Tuesday, May 24, 2016
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Friday News, April 5

County and City Leaders Discuss Local Option Sales Tax

(Le Mars) -- Local Option Sales Tax was the topic of discussion last evening when civic leaders from the Plymouth County municipalities met with members of the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors.  The group discussed the one percent sales tax and whether a vote should be conducted in early August to continue the tax.  Half of the county, including the communities of Kingsley, Merrill, and Hinton originally approved the vote without a sunset clause back in 1998, while other communities such as Akron, Remsen, and Le Mars did not approve the Local Option Sales Tax until 2001.  For those communities that passed the measure in 2001, the current local options sales tax expires in December of 2016.  The meeting was organized to discuss the future of the tax, and in particular, with Le Mars wanting to pledge current and future funds for the Floyd Valley Hospital expansion project.
County Supervisor Jack Guenthner coordinated the meeting and explains why the city of Le Mars would like to see an early vote before the current tax expires.

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Because some of communities passed the original Local Options Sales Tax without a sunset clause, Guenthner says not everyone in the county will need to vote in August on the measure.

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As a result of the discussion, Guenthner says the civic and county leaders basically came to one general consensus.

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In addition to assist in the funding of the hospital expansion, the supervisors have stated they wish to devote some of the Local Option Sales Tax funds for road and bridge repair, so property owners would not see an increase in their tax levy.   Le Mars mayor Dick Kirchoff attended last evening's meeting.  He says he was pleased to see all the communities come together without dissention.

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The voters will see the issue on a special election scheduled for August 6. But is that enough time to drum up the necessary support for the continuation of the Local Options Sales Tax?

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Drought Recedes In Southeast Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Officials say nearly 7 percent of Iowa is no longer in drought.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says in a report issued Thursday that conditions have returned to normal in a swath of southeast Iowa. The U.S. Drought Monitor map from the National
Drought Mitigation Center shows the drought conditions are worse to the northwest, culminating in extreme drought in portions of northwest Iowa.
The drought center says that a year ago nearly 61 percent of Iowa had no drought.
March rain in Iowa was a drop or two higher than the historical normal of 2.15 inches. It was the fourth consecutive month for higher-than-normal rainfall in the state.


Branstad Unveils More Details of Health Care Plan

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - More details are available on Republican Governor Terry Branstad's health proposal for low-income residents.
Legislation for Branstad's Healthy Iowa proposal came out Thursday. The plan would cover an estimated 89,000 residents with incomes below the poverty line.
According to the bill, participants would have access to a primary care doctor within 30 minutes or 30 miles of their home.
Branstad has proposed this plan because he opposes the Medicaid expansion permitted under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Branstad says the long-term costs are unsustainable.
The Democratic-majority Senate has passed a bill that would expand the Medicaid program in Iowa. In a statement, Democratic Sen. Jack Hatch says Branstad's proposal doesn't cover enough and
will cost more than a Medicaid expansion.
Branstad's proposal will now be debated in the House.

Several Bills Don't Make It Through Second Funnel

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - One of the bills that appears to be dead in the Iowa Legislature this week is an effort backed by Gov. Terry Branstad to crack down on online bullying.
Branstad says Thursday he's still hopeful there might be action on the issue during the legislative session, but the cyberbullying bill did not survive a procedural deadline.
While major initiatives like health care, education policy and property tax reductions remain alive, a variety of other proposals appear dead this session.
Among them are bills that would require schools to test for radon, mandate suicide prevention training for teachers, make the names of gun permit holders private and make it harder for
government officials to seize land for the development of lakes.

Iowa City Schools Improving Security

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Iowa City's school district is improving security at all its school buildings.
The nearly $5 million plan will focus on increasing communication within and between schools for the Iowa City Community School District. It will improve locks on classrooms and other school doors, as well as improve security camera systems.
The school board approved the safety and security plan for 27 buildings on Tuesday. Some security
improvements will begin immediately. Other projects will start this summer.

Ice Jam At Cedar Rapids May Cost $20,000

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say property damage to a Cedar Rapids harbor from a recent ice jam will be between $20,000 and $25,000.
The Cedar Rapids River Recreation Commission says Thursday the ice broke electrical poles at the Ellis Boat Harbor on the Cedar River and forced crews to make service repairs to connect boat
Bids for the electric repair work will go out in May. They plan to have the work completed by
Memorial Day in time for boating season.
The ice jam along the Cedar River flooded some residential streets last month in Cedar Rapids. Officials say ice jams are common, but rain and melting snow in the region at the time made it
a difficult case.


Stolen Tortoise Returned To Museum

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - An 18-pound African leopard tortoise who went missing from an Iowa museum has been found alive in an elevator in the building.
Officials at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque believe the tortoise named Cashew was stolen, but that the thief quietly returned the animal.
The museum says a visitor found Cashew on the elevator floor Thursday. She appears to be in good health.
The museum discovered Cashew was missing Tuesday from an exhibit with a 4-foot glass wall. Museum officials suspected she was taken as a prank or to sell.
Museum officials are reviewing surveillance video to try to figure out exactly what happened and find a possible suspect.


Nervous Bank Robber May Get 10 Years In Prison

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Court documents say a Waterloo man who robbed a bank in 2011 was so nervous about the act he accidentally demanded $80 from the teller instead of $80,000.
Thirty-year-old Kurtis Culbert submitted a series of notes to Black Hawk County District Court before pleading guilty last month to second-degree robbery.
Culbert says he was ordered to rob the bank by individuals he knew when he served time in prison. He says he was shaky when writing a holdup note and the teller misread his request for
The teller at the U.S. Bank branch in Waterloo read $80 in the note and gave it to Culbert. He left and was later arrested.
Culbert faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced.






