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Monday News, April 14

School Board To Review And Approve 2014-2015 Budget

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education this evening will review and approve the proposed budget for the 2014-2015 school year.  A public hearing has been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Education Service Center. The total operating fund spending authority for the Le Mars Community School District for next year equals $23,981,588.  The recommended budget for the operating fund equals more than $20,764,000.


Western Iowa Technical Community College To Unveil New Training Center

(Le Mars) -- Western Iowa Technical Community College will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. for the new Western Iowa Tech Le Mars Center located at 25 5th Avenue Northwest. The new Le Mars Center will offer students hands-on training for jobs featured in this area.  Le Mars Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, and Western Iowa Tech Community College director Neal Adler offers a preview to the facility.

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Busy Saturday For Area Fire Departments With More Grass Fires

(Le Mars) -- Saturday was another busy day for the county fire departments.  Le Mars, Akron, Remsen, and the Merrill Fire Departments all responded to grass/field fires.  The Merrill Fire Department was called at 11:50 to 22585 Iris Avenue to put out a round bale pile that had caught on fire.  Then just a few minutes later, at about noon on Saturday, the Merrill Fire Department responded to a grass fire that had rekindled from Friday.  That grass fire was located a half mile west of County Road K-49 on 230th Street.  Merrill requested the assistance from Le Mars at about 12:30 p.m.  The fire was under control and extinguished within a half hour.  At about the same time, both the Merrill and Akron Fire Departments were called to 22472 Fawn Avenue for a grass fire.  Fire officials were on the scene of that fire for more than two hours. Shortly after the Merrill Fire Department had killed the Fawn Avenue blaze, they were called to 21610 Fir Avenue where a garbage fire had spread to start a building on fire.  Fire officials were on that scene for nearly forty-five minutes.  Remsen, Le Mars, and Akron fire departments conducted some controlled burns.


Remsen And Oyens Fire Departments Respond To Auto Accident

(Remsen) -- Both the Remsen and Oyens fire departments responded to a car accident that occured Sunday afternoon.  The accident was reported at about 4:30 p.m. and was located on County Road C-38 between Pioneer and Polk Avenues.  No other information about that accident is known at this time.


City Zoning Board To Consider Request For Adjustment And Variance

(Le Mars) -- The city of Le Mars board of zoning and adjustment is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to decide whether to approve a request for conditional use and variance as submitted by Cindy Nagel.  The property in question is located at 126 4th Avenue Northwest.  The area has been designated and zoned as an R-2 apartment district and/or residential area.  Nagel is requesting a the zoning board to re-zone the lot.  The proposed use would be a speech therapy clinic.  The structure would be built to resemble a residence and could be converted to a residence in the future.  If the conditional use is approved, the property would need a variance from the off-street parking requirements.  Based on the square footage of the proposed structure, twelve off-street parking spaces would be required.  The site plan provided depicts six spaces in the rear of the property and six more in the front parking area.  Several nearby residents within the area are opposed to the re-zoning, and are opposed to having a speech therapy clinic to be located within the residential neighborhood.


Iowa Department Of Public Health To Hold Hearing On New Birthing Center

(Sioux Center) -- The Iowa Department of Public Health will hold a public hearing today concerning a new proposed birthing center to be located in Sioux Center.  Several area community hospitals and physicians are opposed to the proposed birthing center.  The birthing center would not have a family physician perform baby deliveries.  Rather a mid-wife would handle the procedure.  Nancy Dykstra is the executive director with Promise Health Care Center based in Sioux Center, the organization that has made the request.  In a recent article featured in the Northwest Iowa Review newspaper, Dykstra says more women are choosing midwife-led, out-of-hospital births, and that is the reason the Promise Health Care Center has submitted an application for a birthing center.  Since the health center opened its doors in 2008, about 70 women each year have received their prenatal care from its certified nurse midwives, in addition to post-natal care and well-women gynecology services. More than 320 babies have been born to mothers who received their prenatal care from midwives at Promise Community Health Center.


Spirit Lake Assisted Living Care Center Faces Fines

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa (AP) - The state has fined an assisted living center in Spirit Lake, saying it presents an "imminent danger" to residents.
      Keelson Harbour Assisted Living has been fined $3,000. The state says the center has not adequately trained workers, used nonmedical staffers to inject diabetic residents and borrowed medical supplies from residents to meet other residents' needs. The center has 68 residents.
     Keelson Harbour is owned by Vista Prairie Communities in Minnesota. Patrick Rafferty is a Vista Prairie executive, and he says the Iowa inspectors' findings are being reviewed. He says a decision has not been made yet on whether Vista Prairie will appeal the fine.
     Rafferty says that "if there are issues, they will be corrected."
     The center's executive director declined to comment.



Research Project Looks At Reducing Nitrates In Water

 SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (AP) - A research project in northwest Iowa is looking at ways to keep fertilizer out of drinking water by planting certain crops to help contain nitrogen.
     The project on Matt Schuiteman's land near Sioux Center yielded lessons that may be useful in other areas.
     The research got started because some of Schuiteman's land is close to wells Sioux Center relies on for drinking water, and nitrate levels were rising.
     The project looked at five different ways to use perennials and cover crops to limit the amount of nitrogen that washed away.
     Schuiteman says he plans to start growing alfalfa on his land in rotation with corn because that proved effective.


State Senate To Again Consider Legalizing Medical Marijuana

(Des Moines) -- The legalization of medical marijuana may again be brought up before the State Senate.  Originally, the bill was introduced by Iowa City Democrat Joe Boekomp, but it failed to gather enough support to be passed through committee.  However, Senate majority leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs has re-introduced the bill as a leadership measure after visiting with a family that has children with epilepsy.  Republican State Senator Bill Anderson of Pierson says he is sympathetic to the family's concerns, but isn't certain he would support the bill.

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Anderson says the new proposed bill is greatly different than the original bill calling for the legalization of medical marijuana.  He says the senate republicans are asking the leadership to allow the bill to go through the same process as other bills.

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Government Oversight Committee To Continue Hearings On "Secret Settlements"

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Senate Democratic leaders say their questions about government payments to former workers for secrecy and other issues will continue after the Legislature adjourns for the year.
     While lawmakers appear to be on track to end the session within a few weeks, the Senate Government Oversight Committee is likely to keep pursuing the matter.
     The Senate Government Oversight Committee has set another hearing to ask more questions about government payments to former workers for secrecy and other issues they believe could be problems in the executive branch.
     Democratic Sen. Janet Petersen, who chairs the oversight committee, has set a meeting for 2:30 p.m. Monday and two Department of Administrative Services officials who didn't come last week say they'll appear. 
     They are Doug Woodley, DAS general services enterprise chief operating officer, and Paul Carlson, the agency's chief resource maximization officer.



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