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Legislative Luncheon Scheduled Today

(Des Moines) -- As a way to pay tribute to the thousands of sailors and soldiers that lost their lives 70 years ago during the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has ordered that all flags be flown at half staff today. Branstad issued the order on Tuesday to fly flags in the state
at half-staff from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
     The bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, killed 2,390 Americans and brought the United States into World War II.

(LeMars) -- The LeMars Chamber of Commerce is hosting a legislative luncheon today at noon at the American Bank.  State Senator Bill Anderson and State Representative Chuck Soderburg will address the issues that will come before the general assembly during the 2012 legislative session.  Contact the Chamber office to make reservations.

(LeMars) -- Floyd Valley Hospital received its annual financial audit yesterday. Denman and Associates, a certified public accountanting firm from West Des Moines performed the audit.  The annual audit revealed the local hospital has increased its total assets by 103 thousand dollars from last year to this year allowing Floyd Valley Hospital's total assets to exceed $27.3 million dollars.  Fiscal Year 2011 net patient service revenue increased by $222 thousand, primarily due to higher patient volume.  Fiscal Year 2011 expenses increased by $808 thousand related to higher staff costs.  Operating expenses were $29.5 million which was one percent less than budget expectations for the fiscal year ending June 30th.

(LeMars) -- The LeMars City Council met Tuesday and again the council chambers was filled with residents concerned about the city's proposal to change the water meters.  City administrator Scott Langel says the citizens' opinions were valued as the city council revised the original proposal and came up with a proposal that seemed to meet everyone's approval.  The city is now proposing that there would not be any private meters, however it does recognize that some residents want a second meter for when they irrigate their lawns. Langel explains the new proposal.


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Langel says the city will charge an installation fee, on average about $240 for the second meter, but the second meter would not be charged any sewer rates.  He says due to the changes of the proposal, that has pushed back the council's official reading schedule.

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In other action, the city council approved the financial audit of the Floyd Valley Hospital, scheduled a public hearing for December 20th on the pending sale of the city's share of LeMars Communications L.L.P, and they made an agreement with the Iowa Department of Transporation for a RISE grant to assist with the infrastructure on the new Dogwood Properties. 

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(LeMars) -- Plymouth County librarians met with the County Board of Supervisors informing them of the important role libraries have for communities.  LeMars Public Librarian, Sue Kroesche says local libraries help with economic development and help build communities.  The librarians were at the supervisor meeting to offer a request for funding for the next year.  Last year, the supervisors allocated $72,000 to the various county librarys which equates to $8.61 per person living in Plymouth County.  Kroesche says libraries need to keep up with the latest technology.  She says for every dollar invested into local libraries, the return to the community is $12.  The community libraries are requesting the Board of Supervisors to consider a four percent increase in funding which would equate to a total of $75,000.  The Supervisors also heard from Deb Steffen, the Plymouth County Board of Health Director.  Steffen informed the supervisors the board has three vacancies.  She said the board consists of five members.  The County Health Director hopes to have the vacancies filled before their February meeting.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - MidAmerican Energy plans to raise electric rates by 3 to 4 percent in 2012 to cover rising costs.
     Spokeswoman Tina Pothoff says letters to customers will be sent in February, with the increase by March. She says it's necessary to recover rising environmental requirements and energy production
costs.
     Iowa law allows utilities to impose rate increases on a temporary basis until the Iowa Utilities Board can make a final decision.
     MidAmerican Energy, the state's Iowa's largest utility, has 770,000 customers in Iowa. It has been operating under a rate freeze that preserves rates until 2013.  But the agreement with state regulators allows MidAmerican to impose special adjustment charges.
     MidAmerican has not raised base electric rates in 16 years.
    

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. has agreed to buy a 550-megawatt solar energy farm in California from First Solar Inc.
     Des Moines-based MidAmerican said in a news release Tuesday that First Solar will complete construction of the more than $2 billion Topaz Solar Farm in California's San Luis Obispo County.
Construction began last month and is expected to be finished by early 2015.
     MidAmerican and Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar say Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will buy electricity from Topaz under a 25-year agreement. The plant is expected to provide enough renewable energy
to power about 160,000 average California homes.
     MidAmerican is a subsidiary of Warren Buffett's Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

