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KLEM News Update March 2, 2011

Fire fighters and equipment from Orange City, Alton and Sioux Center Fire responded to the Blue Mountain Smokehouse Grille location.

According to the Sioux County Sheriff's office, details are expected to be released later today (Wednesday).

(LE MARS)--A new budget proposal for the City of Le Mars did not draw any response during a time for public comment  Tuesday afternoon.

The Council action to adopt the revenue and spending estimate that begins July first was unanimous.

No one had any comments about changes in city building and construction rules that mirror the state's building standards. The item is slated for up to two more considerations by the Council.

Mayor Dick Kirchoff thanked citizens for being counted for the 2010 Census which gave the city a new count of more than 98-hundred people. Community support got the "thumbs up" Tuesday from Council member Rex Knapp. Knapp noted the Le Mars turnout at the Bulldog-Heelan game Monday night and other school events for Le Mars and Gehlen.

City efforts to increase grant and government funds that aren't local were part of an audit report from Graham Forbes of Williams and Company.

The recommended uses of Hotel Motel Sales Tax were approved by the Council with no changes in the figures submitted two weeks ago.

(LE MARS)-A nearly 40-year career in courts was marked by a public retirement reception at the Plymouth County Courthouse Wednesday afternoon at two.

Plymouth County Clerk of Court Charlene Peterson of Le Mars was recognized for her years of service.

Chief Judge Duane Hoffmeyer Wednesday reflected on Peterson's contributions to the courts recalling the early years of his law practice and the role court employees had in assisting attorneys. The chief judge also presented Peterson with a certificate which included color images of the Courthouse buildings where she's worked in her nearly 40-year career.  Those at the reception for Peterson signed canary yellow sheets of paper for a guest book prepared in a style similar to court work.

Peterson's career began in her teenage years and took her to offices first in Woodbury County where the clerk's office was not on the same floor as courtrooms. In Plymouth County the office is on the courtroom floor. Asked if one court case stood out, Peterson recalled the trial of a Remsen man for the death of his adopted son.

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Peterson said ironically, her husband, Tom, was chosen as an alternate juror in the Boss case.

When Peterson talks of the clerk of court's work, she speaks of service. But there's a request court customers  have that Peterson explained can't be granted.

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After retirement, Peterson has chosen a career as on-call grandmother for those emergencies and needs like transportation when parents aren't able to be there. Tom and Charlene have imagined a trip that would take them from Le Mars to Wyoming and then to Spokane, Seattle, down the Coast and back to Le Mars via Phoenix. It's on the "something we're going to probably do" list now. Fishing with four generations will continue, too.

(LE MARS)--Applications are being accepted by Le Mars Community School District staff for a preschool program for four-year-olds.

At this time, school officials say they plan to offer a regular education preschool program at Clark Elementary beginning September first.

The district will re-evaluate the preschool program based on the decision of Iowa legislators about the elimination or continuation of state funding for Iowa's preschool programs. This decision is expected in early April.

At this time, the Le Mars Community Preschool will offer two half-day programs with 10 slots available in the morning and 10 slots available in the afternoon.

Applications will be accepted until April 1st and parents will be notified whether their child has been selected to participate by April 22nd.

(DES MOINES)--All the Democrats and one Republican in the Iowa Senate have endorsed a bill that would help put the State of Iowa in line for more federal money for unemployed Iowans. Senator Pam Jochum, a Democrat from Dubuque, says if the state fails to act by March 10th, the federal funds will no longer be available.

"The focus of this bill is to help 7100 Iowans who have exhausted all of their unemployment benefits, who have been laid off for more than a year through no fault of their own and to be able to access some federal dollars -- to the tune of $14.5 million -- to help these families," Jochum says. According to Jochum, Iowa is one of just nine states that have yet to officially request the extended unemployment benefits for workers who've been out of a job for more than a year.

