Friday, January 30, 2015
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Wednesday News, January 28

Floyd Valley Hospital Receives Certification As A Trauma Center

(Le Mars) -- Floyd Valley Hospital has successfully completed the categorization and re-verification process to be re-certified as a Level IV community trauma care facility.  Hospitals must re-apply every three years to participate in Iowa’s trauma system, and based on availability of resources.  Community Trauma   Care Facilities are often located in rural areas and have resources to provide initial stabilization for all trauma patients while preparing the patient for transfer when appropriate.
Leading the Floyd Valley Hospital categorization and re-verification process was Dr. Sheila Holcomb, Emergency Department Medical Director; Dr. Dariush Ghaffari, Trauma Medical Director and Mary Jo Clark, RN, BSN Trauma Coordinator. 


Supervisors Set February 24th As Date For Budget Hearing

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Board of Supervisors have set the date of February 24th at 10:00 a.m. as the date for a public hearing regarding the county fiscal year budget.  In other action from Tuesday's meeting, the county supervisors approved the action to remove a stop sign located at the 220th Street and Pioneer Avenue.  County engineer Tom Rohe reported to the supervisors the stop sign was initially installed due to several trees that had blocked the line of sight.  However, Rohe says those trees now have been cleared.  He says the stop sign was for only one direction.  The supervisors have also set the date of February 17th at 10:15 a.m. for a public hearing to vacate a portion of Otter Avenue.  County road crews had recently removed a bridge and replaced it with a culvert, and in doing so, they altered the road away from a creek.  The county supervisors are looking to close the old stretch of roadway. The supervisors approved the semi annual settlement of funds report, and they approved the county weed commission annual report.


Climatologist Says 2015 Should Be Good Weather Year For Crops

(Le Mars) -- An Iowa State University Extension Climatologist believes 2015 should be a decent year for farmers and their crops.  Elwynn Taylor spoke before nearly 200 farmers in Le Mars on Tuesday.  He says subsoil moisture levels have for the most part, been replenished across the cornbelt, giving farmers some optimism for having another good yield, despite what appears to be a dry winter.

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Taylor says the nation is ending one weather cycle and is starting another.  He says so far, we are having a moderate el nino' weather pattern which could mean above average crop yield for 2015.

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The Extension Climatologist says farmers may see a cycle that could be more volatile.

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Ethanol Industry Is Hurting Due To Low Oil Prices

(Le Mars) -- Corn prices are low, as are gasoline prices, so how is the ethanol industry doing?  An Iowa State University agricultural economist says the ethanol industry is facing a good news - bad news scenerio with profit margins becoming very slim.

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Chad Hart spoke at a Crop Advantage seminar in Le Mars on Tuesday.  He says ethanol is able to compete when oil prices are high, but times like today, the ethanol industry still needs support from subsidies.
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 Hart says there isn't much optimism for improvement in the grain prices for this next marketing year.

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The grain marketing specialist says if there is a possibility for hope in the grain markets, it could be with exports.

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Transportation Department Testing Solution For Icy Roads 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Transportation Department is testing a new system that could help motorists drive more safely on icy roadways.
     The testing is underway on an 11-mile stretch of Interstate 35 north of Des Moines. 
     During and after storms, some drivers go too fast, some too slow. The system being tested comes up with a limit that, if observed, would smooth out traffic flow and make travel safer.
     The system includes sensors that use lasers to detect the ice, snow or slush on the pavement. Engineer Willy Sorenson says the system uses the data to determine what he calls an "advised" lower speed limit. That safer speed limit is sent to four digital speed limit signs along the roadway.


Coralville Apartment Fire

 CORALVILLE, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say three people, including a baby, are safe after they escaped from a second-story window during an apartment fire.
     Coralville Fire Chief Dave Stannard says it's not yet clear what caused the Tuesday night blaze. 
     Officials say firefighters and multiple ambulances were called to the building around 9:30 p.m. after receiving a report of smoke and fire.
     Police say the three people didn't appear to have any injuries.


