Tuesday, March 31, 2015
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Friday News, March 6

Le Mars Boys Basketball Team To Receive Commemorative Basketballs

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Boys Basketball Team will be given a special souvenier for qualifying for the Iowa Boys State Basketball Tournament.  Plymouth County Farm Bureau will present the Bulldog team with commemorative basketballs on Monday, March 9th.  The presentation will take place at the Le Mars Community High School Gymnasium at 1;30 p.m.  The Iowa Farm Bureau is the exclusive title sponsor of the Iowa High School Athletic Association and each team member and coach that qualifies for the state tournament is given a basketball. Mark Bohner, the regional manager for Iowa Farm Bureau representing six northwest Iowa counties, will make the presentation.

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Parents Arrested After 5 Month Old Fractures Skull

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a 5-month-old boy is being treated for a fractured skull and his parents are facing charges in Sioux City.
     Court records say 25-year-old Kara Jackson and Aaron Tucker were arrested Wednesday and are charged with felony child endangerment. The records say Tucker will turn 24 on Saturday. Jackson's attorney didn't immediately return a call Friday to comment on the case. Court records don't list the name of Tucker's attorney.
     A criminal complaint says the tiny boy was taken to a Sioux City hospital on Feb. 26. The complaint says his parents accused each other of dropping the child on different occasions.
     The state has taken custody of the baby.


Fire Destroys Sioux City Home

(Sioux City) -- A home on Sioux City's northside has been destroyed by fire.  Lt. Joe Rodriques of the Sioux City Fire Department says fire units were sent to 1234 West 41st Street around 10:40 a.m.

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Rodriques says the home sustained severe damage from the fire and the investigation into what caused the blaze will take some time.

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The Hinton Fire Department and a tanker from the 185th Air National Guard Unit provided assistance in fighting the fire.  The home, which was listed as for sale, is owned by Terry and Rebecca Evans.


Legislative Bills Face Funnel Deadline

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - With the bipartisan approval of a fuel tax increase out of the way, Governor Terry Branstad is hoping to win backing for two other legislative priorities - an anti-bullying bill and an effort to expand broadband internet access.
     Both bills were set to move forward as the Legislature approached a Friday procedural deadline, while some other more partisan legislation appeared dead Thursday.
     Branstad said he was pleased that his agenda is moving ahead in the Legislature.
     Under legislative rules, known as "funnel week," Friday is the deadline for most bills to receive committee-level approval in the state House or Senate. Some bills are not subject to this deadline, like budget bills, and legislative leaders could always revive a bill later in the session.


Legislators Still Debating Over School Start Date

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Debates over when the school year should begin are playing out in districts around the country, with lawmakers trying to balance concerns about local control, academic rigor and tourism revenue.
     Business owners express growing worries that earlier starts in August hurt tourism revenue during the critical summer months. Many educators say starting sooner helps them better prepare students for standardized tests, Advanced Placement courses and end-of-semester exams.
     The tension boils down to whether state or local leaders should be deciding. Lawmakers in several states, including Iowa, Arizona, Maryland and Texas, are currently considering measures on opposite sides of the debate.
     Iowa lawmakers are trying to find a compromise agreeable to educators and tourism officials. In Texas, which set a requirement in 2006, lawmakers are trying to give districts more flexibility.


Senate Approves Contact Information For Public Officials

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Senate committee has approved a bill that would require contact information for elected public officials in Iowa to be published online in a timely manner.
     A state government committee approved the bill unanimously Thursday. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
     The bill would require an entity to post contact information for an elected public official within 30 days of the official's swearing in to the position. A public official includes lawmakers, county board supervisors, city council members and board members of a school district.
     Some lobbyists speaking earlier Thursday expressed concern about whether private information would be required. Senator Jeff Danielson, a Cedar Falls Democrat and committee chairman, says the bill is aimed at ensuring the public can easily reach officials, not disclosing private information.


Mental Health Officials Get Layoff Notices

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Layoff notices are going out to employees at a state mental health institution in Mount Pleasant that is slated for closure.
     Department of Human Services spokeswoman Amy McCoy says Thursday that notices had gone out to 36 workers. The layoffs will be effective April 6th. There currently are about 74 people working at the facility.
     Under Governor Terry Branstad's proposed budget, funding would be eliminated for mental health facilities in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant. Branstad says the hospitals are old and that people can seek mental health treatment from other providers, including two state mental health institutions in Cherokee and Independence.
     Democratic lawmakers say the Republican governor is ignoring the fact that the Legislature appropriated money for the institutions. A Branstad spokesman says the change will lead to better care.