 "We are pulling down $14.5 million in federal funds that are available to unemployed workers in this state," Jochum says. "Those workers, in turn, will spend that money at small businesses and other businesses in our community." The bill cleared a senate committee without a dissenting vote, but all but one Republican voted against the proposal when it came up in the full, 50-member Senate. Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, says too many people are "manipulating" the unemployment benefits system.
 "I've heard quite a lot about this in the past where an employee will start work on one day, figure out a way to get fired the next day and then collect unemployment benefits," Feenstra says. Merlin Bartz of Grafton was the only Republican senator to vote for the bill. The Republican chairman of the Labor Committee in the Iowa House says he's going to review the legislation to ensure there aren't new rules or "strings" attached to the federal money. A spokesman for Iowa’s Republican governor says Governor Branstad has not reviewed the bill's contents, but will do so if it passes the House and winds up on the governor's desk. (News report by Radio Iowa)

(LE MARS)--Another season of  bats and balls for younger players is being organized by a Le Mars area group.

Le Mars Little League President John Britton reports more than 600 kids played in the 2010 season. Britton said safety is a concern that won't change for the board of directors and continues to be the primary concern each and every year.

The group of volunteers operates a program that maintains nine fields at the West Floyd Complex on Highway Three West, pays umpires, finds coaches and supplies equipment to about 55 teams.

Any excess funds Little League receives are used to improve the facility as needed.

Donations for the Little League program are being accepted and are tax deductible. Anyone who did not receive a letter from the Little League and would like to support the program may send a donation to PO BOX 1014 in Le Mars.

(Des Moines) The Iowa House has passed a bill that would help divorced soldiers who're called to active duty and who share custody of their kids with the other parent. Representative Jeremy Taylor says if the bill becomes law, a soldier who has had joint physical custody of their children will be able to designate a relative to step in and provide the day-to-day care of the kids during the deployment.

Represenative Taylor, a Republican from Sioux City, serves in a Council Bluffs-based Iowa National Guard unit and he knows soldiers who share custody of their kids with an ex-spouse or ex-lover. In those instances, this bill would allow that time with the kids to be turned over to a relative when the soldier goes away on active duty.

Under the rules written in the bill, a soldier with joint-custody of their kids would have file a petition with the court before he or she is deployed, specifying which relative they want to care for the kids in their absence. A judge would then be required to determine if the proposed arrangement is in the best interest of the child -- and would be required to ensure the relative stepping in to provide care has NO history of sex crimes or physically abusive behavior. (News report by Radio Iowa)

(SAC CITY)--Authorities in northwest Iowa's Sac County are investigating an accident involving a school bus that hit and seriously injured a seven-year-old girl. The accident happened just before 3 p.m. Monday in Odebolt (at the intersection of 4th and Dewey Streets) after the girl had stepped off the bus. Three students exited the bus at the stop. It's unclear exactly how the girl was struck by the bus. The girl was transported to Loring Hospital in Sac City and later air-lifted to Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City with serious injuries. The bus driver is identified as 56-year-old Carolyn Joy Mortensen of Wall Lake. No charges have been filed. An inspection of the bus revealed all safety equipment was operating properly. (News report by Radio Iowa)

(SOUTH SIOUX CITY)--Students were back in class at a Siouxland school after a threat (Tuesday) morning.

South Sioux City School officials notified parents and the public of the lockdown at all South Sioux City School buildings shortly after eight o'clock.

School officials say they took they action after a phone call to 9-1-1 reporting a person with a gun in the school. A search of school facilities did not find any validity to the threat and students returned to classes about an hour later.

Other schools in Dakota County were also alerted because the caller was not specific about which school was involved.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) The Iowa House has begun debating a complex package that would slash $311 million in state tax revenue over three years.

Supporters of the measure argued Tuesday it's the latest step needed to deal with a state bureaucracy that's grown too big and expensive. They blame much of the state's budget trouble on programs backed by Democrats in recent years.

Opponents say they are willing to accept some cuts in state tax collections, but they say the plan being considered in the House is too large. They say most tax cuts included in the package will benefit businesses, including some that aren't based in Iowa.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) The Iowa Senate has voted to seek an extra $14.5 million in federal money to pay for jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Backers say the measure would provide benefits for about 7,000 Iowa residents who have been out of work for a year or more. Lawmakers face a March 10 deadline for approving the measure and getting Gov. Terry Branstad's signature.

