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Monday Afternoon News, June 30

Wet Weather Pattern May End Soon

(Le Mars) -- June obviously has produced a record rainfall for the entire state, and it may seem as though we have had more occurances of severe weather consisting of large hail and damaging winds.  But according to State Climatologist, Harry Hillaker, state wide, June was considered a fairly quiet month.

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It may seem as though more and larger hail has fallen this year, covering a wider area than in past years.  Hillaker says hail can be quite variable, and is not always easy to record from year to year over a wide area.

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The state climatologist says weather occurs in patterns, and he believes the pattern that created the unusual wet month of June may be ending.

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Hillaker says there have been fewer reports of tornadoes in Iowa this year than in past years.  He notes last year also had the fewest number of tornadoes ever reported in Iowa.  July and August typically have hotter temperatures, but Hillaker says that may not happen this year.

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Le Mars Man Arrested For Assault

(Le Mars) -- A Le Mars man has been arrested for assaulting a woman that resides with him.  The Plymouth County Sheriff's office has arrested 27 year old Michael Grubb.  Grubb was charged with serious domestic abuse assault, a serious misdemeanor.  The Sheriff's office received a 9-1-1 call of a domestic abuse occurring at 13896 2nd Avenue.  After an investigation at the residence, Grubb was arrested for assaulting a female victim. He was then booked into the Plymouth County jail.


Diverted Flight Lands In Sioux City

 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Denver-bound jetliner has landed in Sioux City after its pilot noticed a power warning light flashing in the cockpit.
     Southwest Airlines Flight 3809 landed without incident at 2:40 p.m. Sunday after leaving the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport about 90 minutes earlier.  The Boeing 737 model carried 143 passengers and five crew members.
     Southwest spokeswoman Michelle Agnew says the pilot took the cautious route even though the situation wasn't dire. Agnew says the system that was involved powered such features as coffee pots and cabin lights and that backup power sources were available.
     Sioux City airport operations manager John Backer says the passengers waited in the terminal for about three hours until a replacement plane arrived and they could board and resume their journeys.

State Grant To Help Pay For Courthouse Clock Repairs

  VINTON, Iowa (AP) - A state grant should help pay for repairs to a Benton County Courthouse clock that has been frozen in time for years.
     The State Historical Society of Iowa has approved a $32,000 grant for work on the clock atop the courthouse in Vinton. The grant is contingent on a local clock restoration group raising $16,000 for the project.
     Time has been frozen on the clock at just before 12 since sometime in 2008.
     County Attorney David Thompson says organizers of the restoration effort hope to complete the clock project by spring 2015.
     Robert Spangler, who heads the Benton County Clock Restoration Task Force, says it will take about three months to remove, recondition and reinstall the clock.


Farmers Plant More Soybeans - Less Corn

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - American farmers have planted less corn than in any year since 2010 but more soybeans than ever, as expected.
     The U.S. Department of Agriculture says in its annual Acreage Report released Monday that farmers planted 91.6 million acres of corn. That's 4 percent less than last year but still the fifth-largest corn crop planted since 1944. Analysts expected some farmers to devote more acreage to soybeans because of a drop in corn prices.
     The USDA says farmers planted a record high 84.8 million acres of soybeans, up 11 percent from last year. Record soybean acres have been planted in Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
     Seventy-six percent of the corn crop is in good to excellent condition, compared with 63 percent last year.


Branstad Says Staff Did Not Know Of Secret Settlements

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says his staff knew nothing of settlement agreements with state workers that included clauses requiring secrecy before late March when reports surfaced in the media. And he says they didn't know payments had been made for that secrecy.
     Branstad is responding to last week's Senate Government Oversight Committee hearing in which former Department of Administrative Services attorney Ryan Lamb said he told the governor's chief of staff documents might exist showing money was negotiated for secrecy.
     Branstad says Chief of Staff Matt Hinch met with Lamb twice and both times Lamb insisted there were no payments made for promises of secrecy.
     Lamb later called Hinch after recalling there could be an email showing a payment was offered.
     It later surfaced, creating questions around who knew about secret settlements.


Audit Questions Payments To Workers

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Auditors say a state-run center for the disabled improperly awarded dozens of no-bid construction contracts to the family business of a high-ranking Iowa purchasing official.
     State Auditor Mary Mosiman released findings Monday of an investigation into Department of Administrative Services employee Lois Schmitz and her family business, BluePrint Homes LLC.
     The report says Woodward Resource Center gave the company $505,000 in contracts in one year. Most payments were improperly split into amounts of less than $10,000 to avoid competitive bidding.
     The report says Schmitz failed to disclose the payments to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board as required.
     Schmitz was fired last year after bosses accused her of a conflict of interest. But an arbitrator reinstated her in January after determining she had no role in awarding the contracts.






Monday News, June 30

Le Mars Fire Department Responds To Boat Fire

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire Department responded to a boat that caught on fire Sunday afternoon.  The call came at about 3:45 p.m.  The owners of the boat had been working on its motor when fire broke out.  The boat, originally was located in a quanset building on Lincoln Drive, south of the 18th Street intersection.  The boat owners were able to pull the boat out of the building into the parking area giving fire officials better access, and preventing anything within the building of catching fire.  Fire officials were on the scene for nearly a half an hour.