Thursday Afternoon News, March 5

Crop Insurance Participation Sign-up Deadline Approaches 

(Le Mars) -- Farmers have until only March 16 to sign up for crop insurance, and according to Chuck Kellen of Mark Crop Insurance agency of Le Mars, farmers along the western border of Iowa need to know of some major changes to this year's crop insurance program. 

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Kellen says farmers need to understand the exlusion provision can be applied to individual farms, instead of the entire farming operation, as was the case in past years.

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Kellen says through the years, farmers have become more informed about the benefits of crop insurance programs, and as a result, more farmers are participating, and more farmers have expanded their crop policy coverage.

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The crop insurance agent emphasizes area farmers not to wait until the last day to sign up for crop insurance.  He says there will not be an extension to participate in crop insurance programs past March 16th, and if farmers fail to abide by the deadline, there is nothing anybody can do to change the circumstances.


New CF Industries Fertilizer Plant Costs Are Rising

SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa (AP) - An executive with CF Industries says the cost of a fertilizer plant being built near Sioux City will climb to more than $2 billion, up from an initial estimate of $1.7 billion.
     Tony Will, CEO and president of the fertilizer manufacturing company, says the new estimate stems from an increase in labor and construction materials necessary to winterize the plant at its Port Neal nitrogen complex in Sergeant Bluff.
     Will says additional dollars are also needed to establish competitive wages to attract and retain skilled laborers.
     The company upped its estimate of workers at peak construction to 2,200. Ground broke on the project in 2013, with completion expected in early 2016.
     The project is among the largest private capital expenditures in Iowa history.


Ernst Investigates Veteran's Mental Health Program Following Veteran's Death

    DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Federal officials have initiated investigation into mental health services available for returning soldiers in central Iowa after a veteran was found dead last month in a Des Moines park.
     The office for U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst announced Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General's office has agreed to review the programs provided at the VA Central Iowa Health Systems. Ernst issued a request on Feb. 23 following the death of 41-year-old Richard Miles, whose body was found frozen at Water Works Park a few days earlier.
     Ernst says the review aims to examine treatment provided to Miles to determine any systematic problems and ensure quality access to mental health care for veterans.
     The VA inspector general's office says the investigation should take about one month to complete.


Marshalltown Teacher Found Intoxicated While Teaching

 MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (AP) - Police say they arrested a sixth-grade teacher following reports that she was teaching while drunk at a central Iowa school.
     The Marshall County Sheriff's Office says 33-year-old Carissa Bryant, of Marshalltown, was arrested Wednesday and charged with public intoxication. Police say they responded to a report from Marshalltown Community School District of a possible intoxicated teacher at Leninhan Intermediate School.
     The Marshalltown Times-Republican reports testing at Marshall County Jail showed Bryant had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.19, more than double the legal limit.
     District spokesman Andrew Potter says Bryant has been placed on administrative leave pending investigation. Online court records don't list an attorney for Bryant to provide comment on her behalf.
     Police say the case has been referred to the Marshall County Attorney's Office for further review.


Davenport Man Pleads Guilty To Sexual Abuse Of Mental Health Patient

 DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - A Davenport man has made a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to accusations that he sexually abused a mentally disabled person at a residential care facility.
     The Quad-City Times reports that in return for Tyshon VanBlue's plea, prosecutors agreed to drop five counts stemming from an unrelated case involving two Special Olympics athletes. He's scheduled to be sentenced on April 15.
     VanBlue was arrested Aug. 22 and charged with sexually abusing a resident at the Handicapped Development Center, where VanBlue worked. VanBlue had been charged with performing sex acts on two men in May while they stayed at Iowa State University for the Special Olympics Iowa event. The athletes also were residents at the Davenport facility where VanBlue worked.


Soldier Surprises Son At School Assembly

 BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - A surprise reunion awaited a Burlington first-grade student at a not-so-typical school assembly.
     The Burlington Hawk Eye reports that Andy Deuitch, who had returned home from serving in Afghanistan, surprised his son Tanton Welborn at school Wednesday.
     When Welborn joined the rest of the student body and their dragon mascot to sing in the school gymnasium, he was unaware that the man in the mascot's costume was his father. During the song, Deuitch removed the head of the dragon suit and the father and his son hugged as the crowd gave a standing ovation.
     The reunion was coordinated by Deuitch's wife.
     Deuitch has been with the Army Reserves for the past nine years, and has served in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan.




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