Wednesday News, February 19
City Council Goes Back And Forth On Proposed Pedestrian Bridge
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council discussed the Iowa 3 West pedestrian trail and bridge going back and forth with their decision as to whether to proceed or not. The council had five bids for the project to consider. However, each of the five bids were more than the council was willing to spend. The lowest bid was for $246,153 submitted by Peterson Contractors, Inc. The city's own estimate for the project was slightly more than $204,000. The city would receive a grant to help finance the project. The grant would cover up to $160,000. The city would have to finance the remainder cost above the $160,000. Councilwoman Delana Ihrke questioned whether the contractor would be willing to negotiate a contract bid that would be lower.
Councilman John Rexwinkle showed concern because he believes the final cost would be higher than the initial estimates.
Councilman Ken Nelson reminded the council that the city financed other pedestrian bridges located on the recreation trail without grant assistance.
Nelson believes the area will someday in the future see growth and development.
The council initially voted down the project on a 3-2 vote, but City administrator Scott Langel asked the council to reconsider their vote.
He wondered what was the wishes of the council, to reject the entire project, to reject the submitted bids, or to proceed with the lowest contractor bid and hopefully renegotiate a better bid by eliminating some of the provisions of the project? In the end, the council voted 3 to 2 in favor of accepting the bid submitted by Peterson Contractors with the hope of reducing the final cost.
Police Department Submits Annual Report
(Le Mars) -- In other action during the city council meeting, the Police Department, Public Works Department, and the Code Enforcement and Building Department submitted their annual reports. Le Mars Police Chief Stuart Dekkenga delivered the police department's report. He informed the city council that thefts and burglaries were up from last year. Total accidents were down 27 from the previous year. The Police Department made 4389 arrests with 58 juvenile arrests, which was down 33 arrests from 2012. The police investigated a total of 4205 complaints in 2013, which was 48 fewer than in 2012.
Fire And Rescue Department And County Dive And Search Team To Perform Joint Training
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department along with the Plymouth County Dive and Search team will coordinate a joint training session scheduled for this evening. The water rescue training will begin at 6:00 p.m. The water rescue training will be held at the Le Mars Municipal Park pond. Emergency vehicles, along with several people will be gathered around the water observing the training.
County Supervisors Appoint Sitzmann As New County Treasurer
(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors appointed Shelly Sitzmann as as the new Plymouth County Treasurer during their weekly meeting. Sitzmann will immediately assume the duties as Linda Dobson has retired. Sitzmann formerly was the Senior Operations Officer with the American Bank of Le Mars. The County Supervisors also approved a resolution calling for the increase the state fuel tax rates by 10 cents, over a period of no less than three years, resulting in an estimated $184 million to $230 million of additional annual revenue. The resolution also calls for the increase of new registration fees from five percent to six percent, raising the fee to a level consistent with the state sales tax, resulting in an estimated $50 million of additional annual revenue. The final component of the resolution is to allocate new funding to go to the TIME-21 fund and the remaining new funding should be distributed consistent with the Road Use Tax Fund distribution formula. The supervisors have joined other county supervisors in signing the resolution in hopes the money will be allocated to improving the state's infrastructure of repairing roads and bridges.
Three Teen Deaths Attributed To Synthetic Marijuana Use
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say three young Iowans died last year after using a new kind of synthetic marijuana.
The Governor's Office of Drug Control Policy disclosed the deaths Tuesday.
Office Director Steve Lukan called the news a demonstration that the "quick-changing products are unsafe" and the need to educate people about their danger.
Officials say those who died were in their late teens through late 20s. Officials wouldn't provide details about the deaths.
The Iowa Poison Control Center says those who died had used a compound called 5F-PB-22. Although it's hard to prove the drug was the sole cause of death, it was in the systems of those who died.
The compound is the latest of many synthetic marijuana products, often known as spice or K2.
Lawmakers Discuss "Texting While Driving" Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa lawmakers have granted initial approval of a bill that would further crack down on texting while driving.
A three-member Senate transportation subcommittee unanimously approved the measure Tuesday. It goes to the full Senate Transportation Committee on Thursday.
Current law prohibits texting while driving, but police can only enforce the law if they notice the violation after pulling a person over for another infraction, such as speeding. Under the bill, officers could stop a person specifically for suspected texting while driving, regardless of whether there is another violation.
Democratic Sen. Tod Bowman, who sponsored the bill, says dangers associated with texting while driving need to be further addressed. Republican Sen. Tim Kapucian says the bill would reduce those dangers by bringing attention to the issue.
Legislators Talk About Land Access For New Power Lines
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Lawmakers in the Iowa House are advancing legislation that would change the approval process to construct new power lines.
A House subcommittee approved the bill, which will move to the Judiciary Committee. The legislation is a response to opposition to the proposed Rock Island Clean Line.
The transmission line would deliver wind-generated electricity from northwest Iowa to markets in Illinois. The project may have to take land by eminent domain to install the power lines through 16 Iowa counties.
The proposed legislation would establish a new approval process for lines that deliver direct power and exceed 500 miles. If 5 percent of landowners were subject to eminent domain, the developer would have to draw two alternate routes.
Fewer Deer Were Harvested In Past Year
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The number of deer taken by hunters in Iowa last year fell below 100,000 for the first time since the mid-1990s. It's the eighth straight year the deer harvest has declined in Iowa.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says hunters reported 99,406 deer for the 2013 season, a decline of 14 percent from 2012 and 34 percent from the high in 2006. The 2012 deer harvest was 115,606.
The harvest data will be considered when the department begins discussing hunting seasons later this winter.
Deer hunters purchased 359,956 licenses last year, nearly 18,500 fewer than in 2012.
Humboldt Stand-off Ends Peacefully
HUMBOLDT, Iowa (AP) - An armed man has surrendered peacefully after holding officers at bay for 90 minutes inside a northern Iowa restaurant.
The Humboldt Police Department says 34-year-old Adolfo Flores is charged with two counts of false imprisonment, domestic assault and two weapons counts. Online court records don't list the name of his attorney.
Officers were sent to Lomitas Mexican Restaurant in Humboldt around 4 p.m. Tuesday because someone had reported that an armed man had entered and taken hostages. Police say the hostages were soon released and that Flores was talked into surrendering by 5:30 p.m.
No injuries have been reported.