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KLEM News PM Update October 19, 2010

(LE MARS)--Contract talks between city of Le Mars workers and the City Council began with a proposal from employees today.

Doug Masuen is president of the Le Mars City Employees Bargaining Unit. The group proposed a three-year contract, but indicated they were open to other possibilities.

The initial request is a three-and-a-half (3.5) percent increase beginning next July; another 3.5 percent increase in July of 2012 and a four (4.0) percent increase in the third year which would be July of 2013.

A written proposal presented this (Tuesday) morning includes a request for a $50 a year increase in all levels of longevity pay.

Increases in employee clothing and boot allowances are requested. Snow removal would be included in standby pay and clarification of snow emergency is also proposed.

The offer marks the start of talks for a contract agreement that would be in effect in July of next year.

The city has two weeks to make an initial contract proposal and is slated to discuss strategy by closing its meeting to the public at the end of the regular noon Council meeting.

Burning restrictions begin in Plymouth County Wednesday at 8 a.m.

(LE MARS)--Dry conditions will bring a change in burning in Plymouth County beginning tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors today approved a request to restrict burning submitted by fire chiefs in the county. The paperwork was forwarded to the State Fire Marshal's office.

Supervisors were notified the burning restrictions begin at eight tomorrow morning and anyone ticketed for violating the ban could be convicted of a simple misdemeanor which a fine payment.

Supervisors will receive additional information next week on a shortage of emergency responders for ambulance services operating in the county's towns and cities. Unless those communities have adequate staffing, supervisors were told the emergency needs could become a pocketbook issue for county taxpayers.

MidAmerican explosion damages plant; no injuries

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) Authorities say no one was injured in an explosion and fire that damaged a MidAmerican Energy plant in Sioux City.

The blast occurred about 6:30 p.m. on Monday and was heard and felt across the city's south side.

MidAmerican Energy spokesman Mark Reinders told a reporter that the explosion happened when two workers were clearing natural gas lines so they could perform routine maintenance.

Both workers escaped without injury.

Fire department spokesman Lt. Mark Aesoph says most of the fire was ``flash fire'' and was almost out when firefighters arrived.

The cause of the blast is under investigation.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

 

Missouri River panel to meet in Sioux City

(South Sioux City)--A large panel that's helping guide the rebuilding of the Missouri River's ecosystem meets this week in South Sioux City, Nebraska. Representatives from Iowa and seven other states, 18 Native American tribes and dozens of agencies and groups comprise the Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee. Chairman John Thorson, of Montana, says the organization is advising the U-S Army Corps of Engineers on existing and future programs for the river. The 70-member committee was founded in 2008 and Thorson says they're moving from organization to activity.

"There was a lot of litigation in the early part of the 21st century and a lot of the effort has been to build trust among the people around the table," Thorson says. "That's no small accomplishment but people are working well together now which is a good thing to see." Thorson says they are developing position papers on a number of ecosystem issues as the Corps implements its recovery efforts for the Missouri.

"Their budget for those activities varies between $50 and 80-million a year and we are developing specific recommendations to them," Thorson says. "The Corps is developing a long-term plan for the river that will look out about 40 or 50 years and we are working our way with the Corps on the development of that plan." Thorson says this panel will be around for a long time to help the Corps to carry out its decades-out goals.

"The Corps of Engineers will probably not complete that planning document until 2016 so we have quite a few years just working with them developing recommendations on the long-term recovery plan for the river." The committee meets tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Marina Inn in South Sioux City. The Missouri River drains one-sixth of the United States, encompassing more than 500-thousand square miles, while the river flows more than 23-hundred miles through seven states. The basin is also home to 28 American Indian Tribes. The states represented on the panel are: Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming, Nebraska and Montana. (News report by Radio Iowa)

Branstad reports $2 million in contributions

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Former Gov. Terry Branstad says he's raised more than $2 million in the last three months, bringing his total fundraising in his campaign for governor to about $7.6 million.

Aides to Democratic Gov. Chet Culver say they will release fundraising totals later Tuesday, the deadline for submitting financial disclosure forms.

Branstad's campaign says the Republican has about $840,000 of cash on hand for the final two weeks until Election Day.

Branstad says contributions to his campaign have come from more than 13,000 contributors.

