Saturday, May 28, 2016
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Thursday Afternoon News, May 16

Le Mars Community School Board Discuss Affordable Health Care Plan

(Le Mars) -- The Affordable Health Care Program officially begins next year, but small businesses and others are already talking about how it will affect their employees, and the offered insurance benefits.  At the Le Mars Community Board of Education meeting this week, Dr. Todd Wendt, superintendent of schools, informed the school board of the possible consequences the health care program may have upon the school district.

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Wendt says the Affordable Health Care Act provides employers to either stipulate part-time employees at 30 hours a week, or at 130 hours per month. Any amount of hours over the time allotment would require employers to provide health care insurance benefits.  School officials were hoping they could keep the part-time employees at their current status without having to cut employee hours.  Wendt informed the board the school will use the 130 hours per month provision, and will closely monitor the hours of its part-time employees.

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Wendt says school officials looked back at the present and past school years, and calculated the hours of part-time employees, and determined the school district will be able to comply with the Affordable Health Care provisions without having to cut hours from part-time staff.

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Wendt recommended the school board move six employees that were previously listed as part-time employees, now to become full-time employees with 40 hours per week.

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Le Mars Rotary To Host Bicycle Safety Fair

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Rotary Club along with Bike Central and the Le Mars Police Department are sponsoring a community-wide bicycle safety fair scheduled for May 22nd at the O'Toole Park in Le Mars. The event will be from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The Bicycle safety fair will include free bicycle safety information and safety demonstrations for cyclists of all ages.  Free bicycle safety inspections will also be provided.  Although everyone with a bicycle is encouraged to attend, special emphasis will be directed toward elementary-age children to help them have a safe summer of bicycling.  Free safety reflectors will be given to all attendees, as well as ice cream novelties and treats courtesy of Well's Blue Bunny.

Legislature Close To A Deal On Property Tax Reform

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa legislative leaders say they are close to a deal to reduce commercial property taxes in the state.
Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal say Thursday the plan will include provisions sought by both chambers. They say the draft plan will be
out later in the day.
Gronstal says they have tentative agreement on "key points." Republicans have sought an overall reduction to taxable assessments for commercial properties, while Democrats want tax credits focused
on smaller businesses.
Just when the 2013 session will conclude is not clear. Lawmakers are still trying to work out a deal on education policy. And discussions continue about whether to delay talks about proposals
to expand Medicaid or approve an alternate health plan.


Branstad Proposes An Increase In Salary For Future Governors

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad is proposing increasing salaries for future Iowa elected officials, but the bill appears unlikely to get support in the Legislature.
Branstad's measure was sent Wednesday to the state House and Senate. It includes provisions to raise pay for future elected officials, as well as funding for raises for union-represented
Under the plan, the next governor's salary would rise from the current $130,000 to $141,710.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Tyler Olson, a state representative from Cedar Rapids, criticized the proposal, saying the governor is "out of touch."
Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht says Thursday the salary boost would apply to the winner of the 2014 governor's race. He notes that Branstad hasn't announced whether he'll seek re-election.
Legislative leaders say the bill is unlikely to advance.


Light Fixture Falls And Injures Students

ATLANTIC, Iowa (AP) - Three middle school students in Atlantic were injured when a light fixture fell in a recently renovated classroom.
The students at Atlantic Middle School were hurt when the fixture fell Wednesday
School principal Cam Smith says two students suffered scratches and one received a bump to the head. They were all treated by the school nurse, and one of the students was later taken to Cass
County Memorial Hospital in Atlantic for an examination and treatment.
Students were moved out of that classroom and two others with similar light fixtures.
A contractor determined the fixtures weren't properly installed. They were fixed Wednesday.


Land Fill Fire May Force Legal Action

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Iowa City officials say an insurance claim over a landfill fire last year remains in dispute and may force legal action.
The city's insurance company claims the landfill cell that burned for 15 days last May was not listed on the policy's municipal assets.
City Manager Tom Markus says the dispute may end in litigation. Melissa Miller, a revenue and risk manager for the city, also says the case may end in litigation if the coverage issue isn't
The city's policy with The Travelers Companies lists sheds and buildings at the Iowa City Landfill, but not the cells. The fire caused an estimated $3.5 million in damage.
A spokesman for The Travelers Companies says the company doesn't discuss insurance claims for privacy reasons.





Thursday News, May 16

Accident Has Car Catch Fire

(Le Mars) -- A one vehicle roll-over accident occurred  Wednesday afternoon at about 3:40 p.m. on Highway 3 near the Highway 75 by-pass causing the vehicle to burst in flames.  According to a sheriff's report, 16 year old Thomas Toel of Le Mars was driving his vehicle  traveling west on Highway 3 and started to loose control, when the driver over-compensated and ended up going to the south ditch when the vehicle hit some small boulders causing it to roll and become engulfed in flames.  Toel was able to escape the burning vehicle with some assistance, but was transported to the Floyd Valley Hospital with what is thought to be non-life threatening injuries.  The Le Mars Fire Department responded to extinguish the flames on the burning car.  Also assisting at the scene was the Le Mars Police Department and the Iowa Highway Patrol. The Plymouth County Sheriff's Department is investigating the accident scene.


Westfield Drainage District Meeting Scheduled For Tonight

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Supervisors along with the Plymouth County Engineer's office will again host a drainage district meeting.  This week the focus is on the Westfield Drainage District.  County Engineer Tom Rohe says tonight's meeting will be held at the Westfield Community Center and will begin at 5:30 p.m.  The Westfield Drainage District contains about 200 parcels of land.  Rohe says this week the focus will be to remove the unwanted trees within the drainage areas.

