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Wednesday Afternoon News, March 25

Burn Ban To Be Lifted Thursday Morning

(Le Mars) -- Tuesday's half inch of rain has added much needed moisture to the ground, allowing the Plymouth County Fire Department Association the opportunity to consider lifting the burn ban.  According to Dave Schipper, Le Mars Fire Chief and president of the Plymouth County Fire Department Association, the county wide burn ban will be lifted effective Thursday morning, March 26th as of 8:00 a.m.  Schipper says conditions will be monitored closely, and if there is a long duration between rains, a burn ban may again be initiated.

 

National Severe Weather Awareness Week

(Sioux Falls) -- This week is National Severe Weather Awareness Week, and according to Meteorologist Todd Heitkamp with the National Weather Services at Sioux Falls, he says severe weather can easily occur this time of year.

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Several area communities, including Le Mars, sounded their warning sirens this morning as a test rehearsal for a tornado warning. Heitkamp says he hopes people practiced, as if the warning was real.

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The weather official says severe weather involves more than just tornadoes.

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Heitkamp says people need to be aware of their surroundings, and to keep an eye to the sky.

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Siouxland Garden Show Scheduled For This Weekend

(Sioux City) -- A sure sign of spring is the annual Siouxland Garden Show scheduled for this weekend.  The annual event is in its 9th year and will be held at the Sioux City Convention Center Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Woodbury County Extension Program Coordinator Adrianne Jansen serves on the garden show committee and says this year's show will feature a garden party.

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Jansen says again this year the Siouxland Garden Show will feature many well-known speakers.

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The Siouxland Garden Show hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.  Admission is $5 per person.  Discount passes available for multiple days.


Legislature Undecided Upon School Start Date

(Le Mars) -- The Iowa Legislature and Governor Branstad are at odds over the date when school districts should start.  The House approved a bill that would not allow local school districts to begin classes until after August 23rd, where as the Senate has approved a measure saying the start date should be left to the decision of local school districts. Governor Terry Branstad has indicated he
would like to see schools start after August 31st.  Dr. Todd Wendt, Superintendent of schools for Le Mars Community says it is unfortunate the legislature can't agree, because under normal circumstances, the school district would have had its next year's school calendar approved by this time.

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Wendt believes no decision will be made until perhaps the end of the legislative session.  He says the delay by the legislature is affecting family's summer plans and work schedules.  Wendt says in past discussions, the Le Mars Community School Board generally supports the Senate position by allowing each school district to decide when school should start.

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The Le Mars Community School Superintendent believes there are other issues relating to education that deserve the state legislature's attention, and perhaps are more important, than when to start the school year.

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Onawa City Officials To Decide What To Do With Saint Bernard Dog

ONAWA, Iowa (AP) - The Onawa City Council has put off a decision on what to do
about a St. Bernard that's called a "gentle giant" by its owner and a potential menace by some other residents of the western Iowa community.
Dozens of people packed the council meeting Tuesday to learn Zhivago's fate. The 3-year-old, 200-pounder has gotten loose twice but hasn't bitten anyone. Police say he's a dangerous animal who should be seized. Owner Billy Parker says Zhivago is a "gentle giant" and a therapy animal who poses no
threat.
Council members discussed changing city ordinances so that a tall fence
could be installed to help keep the dog in his yard. The members delayed a final decision until their April 14 meeting.
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Sioux City To Settle Sexual Harassment Suit Against Former City Manager

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City and its former city manager Paul Eckert have agreed to settle in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against them by an employee.
The city on Wednesday announced the $300,000 settlement with Brittany Scott, who sued in July 2013, claiming she was denied a full-time administrative assistant position in retaliation for her complaints about Eckert. The case was scheduled to go to trial next week.
Scott has said Eckert made sexual advances beginning in 2000, and that he retaliated by demoting her when she told council members. Eckert has maintained that the allegations are unfounded.
Stan Munger, Scott's attorney, tells the Sioux City Journal that Scott is satisfied with the outcome. The city says the lawsuit's conclusion allows city leaders to return their focus to other matters.

