Thursday Afternoon News, January 22
Le Mars Updates Its Emergency Disaster Plan
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council heard from Plymouth County Emergency Management Director, Gary Junge during their last council meeting. Junge appeared before the city council to review the five-year emergency disaster plan which is required by both the state and federal governments. The disaster plan is basically a course of action that will be followed, should Le Mars ever suffer from a major disaster such as flooding, a tornado, or hazzard materials spill.
Junge informed the council that each Plymouth County community is required to submit a similar disaster preparness plan, as well as the entire county. He says SIMPCO, a local agency that assists local governments with grant applications, and other common community issues was a great assistance.
Le Mars Hopes To Streamline City 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.
Long Lines Telephone And Cable Sold To an Indiana Company
SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa (AP) - Communications services provider Long Lines has been sold to South Bend, Indiana-based Schurz Communications.
Schurz plans to operate Long Lines as a stand-alone division and retain its staff. Terms of the deal announced Tuesday were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close by April 1.
Family owned Long Lines traces its roots to 1941, when Art Long purchased phone exchanges in Sergeant Bluff, Salix and Sloan. Today the company provides phone, cable TV and broadband Internet service to Sioux City and other northwest Iowa communities.
Long Lines' Chuck Long says offering "the best cable TV and broadband services today requires the investment and resources of a large media enterprise."
Schurz's holdings include cable systems, TV and radio stations and newspapers.
Mason City City Council Uneasy At How Budget Is Being Handled Behind Closed Doors
MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - Some Mason City City Council members say they're uncomfortable with a new practice in which they meet behind closed doors for budget discussions.
Mayor Eric Bookmeyer implemented the approach this year. It requires that the council split into two subcommittees to work privately without public access.
Budget discussions previously involved the entire council and were open to the public.
Councilman Scott Tornquist says he doesn't like the process because it gives the public more reason to accuse the council of keeping residents in the dark when making decisions. He says it also leaves half the council out of significant recommendations being made.
Bookmeyer says he's fine with subcommittee meetings being held behind closed doors and that the process is legal.
ATM Thefts Becoming More Common In Iowa
CLIVE, Iowa (AP) - Security experts say ATM thefts are becoming more common in Iowa because weapons and interaction with others aren't necessary during the crime.
Officials say people see ATMs as attractive targets because stealing one is like robbing a bank without having to point a gun at anyone.
In an ATM theft attempt Tuesday in Clive, a man used a stolen truck to ram two ATMs. In a robbery in Des Moines, a man dragged the machine out of the lobby of the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center.
Conley Security Group owner Tom Conley says surveillance cameras must be monitored to prevent further ATM theft. He also said the machines should be remodeled so that the interior is anchored to the floor.
Trial Date Set For Teacher Charged With Sexual Abuse
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - A March trial date has been set for a 29-year-old Council Bluffs math teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with one of his students.
Jeff Daugherty is charged with sex abuse, sexual exploitation of a minor, sexual exploitation by a school employee and lascivious conduct with a minor. He's out on bond and is on administrative leave from his job at Thomas Jefferson High School.
A police report says the 15-year-old girl's mother discovered the relationship when she saw a late-night text message Daugherty had sent her daughter. He was arrested on Jan. 8. Online court records say his trial is scheduled to begin March 24.
Former Des Moines Police Chief Says Body Cameras Should Be Used
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A former Des Moines police chief says he thinks the next person in the job should advocate for the use of body cameras and speak more with residents.
Bill Moulder was Des Moines' police chief between 1984 and 2003, and he now runs a police management consulting firm.
He says in a post-Ferguson climate, the police chief should support the use of body cameras.
Police departments around the country have purchased the devices following the August fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer.
Judy Bradshaw retired in October after seven years as Des Moines' police chief. Four finalists for the job will be in the city next week to interview with city officials.
Branstad Urges Presidential Candidates To Support Renewable Fuels
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad has announced a coalition aimed at convincing presidential candidates visiting Iowa to support the use of renewable fuels like ethanol.
The Republican governor said Thursday the multimillion-dollar effort will educate Iowa voters and 2016 presidential hopefuls about the Renewable Fuel Standard. The 2007 federal law requires oil companies to blend renewables into gasoline as part of an effort to reduce dependence on imported oil.
The effort, which will be privately funded, will be spent on advertising, field organizing, social media outreach and other tasks.
In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed reducing the amount of biofuels required to be blended into gasoline.
Iowa leads the U.S. in ethanol production.
The bipartisan group will be led in part by Branstad's son, Eric, and Democratic campaign strategist Derek Eadon.