Community Honors Remsen Fire Chief
(Remsen) — St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Remsen was filled Thursday as firefighters, EMT’s and other public officials, family, friends and community members paid their last respects for Remsen Fire Chief Kevin Ortmann. Ortmann died Sunday from brain cancer. He was 40 years old. During the funeral services, Le Mars Fire Chief and president of the Iowa Association of Fire
Chiefs, Dave Schipper, along with the Harlan Fire Chief, and Vice President of the Iowa Association of Fire Chiefs, Roger Bissen, and retired Captain, Doug Harms of the Le Mars Fire Department followed tradition by ringing the bell acknowledging the death of a firefighter. Schipper struck the bell for five rings…with a series of four separate times as the signal to indicate a firefighter has returned home. Ortmann’s casket was loaded on to an old
1933 fire truck as the funeral procession consisted of Remsen Police, Remsen Ambulance vehicles, and a long series of fire trucks from Remsen, Oyens, Marcus, Hinton, Kingsley, Granville, Akron, Merrill, Harlan, and Le Mars.
Stockton’s Towing Service was displaying the American Flag high above Highway 3 as the funeral procession passed underneath. At the cemetery, Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department had its aerial truck with the extended ladder also flying a large American flag above the cemetery.
Inmate Smuggles Gun Into Jail Facility
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Polk County Jail officials say an inmate faces additional charges after he was found with parts of a handgun taped to his inner thigh.
KCCI reports that 27-year-old Wyatt Andrew Franklin was booked into the jail on Nov. 13 on a charge of operating under the influence and was in a holding cell by himself for a time. After being injured in an incident not detailed by deputies, Franklin was taken to a hospital, where medical staff
found the frame of a handgun and a holster taped to his leg.
Officials say a search of the jail then turned up the rest of the gun and six rounds of ammunition inside a toilet. Deputies say surveillance video from the jail shows Franklin putting the gun parts inside the toilet.
State Auditor Says State’s Budget Looks Good, But Warns Legislators About Future Budget Years
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa’s auditor says the state budget is in good shape with surpluses but that beneficial federal tax policies will end in a few years, potentially causing problems.
In his annual review of the state budget, Auditor Rob Sand said
Thursday that federal tax changes made in 2017 gave Iowa’s budget a $188 million windfall for the 2019 fiscal year that ended June 30. He says the federal windfall accounts for about two-thirds of the estimated surplus for the current fiscal year.
He’s reminding lawmakers that by the 2025-2026 budget year the portion of the federal tax break that benefits Iowa will end. Iowa will need to have built a significant surplus to avoid problems.
Sand is presenting his budget review Thursday to legislative staff.
He also says the state is not following best budget practices by
underfunding its portion of Medicaid costs. For the last several years lawmakers have had to provide additional money to fill the void.
Sand says it’s more accurate, transparent, and responsible to budget enough from the beginning.
Justice Wiggins Will Serve As Acting Chief Justice For Iowa Supreme Court
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins will serve as the court’s chief justice until a successor to Chief Justice Mark Cady can be appointed.
Cady died unexpectedly Nov. 15 at age 66.
A court spokesman says Thursday that Iowa law requires the chief justice to name another member of the court to fill in when the chief cannot act. Cady had issued an order in November 2016 appointing Wiggins to act in his place.
Wiggins was appointed to the court by Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack in 2003.
State law says Wiggins will serve as acting chief justice until the
current vacancy on the court is filled and the full court selects a chief justice. Finding a successor for Cady could take 90 days.
The court’s elected chief will serve until the court holds its first
meeting in 2021 and holds another election.
Denison Teacher To Return To Classroom After Controversy
(Denison) — Crystal Holt will return to teaching at Denison High School in the near future.
Denison School Superintendent Mike Pardun released a statement Thursday that the school district had completed their investigation into the use of a derogatory term by the teacher during a Government class at the high school.
Holt was placed on administrative leave following complaints by students and parents.
Pardun says the investigation determined that the teacher had no malicious intent in using the word.
He says it is clear that the situation has significantly impacted the educational environment of the district.
The district says it will work with Holt to implement necessary changes in order to transition her back into the classroom and address the concerns of all involved.
That includes implementing a High School Cultural Advisory Committee, equally comprised of students, teacher leaders, and school administration. Pardun added that as a district they understand the significance of this situation, and regrets the impact this has had on students, families, faculty, the district and community.
Methamphetamine Is A Growing Problem In Iowa
(Des Moines) — As South Dakota officials attract national attention for their anti-meth campaign, the drug is a growing problem in Iowa as well.
Dale Woolery is director of the Iowa Governor’s Office on Drug Control Policy.
More than 90 people died of a meth overdose last year in Iowa — tying a previous record — and Woolery says there’s been a “surge” in the number of Iowa adults who are using meth.
More than 10-thousand Iowans were in a substance abuse treatment program, trying to kick an addiction to meth, in the last state fiscal year. That’s an all-time high. One meth-related trend has subsided, however, as there are few “meth lab” busts in Iowa these days. But Woolery says larger quantities
of more potent meth are being smuggled into Iowa.
Mexico is the number one point of origin for the meth that’s being sold illegally in Iowa today, according to Woolery.
The number of meth-related convictions in Iowa courts is growing as well.
More than 18 percent of the inmates sent to an Iowa prison in 2017 committed some sort of meth-related offense. Woolery says it’s not for him to judge whether the controversial “Meth, we’re on it,” slogan South Dakotans adopted for their ANTI-meth campaign is appropriate. BUT Woolery says there should
be a sense of urgency to prevent meth use and deal with those who’ve become addicted.