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Thursday News, March 26

Burn Ban Lifted

(Le Mars) -- Tuesday's half inch of rain has added much needed moisture to the ground, allowing the Plymouth County Fire Department Association the opportunity to consider lifting the burn ban.  According to Dave Schipper, Le Mars Fire Chief and president of the Plymouth County Fire Department Association, the county wide burn ban will be lifted effective Thursday morning, March 26th as of 8:00 a.m.  Schipper says conditions will be monitored closely, and if there is a long duration between rains, a burn ban may again be initiated.

 

Weather Official Says Know The Difference Between Weather Myths And Weather Facts

(Sioux Falls) -- A meteorologist with the National Weather Services says during this National Severe Weather Awareness Week, it is not only appropriate to recognize potential storms, and to act accordingly when severe weather strikes, but to dispel the many myths associated with severe weather.  According to Todd Heitkamp, lightening, will and does, strike twice in the same spot.

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Other myths involve opening windows and seeking shelter in the southwest corner of a home in case of a tornado.

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Heitkamp says he has heard the myth that a tornado will never cross a body of water.  Again, the meteorologist says that is false.

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If traveling and a tornado should hit, Heitkamp says stay away from under highway overpasses.

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Heitkamp says knowing the difference between weather myths and weather facts may help save your life.

 

 

 

Sioux City Reaches Settlement With Former City Manager Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

(Sioux City) -- A settlement has been reached in the sexual harassment and civil rights lawsuit filed against form city manager Paul Eckert by a city employee.  A statement from city attorney Nicole Jensen says Sioux City will pay $300,000 to Brittany Scott and her attorney to resolve all of her claims in the federal lawsuit.  Scott had sued Eckert in July of 2013 claiming the former city manager began sexually harassing her in the fall of 2000, after she was divorced.  She claimed Eckert created a hostile work environment and retaliated against her in reduced pay and benefits when she rejected his alleged advances.  Scott also claimed she was denied promotions and given undesirable assignments.  Eckert resigned two weeks after the lawsuit was filed to become the city manager of Mount Shasta, California. Last December, Judge Mark Bennett dismissed several of Scott's claims of retaliation against Eckert. The case was scheduled to go to trial next week.  The city attorney statement says the city is pleased the settlement will bring the lawsuit to a conclusion.

 

 

Leusink Named Chamber "Employee Of The Month"

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce acknowledged it "Employee of the Month" this past Friday.  April Leusink, physical therapy assistant with LeMars Physical Therapy, has been a valued employee with us since the start of the practice 8 years ago.  April brings enthusiasm and energy to the clinic that brightens our clients and our staff’s day.  Going through rehabilitation following surgery or an injury is not always an easy task, but April is able to use her talent in motivating that individual to work hard and overcome the obstacles needed to recover.

She is a performance camp leader in our clinic boot camps and our speed/agility Velocity camps as a personal trainer, pushing the clients to reach his/her goals to fitness with a tough love mentality.  She offers words of encouragement to "Suck it up buttercup!" as her motto to never give up, give your best and push yourself to be the person you want to be.  Words and actions she also lives her life by.

We are blessed to have April as a teammate, colleague and friend.  She fully shares her passion to help others, supports our local athletics, involves herself in her church and community, all values LeMars Physical Therapy embodies.  Our congratulations to April Leusink for being named the Chamber "Employee of the Month."

 

 

Medical Groups Show Support For Bill To Privatize Medicaid

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Representatives for several medical groups have expressed support for a bill making its way through the Iowa House that would give lawmakers more oversight as the Medicaid program transitions into private managed care.

Lobbyists spoke to a House Human Resources subcommittee Wednesday. The panel plans to discuss the bill further before it can advance to a full committee. The Senate passed the bill unanimously this month.

The legislation would create a commission that provides transition guidelines and offers rules for private managed care contracts.

The switch to private managed care was announced this year by the state Department of Human Services. Some lawmakers have criticized the timeline for the rollout.

A DHS lobbyist says officials are studying the bill, though agency Director Charles Palmer has expressed general support for it.

 


 

 


   

Wednesday Afternoon News, March 25

Burn Ban To Be Lifted Thursday Morning

(Le Mars) -- Tuesday's half inch of rain has added much needed moisture to the ground, allowing the Plymouth County Fire Department Association the opportunity to consider lifting the burn ban.  According to Dave Schipper, Le Mars Fire Chief and president of the Plymouth County Fire Department Association, the county wide burn ban will be lifted effective Thursday morning, March 26th as of 8:00 a.m.  Schipper says conditions will be monitored closely, and if there is a long duration between rains, a burn ban may again be initiated.

 

National Severe Weather Awareness Week

(Sioux Falls) -- This week is National Severe Weather Awareness Week, and according to Meteorologist Todd Heitkamp with the National Weather Services at Sioux Falls, he says severe weather can easily occur this time of year.

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Several area communities, including Le Mars, sounded their warning sirens this morning as a test rehearsal for a tornado warning. Heitkamp says he hopes people practiced, as if the warning was real.

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The weather official says severe weather involves more than just tornadoes.

