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Thursday News, April 3

City To Close Streets For Water Main Installation

(Le Mars) -- City officials have announced they will be closing some streets due to installation of some water mains.  24th St SW (aka 200th St) will be closed from Industrial Road to Lynx Ave (aka 6th Ave SW) until further notice.

 

Engineer Discusses Scheduled County Construction Projects

(Le Mars) -- It won't be long before we notice the orange cones, barrels, and detour and road closed signs popping up during our daily drives.  Tom Rohe, Plymouth County engineer spelled out for the county supervisors the county's construction plans for the coming summer.  He clarified the difference between those projects scheduled to be completed during the construction season and those slated for the upcoming fiscal year.

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Rohe says the county has four bridge projects from last year that will be worked on first.

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The county engineer says it may take up to three to four months for the completion of the bridge construction.  Rohe says there are no plans for any paving or re-surfacing of any county roads for the upcoming construction season, but several bridge and culvert repair and replacement projects are scheduled.

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Even though there are no plans to place new pavement or asphalt on the county roads, that doesn't mean they will be neglected.  Rohe says county crews will be sealing numerous cracks on those roads.

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Plymouth County has nearly 590 bridge structures, with many having been built in the 1960's and 70's and constructed with wood.  Rohe says many of the county bridges have reached their lifespan, and need replacing, however, financing is a concern.

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Republican Senate Candidates Hold Debate In Ames

 AMES, Iowa (AP) - Four Iowa Republicans running for U.S. Senate are debating higher education costs, health care and the federal debt at a forum at Iowa State University.
     Radio host Sam Clovis, state Sen. Joni Ernst, businessman Scott Schaben and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker met for the debate Wednesday evening. They said any of them would be better suited to succeed retiring Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin than four-term U.S. House Democrat Bruce Braley. 
     A fifth candidate, Mark Jacobs, isn't participating because of a scheduling conflict. But that didn't keep him out of the debate.
     Clovis took a shot at Jacobs, who has spent heavily on television ads ahead of the June 3 primary. Clovis, who also teaches at Morningside College, says it's "important for all the candidates" to attend.

 

Legislature Discuss "Secret Settlements" Bill

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Lawmakers in the Iowa House say they want to further establish government transparency and openness in the light of secret settlement agreements between state agencies and fired employees.  
     While debating a budget bill for agriculture and natural resources Wednesday, the House adopted an amendment to prevent money appropriated in the bill from being used for payments in such settlement agreements. Iowa's Department of Natural Resources participated in these payments to former employees.  
     Rep. Chris Hall, a Sioux City Democrat, says the amendment is an effort to keep taxpayer dollars from being used for settlements.
     Republican Rep. Matt Windschitl, of Missouri Valley, says he supported the motion, though he says Gov. Terry Branstad already addressed the issue with an executive order prohibiting state agencies from signing confidential settlement agreements.

 

Senate Rejects Changes In Human Trafficing Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Senate has rejected changes to a bill meant to crack down on certain instances of human trafficking involving minors.
     The Senate unanimously voted Wednesday to restore a law enforcement training reporting requirement and a victim fund in cases of prostitution involving minors. The House voted last month to remove these provisions.
     The bill maintains a provision proposed by the House to remove offenses from the records of anyone previously convicted of prostitution as a minor. It also keeps a penalty increase for pimping involving a minor.
      Democratic Senator Robert Dvorsky, of Coralville, says the measure returns to the House, where lawmakers can consider the Senate's changes.
     Should the House fail to approve the changes, the bill will die unless lawmakers from each chambers work together on a compromise.

 

Pharmacist Charged With Conspiracy To Distribute Painkillers

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The owner of a well-known Des Moines pharmacy has been indicted on 16 federal charges in connection to the disappearance of nearly 700,000 pills of addictive painkillers.
     Mark Graziano appeared in federal court Wednesday in Des Moines. The 52-year-old has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to distribute drugs, wire fraud and tax evasion.
     Another man, Andrew Michael Enloe, is accused of helping Graziano. He has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute drugs.
     Authorities raided Graziano's store, Bauder Pharmacy, in 2012 after an informant said Graziano illegally sold hydrocodone pills. Graziano denies the claims.
     The Iowa Board of Pharmacy revoked Graziano's license last year. The store, co-owned by his sister, is banned from dispensing addictive drugs.
     A trial date has been set for June 2.

