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Wednesday News, July 10

Floyd Valley Hospital Holds Public Hearing

(Le Mars) -- Only one person appeared last evening for the Floyd Valley Hospital public hearing regarding the new addition.  Lois Bauer of Kingsley appeared before the board of trustees with questions regarding the new proposed facility. She asked to have the project manager and architect present the proposal for the new addition, which is estimated to cost more than $25 million. Larry Peterson, a hospital trustee, informed the trustees that he has heard a great deal of support coming from the community approving the proposed addition.  Peterson made the motion to approve the addition project, with Trustee Bill Young seconding the motion.  The hospital trustees unanimously voted to approve the project.  Bids will now be accepted with bid letting to be announced sometime around September 21st.

Law Enforcement Officials Conduct Active Shooter Training

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Sheriff's Department along with officers from each of the Plymouth County communities and the Conservation Board are participating in an active shooter training seminar today using the Clark Elementary School as the scenario of an active shooter.  Le Mars Police Officer Jeff Cramer is conducting the special training and explains the most likely of places where an active shooter may be located.

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Officer Cramer says the purpose of the training is so each law enforcement official knows exactly how to proceed in a building and secure it, and take down the shooter or shooters.

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Cramer says some students from Le Mars Community volunteered to role play in the scenario offering the officers assistance with their training.

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Hampton Inn and Casey's General Store To Build In Orange City

(Orange City) -- The Orange City Development Corporation announced on Tuesday two significant projects designed to contribute to economic growth, residential and visitor services, and tourism for the community and northwest Iowa.  The first project is the development and construction of a new $6.2 million Hampton Inn hotel adjacent to the $4 million Prairie Winds Event Center that opened last summer on Highway 10 east.  The three-story, 60-room hotel will serve the needs of visitors, businesses, and tourists to the town of 6,000.  The Hampton Inn will include an indoor pool, breakfast area, and other important amenities.  Orange City Development Corporation vice president Marty Guthmiller says "a recognized hotel brand like Hampton will perfectly complement the event center. 
Together, the event center and hotel will enhance the "destination" aspect of our community, boosting our ability to host a variety of corporate and private events and meeting the needs of both residents and visitors.

The second announcement involved the acquisition of a 44,000 square foot site, also on Highway 10 east, by Casey's General Stores.  The Dutch Colony Inn now sits on the property. The OCDC purchased the property with the portion of the site sold to Casey's for the construction of a new 4,200 square foot store.


Sioux City Manager Being Sued For Sexual Harassment

(Sioux City) --  Sioux City Manager Paul Eckert is being sued by a city employee for sexual harassment.  Britany Scott filed the lawsuit in federal court Tuesday morning.  Mayor Bob Scott says Eckert remains on duty as City Manager.  Brittany Scott, no relation to the mayor, is asking for unspecified monetary and punitive damages and wants the city manager to be fired.  Court documents state that Brittany Scott claims the sexual harassment began in the fall of 2000, after she was divorced.  She also claims Eckert created a hostile work environment and he retaliated against her in reduced pay and benefits when she rejected his alleged advances.  Scott also claims she was denied promotions and given undesirable assignments.  Mayor Scott says no one to his knowledge has asked for Eckert to resign.  The mayor says he expects Eckert to continue to manage the city until the legal process plays out.


Former Bremer County Recorder Given Probation

WAVERLY, Iowa (AP) - A former Bremer County recorder who admitted stealing office funds has been given up to three years of probation.
59-year-old Donna Ellison had faced up to seven years in prison when she was sentenced on Monday. Ellison was given the probation and a deferred judgment and was ordered to pay restitution of at least $524. Under the deferred judgment, the convictions will be removed from Ellison's record if she successfully completes probation.
Ellison pleaded guilty in May to misconduct in office and third-degree theft. Authorities say Ellison took the money between May 2012 and February 2013 and altered records to disguise the
Ellison had been Bremer County's recorder since 1995.


Mason City Farmer Pleads Guilty To Loan Fraud

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A Mason City man has been sentenced to federal prison after pleading guilty to making a false statement related to farm loans.
U.S. District Court Judge Linda Reade sentenced 41-year-old Raymond A. Schaefer to two years in prison, and he was ordered to make about $370,000 in restitution to MidWestOne Bank and the Farm
Service Agency.
Schaefer pleaded guilty in March, when he admitted to making false statements to creditors in 2008 to cover up that he'd lost a large amount of money by gambling.
Schaefer was released and will surrender to the U.S. Marshals Service on July 29.


Secretary Of State To Re-write Voter Registration Form

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Secretary of State's Office will rewrite its new voter registration form after complaints that it could confuse people and prompt them not to register.
The secretary of state legal counsel Charlie Smithson said Tuesday his office agreed with concerns raised by the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.
The ACLU had argued the new form gave the impression registrants must provide a driver's license or identification card number and their Social Security card in order to register. State law actually requires a Social Security number only if registrants don't have a state-issued identification.
Smithson says the Voter Registration Commission will rescind rules enacting the new form, which was set to become an official state document on Aug. 1.

Disciplinary Action Withdrawn For U Of I Doctor

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Regulators have withdrawn disciplinary action against a University of Iowa doctor whose attorney says she was unfairly accused of abusing alcohol.
The Iowa Board of Medicine last month abandoned disciplinary cases against Wendy Smoker it filed in 2011 and 2012.
The step came after an appeals court blasted the board in May for mishandling allegations that Smoker, a recovering alcoholic, had resumed drinking. The court said the board conducted a
"blatantly subpar investigation" and unfairly sanctioned Smoker despite no evidence that her ability to practice medicine was compromised by a 2009 relapse in which she drank wine at a
professional dinner.
The Iowa Supreme Court let the ruling stand.
Smoker's attorney, David Brown, said Tuesday the board will have to pay back more than $12,000 in settlements and court costs.







