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Monday Afternoon News, March 2

Neunaber Trial To Be Delayed

(Le Mars) -- The trial for Jonathon Neunaber of Akron was supposed to have started on March 31st.  However, the attorney for Neunaber has asked Judge Andreasen for an extension claiming he needs additional time to compile information and evidence. The request came this past Friday during a pre-trial update. Neunaber is charged with first degree murder for the death of his mother Ester Neunaber.  Both Ester's and husband Donald Neunaber bodies were found dead at their rural Akron farmstead last July.  The court has not yet scheduled a new trial date.  


Le Mars Man Arrested At Youth Basketball Tournament

(Storm Lake) -- Emotions were running hot at a weekend youth basketball tournament held at Storm Lake, as opposing coaches and fans werre seen shouting profanities at one another, squared off, and needed to be separated.  Police was called to maintain order. The police was advised that coaches from Sioux City and Le Mars were creating the trouble. Storm Lake Police intervened, seized video of the incident and arrested three men, two from Sioux City and one from Le Mars.  Each of the three, 39 year old Trant Gosch and 33 year old Richard Semple of Sioux City and 62 year old Steven Stratmeir of Le Mars were charge with disorderly conduct and were taken to the Buena Vista County jail.  No injuries were reported, and police remained at the gym for the duration of the youth tournament.


School Districts Concerned About Education Funding

(Le Mars) -- School districts across the state are worried deep budget cuts and the elimination of programs and reduction in teachers may have to occur if the state legislature doesn't approve additional funding.  The state legislature is in conference committee between the House of Representatives and the State Senate over public school funding.  Republican state representative Chuck Soderberg of Le Mars, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, has been selected to the conference committee.  Saturday, during legislative forums held in Hinton and Le Mars, Soderberg was challenged, first by Hinton School Superintendent Peter Stuerman during the Hinton legislative forum, and second by members of the Le Mars Community Board of Education and School superintendent Dr. Todd Wendt at the Le Mars School legislative forum.  Stuerman informed Soderberg that Hinton will need to reduce its staff and raise the tax levy if the legislature only appropriates $50 million to fund education.  Wendt and the Le Mars School Board had a similar message.  Soderberg explained that he would like to offer more money to the schools, but he says there simply isn't any more money.  The House approved funding schools at a 1.25 percent increase.  Le Mars Community School Board President Scott Kommes accused Soderberg and the entire state legislature that they didn't care about education in the state.  Soderberg responded, by saying if that were true, why then, does education have the largest share of tax dollars appropriated at 55 percent?  The State Senate has approved a measure that would fund schools at an increase of four percent, or $200 million, but Soderberg informed the group that when he asked State Senator Robert Dvorsky of Coralville, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee how does the Senate intend to pay for the increase, he says Dvorsky simply shrugged his shoulders and said "I don't know."


Soybean Association Endorses Fuel Tax Increase

(Phoenix) -- "Farmers have got to be able to transport their products to market" claims Iowa Soybean Association president Tom Oswald of Cleghhorn, "and that is the reason why the Iowa Soybean Association endorsed the ten cent per gallon fuel tax increase."  Oswald says the Iowa Soybean Association was instrumental in establishing a multi-state Soy Transportation Coalition, which studies transportation issues.

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The Cherokee County farmer says another area of transportation that needs to be updated is the waterway system consisting of the locks and dams.  Oswald says unfortunately, Congress wants to appropriate funding for short-term projects, and he says the locks and dams would require a funding committment that would be for several years.

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Legislators Want To Keep Gun Permits Confidential

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two Iowa lawmakers plan to introduce a bill that would change state law and keep confidential the identities of those who own permits to carry firearms.
     The  proposal is aimed at preventing the release of any information that could link a person to his or her gun permit, including names, addresses and dates of birth. Current Iowa law allows public access to such permit records.
     Sen. Steve Sodders, a State Center Democrat, says it's unnecessary for people to know if others have guns in their homes. He says the public would still have access to general statistics, like the number of firearms purchased each month.
     Rep. Matt Windschitl, a Republican from Missouri Valley, says lawmakers are still working out the legislation's details.


Senate Panel Approves Fine Arts As Part Of Iowa Core Curriculum

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Senate panel has approved a bill that would add fine arts to Iowa's mandated education curriculum for K-12 students, though lawmakers expressed concern about its potential costs.
     An education subcommittee approved the bill Monday. It now heads to a full committee, where it would need approval by Friday to survive a procedural legislative deadline.
     The bill would add music, theater, visual art and other fine arts to the Iowa Core, the state's mandated academic standards. 
     Sen. Herman Quirmbach, who sponsored the bill, says it would properly recognize fine arts. He questioned an analysis by the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency, which determined it could cost a school district up to $100,000 to implement the bill.
     Lawmakers say they need more financial analysis to pass the bill out of committee.


