Wednesday News, February 26
Rohe Discusses Construction Priorities With County Supervisors
(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County engineer Tom Rohe met with the County board of Supervisors on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming construction season, and to establish a priority list of bridges and roads that need repair. Rohe informed the supervisors that Plymouth County has a total of 1430 miles of roads. Of that figure, 365 miles are paved with 255 miles having an asphalt surface, and 110 miles of roadways that are concrete. The county engineer says there are 440 bridges within the county that are 20 feet in length or longer. Rohe says most of the bridges in Iowa and in the county were constructed during the era of the 1950's, 60's, and 70's using wood as a primary construction component. He says those bridges need to be replaced.
Rohe says for 2014, the county has intentions of repairing 21 bridges, with 11 of those contracted to the county road crews.
The county engineer says road and bridge construction costs have risen about 7.5 percent each year since 2003.
School Board Approves Affirmative Action Plan Goals
(Le Mars) -- During its regular meeting held Monday evening, the Le Mars Community School Board approved the goals of the district's affirmative action plan. Assistant Superintendent, Steve Webner informed the board, the plan needs to be updated every two years. Webner mentioned to the board that in many cases where the goal is to hire a minority candidate, an opening has not yet occurred, due to no turnover with the positions. Webner listed the seven goals of the school district's affirmative action plan.
Le Mars Teen Injured After Being Struck By SUV
(Ireton) -- Police are investigating an accident that injured a Le Mars teen. The 16 year old was struck by a SUV at about 8:00 p.m. Saturday on county road K-22 about two miles west of Ireton, according to a Sioux county sheriff's news release. The injuries were not life-threatening. The teen was standing in the northbound lane looking for a shoe when she was struck. The victim was taken to the Floyd Valley Hospital with leg injuries and was released. The Sioux County Sheriff's office says they do no suspect foul play with the accident.
CoOpportunity Reports More Than 50,000 Iowans Signed Up For National Healthcare
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A West Des Moines nonprofit insurance provider set up to sell insurance under nation's new health care overhaul plan says it has surpassed 50,000 individual and group members, a milestone that wasn't expected for at least two years.
CoOportunity Health sells health care insurance in Iowa and Nebraska. It is one of 23 Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans set up nationwide. The cooperatives were designed to assure competition in insurance plans and provide consumers choices.
The company says as of Feb. 24 it has already exceeded enrollment projections not expected to be met until 2016.
Nearly 1,000 employer groups and more than 30,000 individuals in Nebraska and Iowa have purchased coverage from CoOportunity Health for January, February and March effective dates.
Enrollment is open for individuals through March 31.
House Approves Prostitution Minor Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An effort to toughen penalties for pimping involving minors and to aid minors forced into prostitution won unanimous support in the Iowa House.
The House voted 98-0 Tuesday in favor of the measure. The legislation now goes to the Senate.
The bill would grant county attorneys the option of referring a minor involved with prostitution to Iowa's Department of Human Services as a child in need of assistance if an adult is believed to be involved. All instances of prostitution are punishable as aggravated misdemeanors under current law.
Pimping penalties for any case involving a minor would increase from a class "D" felony to a class "C" felony under the bill.
Republican Rep. Greg Heartsill, who sponsored the bill, says the legislation addresses a statewide issue that can't be ignored.
Both Legislative Chambers Pass Bills Making Tougher Penalties For Child Kidnapping
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Bills increasing the penalties for child kidnapping have been easily approved in the Iowa Senate and House.
Lawmakers backed the bills Tuesday. Both were drafted in response to the kidnapping and killing of teenager Kathlynn Shepard last year.
The Senate legislation would increase criminal penalties in cases involving children 17 and younger and cases in which the person convicted had previously been convicted of kidnapping. The House bill increases penalties in cases involving children 15 and under and would prevent those convicted of certain crimes from reducing sentences through good behavior.
Fifteen-year-old Kathlynn is believed to have been killed by a registered sex offender who had been released from prison after serving a reduced sentence. He killed himself after the incident.
University of Iowa Hospital And Clinics Settle Lawsuit
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - State officials have settled a lawsuit over a man's treatment by a doctor at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
The lawsuit filed in 2009 says Dr. John Rachow didn't treat health problems and ignored warning signs before the death of 80-year-old Robert Messerschmitt, of Middle Amana. The lawsuit says Messerschmitt died of a burst diverticulitis sac in June 2007.
The $67,500 settlement will be paid by University of Iowa Physicians. University of Iowa spokesman Tom Moore declined to comment Tuesday about the settlement.
Consultants Study Saturation Of Iowa Casinos
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Consultants hired by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to analyze the saturation level of gambling in Iowa say new casinos proposed for Cedar Rapids and Jefferson would get most of their money by sucking revenue from already existing casinos.
Union Gaming Analytics and Marquette Advisors were hired to conduct independent evaluations of gambling in Iowa, which has 18 state-regulated casinos.
The studies were designed to help commissioners decide whether to approve a proposed $165 million Cedar Rapids casino and a $40 million complex in Jefferson.
The reports, released Tuesday, say casinos in Riverside, Altoona, and Emmetsburg would lose millions of dollars to the new ones.
The companies proposing new casinos say they remain confident the impact on existing casinos would be insignificant.