Friday News, March 10th

Friday News, March 10th

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Community Betterment Foundation Accepts Additional Donations

(Le Mars) — The Le Mars Area Community Betterment Foundation has been accepting additional donations for the purpose of the city’s Community Betterment Project 2. Community Betterment Foundation president, Mike Donlin says three more significant contributions were given to the Betterment Foundation during Tuesday’s city council meeting, allowing the project to get even closer to the $2.5 million dollar matching challenge grant from Wells Enterprises.

The second donation that was presented during the city council meeting came from a Le Mars civic organization.

Donlin says the third contribution was made by the formerly known Le Mars Mutual Insurance Company, now referred to as Donagal Insurance.

 

 

Vonnahme Honored As School District’s Employee Of the Month

(Le Mars) — A Middle School government and civics teacher was presented the honor of “Employee of the Month” for the Le Mars Community School District.

100_9349Mark Vonnahme was given a plaque during a ceremony acknowledging the award. Larry Petersen of the Le Mars Community School Foundation made the presentation.
Vonnahme was nominated by six of his fellow faculty colleagues. In the nomination they said Mr. Vonnahme cares about his students and shows this by holding them accountable for their work and behavior. Often students will be in
his room before or after school to ask questions, or to catch up on work. He challenges students to rise to the occasion and encourages them to be the best student they can be. He cares about the future of his students and guides them to become independent, accountable adults.

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Mr. Vonnahme models patriotism and good citizenship and gets his students to volunteer in the community. Class trips to Life Skills Training Center and Veteran’s Memorial Park are experiences most students would not have if Mr. Vonnahme were not their civics teacher. Not only does Mr. Vonnahme care about his students, but he also has genuine support and concern for the teachers he works with.  Mr. Vonnahme was joined by his wife and son during the award presentation.

 

Iowa House Passes Voter Integrity Bill

(Des Moines) — The Iowa House of Representatives passed the Voter Integrity bill late Thursday afternoon following several hours of debate. The main aspect of the bill will require voters to show a picture identification in order to cast their vote. State Representative Chuck Holz of Le Mars says the bill
will accept five different types of official identification.

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Several county auditors had expressed their concern about not having funding to implement the bill, but Holz says the Iowa House did add to the bill a funding provision.

The Le Mars state representative explains further how counties will be able to implement the bill and how the state will help counties finance the new system.

Chuck Holz

The bill passed basically along party lines with Democrats expressing concern that the bill will prevent minorities and the elderly from voting. Republicans say the bill will cut down on voter fraud.

 

 

City Council Discusses Le Mars Tourism Business

(Le Mars) — Le Mars city Council members discussed the town’s tourism business during its Tuesday meeting. At issue are funds generated from the hotel/motel tax and how those funds should be allocated. In recent years, organizations and special interest groups would submit grant applications to the Convention and Visitors Bureau advisory board asking for a portion of the funds to help finance projects and events. However, with the increase of charter bus traffic now on the rise in Le Mars, some people are wondering if some of those funds that would go to help finance events should instead be used to help promote the city of Le Mars. Michaela Brown of the Brown Family Musical Group, and a member of the Le Mars Tourism Board addressed the city council about the issue.

Brown offered a few suggestions for the city to consider to help draw attention to Le Mars.

Brown says the city needs to do a better job of promoting itself, as opposed to funding individual events. She says the extra funds from the hotel/motel tax should be used to promote Le Mars.

It was announced during the city council meeting that the city’s tourism board and the city’s convention and visitor’s board will combine its efforts to share a common focus.

 

Train Derailment Causes Fire In Palo Alto County

GRAETTINGER, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say a fire erupted after a train derailment in northwest Iowa’s Palo Alto County.
The authorities say the accident occurred around 1 a.m. Friday, about a mile southeast of Graettinger (GREHT’-ihn-jur).
County emergency management director Mark Hunefeld (HUH’-nee-fehld) says there have been no injuries. He says at least 27 cars derailed, including the burning tank cars believed to have been carrying ethanol.
Nearby residents were asked to evacuate the area.

 

Medical Insurance Contract Dispute Could Affect Thousands Of Iowans 

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Officials say more than 220,000 poor or disabled Iowans could lose access to Mercy Health Network because of a contract dispute with a Medicaid management company.
The patients receive Medicaid through AmeriHealth Caritas, one of three companies the state hired last year to run the program. The Des Moines Register reports (http://dmreg.co/2maf3Hj ) that AmeriHealth has told those patients in a recent letter that it’s been unable to negotiate new contract terms with Mercy. AmeriHealth says the Mercy system no longer would be an AmeriHealth network provider if a deal isn’t struck by July 1.
AmeriHealth says Mercy could continue serving those patients if it were to accept lower, out-of-network fees.
The Mercy Health Network includes Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, hospitals in 12 other cities, plus about 200 clinics.

 

Iowa House Says No To Increase Of Minimum Wages

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa House has approved a Republican-backed bill that would ban local governments from raising the minimum hourly wage, effectively revoking some wage increases for low-income workers.
The chamber approved the bill Thursday night, with all the votes in support coming from the GOP majority.
The bill now moves to the Senate, where the Republican majority also supports the proposal.
The legislation would prohibit cities or counties from adopting or enforcing ordinances that raise the minimum hourly wage above the state level of $7.25. That would override wage increases approved in Polk, Johnson, Linn and Wapello counties.
Republicans say the bill will add uniformity for employers, and argue the Iowa Constitution already prohibits local governments from individually raising wages. Democrats say the measure hurts workers, especially those who will have their pay cut.