Tuesday Afternoon News, July 14
Fire Department Responds To Highway 60 Grass Fire
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars and Oyens Fire Departments were called to a grass fire that was located along highway 60 about seven miles northeast of Le Mars. The fire was reported shortly before 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. An area of several hundred feet had burnt along the highway, and between the railroad tracks. At times the smoke from the grass fire had impeded the vision for travelers heading northbound on highway 60. Fire fighters were able to extinguish the blaze within 20 minutes.
Sheriff Employees Seek Five Percent Increase With Salary
(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Sheriff's Office Employee Bargaining Unit met with the County Board of Supervisors to present the initial proposal for a new three-year contract. The contract would be from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2019. Kirk Hatting, director of the Plymouth County Communications Divison and Sheriff's Deputy Sergeant Rick Singer appeared before the county supervisors. In their contract proposal, the employees of the sheriff's office is seeking a five percent increase in salary wages for each year of the contract.
The bargaining unit has proposed that employees will pay up to 12.5 percent of insurance coverage. Currently the level is at ten percent. The employees are also seeking a ten-cents per hour shift differential increase for each year of the contract. The current rate is at 60 cents per hour. Other requests submitted is to add deputies salary schedule to the contract, add food service employees to the contract, and also to add the office clerk to the contract. The supervisors have two weeks to submit a counter-proposal to the bargaining unit, before negotiations can occur.
Arts Center Is Active During Summer (Updated)
(Le Mars) -- Attendees of the Lunch and Learn session held on Monday found out a little more about the Le Mars Arts Center. Arts Center director Judy Marineaux and Arts Center president Jean Wiener spoke to the gathering. Marineaux says the Arts Center has enjoyed some success by reaching out to children.
The Arts Center director says area children have responded in a positive manner to the activities featured at the arts center.
Marineaux says the goal of the Arts Center is to make certain everyone is happy. Marineaux believes establishing interest in art early in a child's life will mean that child will retain an interest throughout their life. You may recall seeing a lemonade stand operated by children outside the Le Mars Arts Center during the ice cream days festival. Marineaux says the children decided to donate a portion of those proceeds.
Marineaux says she has a special place in her heart for the children's cancer research foundation.
Jean Wiener originally hails from Georgia. She says her husband's job brought her to Le Mars, and she is pleasantly surprised at how much attention Le Mars devotes to the arts.
Wiener says the city's ally art and mural projects, along with the various painted fiberglass ice cream cones have brought more attention to the community's stance on art, both by Le Mars residents and those who visit Le Mars.
Wiener says she is disappointed that Le Mars was not able to receive a national grant that would have helped expand the arts within Le Mars, but she remains hopeful that people will still show enthusiasm for the arts displayed in the "Ice Cream Capital of the World".
Audit Shows Corrections District Misspent Funds
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A state audit shows an Iowa correctional district linked to improper spending has misspent nearly $1.2 million in additional money.
State Auditor Mary Mosiman says the improper disbursements from the Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services had a significant financial impact on the district over the years.
The report released Tuesday says the bulk of improper disbursements came from payroll costs. That includes more than $170,000 in vacation payouts to former employees and more than $40,000 in vacation used before it was earned.
The new report was an addendum to an audit released at the beginning of 2014 that found nearly $776,000 in improper spending.
The district faces layoffs amid a budget shortfall. A message left for correction officials wasn't immediately returned Tuesday.
Mayor On Trial For Sexual Abuse
WAVERLY, Iowa (AP) - A re-trial has begun for the former mayor of Oelwein, who is charged with second-degree sexual abuse of a girl.
The trial of Jason Manus got underway Tuesday in Bremer County District Court.
In May, a Chickasaw County jury found Manus not guilty of one count of third-degree sexual abuse involving a 14-year-old girl, but the jury deadlocked on a charge involving a younger girl.
Judge Richard Stochl declared a mistrial and later agreed to move the trial to Bremer County.
Jury selection began Tuesday, and if it can be completed, opening arguments will be held Wednesday.
Manus, who has pleaded not guilty, was mayor of Oelwein until his resignation in August 2014.
Trial Has Started For Former Lottery Official
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Trial has begun for a former lottery security officer accused of fixing a computer to get a winning Hot Lotto ticket worth millions.
Opening statements in the trial of 51-year-old Eddie Tipton, of Norwalk, began Tuesday in a Polk County courtroom.
Tipton faces two counts of fraud, each carrying a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
State prosecutors claim he fixed random-number generating computers to pick numbers for the Dec. 23, 2010, Hot Lotto drawing, bought a ticket with those numbers and unsuccessfully tried to get others to cash it without disclosing the buyer.
Assistant Iowa Attorney General Rob Sand described the case as an "inside job." Defense attorney Dean Stowers told jurors video of the ticket purchase was blurry. Tipton has denied the accusations.
MARBLE ROCK, Iowa (AP) - A 56-year-old Dougherty man has died in a tractor accident east of Marble Rock in northeast Iowa.
The Floyd County Sheriff's Office says the accident happened Sunday. Investigators say Gary Ewen was mowing ditches with a tractor and sickle mower when he struck a tree stump, causing the tractor to roll into the ditch and pinning him underneath.
Ewen was pronounced dead at the scene.
Endangered Cacti May Hold Up Development Project
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Officials in northwestern Iowa say the discovery of more than 100 endangered cacti could increase the cost of a Sioux City road project.
The project for design improvements to Southbridge Drive may now include the relocation of about 116 prickly pear cactus plants,
The cactus is a protected plant species in the state.
City Engineer Glenn Ellis told the City Council during a meeting Monday that the relocation and other associated costs could come to an additional $100,000.
The City Council voted agreed Monday to have an engineering firm create a new project design.