Friday News, January 4
City To Pick Up Christmas Trees
(Le Mars) -- The City of Le Mars Public Works Department will be picking up live Christmas Trees beginning the week of January 7th. Steve Hanson, superintendent for the city's public works department says They will do one pass through of the entire town; therefore, he asks that residents please have your tree out next to the curb by Sunday January 6th.
Hanson says the city will dispose of the trees. Depending upon the number of trees to be picked up will determine what may happen to the trees.
Hanson wants to remind residents to remove all lights, plastic covers, tinsel, stands and garland.
Le Mars Community School Board To Hold Special Meeting
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education will hold a special meeting scheduled for Monday, January 7th at the Le Mars Education Service Center Administration building. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m. The school board is expected to receive the initial proposal from the Le Mars Education Association as for the bargaining negotiations contract for the school year 2013-2014.
Museum To Host "Jammin January"
(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Historical Museum has announced it will host "Jammin in January" a benefit dance featuring the band "The Jammers". The benefit dance is scheduled for Saturday, January 19th at the Plymouth County Historical Museum's Old Central Gymnasium. Dance hours will be from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. with a concession stand that will open at 7:00 p.m. in the gym's lobby. Proceeds from the benefit dance will go to help defray the Museum's expenses, especially during the winter months.
Sac County Authorities Investigate Kidnapping and Dead Body
EARLY, Iowa (AP) - Police in western Iowa discovered the body of a woman while investigating the apparent kidnapping of another woman.
The Sac County sheriff's office says authorities received a call about 8 a.m. Thursday after someone encountered a 21-year-old woman trying to run from a vehicle and claiming she had been kidnapped.
After talking with the woman, deputies found a suspect hiding in a nearby barn.
Deputies arrested 21-year-old Kirk Riley Levin. He was being held Thursday night at the Sac County Jail on charges of assault with intent to commit sexual assault, assault while participating in a felony and third degree kidnapping.
While investigating the matter, authorities found the body of another woman near Early. The name of the dead woman isn't being released until police can notify her family.
Record Number of Lives Saved By Smoke Alarms
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials say smoke alarms saved a record number of people's lives in the state last year.
The Iowa State Fire Marshal says more than 215 people survived because of working smoke alarm systems in their homes. That's a jump from about 185 in 2011, and about 145 in 2010.
Most people saved by smoke alarms were asleep during the night. Officials say advance warning also reduces property damage. The state estimates $20 million in property damage for fires with
working smoking alarms. Property damage climbs to $46 million for fires with no smoke alarm.
Officials say 42 people were killed in fires in the state last year.
Wellmark/Blue Cross-Blue Shield Wants To Raise Insurance Rates
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Dozens of Iowans have asked the state health insurance commissioner to deny another premium increase sought by the state's dominant health insurer, Wellmark Blue Cross
and Blue Shield.
The company wants to raise premiums on 150,000 individual policyholders by 12 percent to 13 percent starting in April. Wellmark has been raising premiums for the past several years, including 9.4
percent last year and 8.5 percent in 2011.
Wellmark says it needs more money to pay for the higher costs of medical services.
The company sells about 86 percent of the nonemployer health insurance policies in Iowa.
On Saturday state Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss will hold a public hearing on the company's request.
People Speak Out Against Voting Eligibility Rules
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - About 40 people spoke at a public hearing to oppose a proposed new rule that would establish a process for removing voters from registration rolls if they cannot prove citizenship.
Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz is pushing the rule. He says it's needed because he believes people who are not U.S. citizens are registering to vote in Iowa.
Many of the speakers say the rule will intimidate and scare voters, especially recent immigrants, from voting.
The hearing was carried statewide on the Iowa Communications Network to allow broad participation. Comments came from several locations including Des Moines, Sioux City, Bettendorf and Iowa City.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa says Schultz doesn't have the authority to pass the rule himself without legislative approval.
Stewart Iverson To Head Tax Appeal Board
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Former Iowa Senate GOP leader Stewart Iverson has been appointed to lead a state agency monitoring property tax appeals in the state.
The Des Moines Register reports Gov. Terry Branstad announced the appointment Thursday. Iverson's annual salary to be chairman of the Iowa Property Tax Assessment Appeal Board will be $137,000.
Iverson is filling the term left by Richard Stradley, who resigned in November. It will run through April 2017.
The tax board is a state agency that conducts administrative hearings regarding the appeal process of an assessment or valuation.
Pawlenty Asks ISU For Hefty Speaking Fee
AMES, Iowa (AP) - It would've cost big bucks to get Tim Pawlenty to return to Ames, where his presidential campaign ended in 2011 after a poor finish at the Iowa Straw Poll.
Emails released by Iowa State University show its Harkin Institute of Public Policy wanted Pawlenty to come speak this year about Iowa's leadoff role in the presidential nominating process.
Pawlenty's agent told school officials his speaking fee was $25,000 plus expenses. Institute director Dave Peterson wrote that fee was "well beyond" what the institute could afford, but started asking others whether they could "cobble together enough" university funds from elsewhere.
The idea was dropped after lectures program director Pat Miller objected to the payment. Miller argued the university has long claimed "Iowans don't pay for politicians," given the state's first-in-the-nation caucuses.
Pella Woman Pleads Guilty To Fraud
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A southern Iowa woman who convinced friends to loan her hundreds of thousands of dollars under false pretenses has pleaded guilty to mail fraud.
Beverely DeRonde of Pella entered the plea Thursday in federal court in Des Moines under an agreement in which prosecutors dropped 11 other charges.
The 61-year-old acknowledged that she fraudulently asked relatives and acquaintances to loan her money so she could buy birthday and anniversary presents to surprise her husband or
equipment so he could open a boat shop. Instead, she actually used the money to buy antiques, jewelry and Rolex watches for herself while failing to repay them.
DeRonde remains free on bond, but faces a possible prison term at her sentencing in April. She also agreed to pay full restitution, which hasn't been calculated.