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Wednesday News, September 10

Le Mars Fire And Rescue Respond To Semi Truck Accident

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars Fire and Rescue officials responded to the scene of a semi truck and fuel tanker trailer that has overturned in the ditch.  That accident was reported at about 6:45 a.m. Wednesday morning.  The truck and tanker trailer went into the ditch on county road C-12 near the Dykstra Dairy farm, about six miles north of Le Mars.  No other information is available at this time.


Floyd Valley Hsopital Trustees Review Critical Access Hospital Annual Report

(Le Mars) -- The Floyd Valley Hospital Board of Trustees met last evening and among other topics, they reviewed the annual Critical Access Hospital annual report.  Floyd Valley Hospital saw a drop in the number of acute care days.  In fiscal year 2013, the number was at 2,067 and in 2014, the number of acute care days was listed at 1,997.  However, outpatient observations and visits had increased.  In FY 2013, the local hospital 373 outpatient visits, this year the number was at 408.  The outpatient visits jumped up from 51,325 to 52,423.  The number of births at Floyd Valley decreased significantly dropping from 129 in 2013 to 97 in 2014 fiscal year.


Sioux City Police Investigate Morningside Shooting

(Sioux City) -- Sioux City Police are investigating a shooting in Morningside Tuesday morning that sent one man to the hospital.  Police Lt. Mark Kirkpatrick says officers discovered 66 year old Ben Stefffe had been shot twice in the chest when they arrived at his home at 4625 Applewood, shortly before 7:00 a.m. 

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Kirkpatrick says Steffe and his wife were in the home when officers arrived.    

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Steffe was taken to Mercy Medical Center.  His condition has not been released.  The handgun used in the incident was recovered.  Kirkpatrick says investigators are talking to a person of interest in the shooting. 


Branstad Orders Flags To Be Half-Staff For 9/11

(Des Moines) -- In honor of all the Americans that lost their lives during the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001, Governor Terry Branstad has ordered that all flags be flown at half staff on Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Flags will be flown at half-staff on the state Capitol building and on flag displays in the Capitol complex, an upon all public buildings, grounds, and facilities throughout the state.  Individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the same length of time as a sign of respect.


Branstad Proposes Tuition Freeze On Certain Majors

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad called Tuesday for the state's public universities to reduce tuition costs by implementing a number of changes.
     Branstad said he wants to challenge the universities to offer some bachelor degree programs to Iowa residents for $10,000 in tuition. That can be done for students through a combination of online courses, college credits earned while in high school and some on-campus learning, he said.
     Acknowledging the bargain degrees might be limited in scope, Branstad also said he wants to see price cuts for bachelor's degrees in other disciplines, calling for discounted tuition in at least half the majors at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa.
     Annual resident tuition at Iowa State University and the University of Iowa is roughly $8,000.
     Branstad outlined his plan at news conferences at Drake University and Iowa State.
     He didn't offer an estimate on the state cost, noting there may be ways to pay for this through other savings.
     Branstad also proposed reducing student debt through a tax credit program in which businesses could be given tax breaks if they donate to charities designated as "student debt reduction organizations." Those charities could use the money to help graduates pay down college debt if they volunteer for the organizations.
     Board of Regents spokeswoman Sheila Doyle Koppin declined comment.
     Branstad's Democratic opponent Jack Hatch earlier released a college affordability plan, which included offering accelerated degree programs and creating a state loan fund to provide low-interest college borrowing options.


Board of Regents Committee Recommends UNI To Sell Property

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa Board of Regents committee recommended Tuesday the sale of 50 acres of land on the western edge of the University of Northern Iowa campus to the Cedar Falls school district.
     The Property and Facilities Committee of the Board of Regents moved the issue to the full board, which meets Wednesday in Ames.
     The proposal is for UNI to sell the land for $1.2 million to the Cedar Falls Community School District, which hopes to build a new high school on the site.
     The sale of the land will only go through if school district voters approve a bond issue on Tuesday.
     Supporters of a school improvement plan petitioned for the bond issue which asks voters to approve a property tax increase that would finance borrowing $118 million. The money would help fund a series of projects including construction of a new high school at the UNI site, construction of a new elementary school and remodeling and construction projects at North Cedar and Orchard Hill elementary schools. The old high school building would be renovated to serve as an administration building.
     Opponents of the bond issue said on their website that many taxpayers in the community on fixed incomes cannot afford it. Taxes would increase $220 per year for each $100,000 of a property's value for the next 15 years.
     The university bought the property in 1986. It is used primarily for recreation fields.







