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Tuesday News, March 12

School Board Approves Resolution Calling For Four Percent Funding

(Le Mars) -- During last evening's Le Mars Community School Board meeting, the board approved a resolution directed towards the state legislature, calling for a four percent increase in the allowable growth rate for funding the Le Mars Community School District.  School officials across the state are frustrated with the delay illustrated by the state legislature to approve an educational funding bill.  School districts are required by law to submit their certified budgets no later than April 15th.  However, many feel as though the state legislature will fail to approve an educational funding bill by that date. 
Superintendent of schools, Dr. Todd Wendt informed the school board that many school districts across the state were taking up similar action by passing resolutions asking the state legislature to approve a four percent increase.  He says it is critical, not only for the Le Mars Community School District, but others as well, to have a four percent allowable growth.
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Dr. Wendt also explained to the local school board what the difference would be between a two percent allowable growth rate, a three percent allowable growth, and the four percent rate. 

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In other action taken by the school board last evening, the board approved several modifications to the school policy.


County Supervisors To Approve Applications For Property Tax Exemptions

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors have a light agenda before them for
today's meeting.  The county governing board is expected to review and approve applications for impoundment structure property tax exemption for tax fiscal year 2013-2014.  They will also hear from Steve Westhoff who is seeking approval of a minor subdivision in section 24 of Preston township, and finally Tom Rohe, the county engineer is scheduled to appear before the board to ask for a resolution for weight embargo for Marble Avenue.

Le Mars Home Show Scheduled To Begin Today

(Le Mars) -- This afternoon at 4:00 p.m. the Le Mars Home Show opens at the Le Mars Convention Center.  The home show features over 80 exhibitors and will fill both levels of the Convention Center.  The home show is sponsored by KLEM radio and our parent company Powell Broadcasting, and tonight we will pay tribute to Denny Callahan for his 40 years of sports broadcasting at KLEM radio.  Admission to the home show is just one dollar.

Senate Democrats Look For Courtney's Return

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Senate Democrats are hopeful a Burlington lawmaker will return soon to the Iowa Statehouse, just weeks after undergoing heart bypass surgery.
Democrat Sen. Tom Courtney has been recuperating since his operation on Feb. 28 and told The Des Moines Register he hoped to return to the Legislature on Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal says he doesn't know when Courtney will return but plans to fill the debate calendar with "non-controversial bills" until that time.
When Courtney gets back to work, he'll give Democrats the 26-24 edge over Republicans that's needed to approve bills on party-line votes.
Gronstal says there are plenty of votes that don't require all 26 Democratic votes. On Monday, for example, senators unanimously passed 14 of 15 bills.

Pre-school Children Bill Calls For Regular Attendance

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa House has approved legislation that would require children enrolled in the state's voluntary preschool program to attend regularly.
Lawmakers approved the bill Monday, which would make 4-year-olds in the program subject to compulsory attendance rules.
The bill would not lower the mandatory attendance age, and parents could choose to withdraw their children from the classes.
Supporters say the bill ensures children enrolled in the preschool classes are taking advantage of the opportunity.
Iowa's preschool program was established in 2007 under former Gov. Chet Culver. More than 20,000 kids were enrolled in the program in the 2011-2012 school year, and 320 districts received
program funding.
The bill now moves to the state Senate for review.

Renewable Energy Company Lays Off 40 Workers

WEST BRANCH, Iowa (AP) - An international renewable energy company is laying off 40 workers at its wind turbine plant in eastern Iowa.
Acciona announced Monday that a reduction at its West Branch facility was necessary because of a sharp decline in U.S. wind development over the past year.
The Iowa City Press-Citizen ( ) says the company laid off nearly 60 employees at the same facility about four years ago. Officials at the time called it a short-term issue.
The newspaper reports Iowa has about 6,000 jobs in the wind energy industry. But some experts say a spar last year between federal lawmakers over whether to extend a wind energy tax credit
hurt the industry. The tax break was later extended.
Acciona is a subsidiary of the Acciona group, a company headquartered in Spain.

Nobel Prize Winner To Address Iowa State University

AMES, Iowa (AP) - The 2011 winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry will speak at Iowa State University Wednesday about using technological entrepreneurship as a tool for world development.
Danny Shechtman, an Iowa State engineering professor and a research scientist will speak at the university's memorial union great hall at noon Wednesday.
His lecture will focus on ideas about building up developing countries by motivating new generations of students in technological entrepreneurship. He says one way to speed up the process is motivating today's engineers and scientists in developing countries to establish startups and eventually mentor
the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Shechtman won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of quasicrystals, crystalline materials whose atoms don't line up like other crystals. The discovery changed ideas about matter and its atomic arrangement.

