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KLEM News PM Update January 20, 2011

 Brad Small, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says if you thought it was cold this morning, wait until tonight.

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Small says anyone venturing outside will need to be well-protected against the frigid winds and extreme cold.

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As the temperatures warm slightly during the day tomorrow, Small says parts of Iowa may also see more flakes flying.

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Small says highs next week may reach the 20s but no higher, as he says there is -no- significant warm-up on the way. (News report by Radio Iowa)

Taxable valuation increases for 2011-2012 budget work

(LE MARS)--The value of property for taxes in Le Mars increased for the budget the Le Mars City Council will prepare by March 15th.

City administrator Scott Langel says the taxable value of property for the city's general fund is up about thirteen-and-a-half million dollars. During a KLEM News interview, Langel was asked what that means for budget work.

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Property taxes are not the only source of income for the city budget. The city charges for memberships and has water, sewer and garbage fees or charges. Hotel Motel and Local Option Sales tax as well as franchise fees, state and federal transportation funds such as road use tax make up city revenue.

The City Council has a 60-page budget proposal from staff, department heads, and the Council's Finance Committee to review prior to the Budget Workshop Tuesday afternoon at four. The three-hour session is open to the public and is at city hall.

April bid opening planned for Plymouth County road C-38 work

(LE MARS) Planning for a road maintenance project is nearing the bidding stage for a route between Oyens and the Cherokee County line.

Plymouth County Engineer Tom Rohe this week received approval of plans from the Board of Supervisors for a seven-inch concrete overlay on an asphalt road, C-38. Rohe said the work on C-38 is east of Le Mars.  The plans are being submitted to the Iowa Department of Transportation.

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The county was figuring on 500-thousand dollars in federal funds for the concrete overlay. Recently, Rohe said the federal amount available to the county was increased for the estimated three-point-one-million dollar project.

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According to Rohe, the shoulder work will be the only dirt work on the 10-mile C-38 project.

Alons expects marriage proposal to pass

(DES MOINES)-- Fifty-six Republicans in the Iowa House are co-sponsoring a resolution calling for a statewide vote to ban same-sex marriage in Iowa. The proposed constitutional amendment would declare that a marriage between one man and one woman is the "only legal union valid" in Iowa. Representative Dwayne Alons, a Republican from Hull, is the proposal's lead sponsor.

"The way it stands now, I think the best way to resolve it is to get it to the people and let them decide what is actually in their constitution," Alons says. In 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled a state LAW prohibiting same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The political director for the advocacy group "One Iowa" says they knew the resolution would be introduced, but Troy Price says they hadn't expected the proposed amendment to ban civil unions and domestic partnerships as well as same-sex marriages.

"It just goes to show that the sponsors of this (resolution) are committed to making sure that loving, committed (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) couples don't have any recognition, that there's no recognition, no protection for these couples," Price says. Alons, the proposal's sponsor, is confident it will soon pass the House, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 60 to 40.

"Marriage should be marriage and let's not, say, play around with some other substitute definitions," Alons says. The resolution must be approved by the current legislature and, again, by legislators elected in 2012 before the proposed constitutional amendment can be placed on the ballot for a statewide vote. Governor Branstad has no formal role in the process of putting this proposal on the ballot, but the Democratic leader of the state senate has repeatedly vowed to block the effort to -- in his words -- "write discrimination into the constitution." (News report by Radio Iowa)

Black leaders hit Branstad's order on ex-felons

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Some black community leaders see discrimination in Gov. Terry Branstad's decision to make it tougher for ex-convicts to regain the vote.

Under the executive order Branstad issued last week, the ex-offenders first must all fines, fees and court-ordered restitution before being allowed to vote.

According to The Des Moines Register, leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other groups said at a news conference Wednesday that the policy amounts to a poll tax intended to keep blacks from voting.

About a quarter of Iowa's prison inmates are black.

A Branstad spokesman says the order reinstates the process called for under the Iowa Code and Constitution. His order rescinded one by former Gov. Tom Vilsack that automatically restored felons' voting rights after they served their sentences.

Advocates worry about cuts in anti-tobacco efforts

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Health advocates are giving Iowa a failing grade on its anti-tobacco efforts and arguing that efforts will likely worsen as lawmakers cut smoking prevention programs as part of spending reductions.