AMES, Iowa (AP) - A top Iowa State University administrator has been named one of five finalists to become president of the University of New Mexico.
     Iowa State Provost Elizabeth "Betsy" Hoffman will be visiting the Albuquerque campus over the next two week. The decision is expected by early next month.
     The current president, David Schmidly, is stepping down in June.  Hoffman has been executive vice president and provost at ISU since 2007.
     The other finalists are Douglas Baker, provost and executive vice president of the University of Idaho; Robert Frank, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs of Kent State University; Meredith Hay, special adviser to the chair for strategic initiatives for the Arizona Board of Regents; and Elsa Murano, professor and president emerita of Texas A&M University.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A task force working to reshape Iowa's child sexual abuse laws has decided against adding college officials to a list of those required to report such abuse.  The Iowa Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Task Force decided instead on Tuesday to increase detection training.  The task force was considering the expansion following the Penn State University child sex abuse scandal. Task force members say deciding which college officials would be required to report suspected child abuse would have been complicated.  The task force prefers a recommendation that members of all groups that involve children or come in contact with them undergo voluntary detection training made available by Iowa.  The task force also will ask lawmakers to protect from employer retaliation anyone who reports suspected sex abuse.

 

 


  

 

   

Senator Santorum Claims He Can Win

(LeMars) -- Former Pennslyvania Senator, and now Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum was in LeMars yesterday.  Santorum, who has visited all of Iowa's 99 counties calls his tour the Faith, Family, and Freedom Tour, Santorum pledged he would spend every day in Iowa between now and the Iowa Caucus, with the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas. Santorum told the gathering of nearly 30 people he is the only candidate that has the ability to win, and has the record showing he can get things done. 

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Santorum says he believes in one year from now, the economy will not be the most important topic, but rather our national defense against Iran will take center stage, if Iran obtains nuclear weapons.

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Santorum says he is the only candidate that has campaigned in each of the 99 Iowa counties. He spoke on the illegal immigration issue, saying the U-S needs to finish the fence at the border.  He says the nation's education system needs to be reformed, and he would like to reform taxes. But the former Pennslyvania Senator spoke passionately mostly about Faith and Family.  He recited some statistics showing how single parent homes are more likely to live in poverty, and  children from single parent homes are also more likely to be involved in crime.  Making reference to a light blue colored wrist braclet, he was wearing, that was the acrinum of "Family"  Santorum says "family is the answer" to many of today's societial problems.  

(LeMars) -- The LeMars Fire Department responded to an early morning house fire.  Officials were called to the house located on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 4th Sreet SE, at about 5:45 a.m.  Little is known about the fire, but it appeared the fire was confined to the attic.  The victorian-style house had been converted to an apartment complex.   

(Sioux City) --  Sioux City Police Detectives have taken into custody Robert McCloud, age 22, of Sioux City for the November 20th shooting of Brian Henderson. On November 20th, officers were called to Mercy Medical Center for a gun shot victim.  Based on the information they were able to collect, they determined that the shooting occurred in the 1200 block of 4th Street.  The victim had been involved in a disturbance with another individual and was shot.  Henderson is still recovering from the wound at Mercy Medical Center.  McCloud was taken to the Woodbury County jail and charged with Attempt to Commit Murder.
  
  

(LeMars) -- Floyd Valley Hospital Board of Trustees have scheduled a special meeting this morning to review and discuss the audit as presented by Denman and Associates. 

(LeMars) -- Tuesday at noon the LeMars City Council will meet and at that time will hear the second reading of the proposed plan to change the city's water meters.  Last Thursday, members of the city council and the city water committee, along with administration officials heard from residents voice their concern over the proposal.  City Administrator Scott Langel says last week's public forum was benefical for everyone.

One idea that evolved from the public forum was to have residents instead of paying a monthly charge for a second water meter, they would buy the second water meter up front, then turn it over to the city for maintenance and supervision.  Langel says the idea had some merit and will be discussed by the city council.


(LeMars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to meet this morning.  The Supervisors will discuss a new Plymouth County Library Coalition contract along with the funding for the project.  The Supervisors will also hear a report from Deb Steffen, County Health Director discuss possible vacancies on the County Board of Health, as well as the budget funding for the health services.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new study says tougher restrictions on Iowa's teenage drivers could have saved the lives of 32 young drivers in 2009.
  The study report issued Tuesday includes suggested standards: requiring drivers to be 16 before earning a learner's permit and restricting passengers to no more than one nonfamily passenger
under 21 unless a licensed driver older than 21 is in the vehicle.
     Teen driving deaths are falling nationally but have remained flat or grown slightly among 16- to 18-year-old drivers in Iowa.
     Iowa has a graduated driver's licensing program, but it's not as strict as programs in some other states.
     The study was released by the Allstate Foundation, a nonprofit arm of insurance giant Allstate.
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