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Saturday Afternoon News, February 2

Anderson and Soderberg Hold Legislative Forum

(Le Mars) -- Nearly twenty people attended a legislative forum held at the Le Mars Public Library this morning, all wanting to hear from State Senator Bill Anderson and State Representative Chuck Soderberg on what they had to say about the issues being discussed during the General Session.  The topics focused on the budget, the expansion of Medicaid, and the state's surplus of revenue which is estimated between $800 million and $1 one billion dollars.  State Senator Bill Anderson says Senate Republicans have a goal to keep a watchful eye on the bottom line.
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Chuck Soderberg of Le Mars, chairs the House appropriations committee,and  he says the House Republicans would like to return the money to the tax payer.

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School Officials Meet With Legislators To Discuss Education Issues

(Le Mars) -- Earlier in the morning, the two area lawmakers met with school officials from the Le Mars, Remsen-Union, and Hinton school districts to discuss educational issues.  The conversation was frank and direct.  Dr. Todd Wendt, superintendent of schools for Le Mars Community School told the legislators that they are a year late is establishing the allowable growth school financing.

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Many schools are wanting to set their budgets for next year, but are uncertain as to what will be the percentage for allowable growth.  In recent year, school officials have had to wait on the legislature, and they were having to deal with rates between zero and four percent.  Wendt says school officials can't operate that way, and he offered the lawmakers a startling statistic.
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Remsen-Union school superintendent, Ken Howard told the lawmakers that he needs to know the budget numbers and school funding by next Monday. 

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Howard is also concerned about some of the state regulations and how it is affecting small school districts like Remsen-Union.

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Oyens and Remsen Fire Departments Respond To Machine Shed Fire

(Oyens) -- The Oyens and Remsen Fire Departments responded to a machine shed fire Saturday morning.  The call came in at about 7:45 a.m. and was located at 14794 Noble Avenue.  Oyens Fire Chief, Brian Juhl says upon arrival at the scene, "the machine shed was filled with smoke and there was zero visibility".  Fire crews were on the scene for nearly two hours.  Juhl says insulation placed in the back of the shed had caught fire.  He says fortunately, none of the farm equipment being stored in the shed had suffered damage, other than some smoke damage.  Damage to the shed was minimal.  Juhl says he believes a bad extension cord may have been the cause of the fire.

   

Saturday News, February 2

Legislative Forums Scheduled

(Le Mars) -- State Senator Bill Anderson and State Representative Chuck Soderberg will hold two legislative forums that are open to the public.  The first is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. this morning and will be held at the Le Mars Public Library.  Following that forum, the state lawmakers will be in Remsen at 11:30 a.m. at the Remsen City Hall.

 

School District Host Legislative Forum

(Le Mars) -- Prior to the two public legislative forums, the state lawmakers will visit with school officials from Plymouth County school districts as the Le Mars Community School District host an educational legislative forum at the Le Mars Educational Service Center.  School officials are interested in knowing how much funding will be directed to local districts, the education reform bill that is making its way through the general session, and core curriculum changes.


Williams Comments On Educational Issues

(Le Mars) -- A lot of attention is being devoted to educational issues from the local standpoint of the Le Mars Community School District hosting an educational legislative forum on Saturday, to the state legislature working on measures of funding education and teacher evaluations, to Governor Branstad's goal to reform education, and all the way up to the federal level of the "No Child Left Behind" Act.  But how many changes will occur, or need to occur, with our educational system.  Dr. Larry Williams is a former superintendent for Sioux City, Hinton and the Akron-Westfield school districts.  Williams, now retired, serves as a consultant relating to educational issues.  One measure being proposed by the state legislature is to require college students wanting to pursue a career in teaching to take additional tests to qualify them as a teacher.  Williams says testing future teachers may not determine whether an individual will make a good teacher.
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The Governor and the state legislature hope to create a method of teacher evaluations which would in part be based upon the student's performance.  Williams questions whether such action would be fair to the student.  He says good teachers use several means to adequately assess a student's performance, and there isn't one way that is the best method for assessing the student's progress.  Williams says Iowa is famous for developing a standardized means of testing with the former Iowa Test of Basic Skills for elementary and junior high students, and the Iowa Tests of Educational Development used for high school students.
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Williams says teachers and parents alike are always interested in the progress and assessment of a student.
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Monday we will continue our series of reports focusing on educational issues.