Tuesday News, July 9

Plymouth County Law Enforcement To Hold Training Session

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Sheriff's Department along with other law enforcement agencies will be conducting an active shooter training today at the Clark Elementary School located at 201 2nd Avenue Northwest in Le Mars.  The training session will start at 8:00 a.m. and continue until 5:00 p.m.  This notice is to notify residents living in the area that if you see officers in the vicinity, that it is only a training exercise.


Hemmingson Files For School Board Election

(Le Mars) -- Incumbent District 3 director, Mark Hemmingson, is the first to have returned his nomination papers to the school secretary for the upcoming September 10, 2013 Board of Education election.  Hemmingson was elected to a four-year term in the fall of 2011, but he must stand for election again this year for the remainder of his term due to re-districting that moved incumbent District 2 director, Cris Collins, just inside the newly drawn District 3 lines.  The Le Mars Community School District has 7 directors total, of which 2 are elected to serve "at large" and 5 who are elected to represent one of five director
All directors are elected at large, but the directors representing a director district must reside in the director district which they are elected to represent while serving on the school board.


Auto Dealership Expands Into Akron

(Le Mars) -- A local auto dealership has purchased Dirk's Motors of Akron.  Total Sales and Service of Le Mars has acquired the Akron dealership starting July 2nd.  The new name of the car dealership in Akron will be known as Total Motors.  The details of the transaction of the two dealerships has not been disclosed at this time.


Floyd Valley Hospital To Hold Public Hearing On Expansion Addition Project

(Le Mars) -- Floyd Valley Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing this evening regarding the plans and specifications, contract, and estimate of costs for the Floyd Valley Hospital North Addition Expansion project.  That hearing is set for 6:00 p.m. at the board room of the Floyd Valley Hospital.  The projected estimate for the new expansion is $25 million with an anticipated completion in 2015.


Supervisors To Meet On Tuesday

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Board of Supervisors are scheduled to meet this morning at the Courthouse Board room.  The Supervisors will hear reports from Shaun Olson regarding the removal of the communications tower from the courthouse roof.  County recorder JoLynn Goodchild will offer an update for the quarterly report.  The county governing board will hear from Plymouth County Emergency Management Director Gary Junge and from Simpco representatives as they review for approval a multi-jurisdictional plan.  The supervisors will also hear from County Engineer Tom Rohe.


IPTV's Dan Wardell To Appear At Le Mars Public Library

(Le Mars) -- Iowa Public Television's Dan Wardell is scheduled to appear at the Le Mars Public Library this morning for two sessions with children.  Wardell is a spokesperson for children's programming and often travels through out the state promoting good habits for children such as reading, correct nutritional snacks and excercise.  The two sessions are scheduled for 10 and 11 a.m.


Sioux City Man Sentenced For Robbing Bank

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sioux City man has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for robbing a bank. 27-year-old Johnnie Hawkins Jr.was sentenced Monday on one count of bank robbery. Hawkins pleaded guilty in March as part of a deal that dropped several firearms charges. Authorities say Hawkins displayed a handgun as he confronted an employee opening a Heritage Bank in November. A federal indictment says he left the bank with nearly $6,000, which was later recovered.


Sioux City Council Votes To Eliminate Glass Recycling

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The City Council has taken its first official step toward eliminating curbside glass recycling in Sioux City.

The council gave its first-round approval to a measure that would end the current practice. Two more council approvals are needed for the measure to take effect.

Plastic, aluminum cans and paper still will be accepted. The city's Environment Advisory Board made the recommendation in May. The board said glass had declined in value, making its processing impractical without passing higher costs to residents.

Residents will be encouraged to cash in bottles for refunds.


Two State Senators Want To Investigate Wellmark-Blue Cross Blue Shield

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two state senators want Iowa to investigate whether the state's dominant health insurer really needs $1.3 billion in reserves.

Sens. Jack Hatch and Matt McCoy, both Des Moines Democrats, are skeptical about Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield's reserves because Wellmark has decided against participating next year in the state's health insurance exchange.

Wellmark did not respond to a request for comment.

Hatch delivered a letter Monday to Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart, asking for the investigation. Hatch says state regulations require the insurer to have reserves of only $350 million.

Gerhart said last month he might investigate Wellmark's need for the large reserve if the company didn't take the risk of entering the exchange.



CoOpportunitiy Health Formed To Offer Statewide Health Insurance Coverage

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new health care cooperative says it is working to offer Iowans two insurance plans that rely on a specific hospital network.

CoOportunity Health says Monday that they have partnered with the University of Iowa Health Alliance to create the plans. They hope to offer the plans to state residents shopping on the new online insurance exchanges, as well as those seeking insurance through other channels.

The Alliance includes over 50 hospitals and more than 160 clinics across the state. CoOportunity will market these plans in more than 75 percent of the state's counties.

CoOportunity Health is a nonprofit established to provide health care in Iowa and Nebraska. It has applied to participate in Iowa's insurance exchange. CoOportunity CEO David Lyons says they will also offer plans with wider coverage.


State Representative Tyler Olson Schedules Campaign Stops

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Democratic State Rep. Tyler Olson, who has been considering a bid for governor in 2014, has scheduled a series of campaign announcements for Tuesday.

The 37-year-old Cedar Rapids Democrat has scheduled events in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Mason City.

Olson recently stepped down from his role as Democratic Party chairman to focus on his political future. He is serving his fourth term in the state House.

Republican Gov. Terry Branstad has not announced if he will run again next year, though he is fundraising and adding staff to his campaign operation.

On the Democratic side, state Sen. Jack Hatch, of Des Moines, is exploring a run for governor.









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