January 3 news

WORTHINGTON – After the spring ice storms of 2013, Nobles Cooperative Electric in Worthington and Federated Rural Electric of Jackson received $3.5 million in federal grants to help fund repairs, but more than $1.7 million in reconstruction costs were denied through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA says the additional funding was denied based on the cooperatives’ failure to have a written, formally adopted and applied code of standard in place.

Rick Burud, general manager of the two cooperatives, said they were notified by FEMA in late July of the rule that made a portion of their funding request ineligible for reimbursement. An appeal to FEMA was filed in August, but according to Emergency Management Program Specialist Sarah Wolfe, FEMA has until January 16 to respond.
The rule regarding a written code of standard has been part of the federal code of regulations FEMA abides by for nearly a decade, according to Wolfe, but cooperative officials say it was a change they weren’t made aware of.

Wolfe said they have the right to a second appeal if FEMA denies this first request. That appeal would advance to FEMA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Members of the cooperatives are asked to contact their legislators in support of the appeal.

WORTHINGTON – New scouting opportunities are available in the area for girls in sixth and seventh grades and boys on first through fifth grades.

Starting Saturday, there will be weekly Girl Scout ConnectZ meetings from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the West Learning Center, 117 11th Ave. There are currently four Girl Scout troops in the middle school and three in the high school. The ConnectZ meetings incorporate a special curriculum, with focus on developing skills and attitudes critical for growing girls. For additional information about the troop, contact Kelsey Zubke at (507) 438-8018.

The Boy Scouts of America Sioux Council is forming a new Cub Scout Pack in Worthington. There are two other packs in Worthington, but the district in Sioux Falls, S.D., is motivated to get scouting more active in the area. Cub master Steve Schemp said he wants this to be an active pack, hitting big events such as the Pinewood Derby and Blue and Gold Banquet, but also focusing on community awareness. For more information, contact Schemp at (240) 434-6504.

ARNOLD'S PARK, Iowa - Two men have been arrested for the alleged theft of an equipment trailer in Arnold's Park. On Tuesday evening, the Arnold's Park Police Department was notified of a missing construction equipment trailer.

An officer saw a trailer matching the description of the one reported missing as it was being pulled behind a vehicle. The vehicle was stopped by police. Arrested were Jeffrey Alan Fields of Round Lake, who was charged with First Degree Theft, and Joshua Alan Fields of Tea, South Dakota, who was charged with First Degree Theft and Possession of a Controlled Substance. Both were booked into the Dickinson County Jail. The case remains under investigation.

CHEROKEE, Iowa-- A sex offender ordered released by the Iowa Supreme Court will stay behind bars for months after pleading guilty to a separate assault charge. Anthony William Geltz pleaded guilty to assaulting an employee at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute, and was sentenced to a prison term that lasts until May 20th.

The 20-year-old was placed in the Cherokee institution in April 2012 after a court ordered that he be committed for treatment as a sexually violent predator. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled last month that the state could not keep Geltz committed under the law because his sexual abuse offenses came as juvenile.

Justices say they are concerned that Geltz will reoffend if he is released.

GEORGE, Iowa - The Lyon County Sheriff's Department is investigating a hit and run accident which occurred sometime between the night hours of December 31, 2013 and the morning hours of January 1, 2014 in George, IA. A light pole, owned by Alliant Energy of Sibley, IA was struck by an unknown vehicle in the parking lot of The Good Knight located at 600 S Virginia St, George, IA. The pole received approximately $2,000 in damages. Anyone with information on this accident is asked to contact the Lyon County Sheriff's Department at 712-472-8300.

MINNESOTA - Minnesota lawmakers are joining other states calling for mandatory cell phone technology that would allow people to remotely disable a lost or stolen smart phone.

State Rep. Joe Atkins, who chairs the House Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, announced on Thursday that he will introduce a bill in time for the 2014 legislative session. Several other states have attempted similar efforts, but so far those efforts have not been successful.

Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar joined in the calls for demanding that wireless providers enable new anti-theft technology on phones.

Klobuchar says one-third of all robberies involve cell phone theft. She estimates that resulted in around $30 billion in lost or stolen phones. Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, believes the “kill switch” technology could significantly reduce phone theft.

The Hill reports Klobuchar sent a letter to the heads of Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and US Cellular asking them if they have included the “kill switch” in their phones and to explain why or why not. Those groups provide service to more than 90 percent of the nation’s wireless customers.

Providers worry that if such a switch were created it would be known by every operator and would not be able to be kept secret. Also, they say they are already developing a proactive, multifaceted approach to dry up the market for stolen phones.

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