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Wednesday News, April 3

Fire Fighters Called To Residence With Bed On Fire

(Le Mars) -- Saying that smoke detectors work, Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says it was a smoke detector that saved a life and property at a house fire located at 135 8th Avenue Southeast.  The call was received Tuesday, shortly before 12:00 noon, and the initial report was for the fire department to respond to a fire alarm.  Schipper says Norma Thoma, the occupant of the home who called the fire department, did not indicate there was a fire at the residence.

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Aside from the bed and blankets, there wasn't any fire damage to the home, however, there was some smoke damage. 
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The Le Mars Fire Chief estimates the damage to be about $1000.  There were no injuries, and the fire fighters were on the scene for about an hour and ten minutes.

Supervisors Award Construction Bids

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors approved bids for two construction projects scheduled for this summer.  The bid of $154,900 submitted by Gus Construction of Casey, Iowa for the construction of a reinforced concrete box culvert.  That culvert replacement is located on 130th Street east of County Road K-22.  Graves Construction Company of Spencer, Iowa was awarded the bid of a second construction project involving the installation of precast concrete deck panel to a bridge located on 120th Street east of County Road K-18.  Graves submitted a low bid of $95,409 for that project.


City Council Hears Development Proposal

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council heard from three Le Mars businessmen who want to make a new housing development located on the southern edge of the city. Investors, Bruce Kellen, Mark Nuebel, and Jeremy Sitzmann comprise of the K-N-S First Addition, and they appeared before the city council on Tuesday to share their plan. The development property is located between 12th Street and 15th Street and east of 6th Avenue also known as Kenaley Ranch.  The three investors want to offer "affordable" housing the the Le Mars community, as well as to offer tax revenue for the city of Le Mars.  The housing development area would consist of about 50 lots to be sold all within a few culdesacs.  The three were asking the city for $4300 for each lot to cover expenses with infrastructure costs such as water and sewer lines.   The city council voted to approve the concept, but they did not give the go-ahead for the project itself.

Klein Awarded School District Employee of the Month

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School District honored its high school secretary, Krista Klein, yesterday afternoon at the April Employee of the Month.  Gale Horan, Deb Richarz, and Linda Coulter submitted the nomination.  They say about Klein that she help organize the building with all that she does.  She is receptionist for the public and the students.  She has a wonderful sense of humor and a pleasant voice that makes everyone feel welcome and enjoy working at the high school.  She takes care of attendance and helps with meds for the students. She keeps us advised with what's going on with announcements. She helps with money and lunch accounts, and she is responsible for student's records.  Our congratulations to Krista Klein for being selected as the Le Mars Community School District Employee of the Month.


Floyd Valley To Honor Volunteers

(Le Mars) -- Floyd Valley Hospital will be honoring all of its volunteers today during an appreciation luncheon.  The event will begin this morning at 9:30 a.m. in the lower level Conference Center.  Volunteers will be honored with an hours of service award.  In addition to the presentation of hours of service recognitions, there will be entertainment for the volunteers.  Tonya Huenink, RD, LD of HyVee will serve as the keynote speaker.


North West REC To Hold Annual Meeting

(Le Mars) -- The utility cooperative that provides electricity and power to many of Plymouth County and surrounding counties rural residences will hold its annual meeting this evening.  North West Iowa Rural Electric Cooperative serves Plymouth, Sioux, O'Brien, and Ida Counties.  The annual meeting will be held at the Le Mars Community High School with a banquet starting at 5:30 p.m. followed with the meeting at 7:00 p.m.  Two long-time directors, Alan Lucken and Gerald Klemme will be stepping down from the board of directors.  Lucken says the local utility cooperative has been fortunate.  While many rural electric cooperatives are losing customers due to fewer farms, the Northwest REC has been able to pick up business through economic development projects, such as ethanol plants and large-scale livestock operations.
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Branstad's Attorney Fees On the Rise

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The cost of defending Gov. Terry Branstad in a discrimination case is going up and there's no end in sight for the case.
A law firm hired to represent Branstad has been paid $370,559 in state dollars to date.
The state hired Des Moines attorney George A. LaMarca last year, after Iowa Workers Compensation Commissioner Christopher Godfrey filed a lawsuit accusing Branstad and top staffers of
discriminating against him because he's gay. Godfrey charges that the governor cut his salary by nearly $40,000 after he declined to resign.
A panel of state officials approved LaMarca's $325 hourly rate. LaMarca says the case merits taxpayer money because he's defending the rights of Branstad and future governors.
LaMarca says state law allows such salary reductions.
Godfrey declined to comment Tuesday on the attorney fees. He called the case a difficult situation.


