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Wednesday News, June 17

Le Mars City Council Approves BoDeans Financial Request For Expansion

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council gave its approval for financial assistance to BoDean's Cone Company for its expansion plans.  Neil Adler serves as the executive Director for the Le Mars Business and Industry Corporation and says its always good news when a current Le Mars industry wants to expand.

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Adler says he isn't certain as to how many jobs BoDean's plan to add under the program, but in order to qualify for the state tax abatement program, he says they will be good paying positions.

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In other action taken by the city council, they approved a contract agreement with the YMCA, and appointed Wayne Schipper and re-appointed Jan Wagner to a five-year term for the Planning and Zoning Commission.  The city council also appointed Dr. Mark Stelzer and Allan Gates to a four year term serving on the Le Mars Library Board of Trustees.  The city council also approved a supplemental pay agreement of $4,038 to Bill Cole as Acting City Administrator, and they approved a salary of $105,000 for Bill Cole, beginning in fiscal year 2016.

 

 

 

 

Sheriff Van Otterloo Appears Before Supervisors To Clarify Merit Pay Request

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo appeared before the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to offer an explanation regarding the request for an increase of salary pay for the Sheriff's deputies.  Last week, the issue was on the agenda, but supervisors chose to table the discussion, especially since the sheriff was unable to attend last week's supervisor meeting.  At issue was the merit pay increase that was proposed by Sheriff Van Otterloo for his deputies.  However, the supervisors mentioned an earlier agreement that was made with the sheriff's office that said the present deputies would forgo a merit pay raise for this year, if the supervisors would agree to hire another deputy to be placed on staff for the new fiscal year.  That request was made earlier this year.  Today, Sheriff Van Otterloo informed the supervisors that they were correct with the earlier terms of the agreement.

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Van Otterloo informed the supervisors the merit increase would generally be between  one and two percent, or about $300 per year for each deputy, and he offers an explanation as to why he was asking for the merit increase.

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The supervisors did approve a general across the board raise of two and a half percent for the salaries of all sheriff's deputies and county attorney deputies.

 

 

 

 

Local Law Enforcement To Hold Tactical Weapons Training On Wednesday

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Police Department, Plymouth County Sheriff's Office and the Sioux County Sheriff's Office will hold a tactical weapons training session scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at a home located near 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street southeast.  Stuart Dekkenga, Le Mars Police Chief says the training session will begin at about 1:00 p.m. and will last through the afternoon.

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Dekkenga says since the property is scheduled for demolition, the facility will prove even more valuable to the the tactical unit.

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Fire Department To Train For Grain Rescue

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department will be conducting a training seminar tonight simulating a person caught in a flowing grain accident.  The training will take place at the Le Mars Agri-Center grain elevator facilities located at 201 1st Avenue southwest.  A company from Minnesota will assist with the training session.   A semi-trailer will be filled with corn and a person submerged so that training can be conducted with grain bin rescue equipment.   This equipment will then be donated to the Le Mars Fire-Rescue Department by this group from Minnesota.

 

 

 

Ice Cream Days - Day One

(Le Mars) -- Today marks the start of the four-day festival known as "Ice Cream Days".  Brad Pick, who serves on the Ice Cream Days organizing committee with the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce offers a listing of the events scheduled for today.

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Later in the afternoon, the cars from the 50's, 60's and 70's will roll into Bob's Drive Inn as part of the Tri-state Crusiser show.

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The Le Mars Public Library will be hosting Dan Kaercher, who some may recognize from Iowa Public Television, or even from the popular magazine "Midwest Living".  Kaercher will be discussing Iowa's Hidden Treasures.

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State Government Hires Firm To Monitor Family Leave

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's state government is hiring a company to track employees' medical absences at a cost of $32,000 per month.
State officials say the goal is to improve the state's inconsistent implementation of the Family and Medical Leave Act and curb any abuse.
But many state employees are questioning the cost and motivation behind the contract with the Reed Group, Ltd. The president of the state's largest employees union said Tuesday he's considering a legal challenge to the program, which takes effect July 1.
Under the change, state human resources employees will no longer be involved in determining when employees qualify for FMLA. Instead, those decisions will be made by the Colorado-based contractor.
The contract covers 21,500 state employees, who will have to report most medical absences to the Reed Group.

