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Wednesday News, January 15

Sheriff Meets With Supervisors To Request Budget Allocation

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo appeared before the county supervisors on Tuesday to submit his budget requests.  Van Otterloo informed the supervisors he figured into his budget calculations a 3.5 percent increase for his staff.  Van Otterloo oversees the deputies, the corrections, and the emergency communications center.  For the sheriff's department, Van Otterloo is asking for slightly more than one million dollars.  Last year, the supervisors approved a budget of $946,162 for the sheriff's department.  This year, Van Otterloo is asking for an increase of $60,909.  A major portion of the increase is a request for a new vehicle along with the installation of equipment needed for a law enforcement vehicle.   Van Otterloo is also asking for just slightly over a million dollars for the Corrections Department.  Last year's budget was just under $1,042,000.  This year, the sheriff is requesting a budget of $1,104,230 or an increase of $62,231. Part of the increase will go for the salary of a new kitchen staff personnel.  As for the Communications Center, Van Otterloo is seeking a budget of $386,810 for thes six full time employees and one part-time staff member.  Van Otterloo informed the supervisors that a portion of the increase will be directed to updating computers and appropriate software.  


Plains Area Mental Health Request Budget From Couinty

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors continue to work on the county's budget.  On Tuesday morning, Patrick Schmitz of Plains Area Mental Health along with Sharon Nieman appeared before the supervisors to request funding for the county's mental health services.  Schmitz made the request for $89,850 which is lower than last year's budget request of more than $143,000.  Schmitz informed the supervisors why the mental health services budget request is reduced.

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The mental health services are now under a regional supervison.  Schmitz informed the supervisors the total of the mental health services is more than $930,000.  Schmitz says the mental health services have been able to save money by moving more to an outpatient program.

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The mental health official told the county supervisors that the regional mental health program is charging each participating county a fee of $2.75 per person living in the county.  Plymouth County has a population of about 24,000 people.  Schmitz told the supervisors that the mental health clinic has increased its staff, and intends to add more staff people in the coming weeks. 


Supervisors Approve Mortgage Extension On Industrial Property

(Le Mars) -- In other action taken Tuesday by the Plymouth County Supervisors was the approval of a mortgage extension for an industrial area located on the southern portion of Le Mars.  Neil Adler, executive director with the Le Mars Business Initative Corporation informed the supervisors of the area in question, known as the Industrial park second addition. Adler says the land was originally purchased in 2006 and had a six year agreement.

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Dordt College Sues Obama Administration Over Birth Control Provision In Affordable Healthcare Act

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (AP) - The Obama administration is asking a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Christian colleges in Iowa and Michigan over a mandate requiring health insurance plans to provide free birth control coverage.
     The Justice Department said in a filing last week the legal challenge by Dordt College and Cornerstone University is a meritless attempt to prevent their female employees from obtaining coverage.
     Sioux Center, Iowa-based Dordt and Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Cornerstone filed the lawsuit last year. They claim that a mandate in the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance plans to provide birth control pills without co-pays violates their religious freedom since they oppose the use of contraception.
     The Obama administration says the mandate accommodates religious-based employers by requiring insurers and third-party plan administrators to pay for that coverage.


East Sac School District Looks At Four-Day School Week

 LAKE VIEW, Iowa (AP) - A northwest Iowa district is considering switching to a four-day school week.
     The East Sac County School District plan would have classes run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. four days a week instead of 8:20 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. five days a week. Officials say the four days of classes would leave a fifth weekday for such things as parent-teacher conferences.
     At a public forum Monday, some parents said they were concerned about finding day care and whether students would stay alert for a longer school day.
     A final scheduling decision hasn't been made.
     The district has about 1,000 students, with elementary schools in Sac City and Wall Lake, a middle school in Sac City and a high school in Lake View.


Branstad Expected To Announce Candidacy For Governor Tonight

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is expected to announce that he will seek re-election.
     Branstad is scheduled to hold a "major announcement" Wednesday night in West Des Moines. The 67-year-old Republican governor will then kick off a statewide tour. 
     Branstad, who is currently serving his fifth non-consecutive term, enjoys strong approval ratings. He is touting property tax cuts, education investments and a decline in unemployment as key accomplishments. His campaign announced last week that he had just over $4 million in his campaign account at the end of December. 
     The main Democrat seeking to oppose Branstad is 63-year-old state Sen. Jack Hatch, of Des Moines. 
     Branstad sounded like a candidate during his annual "Condition of the State" speech before lawmakers Tuesday. Throughout the speech, Branstad repeatedly said: "Iowa is working."


Cady To Deliver "State Of The Judiciary" Speech

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Chief Justice Mark Cady of the Iowa Supreme Court is set to address lawmakers in the annual "state of the judiciary" speech.
     Cady will speak Wednesday morning before a joint session of the Legislature. Cady, who has served on the court since 1998, is seeking a budget increase for the fiscal year that begins July 1. 
     According to the governor's proposed budget, the judiciary is looking for an allocation of about $179 million, an increase of nearly $11 million over the projected spending for the current year. 
     A press release from the judicial branch says the speech will focus on efforts to make the court system the "most advanced, and the most responsive" in the nation.


Appeals Court To Hear Death Penalty Retrial Of Angela Johnson

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An appeals court is set to hear arguments involving the death penalty retrial of Angela Johnson, the Iowa woman convicted of five drug-related slayings in 1993.
     U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett in 2012 threw out death sentences given to Johnson in 2005 after finding deficiencies in her legal representation. Last year, Bennett ordered a new trial solely to determine whether Johnson should again be sentenced to death or life in prison without parole.
     Federal prosecutors are asking the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to broaden the scope of the new trial. They say jurors should first hear the evidence on whether Johnson is eligible for death under federal law, and then decide what penalty to issue.
     A three-judge panel will hear oral arguments Thursday afternoon in St. Louis.


Attorney General Encourages People To Use Credit Monitoring After Target Data Breach

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller is urging residents who shop at Target to take advantage of free credit monitoring being offered in the wake of a massive date breach.
     Miller says Tuesday that Target customers should sign up for the monitoring even if they haven't seen any suspicious account activity. He also recommends that people change passwords and pin numbers and be watchful of their personal information.
     Target Corp. initially disclosed that about 40 million credit and debit cards may have been affected by the security lapse between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15. The company later said hackers stole personal information from as many as 70 million customers.
     Target is offering a year of free credit monitoring to customers who shopped at its stores.









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