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KLEM News Update December 11th, 2010

According to Plymouth County Sheriffs Office, state plows are still working on their roads.  County plows will be out again tomorrow morning.

 

County Officers to receive a 4 percent pay raise

(LE MARS)--Workload, similar officials' pay and a contract with other workers are reasons Plymouth County's Officers give for a raise next year.

At the Plymouth County Compensation Board meeting Friday, County Attorney Darin Raymond talked about parity with other employees. He said contracts with sheriff's and road department staff are three percent increases a year.

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Treasurer Linda Dobson compared valuations, contracts and pay of similar sized counties in suggesting a four percent increase.

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The attorney's salary is about 87-thousand dollars.

Recorder Jolynn Goodchild suggested a three-and-a-half percent increase.

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Auditor Stacey Feldman talked of grant work, a large mid-term election and a widening pay gap with other employee groups. She suggested a three-and-a-half percent increase.

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The auditor, treasurer and recorder are paid about 53-thousand dollars.

Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo said his pay of about 74-thousand dollars was about six-thousand dollars less than the Le Mars Police Chief. Van Otterloo said he'd be happy with a three percent raise.

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After two motions, the Compensation Board recommended four percent pay increases.

Plymouth County Supervisors Not Asking for a Raise

(LE MARS)-Plymouth County Supervisors will determine whether officers and their deputies get a raise starting next July when the new county budget begins.

Before the Compensation Board recommendation Friday, Supervisor Craig Anderson said there'd been an informal discussion and supervisors were NOT asking for a raise.

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Supervisors are paid 28-thousand 609 dollars a year. Anderson said four of the five supervisors do NOT take the county's health insurance which is a savings of about 50-thousand dollars a year.

Supervisors have until mid-March to adopt a new budget which would include the pay for elected officials. The formal recommendation from the Compensation Board will be presented to Supervisors next Tuesday morning.



Bethlehem Revisited Requires Community Involvement

(LE MARS)-- Bethlehem Revisited at St. John's is expected to put 2 to 6 thousand people through the doors tomorrow. Throughout the production there will be angels, soldiers, craftsman, tax collectors, animal handlers and the holy family. Behind the scenes there are even more roles to play. So how many volunteers does an event like this take to make happen? Organizer Barb Shostak says that the total number of people involved is close to 400.


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Male or female, young or old, Barb says that volunteers come out of the wood work for the event.


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One volunteer group are the families that make up the holy family, and part of the family is, of course baby Jesus. This year Barb said 11 little ones will rotate through the 6 hour event.

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This is Barb Shostak's third time being involved in the planning, and even though there are a million things to think about and put into place, she definitely doesn't sweat the small stuff.

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Barb added that the reason things come together so easily for this event is because the people working on it, really want to be there.

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Excited to see what all the fuss is about? Bethlehem Revisited is tomorrow from noon to 6pm at St. John's Lutheran Church in Le Mars. And dress warm, you may be waiting in line outside to get in.


Texas dairy company settles Vt. antitrust lawsuit

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) A national dairy processor says it is going to pay $30 million to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by dairy farmers from Vermont and other northeastern states that accused the firm of violating federal antitrust laws.

The news of the settlement between Dean Foods and the farmers was contained in a filing Thursday to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Dean Foods has a milk plant in Le Mars.

The lawsuit alleged that the Dallas-based Dean Foods and others were forcing farmers to work with them.

Dean Foods' filing says that, in addition to the payment, it will agree to a number of other terms and conditions. It did not say what those conditions are.

Dean spokeswoman Liliana Esposito says the company can't comment until the deal has been approved by a court, which is expected next week.

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

 

Roads Re-open in Plymouth County

(LE MARS)--Two roads are open to traffic again in Plymouth County.

Engineer Tom Rohe reports Iris Avenue, south of Merrill from 260th Street to one-half mile south of 260th Street, reopened today (December 11).

The bridge replacement project is complete for local traffic.

Otter Avenue, near Oyens, from 150th Street to 140th Street has reopened. The bridge repair is complete.

According to the engineer, the road is open, but restricted by bridge postings. The road reopened Friday  afternoon.