Thursday Afternoon News, April 4

Police Release Information On Tuesday Morning Accident

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Police Department has released additional information regarding that early morning accident that happened on Tuesday.  A car driven by 19 year old Edwin Barerra of South Sioux City, Nebraska failed to make a stop and pulled out in front of an on coming semi truck and trailer being driven by 36 year old Grace Jackson of Harrington, Delaware.  The accident occurred at the junction of Business Highway 75 and 18th Street Southwest.  The semi truck did not have time to avoid the car and struck the Barerra vehicle causing debris to be scattered on the highway.  There were no injuries associated with the accident.  The police report indicated frost was covering the windshield and side windows in the Barerra vehicle which obstructed the vision.  The Le Mars Fire Department responded to
that accident to assist with the clean up of debris and fluids.

Bock Arrested On Drug and Burglary Charges

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County law officials have arrested a 28 year old Le Mars man for various drug charges and for a burglary charge.  On Wednesday of last week, Andrew Bock was placed under arrest for possession of a controlled substance 3rd or subsequent offense, a Class D Felony; driving while impaired 3rd or subsequent offense, a Class D Felony; burglary 3rd degree, a Class D Felony; driving while revoked, a simple misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a simple misdemeanor. The Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office took a report of a burglary that occurred in rural Plymouth County near Le Mars.  The burglary was from a machine shed and included the theft of numerous tools valued at approximately $850.  During the investigation, Bock, was developed as a suspect.  Originally, Bock was stopped for a stop sign violation in the area of 170th Street and Impala Avenue west of Le Mars. 

As a result of the arrest and investigation, Bock was also charged with the burglary and theft of the tools from the incident on March 24th.  A search warrant was executed at 1315 W. 20th Street in Sioux City, IA for the stolen property.  Stolen property from the Plymouth County burglary was recovered from that residence.  The residence belonged to John Warner, age 61 of Sioux City.  Warner was incarcerated at the Woodbury County Jail at the time of the search warrant for a parole violation.  The investigation with Warner is on-going.  Bock is currently jailed at the Plymouth County Jail with a bond of $15,000.


Plymouth County Authorities Dispatched For Domestic Abuse Case

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to a residence in the 2100 block of K18 in rural Plymouth County on Wednesday morning for a domestic assault.  After an investigation at the scene, Eric Robley, age 41 of rural Akron, was arrested for simple domestic abuse assault.  Robley was taken to the Plymouth County Jail and held to see a judge.


Plymouth County Sheriff's Office and Le Mars Police Train For Lost Individuals

(Le Mars) -- Members of the Plymouth County Sheriff's office and the Le Mars Police Department have been receiving training during the last couple days of how to locate individuals who may wander.  It's part of Project Lifesaver, and its a program that utilizes a radio transmitter signal to help find those individuals that may suffer from dementia, Alzheimer's, autism, or other developmental disorders.  Neil Johnson is with the St. Croix County Wisconsin sheriff's office.  Johnson has been training the local law enforcement agencies and explains the program.
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Individuals in long-term care facilities or other special needs facilities would be fitted with a transmitter about the size of a watch that could be worn on their wrist.  If that individual would happen to wander away from the facility, the care unit could contact the local law enforcement agency to assist with the search.

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Johnson has taught 26 agencies in the use of the equipment.  He says the training sessions have all gone well and the local law enforcement agencies participated in five simulated searches on Wednesday morning, with each search scattered around Le Mars at various points.

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Plymouth County has acquired two hand-held units and according to Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo, he is pursuing a grant in order to have a third unit.  Van Otterloo says eleven counties within northwest Iowa are already equipped with the locator technology.

State Auditor Dave Vaudt Resigns

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State Auditor David Vaudt says he is resigning his elected position to become chairman of a national nonprofit accounting board.
Vaudt, a Republican who has served as auditor since January 2003, announced Thursday he would leave the position to become chairman of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board.
His new position will begin July 1.
Gov. Terry Branstad will appoint a replacement, who will serve until Vaudt's term expires.
The next election for auditor will be in November 2014.

Election Commissioner Asks School Officials To Dismiss Students On Election Day

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Woodbury County elections boss is working with Sioux City school officials to have children absent on November's Election Day every two years.
Woodbury County Elections commissioner Pat Gill has asked the district to hold teacher training that day so students won't be in buildings being used as polling places. Gill says removing children for the day would eliminate security concerns posed by doors being left open
for voters.
District Superintendent Paul Gausman  says the district will consider holding the training on those Tuesdays.  Normally the sessions are held on Monday afternoons.
Gill has said that if such measures are not taken, Sioux City schools eventually won't be used as polling places. He says other counties are moving away from using schools for voting.  None of the Plymouth County polling places are within any school district facility.


Former Judge Charged With Marijuana Possession

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A former Muscatine County judge who's served time for drunken driving has been charged with marijuana possession.
59-year-old James Weaver, of Muscatine, was cited on Sunday in Iowa City. Officers had gone to a hotel to evict Weaver when his credit card was declined.
Officers say Weaver wouldn't open the room door, so a hotel manager used a key. Officers say Weaver was inside, on the bed, and seemed intoxicated.
Officers say they found a small bag of marijuana under the mattress.
A phone listing for Weaver couldn't be found. Online court records don't list an attorney for him.
Weaver was an associate judge from 1982 to 2004. Since 2002 he has had three drunken-driving convictions and has served time in prison.







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