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Thursday News, March 5

Ice Cream Days Receives Funds From Hotel-Motel Tax

(Le Mars) -- Ice Cream Days won't occur for another three months, but it is the benefactor of funds collected through the Hotel-Motel tax.  The week-long local festival will receive $7000 to help with parade entries, entertainment and various other activities for the 2015 Ice Cream Days scheduled for June 17 through 20th.  Sue Butcher is with the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Ice Cream Days committee.  She says the Ice Cream Days committee is excited to receive the special tax funds.  "Ice Cream Days increases tourism by bringing out-of-town visitors and former residents into Le Mars as family activities are planned around the occasion".  She says "numerous local people also take part in the wide variety of entertainment offered during the four days."  Butcher says it is an opportunity to showcase several areas of our community".  Ice Cream Days was one of 11 applicants receiving funding this year.  Funding recommendations of the Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Board were approved by the Le Mars City Council.

 

Sioux City Apartment Fire Displaces Residents

(Sioux City) -- Fire sent residents of a Sioux City apartment building into the freezing cold Wednesday night.
Fire units were dispatched to the three story structure at 1214 Douglas shortly after 8:30pm and found fire and smoke coming from the top floor of the building.
City Fire Marshall Mark Aesoph says two residents were taken to a local hospital with minor burn injuries. No firefighters were injured.
All of the other occupants were displaced by the fire. St. Thomas Episcopal Church opened their hall as a shelter for the residents. The Red Cross was also providing assistance.
Aesoph says it was too early to tell how the fire started. He says residents would not be allowed to return inside the building the rest of the night.

 

Historical Museum To Honor Genealogist

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Historical Museum will honor longtime genealogist Betty Winterringer, at a reception Sunday, March 15, at the museum.
Joining the Museum in sponsoring the event will be the Northwest Iowa Genealogy Society.
A program will begin at 2 p.m. in the Music Room. Lunch will follow in the Gym.
Winterringer is retiring from her research duties. She and her late husband, John, worked for several decades to save the history of the county.
Betty says their interest in genealogy began in 1973, when their son, went to Alabama to get his master’s degree, he started looking in phone books to see if there were any Winterringers listed. There were none, and he contacted us to find out just where the Winterringers settled in the United States. That is the year we really got started in doing research in our family history.”
The Winterringers were charter board members of the Northwest Iowa Genealogy Society, which started in 1976, and they were very involved in getting the Society started.

 

New Homes May Require Radon Mitigation System

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Builders in Iowa would be required to install radon mitigation systems in new homes under legislation that has won approval in an Iowa Senate committee.
     The bill moved out of the State Government Committee on Wednesday. Under the proposal, new homes must be built with radon mitigation pipes. If the homeowner discovers radon, they can add a fan to use the system.
     Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that can leak through cracks in building foundations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls radon the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. The agency also says Iowa's 99 counties are in the agency's highest risk zone for exposure.
     A similar bill was approved by the Democratic-majority Senate two years ago but failed to advance in the Republican-controlled House.

     Rob Sudtelgte is a certified licensed radon mitigator from Remsen.  He has a concern if the system isn't properly installed by licensed contractors.

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Sudtelgte says more homeowners are becoming more aware of radon.  He says he tests about 50 homes each year.  The radon mitigator doesn't believe the legislature has included the proper language to insure a licensed person installs the systems in new homes.

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Sudtelgte says the winter months are the best time to test your home for radon.

 

Legislature Working On Bill To Allow Workers Time Off For Caucus

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa Senate committee has approved a bill requiring employers to give time off to non-essential workers so they can attend Iowa's presidential caucuses.
     The State Government Committee in the Democratic-controlled Senate approved the bill Wednesday. It would mandate that employers provide unpaid leave to workers who want to attend their precinct caucus. There are exemptions for jobs that affect public health or safety, or if employers could show that they would experience economic distress.
     The legislation will move to the full Senate. It is not clear how it will fare in the Republican-controlled House.
     The Iowa Democratic Party supports the bill as part of an effort to expand caucus attendance. The Republican Party of Iowa has declined to offer an opinion.
     Iowa's presidential caucuses are scheduled for February 2016.

