New State Tax Break For Biodiesel

Des Moines, Iowa — The brand new state law that raises the tax on gasoline and diesel by 10 cents a gallon includes a first-ever tax break for soybean-based biodiesel, similar to the tax advantage for corn-based ethanol blends. Grant Menke, the policy director for the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, says the industry believes this new tax break will spur usage and make blends of biodiesel more widely available.

(as said) “With the federal policy landscape as uncertain as ever and no real end in sight to that, we’re thankful to the Iowa legislature for showing leadership to drive higher use of a higher biodiesel blend,” Menke says. The federal tax breaks for biodiesel expired at the end of 2014. The state fuel tax charged to ethanol-blended fuels is and will continue to be two-cents-per-gallon lower than what’s charged on regular gasoline. Now, the state tax on diesel that contains at least 11 percent soybean-based biodiesel will be three-cents-per-gallon less.

(as said) “We really think with this differential, it’s a point of sale benefit that consumers can choose at the pump, so they will be saving taxes by choosing higher biodiesel blends,” Menke says. Currently in Iowa, gasoline is taxed at 21 cents per gallon, but gasoline blended with at least 10 percent ethanol is taxed at only 19 cents per gallon. Diesel has been taxed at 22-and-a-half cents per gallon with no incentive for biodiesel. The 10-cents-per-gallon tax increase for motor fuel sold in Iowa goes into effect Sunday, along with the new three-cent per gallon break for biodiesel.

Experts warn against panic buying of fuel before the tax increase takes effect, saying that could cause a shortage, which would cause even higher prices.

As if that weren’t enough, predicts higher fuel prices in the next two to three weeks anyway, due to the switch over from winter to summer blend, the seasonal decline in gasoline inventory from reduced refinery output, and United Steelworkers Union strikes at 12 refineries.

Radio Iowa assisted with this story.

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New Mini Zoo Proposed In Rock Rapids

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Current Island Park Mini Zoo

Rock Rapids, Iowa — The Mini Zoo in Rock Rapids’ Island Park was destroyed by last year’s flood. But according to mayor Jason Chase, there is a proposal in the works to build a new one in a slightly different location.

He says that besides the fact that the Mini Zoo building was rendered unusable by the flood, the people who are handling the Mini Zoo issue have come to another conclusion.

He says they have an unusual idea. There are two shelter houses west of the swimming pool — an enclosed shelter house to the south, and a steel-roof open shelter house to the north. They thought that perhaps they could re-purpose the open shelter house.

He says the present location of the Mini Zoo has always been in a bad place when the park floods.

Mayor Chase says it would also be more accessible to foot traffic.

He says feed storage could also be in the same building instead of a separate building, and a fenced-in area is proposed northwest of the proposed zoo, where animals could get out and run.

Island Park west open shelter
Island Park west open shelter

Chase says this plan is not set in stone yet.

He says they have some funding for the Mini Zoo through pledges, insurance, and a Lyon County Riverboat Foundation grant, but it might be a year or two before they could replace the open shelter where the Mini Zoo is now.

Also, the city continues to work on park improvement at Island Park through the park planning firm, “Confluence.”

If you’d like to donate to the project, if you have ideas, or you’d like to volunteer to be part of the Mini Zoo group, or help in any way, Chase says you can call the city office at 712-472-2553.

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Iowa State Patrol Post 5 Office Re-Opened In Cherokee

Cherokee, Iowa — Years ago, there was an Iowa State Patrol office in Cherokee. But due to some financial issues, the state decided to close the office, known as “Post 5”. But Post 5 is back.
Trooper Kurtz 495
Trooper Vince Kurtz with the Iowa State Patrol tells us the situation.

Trooper Kurtz says closing the Cherokee office really didn’t save as much money as the state had hoped.

He says when Post 5 was closed, District 5 was split up between Post 6 in Spencer and Post 4 in Denison. He tells us the counties that will again make up District 5.

By the way, the Spencer office will now only cover Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Emmet, Sioux, O’Brien, Clay, and Palo Alto counties, the same is it did before District 5 was split up initially.

Kurtz says there shouldn’t be too much noticeable change to the public except a greater number of troopers in the Cherokee area.

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Governor, Lt. Governor Visit Sioux Center

Sioux Center, Iowa — The Governor and Lt. Governor of Iowa were in Sioux Center on Thursday and took part in some public gatherings.
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One of them was about a STEM grant. The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council has named Sioux Center High School as the recipient of a $50,000 district-matched award to implement a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) classroom. Sioux Center High School was one of four recipients chosen from a group of 23 applications submitted last summer.

Sioux Center High School proposed a partnership with Dordt College. The proposal includes plans for redesigned learning spaces and curriculum in partnership with the college. Working together will allow the school district and Dordt to share costs, to partner in professional development, and to better evaluate new technologies and teaching strategies.

Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds also attended the ribbon cutting of Sioux Center’s new universal preschool building, the Discovery Campus Preschool Learning Center.

The preschool is a collaborative endeavor between the City of Sioux Center, Dordt College, Sioux Center Health, Sioux Center Community Schools, and Mid-Sioux Opportunity.

Sheldon Optometrist Pleads Not Guilty

Sheldon, Iowa — A Sheldon optometrist accused of assault has entered a plea of not guilty, according to court records.
O'Brien Courthouse2
According to the Sheldon Police Department, 68-year-old Dr. Allen Jones is charged with Aggravated Assault, a Serious Misdemeanor, in connection with an incident police say happened at a Sheldon business in December.

According to authorities, a no-contact order was issued against Jones in connection with the incident. Court records indicate that O’Brien County Attorney Micah Schreurs has requested a special prosecutor in the case.

Jones’ written plea was taken at an arraignment on Thursday, February 26th. A pre-trial conference is set for April 13, 2015, with a trial scheduled to start on April  28, 2015.

Man Sentenced To Two Years On Indecent Contact

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A George man has been sentenced to two years in prison on an indecent contact charge.
Lyon Courthouse SVA
The Lyon County Attorney’s office reports that 51-year-old Tom Nytroe of George has been sentenced on a charge of Indecent Contact with a Child, an Aggravated Misdemeanor.

The charge stems from a criminal complaint stating that Nytroe inappropriately touched a 12-year-old child. Nytroe was 50 years of age at the time of the offense.

Nytroe was sentenced to a prison sentence not to exceed two (2) years in addition to other penalties, and he is to have no contact with the victim. Nytroe was immediately taken into custody by the Lyon County Sheriff to begin his prison sentence.

According to court records, before plea negotiation, Nytroe had been charged with a felony: Third Degree Sexual Abuse.