News Makers Reflect Back On 2016


(Le Mars) — As we near the end of 2016, and about to begin a new year, KLEM news reached out to many of the community’s news makers and other leaders to ask what they will most remember about the year 2016.  We cover agriculture, business, industry, health, education, and public safety. We begin with the thoughts and comments from Iowa State University Extension Crops Specialist, Joel DeJong.

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DeJong says the corn yields in northwest Iowa were good, but he believes 2015 may have been a better year for corn production, especially here in Plymouth County.


The Iowa State University crops specialist says the rest of the state perhaps did set a new corn production record. DeJong says Plymouth County farmers experienced some set backs.

DeJong says when he thinks about 2016, he will remember meeting with farmers about the crop damage caused by the hail and wind storm that hit the area during the Ice Cream Days.


Mary Reynolds with the Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce Main Street organization says she will remember the state grants that were awarded to Le Mars for building restoration and renovation.


Reynolds says she will also think about the Claussen building and how it will offer additional downtown housing opportunities.


Reynolds says she is very appreciative for all the volunteers that assist with Chamber sponsored projects.


Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says when he thinks back on this year, he will remember those times when the the fire and rescue department had multiple calls within a few minutes.



In addition to the Ice Cream Days wind storm that had blown down several hundred trees, Schipper remembers other events that will remain a part of his memories.

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2016 set a new record for the number of calls the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department responded to, and the fire chief believes as the community continues to grow, the fire and rescue department may have an even busier year in 2017.
Mayor Dick Kirchoff says as he looks back on 2016, he will remember the economic development opportunities, as well as the numerous projects completed by the city.


The Le Mars Mayor says he is also pleased to see the continued development of the short-line railroad that is operating in the city’s industrial park area.

An industry that expanded into Le Mars this past summer, and dove-tails with the short-line railroad is the ethanol trans-load and storage facility. Kirchoff says it took a while to achieve the goal, but he says it will have long-term
benefits to the city.


Kirchoff says he is very proud of Le Mars, noting that what ever the project, people work together to get the project completed. He noted the generosity of contributions and donations from businesses, and residents alike for the Community Betterment Project 2 program, and he also had a special sense of pride
during Ice Cream Days wind storm when city employees, private contractors, and several volunteers all worked together through the night to make certain the Ice Cream Days would continue without interruption, and the parade would proceed as
originally scheduled.

Dr. Todd Wendt, the superintendent of schools for Le Mars Community says he will fondly recall the academic performance of the students.


The school superintendent says he will also remember 2016 as the year Le Mars Community upgraded its science laboratory and classroom facilities.


Neil Adler serves as the executive director for the Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce and for the LBIC. He says he will recall the various events that will have long-term benefits for the city.


Adler continues with his list of significant events from 2016.

Looking ahead to the next year, Wendt sees additional efforts to integrate technology in the classrooms, and Adler believes the city will continue to see additional economic development opportunities.
Captain Tim Hob of the Le Mars Police Department spent part of the year as the interim chief since Chief Stuart Dekkenga was recovering from health related issues. Hob says his memories go back to two weekends in June.

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The homicide Hop is referring to is the suspect of Thomas Bibler who is accused of fatally stabbing his sister. The wind storms, are those that hit the community during Ice Cream Days. Captain Hop says during this past year there
were several law enforcement officers who were killed during the line of duty across the nation, with two that made national headlines from the Des Moines area. He says it is uplifting to see a community that offers a great deal of support to the local police department. He says he sees it everyday, but was
pleased to see the turn-out when the police department hosted “National Night Out” in August.


Several changes occurred this past year with the Floyd Valley Healthcare facility, and Administrator Mike Donlin says he’ll remember having a name change.

Mike Donlin

Floyd Valley Healthcare North Addition

Donlin says he will also recall the year 2016 as the year the community kicked off the fund raising campaign to finance the community betterment projects.
Donlin serves as the chairman of the Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation.