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Wednesday Afternoon News, December 31

Hillview Sledding Hill To Open On New Year's Day

(Hinton) -- Although more snow would make for better conditions, the Plymouth County Conservation Board will open the tubing hill located at Hillview Park, west of Hinton, for New Year's Day.  Conservation Board Executive Director Nick Beeck  explains.

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Beeck says the fee to go tubing is just $5.

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Beeck says the Conservation Board will provide the inflated inner tube for the winter fun.  He says sleds and toboggons are prohibited on the hill.

 

Area Venues To Celebrate New Year's Eve

(Le Mars) -- If you are looking for an activity to help ring in the new year, there are several local area options.  The town of Merrill has lined up a dinner and a dance.  Bruce Norgaard is a volunteer for the Merrill New Year's Eve celebration.

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Norgaard says the featured band, The Embers, are known through out the region, as they play a variety of popular tunes.

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If you prefer to sing by yourself, you may want to check out the Le Mars Eagles Club.  Lori Maddox explains.

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Maddox says the Eagles Club is open to the public.  Gary Kunz says the Le Mars American Legion Wasmer Post #241 will also hold its monthly steak dinner this evening.

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Law Enforcement To Watch For Intoxicated Drivers

(Le Mars) -- As you might imagine, law enforcement agencies will be watching for intoxicated drivers this evening who may have celebrated too much.  Vince Kurtz of the Iowa State Patrol.

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Because of the extreme cold weather, Kurtz says the Iowa Highway Patrol will also be on the look out for stranded motorists.

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Kurtz says New Year's Eve ranks high for alcholol-related traffic accidents.

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The Highway Patrol trooper cautions people as they celebrate tonight.  He says even one drink can prove to be dangerous.

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Kurtz says it depends upon a person's metabulism, weight, time span, and other factors, but he says generally after three drinks, a person is over the legal limit and is considered intoxicated.  Kurtz also reminds people to buckel-up each and everytime they are in a vehicle. 

 

Basin Electric To Purchase Power From Wind Farms

 BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Basin Electric Power Cooperative has signed deals to buy power from two new wind farms in North Dakota.
     The Bismarck-based utility says the combined generating capacity is 300 megawatts, enough to power about 300,000 homes. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
     Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources is developing the Dickinson Wind Energy Center near Richardton, and Kansas-based Tradewind Energy will be developing the Lindahl Wind Project near Tioga. Both wind farms will be in western North Dakota.
     Basin Electric supplies electricity to 137 member rural electric systems, through out nine midwest states including  Le Mars based NIPCO.  Those member systems distribute electricity to about 2.8 million consumers.

 

Nurse Arrested For Patient Abuse

  IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A former nurse at an Iowa City rehabilitation center has been arrested on suspicion of abusing a patient in April.
     Online court records show 44-year-old Ann M. Hobbs, of Belle Plaine, was arrested Tuesday afternoon on a felony charge of dependent adult abuse. Other court filings spell her first name as Anne.
     Hobbs was a temporary nurse at an Iowa City rehabilitation center in April. A police complaint says a patient said Hobbs beat her. The patient reported bruising and nail scratches on her body.
     The Iowa City Press-Citizen reports Hobbs remains at the Johnson County Jail on $10,000 bond. Court records do not list an attorney.

 

Trial Scheduled For Boone Man Accused Of Killing Wife

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An April trial has been scheduled for a former Boone man charged with killing his wife in 2012.
     Online court records show 40-year-old Alexander Fazzino's trial will begin April 15 at the Winneshiek County Courthouse in Decorah. The Des Moines Register reports the trial has been delayed multiple times.
     Fazzino is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Emily Fazzino. She was found dead on a bathroom floor at the couple's Boone home in January 2012.
     Authorities say Fazzino killed his wife because she wanted to divorce him. His attorneys said in pretrial motions that she drowned in the bathtub after having a seizure brought on by alcohol withdrawal.
     Fazzino has pleaded not guilty. He is currently free on bond.

