Thursday News, May 16
Accident Has Car Catch Fire
(Le Mars) -- A one vehicle roll-over accident occurred Wednesday afternoon at about 3:40 p.m. on Highway 3 near the Highway 75 by-pass causing the vehicle to burst in flames. According to a sheriff's report, 16 year old Thomas Toel of Le Mars was driving his vehicle traveling west on Highway 3 and started to loose control, when the driver over-compensated and ended up going to the south ditch when the vehicle hit some small boulders causing it to roll and become engulfed in flames. Toel was able to escape the burning vehicle with some assistance, but was transported to the Floyd Valley Hospital with what is thought to be non-life threatening injuries. The Le Mars Fire Department responded to extinguish the flames on the burning car. Also assisting at the scene was the Le Mars Police Department and the Iowa Highway Patrol. The Plymouth County Sheriff's Department is investigating the accident scene.
Westfield Drainage District Meeting Scheduled For Tonight
(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Supervisors along with the Plymouth County Engineer's office will again host a drainage district meeting. This week the focus is on the Westfield Drainage District. County Engineer Tom Rohe says tonight's meeting will be held at the Westfield Community Center and will begin at 5:30 p.m. The Westfield Drainage District contains about 200 parcels of land. Rohe says this week the focus will be to remove the unwanted trees within the drainage areas.
The Plymouth County Supervisors acting in the role of the district drainage board estimates the cost at approximately $60,000. Rohe explains what the local levy will be for landowners.
Bridge Repair Project Closes Road
(Le Mars) -- A bridge replacement project is scheduled to begin today causing the Plymouth County Secondary Roads Department to close 130th Street between county road K-22 and Hedge Avenue. The road is expected to remain closed until July 19th.
Bank Warns Customers Of Another Scam
(Le Mars) -- Local bank officials are warning their customers of yet another phishing scam. This time around instead of a phone call or voice message telling the customer that their ATM card has been deactivated, customers are being notified via text messaging on their cell phone. American Bank of Le Mars and Remsen have been informed that some of their customers have had such text messages sent to them. Bank officials again emphasize that the messages are not coming from the local bank, and in fact the messages are not true. Customers are encouraged to ignore the message and not to respond to the listed phone number. Banks officials are telling their customers to never reveal any personal information regarding bank accounts. Customers that have questions can contact American Bank.
Gehlen Catholic Announces Its Valedictorian and Salutatorian
(Le Mars) -- Gehlen Catholic High School has announced this year's Valedictorian and Salutatorian from the senior class. Maggie Dickman, the daughter of Stewart and and Donna Dickman is the Valedictorian while Andrew Lipp, the son of Christopher and Linda Lipp has been selected as the Salutatorian. Both seniors will speak at Sunday's graduation ceremonies.
Late Start To Planting Means More Farm Equipment On Roads
(Le Mars) -- With corn planting having a late start this year, farmers are scrambling from field to field, which means more farm equipment on the roads and highways. Iowa State University extension crops specialist Joel DeJong reminds motorists to be especially aware of the slower moving, and often times, larger and wider equipment.
Levin Murder Trial To Move From Sac City To Fort Dodge
SAC CITY, Iowa (AP) - The trial of a northwest Iowa man accused of killing his mother and kidnapping another woman has been moved to a courtroom nearly 50 miles away.
A judge on Tuesday granted a change of venue request for 21-year-old Kirk Levin's trial. It will be moved from Sac City in Sac County to Fort Dodge in Webster County. Levin's attorney
requested the change based on extensive media coverage in the county and surrounding counties.
The Sioux City Journal reports (http://bit.ly/YWw4HN ) Levin's trial is scheduled to begin on June 3. He is charged with first-degree murder and third-degree kidnapping.
Prosecutors say Levin repeatedly stabbed Marilyn Schmitt in Early on Jan. 3, then kidnapped a 21-year-old woman. She later escaped.
Levin had been released from prison days earlier after serving time for burglary.
Lawmakers Approve Administrative Budget
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State lawmakers have approved about $55 million in spending for state administrative and regulatory agencies.
Lawmakers in both the Senate and House approved the budget plan Wednesday. It passed Iowa House 89-6 and the state Senate 26-19.
The budget will next move to the governor for approval.
Lawmakers settled on the final budget figure in a joint committee made up of legislators from both chambers and parties.
The general fund spending for the next fiscal year is about $2 million more than this fiscal year's budget. The budget also includes spending from other funds.
The plan includes budgets for the governor's office, the Public Information Board, Treasurer of the State, Secretary of the State and departments of human rights, inspection and appeals, management, and revenue.
Economic Development Budget Is Approved
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Legislature has approved a $41 million compromise economic development budget.
The House and Senate both easily approved the plan Wednesday. It funds the Department of Cultural Affairs, Iowa Workforce Development, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Iowa
Finance Authority and the Public Employment Relations Board.
The budget is $31 million under what Republican Gov. Terry Branstad proposed. That's because leadership has decided to move some budget items into a different fund paid by gaming revenue.
Those items include a jobs program that provides tax incentives for businesses, and economic development programs for the regent universities.
The budget will move to the governor next for approval.
Legislature Reaches Compromise On Justice Budget
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa legislators have approved a compromise budget plan for the state justice system.
On Wednesday, lawmakers in the state House and Senate approved $547 million in spending that largely goes to prisons and public safety.
The budget plan is an increase over the spending in the current fiscal year. It is more than the $534 million proposed by the House and less than the $560 million pushed by the Senate.
It includes some of the funding sought by Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller to regionalize state domestic abuse and sexual assault assistance. Miller wants to shut down some domestic abuse shelters
and hire more advocates to assist victims. Miller had wanted $6 million and the plan offers nearly $4 million.
Next, the plan moves to the governor's office.
U-S Geological Services To Shut Down Stream Gages
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The U.S. Geological Service says it will shut down three stream gages in Iowa due to federal budget cuts.
The agency announced Wednesday it would shut down the gages on the West Fork Cedar River at Finchford, the Des Moines River at Humboldt and the East Fork 102 River at Bedford.
The move was prompted by automatic federal spending cuts that have required reductions by most federal agencies.
The monitors are used to measure stream flows and warn of possible flooding.
The USGS says the three gages were chosen because their shutdown
would have limited impacts on other organizations and were least
likely to affect public safety.
Iowa State University Researchers Trying To Build A Better Wind Generator Turbine
AMES, Iowa (AP) - Engineers at Iowa State University are working on a way to make wind turbine towers taller by building them from concrete instead of the steel currently used.
Increasing tower height to about 328 feet from the current 260 feet would mean steadier less turbulent wind conditions and longer turbine blades. ISU Professor Sri Sritharan says those changes
could increase energy production by 15 percent.
He says the work he's done with engineering graduate student Grant Schmitz and other engineers at Iowa State shows towers made of precast concrete panels and columns withstand necessary
He says the concrete towers would last longer than steel towers and would be easier to transport.
A $109,000 Grow Iowa Values Fund grant from the state helped fund the research which is ongoing.