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Tuesday News, January 15

Parents Show Concern For School Security

(Le Mars) -- School security was on the minds of more than 20 parents and teachers who attended the Le Mars Community Board of Education meeting held last evening.  Following the tragic events in Connecticut that lead to 26 deaths after a gunman opened fire at an elementary school, many concerned parents are wondering what Le Mars Community School District is doing to make certain the students are safe.  The parents showed their concern in a general manner, but many are specifically worried about  Kluckhohn elementary.  Kluckhohn elementary school was built in a circular shape with many classrooms not having walls or doors.  Parent and teacher Shannon Renken set the tone for the evening.
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Kicker returned to the podium to express his opinion.

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Superintendent of schools, Dr. Todd Wendt offered to the board nine different suggestions for consideration.  Wendt submitted the suggestions to the board after compiling comments from parents, staff, and community members.  The suggestions include:

1. Surveillance cameras inside and outside of all district building.

2. Controlled access systems at all district buildings that require visitors to be "buzzed in" during the school day.

3. Armed police officer in all district buildings.

4. Staff and/or volunteers with concealed weapons in all district buildings.

5. Doors and walls at Kluckhohn Elementary for lockdown procedures.

6. Mass notification system for the purpose of communicating with parents when an emergency exists.

7. Full time staffing at front entrances to district buildings.

8. Bullet proof glass in all district buildings.

9. Metal detectors at main entrances to buildings.

No action was taken by the school board during Monday evening's meeting, but a consensus was reached by the board to have staffing at the front entrances to district buildings.


Supervisors Have Light Agenda

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors have a light agenda for today's meeting.  The supervisors are expected to sign an agreement with the City of Le Mars regarding transferring interest in Crescent Ridge.  The supervisors are also expected to approve the county employee salary increases for the next fiscal year.


Branstad To Deliver Condition Of The State Address Today

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is expected to outline plans for education changes and tax cuts in the annual Condition of the State speech.
Branstad will give the speech Tuesday morning to a joint session of the Legislature, which began work Monday.
The Republican governor already has proposed increasing teacher salaries as part of an education reform plan, and he could offer more details in Tuesday's speech.
Branstad also will likely outline his plans to reduce commercial property taxes. That has been one of Branstad's priorities since being elected in 2010, but his previous efforts have stalled in the
Unlike in the past few years, lawmakers this session have the luxury of a budget surplus, estimated at nearly $1 billion.

DNR Officials To Examine Lakes and Rivers Water Quality

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials are discussing water quality in the state.
The state Department of Natural Resources will present a report Tuesday to the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission on a draft list of more than 480 impaired waters around the state. A new rule that clarifies enforcement options also will be discussed.
The DNR says the most typical impairments for lakes are algae and turbid or cloudy water. For rivers, it's a high level of bacteria that detects contaminated water.
A new rule that clarifies how the DNR responds to a potential violation also is on the agenda.
The biennial report will be available for public comment until the end of February. A revised draft will then be sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for final approval.


Vilsack To Keep Ag Secretary Post

WASHINGTON (AP) - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will keep his job in President Obama's second term.
USDA communications director Matt Paul said Monday that Obama asked Vilsack to stay in his post and Vilsack accepted. Vilsack is the former Democratic governor of Iowa.
The farm economy has thrived under Vilsack's tenure, but his job hasn't been as easy in Washington. He is expected to spend the next several months lobbying Congress to pass a farm bill that would extend agriculture subsidies and domestic food aid.  Farm-state lawmakers' efforts to pass that bill failed in the last Congress.
Vilsack spent much of his first term working to revitalize rural America. He said in a December speech that rural areas are becoming less relevant as the U.S. population shifts to cities.






Monday Afternoon News, January 14

Victims Identified In Perry Creek Accident

(Sioux City) -- Sioux City Police have released the identities of the victims from that early Sunday morning auto accident that careened into Perry Creek, leaving three dead and two injured.  Those that died from the accident are: 21 year old Torey Wickey of Sioux City, 23 year old Dominique Nok of Sioux city, and 24 year old Matthew Dean also of Sioux City. 

Injured included Anthony Carr, 23 years old of Sioux City and 22 year old Alexander Brown of South Sioux City. The accident occurred shortly after 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning when a vehicle ran through a stop sign, then drove through a residence yard into the Perry Creek and came to rest on its roof partially submerged in Perry Creek.  Sioux City Police believe alcohol was involved in the accident, and the accident is still under investigation.

State Legislature Back In Session

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Legislature has convened for a session focused on education reform and commercial property tax cuts.
On Monday morning, lawmakers in Des Moines opened the 85th session.
Earlier in the day, Gov. Terry Branstad unveiled a $187 million plan to change Iowa's K-12 education system.
The proposal calls for increasing minimum pay for entry level teachers from $28,000 to $35,000 annually. Aspiring teachers also could be offered tuition assistance.
Lawmakers this session also will take up Branstad's plans to reduce commercial property taxes.
Unlike recent sessions, the state now has a nearly $1 billion budget surplus, making it easier for lawmakers to fund programs.


Civil Rights Director Receives Bonus Pay

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad has given a $5,000 bonus to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission director, commending her for firing problem employees and reducing its case backlog.
The bonus announced Monday for Beth Townsend signals Branstad isn't backing off his controversial practice of granting bonuses to agency leaders that he believes deserve them.
The state's largest union, AFSCME, argues that bonuses shouldn't be allowed because the Legislature sets salary caps for those jobs.  AFSCME officials say the practice is unseemly at a time when
Branstad is seeking to cut health care benefits for thousands of
But spokesman Tim Albrecht says Branstad will continue using bonuses in "the rarest of circumstances" to reward high-performers. He says Townsend has "corrected years' worth of inefficiencies and hostility" and dramatically improved the commission's service.


Man Wanted For Child Endangerment Case Has Been Found and Arrested

OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) - An eastern Iowa man sought in a child endangerment case has been found and arrested.
Authorities say 25-year-old Michael Blair, of Swisher, is in Wapello County Jail and is being held on $200,000 bail. Online court records don't list the name of his attorney.
Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner says Blair was discovered in an attic around 1 a.m. Saturday in Ely, which sits south-southeast of Cedar Rapids. Gardner wouldn't elaborate on what led officers to
Blair's hiding place.
Police say Blair is suspected of child endangerment involving a seriously injured 2-month-old who was taken to an Ottumwa hospital on Dec. 7.



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