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Monday Afternoon News, March 11

Road Crews Slowly Clearing Highways From Snow Storm

(Le Mars) -- Road crews in northwest Iowa are slowly making some progress on clearing the highways that were 100 percent snow and ice packed earlier this morning.  U-S Highways 10, 20 and 30 were all reported to be blocked earlier today.  The Iowa Department of Transportation reported that Highway 20 between Moville and state Highway 110 that goes to Schaller was blocked and impassable.  Towing is prohibited.  Highway 59 between Denison and Holstein is blocked and the route is impassable.  Again, towing services are prohibited.  There are warnings of white out conditions. There have been reports of eleven to 12 inches of snow stretching between Oto in Woodbury County, to Fort Dodge. Snow removal operations were temporarily suspended earlier today due to hazardous weather conditions.    Highways I-29, 75, 60, 3, 18, 71, and 9 in northwest Iowa are still considered either to be wet or partially snow and ice covered.  The Iowa DOT says some roads have only one lane open due to the blowing snow.  

Iowa State Patrol Trooper Vince Kurtz says motorist still need to use caution when traveling today.

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As mentioned, conditions are improving, but Kurtz says if you get stranded, the best thing to do is stay with your vehicle.

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School Board To Consider Resolution Calling For 4% Allowable Growth

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education is scheduled to meet this evening.  The state legislature has been slow to enact funding provisions for school districts, and as a result, the local school board will consider a resolution directed toward the state legislature calling for a four percent annual allowable growth rate.  The school board will also review the budget timeline. 

Spencer Woman Injured From House Fire

SPENCER, Iowa (AP) - A Spencer woman has been hospitalized after a fire at her home in northwest Iowa.
Authorities say the blaze was reported just after 6:30 a.m. Saturday. The occupant, Carolann Fullerton, was taken to Spencer Hospital for observation of possible smoke inhalation.
Investigators say the fire began in a bathroom, but they haven't determined the cause. Damage to the building and contents was estimated at $60,000.


Vaudt Says Branstad's Budget Is Fiscally Sound

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State Auditor David Vaudt says Gov. Terry Branstad's budget proposals are the most fiscally sound he's seen in a decade.
Vaudt on Monday provided his review of Branstad's plans for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. He praises the governor for nearly eliminating the use of one-time money for ongoing expenses and says
the plan spends less than the projected incoming revenues.
Vaudt, a Republican, says there are potential pressures on the budget. He says the governor and lawmakers must determine how to pay for a new contract for state union workers, as well as any
increase in general school funding.
Vaudt also notes the state should expect further reductions to federal funding and must continue efforts to shore up the state pension system, which is currently 80 percent funded.


Branstad Pushes His Property Tax Reform Package

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says his plan to cut commercial property taxes will benefit towns across Iowa.
Branstad brought local government officials who support the proposal to his weekly news conference Monday at the state Capitol.
Branstad's $350 million plan would gradually reduce taxable assessments for commercial property owners by 20 percent and would slow the growth of residential and agricultural assessments.
Funding would be provided to local governments to make up lost
Senate Democrats have given committee-level approval to a plan that would gradually provide commercial property owners with a tax credit equivalent to a roughly 40 percent tax cut on their first
$324,000 in assessed property value. Under their $250 million proposal, the credits would not be funded in weak budget years.

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