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Thursday Afternoon News, February 19

Bike Central To Host "Do Not Freeze" Bicycle Ride

(Le Mars) -- This coming Saturday, Bike Central of Le Mars is hosting its annual DNF bicycle ride.  DNF stands for Do Not Freeze.  Mark Strub says participants have two choices, they can ride on the gravel, or take a destination ride on paved roads.  Either way he suggests participants dress accordingly.

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Strub reminds people both bicycle runs are designed to be destination runs, and not races.  Bicyclists also have the option to ride on paved roads for a 25 mile course.

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Strub says besides the cold and windy weather conditions, there are other challenges to riding a bicycle during the winter months.

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Last year, the Do Not Freeze Bicycle ride attracted nearly 40 people and Strub believes this year's ride will have the same, or perhaps more participants.  Strub says the vast majority of the participants are local residents, however, he says there are some coming from Omaha to ride in this year's DNF.  Strub encourages people to pre-register.  The rides will begin at 9:00 a.m. from the Bike Central shop but he says Bike Central will provide some refreshments to the participants beginning at 8:00 a.m. 

 

Layoffs At Mental Health Institutes To Start Next Month

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A union official says layoffs will begin in March at mental hospitals in Mount Pleasant and Clarinda despite efforts by some legislators to keep the centers open.
     Danny Homan, the president of Iowa's largest state employees union, says an administrator informed employees at the Mount Pleasant hospital that the first round of layoff notices will be distributed Monday and that those layoffs would take effect March 30. Homan says an administrator says layoffs would begin April 20 in Clarinda.
     The news surprised some legislators, who have argued it's up to the Legislature, not the governor, whether to close the centers.
     Gov. Terry Branstad earlier announced plans to close the hospitals but pledged last week to work with legislators on the matter.
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Jail Cell Auctioned

  SHELLSBURG, Iowa (AP) - A man has bid $6,100 to buy Shellsburg's rusting, old one-cell jail.
     The bid by Mike Cooper, of Solon, topped the bid of $1,510 from local residents. They rounded up money for the silent auction in an effort to keep the cell in the eastern Iowa town of around 980 people.
     Officials decided to get rid of the cell because it took up too much space in the Municipal Building, where it had been sitting for years.
     What Cooper intends to do with the jail cell is unclear.
 

 

Fortune 100 Health Company To Begin Operations In Clear Lake

  CLEAR LAKE, Iowa (AP) - McKesson Corp. is the company that will occupy a new, 340,000-square-foot distribution plant in Clear Lake.
     The announcement was made Thursday by local and company officials. For months the company has been described only as a Fortune 100 company. McKesson is No. 15 on the Fortune list and is a health care services and information technology company. It is based in San Francisco.
     Officials have said the warehouse will employ 164 full-time workers with an average annual wage of $39,000.
     The plant is being built in the Larry Luker Memorial Industrial Park on the southeast side of Clear Lake.

 

House Speaker Changes Committee To Insure Fuel Tax Bill To Reach Floor

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen has made some key changes to a House committee to help ensure there are enough votes to pass a bill raising the state fuel tax.
     Paulsen said Thursday he had replaced one member of the ways and means committee, bringing in a lawmaker who supports the bill instead of a member who opposed it. And Paulsen also planned to temporarily replace another committee member so that he himself could cast a yes vote.  
     Paulsen said he needed to make sure that "bills the body wants to debate can get to the floor."  
     The Senate ways and means committee approved the bill Thursday afternoon. A similar bill was up before the House ways and means committee later in the day.

 

One Million Dollars Devoted To Help Restoration Efforts Of Fort Dodge Creek

   FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - City officials say a $1 million grant is slated to pay for the restoration of Soldier Creek in a Fort Dodge park in an effort to reduce erosion and improve water quality.
     Fort Dodge parks director Lori Branderhorst presented the restoration project Wednesday to the city's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Commission.
     Branderhorst says the final engineering plans have not yet been completed. She says the project is likely to involve adding bends to straighter portions of the creek for decreased erosion, removing invasive tree species nearby and relocating a portion of the stream.
     City officials say areas of Snell-Crawford Park will be closed throughout the process.
     Branderhorst says a public meeting will be held in March to further explain the project to Fort Dodge residents.
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Thursday News, February 19

Hebert Found Guilty Of Threats Against White House

LE MARS, Iowa (AP) - A jury has found an Akron man guilty of making a bomb threat on a government building and attempting to fight law enforcement officials while naked in his living room.
    37-year-old Jeremy Hebert was found guilty Wednesday of making a threat to use an explosive or incendiary device. He also was convicted of three counts of assaulting law enforcement officers.
     Hebert was arrested in November, and authorities say he told them he would drop a bomb on the White House and kill George H.W. Bush, who hasn't been president since 1993.     He has been taken to Plymouth County jail where he awaits a sentence hearing that's scheduled for March 27.
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Le Mars Ambulance Service Delivers Annual Report

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Ambulance Service responded to a total of 913 calls, but transported 933 patients, during 2014, according to Bill Rosacker, director of the Le Mars Ambulance Services.  Rosacker delivered the annual report to the Le Mars City Council on Tuesday.  He says the numbers reflect a flat to a slight decline trend from previous years.

