Friday News, April 4
Le Mars Community School Honors Beitelspacher
(Le Mars) -- A foodservice worker at Le Mars Community Schools has been honored as this month's "Employee of the Month." School officials gave the honor to Collette Beitelspacher during a ceremony held Thursday afternoon. Collette has been an employee of the Le Mars Community School District for 28 years. Food Services Director Judy Lubben submitted the nomination and says Collette has dedication and passion for the job she does. Collette has seen and made a lot of changes over the years. She is always willing to change when we get new regulations. Collette's knowledge and her skills of the job have helped many new employees and subs ease into their jobs. She has helped them learn the tricks of the trade. As one of her fellow employees states: "She came with the building. I believe her passion is cooking and I along with her fellow employees believe she deserves this recognition. Our congratulations to Collette Beitelspacher for being named Le Mars Community School district's employee of the month.
Remsen Prepares "Then Feed Just One" Meals Today
(Remsen) -- Students from Remsen St. Mary's, Remsen-Union, and other volunteers from the Remsen community will be packing meals today for "Then Feed Just One". Additional volunteers are needed. The meals are slated for the poor located in foreign nations. Those meals will be prepared at the Waldschmitt gym at Remsen St. Mary's.
Cherokee Spills Wastewater into Little Sioux River
CHEROKEE, Iowa (AP) - Officials say the city of Cherokee accidentally released several hundred gallons of wastewater.
The state Department of Natural Resources says the release happened Thursday after a relief valve failed on a force main.
Officials say the untreated water entered a storm sewer that flows into the Little Sioux River. Most of the wastewater soaked into the ground.
Repairs were completed about 2 p.m. Thursday. DNR officials will continue to monitor the incident.
DAS Director Say He Did Not Pay Any "Hush" Money
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The director of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services says he paid no hush money to workers as part of their settlement agreements with the state, contradicting testimony by several workers who say they were offered cash to remain quiet.
DAS Director Mike Carroll says he made a mistake by authorizing confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements that did not align with Gov. Terry Branstad's government openness philosophy.
During two hours of intense questioning at a joint Government Oversight Committee hearing Thursday Carroll maintained "there was no pay for silence in any agreements. It's a complete misinterpretation."
On Wednesday three former DAS employees told lawmakers that during settlement negotiations conducted after they filed grievances over their layoffs, the state offered them cash if they would keep the agreements confidential.
Labor Secretary To Visit Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez will hold events in Des Moines and Ottumwa this weekend.
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin announced Thursday that Perez would be in Iowa on Saturday. Harkin says the labor secretary will focus on a proposed increase in the national minimum wage and job training during the events.
The first event will be at Raygun, a quirky clothing store in Des Moines' East Village. Perez will be joined by Harkin, U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley and Raygun owner Mike Draper.
Later, Perez will tour the Job Corps Center in Ottumwa. Besides Harkin, Perez will be joined by U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack.
Before being confirmed as labor secretary, Perez headed the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. He previously was secretary of Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
Secretary Of State Schultz Request Supreme Court To Over Rule Lower Court's Decision
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz is asking the Iowa Supreme Court to review and overturn a district court judge's decision that Schultz did not have the authority to create a new rule aimed at ridding voter registration rolls of voters who didn't appear to be U.S. citizens.
Polk County Judge Scott Rosenberg last month said state law does not authorize Schultz to create a rule that would cancel a voter's registration based on citizenship questions.
Schultz tried to pass a rule that would have removed voters from registration rolls if he could not confirm their citizenship by comparing state records with federal immigration records.
Schultz says he can't allow non-citizens to cancel out Iowans' votes and insists the rule protects the integrity of the vote.
Branstad Signs Sexual Preditors Bill Into Law
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill meant to stop the release of sexually violent predators has been signed into law.
Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed the bill Thursday.
The law allows those convicted of a violent sexual offense as a juvenile to be sent to a civil containment unit for sexually violent predators upon release from prison. Officials didn't previously consider such juvenile convictions when making adult release decisions.
Lawmakers say those who commit sexually violent crimes as juveniles could be dangerous as adults. They say this was true in the case of Kathlynn Shepard, who authorities say was abducted and killed last year by Michael Klunder.
Had the law had been in place last year, lawmakers say Klunder could have been kept in civil containment for past offenses instead of being freed.
Slow Railroads Blamed For Rise In Ethanol Prices
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Ethanol producers say clogged rail lines and other shipping problems have forced them to reduce production of the fuel and contributed to higher prices.
The Renewable Fuels Association criticized railroads Thursday and triggered a strong response from the Association of American Railroads.
RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen says railroads should take the blame for ethanol prices jumping more than $1 a gallon between early February and late March.
AAR CEO Ed Hamberger acknowledges rail traffic slowed in certain areas, but he says it's preposterous to suggest the rail network is in disarray.
Hamberger says railroads have done their best to deal with an exceptional winter, sizeable grain harvest and increased coal demand.
Railroads have hauled 6.8 million carloads this year - about 2 percent more than last year.