Home News Thursday News, February 7th

Thursday News, February 7th


Iowa DOT Reports All Northwest Iowa Roads and Highways Are Snow Covered

(Le Mars) — Snow continues to fall and blow this morning. The Iowa Department of Transportation is reporting that all roads and highways in northwest Iowa are snow covered. Snow plows are on the highways, but officials report it is difficult to keep the roads clear since we have the strong winds causing snow drifts to occur shortly after the road has been cleared. The Iowa D-O-T reports that bridges and ramps and over-passes could be icy. You may want to allow some extra time for your morning



Remsen To Hold Chamber Awards Banquet This Evening

(Remsen) — The community of Remsen will honor and award its “Citizen of the Year” and its “Business of the Year” recipients later this evening as the Remsen Chamber of Commerce celebrates its annual awards program. The event
will take place this year at the Golden Pheasant restaurant located on Highway 3 on the east edge of Remsen.



Penne Named As February “Employee Of The Month”

(Le Mars) — During the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce Coffee held this morning, the February “Employee of the Month” honors were presented to a Culligan-Maytag employee. The staff of Culligan Water Conditioning, Inc.
has a special congratulations to extend to Jon Penne for being selected as the February 2019 Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce Employee of the Month.
Jon was hired in February 2004 and celebrates his 15 year anniversary of service work with Culligan Water in Le Mars. When Jon started he was newly married to Angie and just 24 years old. He and Angie now have three
children; Ian, Ava and Tye, and two are already teenagers.
Being a service person can definitely have its challenges, and even after 15 years it still doesn’t appear that Jon has any gray hair because of it.
Jon’s expertise and knowledge have been an important part of Culligan and
have contributed to his success. He is a hard worker and a very talented service person. He is very well liked and respected by his co-workers and his desire to have fun and his infectious laugh definitely make working with him more enjoyable.
The owners of Culligan Water Conditioning, Dave and Kim Miller appreciate your hard work and dedication to the job for the past 15 years and wish you and your family continued success.
Congratulations Jon Penne for the February 2019 Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce Employee of the Month.



School Officials Visit With State Legislators About Educational Issues

(Le Mars) — Several education administration officials from across the state converged on Des Moines earlier this week to lobby state legislators on educational issues. Le Mars Community School Superintendent, Dr. Steve Webner was one of the school officials to make the journey to the state capitol building. Webner says the big issue for Le Mars and many other
school districts across the state is the amount of money to be allocated for the Supplemental State Aid spending. Webner was accompanied by three members of the Le Mars Board of Education, president Todd Lancaster, Scott Kommes, and Angela Catton.

Webner says for many schools, including the Le Mars Community School District, they would like to see a range of between 2.7 to a 3 percent increase for supplemental state aid.

Webner says the legislators gave assurances the education spending bill, with the supplemental state aid should be passed through both chambers by the end of next week.

Aother issue of interest to the Le Mars Community, as well as many other school districts is the SAVE bill which is a penny tax allocated for facilities.

The Le Mars Community school superintendent points to the aging elementary buildings of Clark and Franklin as his example.

Webner says another major issue facing schools is identifying students with mental health problems.

Webner says besides visiting with State Representative Tom Jeneary, local school officials also had the opportunity to visit with State Senator Randy Feenstra.



Plymouth County Jury Finds Mother Guilty Of Child’s Death

LE MARS, Iowa (AP) – Jurors have found an Iowa woman guilty in the death of her infant son, whose lifeless body was found in a baby swing.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports it took the jury about four hours Wednesday to find 21-year-old Cheyanne Harris guilty of first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death.
The charges stem from the death of 4-month-old Sterling Koehn, whose body was found Aug. 30, 2017, in a maggot-infested diaper at an apartment in Alta Vista. First responders found his body in a sweltering bedroom in a baby swing.
An autopsy shows he died of malnutrition, dehydration and an E. coli infection.
First-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
The baby’s father, Zachary Koehn , already has been sentenced to life in prison in the case.  The trial was moved to the Plymouth County Courthouse on a change of venue.



Iowa Finance Authority Says Agency Will Pay For Settlement Costs

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The agency that runs Iowa’s affordable housing programs will reimburse the state $4.15 million for payouts to victims of sexual harassment by its former director.
The Iowa Finance Authority board voted Wednesday to grant Gov. Kim Reynolds’ request to reimburse the general fund for the cost of the settlements.
The state agreed Monday to pay $2.35 million to one former employee, and $1.8 million to a current employee to settle claims stemming from their harassment by former Iowa Finance Authority director Dave Jamison. Reynolds says the state is considering whether to seek restitution from Jamison, a
former ally whom she fired last year.
The authority board voted to amend its $54.6 million budget for the year that ends June 30 to cover the $4.15 million cost. Most of the budget comes from non-state funding such as revenue from bonds and loans.
Agency director Debi Durham says the payment will come out of a reserve fund that contains interest on investments and the diversion will not affect its programs or services.



Muscatine Residents Win Environmental Lawsuit Against Grain Company

MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) – Thousands of Muscatine residents could receive payments after a judge approved a class-action settlement with an industrial plant over odor and haze they allege led to health problems.
The Muscatine Journal reports that Grain Processing Corporation has agreed to pay $45 million to cover an estimated 14,000 claims. Another $6.5 million will be spent on pollution controls at the Muscatine plant.
Residents sued the company in 2012, alleging the plant was negligent with its emissions and the odor was a nuisance.
Sarah Siskind is an attorney representing the residents. She says the settlement is groundbreaking because of the duration of coverage, complexity and value.
GPC attorney Joshua Frank says the company supports the settlement and believes it’s fair.
Residents have until March 19 to file a claim. Residents could receive $2,000 to $16,000, depending on where they live.



Corrections Department Lawyer Sues Agency

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – The longtime chief lawyer for the Iowa Department of Corrections is turning his legal skills against his agency.
General counsel Michael Savala filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the department and recently retired director Jerry Bartruff alleging he was treated worse than other employees because of his age and race.
Savala, who is Hispanic, has been with the department 20 years. He alleges that Bartruff inexplicably refused his requests for three years to conduct his required annual performance reviews, which denied him thousands of dollars in merit raises.
The lawsuit claims that Bartruff completed reviews for younger,
white employees whom he supervised, and they were awarded pay increases.
Savala says he complained to the office of Gov. Kim Reynolds, the Department of Administrative Services and others about his “disparate treatment” but his concerns weren’t addressed.
The lawsuit says Savala has developed stress, anxiety, insomnia and damaged his teeth from grinding.
A department spokesman declined comment Wednesday.



Sheriff’s Detective Accused Of Fighting A Firefighter Leaves Job

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – A Polk County sheriff’s detective convicted of punching an Ankeny firefighter in a bar fracas has left the sheriff’s force.
The Des Moines Register reports that John Negrete sent a letter
announcing his retirement from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office on Dec. 3, three days after Sheriff Bill McCarthy wrote that he planned to fire Negrete. McCarthy retired in mid-December.
Court records say Negrete and his girlfriend, Tereasa Sunberg, were sentenced to a year of probation and given deferred judgments at their sentencings in September. The deferred judgments means their convictions can be removed from court records if they complete their probation terms.
The two were convicted of assault causing injury. Authorities say
Negrete punched an Ankeny firefighter, Ross Frank, and Sunberg punched Frank’s wife, Danielle.