Trash sorters pick through Iowa garbage

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) An expert team of trash sorters is going through the garbage at a landfill in the Cedar Rapids area to get an idea on recycling.

The Cedar Rapids-Linn County Solid Waste Agency hired contractors to analyze everything tossed into the landfill near Marion.

The Gazette says this week one out of every nine garbage trucks will dump the trash in a special location where everything will be analyzed, weighed and sorted by hand.

Spokesman Joe Horaney says when it's over, the agency will know a lot more about what's going in the trash and what could be recycled.

Horaney says once they have that answer, the agency can direct efforts to target recycling to keep those items out of the 200,000 tons of trash that gets buried at the landfill every year.

Omaha man imprisoned for Nebraska, Iowa bank jobs

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) A 31-year-old Omaha man who committed a total of five bank robberies in Omaha and Council Bluffs, Iowa, has been given 100 months in federal prison.

The U.S. Attorney's office says Jason McCain was sentenced on Monday by U.S. District Judge Lyle Strom.

McCain had pleaded guilty in July to robbing an Omaha bank branch in March 2007 and Telco Credit Union in Council Bluffs in January 2009.

As part of his plea, McCain admitted responsibility for robbing three other banks in Omaha.

Investigators had said they found nearly $25,000 from one of the banks in McCain's car after he was arrested following a chase.

Trial delayed in deadly Waterloo fight

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) The trial of a Waterloo man accused in a deadly stabbing during a fight in a city park has been delayed until 2011.

Wyatt Johnson is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kevin Garcia, also of Waterloo, in April 2009.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier says Johnson's trial, which had been set to start Tuesday in Black Hawk County District Court, has been continued until Jan. 25.

Johnson allegedly stabbed Garcia to death during a fight between two groups at Exchange Park. Two teens were also wounded. Johnson faces attempted murder charges for their injuries.

Johnson was arrested a few days later in Wyoming. He was returned to Iowa and remains in jail on $1.1 million bond.

Injured Iowa college football player recovering

DECORAH, Iowa (AP) The family of a Luther College football player who was injured in a home game on Saturday in Decorah says he continues to recover.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier says freshman defensive back Christopher Norton, of Altoona, suffered a neck and spinal cord injury. It happened in the third quarter while Norton was covering a kickoff in the Norse' loss to Central College. He's hospitalized at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minn.

The Courier says Norton's family started a blog and reports that he underwent surgery, and on Sunday was able to move both arms.

The latest update on Monday says Norton no longer requires oxygen and sensitivity continues to spread throughout his body.

Iowa school group tells lawmakers to get subpoena

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) A school board group contends a new law making the organization subject to the state open-records law doesn't cover past employees' compensation agreements and lawmakers should issue a subpoena for them.

Lawmakers launched an investigation into the Iowa Association of School Boards in the wake of reports of excessive salaries and other forms of questionable spending. Lawmakers approved a bill making the group subject to the state open-records law. It took effect on July 1.

The Des Moines Register reports that the school board group says the new law doesn't cover records before July 1.

A legislative committee asked the group in June to turn over 10 years' worth of salary information. The group has told the committee that if it wants the records, it should issue a subpoena.

Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com WINTER'S COMING

Iowa road crews ready for winter

AMES, Iowa (AP) State transportation officials say Iowa road crews are ready for winter.

With no snow in the forecast yet, the Iowa Department of Transportation on Tuesday says it has stockpiled about 210,000 tons of salt and 2.5 million gallons of salt brine to keep more than 9,400 miles of primary roads safe.

Winter operations administrator Annette Dunn says the agency's fleet, including 900 trucks, and 1,200 operators, mechanics and supervisors are ready to go once the snow starts flying.

Transportation officials also say it's time for Iowans to got their vehicles winterized and tuned up because a breakdown during a winter storm can be dangerous.

3 baby flamingos hatch at Des Moines zoo

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Three baby flamingo chicks are ready to make their Des Moines debut.

The Blank Park Zoo said Tuesday that the public can now see the three Chilean flamingo chicks in their exhibit.

The zoo says the trio of chicks hatched after 30 days of incubation and were cared for by their parents in foot-high nests afterward. Zoo experts say the grey chicks will turn pink over the next year. The chicks started hatching in August until the middle of September.

The baby flamingos should be able to walk with the adults within a month. After years of little success, the zoo says in last few years its flamingos have hatched 18 chicks.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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