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KLEM News Update May 16, 2011

 According to the 2000 Census, the four county area made up of Lyon, Ocseola, O'Brien and Sioux counties has the highest population percentage of Dutch ancestry in the nation. Well, with the help of Pipestone and Rock counties in Minnesota, that is.

Tulip Festival is this week, and in celebration KLEM is kicking off a series that will explain the in's and out's of some Tulip Festival traditions.

The theme for this year's festival is Heritage of Style. Traditional Dutch dress is a very important part of the culture. You may think that bonnets and wooden shoes take care of it all, but according to Tulip Festival Committee Chair Dale Hiemstra, there's definitely more to it.

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Hiemstra, who himself wears traditional dress from the Friesland region, says that if you're curious about a costume, ask. Most people wearing the traditional garb know the history and will be happy to share it with you. The beginning of the parade is a great time to see dress from all the regions at one time, but more on that later this week.

Each year the Queen and Court wear clothes from a different region. These dresses take hundreds of hours to make and are constructed by hand! For the first time they will be wearing costumes from the village of Best, a dominantly Catholic region.

(From left to right are Nicole Mulder, Sara Heilman, Queen Jessica Locker, Katelyn Droog and Talitha Witt. Photo Courtesy Orange City Tulip Festival)

Keep listening to KLEM for Tulip Festival updates all week long and listen to the parade broadcast on Thursday.  (News report by Angela Drake of KLEM News)

Convention Center project may be scaled back

(LE MARS)--Improvements planned at the Le Mars Convention Center may be scaled back.

The City of Le Mars request for Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) for a Convention Center upper level face lift was not funded by Plymouth County Supervisors.

The 50-thousand dollar request would have used one-half of the 100-thousand dollars set aside for grants by the Board of Supervisors.

City administrator Scott Langel says the work proposed is in two areas.

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The main room improvements included a stage to replace one used by Westmar University and enhancements to improve acoustics in the former Westmar University Commons cafeteria.

Langel will ask for Council direction on the project.

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Wells has donated 10-thousand dollars for a new Convention Center stage.

Cleveland Castle project needs volunteers today

(LE MARS)--An ice cream-theme play area in Le Mars needs a fresh look.

Volunteers will work from three this (Monday) afternoon until dusk to spruce up Cleveland Castle. The large, wooden play area is in Cleveland Park at Second Street and Sixth Avenue Southeast.

Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce Main Street Manager Mary Reynolds says around 50 volunteers are needed to get the project done in a half day. A spruce up planned last year was delayed until now.

The City of Le Mars is providing the paints and stains. Volunteer labor and volunteers with paint brushes, ladders, buckets, brooms, hammers, screwdrivers and other tools are needed.

If you can help, you're asked to check in with Reynolds by calling her at the Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce.

Officials in Iowa's largest cities lobby against commercial property tax cut

(DES MOINES) Officials in Iowa's larger cities are lobbying against the significant tax cut Republicans propose for commercial property. Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark says the City of Waterloo will collect 20-million dollar less in commercial property taxes under the G-O-P plan.

"It sounds like an absolutely terrible idea and I'm not at all supportive of it," Clark says. The Republican-led House and Republican Governor Terry Branstad promise that the state will give cities some state money to make up for a 40 percent reduction in commercial property taxes over five years. And Republicans say cutting commercial property taxes will spur job creation and cities will benefit from economic growth.
Newton Mayor Chaz Allen says it's "a little scary" to think about how his city will cope with a reduction in commercial property tax revenue, but he isn't opposed to the G-O-P plan. 

 "I commend the governor for doing this," Allen says. "He's kicking it off dead center to get a discussion about our property taxes and this is actually going to help our businesses." Waterloo's mayor has his doubts that cutting commercial property taxes by 40 percent will spur development significantly.

 "I'm very skeptical that...Waterloo is going to grow at the rate of $20 million of replacement revenue over the next five years," Clark says. "I just can't imagine in my wildest dreams that that is going to happen."

Governor Branstad says when the state cut property taxes on business machinery and equipment during his previous tenure as governor, it led to significant growth. Robert Padmore, the assistant city manager in Sioux City, says that wasn't the experience of his community.

