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KLEM News AM Update January 19, 2011

There weren't any changes when the board reviewed the impact from the first budget session last week.

Secondary road and mental health-related budgets are to be discussed next week.

The board has not finalized a budget proposal.

Council budget workshop is January 25th from 4-7 pm

(LE MARS)--Copies of a proposal for projects, plans, equipment and staff for the city of Le Mars are available at city hall and the Le Mars Public Library.

Assistant City Administrator Bill Cole made that announcement in briefly reviewing a new budget proposal at the Council meeting Tuesday.

The 16.5-million dollar budget was described by Cole as a starting place for the Council to formulate a final budget. The budget uses the current $13.75 property tax levy for a fourth year in a row.

As presented, the general fund for day-to-day local government is short 323-thousand dollars of being a balanced budget. Council member Rex Knapp indicated he did not believe there were votes to pass an unbalanced budget.

Cole said 150-thousand dollars had been added to the budget as a reserve for unknown impacts on the city due to state government decisions.

The same number of employees as the current budget are included in the new proposal.

Increases the city is required to add to the budget are in the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System-IPERS and in the Police Retirement program percentage.

The city has not budgeted for pay increases. There's been no agreement with the Le Mars City Employees Bargaining Unit.

The Council has set a public meeting next Tuesday from 4-7 at City Hall to work on the budget.

School Board team makes "freeze" offer to teachers' group

(LE MARS) The pay teachers at Le Mars Community have their salaries based on would not increase under a proposal presented to the Education Association.

Negotiators for the Le Mars Community Board of Education presented their contract proposal to the Education Association negotiators Monday afternoon.

The board team proposed no additional amount of pay in the base salary and no step movement. The total cost for what the district is calling "this freeze" will increase the cost of salary and benefits by about 94-thousand dollars.

The board proposal stated, "The less than one percent increase is due to the legislatively approved increase in the IPERS (Iowa Public Employees Retirement System) contribution rate."

The district proposal also would leave the amount the district contributes to health insurance benefits at the current amount, $880 per month.

The reasons for the proposal given to the Education Association include the initial proposal from the Education Association of a 6.95 percent total package increase; the salary settlement history; the condition of the local, state and national economy; potential health insurance premium increases that are unknown; the board goal of increasing its fund balance to cover 45 days of average expenses for the coming school year; continued declining enrollment and contract talks with other employee groups.

'Patriot Flag' display in Le Mars February 5th

(LE MARS)--A flag that organizers are sending across the United States to honor the men and women protecting the citizens they serve will be in Le Mars next month.

Le Mars Fire Rescue Chief David Schipper made the announcement during the City Council Tuesday of plans to host the Patriot Flag Saturday, February 5th.

The 30 X 58 foot - 60 lb flag will fly in all of the 50 states before it flies in Manhattan - NYC, Washington DC and Pennsylvania on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11.
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The Le Mars Fire Rescue Chief announced plans to work with Wasmer Post 241 of the American Legion Le Mars, the city of Le Mars and the 113th Cavalry of the Iowa Army National Guard in hosting the flag. The Le Mars Fire-Rescue Department's aerial ladder truck will join with an aerial ladder truck from Sioux Center to hoist and display the Patriot Flag. There will a program at the Le Mars Convention Center at 2:45 p.m.

Feenstra, Soderberg provide legislative updates Saturday

(LE MARS)--Two area lawmakers are hosting legislative forums this weekend.

State Representative Chuck Soderberg and State Senator Randy Feenstra will discuss issues at the Iowa Statehouse. Soderberg and Feenstra invite the public to attend the meetings and address any issues of concern.

Reporting for the first time this legislative session will begin with a public forum at Akron Jo's Cafe at 8:30 a.m. Saturday following by the Hawarden City Hall session at 10 in the morning.

The afternoon for Feenstra and Soderberg will begin with a legislative forum at the Maurice Community Center at one followed by the final stop for the day at the Le Mars Public Library at 2:30 Saturday afternoon

Kass is vice chair of YES Center

(LE MARS)--A Remsen man is the new vice chairman of a group that provides a lockup facility for young people.

Fourteen counties, including Plymouth, are part of the Youth Emergency Services (YES) Center in a building on the campus of the Cherokee Mental Health Institute. Detention and educational services are provided to young people through the YES Center.

Supervisor Don Kass of rural Remsen is vice chair of the YES Center Board. Kass said the number of young people served at the Center varies from month to month.

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Kass has previously served on the executive committee of the juvenile detention center which has offered services for 10 years. More than a dozen young people can be held at the Center.

School employee honor given to Vonnahme

(LE MARS)--A Le Mars Community Middle School teacher is the school's "Employee of the Month."

Mark Vonnahme is a science and social studies teacher. A nomination for the employee honor described Vonnahme as one of the hardest working, but most caring staff members in the Middle School. When he speaks with students, Vonnahme is credited with striving to help them do their best.

