Tuesday News, November 3
Election Day Is Today
(Le Mars) -- Today is election day for city officials. Polls opened at 7:00 a.m. and will remain open until 9:00 p.m. In Le Mars, voters will cast their votes at the Le Mars Convention Center lower level. Dick Kirchoff is unopposed in his race seeking re-election as mayor. John Rexwinkle is also running unopposed as the councilman At-large position. Voters in Ward 2 will not see a name listed on the ballot. However, retired Le Mars Community school teacher Steve Wick is seeking the open position as a write-in candidate. City residents will also be casting their votes for three candidates for the Floyd Valley Hospital trustee positions. Current trustee, Ralph Klemme is seeking another term, and Danna Schuster and Janelle Bixenman are running for the other two hospital trustee positions.
(Le Mars) -- Mayor Dick Kirchoff says he first pursued the position of mayor because he wanted to give back to the community.
Kirchoff credits the city's residents, business leaders, and council members, both past and present, for many of the city's successes. He says Le Mars is fortunate to have excellent public safety departments that consist of fire, police, and ambulance services. Kirchoff says he enjoys working with new and expanding businesses with economic development.
The Le Mars mayor says he is looking forward to the Community Betterment Phase 2 project to begin.
Kirchoff previews some of the planned projects for the Community Betterment 2 program.
(Le Mars) -- Voters going to the polls today, will have the opportunity to cast their vote for an At-large council position. Holding that position for the past 16 years and seeking re-election is John Rexwinkle. The former MidAmerican executive says he hopes to be able to hold property taxes in line, while assisting the city's growth. He is particularly proud of his work with city employees' salaries and benefits.
Rexwinkle says he hopes the city can continue to offer great services to the public, but not jeopardize the city's budget.
Rexwinkle says he doesn't have any particular future projects he wants to see accomplished, but he did say, now that he is retired from the energy utility company, he has more time to oversee city projects.
The retired utility executive says he is proud to live in Le Mars and is proud to serve its people.
(Le Mars) -- Although there will not be a candidate's name for Ward 2 on the ballot. One person has emerged wanting to have voters consider him as a write-in candidate. Steve Wick, a retired teacher with the Le Mars Community School District is wanting to pursue the position being vacated by current councilwoman Delana Irhke. Wick says he was approached by others to consider running for the open council seat.
Wick recently retired as a fifth grade teacher from Kluckholm Elementary. He taught for 27 years in the Le Mars Community School District and 37 years total. Most of Ward 2 consists of the southern portion of the city, and Wick believes his years teaching at Kluckholm will better prepare him to represent the resident's interest on the city council. As for personal goals or issues of interests, Wick says he simply wants to represent the people of the Ward 2 district as best he can, and to help the city of Le Mars continue to grow.
Plymouth County Communities Elections
(Le Mars) -- In the surrounding communities, voters will decide who they wish to represent them for city council and mayor. Beginning with Akron, Sharon Frerichs is running unopposed. Akron voters will select three city council positions. Denise Loutsch-Beitelspacher, Jenell Lanning, and Kasey Mitchell are all seeking positions for the Akron city council. Gerry Stowers name will appear on the ballot to fill a current vacancy. Akron residents will also need to decide which two candidates of the three people running will represent the community for the Akron Care Center. Pamela VonHagel, Connie Black, and Bradley Britton are all seeking positions on the Akron Care Center board of directors.
Brunsville residents are needing to fill three council seats, however, just two candidates Nick Dickman and Jim Goodmanson filed the nomination papers.
Craig residents will need to decide among seven candidates for five city council positions. The candidates include: Candy Eades, Joyce Ludwigs, Glenn Moller, Zach Northway, Kelly Plueger, Gary Schiltz and Mona Schiltz. Barry Cornish is the only candidate seeking the mayor's position.
Struble voters have five candidates to fill five city council seats. The candidates are: Robert Hughes, Troy Hughes, Barry Jurgenson, Kenneth Urban, and Michael VanderMolen. Joseph Vollmecke is running alone for the mayor position.
Remsen has three candidates to consider for their mayor's race. Those running include: Joel Fisch, Steve Pick, and Casey Penning. Just two candidates are seeking the two council positions. Voters can elect both Dick Sievers and Mindy Klein.
Merrill has five candidates for three city council seats, and two people wanting to be mayor. Merrill city council candidates include: Bruce Norgaard, Vicky Hemmelman, Kathy Kraft, Nicole Seible, and Daniel Pierson. The mayor candidates for Merrill are: Richard Husman and Kyle Kolker.