Senate Passes Rules For Regents

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Members of the state Senate want to shine more light on the activities of the Board of Regents.
The Senate passed a measure which would do just that. The vote Tuesday in favor of the bill was 49-1, and it now goes to the House.
The measure requires the board that oversees Iowa's state universities to operate like local government by providing opportunity for public comment.
Under current law, the governor appoints all nine board members. If the bill passes, the ninth member would be elected by faculty members.
It would also prohibit the board's executive director, members or staff from having a business relationship with any employee of a regent institution.
Democratic Sen. Jeff Danielson of Cedar Falls says the bill stipulates "basic stuff" that any organization employing Iowans should follow.

Senate Committee Approves Tax Break For Small Businesses That Provide Health Insurance

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Senate panel approved a bill that would give a new income tax break to small businesses if they cover part of their employees' health insurance.
The measure passed a Senate Ways and Means subcommittee Tuesday with bipartisan support and now moves to the full committee. It's an incentive for small businesses to provide health insurance
coverage for their employees.
Under the Affordable Care Act, a small business that employs 25 or fewer people and chooses to cover 50 percent of their employees' health insurance costs gets a federal income tax break.
If the bill passes, these businesses would get an additional state income tax break, worth a quarter of their federal savings.
Democratic Sen. Matt McCoy, of Des Moines, estimates more than 73,000 businesses could benefit.


Tuesday News, April 2

Supervisors To Hear About Domestic Violence

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors are scheduled to meet this morning at the County Courthouse.  They will hear from Cathy Mannin of the Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.  Mannin is expected to share some statistics from Plymouth County and the region as to how many domestic violence cases occur within Plymouth County.  April serves as Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  The supervisors will also be letting bids for two planned construction projects.

City Council To Hold Public Hearings Regarding Internal Committee Structure

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council will hold public hearings today to decide whether to abandon the Parks and Recreation Committee and the Housing Review Board.  It is part of the city's effort to streamline the city's internal structure and become more efficient.  The council will also hold a hearing to vacate part of the utility and drainage easement between lots 3 and 5 of the Le Mars Industrial Park South Addition to allow the city to sell the land to Allen Pratt.  The city council is expected to act upon a waste water treatment agreement with Dean Foods. The city already has a similar agreement with Wells Enterprises.  The city council will also hear a proposal for the Kenaley Ranch First Addition which consists of four lots along 12th Street South and six lots along 15th St South.


Fire Department Responds To Early Morning Accident

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire Department responded to an auto accident that occurred at about 5:00 a.m. this morning.  The accident happened at Business Highway 75 and 18th St.  Fire officials were asked to help with the clean up duties of fluid that had been leaking from the involved vehicles.  Fire officials were on the scene for an hour.


Piece of Cake Opens In Le Mars

(Le Mars) -- A new specialty bakery has opened its doors in downtown Le Mars.  Piece of Cake is located at 25 Central Avenue Southwest and is operated by Michelle Bomgaars, with the focus of decorating wedding cakes and other specialty cakes. Bomgaars explains the name
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Bomgaars has been baking and designing specialty cakes for more than six years.

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She says her business will feature many types of sweet tasting desserts, including a French silk pie that she claims everyone in her family loves, an assortment of cheesecakes, and of course cakes.

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Anderson and Soderberg To Hold Legislative Forums On Friday and Saturday

(Des Moines) -- State Representative Chuck Soderberg and State Senator Bill Anderson have announced they will hold a series of legislative forums scheduled for Friday, April 5th and Saturday, April 6th.  The Lawmakers will be in Kingsley at the Community Center on Friday at 10:00 a.m.  Lawton City Hall between 11:30 and 12:30, and at Climbing Hill at the Climbing Hill Barn between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Saturday, April 6th the lawmakers will visit with the public at the Remsen Library at 8:30 a.m.; Le Mars at the Habitue Coffeehouse and Creperie at 10:00 a.m. and the Akron Public Library at 11:30 a.m.  The legislative forums are open to the public and will focus on issues of interest to the general assembly.


