Wednesday, November 25, 2015
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Wednesday News, November 18

Wells Enterprises Gives A Check Of $45,000 To The City Of Le Mars

(Le Mars) -- At Tuesday's Le Mars City Council meeting Well's Enterprises CEO, Mike Wells shared his appreciation to the city.  Wells informed the city council that this past year was the best year ever for Wells Enterprises with record sales.  Wells says the ice cream maker will share some of those profits with the employees with the profit sharing incentive program.  Wells told the city council that "as goes Wells (Enterprises), so goes the city and vice versa.  Wells then presented a check to Le Mars mayor Dick Kirchoff for the amount of $45,000 which is to be split three ways with one third going to help finance the Le Mars Police Department, a third to the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department, and the remaining $15,000 to go to the Le Mars EMS- Ambulance services.






Privatization Of Medicare Could Have Negative Consequences To Life Skills Training Center

(Le Mars) -- Governor Terry Brandstad's plan to privatize the Medicare program is having some negative consequences on many of the state's health care programs.  Locally, Life Skills Training Center of Le Mars may in fact be adversely affected by the new program. Four companies will now handle the disbursements of funding for the program that is slated to begin on January 1st of 2016.   Life Skills executive director Don Nore says state officials should delay the start of the implementation of the program, until such time when more information is shared.

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Nore says the rate of funding for the rehabilitation services given to Life Skill's clients has been frozen for the last six years at the 2009 funding level.

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Nore says ultimately it will be the providers and the families of the members receiving the services that will have to make up the short-fall of funding. Rose Nicoson serves as the Business Manager for Life Skills.  She estimates that the local facility that assists mentally handicapped individuals could lose as much as $20,000.  But she says the worst part is that there could be some clients already being served by Life Skills that may not qualify for state funded assistance in the future.

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Nicoson says Life Skills may be able to handle the anticipated loss of $20,000 a year, but it does not make up the funding that has been capped and will remain capped for at least another two years.

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Nicoson says she believes the state's mental health industry is unfairly being targeted with the cuts.





Three State Senators Hope To Stop Branstad's Privatization Of Medicare Program

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Three Iowa Senate Democrats plan to meet with federal officials in Washington on Wednesday in hopes of stopping implementation of Gov. Terry Branstad's proposed privatization of the state's Medicaid program.
Senate President Pam Jochum of Dubuque and Sens. Amanda Ragan of Mason City and Liz Mathis of Robins say the privatization plan is disorganized and leaves too many major questions unanswered to be implemented on Jan. 1.
The governor must get permission from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to go forward with the plan, which would shift management of the state's $4.2 billion Medicaid program to four for-profit private insurance companies. The program provides care to poor children and families, disabled people and some low-income adults.
Branstad says the privatization move will improve care and cut costs.





Supervisors Offer County Employees Contract Proposal

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday submitted their counter proposal for contract changes for the secondary road bargaining unit.  The supervisors propose a three-year contract with the following salary increases: in fiscal year 2016-2017 the county employees would recieve a 1.5 percent increase, in fiscal year 2017-2018, a two-percent increase would occur, and in the final year of the contract, the supervisors would offer the county road employees another two percent salary raise.  The supervisors are also proposing that employees would not be charged with a sick day to go during work hours to get their wellness physical, subject to the permission by the County engineer or his designee, of date and time that the employee is leaving work to go to the physical.  All full time employees under the county contract who are covered by the county insurance policy will participate and fulfill all programs set out by the wellness committee.  If an employee fails to do so, that employee will pay an additional five percent in premiums per month over what the other members are paying for the following calendar year.  Finally, the supervisors propose secondary road employees portion of the county health insurance premium be at 12 and a half percent for the first fiscal year, 15 percent for the second year, and 17.5 percent for the final year of the contract agreement.





Ava Grossmann Selected As Tulip Festival Queen

(Orange City) -- A senior at Unity Christian High School at Orange City will be the 76th Tulip Festival Queen.  On Monday, Ava Grossmann was crowned as the new queen.  She is the daughter of Jonathan and Glenda Grossmann.  Grossmann and her court will serve as ambassadors for the upcoming Orange City Tulip Festival as they will travel in the spring making several media and public appearances.  The tulip festival queen will be joined by her court which consist of: Maddie Christy, Grace De Haan, Kelsey Lang, and Kaylee Puttmann.  Grossman and her court spent Monday afternoon interviewing with judges, and during the public pageant that was held Monday evening, each of the candidates answered questions on various topics and gave an individual presentation.  Grossmann was crowned the queen at the conclusion to the evening.

