Thursday News, April 23
Governor Branstad Visits Plymouth County Farm To See Conservation Measures
(Le Mars) -- Iowa Governor Terry Branstad stopped at a Plymouth County Farm to view how one local farmer is making a difference in reducing nitrate levels for ground water, and at the same time protecting the soil from eroding. Wednesday was recognized as "Earth Day" and Branstad signed a proclamation designating April 29th through May 6 as Soil and Water conservation Week. While signing the official document, behind Branstad, and serving as a backdrop, was an area with several terraces and grass waterways. Branstad says efforts that he witnessed Wednesday involving the Deep Creek watershed project where farmers have implemented grass waterways, buffer filter strips, terraces, and other conservation measures have proven to effectively reduce nitrate levels. The governor says he is disappointed in the Des Moines Water Works for filing a lawsuit against three northwest Iowa counties because of high nitrate levels. He says it only leads to hard feelings, and he says there is a better way.
Branstad says he is impressed with the conservation measures that Bob Puetz has implemented as part of his farming operation. Branstad explains he was in northwest Iowa for various other engagements, and was invited to see the various conservation measures which is why he chose Plymouth County to make the proclamation. More than a year ago Branstad held his annual Governor's Pheasant Hunt in Plymouth County. At that time, Branstad and Bob Puetz hunted pheasants together. They share a common interest in preserving wildife habitat and pheasant hunting.
Deep Creek Watershed District To Implement Methods To Reduce Nitrate Run-off
(Le Mars) -- While visiting Plymouth County, the Iowa governor saw first hand the area known as Deep Creek, a watershed district that is one of only 16 within the state to receive state funding to implement conservation techniques to reduce nitrate run-off. Beeca Meerdink is the watershed coordinator and explains the goals for the Deep Creek watershed.
Nearly 30 people attended the proclamation signing ceremony held Wednesday afternoon.
Family of Fallen Police Officer Buys Police Dog
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The grieving family of an officer has bought his police dog from the Sioux City Police Department.
Sgt. Jay Fleckenstein died Friday of natural causes at his home. He was 39.
The department bought the dog, a Belgian Malinois (MAL'-ehn-wah) named Eik, from Fleckenstein in 2009. The officer had raised and trained Eik since he was a puppy. A police news release says the purchase agreement included an option that Fleckenstein's family would be able to buy back Eik if Fleckenstein were to leave the department for any reason.
Eik had nearly six years on duty with Fleckenstein. The dog would have been required to be recertified before returning to service with another officer.
Sioux City Man Granted New Trial For Daughter's Death
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sioux City man granted a new trial in the death of his daughter has pleaded not guilty to a child endangerment charge brought against him six years ago.
25-year-old Paul Hill also waived his right to a speedy trial Wednesday. He is accused of child endangerment causing death for the February 2009 death of 4-month-old Tryniti Jo Hill.
Hill was granted a new trial in January after the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled that statements Hill made to police used during his original trial were obtained in violation of his right to remain silent. He had been found guilty in June 2010 and sentenced to 50 years in prison.
His new trial date has not yet been scheduled.
Senate Passes Health Bill That Includes Funding For Mental Health Institutions
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Senate lawmakers say their proposed budget for health services has funding for two state mental health facilities slated to close this year, but it's unclear if it will have enough support in the House.
Democratic Senator Amanda Ragan, vice chairwoman of the Senate Human Resources Committee, says there is about $11 million in a proposed health and human services budget to keep the facilities in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant open.
Governor Terry Branstad's budget proposal removes funding for the facilities. He says affected patients will be able to seek adequate treatment elsewhere.
Representative David Heaton, a Republican who will be involved with advancing the budget, says he wants to work with both Branstad and the Senate to save the facilities.
Employees from the facilities spoke to lawmakers Wednesday.
Rayhorn Found Not Guilty Of Sexually Abusing His Wife With Dementia
GARNER, Iowa (AP) - A former Iowa lawmaker has been acquitted of sexually abusing his wife who suffered from dementia, in a case that centered on questions about when a person is no longer mentally capable of consenting to sex.
Jurors on Wednesday found 78-year-old Henry Rayhons not guilty of abusing his wife, Donna Lou Rayhons. He was accused of having sex with her at her nursing home on May 23rd, after being told she was no longer mentally capable of consenting due to her Alzheimer's disease.
She died in August.
Jurors weighed testimony from family members, doctors and investigators throughout the trial. In closing arguments, Rayhons' defense attorney said a guilty verdict could have widespread implications, but prosecutors countered that a not guilty verdict would put others with dementia at risk.