Trial To Begin For 5 Year Old's Murder

WEBSTER CITY, Iowa (AP) - Jury selection has begun in the trial for a man accused of killing his former girlfriend's 5-year-old daughter.
     Lawyers began questioning jurors Monday for the trial of Casey Frederiksen, who is charged with first-degree murder and sexual assault. Prosecutors say the 35-year-old was watching Evelyn Miller for her mother in July 2005 when he sexually abused the girl and then stabbed her to death. 
     The body of the Floyd girl was found in the Cedar River a few days after she was reported missing.
     The trial is being held in Webster City in Hamilton County because a judge granted a change-of-venue request to move the trial out of Floyd County.


Ankeny Woman Arrested For Faking Pregnancy For Adoption

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have arrested an Ankeny woman accused of faking pregnancy to trick an Iowa couple into giving her money.
     The Ankeny Police Department says 29-year-old Tracy Leann Bess-Thacker was charged Friday with fourth-degree theft after prospective adoptive parents from Dewitt, Iowa, claim she accepted $200 from them when she wasn't pregnant.
     According to a news release, Bess had signed onto Life Long Adoptions, an agency that connects birth mothers with potential parents. Detectives say Bess wasn't pregnant during this scam, but that she used information from a prior pregnancy to con people into offering her financial support.
     Police say Bess previously used a similar scam in multiple states, including Nebraska.
     Bess could not be reached to comment on the charge, and online court records do not yet list an attorney.


Woman Found In Alley Is Now Identified

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities have released the name of a woman whose body was found in a Des Moines alley.
     Des Moines police identified the woman as 35-year-old Shannon Prothero, of Des Moines.
     Her body was reported shortly before 8:45 a.m. Sunday in an alley near 14th Street and 14th Place.
     Police are trying to determine how the woman died, but they are investigating her death as a homicide.
     No arrests have been reported.


Ethanol Company Ordered To Pay Woman For Harrassment

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A judge says a northeastern Iowa ethanol company must pay an additional $1.1 million in lost wages and attorneys' fees to a former laboratory manager who was sexually harassed.
     A jury in October ordered Homeland Energy Solutions to pay $1.4 million to Tina Haskenhoff to cover back pay and emotional distress.
     District Judge John Bauercamper granted Haskenhoff's request Monday for $240,000 in front pay to cover three years of wages as she completes a college degree to enter a new field. He says she cannot be reinstated at the Lawler plant because those responsible for her harassment remain employed there.
     Bauercamper also granted attorneys' fees and expenses in the amount of $846,000. And he ordered the company to amend its policies and procedures to prevent future workplace harassment and discrimination.


Iowa Ciity Fire Department To Lose Training Facility  

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa City Fire Department has to get creative after having to vacate the training facility that it has used for the last 13 years.
     The department was forced to leave its three-story facility in December due to plans for a new Riverfront Crossings Park.
     Since 2002, the facility has been used as a space for centralized classrooms, storage for training props and outdoor live fire training exercises.
     According to Fire Chief John Grier, the department has distributed training materials between the four stations around the city. He says that they will have to think outside the box to adjust to their new circumstances.
     Firefighter John Crane wrote a letter on behalf of the Iowa City Association of Professional Firefighters asking the city to consider funding construction of another centrally-located facility.










Monday News, March 2

National Pheasants Forever President Visits Plyimouth County 

(Le Mars) -- More than $32,000 was raised during the auction held Saturday evening during the 30th annual Plymouth County Pheasants Forever banquet.  The evening proved again to be fun and beneficial with several raffles and auction items.  Plymouth County Pheasants Forever was fortunate to have the National President and CEO of Pheasants Forever organization, Howard Vincent, attend the festivities.  Vincent praised the leadership of Plymouth County Pheasants Forever saying the Plymouth County chapter is nationally ranked in many areas, including the number of sponsors.  Vincent asked each of the Plymouth County Pheasants Forever board of directors to join him on stage to be recognized by the crowd.  Victoria De Vos was honored by the Plmouth County Pheasants Forever for the "Service To Youth" award.  Logan Crees of Hinton was given the Pheasants Forever Scholarship Award.  Crees is a graduate of Hinton Community High School where he was involved heavily in the community through extracurricular activities including Student Council President.  Throughout his high school career, he maintained a GPA of 3.6.  Crees is currently attending Iowa State University majoring in Environmental Science.  His passion for nature has been avid since he was a young boy.  His love for nature all started because of his parents, as they would take him and his brother on camping trips throughout the summer as young boys.  The Service to Wildlife Award was presented to Hank Tritz. 