Roederer says Branstad plans talks with union

JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) An aide to Gov.-elect Terry Branstad says administration officials plan to talk with the largest state worker union soon after the inauguration in January about an expected budget shortfall.

David Roederer, who heads Branstad's transition team, says officials will talk with the union about help in resolving a shortfall of $500 million or more.

Asked Friday about a contract that outgoing Democratic Gov. Chet Culver reached with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees that includes several pay raises, Roederer maintained that the union would be part of the solution in resolving budget issues.

Union leader Danny Homan says labor leaders are willing to talk with the Republican governor.

Roeder was speaking during a taping of the public television program, ``Iowa Press.''

 
MN teen's arraignment set in Iowa killings

ALGONA, Iowa (AP) A Minnesota teenager charged with killing two convenience store clerks in northern Iowa will be arraigned Dec. 20 in one of two counties where he's accused of committing the crimes.

Seventeen-year-old Michael Swanson, of St. Louis Park, Minn., is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in Kossuth and Humboldt counties in the Nov. 15 slayings of two women in Algona and Humboldt. He will be tried as an adult.

Online court records show a Dec. 20 arraignment was set Thursday in Kossuth County. No court dates had been scheduled in Humboldt County as of Friday.

Swanson remains in the Kossuth County jail on $1 million bond.


Iowa judge charged with OWI

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) A Black Hawk County judge has been charged with drunken driving in Iowa.

 Daniel Block, an associate juvenile judge, was arrested in Hamilton County in north-central Iowa on Nov. 26, during the Thanksgiving weekend. He's charged with operating while intoxicated and open container.

Online court records show his arraignment is set for Dec. 27.

The Black Hawk County court administration's office in Waterloo says Block is working regular chamber hours.


Former counselor gets probation for kissing boy

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) A former youth counselor who kissed a 16-year-old and tried to ignite a relationship has been given two years' probation and must register as a sex offender.

Amanda Jones had been convicted of sexual exploitation by a counselor or therapist, a misdemeanor.

The Gazette reported that the 24-year-old Jones also must complete any sex-offender treatment ordered by the Corrections Department.

The incident occurred when the boy was in residential treatment at Four Oaks in 2008. Four Oaks is a nonprofit agency for child welfare, juvenile justice and behavioral health agency.

The boy testified that he initiated the kiss but said he never replied to the e-mails she sent him.


Iowa high court reinstates conviction in killing

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) The Iowa Supreme Court has reinstated the first-degree murder conviction of a man in a 2007 killing in Des Moines, saying information about him being a drug dealer was allowable as evidence because it's relevant to motive and intent.

The court on Friday vacated an appeals court decision overturning the conviction of Calvin Nelson Jr. and affirmed a district court verdict finding him guilty.

Nelson was convicted in the shooting death of Michael Collins. Court records show Nelson shot Collins because he thought Collins was an undercover police officer who saw Nelson's face.

The appeals court ruled the state went too far in offering additional proof Nelson was a drug dealer. The state appealed. The Supreme Court says evidence of drug dealing was not excludable under Iowa's evidence rule.

 
Number of Iowa hunters dwindling

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) State environmental officials are looking for ways to stop the slide in the number of hunters of Iowa, which is blamed primarily on the declining pheasant population.

The Gazette in Cedar Rapids reports that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the number of Iowa hunters declined more than 20 percent between 1991 and 2001, mirroring a nationwide trend.

In 2002, the state issued 189,000 resident hunting licenses. Last year, it was 172,000. That's a 9 percent drop.

Dale Garner of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Bureau says Iowa will be missing an entire generation of hunters if ``this is not turned around.''

Garner believes the drop in hunters is tied to a drop in the state's pheasant population, which biologists attribute to hostile weather and habitat loss.


Iowa N-plant back online after refueling, repairs

PALO, Iowa (AP) A spokeswoman says the Duane Arnold nuclear power plant near Palo has resumed generating electricity.

Plant spokeswoman Renee Nelson says the plant went back online Friday morning and was producing at 36 percent of capacity.

The plant has been down about a month for refueling and repairs.

A flaw in a weld on the reactor was fixed during the shutdown.

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

 



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