 

Police Arrest Brunsville Man For Area Home Thefts

(Le Mars) -- Police say a man who posed as a hired handyman has been arrested in connection with thefts at Le Mars area homes.  Drew Feller, 38, of Brunsville was arrested Friday on a felony charge of second-degree theft.  Feller is accused of stealing items from homes while posing as a hired handyman, according to a Plymouth County Sheriff's office statement.  Each victim of the scheme lost more than $1,000.  The number of incidents was not released. Both the Le Mars Police Department and the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department jointly investigated the thefts.  Feller was being held Friday evening at the Plymouth County jail in lieu of $5,000 bail.

 

Union Pacific Train De-rails In O'Brien County

SHELDON, Iowa (AP) - Authorities are investigating the cause of a train derailment in northwest Iowa.
25 rail cars came off the tracks Thursday night outside Ritter in O'Brien County. The cars remained upright and most were empty. No injuries were reported.
The Union Pacific Railroad train had departed from Sioux City
and was headed for Minnesota. A company spokesman says it's possible a broken rail caused the derailment.


Livestock Seminar Focusing On Drought Conditions Scheduled For Monday

(Le Mars) -- Last year's drought not only affected grain farmers, but it also left many livestock producers stressed, particularly about feed supplies for livestock and poultry.  Iowa State University and Iowa Farm Bureau Federation are hosting a seminar scheduled for Monday, February 4th. Plymouth County Extension Coordinator, Carol Schneider says the conference will address options for livestock producers.

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Schneider says the conference will be split between the morning session and the afternoon session with the morning half the speakers will address the conference via web cam through the internet.  She says the morning session will feature speakers discussing both grain and livestock markets, as well as weather.
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Schneider says the morning session will also feature speakers discussing managing stress and finances.

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The afternoon session will have speakers at the designated locations talking about various livestock issues.  At the Le Mars Convention Center, Beth Doran, ISU Beef Specialist and Joel DeJong will discuss beef related and crop issues.  At Storm Lake, Dave Stender will focus on swine issues, and at Orange City Kevin Lager will focus on dairy issues.  There is no cost to attend the seminar. The conference will begin at 10:00 a.m.

 

Ho Chunk Centre Has Water Main Break

(Sioux City) -- Clean up is continuintg at the Ho-Chunk Centre, formerally the Terra Towwer located at 4th and Nebraska Streets in Sioux City after a sprinkler pipe burst early Friday morning. Sioux City Fire Department spokesman Jesse Pedersen says trucks were dispatched to the building around 7:00 a.m. to respond to an alarm and found water coming from the building.

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Pedersen says water also flowed into the basement of the office building causing some damage there.  A city crew shut off water to the entire building to stop the flow.  Water was still off as of 12:30 p.m., However, the Wells Fargo Bank and other offices were open for business.  An estimate on damage to the building has not yet been determined.


U of I Hospitals and Mercy Medical - Des Moines Form A Liver Center

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa and two Des Moines-area health care groups are forming a new organization to improve and coordinate care for patients with liver disease.
The university said Friday the Iowa Liver Center will be a partnership between its Organ Transplant Center, the Iowa Digestive Disease Center in Clive and Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines and its
affiliates.
The center will offer diagnostic, treatment and support services for people with diseases of the liver in central and western Iowa. University officials say it will bring together leading digestive
disease physicians, transplant surgeons and others to manage care, with a goal of improving quality and efficiency. The partnership allows the groups to share clinical data.
UI professor Alan Reed says the center should provide a better experience for patients.

 

Cedar Rapids Says "No More Billboards"

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Officials in Cedar Rapids are imposing a six-month moratorium on permit requests for new billboards and digital signs.
The City Council voted unanimously on the moratorium Friday.
The city's Department of Community Development, which will help the council set new rules to be in place within 120 days, will meet with sign companies to discuss sign density, locations and other
issues.
The station reports the council has discussed changing the rules for billboards and digital signs for months. As a result, sign companies have been filing requests for new signs ahead of the
vote.
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Wind Turbine Factory Re-calling Workers

FORT MADISON, Iowa (AP) - A southeast Iowa factory that makes wind turbine blades has recalled some workers laid off last fall as orders increase.
Siemens Energy has recalled 13 workers to its Fort Madison plant and is looking for another 73 to bring back to their jobs.
Plant manager Tony McDowell says new orders are coming in and as business expands the work force will be increased to match demand.  Some of the new orders are coming from projects in Brazil and Chile.
More than 400 workers received layoff notices in September.
The company blamed difficult market conditions, lack of congressional action on a wind energy tax credit, and increased use of natural gas-fired power plants.
Congress passed tax credit extension in January.
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Page 654 of 1374

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