From left to right: Kaylee Puttmann, Maddie  Christy, Queen Ava Grossmann, Grace De Haan, and Kelsey Lang.   Photo submitted.


Tuesday News, November 17

Supervisors To Meet Today

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Board of Supervisors will convene this morning at the county courthouse board room.  The county supervisors will hear from Scott Bixenman requesting an extension to file LAR addition.  The supervisors will propose their initial offer to the secondary road bargaining unit for contract changes.  County conservation director Nick Beeck will report to the supervisors with his annual report and also a review of the Wetland Easement documents regarding land near the Big Sioux River.  County engineer Tom Rohe is also scheduled to appear before the county board to update the current road construction projects.




City Council To Hold Three Public Hearings

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars City Council will meet at noon today at the city council chambers.  The city council will hold three separate public hearings regarding a proposal to vacate and relocate an easement, the council will hear comments on the proposed new water main that is to be installed along Business Highway 75, and the council will hold a public hearing regarding the proposed improvements for 12th Street southeast.  As for action items, the council will discuss the ordinance regarding all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles.  The council will hold its second reading of the proposed name change of Floyd Valley Hospital to be known as Floyd Valley Healthcare.  The council is expected to select an architect that will work on the new police headquarters, and the city council will decide upon a request from ICON Ag and Turf to expand and build a new storage facility building.





Sioux City Police Arrest Convenience Store Robbery Suspect

(Sioux City) -- Sioux City police have arrested a suspect they believe was involved with the November 12th armed robbery incident of the Kum and Go convenience store located at 1373 Pierce Street.  On that day, a suspect used a handgun and demanded money from the clerk.  The suspect fled the scene after taking money from the register.  Detectives released video footage of the suspect from store surveillance cameras.  Shortly there after, the Sioux City police received tips from social media and crime stoppers.  Following an investigation, police arrested 21 year old Leander Tyndall.  Tyndall was charged with robbery in the first degree, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession with the intent to deliver marijuana.  He is currently being held in the Woodbury County jail without bond.





Governor Branstad Says No To Syrian Refugees

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Gov. Terry Branstad says Syrian refugees shouldn't be resettled in Iowa until there is a federal review to ensure safety.
Branstad late Monday said he had ordered state agencies to halt any future work on Syrian refugee resettlements in light of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Earlier in the day, he expressed concerns about safety, but said he may not have the authority to block Syrian refugees from entering the state.
Several U.S. governors said they will halt efforts to allow Syrian refugees into their states. The governors are responding to heightened concerns that terrorists might use the refugees as cover to sneak across borders.
Branstad said intelligence agencies should review the security process.
According to the State Department's refugee processing center, no Syrian refugees have been resettled in Iowa.





Iowa Utilities Board To Hear More Comments On Proposed Pipeline

BOONE, Iowa (AP) - A regulatory board has begun a set of hearings over the proposed construction of an oil pipeline across Iowa.
The three-member Iowa Utilities Board met Monday at the Boone County Fairgrounds in Boone for the start of so-called evidentiary hearings over several days. They will include comments from representatives for Dakota Access LLC, the company that wants to build the pipeline.
Parties opposed to the pipeline are also scheduled to speak, including affected landowners.
People who both oppose and support the project spoke earlier this month at a one-day public hearing on the pipeline, which would run through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.
The board is expected to issue a decision in December or early next year.
Dakota Access is a unit of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners.





MidAmerican Energy To Build Tallest Wind Turbine

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - MidAmerican Energy says a wind turbine being built in southern Iowa will be the nation's tallest.
The utility is building the turbine in Adams County as part of a 64-turbine development that should be completed by the end of the year.
Unlike regular towers built of steel, the taller tower will be concrete. The tower will rise to 377 feet, compared to a typical 263 feet, and when the blade is added the height will reach 554 feet. That's nearly as tall as the Washington Monument.
Mike Gehringer, MidAmerican's vice president of renewable energy, says by building the tower higher, the turbine can generate more electricity. He says such towers could make some "low-to-medium wind resource areas" viable for wind energy.





Iowa Is Hit By Influenza

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Public health officials say two central Iowa men have died from the flu and the state now has one of the highest influenza virus activity rates in the nation.
Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says the two men who died were between 41 and 60 years old.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates about 300,000 Iowans get the flu each year and an average of 1,000 die annually from the flu and its complications including pneumonia.
The CDC says Iowa, Oregon and Rhode Island currently have the highest influenza activity.
Quinlisk says getting a flu vaccine is the best defense and anti-viral medications started within 48 hours of when symptoms develop can make flu illness shorter and reduce the risk of hospitalization or death.


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