Tuesday Afternoon News, September 16
Plymouth County Corrections Officer Terminated Due To Sexual Assault
(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Sheriff Office recently had to terminate the employment of a corrections officer based on an internal investigation stemming from a complaint. On Tuesday of last week, Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo received a complaint from a member of the county corrections staff concerning a possible assault. After interviewing the staff member, it was learned that she had been approached by another jailer in an inappropriate manner. It is alleged that Correctional Officer Daniel Kersbergen made comments to the complaintant that were of a sexual nature and asked the complainant to engage in conduct that was not appropriate. He furthermore, on separate occasions used his taser in an attempt to intimidate and annoy the victim. When the victim informed Kersbergen that she was contemplating bringing an official complaint to her supervisors, he allegedly threatened her by stating "it would be the last thing you did."
During an internal investigation into the incident, it was learned that recordings of conversations within the corrections facility had been made. It is alleged that an electronic recording device was placed in areas of the facility in an attempt to record other staff members without their consent or knowledge. It is alleged that corrections officer Daniel Kersbergen facilitated this conduct. The Plymouth County Sheriff's office obtained search warrants to obtain information regarding this investigation from two cellular phones. The result of this investigation has led to criminal charges being filed against Daniel Kersbergen, age 30, of Le Mars. He is charged with one count of assault, and one count of electronic and mechcanical eavesdropping. Kersbergen was terminated from his employment as a Plymouth County corrections officer on Monday.
Three Le Mars Juvenviles Charged With Criminal Mischief And Trespass
(Le Mars) -- Le Mars Police officers responded to a complaint on Sunday afternoon at about 4:38 p.m. at the Le Mars Agri Center located at 225 2nd Aveune Northeast. When officers arrived at the scene, they noticed a 12 year old boy climbing out of a Bobcat skid loader which was on its top. Another 12 year old boy and an 11 year old boy were standing nearby. The Police learned the three boys entered the grain storage building and were able to get the 2013 Bobcat skid loader started and operational. Once it started, the skid loader was used to drive around inside the building. The skid loader was used to crash into an International 1066 tractor which had a grain auger hooked up to it. Both pieces of equipment had considerable damage. Other damage to the contents of the building included: a culvert type air piping and bands, a metal support bracing, an overhead door and a small amount of grain. The three boys had also been outside the buiding where they entered a straight truck that was parked. Damage amounts at the Le Mars Agri Center is estimated at $15,500, which does not include the damage to the skid loader, which has yet to be determined. The Le Mars Police learned the three boys had also been on the property of G-C-C Ready Mix, located at 300 2nd Avenue northeast. At this property, they were able to start a conveyer belt system and had also climbed to the top of the conveyer belt. Once at the top, objects were thrown down a shaft an into a grinder. These items were located before prior to starting any machinery and were removed by G-C-C employees. No physical damage occurred at the G-C-C business. The Le Mars juveniles were cited and released to their parents. The three boys were charged with criminal mischief, first degree, a class C felony, criminal trespass, fifth degree, simple misdemeanor. The three boys are identified as 12 year old Josiah Gonzales, eleven year old Titus Gonzales, and 12 year old Kaleb Matheny. A fourth juvenile, 12 year old David Cobain, was cited and released for criminal trespass in the fifth degree, for entering the G-C-C property and starting the conveyer belt system, but was not a participant in the Agri Center damage.
City Council Sets Date To Accept Contractor Bids For Downtown Rennovation
(Le Mars) - The Le Mars City Council has set the date of October 30th when it will open bids from contractors interested in working on the downtown facade historical rennovation project. The project is part of the Community Development Block Grant that allows cost-share funding from the state, the city, and building owners.
County Supervisors Approve Library Contract
(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors approved the new contract with the county library association during its Tuesday morning meeting. A total of $80,000 will be depensed to the participating libraries for the fiscal year 2014-15. The Remsen public library will receive $25,284...Akron will receive $24,536...Kingsley public library is set to receive $19,771 and the Merrill public library is set to get $10,408. The Le Mars Public Library is no longer a member of the Plymouth County Library Association, and therefore will not receive any funding from the county. In other action, the county board of supervisors discussed extending a lease agreement with the Iowa Vocational Services. Supervisor Jack Guenthner proposed raising the monthly rent for the building located at 19 2nd Avenue northwest by three percent. The current lease agreement has the building rented for a fee of $26.55 per month. The supervisors approved the motion made by Guenthner.