House Passes Bill Regarding Rideshare

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa House has approved rules for ridesharing services such as Uber, saying a statewide approach is better than different regulations in many cities.
The legislation outlining the state regulations advanced Tuesday on a 95-5 vote. It now goes to the Senate for review.
The legislation prevents cities from implementing stricter ordinances in most cases. Rep. Chris Hagenow, a Windsor Height Republican who managed the bill on the House floor, says this ensures consistency across the state.
The bill also requires ridesharing companies to provide insurance coverage of up to $100,000 when drivers are waiting to be contacted for a ride and $1 million once a job is accepted.
Rep. Dawn Pettengill, a Mount Auburn Republican, says those coverage numbers should be higher.

Iowa House OKs Bill On Contact Information For Officials

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The House has passed legislation that would require some elected public officials in Iowa to have contact information published online in a timely manner.
The House voted unanimously for the bill, which would require an entity with a website to post contact information for an elected public official within 30 days of the official's swearing in to the position. Public officials are defined in the bill as lawmakers, county board supervisors, city council members and board members of a school district.
Officials will only be required to have a phone number and email address posted.
Rep. Mike Sexton, a Republican from Rockwell City who led the bill on the floor, says the legislation offers transparency. The Senate is considering a similar bill, and Sexton expects it to pass.

Branstad And Miller On Opposite Sides Of EPA Lawsuit

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two top Iowa elected officials are on the opposite sides of a lawsuit the U.S. Supreme Court is considering.
Gov. Terry Branstad joins Michigan and other Republican-led states arguing Wednesday against a proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mercury and toxic air emissions standard for power plants. Attorney General Tom Miller joins colleagues from other states supporting EPA.
Branstad, a Republican, joins 20 other state leaders seeking to strike down the regulation as unlawful because the EPA failed to initially consider costs calculated at $9.6 billion.
Miller, a Democrat, sides with 15 other states supporting EPA. He says he's defending the interests of citizens against pollutants that risk their health and degrade water.
The EPA says it's not required to weigh costs when first considering regulations designed to protect public health.

 

   

Wednesday News, March 25

Neunaber To Have Hearing On Friday To Suppress Evidence

(Le Mars) -- A court hearing will be held Friday in the case of an Akron, Iowa man charged with first degree murder in the death of his mother.  A hearing in the case of 45 year old Jonathon Neunaber will be held Friday Plymouth County District Court.  Court documents filed Neunaber's attorney claim that the suspect did not have legal counsel when he was arrested and interviewed by authorities in Wisconsin last year.  Neunaber's attorney wants statements made and evidence taken in Wisconsin thrown out of the case.  A hearing on the motion to suppress will take place at 11:15 a.m. in Le Mars before Judge Steven Andreasen.

 

Traffic Stop Results In Arrest For Possession of Marijuana

(Le Mars) -- A traffic stop on South Ridge Road Saturday afternoon has resulted in a man being charged with possession of marijuana.  32 year old Charles Gordon of Sioux City was placed under arrest for a second offense.  He was transported to the Plymouth County jail.

 

Linseed Oil Soaked Rags Responsible For Orange City House Fire

(Orange City) -- More information is now known relating to the Orange City home that caught on fire Saturday evening.  The fire was determined to be accidential in origin.  Fire officials believe the most probable cause of the fire was the result of spontaeeous combustion due to unattended linseed oil rags left in a bucket near the rear of the residence.  The fire then spread from the rags, igniting the back of the home, up toward the roof area.  The ranch style home located at 303 Kentucky Avenue Northwest sustained an estimated $150,000 in damages.

 

Sioux City Apartment Complex Is Reg-tagged Forcing Residents To Seek Other Housing

(Sioux City) -- 22 people are temporarily homeless in Sioux City after the city red tagged the Jackson Manor Apartments located at 1700 Jackson Street.   A statement from the city says the building was deemed unsafe for occupancy following an inspection by the fire department.  Major Von Vandiver of the Salvation Army says residents had complained about safety issues with the building.

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Twelve of the 40 apartments in the building were occupied by 19 adults and three children.  Major Vandiver says the Salvation Army is assisting those residents.

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Those options include the Gospel Mission and other similar agencies in town.

Three Arrested In Tire Theft

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Police say three men have been arrested in connection with an attempted theft of three dozen truck tires from a Sioux City tire store.
Thirty-year-old Raleigh Davis and 31-year-old Cody Parry, both of Sioux City, and 45-year-old David Linton, of Jefferson, South Dakota, were arrested on charges of first-degree theft, third-degree burglary and possession of burglar's tools. They are accused of trying to steal $11,275 worth of tires from Graham Tire in Sioux City.
Police responded around 1 a.m. Sunday to find the men leaving the area in a white van. Officers found a walkie-talkie inside the vehicle and discovered a cut fence and 36 semitrailer tires stacked nearby.
All three men are scheduled to appear in court April 1.

