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KLEM News Update February 17, 2011

 Le Mars Community and Gehlen Catholic, Remsen St. Mary's, Remsen-Union and Marcus-Meridan Cleghorn,  Akron Westfield, West Sioux, and Woodbury Central are among schools delaying classes two hours due to dense fog. A dense fog advisory has been issued until 10 a.m. Visibility is one-eight of a mile or less is many areas.

Former Wal-Mart location is new tire and service center

(LE MARS)--A Le Mars business owner will change the route  to the tire and vehicle service business .

Donald Dewaard of Pella is relocating Route 3 Tire to Business Highway 75 North.

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Livermore Construction,  working with Wiltgen Brothers, begins work on the south end of the former Wal-Mart discount store for Route 3.

Dewaard bought the Route 3 business in 2005. Larger vehicles will fit into the plans for the new location.

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In the longterm, DeWaard looks forward to other development at the new location.

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Dewaard welcomes calls from anyone interested in talking to him about space in the building at his Pella phone number, 641-780-1426.

The new Route 3 Tire location had been the Wal-Mart discount store until the Wal-Mart Supercenter opened nearly eight years ago--in March of 2003.

Route 3 is open on Plymouth Street until remodeling is completed for the Business Highway 75 move.

Holiday lighting may be updated in Le Mars

(LE MARS)--A tax travelers and visitors pay may improve holiday lighting along streets and highway in Le Mars.

The Le Mars Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Board recommends the City Council fund new and more energy efficient holiday lighting. That's one use of Hotel-Motel tax revenue projected at about 93-thousand dollars beginning July 1st.

The City of Le Mars requested about 96-hundred dollars for the L-E-D holiday lighting with five-thousand recommended by the advisory board.

Council member Rex Knapp Tuesday answered Councilman Ken Nelson's lighting questions.

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Nelson said the holiday bells faded from red to orange have got to go.

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Sixty-thousand dollars in Hotel Motel money is recommended for the Convention and Visitors' Bureau. That includes half of the manager's salary, four-thousand dollars for the city web site and 36-thousand dollars for community advertising.

The recommendations have been tabled by the Council for comments from the public until the March 1st Council meeting.

College aid ban fill fails

(Des Moines)--A bill that would ban state aid for students attending a for-profit college in Iowa has failed to advance in the legislature. Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, introduced the bill -- arguing the four-point-five ($4.5) million dollars would be better spent on students attend non-profit schools.

"These colleges are making from twelve-point-five ($12.5) million to 68 million dollars a year. I look at it and say does the state really need to participate in giving scholarships then to these colleges," Feenstra says,"I’d rather see that profit center go down a bit and help the students." He says when the schools should figure the grants into their budget. 

 "I just think if you’re in it for profit then you should also have your own tuition grants for your own students and not have taxpayer money funding these programs," Feenstra says. A lobbyist for Kaplan University says they’re already required to provide a 77-percent match for any student tuition grants provided by the state. Mike Heller says the for-profit university spent nearly eight million dollars on tuition assistance in the last two years.

 "Our typical student’s older, many are single parents. We have a very high degree of Pell grant eligibility; they’re in high financial need," Heller says."We try to work with them to get them into programs and over 90-percent of them stay in Iowa upon graduation." Feenstra’s bill was unpopular with the two Democrats necessary to move the measure forward. Cedar Rapids Senator Rob Hogg says a student should be eligible for state assistance no matter which school they choose to attend. 

 "We provide that Iowa tuition grant for students in Iowa, it’s to help the students. It has not been not picking and choosing between types of private colleges," Hogg. Fellow Democrat Bob Dvorsky of Iowa City shared Hogg’s view and also declined to support the bill. (News report by Radio Iowa)

More money needed to keep water project on tap

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) South Dakota's senators pledged to find more money for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System above the amount spelled out in the president's proposed 2012 budget.

Project officials say the $493,000 in the budget won't even cover administrative costs for a project that's partially complete and has received as much as $27 million in some years.

The project will pipe treated Missouri River water from near Vermillion to more than 300,000 people in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa.

Republican Sen. John Thune said Wednesday that the Obama administration should be committed to finishing projects that are under way.

Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson described the outlook as ``grim'' and said it illustrates the value of earmarks in the congressional budgeting process.

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

Jobs tour begins next week

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds will promote their job creation plan during town hall meetings in Iowa communities next week.

Branstad and Reynolds will launch their ``Jobs for Iowa'' tour Monday with stops in Mason City and Charles City. On Tuesday the pair will visit West Des Moines and Johnston.

Branstad wants to cut corporate income taxes in half; reduce commercial property taxes from 100 percent to 60 percent of value; transform the Iowa Department of Economic Development into a new public-private partnership; have a limit of four years on rules and regulations to determine their effectiveness; and have a jobs impact statement with every new economic growth proposal.

Branstad says he will meet and network with Iowans over the next three weeks to discuss his plans.

House approves local school board flexibility

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) The House has approved a ``home rule'' measure giving local school boards new flexibility to set policy within their district.

Local school boards deal with their own budget and levy taxes. But policy issues are largely set on a statewide basis by the state's Department of Education or Legislature.

