Tuesday Afternoon News, February 10
Le Mars School Board Discuss Educational Funding
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education discussed at length last evening the issue involving supplemental school aid funding. The state House of Representatives have already passed a bill that would add an additional $50 million dollars, or a 1.25 percent increase over last year's school funding. However, school board officials say the amount is not enough in order to continue with many of the programs and keep a full staff. School superintendent Dr. Todd Wendt informed the school board members that he is using the 1.25 percent figure for the school's budget. School board president Scott Kommes informed the board members that the issue is getting media attention, but he doubts if legislators are listening.
Superintendent Wendt recently attended an Area Education Agency meeting held in Des Moines where education officials met with state legislators for a breakfast meeting. He says the advice offered to local school officials at the meeting is to get parents involved with the issue.
Longtime school board member Dr. Mark Stelzer says the state legislature has been underfunding schools for several years.
School board president Kommes equated the issue with personal income, saying anything below a three percent growth means a loss of money, when you factor in the cost of inflation.
Dr. Stelzer advocated the legislature fails to use percent change for their calculations, and just talk general dollars, which he says doesn't meet the needs of schools.
Dr. Stelzer questions whether education is a priority issue with the state lawmakers.
School board member Fred Zenk suggested the school administration and school board invite parents, teachers, and people from the greater community to attend the upcoming legislative forum, scheduled for February 28th, to show area legislators that several people are concerned about the funding level for education. Zenk added, "this place (Education Center meeting room) should be full".
Senator Ernst Defends Her Role As "Combat Veteran"
(Des Moines) -- Iowa Senator Joni Ernst says those who question her status as a "combat veteran" are questioning thousands of other men and women who honorably served their country. Ernst, a Republican from Red Oak, was asked about the issue Monday and says the criticism is likely generated by liberals after she gained attention on the national stage by winning her Senate race and then giving the Republican response to the president's State of the Union address.
An article in the Huffington Post questioned Ernst calling herself a combat veteran because she never came under fire. Ernst, is lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard and did a tour of duty in Iraq leading a transportation company.
She says its unfortunate the critics target her military service.
Ernst says the men and women she served with are no less valuable soldiers than anyone else.
Ernst says all soldiers who served in a combat zone in Iraq "encountered difficulties" and it's unfortunate they are being disparaged.
Smoke Inhalation Likely Killed Sioux City Man Found Dead In Burning Car
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say smoke inhalation likely killed a Sioux City man who was found dead inside a burning car near a Des Moines church.
Firefighters had been sent to the parking of the Abundant Life Church on East Sheridan Avenue around 10 p.m. Sunday. They discovered the body of 51-year-old Patrick Murphy II after opening the driver's side door.
Medical examiner Gregory Schmunk says Murphy was barely burned. The autopsy didn't reveal any evidence of trauma or signs of any crime involved in Murphy's death. A toxicology report is expected within six weeks.
Man Jumps Off Bike To Avoid Head-on Collision With Past Girl Friend
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Des Moines man says he had to jump off his bike to avoid a head-on crash with his ex-girlfriend.
The 20-year-old man says he was riding his bike down the street when he saw his ex-girlfriend driving a Jeep Cherokee straight toward him. He says he jumped off his bike when he realized they were about to hit head-on.
The man says his bike was run over, dragged down the street and destroyed. According to a police report, the bike was worth about $400.
Police took photos of skid marks left on the street and the bike after the collision, which occurred Saturday afternoon. The man tells police that he and the woman broke up about five months ago.
Police say the incident is being investigated.
City Council Denies Landmark Status For Cottages
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Iowa City officials have denied a proposal to give landmark status to cottages that date to the 1850s, making them some of the oldest buildings in the area.
The Iowa City Council voted 3-4 Monday against a request to designate the cottages as historic landmarks. At least six out of seven votes were needed for it to pass.
The vote comes after an Iowa City-based construction firm applied in November to rezone the area where the cottages are located to create space for a block-long mixed-use development. Preservationists then sought their landmark designation, which was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Property owner Ted Pacha submitted a formal protest in December of the preservationists' proposal to establish the cottages as historic landmarks.