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Across the Region: August 18


Judge rules Iowa bar can keep liquor license

A western Iowa bar once featured on a reality television show can keep its liquor license despite bad behavior shown on the program, a judge ruled.

Administrative Law Judge Margaret LaMarche overturned a May decision by the Council Bluffs City Council to deny the O Face Bar’s liquor license after it was featured on a Spike TV show called “Bar Rescue.”

A March episode of the show, which is about reinventing struggling bars, showed multiple fights and the use of profanity. It also showed one employee smoking in a back office.

Matt Overmyer, who owns the bar with his wife, appealed the city’s decision to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division. He claimed the show’s producers encouraged his staff to engage in staged fights and disorderly conduct for the cameras. He also said business has declined at the bar because of the show.

Overmyer said the business has had only one liquor law violation in more than three years.

LaMarche agreed with Overmyer, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to justify denying the bar’s liquor license renewal.

Assistant city attorney Don Bauermeister said the city respects the judge’s decision.


Judge threatens to sanction Iowa photographer

An Iowa newspaper photographer says that because a judge threatened sanctions, he won’t publish a picture of a mayor charged with sexual abuse.

Judge Joel Dalrymple warned Jerry Blue and his newspaper, the Fayette County Union, they could be held in contempt if any picture of the mayor or judge were published.

Blue says he’s heartbroken he cannot run a picture of deputies transporting Oelwein Mayor Jason Manus to last week’s court appearance.

Dalrymple says Blue didn’t comply with newly revised rules requiring photographers to get permission to take pictures inside courthouses.

Blue says he’s long taken pictures in the courthouse — not the courtroom itself — without permission. He says media representatives advised him that running the picture probably would put him in contempt.


Cargill settles EPA dispute in Iowa, Nebraska

Cargill Inc. has agreed to pay more than $187,000 to settle allegations that it violated the Clean Water Act at large oil storage facilities in Iowa and Nebraska.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 7 says the privately held multinational corporation lacked a response plan at two facilities that outlined procedures for addressing serious oil discharges.

The facilities are located in Blair, Nebraska, and Eddyville, Iowa. Each facility produces and stores more than one million gallons of oil.

The EPA identified the issue during site visits in 2013. The Minnesota-based company submitted response plans in June 2014.


Kearney council to consider sex offender limits

The Kearney City Council will consider limiting where convicted sex offenders may live in the south-central Nebraska city.

The council is scheduled to consider a proposed ordinance at its next meeting.

The ordinance would bar sex offenders from living within 500 feet of any school or licensed child care. The ordinance would apply only to Level 3 offenders — those considered to be at the highest risk of reoffending.

The ordinance would apply only to convicted sex offenders who move into Kearney or move to a new Kearney address after the ordinance is adopted. It would not be retroactive, forcing anyone to move elsewhere.

City Manager Mike Morgan says the ordinance was drafted after a group of residents requested it.


Fargo man convicted in horse deaths back in court

A Fargo man responsible for the deaths of more than 100 horses in western North Dakota is accused of violating probation terms by allegedly buying a horse.

William Kiefer, 64, appeared in Morton County last week on a bench warrant after prosecutors submitted a petition to revoke his probation.

The petition says Kiefer bought a horse from a Powell, Wyoming, woman for $2,000. Kiefer is also accused of failing to follow through with court-ordered mental health services.

Kiefer’s bond was set at $700.

Kiefer pleaded guilty last year to five counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty and four counts of overworking, mistreating or abandoning animals. He was sentenced to six months in custody and two years of probation.


N.D. sex offender website getting more improvements

The North Dakota Attorney General’s Office is using a $30,000 federal grant to further improve its sex offender website.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says that the state has spent almost a quarter of a million dollars improving the site launched 12 years ago to keep residents informed about the identity and whereabouts of convicted sex offenders.

He says the new money will pay for upgrades such as multiple mapping features, for sex offenders who have more than one residence. The site also will show where offenders go to school or where they work.


State officials look into Avera’s medical offer

South Dakota officials are investigating the legality of an arrangement in which Avera Health is covering out-of-pocket expenses of state employees for some medical services.

Avera has offered to help state workers with their medical bills if they seek the care they need from Avera rather than from two competitors that secured state contracts after competitive bidding. Avera, which owns St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre, says the arrangement spares many state employees a drive from the state capital to Sioux Falls for medical care.

Competitors Sanford Health and Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital say Avera is subverting the bidding process.

A change in the state’s health insurance plan this summer identifies preferred providers to give medical care to state employees and their families in five major, or Tier 1, categories. Sanford won the bidding to be the preferred provider in three of the five categories: cardiac, orthopedic and bariatric services. Sioux Falls Specialty Hospital won the bid for services in gastroenterology. Avera secured the contract for kidney care.

The move was part of a wider effort to save money for the health plan, which had been operating in the red. State employees who choose services from a facility other than the preferred provider pay more out of pocket for their care. Avera has offered to cover that difference in cost for 10,000 patients.

Libertarians nominate Bosworth’s husband for A.G.

The Libertarian Party in South Dakota has nominated the husband of former U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth for attorney general.

The Libertarians nominated Chad Haber last week.

Haber prevailed over former U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Evans and former attorney general candidate Bob Newland.

Haber accused incumbent Attorney General Marty Jackley of “corruption” and said he’s running primarily to unseat Jackley.

Jackley says that Haber’s remarks are off base.

Jackley’s office is currently prosecuting Bosworth for election violations. She is charged with six counts each of perjury and filing false documents, which carry a maximum punishment of 24 years in prison and $48,000 in fines.


2 prosecutors to square off for attorney general

Two prosecutors will face off this fall to become Wisconsin’s top law enforcement officer after a rural district attorney won the Democratic primary for attorney general, the most-competitive statewide race in an election that drew only about 10 percent of eligible voters to the polls.

Susan Happ, who rode a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in her only campaign ad, handily defeated two other Democratic challengers to win the nomination for attorney general.

Happ, the Jefferson County district attorney, will face fellow district attorney Brad Schimel, a Republican from Waukesha County, in the Nov. 4 general election. Happ won by about 20 points over state Rep. Jon Richards, with Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne a distance third.

Schimel said in a statement that his race against Happ will give voters “a clear choice between two starkly different candidates.”

Happ said she wasn’t going to change the approach that brought her to victory in the primary.

The attorney general’s seat is open after incumbent Republican J.B. Van Hollen decided against seeking a third term.


Church pig wrestling event held, despite protests

A church in Outagamie County didn’t let protests of animal cruelty stop its annual pig wrestling fundraiser.

St. Patrick Parish in Stephensville says the Pig Wrassle has been its tradition for 44 years and is a big draw for its fundraising picnic.

Spectators in the stands cheered as participants chased a pig around a muddy pen at the picnic last week. Dozens of demonstrators stood nearby in protest.

Jordan Turner is president of Global Conservation, an animal rights group from Milwaukee. Turner says tradition is no excuse for animal cruelty. He says the group’s online petition generated 60,000 signatures in protest of the event.

The event usually brings in about $3,000 for the parish, which has no plans to cancel the event again next year.

Across the Region is compiled from Associated Press wire, staff reports and news releases.

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