Thursday News, December 4
County Road And Bridge Repairs Continue
(Le Mars) -- County road and bridge construction projects may be slowing down, but they haven't stopped according to Tom Rohe, Plymouth County Engineer. Rohe offered a construction update to the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
Rohe reviews the number of construction projects that were slated for this year.
Rohe says there will be one bridge repair project that will carry over until next spring. The county engineer says Plymouth County did not conduct any asphalt overlay or new paving projects for this year, but will do so in the future.
One bridge repair project located in the northeast section of the county has been continuing since the flood of two years ago, when flood waters washed away the bridge. But Rohe says the project, which is being partially funded by FEMA, is finally nearing completion.
YMCA Numbers And Revenue Have Dropped From 2013
(Le Mars) -- Numbers are down for the Le Mars YMCA when compared to last year, according to the quarterly report submitted to the city. In 2013, a total of 16,196 people used the outdoor swimming pool. This past summer that number had dropped to 14,138. Membership revenue had also declined from $25,119 to this year's $23,804. Day pass revenue was also lower from 2013 when the local YMCA reported revenue of $20,734. This year that figure was listed at $17,458. The only increase the YMCA had was with its revenue generated from swimming lessons. The YMCA was able to raise nearly $2,000 this year over last year's figures. Swimming lessons brought in $27,050 compared to last year's number of $25,367. Expenses for the YMCA also have increased over last year. The utilities bill had more than doubled from $11,991 in 2013 to this year of $26,057. Supplies expenses had increased by more than $2,000, and concessions had dropped off by nearly $1,000 from the $11,034 from 2013 to this year's number of $10,310. The attendance from the quarter of August through October was also lower from last year. Going from 7,130 to this year's attendance at 6,476.
Emily Klingbeil Honored As Le Mars Community School "Employee Of The Month"
(Le Mars) -- A teacher that works with special needs students was honored Wednesday as the Le Mars Community School District's "Employee of the Month". Emily Klingbeil, who answers to "Mrs. K" was presented the honor by school officials. Klingbeil has been teaching for 13 years. In the nomination submitted by Mary Baue (Bow-ee) she writes of Emily Klingbeil, her role may vary from day to day, but, how she meets those challenges, never waivers. She has a keen sense about what each student needs and will take one activity or goal and make the needed adjustments for each student to be successful while doing that activity. She has established positive rapport with her students and co-workers. Mrs. K has students who love being in her class. They have an abundance of opportunities to practice social skills as well as job related skills every day. Klingbeil is a key resource to other staff and unselfishly shares her expertise. When students were asked why they love being in Mrs. K's class, a few of the responses were: "she is so nice to me," "she helps me do my jobs at school and is funny," and "we cook and do neat things." Mrs. K. is very deserving of this recognition. OUr congratulations to Emily Klingbeil for being named the Le Mars Community School District's "Employee of the Month."
Branstad Sets January 6 For Special Election For House District 4
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad has scheduled a special election for the House District 4 seat left open after the death of state Representative Dwayne Alons.
Branstad said in a news release Wednesday that a special election will be held on January 6th. The district includes the cities of Sioux Center, Orange City, Rock Valley, Hull, Hawarden, Alton, Maurice, Granville, Ireton and Chatsworth.
The 68-year-old Alons died Saturday. He announced in October that he was battling renal cancer.
Regents Again Freeze Tuition For Students
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Thousands of students at Iowa's three public universities could graduate without seeing their tuition increase once.
The Iowa Board of Regents voted Wednesday to freeze tuition for resident undergraduate students for the third straight year, provided that lawmakers approve a funding increase for the universities next spring.
Governor Terry Branstad says that would be a "historic" achievement.
Regent Larry McKibben said a third straight freeze will help families who are struggling to afford higher education.
If the freeze sticks, in-state students who graduate in May 2016 will have paid the same base tuition all four years: $6,678 at University of Iowa and $6,648 at Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.
The board raised tuition by 1.75 percent for nonresidents and students in graduate and professional programs.
Iowa State University Alumni Donates $22 Million
AMES, Iowa (AP) - Two alumni of Iowa State University have donated more than $22 million to the school to help build a new student center and create an endowed dean's chair.
The university said in a news release Wednesday that a portion of the money will be used to support the planned Student Innovation Center. The other portion will be used to create an endowed dean's chair in the College of Human Sciences. Dean Pamela White, a longtime faculty member, will be the inaugural holder.
The school says the alumni want to remain anonymous. The gift was made through the Iowa State University Foundation, a private nonprofit that helps secure gifts and grants for the school.
Iowa Republican Leaders Pledge To Remain Neutral
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Republican Party leaders are pledging to remain neutral in the 2016 presidential caucuses.
Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann says Wednesday that all the State Central Committee members have signed a pledge not to publicly endorse a candidate. He says this sends a message to potential candidates that Iowa will be a fair playing ground.
Before the 2012 caucuses, A.J. Spiker, a committee member who later became chairman, backed Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Several other party leaders endorsed candidates.
Kaufmann says the pledge received unanimous support at a November meeting. Professional staffers also signed.
Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Scott Brennan says Democrats have not had problems with party leaders endorsing candidates in recent years. He says signing a similar pledge wasn't a top priority but did not rule it out.
Federal Judge Strikes Down Iowa Laws Regarding Flag Desecretion
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A federal judge is striking down two Iowa laws that make it a crime to mistreat the American flag.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt ruled Wednesday that the laws are unconstitutional because they criminalize protected free speech.
One law makes it a misdemeanor to deface, mutilate, or trample on the American flag. The other says it's illegal to show disrespect to the flag "to provoke or encourage another to commit a public offense."
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa challenged the laws last year on behalf of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. The church's members are known for protesting outside funerals, often dragging, standing and spitting on flags.
The lawsuit came after the police chief in Red Oak threatened to enforce the law against members during protests.
New York Man Sentenced To 20 Years For Sexual Assault
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A New York man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman at a downtown Des Moines hotel.
30-year-old Christopher LaPointe pleaded guilty to burglary and sexual abuse.
Des Moines police say a New Jersey woman was staying at the Embassy Suites and rejected LaPointe's advances at the hotel's bar. She says she awoke later that night to LaPointe touching her leg in her hotel room. Police say he had been in the room for about two hours.
The victim asked how he got into her room and LaPointe replied that he "had friends." Police say a desk clerk gave him the keycard because he was a frequent guest and Hilton HHonors Diamond member.
Hotel officials say they are cooperating in the police investigation.