Friday News, November 2
Christie Vilsack Visits Le Mars Again For Final Push To Election Day
(Le Mars) -- Democratic Congressional candidate Christie Vilsack is in Le Mars at this hour speaking to supporters at the Plymouth County Democratic party headquarters. Vilsack is making a final swing through the new fourth district on her Values of Common Sense Tour. KLEM will have some of Vilsack's comments during our 12:30 news update.
CF Industries To Expand Sioux City Operations
(Sioux City) -- CF Industries has announced a $1.7 billion expansion at its Port Neal facility in Woodbury County. It's the largest capital investment project in Iowa history. Stephen Wilson, C-E-O of the fertilizer manufacturer, says the expansion will add 100 new jobs to the plant and increase their production capability.
Governor Terry Branstad came to Sioux City to make the announcement, along with state economic development director Debi Durham and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds. Branstad says the project will give a huge boost to the state and local economies.
The deal includes a variety of incentives from the state and county levels, including $22 million in tax credits, a 20-year abatement schedule beginning in 2016, and a new five million dollar access road to the Port Neal plant.
Larry Clausen of the Woodbury County supervisors says the property tax generated by the project will create a windfall for the county.
The new jobs will have an average starting salary of $50 thousand per year, ranging upwards to $80 thousand. Current Port Neal Manager, Nick DeRoss will oversee the expansion with construction to be completed by 2016.
Investigators Say Explosion Not the Cause For Smithland Fire
SMITHLAND, Iowa (AP) - Investigators have ruled out an explosion as the cause of a fatal fire that destroyed an old gas station in Smithland in western Iowa.
The owner, 76-year-old Robert Jones, was found dead outside the building on Wednesday. The results of an autopsy are pending.
John Ticer of the state fire marshal's office says officials are still investigating the fire, but they don't believe it was caused by an explosion. He says explosions people heard were likely aerosol cans popping from the heat.
Ticer says there are no signs of foul play.
Smithland is about 40 miles southeast of Sioux City.
Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department Had A Busy October
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department responded to 66 calls during the month of October. Fire chief Dave Schipper says it was a busy month. The fire department had four rescue calls, 18 investigations, one mutual aid to Kingsley, 11 fire calls, and 32 times for request for services. Schipper explains those requests for services includes the educational programs that the fire department performs.
Of the eleven fire calls, one of those, the city's grass, leaf, and tree disposal site fire lasted for three days...
What To Do With Sioux City's Concrete Arches?
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City residents are being asked to weigh in on the fate of the Gateway Arches.
The three 36-ton concrete arches will have to be removed as part of an ongoing project to widen Interstate 29.
The 40-foot high arches were installed in 1980 to create a signature entry into downtown. They represent Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.
Residents can fill out an online survey by Thanksgiving on whether they'd like to see the arches moved, rebuilt or replaced.
Work on the downtown portion of I-29 is slated to begin in 2014.
City Engineer Chris Payer says the arches could probably be moved "at a significant cost." But there's no guarantee they'll remain intact if taken down.
Coaches Are Highest Paid State Employees
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Coaches at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University are the state's highest-paid employees.
The Iowa Department of Administrative Services released a state salary database for fiscal 2012 on Thursday. It includes employees in all branches of state government. Coaches and doctors are always the top earners, with many of the largest salaries being paid in part with private money.
Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz tops the list at $3.7 million. Next is ISU football coach Paul Rhodes, who was paid $1.4 million. ISU men's basketball coach Fred Hoiberg earned over $908,000, while Iowa men's basketball coach Fran McCaffery was paid $872,000.
Rounding out the top five is University of Iowa professor Mark Iannettoni, at $867,000.
Women State Employees Earn Less Than Male Counterparts
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The median pay for women who worked for the state of Iowa last fiscal year was about 9 percentage points under that of men who were employed by the state.
A new state salary database released Thursday shows the state had nearly 60,000 employees who were paid a total of $3.02 billion in the year that ended June 30.
The state employed nearly 32,800 women last year with a median salary of nearly $45,700, compared with more than 27,100 men with a median salary of more than $50,300.
The salary database was compiled by Iowa's Department of Administrative Services.
The highest-paid female state employee was University of Iowa women's basketball coach Lisa Bluder, who was paid $568,000.
Iowa State Patrol Has New Boss
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Leadership of the Iowa Public Safety Department has been overhauled and a new boss has been named for the Iowa State Patrol.
Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Brian London says Col. Dave Garrison will take over the patrol's top job. He'll replace Col. Patrick Hoye, who will run the Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau.
Hoye has led the patrol since 2007
London also reversed organizational changes made less than a year ago by his predecessor, Larry Noble, who retired last month.
London has reinstated various divisions and named new directors for each. The divisions are criminal investigation, the fire marshal's office, narcotics enforcement, and the Division of Intelligence and Fusion Center.
USDA Offers Assistance To Hurricane Sandy Victims
(Washington) -- Hurricane Sandy's destruction has left many people without power, and that means a temporary shortage of food supplies. U-S Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says his office has been busy offering assistance to those hit by the recent storm. According to Vilsack, the U-S Forest Department has helped local law enforcement with communications efforts, as well with search and rescue efforts. Vilsack says the USDA has also helped with the distribution of food supplies.
Over time, Vilsack says the focus will shift to offer assistance to farmers and others involved with production agriculture.
The Agriculture Secretary doesn't anticipate any hike in food prices either in the short-term or the long-term as a result of Hurricane Sandy.