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Iowa Farmland Values

AMES, Iowa (AP) — The average price of Iowa farmland fell nearly 9 percent in the past year but still remains far above prices seen a decade ago.

A report shows prices fell 8.9 percent to an average of $7,943 an acre. The Des Moines Register reports that despite the drop, the average price is more than double prices seen a decade ago.

Michael Duffy, a retired Iowa State professor who conducted the survey, says the farmland value decline is due to commodity prices and farm income "settling back to more expected levels."

It was the second time since 1999 that the survey showed farmland prices had declined.

Scott County had the highest average farmland price.


Former Clarke University Employee Accused of Stealing from School

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — A former Clarke University employee has been accused of stealing more than $300,000 from the school in a book vendor scheme.

James Spaulding, a former bookstore manager at Clarke, faces one count of mail fraud and two counts of filing a false tax return.

Authorities say Spaulding submitted invoices to buy books from a company he established with a friend. He is accused of issuing checks for invoices and would later receive cashier's checks.

A hearing in the case is scheduled today.

Clarke University reported the theft in April 2013 after an internal review of vendors.


Dunkel Appointed to Lead Economic Growth Committee in Iowa House

Des Moines, Iowa – House Democratic Leader Mark Smith of Marshalltown has appointed Representative Nancy Dunkel as the Ranking Member of the House Economic Growth Committee for the 2015 Legislative Session. Dunkel will also serve on the Appropriations, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs and Transportation Budget Subcommittee.


Two Injured in Dubuque County Crash

Authorities have identified two people who were injured in a crash Monday evening at the intersection of Highway 151 and Monestary Road. According to the Dubuque County Sheriff's Office, 62-year-old Roger Halverson of Cresco was westbound on Skyline Road when he failed to yield the right-of-way while crossing 151. His pickup collided with a southbound car driven by 30-year-old Ben Meyer of Bernard. Halverson was taken to a Dubuque hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Meyer was transferred to University Hospitals in Iowa City. His condition was unknown. That crash happened around 5:30 p.m. Monday.


Green Bay-Based Company Acquires Lumber Specialties

Green Bay-based US LBM Holdings has announced the acquisition of Lumber Specialties. L.T. Gibson, President & CEO of US LBM,  says they are very pleased to have Lumber Specialties join the company and further their reach and abilities for truss and panel products. Lumber Specialties President Dennis Westhoff said the new partnership will allow them to continue to grow as a company and improve operations. Lumber Specialties was founded in Dyersville in 1983 with 10 employees. It now has almost 220 at facilities in Dyersville and Story City. US LBM Holdings is a collection of 17 building material distributors with more than 90 locations in 19 states.


Iowa Museum Receives 16 Baby Turtles Confiscated at Airport

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — Officials for a Dubuque museum say they've received 16 baby turtles that were confiscated at an airport in Alaska.

The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confiscated the turtles at an airport in Anchorage, Alaska. They arrived at the museum on Wednesday.
More than 200 turtles were recovered at the airport after being packed inside boots in luggage. The museum says federal officials thwarted a plan to illegally export them to China.

The museum says it received wood turtles, Blanding's turtles and loggerhead musk turtles.

Some of the turtles will be on display after a quarantine period. Museum officials gave eight turtles to officials at Mines of Spain Recreation Area and Maquoketa Caves State Park.


Chief: Councilman, Firefighter Save Iowa Man

MAQUOKETA, Iowa (AP) — A fire chief in eastern Iowa says an off-duty firefighter and a city councilman have saved a man in a wheelchair from a burning home.

Maquoketa Fire Chief Mark Beck says the pair rescued Harvey Untiedt on Sunday after a fire started near his Christmas tree. Beck says firefighter Matt Tranel and Councilman Corey Simonson live nearby and went into the house before firefighters arrived.

Beck says smoke in the air reached down to their knees when they entered. The men found Untiedt coughing in the kitchen and helped him outside.

It's unclear what started the fire.


Eight People Taken to Hospital Following Highway 20 Crash near Peosta
 
Eight people were taken to the hospital following a crash near Peosta Sunday afternoon. Authorities say 19-year-old Robert Borley, of Dubuque, was northbound on Dutch Lane Road when he failed to stop at Highway 20. His pickup continued through the intersection and into the path of a westbound vehicle. A passenger in Borley's truck, 20-year-old Justin Bell, was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. An adult passenger and six children in the other vehicle were taken in for treatment of minor injuries. Borley was cited for failing to stop at a stop sign and operating too fast for road conditions. That crash happened around 1:45 p.m. Sunday.


3 Juveniles from Independence Crash SUV

INDEPENDENCE — Authorities say three juveniles who ran away from the Four Oaks facility in Independence Saturday night lead law enforcement on a high-speed chase in a stolen vehicle. Independence police say Four Oaks staffed notified them the three males left about 7:15 p.m. and were located at the Casey’s General Store near Highway 20. They drove off westbound on Highway 20 before turning south on Interstate 380 in Black Hawk County. The pursuit ended when the SUV crashed and rolled into a ditch at the bottom of an exit ramp onto Highway 150 near Urbana. They were taken to a Cedar Rapids hospital with what police called non-life threatening injuries. Police said the SUV was stolen from a home in Independence, and numerous charges are pending.


Arlington Couple Facing Livestock Neglect Charges

WEST UNION, Iowa (AP) — Charges of livestock neglect and failure to properly dispose of animal carcasses have been brought against an Arlington couple.

