Wednesday News, January 20
Supervisors Ready To Approve Budget
(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors are ready to approve the budget for fiscal year 2016-2017. During Tuesday's weekly meeting, the supervisors did a final review of the proposed budget figures. The supervisors will follow the suggestions of the County Compensation Board relating to salary increases for elected officials by giving them a three percent increase in their salary. The supervisors also approved action to offer county employees a 2.75 percent salary increase, and as for themselves, again, the supervisors are following the suggestions of the Compensation Board, and have approved a two percent salary increase. During their weekly meeting, the Plymouth County Supervisors agreed to the terms of a three-year contract for the Plymouth County Secondary Road Employees Association.
City Council Approve Re-zoning Area Near Nor-Am
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council approved a public hearing scheduled for February 2 relating to a zoning change for an area around Nor-Am. The area in question has been re-classified from a residential (R-1) to now it will be classified as General Business (B-2). The city council also approved a property tax exemption to ICON Ag Solutions Real Estate L.L.C. The city council spent nearly two and a half hours discussing the coming fiscal year budget proposals. Councilman Rex Knapp and City Administrator Scott Langel took some time to discuss the complicated Tax Increment Financing of TIF programs that relate to Le Mars, and how the TIF programs would be impacting the city's budget. The Le Mars Police Department is requesting city leaders to consider purchasing a new squad car, while the Fire and Rescue Department is asking the city council to approve the purchase of a new pickup truck that will be used as a second command vehicle, as well as the designated vehicle to pull the hazard materials trailer, the foam trailer, or to carry grain bin rescue equipment.
Water Department Delivers Annual Report
(Le Mars) -- During the Le Mars city council meeting, both the city water department and the fire and rescue department submitted their annual reports to the city council. Gayle Sitzmann, superintendent of the water department informed the council that the water department is responsible for over 80 miles of underground water mains, 4286 meters, 635 fire hydrants, over 1100 main line valves, and two 1 million gallon elevated water tanks. In addition, the water department watches over a filtration plant, a high service pump station with a total of four pumps, one booster station with three pumps that run in alteration, and six Dakota aquifer wells. Sitzmann says the city pumped 980,346,000 gallons of water during 2015. The average daily amount of water pumped was listed at 2,600,583 gallons, which is up 100,000 gallons per day from 2014. Sitzmann informed the city council that the new water tower located on 26th Street is now in operation. According to Sitzmann, some of the highlights from 2015 include: installing 3000 feet of a 12 inch diameter water main from 18th Street on 6th Avenue southwest. Another 2400 feet of 12-inch diameter water main was put in service on 27th Street.
Fire And Rescue Department Responded To 457 Calls In 2015
(Le Mars) -- Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper gave the fire and rescue department's annual report during Tuesday's city council meeting. During the year 2015, the local fire and rescue department responded to a total of 457 calls, which was up 44 additional calls from 2014. Schipper reported of the 457 calls, 370 were in town, 60 times the fire department responded to rural calls, and 27 times the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department offered mutual aid to surrounding communities. Schipper indicated in his annual report that the total amount of loss due to fires in 2015 was at $495,450 with nearly 250 thousand dollars in city loss, and the remaining $245,550 was from rural fire losses. In his report, Schipper says some losses were not reported. The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department conducted a total of 117 inspections from this past year compared to 111 in 2014.
GOP Hopefuls Sound Off At Renewable Fuels Summit - Branstad Says He Wants Cruz To Lose
(Des Moines) -- A feud over fuel has erupted in Iowa's Republican Party. Governor Terry Branstad is declaring it is his hope that Ted Cruz loses the Iowa Caucuses, because Cruz opposes the federal ethanol production mandate.
[capRFSmtg8] :14 :in this country."
Branstad made his comments right after addressing the Iowa Renewable Fuels Summit. G-O-P candidate Donald Trump spoke to the group about three hours later and praised Branstad.
[capRFSmtg7] :10 :many people listen."
Republican Congressman Steve King has endorsed Cruz and he spoke with reporters over the noon-hour about Branstad's remarks.
[capRFSmtg6] :04 :endorsement of Trump."
King is accusing Branstad of failing to review all of what Cruz has pledged to do to expand market access for ethanol-blended fuels.
[capRFSmtg10] :02 :to me."
And King is critical of the work Eric Branstad, the governor's oldest son, has been doing on behalf of a political action committee that's been critical of Cruz's stand on ethanol.
[capRFSmtg11] :11 :have miscalculated."
Branstad again today (Tuesday) said he would NOT be endorsing anyone in the Republican presidential race before the Caucuses. But Branstad says it would "be very damaging" to the Iowa Caucuses if an opponent of the Renewable Fuels Standard like Cruz were to win on February 1st.
[capRFSmtg9] :15 :in this state."
Trump read a brief written statement to the crowd of ethanol backers.
[capRFSmtg12] :with me, right?" (fade)
And Trump took this shot at Cruz's stand on ethanol.
[capRFSmtg13] :07 :interesting to see."
Three other G-O-P presidential candidates are speaking at the Renewable Fuels Summit. Rick Santorum told the group that Iowans will have their fingerprints on the weapon that kills the Renewable Fuels Standard if Cruz wins the Caucuses.
Sarah Palin Endorses Donald Trump
(Ames) -- Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump received a key endorsement from conservative heavyweight Sarah Palin, Tuesday.
The former Alaska governor, and former running mate of Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential race, endorsed the billionaire businessman, Trump's campaign said in a statement, noting that he is "honored" by the endorsement.
The endorsement comes less than two weeks ahead of the critical lead-off Iowa caucus, where Trump is locked in a dead heat with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Palin was a virtual newcomer to the national political arena when McCain named her as his running mate but has since risen to prominence as one of the most outspoken conservatives in the party.
She signed on as a Fox News commentator after resigning as Alaska's governor in 2010, a job she held until last year.
Staff Volunteers For Ben Carson Involved In Fatal Auto Accident
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A volunteer for the presidential campaign of Ben Carson has died after being hospitalized with injuries suffered in a car accident in western Iowa that hurt three other campaign workers.
Carson was in South Carolina at the time of the Tuesday morning accident and has suspended his campaign events.
An official for a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, says the Carson campaign volunteer, 25-year-old Braden Joplin, died late Tuesday afternoon.
Campaign spokesman Jason Osborne says the crash occurred Tuesday morning when a van carrying three Carson volunteers and a paid staffer flipped onto its side on an icy road and was hit by another vehicle. The others in the van were treated at a hospital in Atlantic, Iowa.
State Senate Considers A "Ban The Box" Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State Senate lawmakers in Iowa are considering a "ban the box" bill that would limit when employers can ask job applicants about their criminal histories.
A three-member panel of the Senate Judiciary Committee discussed the bill Tuesday but took no action. They plan to meet soon to decide whether to advance it to a full committee.
The bill would prohibit an employer or employment agency from inquiring about an applicant's criminal history until the applicant has been selected for an interview or after he or she has been given a conditional job offer.
Supporters say the bill offers a second chance to applicants who have been turned down for work. Critics say it could be a liability to employers. Some sought more clarity over certain exemptions in the bill.