Thursday Afternoon News, February 13
Fire Department Responds To Car On Fire
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire Department was called to a city parking lot Thursday afternoon to extinguish a car fire. The fire was reported at about 1:10 p.m. in the 10 block of 1st Avenue Northwest, south of the Murphy, Collins, and Bixenman law firm. When fire officials arrived on the scene, the car's engine was trying to start and smoke was billowing from under the car's hood of a 2001 Chevy Impala which was owned by Terry Nicoson of Le Mars. Fire officials used pry bars and a saw to gain access to the engine in order to extinguish the fire. The fire was contained to the engine compartment and all items in the passenger compartment of the car were salvageable. The vehicle engine is a total loss. The fire was accidental and appears to have started from an electrical malfunction. Firefighters were on the scene for approximately 30 minutes and were assisted by the Le Mars Police Department.
Northey Concerned About Possible Lower Farm Income
(Le Mars) -- After seeing the past few years of farmers enjoying higher commodity prices, Iowa Agriculture Secretary, Bill Northey, says he is concerned about a possible decline in farm income this year. Northey was in Le Mars Thursday morning. He says this coming crop year may prove to be interesting as farm income is projected to be lower. The question is how much lower?
Northey expects the lower farm income will definately have an impact on ag businesses?
Senate Democrats Want To Expand Pre-school Funding
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Senate Democrats want to boost state preschool spending, with a goal of making publicly-funded preschool available to all 4-year-olds whose parents want them enrolled.
A bill that would provide more funding to school districts that expand or establish preschool programs for 4-year-olds was reviewed in a Senate subcommittee Thursday and has the support to move on to the Senate Education Committee for review.
Sen. Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, says the additional funding would be offered for three years, starting in the fall of 2015. He says the effort could cost as much as $15 million.
While this plan has support in the Democrat-majority Senate, it is not clear if the bill could win backing from Republicans controlling the Iowa House.
Urbandale School Web Site Hacked
URBANDALE, Iowa (AP) - Urbandale school officials say someone hacked the district's website and posted pornographic images.
Superintendent Doug Stilwell says the photos were noticed Thursday morning and removed a short time later.
Stillwell says some students saw the images, which he called unfortunate.
Stillwell say he wasn't sure how many pictures were posted. He saw one, which he called "pretty awful."
The website posts were tracked to an Internet protocol address based in Canada. Stillwell plans to talk with the Urbandale Police Department about what to do next.
It appears someone gained access to the website by hacking a staff member's account. The hacker didn't gain access to any restricted information about students or staff.
Man Arrested After Hit-And-Run Accident
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A man has been arrested in connection to a hit-and-run crash in Des Moines that injured a 12-year-old boy.
Des Moines police responded to a report Wednesday night about a vehicle that hit a pedestrian. Witnesses told authorities that the vehicle collided with a boy as he crossed the street. The car left the scene.
Officers found Ricky Meneweather on the street and he taken to a hospital. He is in stable condition.
Cameron Tracy Hart later contacted police to report that he was driving in the area at the time of the crash. The 56-year-old was taken in for questioning and later arrested.
Hart faces an aggravated misdemeanor of failure to render aid at an accident causing serious injury. Court records do not list an attorney.
Lawmakers Strengthen Kidnapping Penalties
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Lawmakers have approved a bill seeking to increase penalties for kidnapping cases involving minors after hearing from the mother of murder victim Kathlynn Shepard.
A subcommittee and then the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the bill Thursday.
In urging passage of the bill, Denise Shepard told subcommittee members the story of her daughter's killing last May. She says legislation to keep kidnapping offenders in jail longer would save children's lives.
The bill would increase criminal penalties in cases involving children 16 and younger and cases in which the person convicted had previously been convicted of kidnapping.
Kathlynn was 15 when she and a 12-year-old friend were kidnapped by Michael Klunder while walking home from school in Dayton.
The 12-year-old escaped but authorities say Klunder killed Kathlynn and committed suicide.
Legislators Discuss Gun Rights For Iowa Constitution
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa House Republicans are continuing their effort to amend the state constitution to add the right to bear arms.
Lawmakers debated the proposal in a House subcommittee Thursday. They did not vote to move the measure forward, instead pledging to have more discussions. The proposal from House Republicans would add language to the Iowa Constitution stating that the right to "acquire, keep, possess, transport, carry, transfer, and use arms to defend life and liberty" cannot be denied.
Changing the state constitution is a multi-step process, which would require approval by the current General Assembly and then by the one elected in 2014. After that it would go to Iowa voters.
A similar bill was passed in the GOP-majority Iowa House in 2012 but did not advance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.