The local boards had pushed lawmakers for the measure approved Wednesday. They say they want to be free to experiment and try innovative ideas, but must deal with a balky education bureaucracy to get approval.

The House approved the measure on a 64-30 vote, sending it to the Senate.

Some critics worry that giving local boards new flexibility to set policies within the district could lead to them imposing new fees and charges on students and their parents.

Senate approves bill to increase school aid

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) The Iowa Senate has voted to allow a 2 percent increase in state and local funding for schools in the coming fiscal year.

The bill was approved 26-24 Wednesday evening along party lines. It applies to state and local funding to schools for the budget year beginning July 1, 2011.

The Republican-controlled Iowa House has already approved a measure with no increase in funding to schools. Democrats, who narrowly control the Senate, say they will insist on the 2 percent increase.

The Senate also approved 26-24 along party lines a bill allowing a 2 percent increase for funding to programs for teacher salaries and professional development.

Iowa House OK's 20 percent income tax cut

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) The Iowa House has approved a measure slashing the state's individual income tax rates by 20 percent.

Lawmakers approved the measure Wednesday on a 63 to 33 vote after supporters argued a tax cut would spark Iowa's economy by putting more money in the pockets of consumers.

Opponents warned that the cut would cost the state more than $700 million annually in tax revenue, reducing money available for essential state programs and services.

Minn. filmmaker pleads guilty in Iowa fraud trial

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) A Minnesota filmmaker made a surprise guilty plea during a trial over her role in an alleged scheme to misuse tax credits aimed at encouraging more movies to be shot in Iowa.

A spokesman for the Iowa attorney general's office says 45-year-old Wendy Weiner Runge of St. Louis Park, Minn., pleaded guilty Wednesday. The first-degree fraudulent practices charge is a felony that carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Runge had been charged with five felonies.

Her trial in Polk County District Court was the first over allegations that she and other movie makers inflated values on applications for tax credits for the filming of a science-fiction movie called ``The Scientist.''

Runge has agreed to cooperate with the state, including testifying in future cases, and will be sentenced later. Trials are pending against four others.

Iowa Human Services agency head warns of layoffs

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) The head of the Department of Human Services is warning workers at the agency that he likely will have to cut 252 jobs due to budget cuts.

Chuck Palmer told workers that about half of those cuts would come from layoffs, and half from not filling vacant positions.

In an e-mail to employees, Palmer pointed to projections for next year showing the agency can support 4,777 jobs. That's 5 percent fewer than the current 5,029 jobs. He said it's inevitable that services delivered by the agency will be affected.

The projection was made under spending proposals offered by Gov. Terry Branstad. Palmer notes that some lawmakers want to cut more and that he's working to head off even deeper cuts.

Cedar Rapids fire chief resigns

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) Cedar Rapids' fire chief has resigned after nine months on the job.

KGAN-TV in Cedar Rapids says Stephen Reid says he was retiring on Wednesday, effective at the end of the day. Reid was hired as fire chief last April and took over the department in May.

City Manager Jeff Pomeranz says he received Reid's resignation, and says that Reid just wanted to retire.

An interim fire chief will be named while a search for a new chief is under way.

Iowa adds `most wanted' to sex offender website

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Iowa's sex offender website now has a ``Most Wanted'' page.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety on Wednesday says the state's non-compliant sex offenders are easier to identify with a page devoted to them on the Sex Offender Registry site.

Department spokeswoman Jessica Lown told The Des Moines Register that those on the most wanted list will have been in non-compliance with requirements for at least 60 days. A warrant will be on file for their arrest in Iowa. Each will be an offender who is required to check in with their local sheriff's office every three months.

The list will have names, information and photographs of 20 to 30 offenders at any one time.

Iowa school bus accident sends 24 to hospital

MONONA, Iowa (AP) Officials say 23 students and a bus driver from the MFL MarMac School District were taken to area hospitals after a school bus accident near Monona in northeast Iowa.

The accident happened on U.S. Highway 18 about 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Superintendent Dale Crozier says there were 23 students, ranging from elementary to high school age, on the bus. All the students and the bus driver were taken to three hospitals to be checked. Crozier says all but one student was released, and that student was kept for observation.

Crozier says there was patchy fog in the area at the time of the accident, which is being investigated by the Iowa State Patrol.

The school district is composed of Monona, Farmersburg, Luana , Marquette and McGregor.

Iowa agents find pot-filled teddy bear

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) Authorities say a Waterloo man has been arrested in an alleged scheme to smuggle marijuana in teddy bears.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier says the Black Hawk County sheriff's office arrested Douglas Hoffman on Monday on drug and money laundering charges.

Officials say the charges stem from a 29-pound package sent from Arizona to a vacant house across from Hoffman's home in January 2010. Drug agents searched the package and found marijuana hidden inside a teddy bear. The package was then delivered.

Officials say a search of Hoffman's home turned up marijuana, scales and remnants of other bears.

Hoffman is in jail on $175,000 bond. The sheriff's office had no information on whether he had an attorney. There is no listing for his case on the Iowa online court system.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
Submit your news release, photo, 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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