He leads the student-leadership group which organizes and carries out activities such as homecoming and the Middle School Carnival. The nomination said the group requires many extra hours of Vonnahme's time.

Two charged after Merrill pursuit

(LE MARS)--Two South Sioux City residents were in the Plymouth County Jail after their arrest early Monday afternoon.

A sheriff's deputy tried to stop a vehicle west of Merrill on county road C-44.

Authorities, in a written report, stated there were warrants for the arrest of a passenger, 26-year-old Christopher Velarde (vel-are-dee). Velarde is charged with conspiracy to tamper with a witness; a charge related to interference with official acts; willful injury; and criminal mischief.

The driver of the vehicle, 27-year-old Amber Schmitz, failed to stop for the deputy who has his lights and siren on as the vehicle continued into Merrill. The deputy pursued the vehicle through Merrill and then west of Merrill.

When Schmitz drove into a farm residence a mile west of Merrill, Velarde left the vehicle and was arrested. Schmitz was also arrested and charged with eluding law enforcement and child endangerment because her five-year-old child was in the vehicle during the pursuit.

They were taken to the Plymouth County jail. Schmitz is free on bond.

Dead birds in SD city likely ate poison

YANKTON, S.D. (AP) Officials said a bird poison used at a feedlot apparently caused a die-off of birds at Yankton.

Yankton Animal Control Officer Lisa Brasel said DRC 1339, a bird poison used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was the likely cause of death for more than 300 starlings found in the downtown area.

Brasel said a USDA official contacted her after seeing new reports about the dead birds.

Wildlife biologist Ricky Woods confirmed that the poison was used by the USDA at a feedlot about 10 miles south of Yankton. He said birds usually die before getting so far from the poison.


Plea hearing for NE man charged in Iowa crash

LOGAN, Iowa (AP) A plea hearing is scheduled for a Nebraska man charged with vehicular homicide in a crash that killed four motorcyclists on Interstate 29 in western Iowa.

Online court records for Harrison County show the hearing is Feb. 10 for Andrew Schlichtemeier (SHLICK'-teh-my-er), of Murray, Neb. Iowa authorities say he was drunk when he swerved into oncoming traffic last August near Little Sioux.

Omaha television station KMTV says Schlichtemeier was scheduled to have a suppression hearing on Wednesday. His attorney asked that his blood-alcohol level and statements to authorities not be allowed at trial. That hearing has been canceled.

Defense attorney Steve Lefler told KMTV that he's hoping ``all parties'' will be in agreement on a proposed settlement. He would not give details.

Branstad says hundreds of state layoffs necessary

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says spending cuts needed to balance the state's budget will force the layoffs of hundreds of state workers hired during former Gov. Chet Culver's single term in office.

At a news conference Tuesday, Branstad told reporters he would move quickly to craft a new state budget that will include deep cuts.

He wouldn't specify the number who will lose their job, but spokesman Tim Albrecht say hundreds of positions will be cut.

6 states to join Obama health care lawsuit in Fla.

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) Iowa is among six states that will join Florida and 19 others in a lawsuit against the Obama administration's health care law.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said Tuesday that Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin and Wyoming will join the coalition of states that have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Florida. Bondi's announcement came as the U.S. House debated repealing the law.

The states claim the health care law is unconstitutional and violates people's rights by forcing them to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties.

Government attorneys say the states do not have standing to challenge the law and want the case dismissed.

Lawsuits have been filed elsewhere and it's expected the Supreme Court will ultimately have to resolve the issue.

Endangered Dems sound alarms about redistricting

CLEVELAND (AP) A few Democratic lawmakers are sounding alarm bells and asking voters for help keeping their jobs amid the looming threat that congressional redistricting poses to their seats.

One Massachusetts lawmaker has already announced his intention to run again, and at least one New York representative is signaling a readiness to fight.

Ten states, including Iowa, will lose at least one congressional district this year, and speculation is growing over which ones will disappear.

Group picks Iowa City for Olympic wrestling trials

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) USA Wrestling has chosen Iowa City to host the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for wrestling.

The group announced Tuesday that Iowa City's bid beat out those from Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Columbus, Ohio.

The trials will be held at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on the University of Iowa campus from April 21 to 22, 2012.

The event will determine which athletes will represent the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.

Greensboro, N.C.; Hampton, Va.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Pontiac, Mich., also bid for the wrestling trials but weren't selected.

Defense: Ex-Iowa player didn't commit a crime

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) A former Iowa football player's defense attorney says his client had a ``passionate'' sexual encounter with a female athlete, and prosecutors failed to prove it was a sexual assault.

