Friday News, February 21
City Council Examining Proposed City Code Ordinance Changes
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council is considering a number of new city ordinances to be included as part of the city code. Jason Vacera, the city's code enforcement officer says the new proposed ordinances pertain to parking, irrigation systems, tree maintenance, and garbage/recycling. Vacera says the city is looking at a proposal that would eliminate all overnight parking by any vehicle, trailer, or other apparatus on the streets, avenues, and alley right of ways between December 1st and April 1st.
Vacera says many people are either confused by the odd/even rule for winter parking and snow emergencies, or they choose to ignore the city ordinance.
The city code enforcement officer explains why the new language is being suggested.
Vacera says under the current code language, people didn't fully understand when they needed to move their vehicles.
A public hearing on the new proposed city ordinances is scheduled for March 18th at the City Hall Council Chambers. In future news updates, we will examine some of the other proposed code changes.
Several Legislative Bills Did Not Make It Through "Funnel Week"
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Those bills that failed to meet a legislative deadline in the Iowa Legislature this week and are likely dead include:
- Medical marijuana: Would legalize marijuana usage for some people with chronic conditions under oversight from the state.
- Abortion lawsuits: Would make it easier for women to later sue doctors who performed an abortion on them.
- Gun rights: A resolution seeking to amend the state constitution to add the right to bear arms.
- Distillery sales: Would allow micro-distilleries in Iowa to sell the liquor they make by the glass and increases the number of bottles they can sell on the premises.
- Daycare regulations: Would require that all in-home daycares register with the state. Currently those with five or less children are exempt.
Iowa To Receive Educational Grant
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa is getting $3 million from the U.S. Department of Education to help turn around low-achieving schools.
U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that provides funding for the School Improvement Grants program, says improvement in the quality of education centers around focusing resources on schools with the greatest need.
Iowa was one of nine states selected for the funding announced Thursday. Nine states received more than $71 million.
The grants are awarded to state educational agencies and they in turn make competitive grants to school districts that demonstrate the greatest need for the funds and the strongest commitment to provide adequate resources to substantially raise student achievement in their lowest-performing schools.
Northwood Evacuates Town Due To Chemical Fire
NORTHWOOD, Iowa (AP) - Officials have applauded the work of volunteers who helped with the evacuation of a small northern Iowa city following a chemical fire.
Authorities in Northwood used buses Thursday morning to transport residents to a community center in nearby Kensett. The buses were later used to bring residents back when the evacuation was called off in the afternoon.
Amber Julseth, the city clerk of Northwood, said about 250 people showed up at the center. Several emergency response teams assisted city officials.
Julseth said everyone at the center was well during their time there, and she called the volunteers "exceptional."
The fire began Thursday morning in a building at the local airport. The cause of the fire, which was later contained, remains under investigation.
Ag Census Shows Fewer Iowa Farms
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says the number of farms in Iowa has fallen but the total land farmed in the state has remained stable.
The Census of Agriculture, a report released every five years, says the number of Iowa farms fell 4.5 percent to 88,631 in 2012 from 92,856 in 2007. The report released Thursday updates a wide range of agricultural statistics as of 2012.
The average size of a farm grew to 345 acres from 331 acres. Land farmed in the state declined by just over 130,000 acres to 30.6 million acres.
The average age of an Iowa farmer increased to 57 from 56.
The value of Iowa's agricultural products rose 50 percent to $30.81 billion from $20.41 billion in 2007.
Farm Rescue To Help With Haying
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A North Dakota-based nonprofit organization that helps farm families in need plant and harvest their crops is branching out into haying assistance.
Farm Rescue is accepting applications from farmers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and eastern Montana.
As with planting and harvesting assistance, farmers must have suffered a major injury, illness or natural disaster to qualify for haying help. And Farm Rescue doesn't hand out cash - it brings volunteers to a farm to do the actual physical labor.
CEO and President Bill Gross says the haying assistance is possible because RDO Equipment Co. is supplying a tractor and baler. RDO Executive Vice President Keith Kreps says it's a way to help more farmers.