    
 

 

 

   

Wednesday Afternoon News, April 2

Third Grade Girls Credited For Saving Garage On Fire


(Le Mars) -- Two third grade girls coming home from Clark Elementary school are credited with saving a garage from burning.  The girls,  Allison Lane and Emily Peters, noticed some smoke coming from a garage.  The girls went inside a home and told an adult about the fire who then dialed 9-1-1.  Fire fighters were dispatched to 228 1st Avenue Northwest.

Initially, it was thought a tire was on fire, but upon arrival, fire fighters noticed a trash can and dried leaves were also on fire and had spread to the garage door frame.  The fire was quickly extinguished.  The cause of the fire was improperly discarded smoking material that ignited the dried leaves and had spread to the tire and the garage.  A cigarette was found in the debris.  Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper is thankful for the girls' quick action, saying they are the reason the garage was saved.

 

Le Mars Woman Reports To Authorities For Hit And Run Incident

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Le Mars woman wanted in a fatal 2012 hit-and-run crash in Sioux City has turned herself in to authorities.  43-year-old Victoria Lynette Ernst turned herself in Tuesday to the Woodbury County Sheriff's Office and was arrested. Authorities say she posted bond for $75,000 bail and was released from the county jail by late Tuesday afternoon.  Ernst is charged with vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident in the September 2012 death of 22-year-old Lance Knudsen.  Knudsen was found lying in a Sioux City street with head injuries and later died.

 

City Council Discuss Proposed City Code Changes

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council addressed the proposed city code ordinances during its meeting on Tuesday.  Scott Langel, city administrator says the council must conduct three readings of the proposed ordinances before they can become part of the city code.

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The city council held the first of three readings during Tuesday's council meeting.  Langel says the second and third readings are scheduled for April 15th and May 6th.  Council members shared some comments regarding the proposed ordinances, focussing on the winter parking proposal, and the removal of dead and/or diseased trees.

 

CBDG Architech To Meet With Business Owners

(Le Mars) -- The city heard an update regarding the Community Block Development Grant for the historical renovation of the downtown district.  City administrator Scott Langel says Peter Franks, the archetech of the project, has scheduled meetings to address building owners and the general public's questions.

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The city administrator says the archetech will also meet on an individual basis with each participating building owner.

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 Langel offered an update on the project's progress for the city council.

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Langel says the city is still eligible for the $500,000 grant despite having fewer businesses participate as was first expected.

 

Auditions Scheduled "For A Few Good Men"

(Le Mars) -- Auditions for "A Few Good Men" the next community theater play will be held Sunday and Monday, April 13th and 14th at 7:00 p.m. at the Postal Playhouse.  The story is a play by Aaron Sorkin and it involves military lawyers at a court-martial hearing who uncover a high-level conspiracy in the course of defending their clients, United States Marines accused of murder.  The play involves 13 men characters and one woman role.  Performance dates will be late May and early June.

 

Blacklisted State Employee Speaks Out 

  IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A spokesman says Iowa's executive branch no longer tells fired workers when they are added to the state's "do-not-rehire list" and waits to break the bad news only if they ever apply for another state job.
     Department of Administrative Services spokesman Caleb Hunter said Wednesday the change came in response to administrative law judges who ruled that state officials don't have the legal authority to issue blanket employment bans against fired workers. Instead, those judges ruled that state officials can disqualify applicants on a case-by-case basis based on previous firings.
     Instead of ending the practice of barring some ex-employees for life, Hunter says the department limited how it notifies those affected.
     The department previously notified employees at the time of their firings that they were barred from future state employment.

 

Federal Investigators Look At Burned Younkers Building

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Federal investigators have gotten their first look inside a downtown Des Moines building gutted by fire over the weekend.
     Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were in the building's west side on Tuesday.
     That section of the building was not as badly damaged as the east portion, where flames consumed entire floors.
     ATF spokesman John Hamm says investigators are looking for spots that might have burned hotter than others and indications of how the fire burned and what might have caused it.
     The 115-year-old Younkers building was in the midst of a $36 million housing project renovation when it was consumed by fire early Saturday. It had been vacant since 2005.

 

High School Students Get "Hands On" Expereince At Data Center

 COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Council Bluffs students are getting hands-on experience working at a data center operated by the school district.
     The Council Bluffs Community School District unveiled the data center Tuesday night at Abraham Lincoln High School.
     Students who are enrolled in the district's Emerging Technologies Academy monitor and make repairs when needed to servers at the data center, which is used to store medical research data.
     Google and Echo Group, a Council Bluffs electrical supplier, gave financial and technical support as part of the estimated $67,000 project. It took about six months to build the data center.
     Chris Russell, an operations manager at Google's data center in Council Bluffs, says the new facility exposes students to real work experiences and gets them interested in technology careers.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

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