 

Teen Central To Be At Council Bluffs

 COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - The Council Bluffs Library is celebrating the upcoming fifth anniversary of Teen Central, a place where youths can study and socialize.
     A library worker tells The Daily Nonpareil that Teen Central has increased how many programs it offers since opening in 2010. She says Teen Central began hosting between three and four programs a year. It now holds about four a week.
     Teen Central is housed on the library's second floor. The Teen Services manager says it was created to fill a needed gap in providing an educational area specifically for teenagers.
     The center is open seven days a week and officials say about 60 youths visit daily during the school year. Around 500 teens participate each month in the weekly programs.

 

Energy Policy Director Fired From Job

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A top energy policy official in Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad's administration has been abruptly fired without official explanation.
     The termination of Paritosh Kasotia, the team lead in the state energy office, stunned colleagues who call her a well-respected and committed energy expert.
     Iowa Economic Development Authority spokeswoman Tina Hoffman said Wednesday that Kasotia was informed of the decision Dec. 8 and given two weeks' pay.
     Hoffman says she can't comment on the reason for the change, but that the agency is re-evaluating the position and planning to post it soon.
     Former state colleague Bob Mulqueen says he's "sorely disappointed" in the move, saying Kasotia was very capable.
     Gary Steinke called Kasotia a "national leader in alternative energy." He served with her on the advisory council of the Iowa Energy Center.

 


 

 
 

 




   

Wednesday News, December 31

Authorities Investigate Sioux City Apartment Fire

 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Authorities are investigating the cause of a fire at an apartment complex in Sioux City.
     Assistant Fire Chief Robert Wilson with the Sioux City Fire Department says the fire was reported around 3 a.m. Tuesday. Crews found heavy smoke coming from the second floor.
     Reports indicate residents were evacuated safely. No injuries were reported.
     Wilson says crews found the fire in the rear of a stairwell. The fire was contained to the second floor.

 

Red Cross Responds To Offer Aid To Apartment Fire Residents

SIOUX CITY, IA, —American Red Cross volunteers answered the call for help on Tuesday morning – responding to that Sioux City apartment fire in the 1600 block of Grandview in Sioux City.  Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteers met with those living in five affected units offering comfort and hope, and based on their needs provided assistance which may have included lodging, food and clothing.  The Disaster Action Team is a group of specially trained volunteers who respond to home fires when called upon at any time of the day or night. Red Cross case workers will continue to work with all of those affected over the coming days to determine if there are other ways the Red Cross can help with their recoveries.

 

Red Cross Reponded To More Fires Than Any Other Disasters

DES MOINES, IA, – Speaking about the American Red Cross...this year the Iowa Red Cross helped more people affected by home fires than all other disasters combined. Local volunteers responded at all hours of the day with food, blankets and comfort to help more than 2,100 people with nowhere else to turn after home fires from Jan. 1 to Dec. 1, 2014.

The Red Cross also provided financial support to 611 households after home fires to help replace lost belongings and begin the long road to recovery. Nationally, the Red Cross responds to a disaster in the community every eight minutes and the vast majority of these are home fires.

Leslie Schaffer, Regional Executive for the Iowa Region says “While tornadoes, floods and hurricanes tend to dominate the headlines, people often underestimate the frequency and devastation caused by home fires, and that’s where the Red Cross comes in,” Schaffer says “Our work doesn’t end after the smoke clears, every day local volunteers are helping people to recover and get better prepared.”  

Because of the high number of home fires in this country, the Red Cross launched a campaign this year to reduce the number of home fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent over the next five years. The organization is asking every household in America to take two simple steps: check their existing smoke alarms and practice fire drills at home.

Since the campaign launched in October, the Red Cross—in partnership with fire departments and community groups nationwide—has already reached more than 29,000 people by installing 17,000 smoke alarms. These efforts have already saved five lives nationwide. The program is modeled after the smoke alarm installation program developed by the Iowa Red Cross two years ago.

