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Warm start to November keeps harvest ahead of schedule

Warm start to November keeps harvest ahead of schedule

DES MOINES (AP) — Agriculture officials say an unusually warm start to November has helped Iowa corn and soybean farmers nearly complete this year’s harvest.

State Climatologist Harry Hillaker says statewide temperatures were about nine degrees above normal last week, making it the warmest start to November since 2008.

That allowed farmers to get 93 percent of the corn crop out of the fields, nine days ahead of last year’s harvest and two days ahead of the five-year average.

Agriculture officials say they’ve received reports of piles of corn on the ground at some ethanol plants and local elevators.

Soybean farmers have 98 percent of the crop harvested, a week ahead of last year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture updates its estimate of the size of this year’s harvest on Tuesday.

Despite nitrate spike,

Waterloo says drinking water is safe

WATERLOO (AP) — Waterloo has closed a well because of high nitrate levels, but officials say the city's drinking water is safe.

Waterloo Water Works stopped taking water from a well on East Dale Street after it showed a level of 10.7 milligrams per liter on Friday. That's above the maximum level of 10 milligrams per liter.

The city issued a warning because nitrates can cause health problems, especially for infants.

Water Works says the well will remain closed until more tests show the levels drop to safe levels.

Officials say the city gets its water from 14 wells and that water from the other 13 test out well below the nitrate limit.

The city is trying to figure out what caused the nitrate level in the closed well to spike.

Head of Iowa National Guard hopes to recruit more women

DES MOINES (AP) — The head of the Iowa National Guard said Monday that he is hoping to increase the number of women in the ranks.

Major General Timothy Orr said that he will sign a pledge to recruit and retain more women as part of campaign by a women’s business group in Iowa.

Orr said that female roles in the military are expanding, noting a recent Army decision to open field artillery jobs to women. He said two women have already enlisted into an artillery unit in northwest Iowa.

Currently about 18 percent of Iowa’s Air National Guard and 15 percent of Iowa’s Army National Guard is female — or about 16 percent of the nearly 9,000 members total. The participation rate is similar to the national military.

Orr said he’d like to double those numbers.

“I think really the sky’s the limit. There’s really a lot of opportunity,” Orr said. “We’re now able to open the whole book up and show them opportunities in all our units, and I think that’s significant.”

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said that men and women get leadership experience in the military that “I think prepares them for other positions.”

Cedar Rapids man convicted in parking lot stabbing

CEDAR RAPIDS (AP) — Jurors have convicted a Cedar Rapids man in the stabbing death of his former girlfriend in a supermarket parking lot.

KCRG-TV reports the Linn County jury on Monday convicted 32-year-old Nicholas Luerkens of first-degree murder in the killing of 29-year-old Lynnsey Donald.

During the trial, jurors watched surveillance video of the April 21 attack. Officials say Luerkens stabbed Donald dozens of times Prosecutors say he had been following her for months before the attack.

Defense lawyers say Luerkens was overusing an antidepressant drug, which contributed to diminished mental capacity during the attack.

Sentencing is set for Jan. 8. The conviction has a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

Coal cars derailed when train hits road grader in Iowa

DANVILLE (AP) — Authorities say nearly two dozen cars derailed when a coal train struck a road grader in southeast Iowa.

Des Moines County sheriff’s Lt. Brett Grimshaw says the accident occurred a little after 8 a.m. Monday, about a mile northwest of Danville. He says the grader was being used for repairs on nearby U.S. Highway 34 and had been backed onto the tracks.

Grimshaw says the grader operator was tossed about 40 feet by the impact of the collision and was checked by medics.

BNSF railroad spokesman Andy Williams says two locomotives and 21 of the 135 cars derailed. Williams says the two tracks at the site are out of service until the spilled coal is removed and any track repairs are finished.

Danville is 150 miles southeast of Des Moines.

Man jumps into river near Council Bluffs casino

COUNCIL BLUFFS (AP) — Authorities say a man was slightly injured after jumping into the Missouri River near a casino in Council Bluffs.

Police say the incident occurred around 2 a.m. Monday, after the man who was described as extremely intoxicated was barred from the Ameristar Casino. He soon jumped into the river, but authorities talked him into coming back out.

He was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication.

Waterloo to consider burning exception for large brush pile

WATERLOO (AP) — Waterloo officials are set to consider a rare exemption to Waterloo’s ban on burning yard waste.

The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier reports that the city council is expected to consider a request Monday by Con-Trol Container Systems to burn a large brush pile next month. The pile is about 30 feet in diameter.

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