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The Plymouth County Supervisors acting in the role of the district drainage board estimates the cost at approximately $60,000.  Rohe explains what the local levy will be for landowners.

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Bridge Repair Project Closes Road

(Le Mars) -- A bridge replacement project is scheduled to begin today causing the Plymouth County Secondary Roads Department to close 130th Street between county road K-22 and Hedge Avenue.  The road is expected to remain closed until July 19th.


Bank Warns Customers Of Another Scam

(Le Mars) -- Local bank officials are warning their customers of yet another phishing scam.  This time around instead of a phone call or voice message telling the customer that their ATM card has been deactivated, customers are being notified via text messaging on their cell phone.  American Bank of Le Mars and Remsen have been informed that some of their customers have had such text messages sent to them.  Bank officials again emphasize that the messages are not coming from the local bank, and in fact the messages are not true.  Customers are encouraged to ignore the message and not to respond to the listed phone number.  Banks officials are telling their customers to never reveal any personal information regarding bank accounts.  Customers that have questions can contact American Bank.

Gehlen Catholic Announces Its Valedictorian and Salutatorian

(Le Mars) -- Gehlen Catholic High School has announced this year's Valedictorian and Salutatorian from the senior class.  Maggie Dickman, the daughter of Stewart and and Donna Dickman is the Valedictorian while Andrew Lipp, the son of Christopher and Linda Lipp has been selected as the Salutatorian.  Both seniors will speak at Sunday's graduation ceremonies.

Late Start To Planting Means More Farm Equipment On Roads

(Le Mars) -- With corn planting having a late start this year, farmers are scrambling from field to field, which means more farm equipment on the roads and highways.  Iowa State University extension crops specialist Joel DeJong reminds motorists to be especially aware of the slower moving, and often times, larger and wider equipment.

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Levin Murder Trial To Move From Sac City To Fort Dodge

SAC CITY, Iowa (AP) - The trial of a northwest Iowa man accused of killing his mother and kidnapping another woman has been moved to a courtroom nearly 50 miles away.
A judge on Tuesday granted a change of venue request for 21-year-old Kirk Levin's trial. It will be moved from Sac City in Sac County to Fort Dodge in Webster County. Levin's attorney
requested the change based on extensive media coverage in the county and surrounding counties.
The Sioux City Journal reports ( ) Levin's trial is scheduled to begin on June 3. He is charged with first-degree murder and third-degree kidnapping.
Prosecutors say Levin repeatedly stabbed Marilyn Schmitt in Early on Jan. 3, then kidnapped a 21-year-old woman. She later escaped.
Levin had been released from prison days earlier after serving time for burglary.

Lawmakers Approve Administrative Budget

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State lawmakers have approved about $55 million in spending for state administrative and regulatory agencies.
Lawmakers in both the Senate and House approved the budget plan Wednesday. It passed Iowa House 89-6 and the state Senate 26-19.
The budget will next move to the governor for approval.
Lawmakers settled on the final budget figure in a joint committee made up of legislators from both chambers and parties.
The general fund spending for the next fiscal year is about $2 million more than this fiscal year's budget. The budget also includes spending from other funds.
The plan includes budgets for the governor's office, the Public Information Board, Treasurer of the State, Secretary of the State and departments of human rights, inspection and appeals, management, and revenue.


Economic Development Budget Is Approved

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Legislature has approved a $41 million compromise economic development budget.
The House and Senate both easily approved the plan Wednesday. It funds the Department of Cultural Affairs, Iowa Workforce Development, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Iowa
Finance Authority and the Public Employment Relations Board.
The budget is $31 million under what Republican Gov. Terry Branstad proposed. That's because leadership has decided to move some budget items into a different fund paid by gaming revenue.
Those items include a jobs program that provides tax incentives for businesses, and economic development programs for the regent universities.
The budget will move to the governor next for approval.


Legislature Reaches Compromise On Justice Budget

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa legislators have approved a compromise budget plan for the state justice system.
On Wednesday, lawmakers in the state House and Senate approved $547 million in spending that largely goes to prisons and public safety.
The budget plan is an increase over the spending in the current fiscal year. It is more than the $534 million proposed by the House and less than the $560 million pushed by the Senate.
It includes some of the funding sought by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller to regionalize state domestic abuse and sexual assault assistance. Miller wants to shut down some domestic abuse shelters
and hire more advocates to assist victims. Miller had wanted $6 million and the plan offers nearly $4 million.
Next, the plan moves to the governor's office.


U-S Geological Services To Shut Down Stream Gages

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The U.S. Geological Service says it will shut down three stream gages in Iowa due to federal budget cuts.
The agency announced Wednesday it would shut down the gages on the West Fork Cedar River at Finchford, the Des Moines River at Humboldt and the East Fork 102 River at Bedford.
The move was prompted by automatic federal spending cuts that have required reductions by most federal agencies.
The monitors are used to measure stream flows and warn of possible flooding.
The USGS says the three gages were chosen because their shutdown
would have limited impacts on other organizations and were least
likely to affect public safety.


Iowa State University Researchers Trying To Build A Better Wind Generator Turbine

AMES, Iowa (AP) - Engineers at Iowa State University are working on a way to make wind turbine towers taller by building them from concrete instead of the steel currently used.
Increasing tower height to about 328 feet from the current 260 feet would mean steadier less turbulent wind conditions and longer turbine blades. ISU Professor Sri Sritharan says those changes
could increase energy production by 15 percent.
He says the work he's done with engineering graduate student Grant Schmitz and other engineers at Iowa State shows towers made of precast concrete panels and columns withstand necessary
He says the concrete towers would last longer than steel towers and would be easier to transport.
A $109,000 Grow Iowa Values Fund grant from the state helped fund the research which is ongoing.





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