Wastewater Treatment Facility Fails - - Dumps Waste Into Creek

FAIRFIELD, Iowa (AP) - Officials say several wastewater stations in southeast Iowa failed and discharged wastewater, including nearly 460,000 gallons into a creek.
The state Department of Natural Resources says Fairfield's new computerized wastewater system shut down and bypassed the water Sunday into Crow Creek. Two wastewater stations in Keokuk each
bypassed 150 gallons Sunday when a fallen tree hit a power line and cut electricity.
Officials advise people and their pets in Fairfield to stay away from the creek area for 24 hours. In Keokuk, one of the bypasses reached the Mississippi River but diluted.
A backup system is running the Fairfield facility. A computer expert is investigating the cause behind the new system shutdown.
Officials say rain and snowmelt are overwhelming collection systems and causing similar incidents in other southeast Iowa cities.

Glenwood Principal Leaves School After Questionable Actions

GLENWOOD, Iowa (AP) - A high school principal has made a deal with administrators and resigned her post in western Iowa.
Kerry Newman's resignation was accepted by the Glenwood school board on Monday night.
Newman had been on leave since Jan. 18 from her job at Glenwood Community High School. The board had cited four reasons for seeking her ouster: an inappropriate relationship with a district employee, poor judgment, inappropriate use of resources and being an ineffective role model. Newman had said the allegations are false.
As part of the deal, the district will pay Newman $40,000 and give her access to some of her work while she was principal. Newman and the district agree not to disparage each other.






Monday Afternoon News, March 11

Road Crews Slowly Clearing Highways From Snow Storm

(Le Mars) -- Road crews in northwest Iowa are slowly making some progress on clearing the highways that were 100 percent snow and ice packed earlier this morning.  U-S Highways 10, 20 and 30 were all reported to be blocked earlier today.  The Iowa Department of Transportation reported that Highway 20 between Moville and state Highway 110 that goes to Schaller was blocked and impassable.  Towing is prohibited.  Highway 59 between Denison and Holstein is blocked and the route is impassable.  Again, towing services are prohibited.  There are warnings of white out conditions. There have been reports of eleven to 12 inches of snow stretching between Oto in Woodbury County, to Fort Dodge. Snow removal operations were temporarily suspended earlier today due to hazardous weather conditions.    Highways I-29, 75, 60, 3, 18, 71, and 9 in northwest Iowa are still considered either to be wet or partially snow and ice covered.  The Iowa DOT says some roads have only one lane open due to the blowing snow.  

Iowa State Patrol Trooper Vince Kurtz says motorist still need to use caution when traveling today.

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As mentioned, conditions are improving, but Kurtz says if you get stranded, the best thing to do is stay with your vehicle.

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School Board To Consider Resolution Calling For 4% Allowable Growth

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education is scheduled to meet this evening.  The state legislature has been slow to enact funding provisions for school districts, and as a result, the local school board will consider a resolution directed toward the state legislature calling for a four percent annual allowable growth rate.  The school board will also review the budget timeline. 

Spencer Woman Injured From House Fire

SPENCER, Iowa (AP) - A Spencer woman has been hospitalized after a fire at her home in northwest Iowa.
Authorities say the blaze was reported just after 6:30 a.m. Saturday. The occupant, Carolann Fullerton, was taken to Spencer Hospital for observation of possible smoke inhalation.
Investigators say the fire began in a bathroom, but they haven't determined the cause. Damage to the building and contents was estimated at $60,000.


Vaudt Says Branstad's Budget Is Fiscally Sound

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State Auditor David Vaudt says Gov. Terry Branstad's budget proposals are the most fiscally sound he's seen in a decade.
Vaudt on Monday provided his review of Branstad's plans for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. He praises the governor for nearly eliminating the use of one-time money for ongoing expenses and says
the plan spends less than the projected incoming revenues.
Vaudt, a Republican, says there are potential pressures on the budget. He says the governor and lawmakers must determine how to pay for a new contract for state union workers, as well as any
increase in general school funding.
Vaudt also notes the state should expect further reductions to federal funding and must continue efforts to shore up the state pension system, which is currently 80 percent funded.


Branstad Pushes His Property Tax Reform Package

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says his plan to cut commercial property taxes will benefit towns across Iowa.
Branstad brought local government officials who support the proposal to his weekly news conference Monday at the state Capitol.
Branstad's $350 million plan would gradually reduce taxable assessments for commercial property owners by 20 percent and would slow the growth of residential and agricultural assessments.
Funding would be provided to local governments to make up lost
Senate Democrats have given committee-level approval to a plan that would gradually provide commercial property owners with a tax credit equivalent to a roughly 40 percent tax cut on their first
$324,000 in assessed property value. Under their $250 million proposal, the credits would not be funded in weak budget years.


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