Universities May Adopt Uniform Admission Policies

   DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's three public universities may soon have a more uniform admissions policy for students from the growing number of high schools that do not provide class rankings.
     The Iowa Board of Regents will consider a new formula next week that would affect students from roughly 40 public and private high schools that don't rank students.
     Students from those schools would be automatically admitted if they score above a 245 on a mathematical formula, which is based on ACT scores, grade point average and number of core courses completed. Students who fall below that number would be subject to individual reviews.
     The change addresses inconsistencies in how students without class rankings have been scored for admissions by the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.


Democrats Work On Wage Theft Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Democrats in the Senate say a bill aimed at curtailing wage theft in Iowa would require businesses to be more direct with workers about employment terms.
     Sen. Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, is co-sponsor of a bill that would require employers to share a written record of employment terms with an employee at the start of a job. The measure would also define penalty terms and expand protection for whistleblowers.
     Dotzler and Democratic Sen. Tony Bisignano, of Des Moines, spoke at a press conference Tuesday.
     Sen. Rick Bertrand, a Republican from Sioux City, says the measure would overregulate many honest businesses. He says he plans to introduce a bill this session that would give Iowa Workforce Development more funds to investigate wage theft cases.


Unemployment Rate Falls In Iowa 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa has seen an increase in nonfarm jobs and a decrease in its unemployment rate in the past year.
     Data released Tuesday shows Iowa gained 16,400 nonfarm jobs in 2014. The state's jobless rate dropped to 4.1 percent in December, down from 4.3 percent in November and 4.2 percent in December 2013.
     According to a news release, Iowa nonfarm employment increased to 1.56 million jobs, gaining 2,100 jobs from November to December alone. Education and health services, government and construction saw the largest growth in the past year.
     U.S. Department of Labor statistics show Iowa is among 46 states and the District of Columbia to lower unemployment rates in 2014.
     Beth Townsend, Iowa Workforce Development interim director, says the state's economy "ended on a high note."


University Of Iowa Employees May Qualify For Retirement Benefits

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Some University of Iowa employees may be eligible for additional benefits in exchange for retiring early.
     A plan released Tuesday says employees who are 57 and have 10 years experience will be eligible to apply for an early retirement program starting Feb. 6.
     Those who are accepted would receive payments of unused vacation and sick leave, and five years of health and dental benefits. The university would make contributions to employees' retirement plans for five years, also covering the employees' share for the first three.
     University Health Care employees would not be eligible for the program, which the Iowa Board of Regents is expected to consider approving next week.
     UI President Sally Mason has said the program is designed to save money and soften the impact of restructuring on employees.




Tuesday News, January 27

Supervisors Hope To Finish Budget With Today's Meeting

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors hope to finish the county's budget during today's session.  The supervisors will review and possibly approve the semi annual settlement of funds from July of 2014 to December of 2014.  The supervisors will also review and approve the 2014 Plymouth County Weed Commission annual report to the state.  The supervisors will meet with County Engineer Tom Rohe as he discusses a road vacation petition.  The supervisors will adopt a resolution and set a notice for a public hearing.  The road in question is on Otter Avenue.  The supervisors will also consider removing a stop sign at the intersection of 220th Street and Pioneer Avenue.


City Council To Hold Budget Workshop Session

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council will hold a special meeting this afternoon at the council chambers as they visit with each city department to determine the city's budget for the next fiscal year. The budget workshop meeting will begin at 4:00 p.m.


Soderberg And Anderson To Hold Legislative Forums In Plymouth County Towns

(Des Moines) -- State Representative Chuck Soderberg and State Senator Bill Anderson will host a series of legislative forums in Plymouth County scheduled for Saturday, Janaury 31st.  The two lawmakers will begin their legislative forums in Kingsley at the Kingsley Community Center starting at 8:30 a.m.  The second forum is scheduled for the Remsen Library to begin at 9:45 a.m. and the last legislative forum will take place in Akron at Akron Jo's starting at 11:15 a.m.  The lawmakers will be discussing various issues concerning the 2015 Iowa Legislative Session.  The public is invited and encouraged to attend the meetings and address any issues that are of concern.


E-911 County Board Scheduled To Meet On Wednesday

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County E-911 Board is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, January 28th at 7:00 p.m. at the County courthouse.  The board will elect new officers, review state paper requirements, and discuss new projects, including the new 911 answering equipment.


