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Tuesday Afternoon News, March 5

City Council Turns Down Chicken Request

(Le Mars) -- By an unanimous vote, the Le Mars City council decided to turn thumbs down on the request by Jeremy White to allow him to raise chickens within the city limits.  Le Mars mayor Dick Kirchoffexplained to white that it was against city code ordinance to allow livestock to be raised within the city borders.  Kirchoff informed White that he had received numerous comments both in favor and against the request.
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Councilman John Rexwinkle said he also had many comments directed his way with regards to the chicken issue.

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County Supervisors Award Cedar Valley With Construction Contract

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors approved their fiscal year 2013-2014 budget this morning.  The county projects revenue to be slightly higher than $27,745,000 and expenses are projected to be more than $27,852,000.  The Supervisors approved a bid submitted by Cedar Valley, Incorporated for the construction projects involving a paving overlay on County roads C-38 and K-42, near Merrill, as well as 5th Street in Merrill.   Both  roads service the Plymouth County Energy, the ethanol facility, and Plymouth County Oil Company, a corn oil processor.  Cedar Valley's bid for all three projects was $3,186,932.45  County Engineer Tom Rohe explains the proposed construction projects.
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Rohe says the total overlay is about four and three-quarters miles, along with nearly two thousand feet of reconstruction within the town of Merrill.  The supervisors also announced a letting date of April 2nd for two other proposed construction projects that are situated in the northwest corner of the county.

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House and Senate Differ On Education Reform Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Not long after Republicans in the state House scaled back Gov. Terry Branstad's education plan, Democrats in the Senate have beefed it up again.
The Senate education legislation was introduced Monday. It boosts minimum teacher pay back to the $35,000 proposed by Branstad and mandates participation in a leadership program that would
provide additional compensation to teachers who take on more responsibilities. Sponsor Sen. Herman Quirmbach says there will be several options for how districts set up those programs.
Last month, the House approved an education plan that set minimum salaries at $32,000 and gave districts the ability to opt-out of providing salary increases or setting up the teacher
leadership program.
A spokesman for Branstad says Tuesday the governor would review the Senate plan.

Egyptian Tax Evasion Should Not Alter Fertilizer Plant Deal

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - State officials say allegations of tax evasion against an Egyptian company and its CEO shouldn't affect plans to build a $1.4 billion fertilizer plant in southeastern Iowa.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority said Tuesday it is aware that Egypt's prosecutor has ordered that Orascom Construction Industries CEO Nassef Sawiris and his father be barred from
Egypt's state news agency says the move came after the country's finance minister requested a criminal case be expedited against them for allegedly evading $2 billion in taxes on the 2007 sale of
a subsidiary. The company says it's confident it didn't violate any laws.
Nassef Sawiris appeared with Gov. Terry Branstad last fall to break ground on the fertilizer plant, which has been awarded more than $200 million in state and local incentives.

Alons Introduces Anti-Gay Marriage Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Republicans are again proposing a change in the Iowa Constitution to ban gay marriage.
Rep. Dwayne Alons of Hull introduced a joint resolution Tuesday signed by 34 other House Republicans. Senate Republicans filed an identical bill last week.
The measure would begin the process of amending the state constitution to permit marriage only between a man and a woman.
The resolution would need to be passed by lawmakers, then approved by the Legislature elected in 2014 before going before voters.
Passage of the measure is unlikely because of Senate opposition.
Gay marriage has been legal in Iowa since a unanimous 2009 state Supreme Court ruling, which found a law limiting marriage to between men and women violated Iowa's constitution.
Republicans have sought such a measure every year since the ruling.


Army Corps of Engineers Being Sued For Missouri River Flooding

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) - Some landowners inundated by Missouri River flooding in 2011 are preparing to sue the federal government.
St. Joseph attorney Ed Murphy says he plans to file a case soon in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. He says plaintiffs could come from Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and possibly South Dakota.
Murphy noted that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in December that the federal government is not automatically exempt from paying for damage caused by temporary flooding from its dams.
In the summer of 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released massive amounts of water from upstream reservoirs that had been filled with melting snow and heavy rains. The onslaught lasted for
more than 100 days, causing extensive damage downstream.
The corps said it couldn't comment on pending litigation.




Tuesday News, March 5

Supervisors To Hold Budget Hearing

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing today regarding the proposed county budget.  That hearing is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. and will be held at the Plymouth County Courthouse at the Supervisor Board room.  Also on the Supervisor agenda, the board will be awarding the construction contract for two projects involving an asphalt overlay on County roads C-38 and K-42.  Both of the roads service the Plymouth County Energy, the ethanol facility, and Plymouth County Oil Company, a corn oil processor.  The supervisors are expected to announce the letting date for two other proposed construction projects that will take place this spring and summer.  Both are situated in the northwest corner of the county and involve the replacement of drainage culverts.