 

House Committee Passes Broadband Internet Bill

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A House committee has approved Governor Terry Branstad's broadband bill, but made several key changes in how the legislation will support expanding high-speed Internet in Iowa.
     A full commerce committee voted 22-1 Wednesday in support of the bill, which in its latest version would strip away $5 million in state funds for a grant program. Lawmakers agreed to instead fund the program through federal and private dollars.
     It's unclear how much money will immediately be available for the program, which aims to help service providers build up infrastructure for broadband, also known as high-speed Internet.
     The bill also would expand a property tax program from three years to 10 years. Representative Peter Cownie, a West Des Moines Republican, says other changes to the bill are possible.

 

Three Counties Hire Engineers To Oversee Pipeline

FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - At least three Iowa counties have hired engineers to oversee the installation of a proposed underground oil pipeline, pending its approval.
     Webster County on Tuesday approved the hire of an engineer to survey the pipeline's construction if approved by the Iowa Board of Utilities. Dakota Access, LLC, a unit of Energy Transfer Partners, applied in January for the structure that would cut through 18 Iowa counties.
     Calhoun and Sac counties have also secured engineering services.
     Webster County officials say the engineer is responsible for drainage districts. They say future agreements will likely cover the 24 roads the pipeline would cross.
     The proposed pipeline would carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa to Patoka, Illinois.

 

Judge Dismisses Charges Against School Employee

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A judge has dismissed charges filed against a former Des Moines school district employee accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student.
     Judge Carla Schemmel said in her dismissal order Monday that 33-year-old Dena Konrad was not a school employee as defined by state statute. Konrad had been charged with two felony counts of sexual exploitation by a school employee. 
     Authorities have said Konrad had the relationship with a male student over the summer. Konrad's lawyer has said Konrad never worked with the student as part of her job duties. Konrad was a case manager who was assigned to build relationships with students and families in order to provide various services. She no longer works for the district.
     Prosecutors say they're mulling an appeal of the judge's ruling.

 


 

 

 

 

   

Wednesday Afternoon News, March 4

Fire Department Investigates Odor At Mobile Home

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department was called to Armel Acres mobile home park in Le Mars at about 7:15 a.m.this morning to investigate a strange odor.  Fire fighters found two issues of concern at the home at 1 Cherry Street.  Inside the home, an overhead light fixture had gotten too hot creating an odor, plus fire fighters detected a small gas leak outside the home. Mid-American Energy officials were notified of the gas leak.  Fire officials were able to quickly resolve the light fixture concern and were on scene for less than 20 minutes.

 

Archie's Waeside Awarded National Honor

(Le Mars) -- A local steakhouse has been nationally recgonized for its good food and longevity.  In May, Archie's Waeside will be honored with the James Beard Foundation "American Classic" award.  Owner, Bob Rand, says it is quite the honor for a Le Mars restaurant to be one of five recognized nationally.

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Rand says Archie's is being honored, in part, for its long-term comittment in the restauarant business.

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Rand explains how Archie's was selected for the national food honor.

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The steakhouse owner claims it is the comittment of the people, both the employees and the guests, that makes the local eatery so special.

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On Friday, March 13th, a film production crew will be shooting video for the award presentation, and Rand wishes to invite the folks from Le Mars to dine at Archie's that evening.

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Bergquist Presented School District's " Employee Of The Month"

(Le Mars) -- A middle school secretary has been honored by the Le Mars Community School District as this month's "Employee of the Month".  Amy Bergquist has been employed with the school district for 16 years.  She was presented the award Wednesday morning.  The nomination says Amy Bergquist does everything for the middle school.  She understands that the kids come first and she is very positive and helpful towards all students.  Amy has a positive attitude and works incredibly hard.  She is a great problem solver, whether it is a Powerschool state reporting problem, or a snag dealing with the middle school carnival.  Amy stays calm and and finds a solution.  She is a professional and knowledgeable and she does an amazing job.  Our congratulations go to Amy Bergquist for being named as the Le Mars Community School District's "Employee of the Month."

 

Ice Cream Days Receives Funding From Hotel-Motel Tax

(Le Mars) -- Ice Cream Days won't occur for another three months, but it is the benefactor of funds collected through the Hotel-Motel tax.  The week-long local festival will receive $7000 to help with parade entries, entertainment and various other activities for the 2015 Ice Cream Days scheduled for June 17 through 20th.  Sue Butcher is with the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Ice Cream Days committee.  She says the Ice Cream Days committee is excited to receive the special tax funds.  "Ice Cream Days increases tourism by bringing out-of-town visitors and former residents into Le Mars as family activities are planned around the occasion".  She says "numerous local people also take part in the wide variety of entertainment offered during the four days."  Butcher says it is an opportunity to showcase several areas of our community".  Ice Cream Days was one of 11 applicants receiving funding this year.  Funding recommendations of the Convention and Visitors Bureau Advisory Board were approved by the Le Mars City Council.