Many Iowa Schools Fail To Meet "No Child Left Behind" Standards
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - About two-thirds of Iowa's public schools did not meet educational targets set by the No Child Left Behind Law during the latest academic year, according to a report released Tuesday.
The annual report from the Iowa Department of Education said 66 percent of 1,288 public schools missed targets for test participation and proficiency in reading and mathematics during the 2013-2014 school year. About 5 percent of Iowa schools are not included in this result because they were given a waiver to try a different type of assessment.
During the previous school year, 64 percent of 1,361 schools did not meet the standards set by the law.
But Department of Education Director Brad Buck said the accountability standards set by the federal law are not working well in Iowa, arguing they don't properly reflect progress made in schools.
"While I believe in accountability, No Child Left Behind has outlived its usefulness. This is a flawed law," Buck said. "We must have a rigorous accountability system that acknowledges the strides schools are making."
The federal law requires annual testing to show proficiency in reading and mathematics. Some states have received waivers granting permission to ignore parts of the law. Iowa has applied, but has not been granted any exemption.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan has called for a replacement to No Child Left Behind. He has said the existing law does not allow school leaders to use common sense to determine which schools are failing and which are statistical anomalies. Le Mars' Clark elementary, which is classified as a Title One school, is the only Le Mars school that did not meet the standards of the No Child Left Behind and is currently on the "watch list" for reading and math proficiency ratings.
Supreme Court Stops Video Conferencing Abortions
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court on Tuesday halted a ban on the use of a video-conferencing system that allows doctors to distribute abortion-inducing pills to women in rural areas of the state.
The stay means Planned Parenthood of the Heartland can continue using the system until the high court makes a final ruling on whether the Iowa Board of Medicine had the authority to adopt the ban last year. The agency was set to start following the ban Wednesday after a district judge ruled in favor of the board last month. The district judge ruled the board had authority to regulate such issues and had met legal requirements for making new rules. Planned Parenthood appealed and the case was sent to the Iowa Supreme Court.
The system allows Planned Parenthood doctors in Des Moines or Iowa City to prescribe abortion-inducing pills while meeting with patients in rural areas though a secure Internet video connection.
Mark Bowden, the medical board's executive director, expressed disappointment in the court's ruling.
"The board adopted the rule to protect the health and safety of Iowans," he wrote. "The extension of the stay perpetuates what the board believes is inadequate health care and treatment for Iowans who seek medical abortions."
Planned Parenthood has said the ban is politically motivated and would jeopardize women's access to safe health care.
Branstad Wants Private Companies To Assist With Job Training
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad wants the state to partner with private industry to establish better professional training and job placement programs in Iowa, according to a plan released by his campaign Tuesday.
According to the proposal, Branstad - a Republican who is running for a sixth term - wants to set up a partnership that he would call the Center for Human Capital Enrichment. The program would seek input from businesses about how to best set up training programs and would try to establish a better job placement system. The effort would be coordinated by the Iowa Department of Workforce Development and the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Branstad campaign spokesman Tommy Schultz said the effort would not require new state dollars.
Branstad pledged to create 200,000 new jobs in five years during his 2010 campaign. From January 2011 through July 2014, federal labor data shows the state has seen a net gain of 74,000 jobs. The governor said he has created more than 146,000 jobs - a number he reached by only counting the jobs added to the Iowa economy, not the jobs lost.
Branstad's Democratic opponent Jack Hatch has proposed a number of workforce policies, including raising Iowa's minimum wage, providing tax relief to small businesses and investing in job training for sectors like technology.
American Gothic Home Up For Rent
ELDON, Iowa (AP) - The rural Iowa house that helped inspire the famous "American Gothic" painting is empty and could be up for rent.
The home in the southeast Iowa town of Eldon has had the same tenant for the past four years. But Monday marked Beth Howard's last day in the house.
"There should be a statute of limitations for how long one can live in a tourist attraction," she told the newspaper Tuesday.
The 700-square-foot home was made famous by Grant Wood, a native Iowa artist who spotted the house while traveling through the area. He used it as the backdrop to his 1930 painting of a farmer holding a pitchfork next to his daughter.
The house, now owned by the State Historical Society of Iowa, was rented to Howard for just $250 a month. Officials reasoned it would help offset the tenant's patience for dealing with curious tourists walking on the property and peeking inside.
Jerome Thompson, the society's historic site administrator, said the group is weighing its options on what to do next. They may rent it out again or they may offer an artist-in-residence program. They may also allow the next-door visitors' center, which is run by the city and county, to use it.
Eldon is located about 100 miles southeast of Des Moines.