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Thursday News, March 13

City Council Schedules Two Public Forums On Proposed Code Changes

(Le Mars) -- The city of Le Mars has scheduled two public forums   for Tuesday,  March 18th.  The first forum is scheduled for 12:00 noon during the regular city council meeting. The second forum will be held in the evening and is set to begin at 7:00 p.m. at the City Hall Council Chambers.  The city council will hear comments from Le Mars residents and businesses regarding the proposed city code changes that include winter parking restrictions, maintenance of parking or terrace and pruning and corner clearance of trees, location of meters, private irrigation systems within the right-of-way, prohibited practices regarding reyclablels, open burning restricted and recreational fires.  The purpose of the evening forum is to allow people who may not be able to leave work the opportunity to voice their opinion about the proposed code ordinance changes.  Copies of the proposed ordinance changes are available at city hall, the Le Mars Public Library, and on the city's website, www.lemarsiowa.com.  Comments may also be directed in writing to the city council prior to either session or made in person.  Jason Vacera is the city's code enforcement officer.  He explains the proposed plan for winter parking.

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Sioux City Files Lawsuit Against Transportation Dept. Over Traffic Cameras

(Sioux City) -- Sioux City has filed a lawsuit seeking to block the state Department of Transportation's new rules limiting traffic enforcement cameras. Assistant City attorney, Justin Vondrak, filed the judicial review action in Woodbury County District Court and says the D-O-T regulations make it almost impossible for the city to use speed cameras along Interstate 29 within the city limits.

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The suit asks a judge to stop the rules or at least put them on hold until the lawsuit is resolved and maintains that the rules are too broad.
The DOT rules took effect February 12th, though agency director Paul Trombino says cities don't have to immediately remove cameras. Vondrak says the city will leave the cameras in play using the new regulations.

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Vondrak says red light cameras are also still being used at various intersections in the city. Under the new rules, local agencies must prove to the D-O-T that the cameras are targeting "high-crash or high-risk locations," and they must justify renewal every year.

 

Early Man Charged With Sexual Assault Of Ex-wife

 EARLY, Iowa (AP) - A western Iowa man has been accused of sexually assaulting his ex-wife and threatening to shoot her.
     The Sac County Sheriff's Office says the man, of Early, was arrested Wednesday morning. His ex-wife reported from a local convenience store and said her two children were in a house with her ex-husband. She said he was armed with a shotgun.
     Authorities surrounded the home and instructed the man to come outside. He was taken into custody without incident. An 8-year-old girl and 5-year-old boy inside were not hurt.
     The woman told authorities her ex-husband sexually assaulted her on Tuesday.
     The man faces third-degree sexual assault and other charges. The Associated Press is not naming him to protect the woman's identity. The AP generally does not identify victims of sexual assault.

 

Mobile Home Destroyed By Fire In Alta

(Storm Lake) -- A mobile home caught on fire in Alta early Wednesday morning.  That fire was reported at 106 Leander Street, Lot 49.  Alta fire department responded to the fire, but soon realized additional assistance would be needed.  Both the Storm Lake and Aurelia fire departments responded with mutual aid. All of the occupants were able to evacuate the mobile home, but reports show the structure had flames coming out.  The mobile home and the contents were listed as a total loss amounting to more than $15,000.  A fire investigator with the Buena Vista County Sheriff's office determined the fire to be accidential and the most probable cause of the fire was an electrical malfunction in a baseboard heater in the bedroom.  The occupants of the home reported some smoke inhalation, but refused medical treatment on scene. Red Cross officials have been contacted to offer assistance to the displaced family.

 

House Representative Assaulted By Protester

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A member of the Iowa House says he's been assaulted at the Capitol as he was confronted by members of an activist group pushing his committee to consider a wage theft bill.
     Representative Greg Forristall, a Republican from Macedonia, reported an incident Tuesday while Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement rallied at the Capitol.
     Iowa State Patrol Captain Mark Logsdon says Iowa CCI member Joe Fagan has been charged with simple assault for grabbing Forristall's arm as the group sought to talk with him. Iowa CCI organizer Ana Mancebo denies an assault occurred.
     The group is pushing for a bill that would require businesses to tell workers when they're hired how much they'll be paid and reveal any paycheck deductions.
     Forristall says the bill will not come up in his committee.

 

Democrats Try To Get Republicans To Act On Education Funding Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - House Democrats have tried once again to push Republicans to debate a bill that would provide school districts with a 6 percent increase in funding for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2015. 
     The attempt by Rep. Sharon Steckman, a Mason City Democrat, to pull the bill out of committee and place it on the House debate calendar failed to get the required 51 votes Tuesday. Steckman is the leading Democrat on the House Education Committee. The Democratic-controlled Senate approved the bill February.
     Leaders in the Republican-majority House don't want to consider it until next year even though state law requires the Legislature to set school funding schools more than a year in advance. 
     Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen says he wants to know available tax revenues before making commitments. 

 

House School Radon Testing Bill Different Than Senate Version

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa House committee is moving forward with a bill that significantly weakens any attempt to require schools to test for radon gas.
     The bill was approved by the House Local Government Committee and is eligible for floor debate.
     The bill requires the districts to report to the state by December 1st whether they've tested for radon. The information is to be sent to the Legislature by January 1st, 2015.
     Democrats had been pushing for a bill that would require testing in schools and a plan to reduce radon if the gas was found to exceed recommended safe levels.
     Representative Matt Windschitl, a Missouri Valley Republican, says there's concern required testing would open up the districts and the state to liability and expensive repairs.

 

E-Cigarettes Would Be Illegal For Minors

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Minors would no longer be able to buy or use e-cigarettes in Iowa under a bill approved by a legislative panel.
     The Senate Human Resource Committee unanimously voted Wednesday in favor of the measure, which is now up for debate on the Senate floor.  
     The bill provides a clear definition of what an e-cigarette is and bars anyone under the age of 18 from purchasing or using the devices.
     There are currently no restrictions on the sale of e-cigarettes in Iowa. E-cigarettes typically heat liquid and nicotine into a flavored, smokeless vapor. They are frequently used by smokers trying to quit, but they are gaining popularity among teenagers. 
     Democratic Sen. William Dotzler, of Waterloo, says implementing a ban is important to ensure that Iowa's youth avoids nicotine addiction. 

 

Iowa State Fair Wants Vendors To Accept Debit And Credit Cards

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa State Fair officials want food vendors to accept credit and debit cards at their stands this summer, in addition to cash.
     Letters to that effect will be sent to vendors as officials try to meet demands from fairgoers who prefer using plastic.
     State Fair board member Jerry Parkin said at Wednesday's board meeting that the goal was to make the transactions more convenient for fairgoers.
     A plan to implement a cashless payment system using tickets was scrapped in January after public criticism. 
     This year's fair runs from Aug. 7 to 17.
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