 "We didn't see any spikes following that change," Padmore says. Democrats in the Iowa Senate favor a completely different approach, giving a property tax credit to small businesses. (News report by Radio Iowa)

Driver killed when vehicle crashes into Iowa house

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Authorities have identified a driver killed when her car slammed into a house in Des Moines.

Des Moines Police Sgt. Chris Scott says 24-year-old Joanna Chester died at the scene of the crash, which happened about 12:30 a.m. Sunday at an unoccupied house. Her passenger, identified as 33-year-old Jerry Hereford, was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

Scott says an autopsy will be done to determine how Chester died.

Iowa police chief resigns on heels of dept. review

DYERSVILLE, Iowa (AP) The Dyersville police chief is resigning on the heels of a department assessment that recommends better leadership.

Martin Botts told the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald that his resignation isn't related to the assessment. He cites health reasons.

Results of the assessment ordered in January to evaluated police services and find areas of improvement were recently released. An outside consultant recommended hiring a new chief or developing better leadership to oversee the department.

Botts says the report isn't entirely accurate, and he believes an ongoing labor dispute may have tainted the results.

Botts has been chief for almost 11 years. His last day will be May 25.

Progress made in fight against meth in Iowa

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) Iowa officials say restricting access to ingredients used to make methamphetamine has worked in recent years, but more work remains as makers of the drug finds ways around the limits.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that Iowa began restricting access to pseudoephedrine, a key meth ingredient, in 2005. That has slowed down the industry in Iowa.

Meth lab seizures peaked in the state with 1,500 in 2004. They dropped to 178 in 2007 and after two years of increases, only 72 meth labs have been seized so far in 2011.

Thompson backs changes to presidential elections

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Ex-U.S. Senator Fred Thompson has been tapped as a leader to a non-partisan campaign to elect the president by popular vote.

Thompson, briefly a presidential candidate in 2008, was named national co-champion of the National Popular Vote campaign at a news conference in Washington, D.C.

The former Hollywood actor told The Tennessean that the country cannot ``run the risk of having a president who is handicapped by not having won the most popular votes.''

Proponents of the idea say the current system, in which the winner of a state earns all the electoral votes, means that a few states decide who is president and other states, including Tennessee, are ignored.

Iowa man who won `Biggest Lose' graduates

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) Matt Hoover, winner of the second season of reality TV show ``The Biggest Loser,'' can add college degree to his list of accomplishments.

The Marion, Iowa man graduated Saturday from University of Iowa with a degree in psychology. He started school 16 years ago, dropped out after four years, then returned off and on.

Hoover, who described himself as a top-notch athlete before ballooning to 340 pounds, lost 157 pounds on the NBC show in 2005. He told KWWL-TV that after winning, he decided had to go back college to get his degree.

Iowa man turns to topless dancers to save center

WEST UNION, Iowa (AP) The owner of a former racetrack in Fayette County has turned to adult entertainment to drum up business.

Lee Hansmeier has operated Echo Valley Banquet and Recreation Center for more than a decade, but the dirt racetrack on the property hasn't been used in two years. He says high gas prices kept fans away.

Now, he's trying to keep the center, which he rents out for wedding receptions, banquets and auctions, afloat.

The county ruled this month Hansmeier could have adult entertainment there, so he's bringing in exotic dancers from Cedar Rapids and Waterloo on weekends.

IBM's super-computer, Watson, to stop in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) The super-computer known for its recent success on ``Jeopardy!'' is coming to Iowa.

Watson, the one of-a-kind IBM computer built to think like a human, will appear at a conference sponsored by the Technology Association of Iowa in Altoona on June 2.

The association's president, Leann Jacobson, says the technology that powers Watson could help solve real-world challenges and has implications for multiple industries and society.

UNI AD says Jacobson sticking with Panthers

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) Northern Iowa athletic director Troy Dannen says coach Ben Jacobson is staying with the Panthers.

Dannen told The Associated Press on Saturday that he spoke to Jacobson about the vacant Texas A M job and had given his coach permission to speak to the Aggies about it.

On Sunday, Dannen posted a message on Twitter that read: ``Jake stays in Cedar Falls. Great news for all of us.'' Dannen also tells the Des Moines Register that it's a ``relief'' Jacobson isn't leaving for the Aggies.

(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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