Federal Charges Filed Against Accused Le Mars Bank Robbers
LE MARS, Iowa (AP) – Federal charges have been filed against two Sioux City residents accused of robbing the Iowa State Bank of Le Mars.
U.S. district court records say Phillip White and Karen Merrick are
charged with bank robbery. Prosecutors say White robbed Iowa State Bank in Le Mars on Dec. 12 and Merrick drove a U-Haul van as the getaway vehicle. Officers managed to flatten the van’s tires and arrest the pair.
The two already have pleaded not guilty to robbery and other charges in the state cases, which have been dropped in favor of the federal prosecution. The next federal hearing for them is scheduled for Feb. 20.
In court documents, White says he stole the money to pay back a debt of $5,000 or he needed to deliver a pound of methamphetamine.
Le Mars Community School Board Approves An Application For A Waiver Involving Physical Education Classes
(Le Mars) — The Le Mars Community Board of Education approved last evening an application to be submitted to the Iowa Department of Education requesting a waiver for the Le Mars Community High School Physical Education program. High School principal, Dr. Mark Iverson informed the school board the school wishes to change the physical education program from a semester program to a tri-mester program. Iverson says, if approved, students would have Physical Education classes each day, as opposed to every other day.
Iverson talks about the reasons for the waiver requests.
Iverson says by going to a tri-mester plan, the classes will have fewer students per class, without the need to hire an additional faculty member.
Iverson says by having the Le Mars Community having a tri-mester physical education, it would actually mean the students would spend more time with physical activity.
Iverson described to the school board a typical scenario involving the Le Mars High School Physical Education program.
The school board approved the application for the waiver. In other action, the school board also approved the resignations and contracts. School superintendent Dr. Steven Webner pointed out to the school board’s attention that seven long-time teachers will seek early retirement at the conclusion of the 2018-2019 school year.
House Approves State Education Spending Bill
(Des Moines) — Last evening, the Iowa House passed an educational spending bill to provide Iowa school districts with an additional $89.3 million in new funding for the 2019-20 school year. The legislation passed included a significant increase in general state aid as well as $7.8 million in targeted funding for rural schools to reduce dis-proportionally high transportation costs and $2.9 million in funding to reduce a long-standing
inequity in the school funding formula by $5 per student.
In total, the funding package passed by the House will bring state investment in K-12 education to more than $3.3 billion annually, an increase of $865 million since the 2011-12 school year. Over that same time, 3,100 new teachers have been hired to staff Iowa classrooms and the student- teacher ratio has decreased every year even while enrollment has grown.
State Representatives Tom Jeneary of Le Mars and Dan Huseman of Aurelia both voted in favor of the measure. The bill now goes to the Senate.
Jeneary Introduces Veterans “Green Alert” Bill
(Des Moines) — You have heard about “Amber Alert” which notifies the public when a child is missing, or has been abducted. Now a state House Veterans sub-committee is looking at creating a “Green Alert.” Le Mars’ state representative Dr. Tom Jeneary serves on the House Veterans Committee and is introducing that legislation.
Jeneary says he anticipates a companion bill entitled “Silver Alert Bill” will also be introduced. He says the “silver alert bill” pertains to senior citizens or other individuals that may suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia, and are reported as missing or have wandered away
from a family’s care, or a health care nursing facility.
Jeneary says the sub-committee will meet this week to discuss the bill. He says the subcommittee welcomes any public comments. Jim Jones serves as Plymouth County’s Veteran’s Affairs Director. He says veterans would welcome such a bill.
Jones says other states have already introduced similar legislation.
Senator Ernst To Pay Back Tax Credits
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst has repaid $1,900 to the Office of Tax and Revenue after a newspaper questioned her about a tax break she had been claiming on her condo in Washington for years.
The Des Moines Register , which brought the issue to Ernst’s attention, reports that she wrote a check to the agency’s Washington, D.C. office last week.
An Ernst spokesman says the homestead tax credit claim was made in error and immediately returned when it was brought to the senator’s attention.
The credit only applies to a homeowner’s primary residence, and
Washington’s homestead tax application instructions specify that
Congressional members are generally ineligible.
Public records show Ernst had claimed the exemption in Washington and Iowa since 2016.
It’s unclear if Ernst will face any penalty for the claim.
Former Sibley Coach, Already Serving Time In Nebraska For Sexual Abuse, Pleads Guilty To Iowa Charges
SIBLEY, Iowa (AP) – A former football coach and teacher already serving Nebraska prison time for child sex offenses has pleaded guilty in an Iowa case.
Osceola County District Court records show 40-year-old Kyle Ewinger entered the plea Monday to sexual abuse and was sentenced to 10 years. The records say the former Sibley-Ocheyedan coach was fired after the district superintendent found him sleeping in his classroom next to a 10-year-old in October 2015.
Last April Ewinger was sentenced to 55 to 85 years in a Nebraska prison after an Omaha jury found him guilty of sexual assault of a child. Prosecutors say he assaulted the 9-year-old son of a woman he was dating in 2012 and 2013.