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Wednesday Afternoon News, September 3

KC Phone-a-thon Raises Money For Life Skills

(Le Mars) -- As you have been hearing on KLEM radio, today is the KC Phone-a-thon in which members of the Knights of Columbus have been soliciting funds for the Life Skills Training Center.  Honorary chair, Mike Donlin says people have been generous with their contributions.

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This marks the 35th year for the annual phone-a-thon, and Donlin believes a major reason for the community's generosity is because they know most of the donated money stays in Plymouth County.

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Donlin says Floyd Valley Hospital utilizes Life Skills Training Center to perform its laundry services, and cleaning floor mats. Donlin says there are many easy ways for people to contribute money to the KC Phone-a-thon for the Life Skills Training Center.

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 Iowa Settles Lawsuit Over Movie Productions

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa has settled a lawsuit stemming from the suspension of a tax incentive program for movies to be made in the state.
     The  payment of a little more than $2 million will settle claims involving three movies:  "When September Ends," "Lucky," and "Underground." Anthony Gudas, of Providence, Rhode Island, had said his company invested in four film projects based on state contracts, but the tax credits were never paid. In October 2013 the state agreed to pay $225,000 to settle part of the lawsuit for one of the four movies, "2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams."
     Iowa suspended the movie incentive program after an audit uncovered $26 million in credits were improperly issued by the state Economic Development Department. Seven people eventually were convicted.
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Des Moines Fire Chief Calling For More Staff

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Des Moines firefighter union president is calling for increased staffing after five firefighters were injured in a weekend blaze. 
     Local union president Joe Van Haalen said on Tuesday firefighters are in danger because of the staffing level. He says firefighters at the Aug. 30 fire had to use about twice as many air tanks as normal because the crews couldn't rotate enough. 
     Van Haalen says the city employs 26 fewer firefighters than it did a decade ago. The city's population has grown during that period. 
     Interim city manager Larry Hulse says the city spends about 60 percent of its budget on public safety. He says the decrease in staffing is not jeopardizing response times. 
     The city has commissioned a study to review data and fire department resources.
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Opening Statements To Begin For Police Officer Killing Trial

CLARION, Iowa (AP) - Opening statements are set to begin in the first-degree murder trial of a man charged with killing a Rockwell City police officer.
    Opening statements are scheduled Wednesday morning in the trial of 33-year-old Corey Trott. A 14-person jury was selected Tuesday afternoon.
     Prosecutors say Trott fatally shot 37-year-old Jamie Buenting in September 2013 during a standoff at Trott's house in Rockwell City. Officers say they were trying to arrest Trott after an alleged assault on his mother.
     Trott has pleaded not guilty. A mental health evaluation earlier this year determined he is competent to stand trial. 
     The trial was moved to Wright County at the request of defense attorneys.
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Iowa Republicans Stand Behind Texas Governor Perry

 HIAWATHA, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Republicans say Texas Gov. Rick Perry has not been tarnished by a recent indictment.
     Perry was in Iowa on Tuesday, campaigning for 1st Congressional District candidate Rod Blum. It's the potential 2016 presidential candidate's first Iowa visit since he was indicted last month on two felony counts alleging he abused the power of his office.
     Republicans gathered for an event in Hiawatha said the indictment was politically motivated. During brief remarks at a local political office, Perry spoke about job gains in Texas and drew applause when he talked about sending National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border.
     Perry entered the 2012 presidential race with much fanfare but quickly stumbled. He finished fifth in the Iowa caucuses in early 2012 and quit the race two weeks later.

 

Regents Release Plan To Make Admissions To Universities Easier

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - It might get easier for students to apply to Iowa's three public universities, and for those schools to hire employees.
     The Iowa Board of Regents released details of plans Tuesday that may be implemented during an ongoing efficiency review.
     They include creating a program that would allow students to apply to the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa at once. Currently, students have to apply separately even though the schools use the same admissions scoring index.
     Another change would require the schools to calculate students' admissions scores uniformly. Each school currently computes them differently for students whose high schools don't keep class rankings.
     A third plan would eliminate search committees for some professional and scientific openings. A review found that step frequently causes delays.

 

U Of I Students Report Sexual Abuse

  IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa says two students reported recently that they were sexually assaulted on campus.
     The school issued a notification Tuesday in accordance with the Clery Act, which requires that colleges and universities disclose timely warnings of crimes that represent a threat to the safety of students or employees.
     The notification says one student reported Sunday that an acquaintance sexually assaulted her in a residence hall. Another student reported Monday that an acquaintance sexually assaulted her in a residence hall.
     Another student reported on Aug. 22 that she was sexually assaulted in a residence hall.

 

Iowa State University Not In Compliance For Reporting Sexual Abuse Crimes

    IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - An internal audit report has warned that Iowa State University was out of compliance with federal law for years in the limited way that students were informed about sexual assaults and other crimes on campus.
     The June 17 report says the school's recently-abandoned practice of issuing crime alerts on the campus police website didn't meet Clery Act requirements.
     The report says administrators must issue "timely warnings" required by the law through mass emails and other formats that don't require individuals to search out the information.
     University attorney Keith Bystrom said Wednesday that ISU started sending them in mass emails last spring, after auditors identified the problem. He said posting the information online wasn't meant to hide the crime reports, noting that news outlets knew where to look for them.

