County Saving Money On Snow Removal Budget
(Le Mars) — Thursday’s snow storm proved to be not as trouble-some as what many people had anticipated based on early weather predictions. Le Mars ended up having about a quarter of an inch of snow, compared to initial forecasts calling
for as much as five inches. The lack of snowfall for this winter season so far has been beneficial to the county saving some money. Plymouth County Engineer Tom Rohe says since November and December had warmer temperatures and very
little snowfall, he has been able to reduce the snow removal budget by about $100,000.
Rohe says Plymouth County has more than a thousand miles of gravel roads, and 365 miles of paved highways that would need to be cleared when a heavy snow does occur. He says it takes some time to clear those 13 hundred miles of roads.
The county engineer says his crews are always ready and prepared for the next snow storm.
He says since the weather has generally been nice for a longer period of time, work crews have been able to stay busy with other projects.
Rohe says the county has ample supplies of salt, sand, and calcium to counter any bad weather conditions that may disrupt the roadways.
Democratic Governor Candidate Fred Hubbell Visits Le Mars
(Le Mars) — Democratic candidate for governor Fred Hubbell made a campaign stop in Le Mars last evening and met with nearly a dozen people to share his views for the state.
Hubbell, a former chairman of Younker’s clothing store, says he is a fiscally responsible person. Hubbell says Iowa needs to pay off our debt before any discussion takes place about tax cuts.
Hubbell says if the state was to implement his plan, he believes there would be enough money to freed up in the existing budget that could be directed instead to additional educational programs, and other needed programs.
Holz Comments On First Week Of General Session
(Des Moines) — Week one of the Iowa General Assembly is now completed. For the most part, the week for legislators consisted of formalities, and speeches.
State House Representative Chuck Holz of Le Mars says General Timothy Orr of the Iowa National Guard presented an address Thursday to the lawmakers about the readiness of the state’s militia, including comments about the 185th based in
Earlier this week Governor Kim Reynolds delivered her “Condition of the State” address to the lawmakers. Holz says Reynolds presented an excellent “up-beat”
The Le Mars republican says the Governor has an ambitious wish list for the state’s public education system. Holz admits it may be difficult for legislators to approve all the educational provisions that Reynolds mentioned.
Governor Reynolds had asked the legislators to approve a water quality measure, and Holz says he believes such a bill may get approval in both chambers. a
Holz says it may be possible to see a water quality bill emerge from both chambers and be ready for the governor’s signature by the end of next week.
Man Arrested After Shooting At Interstate Highway
ROCHESTER, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say officers have arrested a man after an exchange of gunfire in eastern Iowa’s Cedar County.
The Iowa Department of Public Safety says state troopers and local officers responded to a 911 call around 2:20 p.m. Thursday about gunshots at an Interstate 80 rest area. The shooter left the rest area, drove west, exited the interstate about 2 miles (3 kilometers) south of Rochester and fired at motorists at a gas station. None was hit.
Troopers and local officers encountered the shooter on a nearby rural road and exchanged shots with him. They arrested the man after a brief standoff.
The department says no one was injured. The man’s name hasn’t been released.
Teacher Acquitted For Not Reporting Sexual Abuse
TOLEDO, Iowa (AP) – A Marion kindergarten teacher has been acquitted of not reporting that a 15-year-old classroom volunteer sexually abused her students.
Cedar Rapids television station KCRG reports that a Tama County jury on Thursday found 59-year-old Diane Graham not guilty of failing to report sexual abuse. Graham’s trial was moved out of Linn County after her attorneys cited extensive media coverage of the teen’s and Graham’s cases.
Prosecutors said Graham was teaching at Starry Elementary when two students told her in August 2016 that they were being abused by the volunteer.
Prosecutors said Graham didn’t report the abuse, allowing it to continue for two more months.
Graham testified in her own defense Wednesday and insisted she never saw or heard of any abuse.
The teen was earlier convicted of sexual abuse.
Judge Excuses Herself From Branstad Lawsuit
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A judge recently appointed by Gov. Kim Reynolds has recused herself from a high-profile civil lawsuit.
Judge Samantha Gronewald said Thursday she’s disqualifying herself from the wrongful termination case brought by former Division of Criminal Investigation special agent Larry Hedlund.
Gronewald didn’t elaborate on the reason. But records show she and her husband have contributed to former Gov. Terry Branstad and other Republican candidates for years.
Reynolds, who succeeded Branstad as governor last year, appointed Gronewald in December.
Hedlund contends that his 25-year career as one of Iowa’s top criminal investigators was destroyed days after he complained about speeding by Branstad’s driver in 2013.
He contends Branstad and the Iowa Department of Public Safety falsely branded him as a security threat. The department says he was fired for insubordination.
Trial’s set for April.
Hospitals Restrict Visitations Due to Influenza Outbreak
DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) – Some eastern Iowa hospitals have announced restrictions on visitation in the wake of a vicious flu season that has strained hospitals across the country.
Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque and Dyersville and UnityPoint Health Finley Hospital in Dubuque have announced patient visitation restrictions starting Friday because of the respiratory virus.
All children under 14 and any people showing symptoms of the flu are asked not to visit hospitalized patients until further notice.
The flu is a contagious virus and it can cause fever, headaches, cough, sore throat, body aches and tiredness and can be fatal, particularly in the very young and old and those with compromised immune systems.
Iowa officials reported last week a total of six flu-related deaths in Iowa since October.