Senate Approves Townsend For Workforce Director

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Senate has confirmed Beth Townsend's appointment as director of Iowa Workforce Development.
The Senate backed Gov. Terry Branstad's nominee in a 48-0 vote Tuesday.
Branstad announced the appointment last month. Townsend had been serving in the role in an interim capacity since the previous director retired in January.
Townsend previously served as executive director of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.
Former director Teresa Wahlert was accused last year of mismanaging the department and creating a hostile work environment. A former chief judge said he was fired because he stood up to Wahlert.
Wahlert later defended her work in front of lawmakers investigating the agency.

House Wants Schools To Start After August 23rd

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa House has approved a bill that would give the state control over when school districts can start their calendar year, a move that reverses course from legislation approved in the Senate and sets up conflict over what may happen next.
The House voted 71-29 Tuesday in support of a bill that would require school districts in Iowa to start classes no earlier than Aug. 23. The House bill changes legislation passed in the Senate, which would give school districts local control over when to start.
The House bill, which now heads back to the Senate, also adds language that would exempt some school districts with year-round calendars.
The Senate is expected to oppose the revamped bill, which may force lawmakers to debate the issue in a special committee.

Senate Committee Declines Health Department Nominee

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa Senate committee has declined to endorse the governor's pick to lead the state Department of Human Services.
The Human Resources Committee on Tuesday advanced the nomination of DHS Director Chuck Palmer without recommendation. Members expressed concerns about communication with lawmakers over plans like closing two mental health institutions. But many praised Palmer and noted he held a challenging position.
Palmer's nomination now goes to the full Senate, where he needs approval from two-thirds of the members. Democratic Senate President Pam Jochum, from Dubuque, said she was not sure if there were enough votes for approval.
Palmer took over DHS in 2011 after Gov. Terry Branstad returned to office. He also ran the department years ago.
Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers said the governor was optimistic Palmer would win confirmation.

Senate Panel Approves Bill To Track Bed Availability For Mental Patients

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Senate panel has approved a bill that would develop a system for tracking when a bed is available in Iowa for a person needing psychiatric treatment.
Members of a Human Resources subcommittee approved the bill Tuesday. It now heads to a full committee for consideration.
The bill would allow the state Department of Human Services to use $200,000 to develop and implement an electronic tracking system. A state official would then be able to check the availability of an inpatient psychiatric hospital bed and reserve a space for an adult or child.
The bill, which passed in the House earlier this month, would require the bed to remain reserved until the patient arrived.
Representatives with the Iowa Hospital Association expressed concern about the availability of beds in some instances.

Microsoft Suing State Of Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Microsoft Corp. has sued the state of Iowa, claiming their application for a software contract was not fairly considered.
The company filed a petition for judicial review last week in Polk County District Court that alleges Iowa officials unfairly approved a competitor's proposal. The petition seeks a reversal of Iowa's $7.5 million contract with Tempus Nova to implement a cloud-based software system for thousands of state employees as part of the deal.
The eight companies issued proposals to the state agency last year. Microsoft claims Iowa officials waived certain requirements for Tempus Nova in accepting its bid, including that it wouldn't have met Iowa's open records laws.
DAS spokesman Caleb Hunter says he can't comment on pending litigation.

Marshalltown Man Wants City To Pay For Damage Following Raid

MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (AP) - A Marshalltown man says the city should pay for damage to his rental property caused by a police department SWAT team during its search for a murder suspect.
Ron Iole told the Marshalltown City Council Monday that he filed a claim with the city's insurance carrier, reporting approximately $19,000 in damages from the Jan. 20 incident in which a SWAT unit surrounded Iole's building and fired nearly 30 canisters of tear gas inside. But officials denied the claim, saying the city was not responsible.
Iole says he can't afford to remove the tear gas order and other repairs. Council members say they'll look for ways to help.
The incident occurred as authorities sought 19-year-old Jose Enrique Morales, who was wanted for first-degree murder. Morales has since been located and charged.

 


   

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