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Tuesday Afternoon News, January 21

City Council Approves Franks Design As Downtown Renovation Architech

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council approved Franks Design Group of Glenwood, Iowa as the architech for the restoration of downtown buildings as part of the Community Development Block Grant of $500,000 and with another $500,000 in matching funds from the city and building owners.  The agreed upon fee is not to exceed $40,940.  Dennis Hill and Richard Ziettlow of the Le Mars Historical Preservation Commission were on for the council meeting.  Hill is pleased the city has approved the architech and he knows it will eventually mean good news for the downtown business district.

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Already 15 business owners have signed on to participate in the building facade renovation project, and Hill believes others will also join.

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Prior to voting upon the agreement, Councilman Clark Goodchild wondered if the downtown district would consists of a patchwork look with renovated buildings standing next to buildings that were not renovated?  Richard Ziettlow is optimistic the cost-sharing grant program will attract business owners into participating.

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Ziettlow explains the renovation work will primarily be to help the facade of the building.

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Hill and Ziettlow say the chosen architech, Franks Design, has worked on other communities with similar restoration projects.

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Fire Department Gives Year-end Annual Report

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department submitted its year-end annual report to the Le Mars City Council on Tuesday.  According to Fire Chief Dave Schipper the fire department responded to 360 calls in 2013, which was 41 fewer calls than 2012. Schipper says in 2013, the fire department had its lowest dollar value lost from fires which was estimated at $59,850.

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Schipper noted although the fire department had fewer calls, some of those calls required additional man-hour time.

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Schipper informed the city council the local fire department conducted 82 classes and 25 fire prevention sessions during 2013.

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More than 800 people attended the pancake breakfast and the ice cream feed held during Fire Prevention Week in October.   

 

 

Sioux Center Residents Concerned About Widening Of Highway

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (AP) - Some residents of Sioux Center in northwest Iowa say they're concerned by renewed study of a highway that cuts through the middle of town.
      the Iowa Department of Transportation has offered $40,000 for a study of U.S. Highway 75.
     That's made some residents uneasy as it follows plans in early 2013 to spend $6.7 million on improvements that included widening about a mile of the highway through business and residential areas. After opposition from residents, the City Council halted the plan.
     Rachel Hoogeveen, who helped lead opposition to the highway widening, says she hopes city officials will proceed carefully and involve residents in their decisions.
     Sioux Center City Administrator Paul Clousing says the study will include a traffic count and alternatives besides highway expansion.
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Iowa State University To Monitor Lakes

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A state board has agreed to pay Iowa State University more than $500,000 to test and monitor the state's lakes during the next three years.
     The Iowa Environmental Protection Commission on Tuesday approved a $522,131 contract that will fund the work at 138 lakes. Water at the lakes will be checked three times a year.
     The state uses the information to determine the quality of lake water and whether efforts to maintain good conditions are working.
     Environmental groups have called upon the state recently to approve more stringent water-quality rules.
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Trump Contributes To Branstad Campaign

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad has received big campaign contributions from Iowa business leaders, special interest political committees and from celebrity businessman Donald Trump. 
     Branstad filed his campaign finance report for 2013 on Tuesday. It shows that he has about $4.1 million in cash on hand for his re-election campaign. 
     The report says Branstad received contributions ranging in size from $5 to $1 million. His biggest contributor was a political action committee affiliated with the Republican Governors Association, which gave him $1 million.
     Other top contributors include well-known Iowa businessmen Bruce Rastetter and John Pappajohn, who both gave more than $30,000 to the campaign. Reality TV star and real estate mogul Donald Trump gave Branstad $15,000. 
     Branstad's likely Democratic opponent, state lawmaker Jack Hatch, has about $240,000 on hand.

 

Bedell To Sell Okoboji Home

WEST OKOBOJI LAKE, Iowa (AP) - Iowans looking for a little extra space might want to consider a nearly 25,000 square foot home for sale at West Okoboji Lake in northwest Iowa.
     The lakefront home includes nine bedrooms, 16 bathrooms and a full-size Irish pub, but it won't come cheap.
     Businessman Tom Bedell is asking $14.9 million for the lakefront mansion.
     Bedell earned his fortune by expanding his father's fishing tackle business into an international company, which he sold in 2007 for $400 million. He now owns a guitar company based in Oregon.
     Bedell's home is assessed at $12.4 million.
     To put its value in context, the most expensive Des Moines area home for sale is a 9,000-square-foot home in Urbandale listed for $4.9 million.
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