Tuesday News, September 9

Parent-Teacher Organization Presents Check To School Board For Playground Equipment

(Le Mars) -- At Tuesday evening's Le Mars Community Board of Education meeting, members of the Le Mars Parent-Teacher Organization presented a check for the amount of $65,800 to go towards the payment of the new playground equipment featured at each of the three elementary schools.  Angela Hurd serves as the president of the Le Mars Parent-Teacher organization.

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Also, during the school board meeting, election of officers occured with Scott Kommes retaining the position of President, and Dr. Mark Stelzer being re-elected to the position of vice president.  Lisa Boehm will again serve as the board secretary, and the firm Trotzig and Bauerly was selected to serve as the official legal counsel for the school district.


School Board Accepts Bid For New School Buses

(Le Mars) -- In other action during the school board meeting, the school board accepted the bid of $151,100 from Hoglund Incorporated for the purchase of two new 2016 model 60-seat capacity school buses.  The school board had three bids to consider with the other two bids at $154,390 and $152,118. 


School Board Sets District's Academic Goals 

(Le Mars) -- The school board also accepted the goals for the district.  In short, the board hopes to see a ten percent decrease in the non-proficiency rate for reading, math, and science.  High School principal Mark Iverson presented to the school board the ACT college entrance exam scores from last year's senior class.  On the composite scores, Le Mars Community fell slightly from the five-year average.  Last year's seniors scored an average of 22.3 which is lower than the 22.7 five-year average.  However, Le Mars Community seniors did better than their colleagues from across the state and the nation.  The state average was at 22.0 and the national average was 21.0.  Iverson reported Le Mars results exceeded national and state results in all areas, with the exception of the state average for reading.


County Supervisors Scheduled To Meet

(Le Mars) --  The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors will meet this morning beginning at 9:30 at the County Courthouse Board Room.  The Supervisors have a full agenda before them.  It is expected the county governing board will appoint Joette Hiemstra to serve as Garfield township clerk to replace Byron Blackburn.  The supervisors will also review and approve a debt certification for the county in the Plymouth County Ethanol Urban Renewal Area and approve the state tax increment financing annual urban renewal report.  Plymouth County Treasurer Shelley Sitzmann will offer a report to the supervisors regarding mobile home tax abatement, and the supervisors will hear from John Strawn who is seeking approval of Loess Hills Run Addition in Perry Township.  The supervisors will also hear from County Engineer, Tom Rohe.


Real Estate Taxes Now Due

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Treasurer, Shelly Sitzmann, reminds property owners that the first-half real estate and mobile home taxes are due now and can be paid in the office, online, or through the mail. The delinquent date is Wednesday, October 1, 2014.   Mail must be postmarked on or before September 30, 2014 to avoid delinquent interest.   Send your payment before the last day, as mailing your payment on September 30 does not guarantee a September 30 postmark.   Delinquent interest of 1.5% per month rounded to the nearest dollar attaches to all unpaid taxes on October 1, 2014, and an additional 1.5% penalty on the first of each succeeding month thereafter.  There is a minimum $1.00 penalty on all taxes. 


Voter Registration Now Accepted At Auditor's Office

(Le Mars) -- The General Election is November 4, 2014. The Auditor’s Office is open 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday and on Saturday, October 25th from 8 am until 5pm for residents to
register to vote.
 Registration forms can be obtained in person from the Plymouth County Auditor’s office at 215 4th Ave. SE, Le Mars, from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, or the Voter registration form can be downloaded at under Online Services and then County Forms and mailed to the Auditor’s office. 
 If you wish to have a voter registration form mailed to you, please contact the Auditor’s Office or if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Plymouth County Auditor’s Office at 712-546-6100.  Stacey Feldman is the Auditor and Commissioner of Election and Cheri Nitzschke is the Election Deputy.


