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KLEM News Update February 9, 2011


Floyd Valley Hospital administrator Mike Donlin announced the successful recruitment of Dr. Ellen Aquino.

Donlin told hospital trustees during a meeting Tuesday night that Dr. Aquino, her husband, Albert and their nine-year-old daughter, Allie, visited Le Mars last month.

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Dr. Aquino also has her own private practice in Virginia. She is a board-certified family physician who will provide all facets of family health care services when she comes to Le Mars. She has a strong interest in women's health, including obstetric care.

Dr. Ellen Catalan-Aquino

(Photo Eastern Virginia Medical School)


She earned her undergraduate, graduate and medical degrees and completed a residency in the Philippines.

Family Medicine Clinic staff and physicians, Floyd Valley Hospital administration and the hospital's management partner, Avera McKennan of Sioux Falls have been working together to recruit more family doctors. They've been trying to fill vacancies after Dr. Nicholas Van Es and Dr. Jim Powell left the clinic to accept other jobs.


Supervisors to increase role in economic development for county

(LE MARS) Plymouth County is still going after new and expanding businesses and industries.

That's the message Supervisors gave after a vote Tuesday to reorganize the Economic Development Department and eliminate a full time director position in place since 2006.

Supervisors Jack Guenthner and Jim Henrich met with the Plymouth County Farm Bureau Board of Directors Monday night. Henrich said they were asked about economic development.

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Supervisor Don Kass said emails to the economic development office would be reviewed by part-time zoning administrator Alan Lucken. Supervisor Craig Anderson spoke of the board's increased role.

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Kass plans to attend a Wind Energy Conference in Omaha this week that would have been Westergard's work. In Kass' words, "We're not out of the economic development business; we're just accepting that we can save some money by doing it ourselves--doing it in-house."

Anderson said he'd like to see a link from the web site information to realtors in the county. 

Kass spoke with Information Technology Director Shawn Olson about not funding Northwest Iowa Developers and their presence for the county on the internet. Kass said he was told by Olson the information could be put on Plymouth County's web site for free. Supervisors still intend to have a discussion with the Northwest Iowa Developers representative.

Board gives economic development director severance pay

(LE MARS) Plymouth County's fulltime economic development director was asked to resign and will be paid through mid-March.

Plymouth County Supervisor Don Kass at Tuesday's meeting reviewed the board of supervisors decision to reorganize the Economic Development Department. Kass explained that eliminates the fulltime position held by Andrea Westergard.

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Supervisor Craig Anderson emphasized Westergard was NOT the issue.


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According to a written severance agreement prepared for the Supervisors by a Sioux City labor lawyer, Westergard's resignation was effective February 7th. Under the severance agreement she'll be paid through March 15th. She'll receive the county health insurance benefit through the end of June and she'll pay the employee contribution toward the coverage.

Some additional Courthouse Annex Building lower area may be finished

(LE MARS)--Plymouth County Supervisors Tuesday toured the Courthouse Annex Building construction.

Supervisors Craig Anderson and Jim Henrich and Auditor Stacey Feldman received a construction update prior to the Supervisors' meeting. Anderson provided the information to the board.

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Anderson had a $7, 046 cost estimate for work that was not planned in the lower level where computer equipment for Information Technology (IT) Director Shawn Olson will be located.


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Anderson suggested supervisors consider the work as an agenda item for the meeting next week.

Ready-mix bid rigging, price fixing sentences for two men

(WASHINGTON) A judge has ordered northwest Iowa men who were convicted of price fixing and bid rigging to serve time in prison and pay fines.

Steven Keith VandeBrake of Orange City, the former sales manager of a ready-mix concrete company, was ordered to serve 48 months in prison. VandeBrake was also fined more than 829-thousand dollars. He was prosecuted in federal court in Sioux City for three separate conspiracies with three different companies involving agreements to fix prices and or to rig bids

Kent Robert Stewart, as president of a ready-mix concrete company, was ordered to serve a year and a day in prison and pay a fine of more than 83-thousand dollars. Stewart was accused of conspiring with VandeBrake.

Chad Van Zee, the president of another ready-mix concrete firm, pleaded guilty to conspiring with VandeBrake and will be sentenced at a future date.

Information about the investigation and sentences was released by the Department of Justice and the F-B-I.

Pottebaum honored by Pheasants Forever

(ALTON) Pheasants Forever is honoring an Alton man with an induction into the Pheasants Forever Iowa Hall of Fame.

Gordon Pottebaum of Alton has served as president of the Sioux Prairie Chapter of Pheasants Forever for more than 20 years and is a 26-year Pheasants Forever member.

Pottebaum was a member of the Sioux County Conservation Board for nearly two decades. He's assisted in the development of the Fairview Wildlife Area and Big Sioux Recreation Area, both in Sioux County.

"Skipping" open water causes snowmobile loss on Storm Lake

(STORM LAKE)--A Storm Lake teen lost his snowmobile on Storm Lake when authorities say he tried to "skip" open water Sunday afternoon.

