Wednesday News, January 7
City To Get New Welcome Banners
(Le Mars) -- Le Mars City Convention and Visitors Bureau director, Jessica Brownmiller appeared before the city council on Tuesday to formally request the council to approve the purchase of new "welcome banners" to be placed on city street lamps. Brownmiller informed the council that a total of 48 new banners would be needed. She says the existing banners have been on display for more than ten years and are showing their age by being torn and faded. Each new banner would be made of vinyl material at a cost of $120.74 each with a total investment of $5,795.52. The city council approved to fund the project with funds to be used from the hotel-motel tax. Assistant city administrator Bill Cole indicated to the city council the hotel-motel tax revenues has more than $60,000 in the account.
Airport Annual Report Submitted For Council Review
(Le Mars) -- City Airport Manager, Earl Draayer submitted the annual airport report to the Le Mars City Council during their meeting at the city hall council chambers. Draayer indicated the airport had seen an increase amount of business flights during the past year. He told the city council, the Le Mars airport is an effective part of the transportation system for the city, and county. He says the Le Mars Airport needs to remain competitive with other cities and counties for new and expansion business opportunities. Draayer reviewed the airport's five-year plan which includes a ramp expansion to improve the air agricultural services and to improve the ability of the airport to service large corporate aircraft. Draayer proposed the runway turn-a-rounds and parallel taxiways to fully utilize the displaced thresholds currently in place. Draayer also advocated the city consider lengthening the runway to 5,000 feet to be able to fit into the Insurance industry standards for medium size corporate aircraft, thus allowing local industry expansion capability and transient fractional jet operation to operate in and out the municipal airport. Other goals Draayer has established for the airport is to install security fencing, remodel the current airport terminal, and to purchase land to insure the instrument approach safe zones remain clear of obtacles and trees.
Langel Would Like To Streamline City Staff
(Le Mars) -- City Administrator Scott Langel submitted a plan for the council to review that would make the city staff more efficient. Langel informed the city council that many of the city's staff are approaching retirement. He wants to determine the city's needs for skilled and certified staff, as well as, for the un-skilled staff. Langel suggested to the council that in the future many of the jobs could be out-sourced. He wants to eliminat "scheduled" overtime when possible, evaluate equipment requirements for each city department. Langel wants to review the efficiencies of full-time employees versus part-time employee status. Langel indicated developing and maintaining a balanced budget is a necessity for the city. He wants to prioritize between required functions and non-essential functions. Langel says as the city grows geographically and fiscally, increasing pressure will be realized to balance opperations of each department with increasing staff or hiring the private sector to accomplish the tasks.
Kooiker Wins Special Election For Legislative Seat
(Orange City) -- A farmer has won Tuesday's special election in Sioux County for a seat in the Iowa House. Republican John Kooiker of Boyden is a neighbor of the late Dwayne Alons who easily won reelection to the House on November 4th, but died November 29th of cancer.
Living close to South Dakota, which does not have an income tax, helps puts Kooiker in the column of Republicans who'd like to see the House try to reduce Iowa income taxes.
Kooiker says he'll be "an advocate for family values" and has an understanding of the state's agriculture sector because of his stewardship of a 240 acre farm. Kooiker, a 68-year-old Army veteran, is a math and science teacher who decided to take over the family farm in 1975. He has been a substitute teacher in the area and is active in the Gideons organization. Kooiker got over 61 percent of the nearly 34-hundred votes cast in yesterday's special election. A write-in candidate got almost 25 percent of the vote and the Democratic nominee for the seat, John Buntsma of Orange City, got 13-and-a-half percent.
Des Moines Water Works Considering Suing Sac, Buena Vista, And Calhoun Counties
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An official says Des Moines Water Works likely will sue three counties that manage drainage districts with high concentrations of nitrates.
Water Works officials say the nitrates flow into the Raccoon River and threaten the city's water quality. Water with concentrations above a certain threshold can be deadly to children younger than 6 months because nitrates can reduce the amount of oxygen carried in their blood.
Water Works board chairman Graham Gillette says the board will vote Thursday to move forward with the lawsuit.
The trustees' vote would trigger a notice to the boards of supervisors in Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties, notifying them of Water Works' intention to sue.
Experts say most of the nitrates come from fertilizer applied to farm fields.
Health Officials Investigate The Death Of 7 Year Old Boy Diagnosed With Influenza
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Public health officials are investigating the death of a 7-year-old Iowa boy who was diagnosed with influenza.
The Iowa Department of Public Health says it's investigating three pediatric deaths that they believe resulted from flu-related complications.
The family of 7-year-old Travon Epps says the boy was taken to Blank Children's Hospital on New Year's Day. He was diagnosed with the flu and later died.
Officials say cases of the flu are spreading across Iowa. There have been confirmed cases in every region of the state.
Ernst Sworn Into Senate
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's newly sworn-in Sen. Joni Ernst says she is thrilled to be getting down to business.
Ernst was officially sworn in Tuesday morning in Washington. The Republican from Red Oak was joined for the ceremony by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and former Sen. Tom Harkin, the Democrat whose retirement created an opening for Ernst.
Ernst says she is excited to be working for Iowans and pledged to protect the state's farmers and push for government efficiency.
Ernst scored a decisive victory in November, helping the GOP take control of the Senate. She started the race as a relatively unknown state senator but soared to national stardom, promoting her farm upbringing and role as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard.
Three Men Face Charges Of Illegal Game Hunting
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Three men face a total of more than 150 charges in connection with fish and game violations in Greene County.
The state Department of Natural Resources says 20-year-old Hossein Kolbehrdari, of Ankeny, 21-year-old Maxwell McGlothlen, of Ankeny, and 22-year-old Rheise Presnall, of Polk City, face a variety of charges.
Kolbehrdari's charges include unlawful possession of game birds or animals. McGlothlen's charges include not having a hunting license and possessing a rifle while deer hunting. Presnall is accused of illegal possession of a whitetail deer, among other charges.
Officials in November conducted a search of a rental home where the men were staying. Each faces different fines. Court records do not list attorneys.