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Rosacker says the ambulance service breaks down their calls into two categories:

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Rosacker says he was wondering, at times, if the Le Mars Ambulance would exceed 900 calls for the year, as it had during the two prior years. He says more than a hundred calls occured in the last six weeks.

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The ambulance director reported he has a staff of 26 volunteers with many that are trained to handle advanced life support procedures, which he says means good news for the Le Mars community.

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Rosacker says the majority of calls involved transporting a patient to Floyd Valley Hospital.

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Bretey Selected As National Merit Scholarship Finalist 

(Le Mars) -- Gehlen Catholic senior, Michaela Bretey, daughter of Dr. Keith and Teri Bretey of LeMars, has advanced to the Finalist level of the National Merit Scholarship Competition (NMSC), according to Mrs. Kristin Hausmann, Gehlen Catholic 7-12 School Psychologist.
According to the NMSC Program, to become a Finalist, Michaela and Gehlen Catholic School submitted a detailed scholarship application.  The application provided information about Michaela’s “…academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, honors and awards received.  A Semifinalist (Michaela) must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT® scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.”
Michaela’s application is now being considered for the designation as a Merit Scholar. 
The award is not determined by academic accomplishments only.  Mrs. Hausmann acknowledged that Michaela’s excellence in communication skills, true compassion, integrity, and faith are equally, if not even more so, impressive.

 

Senate Committee Passes Bill To Increase Minimum Wage

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Senate committee has approved bills that would increase Iowa's minimum wage and create a more detailed system for preventing wage theft.
     The committee on labor and business relations voted Wednesday to advance both bills. The full Democratic-controlled Senate can now debate them.
     The minimum wage bill would increase the state's $7.25 minimum wage to $8.75 by 2016. Democrats previously pushed to raise Iowa's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, but they now say this new bill could have more bipartisan support.
     Leaders in the Republican-majority House say they want to focus on skilled job training instead of the minimum wage.
     The committee Wednesday voted largely on party lines.
     The wage theft bill would require businesses to be more direct with workers about employment terms. Similar legislation failed last session.

 

Nursing Students Deliver Petition To Keep Open Mount Pleasant Mental Health Center

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Nursing students from southeast Iowa are protesting the closing of a state mental health facility in Mount Pleasant.
     Students from Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant visited lawmakers Wednesday at the Capitol. The students also left a copy on Governor Terry Branstad's desk of more than 7,100 petition signatures protesting the closing.  The governor wasn't at the Capitol at the time.
     Kaitlyn Dirth, a junior studying nursing at Wesleyan, began the petition online in late January. She says nursing students use the Mount Pleasant facility to complete required training hours for graduation. She argues its closing will force students to find limited training accommodations elsewhere.
     Branstad's spokesman released a statement saying the decision to close the facility was part of an effort to offer modern mental health treatment.

 

45,000 Iowans Sign Up For Federal Health Care Program

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Federal officials say that over 45,000 people in Iowa have signed up for health care coverage on the federal exchange.
     The second open enrollment period under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul - known as the Affordable Care Act - ended Sunday. In a Wednesday news release, federal officials say over 45,000 people in Iowa signed up or were automatically re-enrolled in a plan.
     That's more than the roughly 29,000 who signed up during the first enrollment.
     Over 2,000 people who shopped on the exchange are still enrolled in plans with an insurance cooperative that the state plans to liquidate. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart is urging them to seek new coverage before the end of the month so they can maintain federal tax credits to help pay premiums.

 

Democrats Appoint New Director

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Democratic Party has appointed a new executive director.
     Party chairwoman Andy McGuire announced Wednesday that Ben Foecke will take over the role. He previously worked for the Iowa Senate Majority Fund, which worked to keep Democrats in the majority in the state Senate in 2014.
     McGuire said in a statement that Foecke would be well served by his decade of experience in Iowa politics. He has also worked for the state party.
     Outgoing executive director Troy Price will step down March 3. A news release says he will pursue other opportunities.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

   

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