Saturday, January 31, 2015
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Friday Afternoon News, January 9

Woodbury County Authorities Investigate Suspicious Death

(Sioux City) -- Woodbury County authorities are investigating a suspicious death.  Deputies were dispatched to a Sloan residence at about 7:20 a.m. Friday morning in reference to an injured party.  While at the scene, deputies found a deceased partly along with evidence to indicate the death to be of a suspicious nature.  A preliminary investigation is being conducted to gather more facts concerning the circumstances of the death.  Woodbury County Sheriff's Deputy, Lieutenant Charles Hertz says more information will be provided as it is obtained.


Nine People Arrested In Sioux County Drug Raid

(Orange City) -- Nine people in their late teens and early 20's have been arrested on various drug charges in a Sioux County drug sting.  Search warrants were issued early Wednesday morning, January 7th allowing for the Sioux County Sheriff's Office to conduct an investigation at an Orange City apartment.  Upon further investigation, Sioux County deputies found marijuana, cocaine, acid paper, THC wax and drug paraphernalia.  Those arrested include: 18 year old Elizabeth Winship of St. John, Indiana; 21 year old Zacariah Wothe of Le Mars, 19 year old Chance Wetter, 21 year old Kevin Moore, 19 year old Trey Beltman, 20 year old Sierra Johnson, 19 year old Cody Langel, 18 year old Samantha Van Grouw, and 21 year old Sarah Eubank all of Orange City.  They each were arrested for possession of controlled substances and possession of drug paraphernalia, and taken to the Sioux County jail.


Soderberg Believes Budget Will Consume Much Of Legislature's Time

(Le Mars) -- State lawmakers return to Des Moines on Monday to begin the 86th General Assembly, and 5th District Republican State Representative Chuck Soderberg of Le Mars expects the budget to consume the vast majority of the legislator's time. 

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Soderberg says estimates for the Iowa budget is to see an additional $200 million above what was spent last year.  However, he says, that doesn't necessarily mean the state has extra funds.

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Attention has been focused on Iowa's deteroriating infrastructure system including repairing the highways, roads, and bridges.  One proposal is to raise the fuel tax, since gasoline prices have come down.  However, Soderberg doesn't believe there is enough support in both chambers for an increase in the fuel tax.

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Saturday, we will have additional comments from State Representative Chuck Soderberg as he looks to the start of the legislative session.


Mary Klein Selected As January Chamber "Employee Of the Month"

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce honored its January "Employee of the Month" earlier this week.  Gehlen Catholic faculty, staff, students, and administration nominated Mary Klein for the honor.  In their nomination, it states, in business and in life, it's the first impression that often determines the success of a relationship.  The same is true for Gehlen Catholic School.  As one of the first contacts for those who enter or interact with our school, it is Mary's hospitality and heartwarming smile as an employee, along with her service as a fellow parent volunteer, which allows Gehlen Catholic to enjoy quality relationships, to succeed.  Although her roles have changed over the years from librarian assistant to Development Office, Mary epitomizes the values of Gehlen Catholic in an extraordinary way.  Mary handles a multitude of duties in the most humble manner, setting an example of God's work displayed before our very eyes.  Mary prepares, organizes, and assists with the implementation of events, directs crowds, enters then gathers and analyzes data, solves issues, revises systems, sends communications, sends pledge reminders, makes courtesy reminder calls, thanks benefactors and volunteers, creates documents, meets staff needs, reports problems, offers advice, deciphers messages, protects confidences, sees through the confusion, promotes Gehlen Catholic, comforts those with problems, cheers on successes, lifts spirits, lowers other's stress levels, runs traffic control, offers humor to lighten the load, answers and asks questions, deciphers and distributes materials and messages...all with a smile.  Our congratulations to Mary Klein for being named the January Chamber of Commerce "Employee of the Month".


Gehlen Sophomore Art Student Creates Winning Ice Cream Days Logo

(Le Mars) -- A Gehlen Catholic sophomore student has been selected as the winner for creating the chosen logo for the upcoming Le Mars Ice Cream Days. Courtney Sitzmann is the daughter of Jason and Becky Sitzmann of Hinton.  The official Ice Cream Days 2015 logo will be displayed to the public in March.  Courtney's design will be featured on marketing and promotional materials.  She will receive a free T-shirt, along with ice cream related gifts, and will be asked to participate in the 2015 Ice Cream Days Parade. Ice Cream Days are scheduled for June 17th - 20th.  This will mark the 29th year for the summer celebration. 