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Heitkamp says people need to be aware of their surroundings, and to keep an eye to the sky.

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Siouxland Garden Show Scheduled For This Weekend

(Sioux City) -- A sure sign of spring is the annual Siouxland Garden Show scheduled for this weekend.  The annual event is in its 9th year and will be held at the Sioux City Convention Center Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Woodbury County Extension Program Coordinator Adrianne Jansen serves on the garden show committee and says this year's show will feature a garden party.

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Jansen says again this year the Siouxland Garden Show will feature many well-known speakers.

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The Siouxland Garden Show hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.  Admission is $5 per person.  Discount passes available for multiple days.


Legislature Undecided Upon School Start Date

(Le Mars) -- The Iowa Legislature and Governor Branstad are at odds over the date when school districts should start.  The House approved a bill that would not allow local school districts to begin classes until after August 23rd, where as the Senate has approved a measure saying the start date should be left to the decision of local school districts. Governor Terry Branstad has indicated he
would like to see schools start after August 31st.  Dr. Todd Wendt, Superintendent of schools for Le Mars Community says it is unfortunate the legislature can't agree, because under normal circumstances, the school district would have had its next year's school calendar approved by this time.

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Wendt believes no decision will be made until perhaps the end of the legislative session.  He says the delay by the legislature is affecting family's summer plans and work schedules.  Wendt says in past discussions, the Le Mars Community School Board generally supports the Senate position by allowing each school district to decide when school should start.

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The Le Mars Community School Superintendent believes there are other issues relating to education that deserve the state legislature's attention, and perhaps are more important, than when to start the school year.

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Onawa City Officials To Decide What To Do With Saint Bernard Dog

ONAWA, Iowa (AP) - The Onawa City Council has put off a decision on what to do
about a St. Bernard that's called a "gentle giant" by its owner and a potential menace by some other residents of the western Iowa community.
Dozens of people packed the council meeting Tuesday to learn Zhivago's fate. The 3-year-old, 200-pounder has gotten loose twice but hasn't bitten anyone. Police say he's a dangerous animal who should be seized. Owner Billy Parker says Zhivago is a "gentle giant" and a therapy animal who poses no
threat.
Council members discussed changing city ordinances so that a tall fence
could be installed to help keep the dog in his yard. The members delayed a final decision until their April 14 meeting.
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Sioux City To Settle Sexual Harassment Suit Against Former City Manager

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City and its former city manager Paul Eckert have agreed to settle in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against them by an employee.
The city on Wednesday announced the $300,000 settlement with Brittany Scott, who sued in July 2013, claiming she was denied a full-time administrative assistant position in retaliation for her complaints about Eckert. The case was scheduled to go to trial next week.
Scott has said Eckert made sexual advances beginning in 2000, and that he retaliated by demoting her when she told council members. Eckert has maintained that the allegations are unfounded.
Stan Munger, Scott's attorney, tells the Sioux City Journal that Scott is satisfied with the outcome. The city says the lawsuit's conclusion allows city leaders to return their focus to other matters.

House Passes Bill Regarding Rideshare

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa House has approved rules for ridesharing services such as Uber, saying a statewide approach is better than different regulations in many cities.
The legislation outlining the state regulations advanced Tuesday on a 95-5 vote. It now goes to the Senate for review.
The legislation prevents cities from implementing stricter ordinances in most cases. Rep. Chris Hagenow, a Windsor Height Republican who managed the bill on the House floor, says this ensures consistency across the state.
The bill also requires ridesharing companies to provide insurance coverage of up to $100,000 when drivers are waiting to be contacted for a ride and $1 million once a job is accepted.
Rep. Dawn Pettengill, a Mount Auburn Republican, says those coverage numbers should be higher.

Iowa House OKs Bill On Contact Information For Officials

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The House has passed legislation that would require some elected public officials in Iowa to have contact information published online in a timely manner.
The House voted unanimously for the bill, which would require an entity with a website to post contact information for an elected public official within 30 days of the official's swearing in to the position. Public officials are defined in the bill as lawmakers, county board supervisors, city council members and board members of a school district.
Officials will only be required to have a phone number and email address posted.
Rep. Mike Sexton, a Republican from Rockwell City who led the bill on the floor, says the legislation offers transparency. The Senate is considering a similar bill, and Sexton expects it to pass.

Branstad And Miller On Opposite Sides Of EPA Lawsuit

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Two top Iowa elected officials are on the opposite sides of a lawsuit the U.S. Supreme Court is considering.
Gov. Terry Branstad joins Michigan and other Republican-led states arguing Wednesday against a proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mercury and toxic air emissions standard for power plants. Attorney General Tom Miller joins colleagues from other states supporting EPA.
Branstad, a Republican, joins 20 other state leaders seeking to strike down the regulation as unlawful because the EPA failed to initially consider costs calculated at $9.6 billion.
Miller, a Democrat, sides with 15 other states supporting EPA. He says he's defending the interests of citizens against pollutants that risk their health and degrade water.
The EPA says it's not required to weigh costs when first considering regulations designed to protect public health.

 

   

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