Midwest Governors Meet With Japanese Trade Officials

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Governors from five Midwest states joined Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad on Monday in meetings with Japanese governors, officials, and company executives for the annual gathering of the Midwest U.S.-Japan Association.
     The group, founded in 1967, meets yearly to discuss the growth and progress of economic relations of the American Midwest and Japan.
     Governors from Nebraska, Missouri, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin planned to give speeches. The Japanese ambassador and the consulate general from Chicago attended the meeting.
     The speakers also included Kikkoman Corp. Honorary CEO Yuzaburo Mogi, who is credited with introducing soy sauce to the United States in 1959. He is the Japanese conference chairman.
     "The theme this year is building a robust and sustainable future," he said. "We hope this meeting will help identify and develop business opportunities for all of us."
     Mogi joined executives from Nippon Airways, Toshiba and Toyota at the conference to discuss continued trade, government and business relationships between the two countries.
     It is the 46th year the organization has met. Former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson, the U.S. conference chairman, said this year's goal is to find new synergies between the states highlighting growth in environmental industries and in the health and wellness sectors as the population of Japan and the U.S. states age.


Branstad Appoints McGovern To Worker's Compensation Commission

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad on Monday named an interim workers' compensation commissioner after the previous commissioner resigned amid a discrimination lawsuit against the governor.
     Michelle "Miki" McGovern is the acting workers' compensation commissioner effective immediately, Branstad said in a news release. She has served as a workers' compensation deputy commissioner for more than 25 years.
     The announcement comes just over a month after Christopher Godfrey resigned from the job. He sued Branstad and other state officials earlier in the year, claiming he was discriminated against for political reasons and because he's gay.
     Godfrey, who was appointed in 2006 by Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack and in 2009 by Democratic Gov. Chet Culver, was in the midst of a six-year term when he filed the lawsuit. In it, he claimed he was told to resign after Branstad was elected in 2010 or his salary would be cut. His pay went from $112,000 to $73,000, the lowest allowed.
     Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and aides defended the action by painting Godfrey as a poor commissioner who was hurting business. Godfrey said that wasn't true and called the state's workers' compensation climate stable under his watch.
     Godfrey is now chairman and chief judge of the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board in Washington.


Ames Parents Show Concern Over Poor School Bus Service

  AMES, Iowa (AP) - Some parents who have been complaining about late school buses or other bad service heard Ames district officials say they're not happy either.
     At Monday's school meeting, parents shared their concerns about buses that never arrive or bus drivers who seem lost and have to ask kids where their stops are. 
     Ames Superintendent Tim Taylor said that in his 23 years, it has been "one of the worst episodes relative to transportation, and it's totally unacceptable."
     School board members grilled executives from the bus service vendor, Durham School Services Co., of Warrenville, Illinois, for answers, said Des Moines television station KCCI ( ).
     "I want to apologize," said Durham's chief operating officer, Bob Ramsdell. 
     The company has done a poor job, he said, and it is bringing in more help and supervisors to fix the problems.


Des Moines Man Charged Witih Hate Crime After Dog Bites Man

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Des Moines resident was arrested and charged with a hate crime after his dog attacked another man, police say.
     Witnesses told police Sunday night that man later identified as Joshua Stoll and another man had stopped their car on East 41st Street and asked a bystander what he'd said to them as they drove by. The witnesses told police that Stoll then said to his dog, "Sic 'em, Rider," and the dog attacked the 24-year-old brother of the bystander, biting both of his arms.
     The witness said Stoll, who is white, called out racial slurs as his dog attacked the black man. 
     Stoll told police a man threw something at his car, so he and his friend stopped to ask what the man threw. The man called to his friends for help, and then they began assaulting Stoll and his friend, Stoll said. His dog jumped out of car and started biting one of the men who was assaulting Stoll, he told police. 
     Stoll was arrested and charged with assault in violation of individual rights and for violating violation, court records say. Under Iowa law, an assault in violation of individual rights is a hate crime. Polk County Jail records said Stoll remained in custody on Tuesday, pending $6,000 bail. Online court records don't list the name of his attorney. 
    His dog was taken into quarantine with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa, a police report said.





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