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Saturday News, January 24

Soderberg And Anderson Answer Questions About Legislative Issues

(Le Mars) -- State lawmakers Chuck Soderberg and Bill Anderson appeared before a gathering of 25 people Friday answering questions relating to the state's budget, transportation and the fuel tax, education funding and the start of school, and mental health funding and the closing of two of Iowa's mental health institutions.  Soderberg informed the group that Governor Branstad has proposed a budget of $346.7 million more than in fiscal year 2015.  Soderberg says that means $146.4 million of one-time money would be used to fund ongoing expenses, which he says is not consistent with the budget principles the legislature has supported over the last four years.  Soderberg says there are three areas that make up 90 percent of the state's budget.  They include education funding at 55 percent. human services that take up 26 percent, and the justice system receives 9 percent of the state's revenue.  Soderberg says the one thing the legislature must do is pass a balanced budget.

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Soderberg says with new programs approved during last session, there simply is not enough money to be able to finance every program.

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Soderberg says the legislature will need to make some cuts in order to balance the state's budget.

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Le Mars City Council To Hold Special Meeting To Review Budget

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council will hold a special meeting on Tuesday beginning at 4:00 p.m. at the city hall council chambers.  The purpose of the meeting is to review the proposed city budget for the upcoming fiscal year. 

 

Le Mars Community School Board To Hold Retreat

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Community Board of Education is scheduled to hold its special retreat on Monday.  The school board will learn more about the technology intergration in the elementary grades, and they will also examine the Iowa Core Unpacking Standards, and they will have TLC updates.

 

Jamal Dean Sentenced To Life In Prison

(Sioux City) --  Two Sioux City brothers who were found guilty on federal robbery and weapons charges last August were sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court.  It's life in prison for 23 year old Jamal Dean.  Judge Mark Bennett sentenced Dean for two counts of robbery, two counts of brandishing a firearm in a crime of violence and one count each of conspiracy to committ robbery, carjacking, and being a felon in possession of a firearm in the April, 2013 robberies of two drug dealers.   In handing down the sentence, Judge Bennett told Jamal Dean that he was an incredible menace to society based on his actions.   Jamal Dean is already serving 25 years in prison for attempted murder in the shooting of Sioux City Police Officer, Kevin McCormick during a traffic stop in April, 2013.  McCormick read an emotional victim's statement at the hearing, telling the judge how his life and family had been affected since the shooting.   The Sioux City police officer was one of ten witnesses called at the sentencing.   Federal prosecutor Forde Fairchild presented evidence that Jamal Dean had shot two people, Jamie Espinoza and Sergio-Soto Gomez, in gang related crimes that he had never been prosecuted for.  A South Sioux Citiy woman also testified about how Jamal Dean had sexually assaulted her in the past.  In handing down the sentence, Judge Bennett weighed those factors plus the fact that Jamal Dean had been in jail four times and prison three other times by the age of 23, and had been returned behind bars in five months or less each time he was released.  Fairchild says Dean proved by those actions that he could not be rehabilitated.

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Bennett said Dean ranked only behind Dustin Honken, as far as being the most dangerous person he had ever sentenced in 20 years on the bench.  The judge also reccomended that Dean be sent to the supermax prison in Colorado, because he considered that Dean would be a menace to other inmates.  After the hearing, Sioux City Police Chief Doug Young said the streets of the city will be safer for citizens. 

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His brother, 25 year old LeVon Dean, was sentenced to 400 months in prison.  LeVon Dean was sentenced for two counts of robbery, two counts of possessing a firearm in furthering a crime of violence and on count each of conspiracy to commit robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

 

Grassley Opposes Obama's Idea For Free Community College

(Washington) -- During his State of the Union address, President Obama referred to the nation's community colleges and hinted that the federal government may want to consider offering free tuition, and additional aid to those students wanting to attend community colleges.  Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says the president's plan would apply to liberal arts and humanities students and not to vocational trade students.  Grassley says that would be unfair, and he doesn't want to see the federal government involved with community colleges.

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Grassley says the other consideration is the financial burden it would place on the federal government's already growing debt.

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Lottery Official Pleads Not Guilty To Fraud

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa lottery worker has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges following accusations that he illegally played the lottery, won a multimillion-dollar jackpot in 2010 and asked others to help him claim it.
     51-year-old Eddie Raymond Tipton, of Norwalk, Iowa, entered the plea Friday. Tipton was arrested and charged Jan. 15 on two counts of fraud.
     Officials had been trying to identify the winner of the $14.3 million Hot Lotto ticket since a New York lawyer tried to claim the prize just before the one-year deadline in 2011. As director of information security at the Multi-State Lottery Association in Iowa, Tipton is not allowed to buy tickets or win prizes.
 
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Wisconsin Governor Prepares Fro Iowa Visit

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is fine-tuning his message heading into a busy weekend where he will rub shoulders with other potential 2016 presidential candidates. Walker plans to speak to conservatives in Iowa and at a Koch brothers sponsored event in California.
     Walker has been crafting his image on the national political stage as a fresh-faced reformer and a proven winner who can offer a stark contrast to what he brands as dysfunction in Washington.
     Walker said Friday he will talk to Iowa Republicans about his record in Wisconsin and make the argument that the GOP presidential nominee needs to be someone who is a proven winner and outside of the Washington establishment.
     Republican Iowa activist Susan Geddes says Walker needs to make himself known to Iowa voters, but he is "something new and fresh."

 

Insurance Commissioner Asks Court To Liquidate CoOportunity Health

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's top insurance official has asked a court to end a consumer-owned cooperative that was selling health insurance to residents in Iowa and Nebraska.
     Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart said Friday he would seek liquidation of CoOportunity Health. He expects the process to be complete by late February.
     CoOportunity is a federally funded nonprofit aimed at providing more health care options in Iowa and Nebraska. State regulators took over CoOportunity late last year after the organization's available funds were depleted.
     Gerhart says he chose liquidation after determining that the cooperative's medical claims would exceed its cash on hand. He recommends people find other health insurance coverage by March 1st.
      CoOportunity insures about 120,000 people in Iowa and Nebraska.
 

 


 

 

   

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.

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Langel says part of the re-organization process will examine when people retire, if the position needs to be filled.

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The city administrator says the city will look at the efficiencies of full-time versus part-time employees, as well as over-time pay.

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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.

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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. 

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Now, 36 years later, Bickford located a publishing company willing to publish the stories into a hardbound book. 
 
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She says the book often becomes a treasured keepsake.

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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.

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 She says he enjoys superheroes, and that was the basis for the story.

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Kohbeck says she illustrated the pages herself, and included images of the various superheroes within the pages.

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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.
 
 

 

   

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