All the candidates in Hinton are unopposed for the election. Hinton voters can elect three council representatives and the three names to appear on the ballot include: Jeffery Johnson, Kelly Kreber, and Michael Koopman. Gary Fisher is seeking election for the mayor's position.
People living in Westfield have two council positions to fill. However, there is only one candidate listed on the ballot. Marcia Dewey is seeking a position on the city council, but the other position is open. Michael Tadlock is running for the mayor position in Westfield.
The candidates seeking public office in Kingsley are all unopposed. Doug Kraft, Keith Bohle and Dan Peters are wanting a city council seat. Meanwhile, Rick Bohle is running for Kingsley's mayor.
Finally, the community of Oyens will vote for two council positions with Donna Poulsen and Scott Kneip running. Eric Mitchell is running to fill a vacancy. Randy Kellen is seeking the mayor's seat.
Thousands Of Farmers Sign On With Lawsuit Against Syngenta
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - About 2,000 farmers, grain handlers and corn exporters have filed lawsuits against Swiss biotechnology company Syngenta now that a federal judge has ruled their cases have merit to move forward.
The lawsuits allege Syngenta's introduction of a new genetically modified corn seed in 2011 interrupted trade with China and harmed the market for U.S. corn by depressing the commodity's price. That cost the U.S. corn industry an estimated $1 billion to $3 billion.
On Sept. 11, U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum denied Syngenta's motion to dismiss the case rejecting the company's argument that it had no duty to protect the farmers and other agribusinesses that handle and trade corn. A federal court panel decided in December to consolidate all of the Syngenta cases in Lungstrum's court in Kansas City, Kansas.
More than 1,860 cases have been transferred from 22 states, including 1,300 cases from Minnesota.
Since Lungstrum's decision in early September hundreds more lawsuits have been filed including more than 200 in South Dakota and more than 300 in Iowa.
The dispute centers around Syngenta's sale of Agrisure Viptera, a seed genetically altered to contain a protein that kills corn-eating bugs such as earworms and cutworms. The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved it in 2010, and Syngenta first sold it to farmers in 2011.
China, a growing importer of U.S. corn that refuses to buy genetically modified crops it hasn't tested, had not approved Viptera when Syngenta began selling it. In November 2013, China discovered the Viptera corn trait in several U.S. shipments and began rejecting U.S. corn imports in February 2014. The lawsuits say the Chinese rejected more than 131 million bushels.
Syngenta attorney Michael Jones said it's not surprising Lungstrum allowed the case to proceed at this early stage. After each side conducts interviews and fact gathering to build their case, there will be another point at which Syngenta may file a summary judgment motion asking the judge to dismiss the case.
Lungstrum also will decide whether to certify the case as a class-action lawsuit allowing many of farmers and agribusinesses to be represented in a central trial.
"If the judge agrees and this goes forward as a class-action every corn farmer in the United States that lost money is covered by that class action. It is an enormous case," said Jayne Conroy, a New York attorney on the plaintiffs' executive committee coordinating the cases. "This is by far the largest agricultural case that has gone forward."
On Oct. 21 Lungstrum decided to first try a small number of representative bellwether cases to "to determine the nature and strength of the claims..." Four farmers and two plaintiffs representing non-farmer agribusinesses will go to trial first in the test cases the first of which is scheduled for trial in June 2017.
Midwest Economy Showing Sluggish Trends
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Figures plunged in an October survey of supply managers in nine Midwest and Plains states, the third straight month of declines that suggest a regional economic slowdown, according to a report released Monday.
The overall Mid-American Business Conditions Index dropped to 41.9 last month, compared with 47.7 in September and 49.6 in August.
Creighton University economist Ernie Goss, who oversees the survey, again blamed the lower survey figures on the strong U.S. dollar and global economic weakness.
"At the national level, prices at the wholesale level declined by 12.1 percent for farm products and by 25.5 percent for energy prices. This weakness has been showing up in our surveys over the last three months," Goss said.
The wholesale inflation index for October fell to 45.3, its lowest level since May 2009, and down from September's 46.8.
"As regional growth has slowed, so have inflationary pressures at the wholesale level," Goss said. "I expect weaker inflationary pressures and growth to push the Federal Reserve to delay a rate hike until 2016," he said.
The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests economic growth. A score below that suggests decline. The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
Economic optimism, as reflected by the business confidence index, dropped to 42.3 from 43.4 in September.
"Falling agriculture and energy commodity prices, along with global economic uncertainty, pushed supply managers' expectations of future economic conditions lower for the month," Goss said.
The index for new export orders also plummeted, hitting 38.2 last month, compared with 42.4 in September.
"The strong U.S. dollar, making U.S. goods less competitively priced abroad, and a weaker global economy, battered new export orders for the month," Goss said.