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Wednesday Afternoon News, April 6

Floyd Valley Healthcare Honors Volunteers

(Le Mars) -- Floyd Valley Healthcare honored all of its 350 plus volunteers this morning during a luncheon held at the Willow Creek Golf Club.  Michelle Ten Napel serves as the Activities Coordinator with Floyd Valley and oversees the volunteers.  She says volunteers serve an important role at the health care facility, and she talks about the hours contributed by volunteers during this past year.

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Ten Napel says when you calculate the number of volunteer hours contributed to Floyd Valley and multiplied that with the current minimum wage, you can begin to see how valuable volunteers are to the program.

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The health care official says the work done by volunteers is priceless to the health Floyd Valley facility.

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Floyd Valley Healthcare honored those volunteers who have achieved a milestone in terms of volunteer hours.  The volunteer with the most cumulative hours over her lifetime is Yvonne Law, who has donated more than 5000 hours to the hospital.  Ten Napel says Law has spent many years at Floyd Valley as a volunteer.

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1500 hour Floyd Valley Healthcare Volunteers

2000 hour volunteers

2500 hours

Yvonne Law - 5000 hours of Volunteer Time with Floyd Valley Healthcare.




Jenny Kayser With American Bank Honored As "Employee Of The Month".

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce also honored its latest "Employee of the Month" earlier today during the Chamber coffee held at the American Bank.  Jenny Kayser  has been an employee with American Bank for five years and is currently the Electronic Banking-Info Securities Officer and Marketing Manager.  She began her career at American Bank in May of 2011 and brought with her five years of banking experience.  Kayser quickly learned teller functions, fed-line transfers, new account functions and many other duties.  She soon started training other staff members in the new accounts and fed-line transfer's area of the bank.  Kayser represents American Bank well by responding to customer's needs effectively and volunteers her time and talents in the community.  She was instrumental in developing content, structure and functionality of the new American Bank website which was introduced in early 2015.  She also led the efforts to launch American Bank's facebook page and helps maintain a fresh presence on this page, helping educate and responding to customer and community comments and inquiries.  Jenny Kayser is a key person called upon to assist with marketing directives.  She is very skilled in desktop publishing needs and coordinating with the Marketing Director and Committee.  She was promoted to Electronic Banking Officer in June of 2015 to lead American Bank online banking efforts, both personal and business, fed-line functions and website maintenance and development.  Overall Jenny Kayser has earned the respect of her co-workers with her "can-do" attitude and better yet, she has many friends at American Bank.  She is always willing to help a co-worker and customer with their needs. Our congratulations to Jenny Kayser for being honored as the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce April "Employee of the Month".

Kevin Eekhoff with the Chamber of Commerce presents the "Employee of the Month" award to Jenny Kayser with American Bank.   - photo contributed.




Branstad Signs Into Law Education Spending Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad has signed legislation into law that sets new funding levels for K-12 education in the next state budget.
Branstad signed legislation Wednesday that will increase K-12 education spending by 2.25 percent for the fiscal year that begins in July. The Republican-majority House and the Democratic-controlled Senate approved the funding earlier this session.
The state currently pays about $6,445 per student in most school programs. The new legislation will increase that by $145.
Some educators say the funding increase isn't enough to avoid financial hardship for school districts around the state. Legislative leaders in both chambers have said there's limited funding available for the new budget, though some Democrats have also criticized the compromise.
The state spends about $3 billion on K-12 education.



State Senate Passes Crime Victims Housing Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Senate has passed legislation that would prevent landlords from evicting crime victims who contact law enforcement for help.
The Democratic-controlled Senate voted unanimously 50-0 Wednesday for the bill, which would create rules for how cities and counties must handle cases of emergency assistance involving crime victims. The Republican-majority House previously passed the bill, and it will return to that chamber with some changes.
Advocacy groups say Iowa law is vague and allows cities and counties to enforce housing ordinances with certain rules involving nuisances. The groups say those nuisance rules can allow landlords to purposely evict crime victims, including domestic violence victims.
Lawmakers say the latest bill version would ensure crime victims are protected and allow cities and counties to enforce housing rules that maintain safety.




