Thursday News, February 21
Le Mars Housing Construction Down
(Le Mars) -- Le Mars housing growth has slowed down during the past few years, and that has city council members somewhat concerned. During Tuesday's city council meeting, Jason Vacura, the city's code enforcement director informed the city's leaders that last year Le Mars had only 13 new homes that were constructed. During the last five years, Le Mars has witnessed housing construction that has been at or below 15 homes a year. From 2003 to 2006, there were more than 30 homes constructed each year, with 2004 seeing 44 new homes that were built. City Administrator Scott Langel urged the council to look at construction incentives. Langel is looking ahead to the 2020 census, and says Le Mars could lose out on some government programs.
Langel says he would like to see the same type of housing growth that was seen during the previous three census.
Commercial business construction has also slowed down somewhat in recent years. In 2005, Le Mars saw eleven new businesses being constructed, since that time, the city has averaged five new businesses being constructed each year.
Museum To Hold Open House On Sunday
(Le Mars) -- Over the years the business landscape in Le Mars has has changed. As with anywhere, some businesses come and go, some stand the test of time, but all leave some kind of foot print. If you have been a part of a Le Mars business from years past, the Plymouth County Historical Museum invites you to share your memories at a special open house this Sunday at 2pm.
Long time Le Mars resident and museum volunteer, Delores Burkhard, says that the recently constructed Le Mars Main Street Exhibit will be featured.
Joan Kroepel, whose father ran Mount Drug, will speak about the drug store. Glada Koerselman, former longtime editor of the Sentinel will be there as well. Artifacts and stories from the history of other Le Mars businesses will also be shared.
Burkhard, who has lived in Le Mars since 1954, told me one of her memories of downtown Le Mars was closely connected with fresh made bread.
The Le Mars Main Street Exhibit and Business Memories Open House will wrap up with a hot dog feed on the second floor. The Open House starts at 2pm this Sunday, February 24th and the museum will be open all afternoon from 1-5pm.
Legislators Work Load Reduced Due To Pending Snow Storm
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Most legislative action is being cancelled Thursday at the Iowa Capitol because of a snowstorm expected to sweep through the state.
The National Weather Service predicts up to 10 inches of snow could pile by Thursday night in Des Moines, and heavy snow is forecast for much of the state. Gusty winds also are expected.
The House and Senate will convene Thursday, but no floor action is scheduled and most committee hearings have been cancelled.
Lawmakers Table Bill That Applies To Pregnant Inmates
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill that would limit the use of restraints on pregnant inmates has been tabled in the Iowa state House.
Republican Representative Linda Miller, who heads the House human resources committee, says Wednesday that she has put the bill aside because the state Department of Corrections and law
enforcement officials have agreed to follow strict guidelines for when to use force on pregnant inmates.
The updated policy from the Department of Corrections would prohibit inmates who have been pregnant for at least 22 weeks from being restrained unless they pose an immediate risk. Officials
announced that change in January.
Miller says she can revive the legislation if the rules are not being followed.
Proposal To Limit Regents Political Participation
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A proposal to limit the Iowa Board of Regents from political activities has prompted sometimes heated exchanges at a legislative hearing.
The Des Moines Register reports an Iowa Senate subcommittee met Wednesday to discuss the bill, which would require Regents to hear more public feedback regarding some decisions.
Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, says the bill would bring transparency and accountability. Senator Jack Whitver, a Republican from Ankeny, says the bill could limit
Regents' freedom of speech.
The Senate State Government Committee plans to meet again over the legislation.
Regent Bruce Rastetter was criticized Tuesday after records showed he intervened on behalf of ethanol industry leaders who were upset with a prominent University of Iowa professor over research.
U of I Keeps Human Rights Center
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa is abandoning plans to close a center dedicated to the study of human rights issues and will keep it open under a restructuring.
Supporters of the Center for Human Rights had protested for months against a plan to close it because of funding problems.
Provost P. Barry Butler announced Wednesday the center will stay open, but move from the international programs division in his office to the law school July 1. The center's new director will be
law professor Adrien Wing.
Butler says the new reporting structure and funding model should ensure a strong future for the center, which opened in 1999.
An advisory board will be created to coordinate the center's activities across the university, including its undergraduate certificate in human rights and lecture series.
Judge Agrees To Move Trial
MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - A judge has agreed to move the trial out of Charles City for a man charged with killing a 5-year-old northern Iowa girl in 2005.
District Judge Gregg Rosenbladt on Wednesday granted a motion by Casey Frederiksen's defense to change the venue for his first-degree murder trial in the death of Evelyn Miller of Floyd.
KIMT-TV reports that Frederiksen's attorney argued that pretrial publicity in the area was making it difficult for his client to receive a fair trial. The ruling means the trial, scheduled to
begin October 28th, will take place about 90 miles away in Webster City.
Frederiksen was charged in the 7-year-old case last September, when he was already serving time in federal prison on child pornography charges. Frederiksen was the live-in boyfriend of the girl's mother.