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Thursday News, March 7

Gehlen Mission Trip Changed

(Le Mars) -- For the past twelve years, students of Gehlen Catholic High school have traveled to the Central American nation of Honduras as part of a mission trip.  However, due to an escalated amount of violence reported in the region, Gehlen officials made the decision to cancel this year's trip to Honduras.  However, Gehlen will still make their traditional missionary tour, but instead of going outside the U-S  Gehlen officials were able to quickly organize a missionary tour and  the students will work instead in Mississippi.

 

Proposed Sioux City Casino Owners Check Out OK

(Des Moines) -- Extensive background checks conducted by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission and the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation  showed "no serious issues" with any of the applicants for a state gaming license to be located in downtown Sioux City.  The Sioux City Journal reports the suitability reports focused on the prospective casino operators, and a handful of key personnel, including managers, corporate executives, major shareholders, and board members of local non-profit groups partnering with the casino developers.

 

Roederer Plans News Conference To Explain How Federal Budget Cuts Will Hurt Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Department of Management Director David Roederer plans to discuss how automatic federal budget cuts will impact Iowa.
Roederer has scheduled a news conference for Thursday morning at the state Capitol. He said last week that the National Guard, education and workforce development were likely to be the hardest
hit areas.
The White House and Congress last week failed to meet a deadline to prevent $85 billion in budget cuts. The cuts are hitting a wide range of government services.

 

Branstad and AFSCME Union Go To Arbitration

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An arbitration award is expected to be announced for the state's largest public sector union.
Danny Homan, president of Iowa Council 61 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, says the two-year contract is expected Thursday. The two sides went to
arbitration earlier this year because they couldn't reach a deal through negotiation.
The union, which represents about 20,000 workers statewide, has clashed with Gov. Terry Branstad over terms. Branstad has called for union members to start paying a portion of their health care costs, while the union is seeking to maintain current health benefits and 3 percent raises over the life of the contract.
Contracts have been settled through arbitration just twice since state workers started collective bargaining in 1977.


Gun Permit Records To Remain Private

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gun permit records would be kept private under a bill that has cleared a state House committee.
The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved the measure, which would make the name, address and other personal information on gun permit records private.
The records of people seeking to buy or carry guns now are currently public in Iowa.
The issue came up after a suburban New York City newspaper published an interactive online map listing the names and addresses of thousands of permit holders.
Republican Representative Matt Windschitl, of Missouri Valley, says the bill would protect Iowans who don't own guns from criminals who could seek the information and then target them.

 

No Changes To Red Light Traffic Laws

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa lawmakers have decided not to change state law dealing with traffic cameras that ticket motorists for speeding or running red lights.
The chairman of the House transportation committee Wednesday decided against allowing a vote on a measure introduced by Republican Representative Walt Rogers of Cedar Falls.
The proposal would have required cities and counties to get a permit from the Department of Transportation before installing new traffic cameras. Local governments also would have needed to
justify existing cameras by submitting traffic data to the department.
The transportation committee chairman, Representative Joshua Byrnes of Osage says he killed the bill because it lacked input from city leaders and support in the Senate.
Steve Gent, the transportation department's director of traffic and safety, expressed disappointment, saying the bill followed agency guidelines.

 

UNI Receives $15 Million Donation

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - University of Northern Iowa officials say a $15 million donation from Des Moines businessman Richard O. Jacobson will bolster the school's teacher preparation program and
provide better-trained teachers for classrooms across Iowa.
The donation announced Wednesday is the largest in school history. It will be used to recruit top professors for reading and science education, to conduct research on education reform and for
scholarships to encourage high-performing students to become educators.
College of Education Dean Dwight Watson says the gift will allow the university to aspire to lofty goals, such as seeking to ensure all Iowa children can read by third grade and are exposed to more
hands-on science learning in elementary school.
UNI President Ben Allen says the gift will enhance the university's already well-regarded education training programs.