 

State Settles Lawsuit Over Employee Firing

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa has settled a case with a state worker who had sued after being fired from the Polk County Clerk of Court's office in 2004.
     The state agreed Tuesday to pay Tina Lee more than $377,000 in back wages and post-judgment interest.
     The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that Iowa had violated Lee's rights under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Lee was fired after she took time off to cope with anxiety. Lee sued, alleging wrongful discharge and retaliation. In 2007 a jury found in her favor and she was awarded lost earnings totaling $165,122, attorney fees and expenses.
     The state had argued originally and in appeals that it had sovereign immunity against being sued for damages under the federal act.
 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Wednesday News, September 3

Wells To Close St. George, Utah Plant

(Le Mars) -- Wells Enterprizes Incorporated, makers of Blue Bunny ice cream has announced it has decided to close its ice cream plant in St. George, Utah. This decision will enable the Company to optimize its existing capacity in Le Mars, Iowa to more efficiently serve customers and support Wells’ long-term growth strategy. The decision also allows Wells to more effectively compete in the ice cream category that has been flat to declining for several years, and has been further challenged by unstable commodity costs. Approximately 90 individuals are employed at the St. George facility.
Wells also recently completed a review of our corporate center structure to ensure that we remain well positioned to drive our strategy. As a result, 10 positions previously held have been eliminated, and the headcount repurposed to new roles in the organization.
Wells is mindful of the impact changes of this nature have on employees and their families and is committed to helping impacted employees through this transition.  The Utah plant started production in 2003, and according to Wells officials, the transition to shut down the facility will occur over the next few months and be completed before the end of the year.

 

KC Phone-a-thon Scheduled For Today

(Le Mars) -- Today, marks the day for the annual KC Phon-a-thon where members of the Knights of Columbus from Plymouth County help raise money for the Life Skills Training Center.  Shelly Thomson, serves as the Life Skills Marketing and Development Coordinator.  She says the annual fund raising campaign is important to the financial survival for Life Skills.

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Thomson says the Knights of Columbus hopes to raise $50 thousand dollars.

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The Life Skills executive says more people have cell phones and have dropped their land lines which may make it that much more difficult to reach past donors.

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City Council Approves New Lower Speed Limits For Business Highway 75

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council met yesterday, and approved the ordinance to change the speed limits as it pertains to Business Highway 75.  The new speed limits will now be 45 mph from Blue Bunny Drive to Airport Drive.  35 mph will be the limit from Airport Drive to Fourth Street North, and 40 mph from north of Fourth Street to the Floyd River Bridge, and 55 mph from the Floyd River Bridge to north to the city limits.  Following the vote, Mayor Dick Kirchoff addressed the subject.

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The city council requested the new posted speed limit signs have red flags in order to call more attention to the changes.  According to the Le Mars Police, that stretch of highway has had 72 accidents with 29 personal injuries during the last three and a half years.

 

New Waste Water Treatment Facility Now In Operation

(Le Mars) -- During yesterday's city council meeting, the council heard a report from Greg Sindt, the engineer for the new waste water treatment facility. Sindt informed the council the facility is now in full operation.

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Sindt says the facility is operating at full capacity and is working well with no problems. An open house is scheduled for September 18.

 

Chamber Of Commerce Looking For Little Ambassadors

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Committee is sponsoring a contest to select ten children who will serve as the 2015/2016 Le Mars Chamber Little Ambassadors.  Children must be 4 to 6 years of age and reside in the City of Le Mars or rural Le Mars.  Now through October 1, 2014 the Chamber will be accepting nominations for Little Ambassadors.  No late entries will be accepted.  Please submit a color 5X7 photo – and include the name of the child and parents, address and phone number with the submission.  Do not write on the photo.  Photos will not be returned.  They can be dropped off or mailed to the Chamber of Commerce, Attn: Mary Reynolds, 50 Central Ave SE, Le Mars, IA 51031.  They can also be dropped at Floyd Valley Hospital to the attention of Mary Helen Gibson or Prime Bank to the attention of Becky Klohs.

A selection committee will choose five boys and five girls to serve as the Le Mars Little Ambassadors.  The children will participate in Le Mars Chamber events such as Ice Cream Days Parade, Scoop the Loop and other community events.

The Main Street selection committee will contact the chosen children.  If you have questions about the Little Ambassadors, please contact the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce at 546-8821 or Mary Helen Gibson at 546-3389.

 

Le Mars Community Schools Announce Latest "Employee Of The Month"

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community School District has honored Gretchen Utesch as the school district's employee of the month.  Utesch serves as a teacher Associate and a paraprofessional for Clark Elementary.  In the submitted nomination, it says Gretchen is a dedicated employee who puts the needs of all students first.  She team teaches in various classrooms providing assistance to the classroom teacher assuring the students she works with understand and are successful with daily lessons and assessments.  Gretchen is compassionate and patient as she works with individual students.  She is able to adjust her instruction to meet each child's learning style.  She takes her job, and the education of all students, very seriously.  The nomination further states, Mrs. Utesch is a testimony tot he quality of employees at LCS.  It is because of people like her that our students progress year to year in their education.  Gretchen's positive attitude, work ethic, expereience, and character make her deserving of the honor of "Employee of the Month".  Our congratulations to Gretchen Utesch for being honored as the Le Mars Community School District Employee of the Month.

 

Woodbury County To Add More Nurses For Jail

 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Woodbury County plans to add more nurses to treat inmates at the county jail, following pleas from the sheriff for more support.
     The  county board voted Tuesday to have four full-time registered nurses on staff. That's a jump from two full-time nurses and a part-time nurse.
     The board will use general basic fund reserves to cover the additional cost of about $115,000 in the middle of a budget year.
     County Sheriff Dave Drew told board members recently that he needed additional personnel to properly oversee inmates at the jail. He said the staffing level was not sufficient for the inmates' medical needs.
     Board Chairman George Boykin said the vote on Tuesday will relieve "a little bit of the pressure."

 

   

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