Thursday News, March 28
Union Pacific To Repair Central Avenue Rail Crossing
(Le Mars) -- Le Mars city officials have announced the Union Pacific Railroad will be repairing two broken or flawed rails on the Central Avenue crossing. The repairs are scheduled to occur today (Thursday). The southbound lane will be closed with only the northbound lane open. Central Avenue's southbound lane will be closed starting at 9:00 a.m. and work is expected to be completed the today.
Le Mars Mainstreet Receives High Marks
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Mainstreet organization was given high marks following an evaluation by state government officials. Thom Guzman of the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the entity that oversees the state's 49 different Mainstreet programs, says the Le Mars Mainstreet program has been making great strides during its 18 years of existence.
Guzman cited a few specific examples of how Le Mars Mainstreet has made progress.
The Director of Iowa Downtown Resource Center says Le Mars has several ambitious goals in mind, but what it lacks is a proper fund raising financial plan in order to see the goals become reality. But Guzman had compliments for the town on its branding image saying we are the ice cream capital of the world. Guzman says in the beginning it had no meaning since the people of Le Mars were not illustrating the point. He says it is noticeably different today.
Le Mars Mainstreet Coordinator Mary Reynolds explains why the evaluation visits are important to the Mainstreet program.
Easter Egg Hunt Scheduled for Saturday At Cleveland Park
(Le Mars) -- 15,000 eggs, that's right- 15 THOUSAND! That's how many Easter treats will be hidden around Cleveland Park for the 3rd Annual BoDeans Baking Group and the Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce Main Street Program Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday morning.
Mary Reynolds, Main Street Program Director, says the event keeps getting bigger every year.
It takes about 40 volunteers to get all 15,000 eggs hidden, and if you'd like to be a part of it, just show up at the park around 9am Saturday morning.
Reynolds said that the actual hunting of the Easter Eggs begins at 11am, and that the Easter Bunny will be arrival prior to the hunt.
The event is free of charge as all prizes are being provided by Le Mars area business that donated candy and prizes to fill the eggs.
Eggs should be opened at the park, as some prize certificates need to be redeemed on-site. Again, participation is open to 2-6 year olds, and everyone should bring their own baskets for egg pick-up at the 3rd Annual BoDeans Baking Group and the Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce Main Street Program Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday morning. The Easter Bunny will be arriving to Cleveland Park at 10 and the hunt begins at 11.
Sioux City Man Sentenced 20 Years For Bank Robbery
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sioux City man faces up to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to bank robbery.
Federal prosecutors say 27-year-old Johnnie Hawkins, of Sioux City, entered his plea Wednesday in federal court in Sioux City.
Prosecutors say Hawkins brandished a stolen .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun on Nov. 10 when he robbed the Heritage Bank in Sioux City. Prosecutors say Hawkins had confronted and threatened an employee while she was opening the bank. He got away with nearly $6,000.
Hawkins' sentencing date hasn't been set.
Inmate Dies In Woodbury County Jail
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Authorities are investigating the death of an inmate at a county jail in western Iowa.
The Woodbury County Sheriff's Office says 35-year-old Anthony Josta of Sioux City was found unconscious Tuesday night in his cell at the Woodbury County Jail. Authorities do not suspect suicide or
Jail officials say they found Josta alone in his cell. The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is looking into the death, which is a normal procedure.
An autopsy is scheduled Thursday at the Iowa State Medical Examiner's Office in Ankeny.
Josta had been jailed since Saturday after being arrested on a warrant for contempt of court.
Convicted Murderer May Have Sentence Commuted
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Supporters of an inmate serving life in prison for a 1974 murder are urging Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to commute his sentence so he can be released, and even the victim's
family members say they've forgiven him.
The statements came Wednesday during a public hearing called by Branstad to gather input on whether he should commute the sentence of 66-year-old Rasberry Williams, which the Iowa Board of Parole has recommended.
Branstad has until early May to decide. Commuting the sentence would allow Williams to become eligible for parole after 38 years in prison for the murder of 40-year-old Lester Givhan outside a
Three former inmates who served with Williams credited him with helping them turn their lives around. Two of Givhan's cousins say the family has forgiven Williams.
Tax Preparer Awaits Trial
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - An eastern Iowa tax preparer has been released from custody while he awaits trial on charges that he helped taxpayers falsely claim business income.
Keith A. Rath of Shellsburg was arrested last week by IRS agents after a grand jury indicted him on 8 counts of aiding in the preparation and presentation of a false tax return.
The indictment claims that on 8 occasions between 2008 and 2010, Rath helped clients falsely claim thousands of dollars in business income that he knew they did not earn.
Rath has pleaded not guilty to the charges and trial has been scheduled for May 20. A judge has ordered Rath not to have any contact with the taxpayers mentioned in the indictment in the
Branstad To Meet With Sixth Graders For Mansion Tour
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad will meet with Iowa students whose White House tour was canceled due to automatic federal budget cuts.
Branstad on Thursday is scheduled to welcome students from St. Paul's Lutheran School in Waverly to the state Capitol and the governor's mansion, Terrace Hill. Branstad will give them the tours
of the mansion and his offices.
The sixth-graders' White House visit was canceled when tours were suspended due to across-the-board government spending cuts amid partisan budget battles.
The students posted a video on Facebook asking that tours be reinstated, but they couldn't enter the White House during a trip earlier this month.
Republicans have argued money should be shifted to restore tours, but the White House says stopping the tours prevented more furloughs of Secret Service agents.
Branstad Charts Different Course On Education
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - As his Republican peers in other states search for ways to cut public school funding, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is charting a different course. He's doubling down on
Branstad was elected in 2010 as part of a resurgent GOP. But he's made proposals many Republicans would sneer at: raising minimum teacher salaries and offering incentive pay for teachers
who take on more responsibilities - all by tapping $187 million in new school funding.
It's an approach that reflects the lives of Iowa families, who send nearly all of their children to public schools and have felt deeply connected to local districts for generations.
The governor wants to address falling test scores. And he says he's willing to invest more resources if it can be done "in an intelligent way."
Teenage Drivers Face Tougher Rules
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's teen drivers would face tougher rules under a bill that passed the Senate.
Senators approved the legislation in a 41-8 vote Wednesday. Under the plan from Democratic Senator Tod Bowman, drivers under the age of 18 would need to hold a learner's permit for a full year
before getting a license.
Teen drivers also would not be able to transport more than one unrelated minor, unless they are with a parent, guardian or driving instructor, for the first six months they hold a license.
Parents could sign a waiver so the passenger rules would not apply to their kids.
Bowman says teen drivers are far more accident-prone than older motorists.
The bill now moves the House where lawmakers must provide approval.