Senate Passes Bill Calling For Stronger Penalties For Repeat Offenders Of Domestic Violence

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Senate has passed legislation that would increase penalties for repeat domestic abusers.
The Democratic-controlled Senate voted unanimously 50-0 Wednesday in support of the bill, which would create a mandatory minimum punishment for stalking, harassment and repeat domestic violence. It would also allow a judge to set a higher mandatory minimum sentence.
The bill received overwhelming support in the Republican-majority House in March.
Supporters say the legislation would better protect domestic violence victims. The Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence initially opposed the bill amid concern over the value of longer sentences. The group said Wednesday it now supports the bill because of several other elements in the measure.
Changes to the bill mean it will return to the House before it can reach Gov. Terry Branstad's desk.




Branstad Signs Law Allowing Guns To Be Carried On ATV's And Snowmobiles

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A new law will allow drivers or passengers in snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles to carry loaded firearms.
Gov. Terry Branstad signed the legislation into law Wednesday. The law will allow people to carry a loaded firearm whether it's concealed or not, though there are separate rules for gun owners who are on their private land and those who are not on such property.
A gun owner on his or her own land will not be required to keep their gun permit on them at all times. They will also not be required to keep a firearm on a retention holster.
Gun owners will still not be allowed to shoot a weapon from the moving vehicles.




Former Teacher Protests Order To Not Visit School Activities

TREYNOR, Iowa (AP) - A former teacher and coach accused of sexual abuse is appealing a school district decision barring him from district grounds. 
The  Treynor school board plans an appeal hearing April 13 after 46-year-old Michael Travis asked to have some restrictions removed. District attorney Joe Thornton says Travis is prohibited from district facilities unless he's attending his children's activities. 
Travis gave up his teaching and coaching licenses upon pleading guilty in August to simple assault. 
Travis maintained his innocence despite his negotiated guilty plea. 
He was arrested in May 2014 on two counts of sexual exploitation by a school employee. Former students accused Travis of inappropriately touching them between 2001 and 2006.
Travis was an assistant softball coach at Treynor High School and taught elementary school.





Authorities Make Connection To Texas Man Involved With Lottery Jackpot Scandal

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Investigators say they've uncovered how a lottery employee allegedly rigged jackpots and have charged his brother in connection with prizes in Oklahoma and Colorado.
Tommy Tipton, a former justice of the peace in Texas, surrendered to Iowa authorities on Wednesday. He's the brother of Eddie Tipton, who was convicted of fixing a $16.5 million jackpot and faces charges related to other jackpots.
Prosecutors allege Eddie Tipton used his job with the Multi-State Lottery Association to tamper with random number generators used by lotteries.
Authorities said Wednesday they've recovered the generator used for a $2 million jackpot claimed by Eddie Tipton's friend. An examination found that code allowed numbers to be picked by a different program three days of the year.
All six jackpots linked to Tipton were drawn on either Nov. 23 or Dec. 29.



Wednesday News, April 6

Akron and Westfield Voters Say "No" To School Bond

(Akron) -- For the second time, voters in Akron and Westfield turned down the $6 million dollar bond issue that would have called for improvements to the Akron-Westfield school facilities.  Nearly 200 more people had voted in Tuesday's special election than when the measure first appeared before voters in September.  However, in order for the measure to have pass, it needed 60 percent of the voters to approve the bond issue. The measure had only a 55 percent approval with 578 people voting in favor, and 458 people, or 44 percent voting against the proposed bond.




