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Wednesday News, January 23

Le Mars School Board Makes Counter Offer To Teacher Association

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School Board has offered the Le Mars Teachers Association a counter offer proposal for salary and benefit increases.  The school board announced that it is prepared to offer each faculty member an increase of base salary of $700.  The raise in pay will make a starting teacher's salary from $31,945 to $32,645.  The total package will increase the cost of salary and benefits to the district by $299,254 or 2.6 percent with the legislatively approved increase in the IPERS employer contribution rate for 2013-14.  The school board is also asking the teachers to be in attendance directing activities of the classroom 95 percent of the 180 student contact days...successful participation in 15 hours of professional development classes...meets district expectations on summarative evaluation and /or career development plan...and the school board is asking teachers to have less than five percent failure rate for students under the direction of the classroom teacher.


Rock Island Clean Line Meets With Supervisors

(Le Mars) -- A representative from the Rock Island Clean Energy Line appeared before the County Supervisors to update them on the progress of a new wind turbine farm and transmission line to be located in nothern Iowa.  Beth Conley explains what is the Rock Island Clean Line.

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Conley says Plymouth County will benefit from the new electrical transmission line that begins in O'Brien County as it will create several thousand jobs.

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Floyd Valley Hospital Officials Meet Before City Council

(Le Mars) -- Floyd Valley Hospital Administrator Mike Donlin appeared before the Le Mars City Council on Tuesday to offer an update on the status regarding the proposed north addition to the hospital.  Donlin says the hospital hasn't seen this type of expansion since 1972, and the expansion would keep Floyd Valley hospital competitive with other regional health care facilities.
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Donlin informed the city council that feasibility studies are on-going along with an application for a loan through the U-S-D-A's Rural Development.  City administrator Scott Langel reminded the council that Floyd Valley Hospital is one of the city's larger employers.  He says historically it has been the city's position to help advance business in Le Mars, and he says the hospital would fall into that category.

Sioux City Man To Serve 52 Years For Murder

(Sioux City) -- A Sioux City man will serve over 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges in the 2012 crowbar beatings of two people.  23 year old James Kroll pleaded guilty to second degree murder and attempted murder before Judge Duane Hoffmeyer in Woodbury County District Court.  Hoffmeyer sentenced Kroll to a combined 75 years in prison in the June 13th beating death of Jeffrey Moravek and for seriously injuring Mary Tope in her home.  Kroll must serve at least 52 and a half years in prison before he is eligible for parole in the plea agreement that reduced the murder charge from 1st degree to 2nd degree.  He will be officially sentenced on Thursday, February 7th at 3:00 p.m.


DCI To Change Investigators For Voter Fraud Case

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation says a new agent is taking over responsibility for a statewide investigation into possible voting irregularities.
DCI assistant director Chari Paulson says Matt Anderson has been named to replace Dan Dawson. She says Anderson is taking over the assignment because of internal staffing needs and not because of
any problems with Dawson's investigation.
Anderson is working with Dawson to create a transition plan before he takes over duties in the spring.
DCI has been investigating potential crimes related to elections under a two-year agreement with Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, who says he wants to root out voter fraud.
So far eight people have been charged with illegally voting or registering. Democrats have called the investigation a waste of money.


Civil Rights Groups Believe New Rules Will Allow Immigrants To Get Driver's License

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa civil rights activists say new information from the federal government should prompt a change in the state's policy barring driver's licenses for young immigrants
allowed by a federal rule to live in the United States.
On Friday the federal government issued new guidance clarifying that young people allowed to remain in the country by a policy enacted by President Barack Obama are considered to be authorized
residents. Gov. Terry Branstad's administration announced in December that the federal law didn't give people the legal status to get a driver's license.
Immigrants allowed to receive renewable, two-year deportation reprieves must have been brought into the U.S. as children and must meet specific age, residency and education requirements.
Branstad said on Tuesday that his administration was reviewing the new federal guidance.






Tuesday Afternoon News, Jan. 22

Sheriff and Communications Center Need More Help

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo and Communications Center Director Curt Hatting met before the County Board of Supervisors to ask the board to consider providing funding for another dispatcher to be hired.  Hatting says incoming calls have been on the increase in all categories over the last five to six years.

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Hatting says that Plymouth County when compared to other counties of similar size is far short on the number of communications dispatchers.
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Van Otterloo informed the supervisors that he estimates the salary, insurance, and benefits for another full-time employee would be slightly lower than $52,000.


Authorities Investigate Accident

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County authorities are investigating a two-vehicle accident that occurred on Sunday afternoon.  That accident happened at the intersection of County Road C-60 and Nature Avenue.  According to the report, a vehicle being driven by 20 year old Brady Sitzmann of Hinton was crossing the intersection when it struck a car being driven by 47 year old Patrick Schmitz of Kingsley.  Sitzmann complained of leg pain, but refused to be transported.  The Hinton Ambulance also responded to that accident.

MidAmerican Energy To Stop Using Coal

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - MidAmerican Energy Co. has agreed to stop burning coal in seven power plant boilers in Iowa and limit emissions from two others as part of a settlement with an environmental group.
The Sierra Club filed a lawsuit last year claiming MidAmerican was violating the Clean Air Act by emitting more pollution than allowed in permits in Sergeant Bluff, Bettendorf, and Council Bluffs.
To settle the case, MidAmerican agrees to stop burning coal in boilers at Council Bluffs and Sergeant Bluffs by April 2016. The company says it also will stop burning coal in Bettendorf but will
operate the facility with natural gas.
It says installation of a cleaning system is under way at other boilers in Sergeant Bluffs.
MidAmerican says it settled the case Tuesday to avoid costs to customers.


Businesses Create Coalition To Support Ethanol & Biodiesel

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Several Iowa businesses and organizations have joined together to create a coalition that will push for continued government support of renewable fuels including
ethanol and biodiesel.
The Iowa RFS Coalition includes biotech giants DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta. In addition groups representing corn and soybean growers and farm equipment dealers have joined in the effort. The group's members also include the Iowa Biodiesel Board, Iowa Biotechnology Association, and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.
The coalition, in announcing its creation Monday, says the goal is to keep in place the federal government's Renewable Fuels Standard, a policy which requires an increasing amount of the
nation's gasoline supply to include ethanol and biodiesel.
Critics from the oil industry and some food groups have lobbied to weaken or suspend the standard.


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