Micki Sandquist, executive director of the American Lung Association in Iowa, says the state benefits from a ban on smoking in most indoor areas, but she expressed concern at a Thursday news conference about planned cuts to anti-smoking programs. The House has approved reducing spending on those programs from $10 million to $7 million.

Sandquist says tobacco costs the state $1.9 billion annually in health costs and lost productivity.

Republicans say nearly all programs need to be reduced due to an expected budget shortfall.

3rd person arrested in Council Bluffs slaying

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) A third person has been arrested in the stabbing death of a woman found lying in Council Bluffs street.

Authorities say 32-year-old Eric Long was arrested Wednesday in Council Bluffs on suspicion of murder in the slaying of Tammy Rocha.

A passing motorist found the 39-year-old Rocha Friday evening with several stab wounds. Police say Rocha was outside when stabbed but was able to walk a short distance before collapsing. She died at a hospital.

Records show 22-year-old Lisa Reeves and 47-year-old Clarence Woolsoncroft also are being held as suspects.

The three remain in custody. A fourth man is being sought as well.

Online court records don't list an attorney for Long or Woolsoncroft. The attorney for Reeves didn't immediately return a call Thursday from The Associated Press.

Teenage Iowa killer Concepcion loses appeal

CHARLES CITY, Iowa (AP) A Charles City teenager has lost an appeal of his two life sentences for the death of his 3-year-old cousin in 2009.

Sixteen-year-old Edgar Concepcion Jr. was sentenced on Nov. 22 after being convicted in June of murder, sexual abuse and child endangerment in the death of Krystel Banes, also of Charles City.

According to the Mason City Globe Gazette, Judge Bryan McKinley said the U.S. and Iowa Supreme Courts say that juvenile killers can be given tough penalties, including life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Concepcion was tried as an adult. He was 14 when he killed the little girl.

Concepcion's attorney had argued that sentencing Concepcion, a juvenile, to life without parole was cruel and unusual punishment.

Prosecutors drop drug house charges against `DJK'

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) Prosecutors have dropped charges of keeping a drug house against former Iowa wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and his roommate.

In recent court filings, prosecutors charged Johnson-Koulianos with unlawful possession of marijuana, cocaine and prescription drugs for anxiety, pain and sleep. They also charged roommate Brady Cooper Johnson with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and unlawful possession of prescription drugs to treat anxiety and allergies.

But they dropped charges that they kept a drug house, an aggravated misdemeanor that carried up to 2 years in prison.

Coach Kirk Ferentz suspended the player nicknamed ``DJK'' after the men were arrested following a raid of their home last month. The senior who was Iowa's all-time leading receiver missed Iowa's win in the Insight Bowl.

Both will be arraigned Feb. 3.

Weather studied after Colo air crash that killed 2

DENVER (AP) Investigators are studying weather conditions at the time a single-engine airplane crashed in the southern Colorado mountains and killed a doctor and a retired businesswoman from Iowa.

The National Transportation Safety Board disclosed the study in a preliminary report late Wednesday.

The report doesn't suggest any possible causes for the crash, including weather.

The pilot, 66-year-old Michael Welton, and 70-year-old Roswitha Marold of Waterloo, Iowa, were killed when the Piper Malibu crashed Jan. 9.

The wreckage was found the next day about 110 miles southwest of Denver.

Search-and-rescue officials say the wreckage was difficult to find in part because the plane appeared to fall nearly vertically, leaving few damaged trees.

More robins overwintering in Iowa, nearby states

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Those first robins of spring may never have left Iowa, Nebraska or other Midwestern states.

Experts say the relatively mild winter so far and enticing food supply combined to make much of the Midwest the hot spot for wintering robins and other birds.

The National Audubon Society's annual Christmas bird count in Iowa recorded more than 2,000 robins in Dallas and Boone counties, in Ames and at Red Rock Lake and Saylorville Reservoir. A year earlier, the total was 44.

The Des Moines Register says that in eastern Iowa, 129 robins were found in and near Davenport. A year earlier the number was 18; in 2000, the figure was five.

In Norfolk, Neb., nearly 270 robins were counted in December and January, compared with 18 a year earlier.

(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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