Northwest Bank Pledges $175,000 To Le Mars Community Betterment

(Le Mars) -- Northwest Bank of Le Mars has pledged a contribution of $175,000 to the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation for Community Betterment.  The donation is a combination of actual cash value for the acquisition of the Royal 3 theater and a pledge over time to the overall Community Betterment Campaign.  Mike Donlin, president of the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation says "Northwest Bank joins several of our local financial institutions who are taking a lead role in making Le Mars a better place to work, live, and play".  Kevin Eekoff, market president for Northwest Bank, says "Northwest Bank takes pride in supporting the community of Le Mars and the many projects that make our community a better place to work and live in.  He says, "Northwest Bank employees and directors support our communities by not only donating their time and talents, but also donating financial resources.  Our hope is this donation will help to continue to improve the quality of life in Le Mars and the process of matching the $2.5 million dollar matching grant from Wells Enterprises, Inc."





School Superintendent Named "Boss Of The Quarter"

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce awarded the "Boss of the Quarter" on Tuesday to the Le Mars Community Schools superintendent, Dr. Todd Wendt.  Wendt was nominated by the school administration and central office staff.  In that nomination, they write: "A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.  A person does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the quality of one's actions and the integrity of one's intent".  These words are displayed in the office of Dr. Todd Wednt.  Dr. Wendt has been the superintendent for the Le Mars Community Schools for the past 16 years.  Throughout the years, we have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Wendt, and we have witnessed first-hand his commitment to living up to those words.  Dr. Wendt practices an "open-door" policy and makes time to be available to address questions and concerns.  He possesses a wealth of knowledge and is patient in answering questions and, when necessary, will take to thoroughly research an answer.  He strives to bring out the best in his staff and offers guidance when asked.  Dr. Wendt is committed to excellence in education.  He encourages the growth and development of the administration and teaching staff to provide Le Mars Community's students with a quality education.  He collaborates with a variety of local organizations supporting the district such as DLIIT, booster clubs, CAPS, LEEP, the Le Mars Community Foundation and represents Le Mars Community schools proudly and professionally at the district and state level as well.  Dr. Wendt keeps the best interest of the school top of mind.  The Le Mars Community School District has been fortunate to have a superintendent who exemplifies so many leadership qualities, and we feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with and learn from Dr. Todd Wendt.  Our congratulations go to Dr. Todd Wendt, superintendent of schools, as being named the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce "Boss of the Quarter".





Woodbury County Authorities Pursue Vehicle At Speeds Up To 117 mph.


(Sloan) -- Woodbury County authorities were involved with a high-speed pursuit on Tuesday morning between Sloan and Salix.  At about 9:00 a.m. a Woodbury County deputy sheriff attempted a traffic stop near the city of Sloan.  The suspect vehicle failed to stop and a pursuit ensued northbound from the Sloan area on county road K-45.  The pursuit reached speeds of 117 miles per hour.  During the pursuit, the deputy observed occupants of the suspect vehicle tossing items out of the vehicle's window.  When the pursuit had reached Salix, the driver of the vehicle lost control and rolled the vehicle.  The suspect driver of the vehicle fled on foot and the remaining four occupants stayed with the vehicle.  Deputies had chased the suspect driver on foot from the crash site to a sewage lagoon.  For a short period of time, the suspect driver refused to come out of the sewage lagoon. Deputies negotiated with the suspect driver, and he eventually came out of the lagoon and was taken into custody.  The driver, and two of the four passengers were transported by Salix and Sloan Ambulances to the hospital for treatment.  The other two refused medical treatment.  The driver of the vehicle that fled from a Woodbury County deputy has been identified as 36 year old Justin Derby from Onawa.  Derby was booked into the Woodbury County jail for driving while license barred, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, reckless driving, and speeding.  His bond has been set at $15,000.  The incident is still under investigation and additional charges could follow.






Car Hits Two Men Working On Parked Van

(Sioux City) -- On Monday evening at about 8:45 p.m. Sioux City police was called to a traffic collision resulting in personal injuries at the 1800 block of Grandview Blvd.  A vehicle was heading northbound on Grandview Blvd and had just passed through the 18th Street intersection. A minivan was parked on the east side of the street with two men working on the van.  The car's passenger side struck the two men that were next to the van, causing severe injuries and the driver of the car did not stop.  Both victims were transported to Mercy Medical Center with one of the victims remaining in ICU.  The car was located within a few minutes in Grandview Park where had left the roadway ad was stuck in the grass.  The driver left the vehicle on foot, but was located at his residence and subsequently arrested.  The accident is still under investigation.





