Thursday Afternoon News, Aug. 9
Le Mars City Council and Plymouth County Supervisors At Odds Over Economic Development
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council and the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors are at
odds over the membership dues of an economic development group. Northwest Iowa Development
consists of six counties in northwest Iowa, and as a group, the organization works to attract new businesses, or to help established businesses grow. The county's dues are based in part on the population of the county, and each community is also asked to contribute to the membership dues. Plymouth County has paid $13,893 of the total, or 75 percent of the dues, with Le Mars asked to pick up the remaining 25 percent of the dues. Le Mars has already paid $2737, but the county has asked Le Mars to pay an additional remaining balance of $1893.
Council woman Delana Ihrke questioned why the county decided to ask the city of Le Mars to
pick up the bill?
Ihrke says she doesn't see a discount for the city of Le Mars.
Ihrke says she contacted three other communities within Plymouth County asking if they are participating in the Northwest Iowa Development.
Ihrke says Akron officials told her they were not aware of the program, and Remsen had heard from Supervisor Don Kass, but action to contribute funds to the economic development group was never brought up during Remsen council meetings, although they did appoint a representative to the economic development group. Supervisor chairman Jim Henrich says at present time, the other communities within Plymouth County do not contribute to the Northwest Iowa Development.
Henrich explains why the county is asking Le Mars to fund the remainder portion of the dues.
Mayor Dick Kirchoff has high praise for the Northwest Iowa Development group saying everyone benefits.
Some supervisors have questioned whether the money invested in the program have offered returns to the community.
At the urging of City Administrator Scott Langel, the city voted to approve paying the remainder fee. Langel told the council that the city administration would try to work with the county for next year to resolve the differences, and perhaps, the city may consider being a member on its own, without ties to the county.
Iowa Workforce Unemployment Kiosks Criticized
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A federal report has criticized the self-help computer kiosks set up to replace three dozen Iowa unemployment offices.
An unreleased U.S. Labor Department report that says the kiosks do not provide adequate service access to people looking for jobs.
A federal review of the kiosk program this spring found the kiosks have only descriptions of services and do not aid self-help or staff-assisted services that an unemployed person might need.
Iowa Workforce Development Deputy Director Ed Wallace describes the report as a preliminary draft and says federal reviewers probably didn't fully understand the project.
Gov. Terry Branstad closed nearly two-thirds of Iowa Workforce Development field offices last year in an effort to save money.
Iowa's Nuclear Plant To Dredge River
PALO, Iowa (AP) - Owners of Iowa's only nuclear power plant plan to dredge a section of the Cedar River to ensure access to its water.
The river flow and level have dropped during this year's drought, and Duane Arnold Energy Center in Palo needs 6,000 gallons a minute to cool steam that turns the electrical turbine generators.
Plant officials say they don't intend to tap the nearby Pleasant Creek Reservoir for its water. The 410-acre reservoir was built upstream of the plant so water could be discharged into the Cedar River to increase its flow in an emergency.
Plant spokeswoman Renee Nelson says the plant has operated near capacity almost all summer.
New Interstate 380 Rest Area To Open
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials have decided to open a new Interstate 380 rest area building and picnic area without all the artwork meant to honor artist Grant Wood.
Iowa Transportation Department rest area administrator Steve McMenamin says that the building is complete and ready to be used.
The rest area on northbound I-380 south of Cedar Rapids will feature visual references to the work of Wood, an eastern Iowa artist and educator who is best known for painting "American Gothic."
Officials expect the final pieces of artwork will be installed by Aug. 29. The old rest area building will be torn down so there will be space for a picnic pavilion.
Drought Worsens For Iowa and Nebraska
ST. LOUIS (AP) - The latest U.S. drought map shows conditions getting worse in Iowa and Nebraska.
The area of Iowa in extreme or exceptional drought -- the two worst categories -- has more than doubled, from about 31 percent last week to more than 69 percent as of Tuesday. More than 91
percent of Nebraska is in the two worst categories.
The weekly map shows the amount of the contiguous U.S. mired in drought conditions dropped a little more than 1 percentage point, to just over 78 percent. But the area in the worst drought
classifications has risen nearly 2 percentage points to more than 24 percent.
That's because key farm states didn't get as much benefit from rains as elsewhere on the heels of hot July temperatures that federal scientists say broke a record set during the Dust Bowl of