 

Marshalltown Man Pleads Not Guilty To Killing Tama Man

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (AP) - A Marshalltown man has pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with the death of a Tama man.
     Court records show 18-year-old James Head entered his plea Monday to charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit a felony in connection with the death of Adam Garrett.  Head is being held at the Marshall County Jail. 
     Garret was found dead inside a Marshalltown residence on Dec. 6. Additional information about the death is not available, but the state medical examiner's office classified it as a homicide.
     A second man, 29-year-old Jeremy Lynn Lavender, also of Marshalltown, has been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm in connection with the case. A message left for his attorney was not immediately returned Tuesday.
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Iowa Supreme Court To Hear Branstad Speeding Case With Fired Agent

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court will hear an appeal in a lawsuit brought by an investigator who was fired after reporting Gov. Terry Branstad's speeding SUV.
     The court this month granted former Division of Criminal Investigation agent Larry Hedlund's request to appeal a key ruling while the rest of the case is on hold.
     At issue is whether the state should have a public policy that protects police officers from losing their jobs for trying to enforce the law.
     Judge Dennis Stovall ruled in September that while Hedlund had an obligation to enforce traffic laws, that is "too vague and general" of a public policy to qualify for added legal protections. He noted that Hedlund has other job safeguards, including the ability to appeal his firing administratively.

 

Man Arrested In Connection To Courthouse Bomb Threat

NEWTON, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have arrested a man in connection with a bomb threat at a county courthouse in central Iowa.
     The Jasper County Sheriff's Office says 39-year-old Martin Real Meloche, of Newton, was taken into custody Tuesday. He faces two counts of false report of the placement of explosives devices. Court records do not list an attorney.
     Authorities say Meloche called in two threats Monday morning about a bomb at the Jasper County Courthouse. The building was briefly evacuated. No devices were found.
     The Newton Daily News reports Meloche was scheduled to be sentenced Monday at the courthouse on felony drug charges. He is being held at the Jasper County Jail on $100,000 bond.

 

South Dakota To Raise Minimum Wage

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A bump in the minimum wage means a pay raise for thousands of South Dakotans in the new year.
     The change takes effect Thursday. It raises the minimum hourly wage from the $7.25 to $8.50, increases the $2.13 hourly tip wage to half the minimum wage and ties future increases to the cost of living.
     The hike means more money for Laurel Lund, of Hot Springs, to pay for prescriptions. Lund will get a 50-cent raise from her $8 hourly wage at Taco John's in Hot Springs.
     A study last fall estimated the measure could impact 34,000 South Dakotans. Business groups say it could trigger layoffs and higher prices.
     The Board of Regents says it will have to find another $970,000 to pay for the hike.
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Iowa City Man Charged With Sexual Abuse

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa City man charged with several counts of sexual abuse faces additional charges.
     Court records show 23-year-old Nathan Schloss is charged with 22 counts of invasion of privacy. He also faces 18 counts of third-degree sexual abuse. Court records do not list an attorney.
     Schloss was arrested Dec. 19. A criminal complaint says he had 18 encounters of sexual abuse between May 2012 and September 2013. Schloss is accused of sexually abusing visibly "incapacitated" women and recording the encounters, but additional information is not available.
     It's unclear how many alleged victims are involved in the case.
     Sgt. Scott Gaarde of the Iowa City Police Department says Schloss posted a $54,000 bail Monday and was released from jail.

 

Mason City Director To Receive Settlement Money

   MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - An ex-commission director in Mason City who filed a lawsuit against city officials will receive $240,000 as part of a settlement.
     The settlement avoids a trial in the lawsuit filed by Lionel Foster, the former Mason City Human Rights Commission director.
     The 76-year-old Foster was director from 1978 to 2013. His job was eliminated after the City Council cut the commission's budget from $143,000 to $15,000. Officials argued the new budget was more in line with that of commissions in other cities about the size of Mason City.
     Foster, who is black, claimed age and race discrimination in his lawsuit. Other counts in the lawsuit were later dismissed.
     The Mason City Globe Gazette reports the settlement does not constitute an admission of liability for the defendants.
 
 


 

 

   

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