The charges are simple misdemeanors against 50-year-old Duane John Landis and 49-year-old Margaret Ann Landis.

The charges stem from an investigation that began when Fayette County sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant on the Landis property. At the time, five horses were removed from the property.

The newspaper says deputies also worked with the Landises to make sure carcasses found on the property had been properly disposed of.


Dubuque Looks to Limit Sledding

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — Those wanting to enjoy some sledding in Dubuque this winter might soon find their options limited.

The Dubuque City Council will consider an ordinance restricting sledding on public property to two city parks.

If adopted, sledding would only be allowed at Allison-Henderson Park and Bunker Hill Golf Course.

City Attorney Barry Lindahl says the move is necessary to reduce liability risk to the city. Lindahl says municipalities are largely indemnified against lawsuits related to skateboarding and bicycling injuries, but that no such protections exist for sledding, skiing and snowboarding.


Early School Start

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Department of Education says it will stop granting automatic waivers to school districts seeking to start classes early.

Department director Brad Buck sent a letter Friday to state education leaders saying the change is effective immediately.

The announcement came shortly after Gov. Terry Branstad sent a letter to Buck asking that officials only grant a waiver if a school district demonstrates a "significant negative educational impact" of beginning classes on time, as required by law.

Districts must start school no earlier than the calendar week that includes Sept. 1. But nearly all of them receive waivers to begin classes earlier.

Branstad's letter says starting earlier "unnecessarily interferes" with families' plans, seasonal hiring and the State Fair.


Western Dubuque Discussing PK-4 Class Sizes

The Western Dubuque School Board has received an update on class sizes as they look to even those class sizes in grades Pre-K through 4. Currently, elementary class sizes in the district vary by as many at 13 students per classroom. The board was presented with three options for providing more equitable class sizes and consistent class sections. One option would include redrawing attendance center boundary lines with a limit on waivers. Another option would realign building grade levels with no boundary line changes. The third option would involve moving an entire grade if there was a lack of building space. Community presentations will be held in January, with a decision expected at the March board meeting.


Teen Taken into Custody after Bomb Threat in Iowa

ARLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — Authorities say a 16-year-old has been taken into custody following a bomb threat at a northeast Iowa high school.

The Fayette County Sheriff's Office says the male teenager was taken into custody after a handwritten message about a bomb threat was found Wednesday morning at Starmont High School in Arlington. Authorities did not find a bomb and no injuries were reported.

The student, who was later released to a guardian, faces a felony charge of threats. He will be referred to juvenile authorities.


Railroad Settles Mississippi River Oil Spill Claim

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A railroad company has agreed to pay $625,000 000 to cover environmental costs related to a 2008 derailment that caused an oil spill in the Mississippi River between Iowa and Wisconsin.

Canadian Pacific would make the payment without admitting wrongdoing to settle a civil complaint filed Tuesday by the state of Iowa and the United States government. The proposed settlement faces a 30-day comment period.

The complaint alleges that derailed locomotives spewed 4,400 gallons of diesel oil and other petroleum products onto the shoreline near Guttenberg, Iowa and into the river. It allegedly resulted in the loss of mussels that are considered endangered and damage to other aquatic life. The complaint says Canadian Pacific took steps to clean up the oil but wasn't able "to remediate the entire area affected."


Fisherman Saved after Falling Through Ice

A fisherman was saved after falling through the ice in Guttenberg on Sunday. Ron Hillers was also fishing when he heard a noise and spotted the man in the water, hanging on to the ice. Hillers and others were able to pull him out. The unidentified man was taken to Guttenberg Municipal Hospital for treatment.


Dubuque County Officials Looking at Options to Improve Safey at Railroad Crossing near Dyersville

Dubuque County officials are looking into options to improve safety measures at a railroad crossing near Dyersville. Following a crash last month, county engineer Bret Wilkinson has been asked to study if the county could place a stop sign on Olde Hawkeye Road at the intersection with Wuchter Road, which would include a right turn-no stop for those turning on to Wuchter Road. They say it would alert drivers of the route to Highway 20 and deter them from continuing on the dead-end road. They will also consider adding other warning signs at the intersection.


Boy Dies after Being Hit by Skid Loader

A young boy has died after being hit by a skid loader in rural Manchester. Authorities received a call at 8:14 p.m. Friday that 3-year-old Colton Meyer had been struck by a skid loader at 1283 240th Street. That accident remains under investigation by the Delaware County Sheriff's Office.


Dubuque County Sheriff's Office Update on Car vs. Train Accident

The Dubuque County Sheriff's Office has released an update on the investigation of a fatal car vs. train accident near Dyersville. According to to preliminary investigation, 62-year-old Mary Bouillion, of Corallville, was impaired at the time and that may have been a contributing factor in the crash. There is no indication that a GPS device was being used at the time and was not a contributing factor.


Edgewood Man Dies in Crash Near Strawberry Point

Authorities are investigating a crash that killed an Edgewood man earlier this week. Clayton County Sheriff's officials said Wednesday that 21-year-old Matthew Belk was westbound on 390th Street near Strawberry Point when his vehicle lost control, struck and embankment in the ditch and rolled, landing in a field. Belk, who was ejected, was pronounced dead at the scene. A passerby who spotted Belk's vehicle in the ditch notified authorities of the crash at approximately 10 a.m. Monday.

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