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