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Friday News, June 5

Log Cabin Scheduled To Move Today (Friday)

(Le Mars) -- At long last, the Joy Hollow log cabin may actually make the move from the Plymouth County fairgrounds to the Plymouth County Historical Museum today.  Officials say the proper permits have been obtained, trees have been trimmed, and the cabin's foundation has been erected at the museum site.  The move has been delayed numerous times due to weather, and proper permits not issued.  Should the cabin actually move across town today, it would be five days past the deadline the fair board told the museum that the cabin would need to be removed.  The cabin's move is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. this morning. Officials estimate it will take at least two hours to move the 115 year old log cabin across town.




Legislature May Adjourn Soon

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa lawmakers are on the brink of adjournment after approving bills late into the night.

The Republican-controlled House and Democratic-led Senate backed budgets for economic development, agriculture, administration and infrastructure spending Thursday. They also approved a plan that seeks to support broadband infrastructure in the state.

Lawmakers are hoping to adjourn soon. They've agreed to a spending plan of about $7.3 billion for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The tentative deal includes $7.17 billion in ongoing spending, plus $135 million in one-time payments for items such as schools, universities and Medicaid. Lawmakers had originally estimated the one-time spending at $125 million.

Several budget bills still await final approval before the lawmakers can adjourn for the year.




Regents To Hold Tuition Freeze For Fall, But Uncertain For Spring

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter says tuition will be frozen at state universities for the fall semester, but he is not detailing what will happen in the spring.

At a board meeting Thursday, Rastetter said a tuition freeze would continue at the three public universities for the fall. But he said officials will need to assess if the institutions have enough state funding to maintain the freeze in the spring.

Under a compromise spending plan developed by the Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate, universities will get a funding increase, but not the full $8.8 million requested to maintain a third year of tuition freezes.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal says he hopes the tuition freeze will continue in the spring.




Judge Says Speed Cameras Can Remain On Interstate 235

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A federal judge has denied a request to turn off the speed enforcement cameras on Interstate 235 in Des Moines.

A judge ruled Thursday that removing the cameras "might create a more hazardous traffic condition at the camera location."

A lawsuit was filed against the city in March that argued the cameras violate motorists' fundamental right to travel granted by the U.S. and Iowa constitutions.

The suit also says the cameras entrap motorists and that the equipment used to enforce speed limits fails to meet national standards.

The judge is set to hear arguments to dismiss the case June 18.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has separately ordered the Des Moines to turn off the cameras because they were not making roads safer. City officials say they will fight the order in court.





Bird Flu Cases Start To Decline

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - There are no additional bird flu cases in Iowa giving hundreds of state and federal workers and hired contractors a chance to catch up with the backlog of birds to be euthanized.

Iowa Department of Agriculture officials say they expect to have all turkeys exposed to the H5N2 virus euthanized and composting by the end of the day Thursday. That's about 1.2 million turkeys.

Of the nearly 28 million chickens exposed to the virus, about 24 million have been euthanized. Disposal using composting, on-site burial, incineration and placement in landfills, continues.

Officials believe warmer temperatures will kill the virus and Iowa is expected to have highs in the 80s for the next seven days.

Minnesota reported one new case on a turkey farm.




Grassley Says USDA Has Been Slow To Act On Bird Flu Virus

(Washington) -- Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley addressed the bird flu issue during his weekly news conference.  Grassley says the U-S Department of Agriculture has been slow to respond to Iowa's poultry producers request for action.


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Grassley worries that when the time comes for producers to re-populate their barns, the federal government will be slow on action during that time.


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The republican senator is also critical of the U-S-D-A's inability to help producers with the disposal of the millions of dead bird carcasses.


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Grassley says that he and Senator Joni Ernst have been visiting with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas to schedule public hearings regarding the bird flu, but so far, nothing has been scheduled on the Senate calendar.



Meth Manufacturer Sentenced To 20 Years

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - The U.S. attorney says an eastern Iowa man who caused a fire the damaged six mobile homes while attempting to manufacture meth has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Linda Reade on Thursday sentenced 27-year-old Michael Lala to prison after he pleaded guilty in January to attempting to manufacture meth.

In a plea agreement, Lala acknowledged that in November 2013 he was cooking meth in a mobile home in Hiawatha when a bottle tipped over, causing a fire that destroyed the structure and damaged five neighboring mobile homes.

In the agreement, Lala also admitted making meth many times between 2012 and 2014.

After his 20 years in prison, Lala must serve three years of supervision. There is no parole in the federal system.




Coralville Man Claims Justification To Kidnapping Step Daughter

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Court documents say a 48-year-old Coralville man will claim justification in defending himself against accusations that he abducted his 10-year-old stepdaughter.

Kenneth Johns is accused of kidnapping the girl from a Solon home in early March. Johns' attorney filed documents Wednesday that say Johns intends to "rely on the defense of justification" in contesting a kidnapping charge.

