impact on businesses.
Federal law requires unpaid leave to biological and adoptive parents under certain guidelines.

Senate Panel Approves Limited Strip Search Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Senate panel has approved a bill that would allow law enforcement officials in Iowa to conduct limited strip searches on certain jail inmates without probable cause.
A Judiciary subcommittee agreed Monday to advance the bill, which passed in the House. A committee must approve it by Friday to beat a legislative deadline.
The bill would allow a strip search involving visual inspection of a person, including genitals, without probable cause if he or she is arrested on suspicion of a simple misdemeanor or scheduled violation and is in a holding area with others. A scheduled violation can involve offenses while driving or consuming alcohol, among others.
Supporters say the bill allows for better confiscation of items entering the jail. Critics say such searches are invasive and require probable cause.

Woodbine Man Accused Of Kidnapping Girl Friend

WOODBINE, Iowa (AP) - A western Iowa man accused of confining his girlfriend and psychologically torturing her has been arrested.
Online court records on Monday listed a first-degree kidnapping charge against 50-year-old Daniel Yate, of Woodbine. He was detained after his girlfriend told police last week that he assaulted her at his home and wouldn't let her leave.
Woodbine Police Chief Michael Jensen says the girlfriend accused Yates of binding her and threatening to throw her in a nearby river. The girlfriend says Yates also sat on her chest and opened and closed a knife.
Records show the woman had injuries consistent with her allegations and a hospital visit revealed a broken rib.
Court documents don't yet list an attorney for Yates to seek comment on his behalf.

Carter Lake Man Accidentally Shoots Himself

CARTER LAKE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a western Iowa man accidentally shot himself in the hand.
The Council Bluffs Police Department says 21-year-old Marvin Naggatz, of Carter Lake, arrived at the hospital around 4:30 p.m. Sunday with a gunshot wound to the hand. He was treated for non-life threatening injuries and released from CHI Health Mercy Hospital.
Naggatz told police and hospital staff that he was in a parking lot trying to adjust his holster when the .40-caliber handgun discharged. The bullet struck him in the hand.
Naggatz has a permit to carry weapons. Police say no charges have been filed at this time.



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