 

Lawsuit Filed Against Bishop Heelan Is Dismissed

 SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A religious discrimination lawsuit filed against Sioux City's Bishop Heelan Catholic school system has been dismissed.
     The  ruling filed last week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jon Scoles said David Newbrough couldn't proceed on his claim that the system fired him because he wasn't Roman Catholic.  Newbrough was the system's chief financial officer.
     The lawsuit also said he was relieved of his duties as a volunteer basketball scorekeeper at Heelan High School in retaliation for filing a claim with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.
     The judge says the system's actions were protected under a federal law exemption that lets religious organizations discriminate on religious grounds in their employment practices.
     ---

 

Humboldt Votes To Continue Tax Levy

HUMBOLDT, Iowa (AP) - Residents of the northern Iowa city of Humboldt have voted to keep paying a nearly 30-year-old law enforcement levy after an examination found no proof the issue had ever been put to a vote.
    Residents approved the levy Tuesday by a vote of 146 to 70.
    The issue arose in September when the Iowa Department of Management sought details about the levy. Humboldt looked through paperwork and couldn't find any documentation voters had approved the levy. City Administrator Aaron Burnett says the levy appeared to first show up on the 1986 budget, when it was list as an "other" revenue source.
     Official approval of the levy means residents will continue paying the fee, which this year is $1.13 per $1,000 of taxable property value.
     ---

 

House Panel Approves Bill Requiring Doctors To Show Ultrasound Image Before Abortion

  DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A House panel has approved a bill that would require a physician to offer an ultrasound image to a woman seeking an abortion in Iowa.
     Members of a human resources subcommittee approved the bill Wednesday. It heads to a full committee for consideration, where it will need to advance by Friday to beat a procedural deadline in the Legislature.
     The bill would require a physician to perform an ultrasound on a woman and give her an opportunity to view an image of the fetus. The woman would be given the option of hearing a description of the ultrasound image and the potential heartbeat of the fetus. Physicians could face jail time and fines if they didn't comply.
     It's unlikely the bill will advance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

 

Yankton Motel Fire Still Unsolved One Year Later

 YANKTON, S.D. (AP) - Federal authorities say they're still seeking tips from the public a year after an arson fire destroyed a Yankton motel.
     The March 4, 2014, blaze destroyed the center of the Colonial Inn Motel and caused heavy smoke damage throughout. The loss was estimated at about half a million dollars.
     After the fire, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives released a photo of a suspect and posted a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
     ATF spokesman Robert Schmidt tells the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan (http://bit.ly/1Egu40h ) that some tips have come in but authorities are still looking for more help from the public.
     Motel owner Dennis Berkland says he has no plans to rebuild.
     ---

 

Man Says He Is No Hero After Saving Neighbor's Life From Fire

 NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (AP) - A man who helped his neighbor escape flames that destroyed a mobile home in eastern Iowa says he's no hero.
     Jerry McBride Jr. says he merely answered a call of duty in aiding 71-year-old Fred Steven.
     Steven says he awoke from a nap Monday afternoon to find that tubes from his oxygen tank were on fire inside his North Liberty home. Oxygen tanks began exploding by the time he reached a doorway. 
     McBride says he found Steven just outside the home, with his coat aflame. McBride says he used his body to shield Steven from the flaming home, pulled off Steven's coat and then helped him get away from the intense heat and other danger.
     Neither man was injured. Fire officials are investigating the fire cause.

 

University Of Iowa Power Plant

  IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - University of Iowa officials are ready to begin planning a steam production plant on the west side of the school's campus.
     Officials have asked the Iowa state Board of Regents for permission to begin planning the $75 million production plant that will be adjacent to the school's new backup power facility.
     University interim senior vice president Rod Lehnertz says that construction will likely take two years, and that the facility should be operational in four years. 
     The plant would be fueled by natural gas, but the building site allows the use of biofuel sources that would transport to the facility by rail.
     Officials estimate that the proposed facility initially will be capable of delivering 150,000 pounds per hour of steam, and could be expanded up to 300,000 pounds per hour.
 
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