The girl's mother, 44-year-old Shelly Johns, in April pleaded guilty to child endangerment charges. Criminal complaints say Shelly Johns burned her daughter's face with a cigarette, smacked her, kicked her and pulled her hair. Police also say Shelly Johns kept drugs inside the house where she lived with the girl and used them in her presence.  The girl's disappearance prompted a state-wide Amber alert.





Thursday Afternoon News, June 4

Texas Man Accused Of Aiding Lottery Official With Scam

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Texas man accused of helping a lottery security official try to claim a rigged $14 million jackpot is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

Robert Rhodes is expected to contest his extradition to Iowa during the hearing in Texas.

The Sugar Land businessman was arrested in March and is free on bond. Prosecutors say he worked with an Iowa friend, Eddie Tipton, and others in an attempt to claim the Hot Lotto jackpot that Tipton had rigged.

Tipton was security director for the Multi-State Lottery Association, which operates Powerball.

Prosecutors allege that Tipton inserted a software program into the random number generator for Hot Lotto that allowed him to manipulate the winning combination. They say Tipton purchased the winning ticket and later passed it on to Rhodes and others.




Christie To Speak About Education During Iowa Visit

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Chris Christie is set to give a speech on education when he comes to Iowa next week.

Samantha Smith, a spokeswoman for Christie's political action committee, said Wednesday that the Republican New Jersey governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate will give the speech in Ames on June 11.

Christie is slated to speak at the Polk County Republicans' spring dinner that night. His trip will also likely include a town hall meeting.

The trip will be Christie's fifth to Iowa this year. He was last here in early March for a candidate forum and has two paid staffers in the state.

Christie is trying to demonstrate that he remains a top 2016 prospect in an increasingly crowded field.






Sioux City Officials Discuss Municipal Swimming Pools

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Declining use of several swimming pools in Sioux City has prompted officials to start discussions on how they should address the facilities that are operating at a loss.

A study, which analyzed the city's pools, recommended closing some to alleviate further financial losses. A city committee will begin discussions next month to form a recommendation on the poorly attended pools.

According to Kansas-based Waters Edge Aquatic Design, only around 1.3 percent of the city's population visits the pools.

A city council member that while closures could happen, the savings could pay for splash pads and renovations at other pools.







Mason City Man Accused Of Beating Dog With A Hammer

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - A 62-year-old Mason City man has been accused of using a hammer to beat his dog.

Police say George Harrington is charged with animal torture and other misdemeanor violations. Harrington didn't immediately return a message Thursday from The Associated Press. Online court records don't list the name of an attorney who could be contacted to comment on Harrington's behalf.

Mason City police say officers checking a report about an injured dog at Harrington's residence found an injured boxer mix. Police say the dog was taken to a veterinarian, who euthanized it because of head injuries that the vet said were caused by a hammer.





Judge Rules For Continued Sentence For Man Who Threaten School Children

CHARLES CITY, Iowa (AP) - A judge has refused to change the five-year sentence given to a Charles City man who made threatening statements against schoolchildren.

Forty-nine-year-old Loren Saxon pleaded guilty last year to charges of intimidation and public intoxication. Officers reported in August that Saxon said he was a member of the al-Qaida terrorist organization and that he would shoot as many children as he could. He was not armed at the time.

Saxon's attorney, Nellie O'Mara, said in her motion for reconsideration of Saxon's sentence that he wasn't convicted of a forcible felony and has a job and support available if he were to be placed on probation.

Judge Peter Newell said Wednesday that "the sentence previously imposed was appropriate."






Utilities Chair To Vote On Proposed Pipeline

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The new Iowa Utilities Board chairwoman will vote on whether to build a major oil pipeline even though her family law firm represented a landowner trying to block it.

Board officials say Geri Huser doesn't have a conflict that requires disqualification because her brother, attorney Brad Skinner, has withdrawn from the case.

Board spokesman Don Tormey says Huser doesn't plan to formally disclose the connection, arguing there's no reason to do so.

Huser's decision means all three members will decide whether to approve a $3.8 billion pipeline that would transport 450,000 barrels of crude oil daily across Iowa. The plan has generated intense opposition from farmers, environmentalists and supporters of private property rights.

Gov. Terry Branstad appointed Huser in a March board shakeup that removed one member and demoted another.




Woman Sent To Federal Prison For Embezzling From Bank

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A 55-year-old woman has been given 21 months in federal prison for embezzling more than $120,000 from a bank where she'd worked.

Federal prosecutors said in a news release Thursday that Ann Sperfslage, of Manchester, had pleaded guilty to embezzlement by a bank employee. She admitted at her plea hearing that, between May 2008 and August 2010, she'd created false loan documents at First State Bank and withdrawn money based on the documents.

Sperfslage also was fined $5,000.




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