City Council To Decide On Request To Raise Chickens In Town

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars City Council has a light agenda during today's scheduled meeting.  The city council is expected to act upon the request of Floyd Valley Hospital to grant the hospital permission for an expansion project, and the council will make a decision as to whether Jeremy White will be allowed to raise chickens within the city limits.  White, who resides at 309 7th Avenue Southwest, wants to raise four layer hens in order to have his own eggs.  City code does not allow for "livestock" to be raised within the city limits.


Soderberg To Hold Legislative Forums

(Des Moines) -- State Representative Chuck Soderberg of Le Mars has announced he will hold several legislative forums on Saturday, March 9th.  Soderberg will begin the day at 9:00 a.m. with a forum to be held at the Hinton Community Center located at 205 W. Main Street. Le Mars and the Habitue' Coffeehouse at 108 Central Avenue Northeast at 10:30 a.m. will be the second stop for Soderberg.  The third and final stop is scheduled to begin at 12:00 noon at the Akron Public Library located at 350 Reed Street.  The legislative panel will be discussing various issues concerning the Iowa Legislature.  The public is invited and encouraged to attend the meetings and address any issues that are of concern.


Branstad Introduces New Health Care Plan

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says his health care proposal for some low-income Iowans will not provide the same benefits as an expanded Medicaid, but called his approach more
fiscally responsible.
Branstad on Monday unveiled Healthy Iowa, a revamped version of IowaCare, a state and federally funded program which provides limited benefits to about 70,000 low-income adults. The new plan
would adjust eligibility rules and offer some additional coverage, including service in more locations.
Branstad wants to get federal approval to set up Healthy Iowa instead of pursing a Medicaid expansion permitted under President Obama's health care overhaul. He says his approach will better
shield Iowa from federal fiscal changes.
Democrats in the state Senate say the plan would provide people with fewer benefits at a higher cost to the state.

Different Property Tax Proposals Being Discussed

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A commercial property tax proposal from Gov. Terry Branstad is moving forward in the Republican-majority Iowa House, while a very different plan has support in the
Democratic-controlled Senate.
Republicans in a House ways and means subcommittee on Monday approved legislation from Branstad that would gradually reduce taxable assessments for commercial property owners by 20 percent.
Branstad's plan, which is estimated to cost $350 million, would also slow the growth of residential and agricultural assessments.
Senate Democrats have given committee-level approval to a plan that would gradually provide commercial property owners with a tax credit equivalent to a roughly 40 percent tax cut on their first
$324,000 in assessed property value. Democrats say their $250 million plan would help small businesses more than Branstad's plan.


Northeast Iowa Blanketed With Snow

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - Forecasters say more snow is on the way to snarl travel and disrupt people's daily routines, but at least one northern Iowa woman loves what she sees.
Mary Hermanson is the night shift front desk clerk at the Super 8 in Mason City, and she says it looks like Christmas outside.
Hermanson said Tuesday morning that the snow is gently falling and "it's absolutely gorgeous out. If I'm going to have snow come down, that's what I want to have come down." She estimates about
10 inches have fallen there in the past 24 hours.
Hermanson says the snow is beautiful, but it hides the treacherous road conditions. She couldn't see the lanes on roads as she drove to work Monday night.

World Food Prize Hall Wins Energy Award

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A century-old former public library renovated to become the home of the World Food Prize Foundation has been awarded the top energy efficiency and environmental design
The World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in Des Moines, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has been awarded a LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. The
Washington-based nonprofit organization promotes energy-saving building construction. Only a handful of 19th century buildings in the United States have the platinum rating.
Renovation of the building, which first opened as the Des Moines Public Library in 1903, cost $30 million.
It includes high efficiency solar panels, a geothermal system to heat and cool the building, and an 8,000-gallon storm water collection and storage system used to water the gardens.

Endangered Bat Could Delay Construction Project

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An endangered bat could delay work on an Interstate 80 interchange that business and civic leaders hope will bring more businesses and jobs to Waukee and West Des Moines.
A lone female Indian bat was found just over a mile from the $31 million proposed Interstate 80 interchange south of Waukee. The bat is considered endangered by state and federal agencies.
Federal officials have asked for a study to determine whether the Indiana bat population would be harmed by the interchange construction.
The discovery of the bat won't kill plans for the interchange, but it comes as the cities were preparing to start working on a final design. Officials want to have the construction begin later this year.






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