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Monday News, February 2

Fire Department Responds To Hay And Cornstalk Fire

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire Department responded to a hay and cornstalk bale fire Saturday evening.  At about 7:00 p.m. fire officials were called to the far northwest corner of coverage at 29704 100th Street, past Struble, approximately 12 miles from Le Mars.  Fire Chief Dave Schipper says the fire department had to battle both the fire and the snow storm. 

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Schipper believes ashes from a nearby burn pile may be responsible for the blaze.

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Schipper says approximately 30 tons of hay and cornstalks were lost as a result of the fire.

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Fire officials were on the scene for approximately three hours. While fighting the hay and cornstalk fire, Le Mars Fire officials were called to a second alarm.  A residence in Le Mars had reported the microwave had caught on fire.

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Fire Department Issues January Monthly Report

(Le Mars) -- Speaking about the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department, they issued its monthly report for January.  The fire department responded to a total of 30 calls, 11 which were fire calls, one rescue, 11 investigations, three mutual aid calls to Merrill, Akron, and Orange City.  The fire department also had four requests for services.  Fire Chief Dave Schipper says the fire department twice in January had to respond to two separate calls that were at the same time.

Bixenman Honored As "Citizen Of The Year"

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards night on Saturday evening at the Le Mars Convention Center.  Insurance agent Rob Bixenman was honored with the "Citizen of the Year" award.  Bixemann thanked the community for allowing him to grow a business in Le Mars.  Bixenman told the crowd that several generations of his family have stayed in Le Mars and built several businesses, none of which followed the previous generation.

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Bixenman thanked the town of Le Mars for offering him the opportunity to raise a family and grow a business.

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Bike Central was honored as the Le Mars "Business of the Year".  Bike Central, in its initial year four years of business has developed loyal customers from miles away, and has welcomed participants in their sanctioned events from surrounding states.  At a time when people are becoming more health conscious, and outdoor activities are recognized as a large part of quality of life opportunities; Bike Central has timed it perfectly.  It has become a draw to the downtown as well as a draw to the community.

Jack Guenthner was given the award for the United Way Volunteer of the Year.  Angie Erdmann was presented the Main Street "Volunteer of the Year" award.

The Employees of the Month and Bosses of the Quarter were honored during the evening's festivities.  Employees of the Month included: Mindy Scheitler and Jackie Sitzmann of Gehlen Catholic Schools.  Sue Brandenburg of KLEM radio, Gene Ruisch of ICON Ag and Turf, Julie Holck of Le Mars Insurance Company and Val Owens of Hospice of Siouxland.  Brenda Gengler of Northwest Iowa Credit Union and Martha Toben of the Good Samaritan Society were also recognized.  Also honored as "Employees of the Year" included Amy Lempares from The Toy Depot and Jack Guenthner from Northwest Bank.

Bosses of the Quarter included Deb Bonnstetter from Floyd Valley Hospital, Sherri Bauman from Cellular Connection, and Joe Sitzmann of Mr. P's Pizza and Sports Grill.

 

Soderberg And Anderson Hear About School Funding Problems

(Le Mars) -- State Representative Chuck Soderberg and State Senator Bill Anderson hosted a legislative forum this morning at Remsen. A handful of people were in attendance, but the majority of the discussion focused on school funding. School officials representing the Remsen-UNion school district informed the lawmakers that the 1.25 percent increase for school funding that was passed by the House of Representatives this week, simply was not enough to be able to sustain all educational programs and staff.  Representative Soderberg explained to the gathering the amount passed, coinsides with the allocation of money available and with Governor Branstad's education budget proposal.  Soderberg told the group that education accounts for 55 percent of the entire state's budget.  The school officials spoke with great passion about the dilemnas they are facing, not only the Remsen-Union school district, but many of the state's smaller school districts.  The school officials asked the question, "how can small school districts raise additional revenue?"  The Remsen-Union officials indicated the school district is often caught between what is needed for the survival of the school, and following state regulations.  According to the school officials, a total of 22 students from the Remsen-Union school district have chosen to attend school through open enrollment at Le Mars Community.  They say that means a loss of more than $60,000 from the school districts financial account.  Under the plan that passed the House of Representatives, Remsen-Union will receive $24,826, however, the anticipated raise for teacher salaries and benefits would  exceed $45,782.  If the Senate proposed plan of allocating up 6 percent in the supplemental school aid were to pass, and adopted into law, it would mean Remsen-Union would receive $82,824.  But, both Soderberg and Anderson say it is highly unlikely the state legislature will approve the Senate proposed plan, because it would mean the state would be in the red again.  Representative Soderberg says the legislature adopted budget principals which prevents the state from spending any additional money beyond the amount collected.