Remsen Fire Department Responds To Hog Barn Fire

(Remsen) -- The Remsen Fire Department was called to a hog barn fire Saturday afternoon at about 12:15 p.m.  The fire was reported at 18284 on county road L-12, about a mile and a half south of Remsen.  The fire was located on the same farm and it was the same barn that fire fighters responded to earlier in the week.  Remsen Assistant Fire Chief, Chris Frederes believes the cause was again the ignition of methane gas that had built up causing another flash fire.  Only this time, according to Frederes there was more damage.

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Frederes says there were no injuries and no hogs had been burned or killed.


Le Mars Fire Department Issues Monthly Report

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department responded to a total of 32 calls in February, according to its monthly report.  Eight times the Le Mars Fire Department was called for fires, three rescue calls, 12 times for investigations or accidents, twice the Le Mars Fire Department offered Mutual aid to the Merrill Fire Department, and seven times the local fire department provided requests for services. Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper reports that six classes were taught to outside agencies or businesses during February, reaching over 140 people.


Ames Apartment Fire

    AMES, Iowa (AP) - Two people were treated at a hospital after a fire at an Ames apartment.
    Firetrucks were sent to the apartment around 1 a.m. Sunday. Tenants used a fire extinguisher to keep the blaze from spreading to more apartments, and firefighters doused the rest of the flames.
     Fire officials blamed the fire on a candle that was placed too near combustible material.


Fuel Tax Increase Discussed During Legislative Forums

(Des Moines) --Fuel tax increase and education funding were the common topics discussed Saturday morning during the legislative forums held around the county.  State Senator Bill Anderson and State Representative Chuck Soderberg met with approximately 15 people in Hinton and a dozen others in Brunsville.  At each legislative forum, the local lawmakers defended their votes on the fuel tax increase.  State Senator Bill Anderson voted for the measure and State Represenative Soderberg voted against the fuel tax increase.  At both Hinton and Brunsville, Plymouth County supervisors Don Kass and Craig Anderson displayed a map of Plymouth County showing how many bridges located in the county are needing repairs.  Kass told the gathering at both forums that Plymouth County ranks fifth in the nation for the most bridges located in one county.  The map had more than 97 red circles indicating those bridges that are of priority status needing immediate repairs, and perhaps another 125 bridges that would be needing to be replaced or repaired within the next five years.  Kass and Craig Anderson say they were pleased to see the legislature pass the increase, as it will mean nearly an additional million dollars coming to Plymouth County for road and bridge repairs.


State And County Officials Looking Forward To Additional Funds From Fuel Tax

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - With a fuel tax increase taking effect, how quickly can Iowa drivers expect to see road improvements on their daily commutes?
     State and county officials say there will be additional road work underway later this year, but it's too soon to talk specifics. The 10-cent a gallon increase starts at the pump March 1 and is expected to generate over $200 million annually for Iowa's bridges and roads, many of which are considered deteriorating or deficient.
     Lyle Brehm, county engineer for Tama and Poweshiek counties, says he has a "very long list of repairs."
     The Legislature approved the tax increase several days ago in a bipartisan deal. Governor Terry Branstad quickly signed it into law.
     The tax was last raised in 1989.


New Psychiatric Hospital For Children Being Built In Sioux City

 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A new facility offering psychiatric care and substance abuse treatment to children and teens in northwest Iowa is expected to address an important need in the region when it opens this spring.
     The new Jackson Recovery Centers Child and Adolescent Recovery Hospital is expected to open in May.
     Right now the closest child psychiatric crisis centers are either about 60 miles away in Cherokee, or about 90 miles away in Council Bluffs.
     The $10.5 million project has been under construction in Sioux City since August. It will have 72 inpatient beds and a 12-bed psychiatric stabilization unit.


Woman's Body Found In Des Moines Alley

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Police are investigating after finding a woman's body in an alley in Des Moines.
     Sergeant Jason Halifax says the body was reported shortly before 8:45 a.m. Sunday in an alley near 14th Street and 14th Place.
     Halifax said the woman was 35-years-old. Her name wasn't immediately released Sunday.
     Police are trying to determine how the woman died, but they are treating the death as suspicious.


Racing Commission To Distribute $72 Million To Grey Hound Industry

 DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Iowa racing officials are reviewing a recommended plan to distribute $72 million settlement related to the end of greyhound racing in Council Bluffs.
     The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission plans to review the report Thursday.
     Half of the money would support the Iowa Greyhound Association's operation of the Dubuque track, which plans to run races from April 29th to October 25th on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
     Most of the rest of the money would go to Iowa breeders based on their past performance.
     Dubuque's Mystique Casino and Bluffs Run Greyhound Park in Council Bluffs agreed to pay the settlement in exchange for ending subsidized racing.
     About $1.2 million would be set aside for closing expenses at Bluffs Run and no-kill greyhound adoption centers.





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