Bomgaars Purchases Former Alco Buildings

(Sioux City) -- The Bomgaars retail chain has announced the purchase of the leases and fixtures of twelve former ALCO stores in four states.  Eight of the locations are in new cities for the Sioux City based farm and ranch supply chain with four in Wyoming, two in Idaho, one in Chamberlain, South Dakota, and one in Imperial, Nebraska.

   The other four stores are in Nebraska where Bomgaars will relocate their existing Bomgaars store into a larger former ALCO building at West Point, Ainsworth, Ogallala and Gordon.  Bomgaars will take possession of the stores in February and hold grand opening celebrations in May or June.   Alco declared bankruptcy in October 2014 and is in the process of liquidating its entire inventory.

  Bomgaars operates 69 stores currently in the tri-state area and Minnesota, Colorado and Wyoming.


Buena Vista Authorities Investigate Two Assault Cases

(Storm Lake) -- Buena Vista County authorities are investigating two separate assault cases that occured over the weekend.  The first case was reported at about 9:30 Friday evening.  The sheriff's office received a report of a female out of control and assaulting two other people.  24 year old Julie Cranston of rural Rembrandt was assaulting a male and a female at a rural residence.  When deputies responded to the scene, they arrested Cranston and transported her to the Buena Vista County jail.  Cranston has been charged with assault while displaying a deadly weapon, and aggravated misdemeanor, domestic abuse assault using a weapon, an aggravated misdemeanor, child endangerment, an aggravated misdemeanor, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a simple misdemeanor.  Also arrested during the incident was 22 year old Alexander Blakeley of Albert City.  Blakely was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, simple misdemeanor.  Blakely and Cranston were booked into the Buena Vista County jail.  No injuries were reported during the investigation.  

(Storm Lake) -- The second assault incident happened Early Saturday morning at about 5:00 a.m. the Buena Vista County Sheriff's Department received a report of an assault that had taken place in Alta.  The suspect in the case had fled the scene, and the victim, 24 year old Matthew Drew of Alta had been transported to the Buena Vista Regional Medical Center by a private vehicle  for treatment of his injuries.  The suspect, Michael Drew, age 25, of Brookings, South Dakota had left the area and deputies were not able to locate him.  The victim, Matthew Drew was subsequently transported to the Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City for further treatment of his injuries.  A physical fight had occurred at the Alta residence.  Michael Drew has been charged with willful injury, a class C felony.  Michael Drew turned himself into the Buena Vista County Sheriff's office in on Saturday afternoon.  Buena Vista County authorities did say the victim and the subject charged are related, but they didn't elaborate about the relationship.


Governor Branstad Cancels Tuesday's Appointments - Remains In Hospital

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad remains in a Des Moines hospital, where he is receiving treatment for what doctors believe is a viral illness and dehydration.
     Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers didn't provide a condition update Tuesday morning, but said more information about the governor's status will be released when it becomes available. Branstad's public appearances for the day have been canceled.
     Branstad was taken by ambulance to Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines on Monday after he required assistance at a ribbon-cutting event. 
     Doctors said they believed the governor has a viral illness. The hospital conducted tests and ruled out other contributing factors, including cardiac issues for which he's been previously treated.


Legislators Concerned With Regents Funding Formula

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa lawmakers expressed concern about a proposed performance-based funding model for the state's three public universities.
     Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter spoke to the House appropriations committee Monday about the funding model, which regents approved last year. It bases 60 percent of funding allocation for the schools on the enrollment of in-state students.
     Rastetter says the model would help balance funding allocations between Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. But lawmakers on the committee questioned the model's potentially negative impact on private colleges and community colleges competing for in-state students.
     Rastetter says the current funding model is dated and not sustainable.
     Legislative lawmakers must approve Gov. Terry Branstad's budget proposal for the funding model to be applied.


Fort Dodge Police Officer Honored For Saving A Life

  FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - A north central Iowa police officer is being hailed as a hero after saving an 18-month-old boy from choking to death last month. 
     The Fort Dodge Messenger ( ) reports patrol officer Cody Harris became the first recipient of the Fort Dodge Police Department Lifesaving Medal on Monday night. Mayor Matt Bemrich also proclaimed Monday to be Cody Harris Recognition Day. 
     Authorities say Harris responded to a report of a boy choking at restaurant at a shopping center on Dec. 8. They say Harris arrived before emergency medical responders and was able to clear the boy's airway so he could breathe again.









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