The Senate approved the measure Tuesday on a 27-22 vote, sending it to the House and an uncertain future.

Branstad aides say they aren't familiar with the measure but that the governor would review it if the Legislature approves the bill.

The money comes from the federal stimulus package.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) An Iowa House committee has approved a bill calling for uniform rules for traffic cameras in the state.

The Gazette in Cedar Rapids says the Transportation Committee unanimously approved the measure on Tuesday. It calls for consistent rules for cameras monitoring highways and streets for speeders and red-light violators. The cameras are in use in Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Sioux City, Clive and Council Bluffs.

The bill caps the citation for running a red light at $50 and establishes a sliding scale of penalties for speeding. It also requires signs advising motorists of the cameras. An amendment approved by the committee requires a police officer to review all recorded images to make sure a violation occurred.

The bill goes to the full House.

CARSON, Iowa (AP) Authorities say a man who surrendered after a standoff with police at his apartment in Carson in southwest Iowa was taken to a hospital.

Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker told The Daily Nonpareil that deputies responded to a report of a man threatening to harm himself early Tuesday.

Danker says Jeffrey Waltermire had allegedly assaulted his wife and told her leave the apartment. He told deputies he was armed with a handgun.

A bomb squad robot broke out a window in the apartment, and Waltermire surrendered about 9 a.m. Danker says no weapon was found.

Waltermire is charged with domestic assault and possession of drug paraphernalia. Danker says Waltermire was taken to a hospital because of health issues. It was not immediately known if Waltermire has an attorney.

WHEATLAND, Iowa (AP) Authorities have released the names of a mother and her young son who died in a house fire near Wheatland in eastern Iowa.

The Clinton County sheriff's office on Tuesday says 26-year-old Taren Burris and her 2-year-old son, Logan Taets, died in the fire that was reported about 8 a.m. on Tuesday. Autopsies are pending.

Officials say another person was in the house when the fire started and escaped. That person was not identified.

The sheriff's office says two firefighters were injured, but their injuries are not life-threatening.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) A sheriff says a 37-year-old Iowa woman apparently committed suicide by jumping off a bridge on to Interstate 80 in front of a semitrailer.

The Johnson County Sheriff's Office identified the victim as Shannon L. Hierseman of rural Iowa City. Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek said authorities received a 911 call at about 8:45 a.m. on Tuesday reporting someone had jumped from the Herbert Hoover Highway overpass to the interstate, and then was struck by the semitrailer.

Hierseman was pronounced dead at the scene. Pulkrabek said semitrailer driver Stanley Engstrand of Luck, Wis. sustained minor injuries but left the scene on his own accord.

Pulkrabek said an autopsy on Hierseman will be performed at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, but investigators believe she jumped intentionally off the bridge into traffic.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) A bill allowing citizens to use reasonable force to defend themselves or a third party's life or property has gained approval on a 13-7 vote in the House Public Safety Committee.

The ``stand your ground'' bill would replace the ``castle doctrine,'' which allows the use of reasonable force if a person is threatened in their home. The bill approved Tuesday allows the use of reasonable force in all places a person has the right to be. It also contains an immunity clause that prevents a person using reasonable force from being prosecuted.

House Democrats opposed the bill. Rep. Rick Olson, of Des Moines, called it a ``dueling bill'' that would result in increased gun violence.

Democrats who hold a majority in the Senate say they won't support the bill.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) President Barack Obama has named Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad as a co-chairman of the Council of Governors.

The council was created in 2008 to strengthen cooperation between the federal and state governments on national security issues. The group had its first meeting Tuesday in conjunction with a meeting of the National Governors Association. Ten governors sit on the panel.

In a statement released Tuesday, Branstad says he would work with Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Tim Orr on matters involving homeland security, the National Guard and coordinating emergency responses.

The Council of Governors is designed to ensure states have a role in security issues and ease the coordination of federal security efforts.

(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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