Grant Helps Museum Install A Needed Restroom

(Le Mars) -- Summer crowds at the Plymouth County Historical Museum do not have to wonder about where to find the nearest restroom. Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of Greater Plymouth County, the Museum added a restroom on the fourth floor.
The grant, totaling $2,900, provides for a small unisex restroom in the Loess Hills Hall, adjacent to the restored 1905 Study Hall. Personnel at the Museum say because this is a high-traffic area, the restroom is very welcome.
Judy Bowman, Museum administrator says, “We have been hosting programs in the Study Hall, but with a little trepidation due to our limited restroom facilities,” Bowman says, “We are very grateful to the Foundation for helping us out with this need.”
Other restrooms are located on the main floor near the entrance, in the Gym lobby area, and on the lower level near the tractor display.


Ribbon Cutting Scheduled For New Floral Shop

(Le Mars) -- Ribbon cutting ceremonies for a new floral store located on Central Avenue is scheduled for this morning at 10:00 a.m.  Le Bloom is occupuying the store that used to house Binnebose Shoes. 


Plymouth County Fair Announces Entertainment 

(Le Mars) -- Check your mailbox, as you may find a flier about the upcoming Plymouth County Fair, scheduled for July 23rd through the 27th.  Known as the "Best Five Days of Summer" the Plymouth County Fair is promoting big name entertainment, as well as the traditional favorites.  The country western group, Locash Cowboys make a return to Le Mars.  They are scheduled to perform Saturday evening for one performance scheduled for 9:30 p.m.  Wednesday, will hold the crowning of the the Plymouth County Fair Queen and King, along with family band, Mama's Wranglers, Thursday, will feature a group entitled "Vocal Trash" that will perform at 5:00, 7:00, and 9:00 p.m. from the Pioneer Village stage.  Friday evening will feature both a hypnotist "Mr. Wunder" and a band called Savannah Jack.  Aside from Locash Cowboys, Saturday will also feature 7 Bridges, a tribute to the Eagles.  Sunday, the local family group, "The Browns" are scheduled to sing as well as The Mullet River Boys, a vaudeville and jug band that plays bluegrass music. 
At the grandstand, Wednesday evening will feature Figure 8 racing, Thursday is the Tuff Truck contest, Friday is the Tractor Pull, Saturday is the Demolition Derby and Sunday evening will feature the Great Frontier Bull Riding.
New this year is an agricultural education exhibit to be featured at the famous Round Barn, entitled: "a ROUND the farm in the BARN".  The exhibit will feature photos, videos, and interactive displays.


Storms Hit Iowa Sunday Evening

 CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Several tornadoes have been reported as heavy rain and hail fell on many parts of Iowa.
     At least six tornadoes were reported by spotters Sunday afternoon and evening, along with funnel clouds. Reports of deaths or serious injuries have not surfaced.
     Wind gusts of 60 mph were recorded in Madison County, and wind ripped off the roof of one building and damaged trees and a home on a farmstead near Otho in Webster County. 
     Baseball-size hail was reported near Magnolia in Harrison County.
     Firefighters in Morley evacuated residents because of flash flooding, and several motorists were stranded by street flooding in Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Gauges say the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids rose more than 2 feet in a little more than three hours.  Fortunately, no damage reports have been noted for Plymouth County after last evening's storms.


Area Farmers Dealing With Aftermath Of Heavy Rains And Flooding

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Area farmers are dealing with damage to their crops and fences after all the rain that fell in June.
     Farmers in northwest Iowa, southeast South Dakota and northeast Nebraska face significant work ahead because of the flooding on the Big Sioux, Rock and other rivers.
     The flooding and heavy rains could also have a lasting effect on their crops because fertilizer may have been washed away and standing water in fields could have killed some plants.
     Janna Whitlock says her pasture in Union County, South Dakota, was underwater, and three lawn mowers, a snow blower and some other equipment in a shed was damaged.
     Farmer Jack Kruse says he knows he faces weeks of fence repair ahead.


Secretary Of State Candidates Don't Want To Pursue Voter Fraud

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The loud cry for voter ID and voter fraud investigations is fading to a whimper as Iowa's top election official prepares to leave and those seeking to replace him downplay the politically charged issues.
     Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz leaves in January after pursuing high profile voter fraud investigations costing $250,000, proposing a voter purge rule for those lacking citizenship proof, and lobbying for voter ID.
     Brad Anderson, the Democrat seeking the office opposes voter ID and says he would immediately end criminal fraud investigations. He says Iowa's 99 should use the same computerized poll book program.
     Republican former Secretary of State Paul Pate also supports statewide electronic poll books, which he says if designed right can accomplish the same ends as voter ID without alienating or disenfranchising people.


Ottumwa Holds Funeral For Killed Marine

 OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) - A 25-year-old Marine from Iowa who was killed in Afghanistan is being remembered as a kind and strong young man.
     A large crowd attended Lance Cpl. Adam R. Wolff's funeral Sunday afternoon.
     Pastor Mark Hornback says he knows Wolff's family appreciated the support. Volunteers helped set up hundreds of American flags along the funeral procession route this weekend.
     Adam's twin brother, Aaron Wolff, thanked everyone for acknowledging his brother's life. Aaron Wolff says his brother was his hero and the most important person in his life.
     Adam Wolff died along with two other Marines on June 20 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. All three were assigned to 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina





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