Thursday Afternoon News, January 23
Update On The Akron Roof Fire
(Akron) -- The Akron Fire Department responded to a roof that had caught fire late last evening. The fire was at 201 Mill Street, a downtown business, and was first reported at about 11:35 p.m. Akron Fire Chief Shane Coyle explains what had happened.
Coyle says fortunately, there were no problems with the equipment or with the fire crew due to the freezing temperatures.
Fire officials were on the scene for two hours battling the blaze and the frigid sub-zero temperatures.
Gehlen Catholic Schools To Participate In National Catholic Schools Week
(Le Mars) -- Gehlen Catholic School will join the National Catholic Education Association & schools throughout the Diocese of Sioux City to celebrate Catholic Schools Week, January 26 through February 1. The National Catholic Education Association says this year's theme encompasses several concepts that are at the heart of Catholic education.
Lisa Niebuhr, Public Relations Director with Gehlen Catholic School explains the importance of recognizing National Catholic School's week.
Catholic Schools Week begins with Mass on Monday celebrated by Bishop R. Walker Nickless of the Diocese of Sioux City at St. Joseph Parish-LeMars.
Three generations of the Klein family have graduated or attended St. Anthony’s in Hospers, Spalding or Gehlen Catholic School. Their son, Reverend Doug Klein, is a priest in the Diocese of Sioux City.
Mercy Medical Center CEO To Resign
(Siioux City) -- The President and C-E-O of Mercy Medical center is stepping down.
Bob Peebles has announced his plans to retire effective April 1st.
Peebles made his formal announcement to the Mercy Medical Center Board of Directors at its regular meeting Thursday morning.
He became Mercy's President and C-E-O in May of 2009.
Under Peebles' leadership, Mercy continued to extend its healing ministry to the poor including supporting the Welcome Home Project, a shelter for homeless families.
Mercy Health Network President David Vellinga says a transition plan will be developed immediately which will include interim leadership and formation of a committee to lead the search for Peebles' permanent replacement
Iowa Wesleyan College To Issue Lay-offs And Academic Cuts
MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant plans to lay off 45 employees and close 16 academic programs with poor enrollment.
The school made the announcement Wednesday. Its Board of Trustees recently voted to ratify the changes.
College President Steven Titus says school committees reviewed programs, enrollment patterns and graduation rates. He says it's no longer appropriate to fund programs with little or no student interest.
The cuts will save the school $3 million.
Current students in affected academic programs will be able to graduate within their major. Cuts in administration will happen over the next two weeks. Affected faculty will be at the school through January 2015.
The private college, located in southeast Iowa, has more than 600 students.
Tax Exempt Military Pension Bill Moving Through State Senate
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Legislation that would exempt military pensions from state income tax is moving rapidly through the Iowa Senate.
A Senate committee approved the legislation during a brief hearing Thursday. It is expected to soon move to the full Senate for a vote.
Sen. Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, says the bill honors veterans and may attract more military retirees to the state.
The military pension exemption is a top priority for Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who has made support for veterans a key part of his budget plan this year.
According to the Branstad administration, the pension exemption would cost the state a projected $10 million in lost annual revenue.
Lawmakers Working To Make Tougher Kidnapping Penalties
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa lawmakers are seeking to enact tougher kidnapping penalties following the kidnapping and killing of a teenage girl last year.
The Des Moines Register reports (dmreg.co/1hnEAV3) a House subcommittee on Thursday granted preliminary approval to a bill that would increase the punishment for kidnapping if the victim is 15 or younger.
The legislation raises the sentence for such crimes to 25 years and blocks those convicted of certain crimes from the ability to reduce a sentence.
The legislation responds to the death of 15-year-old Kathlynn Shepard, who is believed to have been killed by registered sex offender Michael Klunder.
Klunder's 41-year prison term was cut in half under Iowa law, which shaves sentences by an additional 1.2 days for every day served. He killed himself after the incident.
Casino Executive Gets Bonus
ALTOONA, Iowa (AP) - The board of the nonprofit Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona has approved a bonus of more than $150,000 for its chief executive officer, and some are questioning if there's a better use for the money.
The decision Wednesday also gives CEO Gary Palmer a 3 percent raise. It's slightly more than the bonus he received last January.
Palmer's total compensation for 2012 - the last year that records are available - was more than $650,000.
The board on Wednesday approved $1.6 million in bonus payments to about 280 employees, including Palmer.
Advocates for charities wonder if the bonuses and salaries diminish the casino's mission of helping nonprofit groups. The board says salary studies show Palmer and other executives are underpaid.
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