 

 

 

 

Sioux City Man Refuses Plea Deal For Baby's Death

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A prosecutor says a 27-year-old Sioux City man has rejected another plea offer and will proceed to trial for the death of his 2-month-old son.
Michael Williams is charged with three counts of neglect of a dependent person, a count of child endangerment resulting in death and one of child endangerment resulting in injury. His trial is scheduled to begin July 7.
County Attorney Patrick Jennings declined to discuss details of the plea deal. Williams also rejected a deal in October.
Authorities have said little Leonard Williams was taken to an emergency room on April 29 last year. An autopsy later showed he died of malnutrition and dehydration.
The trial of his mother, 24-year-old Rebekah Williams-McCarthy, is scheduled to begin Aug. 4.


   

Tuesday Afternoon News, June 16

Ernst Votes Against Bill To Have Military Commanders Not Dealing With Sexual Assault Cases

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Sen. Joni Ernst has voted against a measure that would leave military commanders out of the decision to prosecute sexual assault cases in the military. 
The vote on the defense policy bill amendment came Tuesday. Sponsor Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, believes recent reforms have not been enough to improve the way sexual assault cases are handled by the military. 
While the vote was 50 to 49 in favor, the amendment needed 60 votes to pass. 
Ernst, a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard, said during her campaign that she would work with Gillibrand on this issue. 
In a statement, Ernst said more time is needed to see how recent reforms are working. She said she would continue to work on this with Gillibrand and others.

 

 

 

 

USDA Monthly Poultry Report Shows Lower Prices For Chicken Meat, But Higher Egg Prices

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bird flu outbreak in the Midwest has actually resulted in cheaper chicken meat in the U.S. because exports have been restricted, leaving a plentiful domestic supply.
In a monthly poultry market report published Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says importers halted shipments even though chickens remain unaffected by bird flu. Wholesale prices in the Northeast are 32 percent lower than a year earlier. Drumsticks are down 33 percent. 
The bird flu outbreak did cause egg prices to increase.
Egg prices more than doubled from pre-bird flu prices but in recent days have fallen. Roasting turkey prices are 3 percent higher than a year ago and may increase a little more toward Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

 

Wright County Has Another Bird Flu Case

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - After a six-day break with no new bird flu cases, the Iowa Department of Agriculture says another egg-laying chicken farm has tested positive.
A farm in Wright County with 1 million chickens has experienced increased deaths among the flock and a preliminary test indicates the presence of the bird flu virus.
The frequency of new cases has slowed dramatically with no new cases in Minnesota in 11 days. Iowa's last reported case was June 9. The bird flu has cost Minnesota, the leading turkey producer, 9 million birds. Egg farms in Iowa, the nation's leading producer, have lost over 25 million laying hens. 
State officials say all 76 previously affected farms have removed the 32 million birds that already died or were euthanized. Disposal of the dead birds continues.

 

 

 

 

Auditor's Investigation Shows City Of Garwin Has $500,000 In Unsupported Spending

GARWIN, Iowa (AP) - An investigation by the state auditor has found more than $500,000 in improper and unsupported spending by the eastern Iowa city of Garwin.
Auditor Mary Mosiman announced Tuesday that an audit requested by city officials found $562,089 of improper and unsupported spending. That includes 203 payments traced by credit card statements to former City Clerk Anna Lori Leytham.
Payments on those credit card accounts date from December 2000 to September 2013.
Mosiman says there likely were additional payments but records before Jan. 1, 2001, weren't available.
Mosiman noted other improper payments, including $145,224 that Leytham issued to herself.
The auditor's report was forwarded to state authorities and the Tama County Attorney's Office.

 

 

 

 

Two Additional Workers At Sioux City Waste Water Plant Are Dismissed

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Two workers at Sioux City's wastewater treatment plant are no longer employed by the city. 
Human Resources Director Bridey Hayes confirmed to KTIV-TV that superintendent Jay Niday and operations supervisor Pat Schwarte no longer work for the city. Hayes said she couldn't comment further about their departure. 
Attempts to contact Niday by the Sioux City Journal weren't immediately successful. An email seeking comment from Schwarte was left Tuesday. 
It's unclear if the employees' departure is connected to an ongoing investigation by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 
The agency is investigating whether an employee changed chlorine levels in wastewater samples to meet standards outlined in a state-issued permit that allows treated wastewater to be discharged into the Missouri River.
City officials have said they are cooperating with the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.


 


   

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