 

College Athletes Pledge To Refrain From Domestic Violence

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A group of athletes from Dakota Wesleyan University is challenging all the other male athletes in the Great Plains Athletic Conference to take a public stand against domestic violence.
     The Sioux City Journal reports the pledge idea began with a small group of students and a social justice class Luke Bamberg took.
     Bamberg and four classmates decided to ask Dakota Wesleyan athletes to take the pledge. But the idea took off once Great Plains Athletic Conference Commissioner Corey Westra heard about it.
     So now the group is challenging the more than 2,500 male athletes at the conference's 11 universities in South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.
     Bamberg acknowledges that signing a pledge may not make a huge difference, but he says it's better than doing nothing.

 

Iowans To Face Increased Premiums For Medicaid

    DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - As Iowa's modified Medicaid expansion hits the one-year anniversary mark, some enrollees will be asked to pay small monthly premiums because they haven't completed a physical exam and health questionnaire.
     For Governor Terry Branstad, those health requirements were key provisions for expanding Medicaid in Iowa using funding from President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Iowa received federal approval to make modifications to the traditional Medicaid terms, including setting health requirements and charging contributions.
     Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers says the governor "continues to believe that a critical component of improving the health and wellness of Iowa is having citizens take ownership of their health."
     Lydia Mitts, a policy analyst with health care advocacy group Families USA, says such incentives might not work and could hurt people who need health coverage.

 


 

 



 

 

   

Saturday News, January 31

Soderberg And Anderson Hold Legislative Forums

(Le Mars) -- State Representative Chuck Soderberg and State Senator Bill Anderson will hold legislative forums in Kingsley, Remsen, and Akron this morning.  The public is invited and encouraged to attend.  The lawmakers will discuss legislative issues from the 2015 General Session.  The forums will take place at the Kingsley Community Center at 8:30 a.m., the Remsen Public Library at 9:45 a.m. and at the Akron Jo's Cafe at 11:30 a.m.

 

Chamber To Hold Annual Awards Ceremony During Banquet

(Le Mars) -- Tonight at the Le Mars Convention Center, beginning at 6:00 p.m. the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual awards banquet.  The chamber will recognize those people selected as the "Employee of the Month" and the "Bosses of the Quarter".  The awards ceremony will also announce the Le Mars "Citizen of the Year" and the "Business of the Year".

 

Le Mars School Board To Hold Special Meeting On Monday

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education will hold a special meeting scheduled for Monday, February 2nd.  The meeting will begin at 5:00 p.m. at the Education Administration Center.  The school board will present their initial bargaining position offer to the Le Mars Teacher Association.  In their proposal, the teacher association proposed a $2000 increase in the base salary from $34,585 to $36,585.  The teacher association had also requested an additional $100 per month for insurance coverage boosting it from $945 per month to $1,045.  The local teacher association also asked for an additional personal day off going from two personal paid days to three personal paid days.

 

Wold Arrested For Drug Possession Charges

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County authorities have placed a Sioux City woman under arrest for various drug related charges, and for a warrant for failure to appear.  Sheriff's deputies made the arrest of 32 year old Shelly Wold.  She was found to be in possession of a controlled substance for a third offense, drug paraphernalia, and prescription pills without a valid prescription.  Wold was booked into the Plymouth County jail.