The Buena Vista County Sheriff's office investigated the report that a snowmobile had gone into the lake just off shore near Kings Pointe.

The operator, 18-year-old Issac Droessler, was able to free himself from the water and get onto the ice. Droessler was placed into a police car until an ambulance arrived. Droessler was not injured and didn't require medical care.

Arrangements are being made to get the snowmobile removed from the lake.

Stone Park deer herd options explored

(SIOUX CITY) Potential options to control the deer herd at Stone State Park will be discussed in Sioux City.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources staff will discuss options and what has been done at other parks. This includes possible means of control and special hunts in other state parks as well as ideas from the public.

The meeting on controlling the Stone State Park deer herd is Thursday, February 24th from 6:30-7:30 p-m in the Gleeson meeting room at the Wilbur Aalfs Main Library in downtown Sioux City.

Thanks for you patience during a technical glitch on the KLEM web site Wednesday morning.

 Iowa House approves freeze on state aid to schools

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) The Iowa House has approved a package that would freeze state aid to public schools for the next two years.

The move would likely lead to increases in property taxes. One measure the House approved Tuesday would shift about $48 million from other parts of the budget to offset those hikes.

Spending on local elementary and secondary schools is the largest single item in the state's $6 billion budget, amounting to roughly $2.5 billion.

Backers of the plan said schools understand the budget crisis facing the state and have been planning for cutbacks. Critics complain that Republicans who control the House are pushing for big cuts in business taxes even as they freeze school funding.

The package now heads to the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats.

Iowa Supreme Court won't hear Creston police case

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) The Iowa Supreme Court will not hear appeals filed by two former Creston police officers convicted of sexual abuse.

The Des Moines Register says Tuesday that the court denied requests for further review by former police chief James Christensen and former assistant chief John Sickels. They were convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The Iowa Court of Appeals upheld both convictions in November.

Prosecutors say Sickels raped a country club bartender as Christensen watched in April 2008.

Sickels contended the sex was consensual. Christensen testified he stumbled upon the two after a trip to the restroom.

Among other issues, the men argued in their appeals that there wasn't enough evidence to convict them.

Opening statements given in Iowa Film Office case

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Prosecutors say Minnesota filmmaker Wendy Runge falsified state documents and inflated costs to take advantage of a tax credit program designed to lure movie makers to Iowa..

Opening arguments in Runge's trial were held Tuesday in Des Moines. She is charged with first-degree theft, three counts of first-degree fraudulent practices and ongoing criminal conduct.

Deputy Attorney General Tom Miller says Runge claimed $3.8 million in expenses and received $1.9 million in tax credits from the state. He says Runge, of St. Louis Park, Minn., claimed expenses for services that weren't delivered and fraudulently submitted applications for 13 movie projects just before a cap on the tax credit program was imposed.

Runge's attorney, Matt Whitaker, says she was unfamiliar with filmmaking and no one suggested the expenses she submitted were inflated.

Medal of Honor winner opts not to re-enlist

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Medal of Honor recipient and Iowa native Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta will end his Army career in June.

Col. Greg Hapgood of the Iowa Army National Guard confirmed Tuesday that Giunta, of Hiawatha, decided not to re-enlist.

His contract with the Army is up in June.

Branstad names adviser on transparency issues

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Gov. Terry Branstad has named former newspaper executive Bill Monroe as a special adviser on transparency issues.

Monroe was executive director of the Iowa Newspaper Association from 1981 to 2009. He also served on the executive committee of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council.

Monroe was publisher of the Spencer Daily News and editor of the Cedar Valley Time before joining the newspaper association. Monroe is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in journalism.

Branstad says Monroe will advise his office on efforts to ensure government openness.

The position announced Tuesday isn't paid and Monroe will be considered a volunteer.

Trial set for teen charged in Iowa City killing

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) The trial of an 18-year-old transient charged with killing an Iowa City landlord from Illinois has been scheduled.

Charles Thompson was 17 when he was charged as an adult with first-degree murder in the October 2009 shooting death of 64-year-old John Versypt, of Cordova, Ill.

The Gazette of Cedar Rapids says Thompson's trial is set for Sept. 12 in Johnson County District Court.

Thompson was charged following a four-month investigation after Versypt was found shot in the head in a hallway of a building he owned. Police believe the shooting happened during an attempted robbery.


Iowa man convicted of molesting child

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) A 66-year-old Waterloo man faces up to 35 years in prison after he was found guilty of molesting a girl for several years.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier says a Black Hawk County jury on Tuesday convicted David Powers of second- and third-degree sexual abuse. Sentencing was not immediately set.

Prosecutors say Powers began abusing the girl in 2002 when she was 7, and it continued until she was 13. Authorities became involved when the girl told a classmate in May 2009.

Defense attorney Kevin Engels contends the girl concocted the story because she was mad at Powers for threatening to tell her parents she was talking to boys. He says details of the allegations changed as she retold it.

(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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