Friday News, January 23
City Looks To Streamline Jobs And Operations
(Le Mars) -- The city of Le Mars hopes to streamline its departments and possibly outsource some of its services. City Administrator Scott Langel says the goal is to have the city save money.
Langel says part of the re-organization process will examine when people retire, if the position needs to be filled.
The city administrator says the city will look at the efficiencies of full-time versus part-time employees, as well as over-time pay.
Langel was asked if he believes outsourcing jobs to the private sector would indeed save the city tax dollars? He says it depends, and he uses snow removal as an example.
Langel admits there may be a cut of city jobs and positions as a result of the streamlining. However, he says at this point in time he is not certain how many jobs may be lost, or the amount of tax dollars will be saved.
Soderberg And Anderson To Hold Legislative Forum
(Le Mars) -- State Representative Chuck Soderberg and State Senator Bill Anderson will host a legislative forum today at the Pizza Ranch restaurant. The legislative forum will begin at 11:30 a.m. and continue through the lunch hour. The public is welcomed to attend. Soderberg and Anderson will discuss issues as they relate to the 2015 Iowa Legislative Session.
Gehlen First Graders Given Books About Themselves
(Le Mars) -- Have you ever thought about having a story written about you and your dreams, then published in a book? Gehlen Catholic first graders got that opportunity recently when they were presented a book about themselves. In October, Gehlen Catholic 7th graders each selected a first grader to interview and learn more about that individual. The 7th graders compiled their notes, and wrote a story. A pubishing company made a hard-bound copy which was presented to the first graders yesterday. The idea is the brainchild of Language Arts teacher Carolyn Bickford, who started the program more than 30 years ago.
Now, 36 years later, Bickford located a publishing company willing to publish the stories into a hardbound book.
She says the book often becomes a treasured keepsake.
Seventh grader Josie Kohbeck decided to write a story for her brother who is a first grader. But first, she interviewed him to learn more about his likes and dislikes.
She says he enjoys superheroes, and that was the basis for the story.
Kohbeck says she illustrated the pages herself, and included images of the various superheroes within the pages.
The young Gehlen student says her brother, Nathan, was excited to receive the book which featured him and his friends as superheros. As for Josie, well she still treasures her First grade book which featured her with her favorite singer at that time, Hannah Montana.
School Superintendents Oppose Branstad's Idea Of School Funding
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Democratic lawmakers say more than 200 Iowa school superintendents oppose Gov. Terry Branstad's education spending plan.
House and Senate Democratic leaders released data Thursday from an online survey sent to officials in Iowa's 338 school districts. Only one of those who answered thought Branstad's proposed funding level was adequate.
Branstad's $3 billion school budget offers about $100 million in new school funding, though much of it is earmarked for specific programs. The budget includes about $35 million more in general support for K-12 public schools.
Democratic Sen. Herman Quirmbach, chairman of the Senate education committee, says Branstad's budget didn't include enough school funding. Democrats haven't released a counter proposal.
Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen says superintendents consistently seek more funds each year. He declined to comment further on the survey.
Legislators Tackle Early School Start Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Lawmakers have introduced several bills in the Iowa Legislature that would restore the power of school districts to start the school year early.
Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate have proposed measures that would eliminate the state Department of Education's authority to approve waivers for school districts seeking to start classes early.
A House education subcommittee advanced one of the bills Thursday. The full education committee will now review it.
State law requires districts to start school no earlier than the calendar week that includes Sept. 1, but in the past the state has granted waivers allowing them to begin classes earlier. Gov. Terry Branstad has complained the practice ignores state law and affects tourism. He directed the Education Department to stop granting the waivers.
Iowa And Nebraska Rated As Poor For Safe Driving Rules
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A national advocacy group has ranked Nebraska and Iowa among the nation's worst in enacting safer driving laws.
The Washington, D.C.-based Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety group released its annual report Thursday rating each state based on their laws meant to increase safety. Nebraska and Iowa are among nine states to receive the lowest rating.
The group has identified 15 laws it believes ensure safe driving. Both states have just five of the laws on the list.
Jacqueline Gillan, the group's president, says these states' secondary offense laws, such as texting while driving and not wearing a seatbelt, allow unsafe behavior.
Fred Zwonechek, Nebraska Office of Highway Safety administrator, says the low rating doesn't mean the state isn't a safe place for drivers.