 

Maclem Arrested For Assault Charges

(Le Mars) -- A Le Mars man has been arrested by Plymouth County sheriff's deputies for assault with intent to inflict serious injury.  23 year old Andrew Macklem was booked into the Plymouth County jail and held on a $2,000 bond.

 

Supervisors Work On County Budget Nearing Completion

(Le Mars) -- "Plymouth County is in an enviable position." That comment was made by Jim Henrich, chairman of the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors, when he describes the financial condition of Plymouth County.  The county supervisors have been working on the fiscal year budget during the last few weeks. 

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Henrich says one area that was expanded was the supervisors approved the addition of another deputy to be added to the sheriff's staff.

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For any county, road and bridge repair seems to be one of the largest, if not the largest expenditure.  Henrich says the county has increased the funding for additional road and bridge repair, however, he says it may not go very far.

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Another major expense for the county is funding for mental health programs.  Henrich says that area is still up in the air, due to a reorganization process within the state over mental health funding.

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The county supervisors have set February 24th at 10:00 a.m. as the date for a public hearing regarding the county budget for fiscal year 2015-2016.

 

Snow Is Likely For The Weekend

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two storm systems merging over the Midwest this weekend are expected to produce significant snowfall across Iowa and lighter accumulation in Nebraska.
     The National Weather Service says precipitation beginning late Saturday morning in some areas and late afternoon in others will transition into snowfall overnight. Accumulation of up to nine inches is possible in southeastern Iowa, and anywhere between one to four inches is expected across northern portions of the state.
     Meteorologist Melinda Beerends says a storm entering the region from the southwest and another dropping out of Canada will meet. She says snowfall will get heavier as the storm moves through the state, with central and southeastern Iowa anticipating higher totals.
     Beerends says light snow is expected in Nebraska, with predicted snow totals highest in the northeast.

 

Legislators Working On A Sales Tax Program For Road Repair

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - State Rep. Walt Rogers is working on legislation that would use sales tax revenue to pay for road improvements.
     Rogers, a Republican from Cedar Falls, said Friday he plans to introduce a bill next week that would shift a portion of state sales tax revenue to roads and bridges. Rogers said he is trying to find an alternative to increasing the fuel tax, which has been discussed by legislative leaders.
     The proposal would require amending the state constitution, a process that takes years. It would need approval twice in the Iowa Assembly before going to a statewide vote.
     Sen. Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa who heads the Senate transportation committee, said the sales tax proposal would shift money out of the state general fund.

 

School Enrollment On The Increase 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Enrollment in Iowa's public schools is on the rise for the fourth year in a row.
     The Iowa Department of Education released a report Friday that shows the overall number of students enrolled for the 2014 to 2015 school year again increased from the year before. The pattern follows 17 years of declining enrollment.
     The state education department says student enrollment will likely follow the same pattern the next few years, but that the rate of growth is slowing and will eventually plateau.
     According to the report, nearly 82 percent of Iowa's largest districts posted enrollment gains, which contributed significantly to statewide growth.
     Despite the increase, a majority of the state's school districts saw declining enrollment, with the smallest districts facing the largest losses.

 

Attorney To Refile Lawsuit For Senate Legislative Staff Employee

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An attorney for a former Iowa Senate Republican Caucus aide says he plans to refile her sexual harassment lawsuit after a judge dismissed the case over a minor filing dispute.
     Judge Dennis Stovall ruled that Kirsten Anderson's petition failed to mention that she's exhausted her administrative remedies as required by the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
     Attorneys on both sides agree Anderson exhausted those remedies, but the petition simply didn't mention it. Granting the state's motion to dismiss, Stovall called the omission "fatally defective" but said the case could be refiled.
     Anderson's attorney, Michael Carroll, said he disagrees with the ruling and wants Stovall to reconsider. He plans to refile the lawsuit otherwise.
     Anderson contends that she was fired in 2013 after complaining about sexual harassment by male aides and lawmakers.
 

 



 

 



 

   

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