Cedric Everson's attorney, Leon Spies, said during his closing argument Tuesday that his client made a bad choice in having sex with the woman in October 2007, but it was not a crime. He urged jurors to make ``the right choice'' and find Everson not guilty.

Spies says the woman had been drinking and does not remember much of what happened. He says her actions show she was in a functional blackout, and he repeated twice, ``amnesia does not mean helpless.''

Everson is facing a charge of third-degree sexual assault, which carries up to 10 years in prison.

Both pilots faulted in 2009 collision in Iowa

IOWA FALLS, Iowa (AP) Federal aviation officials have faulted the pilots of two small planes that collided at the Iowa Falls airport in July 2009.

The pilots received minor injuries in the accident that happened as the planes, a Cessna and Mooney, were coming in for landings. The Mooney was hit from above by the Cessna.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier says the National Transportation Safety Board says both pilots failed to ``execute adequate visual lookout.''

According to the NTSB, the Cessna pilot was coming in when he felt a bang, and his plane turned sideways and came down on the runway. The Mooney pilot said he was reducing power to land when his left wing rose violently and he became unconscious. He awoke in the hospital.

Woman who died when tire tore loose identified

THORNTON, Colo. (AP) Authorities have identified the woman who died when a tire flew off a semitrailer and slammed into her car, crushing the roof.

The Denver Post reported that 35-year-old Jennifer Marie Durazo of Fredrick died on Interstate 25 north of Denver. Police say the semi lost two of its rear tires while driving south on Interstate 25 at around 4:15 p.m. Monday. afternoon. Police say one of the tires hit the median, flew in the air and onto Durazo's Camry.

Police identified the truck driver as 70-year-old Terry Alan Fink of Toledo, Iowa. The owner of the truck, Z Line Ltd. of Toledo declined to comment.

Fink didn't immediately return a message left through his company.

Iowa lawmaker raises concerns over traffic cameras

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) An Iowa lawmaker is raising a caution flag over traffic cameras in the state.

Rep. Dave Tjepkes (JHEP'-kees), a Gowrie Republican, is the chairman of the House Transportation Committee. The Gazette says he has asked the Iowa Department of Transportation for information about how states regulate the use of the cameras, such as those being used in Cedar Rapids.

Tjepkes acknowledges the benefits of the cameras, but he wants to make sure they're being used as a tool in overall traffic enforcement and that their use is uniform across the state.

Tjepkes' interest was triggered by transportation officials in Missouri putting a freeze on new red-light cameras because of concern they were being used to make money rather than enhance traffic safety.

Rail supporters say Iowa needs to move forward

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Supporters of a proposed Iowa City-to-Chicago passenger train say it's now or never for Iowa.

Supporters told The Des Moines Register on Tuesday that the state should move forward to avoid losing millions of dollars in federal money already promised for the project.

State Sen. Robert Dvorsky, a Coralville Democrat, says there is a need for the service and it will create jobs.

The Iowa Department of Transportation received a federal grant of $84 million in October to help establish trains between Chicago and Iowa City in a partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation. Iowa will lose its share if state lawmakers don't provide a match of state money.

Iowa House Republicans have proposed a budget package that doesn't provide state money, citing a tight budget.

OU picked atop preseason Big 12 softball poll

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Oklahoma is the preseason pick of Big 12 softball coaches to finish atop the conference standings.

The conference released the poll Tuesday. The Sooners received seven first-place votes and 79 points, while second-place Missouri received two first-place votes and 71 points.

Texas received the other first-place vote and had 69 points. The Longhorns were followed by Texas A Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Iowa State and Kansas.

Oklahoma will have 10 letterwinners back from a 47-12 team that advanced to an NCAA tournament super regional last season, including sophomore pitcher Keilani Ricketts.

Missouri is coming off its second straight Women's College World Series appearance and returns three of its four pitchers, including Chelsea Thomas, who has four career no-hitters. Illinois St-Drake

Drake defeats Illinois State 76-68

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Ryan Wedel scored 22 points and Rayvonte Rice added 17 as Drake defeated Illinois State 76-68 on Tuesday night.

Rice had eight rebounds for the Bulldogs (8-11, 3-5 Missouri Valley), who snapped a three-game losing streak.

Austin Hill had 18 points, Jackie Carmichael 12 and Blake Mishler 10 for the Redbirds (8-11, 0-8), who lost their eighth straight. Illinois State has dropped its first eight league games for the second time in school history, the last in 2002-03.

Ben Simons and Wedel hit 3-pointers to ignite an 11-0 run during a 3:28 second-half stretch that gave Drake a 50-35 advantage. Illinois State trailed by 21 before rallying to within single digits, but could not get over the hump as the Bulldogs sealed the win with four free throws in the final 43 seconds.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Submit your news release, confidential news tip or news idea by email klemnews@lemarscomm or by calling 712.546.4121 or 712.546.9672 fax.

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