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Monday Afternoon News, December 9

Fire Department Responds To Three Calls During Weekend

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department responded to three calls over the weekend.  On Saturday, at about 2:15 p.m. the fire department was called to the Econolodge motel as a water main had frozen and had burst spilling water inside the facility.  The fire department also had a call at about 10:00 p.m. Saturday evening concerning a gas leak that occured at 430 Lombardi Road. MidAmerican crews were also notified of the gas leak and assisted at the scene.  On Sunday morning, the fire department was called to an automobile accident that happened at about 11:40 a.m. at the intersection of 6th Avenue Southeast and 1st Street Southeast.  Two vehicles had collided causing some minor injuries.   

Le Mars School Board To Discuss Land Exchange

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School Board will hold a public hearing this evening involving a land transfer.  Dr. Todd Wendt, superintendent of schools says the transfer involves property owned by the school district located at the southeast corner of town at 14th Avenue S.E. and county road C-30, and land that is currently owned by Steve Shuster as part of the Dogwood Industrial Park.  Dr. Wendt says the school board doesn't have any immediate development plans for the land located just to the west of the current high school and middle school buildings, but says it would be good to own.

Wendt says it is a simple reason why the school district would like to acquire the land.  He says the proximity of the land in question to the current district's existing facilities is attractive.  He says the local FFA will farm the ground in the immediate future.

The land exhange involves approximately 18 acres that is owned by the school district with a little more than 17 and a half acres owned by Steve Schuster as part of the Dogwood Industrial Properties.  Wendt says the school will also pay Schuster an additional $608,000 for the property.

Wendt says since the land exchange has become known to the public, he says several past school board members have approached him about the deal, indicating there was interest as far back as the 1970's for the school district to acquire the land located to the west of the high school and ballfields.

The school superintendent doesn't recall which party approached who first with the idea of exchanging land.  The public hearing is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. this evening at the Education Service Center located at 940 Lincoln Street SW. 


Branstad Promotes New Education Campaign 

   DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad wants more people in Iowa to know about the benefits of science, technology, engineering and math education.
     Branstad on Monday announced a new public information campaign about the study of those topics, collectively known as STEM. The campaign will include billboard advertisements and a public service announcement. Those are set to be released in early 2014.
     Branstad says that increased public awareness will help the state as it tries to create more STEM learning opportunities and train more people for jobs related to these topics. 
     The state will spend $150,000 on the campaign, which is being put on by West Des Moines marketing firm Strategic America. The firm is donating an additional $160,000 in time.


Sunken Towboat Ready To Be Raised

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The U.S. Coast Guard says a partially sunken towboat is ready to be raised from the Mississippi River at LeClaire two weeks after it hit something in the river and took on water. 
     Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Mariana O'Leary says a big crane is rigged to lift the boat. As it is raised Monday, workers will pump out the remaining water, fuel and oil. 
     Once workers confirm the boat has no other damage and it's ready to move, it will be towed to a repair facility in Illinois about 300 miles downriver.
     A hole measuring about 12-by-30 inches along a seam on the bottom near the rear has been patched so the boat can be towed.
     Most of the spilled diesel fuel and oil has been cleaned up.


State Senator Says Premiums Delaying Health Expansion

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa senator says federal approval for an expansion of low income health care has been held up due to debate over premiums in the plan. 
     Des Moines Democrat Jack Hatch says Monday that he has spoken with federal officials about Iowa's application.
     Iowa needs a waiver enabling the state to receive more federal Medicaid money for the proposed Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, a new health insurance program which would cover up to 150,000 residents.
     Hatch says federal authorities are concerned about the use of premiums. Under the plan, the state would start charging some people small monthly premiums in 2015, though they would be waived if they complete certain health goals.
     Republican Gov. Terry Branstad says the Legislature approved the plan and that it will improve health outcomes


 Fire Claims Clive Home

CLIVE, Iowa (AP) - A central Iowa family is picking up the pieces after a late night fire caused extensive damage to a home they had just moved into.
     Kari Bassett Engesser and her husband, Danny Engesser, awoke early Sunday to find their new Clive home in flames. They grabbed their 6-month-old son and escaped into the frigid weather.
     The house sustained $150,000 in damage. Officials are still determining the cause of the fire, which the Engessers believe is connected to the fireplace.
     The family has since been staying with new neighbors, but insurance will cover a hotel stay. In the meantime, they're using social media to keep others updated on their progress, and donations for clothing and other items are being accepted.



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