Tuesday Afternoon News, December 17
City Council Approves Pedestrian Bridge Across Floyd River
(Le Mars) -- At today's Le Mars City Council meeting, a public hearing was held to discuss a proposed pedestrian bridge that would cross the Floyd River along Highway 3. People spoke both in favor and against the project. Those who favor the project, like Le Mars Police Chief Stuart Dekkenga, who resides on the west edge of town, point to the fact it would be safer for pedestrians and bicyclists needing to cross the river and get into town, without having to share the road with vehicle traffic crossing the bridge. Dekkenga says the span of the bridge is over 560 feet long with ten feet between the lane of vehicle traffic and the railing of the bridge, and the speed limit is 50 miles per hour.
People against the project, like Robert Schroeder and Pat Warner believes it would be too costly for the city at an estimated cost of $205,000 and it would not be used.
The city council, voted to approve the pedestrian bridge and trail project on a 3-2 vote. $160,000 of the cost of the pedestrian bridge would be financed through the state transportation department.
Leonard Completes Service To City Council
(Le Mars) -- Tuesday, December 17th marks the last city council meeting for John Leonard. Leonard has represented the Le Mars residents of Ward I for the past nine years and when he reflects back upon his service to the city, he is reminded of the growth the city has witnessed.
Leonard says he is most proud of the city's achievements involving public safety.
Leonard says the most troubling issue for him was trying to locate buyers that would utilize the old Westmar College facilities.
The out-going council member says he hopes to remain active with city issues even though he will no longer serve on the city council.
Leonard says he is glad to see the council recently place the proceedings on line. He say he will miss working with his fellow council members and the city staff.
Conservation Board Proposes 3-Year Plan For River's Bend Park
(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Conservation Board proposed to the County Board of Supervisors a three-year plan for completion of the River Bend Wildlife Area which will include a 20 acre lake. Nick Beeck, the executive director with the county conservation board informed the Supervisors new developments including restrooms, boat ramp, shelter house, and camp grounds may cost approximately $86,000. Beeck proposed the first year, the county consider installing restrooms and a boat ramp. The second year would include the construction of a shelter house, and the development of a 12 space campground. The final year of the project would complete the campground and finance the seeding of an area of 20 acres into prairie seed.
Supervisors Hear About Discrepency On Library Funding
(Le Mars) -- The use of electronic devices, such as computers, the internet, e-books, and etc. is on the rise at local libraries, and so is the cost to finance those materials. But who should stand the cost for the usage of such items? That was discussed at today's Plymouth County Board of Supervisors meeting. Records show that at least 40 percent of the people who frequently use the Le Mars Public Library are not residents of the city. Through city taxes, Le Mars charges a fee of more than $40 per person for the use of the library, where-as rural residents through county taxes are charged $9.57. Le Mars City Council Members Delana Ihrke and John Leonard appeared before the county supervisors to offer several options for their consideration. The two Le Mars council members would like to see some narrowing of the financial gap between the city and the county. Irhke proposed an option where the county would continue to allocate the same funds to the five community libraries, but it would require rural residents to pay an additional user fee if they wish to use such electronic materials at their local library. The supervisors requested a meeting with both the city and library representatives to find a solution to the financial disparity.
ABC News Ask Judge To Dismiss Lawsuit Over Meat Product
ELK POINT, S.D. (AP) - A lawyer for ABC is asking a judge to throw out a defamation suit over its coverage of a meat product called lean, finely textured beef.
Beef Products Inc. sued ABC and ABC News Inc. in September 2012 over the network's reports about the product critics have dubbed "pink slime."
The Dakota Dunes-based meat processor claims the network damaged the company by misleading consumers into believing the product is unhealthy and unsafe. BPI is seeking $1.2 billion in damages.
Circuit Judge Cheryle Gering is continuing to listen to oral arguments on Tuesday afternoon.
ABC attorney Kevin Baine says the network in each of its broadcasts stated that the FDA deemed the product safe to eat.
But BPI attorney Eric Connolly says said those statements were coupled with negative context.
Iowa State University Gets Soil Sensor Grant
AMES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa State University research team has won $1 million grant to develop wireless sensors that could help farmers track soil data including nitrate levels and soil moisture.
The National Science Foundation announced grant recipients on Tuesday.
The money will fund research by a team headed by Ratnesh Kumar, an Iowa State professor of electrical and computer engineering.
The sensors are designed to be buried about a foot deep in a grid pattern to relay data to a central computer that would record information for researchers or farmers.
The sensors could help researchers understand how water moves through a field, assisting in the development of better models to predict crop growth and yield.
And they could help them understand the carbon and nitrogen cycles within soils.
Council Bluffs Man Charged With Murdering Woman
GLENWOOD, Iowa (AP) - A Council Bluffs man has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of a western Iowa woman.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation says 24-year-old Chad Fortner was charged Tuesday in connection with the death of 47-year-old Carol Meston, of Glenwood.
Authorities found Meston unconscious in her home Oct. 12. She died the next day.
Fortney, who was staying with Meston, originally told authorities he was involved in an altercation at the home with a male acquaintance. He claimed Meston was knocked down during the altercation and hit her head on a piece of furniture.
An autopsy shows Meston suffered from a vertebral artery rupture. Her death has been ruled a homicide.
Fortner is at the Mills County jail under a $50,000 bond. Records do not list an attorney.
Hog Manure Spill Causes Outcry For Permits
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A hog farm in southeast Iowa run by an Illinois corporation has become the latest battleground between environmental groups, state officials, and modern farming operations that consolidate thousands of animals in confinement buildings.
The Maschhoffs farm near Keosauqua spilled thousands of gallons of hog manure into a dry creek Nov. 4 and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources is considering fines and enforcement action that could include requirement of Clean Water Act permit.
Iowa hasn't issued such a permit to a hog farm before but environmental groups are pushing for it.
Maschhoffs officials say they've complied with state regulations and cleaned up the spill swiftly.
The DNR has reached an agreement with the EPA to enforce stricter penalties for spills but still has to develop rules for hog farm permits.
Olson To Drop Out Of Governor's Race
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Democratic state Rep. Tyler Olson says he is dropping out of the 2014 race for governor.
Olson made the announcement Tuesday, about two weeks after acknowledging that he and his wife planned to divorce and that he would scale back his campaign for the rest of the year. The couple lives in Cedar Rapids and has two young children.
Olson says he needs to focus on his children.
The 37-year-old Olson is one of at least two Democrats running for governor. He's in his fourth term in the state House and is the former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party.
Olson recently won the endorsement of Iowa's largest union.
The Democratic nominee likely will face Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who is expected to seek re-election.
Latham Won't Seek Re-election
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Ten-term U.S. Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa won't seek re-election next year. The 65-year-old Republican from Clive will have spent 20 years in Congress and is Iowa's senior U.S. House member. His decision creates an open seat that includes the Des Moines area, Iowa's most populous region. Latham was heavily courted this year by Iowa Republicans and the national GOP to seek Iowa's open Senate seat in 2014, but he turned that down in February
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