Authorities Release The Name Of Killed Person From Fertilizer Plant Explosion

 CRESTON, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have released the name of a man who was fatally injured in an explosion at a fertilizer plant in southern Iowa.
     Creston Fire Chief Todd Jackson on Friday identified the man as 71-year-old Eldon Ray, of Creston. Jackson says Ray and two other people were injured Thursday morning when an overpressurized air pipe exploded at Green Valley Chemical. 
     Jackson says Ray died after leaving the scene in an ambulance, and the other two people were taken by private vehicle to Greater Regional Medical Center in Creston, where they were evaluated and released. Jackson did not have their names. 
     Jackson says the explosion cause is being investigated. He says the blast didn't cause a fire.
     A plant representative didn't immediately return a call from The Associated Press.


Planted Corn Used To Block Snow

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Department of Transportation is paying dozens of Iowa farmers to leave rows of corn that can create snow barriers along highways.
    The state agency has about 70 contracts with farmers.
     Agency transportation planner Cathy Cutler says farmers are asked to leave four to 10 rows adjacent to roads. The corn acts as a natural barrier, keeping the snow off highways.
     Dean Williams, who farms near Vinton, participates in the program. He says his corn can cause up to 4 feet of snow to pile up in the stalks, keeping Highway 150 clearer.
     The farmers are paid a little more than they would earn from the corn, and they still can harvest the rows in the spring.


Inmate Ordered To Give More Money To Victim's Families

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court says an inmate can give more of his earnings back to his victims at the expense of the state.
     The court reinstated a judge's order Friday allowing Beau Morris to apply 50 percent of his income to restitution, up from the traditional 15 percent for inmates with private-sector prison jobs.
     Morris petitioned a court in 2012 to increase the percentage of his earnings for restitution after reading about how millions of dollars in court debts go unpaid. 
     But the Iowa Department of Corrections argued the change was illegal and a judge rescinded it. Increasing restitution payments meant less money would go to the department and the state's general fund.
     But justices say lawmakers intended for victims to receive restitution from inmate wages ahead of the state.


Developer Proposes 12 Story Hotel For Iowa City

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A developer proposes building a $33 million, 12-story hotel in Iowa City, but the plans are contingent on a lot of help from the city.
     Kinseth Hospitality, of North Liberty, has submitted plans for the 144-room Hilton Garden Inn Hotel to the city. The building, located near the University of Iowa campus, would include a meeting and events center and a rooftop restaurant.
     It would be the first nationally branded hotel to open downtown since 1984.
     Kinseth is seeking $8.8 million in financial help from the city.
     City staff has suggested meeting that request with tax-increment rebates and grants as well as money from hotel-motel tax revenue. The city would pay the refunds over 13 years.
     The hotel would employ 150 people.



Friday News, January 9

Blizzard Conditions Hit Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A cold front entering northern Iowa is packing wind gusts of up to 50 miles per hour.
     The National Weather Service says a portion of the state is under a blizzard warning until Friday. They include Sioux City, Fort Dodge, Mason City and Waterloo.
     While snowfall totals should remain around an inch or less, officials say blowing snow with gusts of up to 50 miles per hour will reduce driving visibility in some areas to a quarter mile or less. Meteorologist Craig Cogil says drivers should be careful.
     Wind chills of 20 to 30 degrees below zero are expected in northern and central Iowa Thursday night into Friday.


Republican Party Officials Tell Iowa That Straw Poll Is Acceptable

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The head of the Iowa Republican Party says holding a straw poll is permissible under new Republican National Committee rules.
     Jeff Kaufmann released a statement Thursday saying he has met with top party officials in Washington. He said those discussions made it "crystal clear" that a straw poll does not violate any RNC rules.
     Critics of the poll, traditionally held in Ames the summer before a contested caucus, had questioned if the event could jeopardize Iowa's early voting status.
     The committee that governs the state party will meet Saturday to vote on holding a straw poll this year.
     The RNC provided an advisory opinion to Kaufmann saying the poll does not appear to violate any rules, but that the party should make clear that the event is "unofficial and unscientific."