 

Imposter Voted During Cedar Rapids Casino Vote

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A Linn County official says an impostor voted during the special election on allowing casino gambling in Linn County.
Auditor and elections commissioner Joel Miller says that the impostor voted at a southeast Cedar Rapids precinct on Tuesday.
Miller says the incident came to light when a woman went to vote but found that someone had used her name to vote earlier in the day.
Miller referred the matter to the Linn County Sheriff. An investigator is interviewing precinct poll watchers.
Miller says the woman was allowed to cast a provisional ballot. The local absentee ballot board will decide whether to count it.
The measure was overwhelmingly approved.
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Des Moines Police Set Up Tip Line For Teens

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Des Moines police plan to set up a special phone tip line that students can use to help officers keep weapons out of schools.
Des Moines Police Chief Judy Bradshaw told the City Council recently that the department wanted something "to sell to students."
The line will operate through the Polk County Crime Stoppers program. If the tip proves accurate and useful, the tipster might receive a reward.
Since 1995 a similar line in the Davenport area has generated calls about drugs, weapons and vandalism of school property.
Bradshaw unveiled her plan for the council during a presentation on gun violence and what the city is doing to prevent it and how the city would respond if it were to occur.
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Wednesday Afternoon News, March 6

Mainstreet Organization Wants To Make Alleys Attractive

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Mainstreet Organization hopes to make Le Mars alleys attractive by having artists create paintings on the alley walls.  Mary Reynolds, director of Le Mars Mainstreet appeared before the city council on Tuesday to share the idea.
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Reynolds informed the council that Mainstreet hopes to qualify for a grant which would pay for the paint to be used for the paintings. Previously, the city council assisted the Mainstreet organization with the various ice cream cones on display throughout the community.  Reynolds says the city's contribution would be minimal.
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Reynolds told the council that the building behind Claussen's Mens Wear would be the first to under go the transformation.


Hirschman Selected As "School Employee of the Month"

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School District is honoring Pam Hirschman as their "School employee of the Month."  Hirschman is a special educator in the high school.  Dorene Schimek submitted the nomination for Hirschman and says she has had the pleasure of working with Pam Hirschman for the past 11 years.  During this time, she has observed her observed her thoughtfulness, leadership skills, collaborative abilities, mentoring, and genuine compassion for students and their development.  Pam has a wonderful rapport with individuals of all ages particularly students.  Pam's ability to connect with her students and her talent at teaching simple concepts, as well as more advanced topics, are both truly superior.  She is extremely organized, reliable, and technology literate.  Pam works on numerous projects for the classroom and is able to follow through to ensure that the job gets done.  She spends countless hours preparing lessons for the students, even if it requires numerous hours before and after school.  Many times, you will find Pam working in her classroom  on the weekends just to ensure that her students get the best education possible.  She spends countless hours scanning curriculum material from various courses into a computerized program so her students have the option of listening to the curriculum textbooks.  She accomplishes these tasks with great initiative and with a very positive attitude.


Gehlen Catholic Forced To Change Mission Destinations

(Le Mars) -- For the past twelve years, students of Gehlen Catholic Hgh school have traveled to the Central American nation of Honduras as part of a mission trip.  However, due to an escalated amount of violence reported in the region, Gehlen officials made the decision to cancel this year's trip to Honduras.  Mission coordinator Dick Sievers explains about two  tragic incidents that occurred.

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Sievers says another tragic event took place about a week and a half ago involving a gang shooting which occurred in the same area that Gehlen students would have been working.  Sievers says he offered full disclosure about the events to the participating schools, administration officials, parents, and students.
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Gehlen officials were obviously disappointed they wouldn't be able to go to Honduras, but due to quick action by several people, including Carolyn Bickford, a Gehlen high school teacher, Gehlen was able to savage the mission trip only to a different location.
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Bickford says the region in Mississippi is a low-income region that still is recovering from Hurricane Katrina.  Bickford says the Gehlen students will have plenty of work ready for them in Mississippi.
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Both Sievers and Bickford say students learn about the world outside of Le Mars and they learn a lot about themselves on the mission tours.  At last count, 14 students from Gehlen Catholic High School will be participating on the Mississippi mission project.  The students are scheduled to leave on March 20th and return two days before Easter Sunday.

   

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