Vakulskas Picked As New Associate Judge
(Le Mars) — The Judges of Iowa’s Third District have announced their selection for the position of Associate Judge for Plymouth and Sioux Counties. The position became vacant after Associate Judge Robert Dull announced his retirement. Duane Hoffmeyer, the chief Justice for the Third District says the judges were faced with several qualified people applying for the position. A total of ten people initially applied for the position, then it was narrowed to three finalists. Hoffmeyer told reporters on Friday the selection was awarded to Dan Vakulskas.
Hoffmeyer says eight District Court Judges were involved in the selection process.
Hoffmeyer says Vakulskas will begin as the Associate Judge at the start of January.
Hoffmeyer says the new Associate Justice comes from a long line of family of attorneys as his father, brother, and sister are all attorneys.
Sioux Center Christian Teacher Pleads Guilty To Sexual Abuse Of Minors
(Orange City) — A former teacher with the Sioux Center Christian School has pleaded guilty to the charges of sexual contact with minors. 37-year old Curtis Van Dam of Sioux Center appeared in Sioux County District Court Friday morning before Judge Steven Andreasen. Van Dam was charged with one
count of second-degree sexual abuse, five counts of third-degree sexual abuse, and one count of sexual exploitation by a school employee. Van Dam could be sentenced to serve 80 years in prison. Under the terms of the agreement, Van Dam will register as a sex offender with the Iowa Sex Offender Registry. He will be on parole for life once he is released from prison. Van Dam was accused of having sexual contact with at least 13 children, all under the age of 13.
Plymouth County Secondary Roads Department Prepares For Winter Snow Storm
(Le Mars) — The Plymouth County Secondary Roads Department is preparing for the approaching snow and ice storm. County engineer Tom Rohe says county work crews are preparing both product and equipment for the county roadways.
Rohe says county crews apply sand and salt, and clear the roads, only during daylight hours. He says the 365 miles of county paved roads are given top priority.
The Plymouth County engineer says the county is equipped with both snowplow trucks, and motor graders, which are ready to tackle the more than 1300 miles of county roads.
Rohe says county road crews will initially dispense sand and salt on a spot-check basis. Then, if needed, they will make a second pass over the roadways.
Rohe says county work crews will monitor the weather conditions and forecast, through out the weekend to know when to begin work on the roads.
St. John’s Lutheran Church To Host Christmas Home Tour
(Le Mars) — St. John’s Lutheran Church of Le Mars will be hosting a Christmas Home Tour scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Tour coordinator Hope Majeres says there will be four homes featured.
Majeres says the homes are decorated for the holidays, and she explains what people will see on the home tour.
Majeres says people should initially go to the St. John’s Lutheran Church located on 1st Avenue Northwest, beginning at 1:30 p.m. The tour itself will be from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Maps will be distributed guiding people to the featured homes.
Majeres says the Christmas Home Tour serves as a fund raiser to help the church’s youth group.
Tickets are $20 a piece and can be purchased at the church.
Ames Parking Ticket Violators Have Information Compromised
AMES, Iowa (AP) – As if getting a parking ticket wasn’t bad enough, the city of Ames is informing those who recently paid parking fines that their private information – including credit and debit card numbers – may have been stolen.
The city said in a news release Friday that a data breach may have affected 4,600 people who paid parking tickets using the online system between Aug. 10 and Nov. 19.
Data that may have been revealed includes names, mailing and email addresses and credit and debit card numbers.
The city says it learned of the compromise on Nov. 18, took the system offline and replaced the web server. The system was brought back online Nov. 20.
Ames Finance Director Duane Pitcher apologized for the breach and said the city is “confident we’ve addressed the vulnerability and corrected it.”
Democratic Legislative Candidate Challenging Ballot Count
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A Democratic candidate in a northeast Iowa House district who is trailing by just nine votes has asked a judge to halt certification of votes for the race so the court can decide whether 33 ballots left uncounted because they lack a postmark should be included in the vote total.
Attorneys for Kayla Koether (KAY-tuhr) argued Friday for a temporary injunction in Polk County District Court to stop Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate from certifying incumbent Republican Michael Bergan as the House District 55 winner on Monday morning.
Judge Scott Beattie says he will consider whether to halt certification of the race and file an order before the certification board meets.
Koether argues that Pate and Winneshiek County Auditor Ben Steines should have used Postal Service barcodes placed on envelopes to confirm whether they were mailed by the day before Election Day, the deadline required by Iowa law.
State law allows ballot envelopes with a postmark or an intelligent mail barcode to be counted, but counties often don’t count ballots without traditional postmarks.
Union Pacific Official Involved With Shooting Incident
MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) – Authorities say a Union Pacific Railroad officer was involved in a shooting near a railroad crossing in northern Iowa’s Mason City.
Mason City Police Chief Jeff Brinkley says the shooting occurred
around 4:25 p.m. Thursday. Brinkley says details about what led to the shooting are not clear.
Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza confirmed Friday that the railroad special agent shot the other man, but she would not provide details about what led to the shooting or whether the other man was armed. She says the agent was taken to the same Mason City hospital as the man he shot. The agent’s been released.
The names of the agent and the wounded man have not been released.
Espinoza says UP is cooperating with agents from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.