Wisconsin Governor Contemplating To Run For President

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he's praying over whether to run for president in 2016 as he hires a senior adviser, plans a trip to Iowa in a couple weeks and expects to form an organization to raise and spend money on the exploratory effort.
     Walker said Thursday that his hiring of experienced presidential adviser Rick Wiley doesn't mean he's decided to enter the race. But he says Wiley will help him to seriously study whether to run.
     Walker also says in coming weeks he will form a political action committee or something similar to raise and spend money on a potential presidential run.
     Walker later this month also plans to attend a conservative political event in Iowa that's also attracting a host of other potential candidates.


Southwest Iowa Fertilizer Plant Explodes, Killing One Employee

 CRESTON, Iowa (AP) - The manager of a fertilizer plant in southern Iowa says an employee has died following an explosion at the facility.
     Bill Clem, plant manager of Green Valley Chemical in Creston, says the explosion Thursday morning killed an employee and injured at least two people. He called those injuries non-life-threatening, but he did not elaborate. He also would not say if the injured are employees.
     Clem said he could not immediately provide any further details about the circumstances of the explosion.
     Lee Freeman with the Creston Fire Department says officials responded to a medical call from the plant around 11 a.m. He says there was a report of an explosion, but he did not have additional information.
     A website for the plant says it produces agricultural fertilizer and anhydrous ammonia.


Des Moines Water Works To Sue Sac, Buena Vista, and Calhoun Counties 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Des Moines Water Works board has voted unanimously to sue three northern Iowa counties, holding them responsible for the high nitrate levels the in rivers the utility uses for source water.
     The five-member board says it will file a notice of intent to sue Calhoun, Buena Vista and Sac counties because they oversee 10 drainage districts that were designed to move water out of farm fields downstream. The suit will allege with water the drainage districts move contaminants like nitrate that Water Works must remove when the levels exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limits.
     A notice of intent will be Friday which informs the county supervisors and state officials that a lawsuit will be filed in 60 days.
     The process is laid out in the federal Clean Water Act.


Propane Prices Falling From A Year Ago 

(Des Moines) -- Iowans are enduring extremely cold temperatures lately, but there's encouraging news for those who use propane to heat their homes. Harold Hommes (HOME-us), a fuels analyst with the Iowa Department of Agriculture, says prices are falling.

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Hommes is hopeful the cost of propane will remain steady for the rest of the winter.

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 A year ago, prices spiked within a matter of days, shooting from under two-dollars a gallon to nearly five-dollars.


Auditions For Community Play "Boeing...Boeing" Scheduled For Monday And Tuesday 

(Le Mars) -- With an emphasis on "community", the Le Mars Community Theater is kicking off its 2015 season with a comedy called "Boeing...Boeing" by Mark Camoletti. Auditions for the show will take place this coming Monday and Tuesday nights, January 12th and January 13th starting at 7:00 p.m. at the LCT Postal Playhouse. Why the emphasis on community?  Because without new faces on stage and behind the scenes, community theater just wouldn't be possible.  Director Larry Brangwin tells us a little about the plot of the upcoming show.

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That's right! Three fiancees, all airline hostesses.  One is Italian, one German, and the other is American.  At any given time, the pilot, Bernard, hosts these lovly ladies for lay-overs in his Parisian home, until unexpected schedule changes bring all three to Paris, and to Bernard's apartment at the same time. Brangwin explains the characters involved in this comedic farce.

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You can imagine how silly the situation becomes.  Throw in a maid who is trying to hide each hostess from the other, and the cast is complete.  If you are interested in getting involved on the Le Mars Community Theater stage, for the March performances of "Boeing...Boeing", auditions are being held Monday, January 12th and Tuesday, January 13th from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at the Postal Playhouse.  Now is also the time to get your seasons tickets for the 2015 season at the playhouse.  The four shows planned for this year are "Boeing...Boeing", "Calendar Girls", the musical "Mame", and the thriller, "Wait Until Dark".  For details, leave a message at the playhouse, or visit  







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