Dreckman Honored With "Fire Fighter Of The Year"

(Le Mars) -- This past Saturday, the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department awarded its "Fire Fighter of the Year" to Michael Dreckman.  Dreckman had an interesting time, in 2014, with part of the time battling health issues.  Dreckman began as a Le Mars fire fighter first as a reserve in 2008 upon his high school graduation. In 2010 is when he became a regular member of the fire and rescue department.  His father Brett Dreckman is closing in on 30 years of serving on the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department, and the younger Dreckman says he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and also be a fire fighter.  He says it is difficult to explain his fascination.

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Dreckman says with each call it becomes a special memory, but he says one of his most memorable fire calls was when a Victorian-style home converted to an apartment complex had caught on fire.

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The 25 year old fire fighter says with that particular fire call, he had several responsibilities.

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By nature, Dreckman's personality is that of an easy-going character, but when a locked door, or another obstruction is needing to be moved out of the way to allow easier access for fire fighters, Dreckman has the reputation from his fellow colleagues, that he is the first person ready with the axe.

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A year ago in October, Dreckman had a blood clot that had formed in his brain due to his spinal fluid that wouldn't drain.  The episode led to a stay in an Omaha hospital and it required some brain surgery.  Dreckman details the scenario.

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The young fire fighter explains the doctors and medical staff were quite concerned about his condition for a period of nearly two weeks.

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Dreckman says it took three months before he was able to make a full recovery from the episode. Fortunately, he has not had any reoccurrence from the health scare, but to this day, doctors are not certain as to what may have caused the brain blood clot in the first place.  Dreckman says during that time, everyday, he would worry about whether he would be able to return to the volunteer job that he loves so much.

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Dreckman was able to make a full recovery from his brain surgery, and now again can be seen riding either in a red truck hauling dirt, sand, gravel or rock for his family business, or the red trucks of the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department.





Sioux City Working On Viaduct To By-Pass Trains

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City officials say a proposed $20.7 million viaduct to prevent railroad delays in the Hoeven Valley will close at least one train crossing to through traffic.
City staff told the City Council on Monday that closing three streets to traffic at railroad crossings will force people to use the proposed viaduct. The city is seeking about $14.8 million from the U.S. Department Transportation for the project.
The Hoeven Valley often has heavy traffic as a result of long delays at railroad crossings. The industrial manufacturing and residential area is 5 miles long and 1 mile wide.
The city's engineer, Glenn Ellis, says the city staff will hold a public meeting on the project the week of April 18.





Lawmakers Work On Water Quality Bill

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa House Republicans have proposed a plan to allocate almost a half-billion dollars in funding to projects to improve Iowa's water quality.
The plan would give $464 million in funding over the next 13 years to water quality projects by using money from a state infrastructure fund and tax revenue from Iowa residents' water bills.
Gov. Terry Branstad says he plans to back the proposal, which was unveiled at a meeting Monday.
Branstad started a conversation over water quality issues in the Legislature this year. The House Republican's proposal was an effort to seek an alternative to his original proposal, which would've redirected funds away from schools.





Historical Museum Money For Infrastructure Went To Pay Wages

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Documents show the state agency that oversees Iowa's flagship history museum used infrastructure money designated for building repairs and museum renovation planning to pay some department salaries.
Payroll documents obtained by The Associated Press show the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs diverted more than $176,000 from a special infrastructure fund to pay a portion of Director Mary Cownie's current salary and the salaries of two senior staff.
The agency insisted Tuesday that the move was legal, and it pointed to special appropriations language issued for some of the $3.65 million it received from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund. DCA says it exempts normal rules.
A spokesman for the governor agreed with DCA's interpretation of the law.
Some lawmakers say the exempted language isn't clear and merits review. They also say the practice of using such money for department salaries is unusual.
The department has received $3.65 million in infrastructure money for repairs to the state historical museum and building renovation planning.



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