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Thursday Afternoon, August 21

Warm Weather Has Schools Dismissing Early

  SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Warm, humid weather is prompting some school officials in Iowa to dismiss classes early.
     The Sioux City Journal reports nine schools that don't have air conditioning will dismiss students at 1:30 p.m. Thursday amid high temperatures near 90 and high humidity.
     Schools also were closing early in Iowa Falls, North Tama, Independence, Centerville and other districts.
     Hot weather is expected to continue through the weekend.


City Council Hears About Skilled Iowa Initiative

(Le Mars) -- During Tuesday's Le Mars City Council meeting, the council heard a report from Jon Murad of Iowa Works.  Murad informed the council about Governor Branstad's Skilled Iowa Initiative to assist employers and workers, and stimulate business growth.  Murad told the council the Skilled Iowa Initiative is a critical step in improving the quality of the workforce in Iowa.  The program is supported by Iowa businesses, economic development, workforce development and education to enhance the quality of Iowa's workforce and connect Iowa's employers to the right labor pool.  Murad shared with the council that job seekers would complete a test of skills and abilities and would be given a certificate offering proof of your job skills.  Murad indicated having high job skills means having access to higher-paying jobs.  The council approved a measure offering support of the Skilled Iowa Initiative. 


Grain Elevator Scam 

   DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A northeast Iowa man sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison for fabricating grain elevator scale tickets and bankruptcy fraud has lost his sentence appeal.
     The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says 48-year-old Michael Recker was properly sentenced last year to 46 months in prison.
     Recker, of Arlington, admitted at sentencing that in 2008 and 2009 he bribed an elevator worker to create false grain tickets then lied to Internal Revenue Service investigators about it. He also admitted he didn't disclose to the bankruptcy court ownership and subsequent sale of a combine for $50,000.
     The appeals court judges conclude in a ruling posted Thursday the sentencing judge properly considered Recker's initial denial of his actions and 15 previous convictions for which he was treated leniently by Iowa courts.


Netherlands King To Visit Iowa Ethanol Plant

  EMMETSBURG, Iowa (AP) - The king of the Netherlands plans to visit Iowa next month to attend the grand opening of a northern Iowa ethanol plant co-owned by a Netherlands-based company.
     Willem-Alexander says he will take part in the Sept. 3 grand opening ceremony at the Project Liberty cellulosic ethanol plant in Emmetsburg and tour the facility. The $250 million project is a joint venture of Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based ethanol-maker POET and Royal DSM, a biotechnology company based in the Netherlands. The plant will produce 25 million gallons a year when fully operational. 
     It is among the first facilities of its size in the United States to begin making ethanol from plant material. 
     Cellulosic ethanol is made from the woody and fibrous parts of plants, including corn cobs, stalks, leaves and other residue.


University Of Iowa Marching Band to March In New Facility

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa marching band is trying out a new, $15-million indoor facility for the first time after stormy weather blew through Iowa City this week. 
     The Hawkeye Marching Band used to rehearse on a field along Park Road. Bad weather usually puts the nearly 250-member band behind schedule during its annual preseason camp, but students were able to rehearse inside on Wednesday.
     The new building also will be used for sports, including baseball, softball and soccer. It has athletic turf with yard markers, and acoustic panels line the ceiling to enhance sound for the band.


Branstad To Host Midwest-Japan Conference

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governors from throughout the Midwest will join next month with officials from Japan at a three-day conference in Des Moines.
     Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad announced Wednesday that the 2014 Midwest-U.S.-Japan Association Conference would feature governors from Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds also will attend.
     A number of officials from Japan, including the nation's ambassador to the United States, will speak at the conference.
     The events will be held September 7th through 9 at a downtown Des Moines hotel.


Aerial Spraying Blamed For Fish Kill

 GEORGE, Iowa (AP) - The state Department of Natural Resources says it's investigating a fish kill in northwest Iowa.
     Officials say a conservation officer reported seeing dead fish and crawdads in an unnamed stream Tuesday in Lyon County. Further investigation Wednesday revealed dead fish of different sizes and species in the stream. It is unclear how many fish have been affected.
     The stream flows into Rat Creek, a tributary of Otter Creek between Ashton and George.
     Officials say aerial spraying is the most probable cause of the spill, but lab results are still pending. Three aerial applicators were flying in the area Tuesday.
     This is the second recent fish kill in Lyon County. Officials believe it was caused by aerial spraying.





Thursday News, August 21

Archer-Daniels-Midland To Close Le Mars Feed Mill

(Le Mars) -- Archer-Daniels-Midland has announced it intends to close the A-D-M Alliance Nutrition Incorporated feed manufacturing facility located in Le Mars.  In a statement issued by the company, the closure will be permanent and will occur in September.  The facility has 15 employees.  A-D-M says the employees will receive a severance package and they will have the opportunity to apply for other positions with A-D-M.  The company statement says the closure of the this facility will not affect Alliance Nutrition, Incorporated's customers.  Customers impacted by this change will be contacted by their sales representative to discuss options going forward.


School Begins Today

(Le Mars) -- Today is the first day back to school for Le Mars Community and Gehlen Catholic. Many parents were seen escorting their small children to school, taking photographs, and finding both the locker and the classrooms. Students of all ages were carrying backpacks ready for their first day.   Floyd Athey serves as the principal for both Franklin and Clark elementary schools.  He says the first day back ususally serves as an orientation.

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At Gehlen Catholic, the day started with announcements and a prayer.  Principal Jeff Alesch read the announcements to start the first day of school.

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Alesch says Wednesday served as orientation for the students as they met their teachers and were handed their class schedules.  For today, well...the homework begins.

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The Gehlen junior high and high school principal says students are usually ready to begin school, and he adds, it doesn't take too long for the students to be get adjusted to the daily routine.

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Workforce Development Sends Out Benefits To Wrong People

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Internal emails show Iowa's workforce agency provided unemployment benefits earlier this year to people who didn't seek them and that staff was urged to stay quiet about what had happened.
     Iowa Workforce Development spokeswoman Kerry Koonce confirmed Wednesday that 85 people received excess unemployment payments in early March. Officials issued benefits to everyone who got them the previous week after a system malfunction meant they couldn't process updated information from recipients. Koonce stressed that about 30,000 received accurate payments.
     Agency emails provided to the Iowa Senate Government Oversight Committee show that after the malfunction, a manager emailed some staffers instructing them to provide no information about what happened and to blame "technical difficulties."
     The Oversight Committee is set to review what happened at hearings next week.


Consulting Firm Fired

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A consulting firm hired to review academic programs at Iowa's three public universities has been fired.
     The Des Moines Register reports an Iowa Board of Regents member confirmed Wednesday that KH Consulting, a Los Angeles-based company, had been fired by Deloitte Consulting.
     KH Consulting was working on a three-phase academic review. It recently collected massive amounts of data on programs at Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa.
     Deloitte is overseeing a wide-ranging study on the three schools as part of a major cost-cutting review. The newspaper reports the New York-based company halted collaboration with KH Consulting because of a time conflict. The company did not elaborate. They are now searching for another firm to finish the work.




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