University of Iowa To Lobby State Lawmakers

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Representatives from the University of Iowa will be lobbying at the Capitol as part of an annual event.
More than 100 UI students, alumni and university leaders will convene Tuesday for Hawkeye Caucus Day. University President Sally Mason also will attend.
The event gives representatives from Iowa's largest public university a chance to talk with legislators about programs the UI representatives think are important.
The undergraduate student government will lobby lawmakers to approve a tuition freeze. The Iowa Board of Regents has promised to freeze tuition for in-state undergraduate students. But the freeze is contingent upon a 2.6 percent budget increase for the universities and an extra $4 million to aid the University of Northern Iowa's budget.
The Legislature has yet to approve the universities budget.


Iowa Using More Biofuels

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new report shows the amount of biodiesel blended into diesel fuel in Iowa has more than tripled over the last two years.
The report released Monday by the Iowa Department of Revenue says biodiesel made from vegetable oil or animal fat is now blended in more than 42 percent of all diesel fuel sold in the state. The report shows 23.3 million gallons of biodiesel was mixed with diesel fuel last year, up from 7.4 million gallons in 2010.
Ethanol, which is made mostly from corn and mixed with gasoline, was in about 81.7 percent of all gasoline sold in Iowa, down slightly from 82.5 percent in 2010.
Iowa has 12 biodiesel plants and 41 ethanol refineries, more than any other state.


Two Children Die In Train Crossing Accident

BATAVIA, Iowa (AP) - Two children have died in a collision at a train crossing in southeast Iowa.
Authorities say the accident occurred at tracks in Batavia a little after 4 p.m. Monday. An Iowa State Patrol report says a minivan driven by 25-year-old Tara Lewman, of Batavia, had stopped
at the crossing. The report says that after some time, Lewman drove around the crossing arms. The train then struck the passenger side of her minivan.
Patrol Sgt. Russ Morey says another train stopped near the crossing that may have kept Lewman from seeing the oncoming train.
The patrol says 4-year-old Erika Clark and 5-year-old Kallie Clark were killed and that Lewman and 1-year-old Jordan Clark were flown to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

Senate Ways and Means Committee Passes Several Tax Break Bills

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa Senate committee has approved tax breaks that reward green energy, charitable food donations and preserving historical sites.
The Senate Ways and Means Committee passed multiple tax break bills Wednesday. These now move before the full Senate.
One bill would provide $5 million in state dollars to fund income tax breaks for individuals, farmers and businesses who want to install a fueling station for electric or natural gas-powered
vehicles. The Senate approved a similar bill with bipartisan support two years ago but it failed in the House.
The panel approved a proposed income tax break for farmers who donate excess produce to local food banks.
Another bill would raise historic preservation credits for Iowa communities to $60 million. Credits cover 25 percent of rehabilitation costs for eligible historic buildings.

Iowa Education Policy Legislation Inches Forward

, Iowa (AP) - Governor Terry Branstad's proposal for new education spending is inching forward in the General Assembly.
Senators in an education subcommittee voted Monday in favor of amending a House version of the bill to match the Senate proposal.  If approved by the Senate in the coming days, it will go back to
the House for review, but committee chairman Senator Herman Quirmbach of Ames says the bill will likely land in a joint conference committee for negotiations.
The Democratic-majority Senate and the Republican-controlled House have developed different versions of Branstad's education plan. Branstad's proposal boosts minimum teacher salaries and
provides incentive pay to teachers who take on more responsibilities.
The House watered down the plan in February, making parts optional. But the Senate beefed it up, adding more leadership pay options.


Iowa House Supports New Rules On Downsizing Farms

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - House lawmakers are backing legislation that would make it easier for livestock producers to downsize.
Legislation passed the House 83-16 Monday that would allow some livestock producers to close barns and be reclassified as small operations. Then they no would longer need to file plans for manure
disposal with the state.
Environmental activists say this change to state law could make it easier for farmers to avoid oversight. Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement argues that the measures will allow farmers
to store manure in those idled barns, which could lead to water-polluting spills.
Supporters say the bill helps farmers who want to temporarily shutter a barn, perhaps because of a child in college.
The legislation now moves to the Senate where a similar bill has already been proposed.

Altoona OKs Expanding $1.5B Data Center Project

ALTOONA, Iowa (AP) - Organizers behind a proposed $1.5 billion data center in central Iowa have been given approval to expand the project.
A planning and zoning commission for the Des Moines suburb of Altoona unanimously approved last week a revised site plan from a still-unnamed company that expands building plans by nearly 300,000
square feet.
The Des Moines Register reports the data center would now be a total of 1.4 million square feet.
The new site plan includes three data center buildings that would be each more than 465,000 square feet. A city planner says the project will be larger than anything else nearby.






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