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.
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.
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.