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Wednesday Afternoon News, April 20

Three Vehicle Collision Happens At Rural Intersection

(Le Mars) -- Three vehicles collided Wednesday morning at the intersection of County roads C-38 and K-22 about eight miles southwest of Le Mars.  The accident happened at about 10:15 a.m.  During the accident, the weather conditions were rainy and foggy.  Although two of the vehicles appear to be totaled, Plymouth County Sheriff's deputies indicated there were only minor injuries and none were  thought to be life-threatening injuries.  One victim was transported by the Le Mars Ambulance Service to Mercy Medical Center.  Responding to the accident were the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department and also the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office.  Plymouth County Sheriff's deputies are investigating the accident.

 

 

 

 

 

Fire and Rescue Department Now Has A Truck To Battle Wild Grass Fires

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department has some new arsenal to help battle wild grass and field fires.  It is a pick up truck that has been converted to serve as a fire truck.  It holds a small water tank and hose and is capable of getting up close to grass fires.  The Ford F-250 three-quarter ton pick up truck originally was owned by Plymouth County and was used as a vehicle for the County Emergency Management Services.  The city was able to purchase the used pick up truck for a fee of $12,000.  The pick up truck, and all of its equipment were purchased by using private donations.  Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper says "not one penny from the city's residents tax dollars was used to buy the grass rig". The majority of the funding came from Wells Enterprises when Well's CEO Mike Wells donated $45,000 to the city with the stipulation that $15,000 would go to the fire and rescue department, $15,000 was to be used by the Le Mars Police Department, and the remaining $15,000 was given to the Le Mars Ambulance Services.  Schipper says various businesses and individuals stepped up to offer the additional donations needed to complete the transition of the pick up truck to now capable of fighting grass and field fires.  Schipper says the need for a wildfire rig was apparent during the last few years when fire fighters were called to multiple grass fires during the spring and again in the autumn.  Many times, according to Schipper, the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department would respond to several grass and field fires within the same day.  Schipper says even though the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department was able to fight the grass fires, many times fire departments from neighboring towns were called upon to offer mutual assistance, since they have similar grass fire rigs.  Often times, the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department would find it difficult to drive the larger trucks across a muddy field, without getting stuck.  Schipper says the wildfire rig will allow the fire department to travel across a burning field easier than the larger trucks.  He says if a fire was to happen on the recreational trails, the pickup truck can go on the trails to the site of the fire without having to unroll thousands of feet of hose.  Schipper says the pick up truck is capable of driving under the recreational trail's pedestrian bridge and through the tunnels.  Following the city council meeting on Tuesday, council members had their first look at the wildfire grass rig truck.  The city council, along with members of the city administration staff participated in a fire extinguisher training session as taught by Assistant Fire Chief Mike Wise.

 

 

 

 

Sioux City Developers Look To Enhance The River Area

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City officials have continued discussions about future redevelopment of the riverfront.
About 25 people, mostly city officials, attended a second public input meeting Tuesday to discuss possible plans for the city's riverfront, including a Ferris wheel.
Sioux City businessman Dave Bernstein says Wisconsin-based SmithGroupJJR created a large plan that would be iconic for the city, even without the Ferris wheel.
The city's parks and recreation director compared the cost of the potential Ferris wheel to the $1.8 million version of a Davenport attraction that generates about $675,000 per year in profit through ticket sales.
The development group also proposed building a pedestrian bridge over the Missouri River.
The firm will continue discussion with local leaders and a steering committee before creating a final plan.
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House Republicans Vote To Ban Planned Parenthood Funding

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Republican-controlled Iowa House has passed a health and human services bill for the next budget that would remove state funding for Planned Parenthood.
The chamber voted 56-42 Wednesday for the legislation, which is expected to hit roadblocks in the Democratic-majority Senate over a proposal to remove Medicaid funding for family planning facilities that provide abortions. The bill is expected to be resolved through a special legislative committee.
The House voted after a debate that began Tuesday night.
Lawmakers continue to pass bills that will make up the budget that goes into effect in July, but there's growing conflict about some decisions. 
Wednesday marks the first day lawmakers are working without reimbursement payments for expenses like food and housing. The date is often seen as a deadline for adjournment activity.

 

 

 

 

Lawmakers Set Aside $10 Million For Renovations To Capitol Dome

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Lawmakers say they plan to spend about $10 million on repairs to the state Capitol dome.
Sen. Matt McCoy, a Des Moines Democrat and chairman of an infrastructure appropriations committee, said Tuesday that work could begin in late summer or early fall to address moisture that's entering the dome and causing erosion.
McCoy says there's bipartisan support from House Republicans and Gov. Terry Branstad to do the work, which would include building scaffolding around the iconic golden dome. The $10 million is part of a roughly $192 million proposed budget for infrastructure projects.
The project is expected to include inside and outside work and take more than a year to complete.

 

 

 

 

Law Enforcement Academy Official Says It May Be Best To Tear Down Facilities

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Law Enforcement Academy's director says demolishing the agency's facility is the best way to deal with the underlying causes that led to high levels of black mold in the building. 
The academy received word Monday that the amount of mold spores in the air has returned to normal level.
But director Judy Bradshaw says the cleaning is only a bandage for the old, decrepit building. She estimates that renovations would cost between $6 million and $10 million, and completely replacing the building would be about $15 million.
The academy is one of at least three state buildings that need serious renovations, but lawmakers say there isn't money in Iowa's budget to pay for them. Gov. Terry Branstad also has opposed issuing bonds to fund infrastructure updates.
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Lt. Governor Reynolds Visits Israel

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds says she met with the prime minister of Israel during a recent trade mission to the country.
Reynolds says Tuesday she met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 14 as part of a delegation with the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association.
The overseas trip was advertised as an economic development trade mission aimed at business opportunities with the Israeli government. Reynolds called Israel "a key partner" for Iowa businesses. She released limited information about her meeting with Netanyahu.
Republican lieutenant governors from Kansas, North Carolina, Nevada, Texas, Wisconsin and Florida also went on the trip.

 



 


   

Wednesday News, April 20

Le Mars Community Betterment Foundation Announce Kroese And Kroese As Donors

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council heard from Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation president Mike Donlin during the start of the Tuesday city council meeting.  Donlin informed the city council of another major donation to the Le Mars Community Betterment Project.

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Kroese and Kroese joins the Le Mars banks as being the latest donor to contribute funding to match the $2.5 million dollar challenge set by Well's Enterprises.  In other action by the city council, they approved the 2015 fiscal year comprehensive annual financial report.
Graham Forbes with Williams and Company performed the audit and reviewed the financial status of the city.  He says, overall, the city of Le Mars financials are in good shape.  Although, he does mention that the city's overall general fund is reduced from last year.

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One reason for the lower number of days of financial survival is the city made an early payment on the new fire truck that was acquired nearly a year ago.  Forbes says the 68 days is fine, but he would like to see a longer time for financial expenditures.

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In action items, the city council followed the suggestion of the Planning and Zoning commission by approving the Dogwood Second Addition, as well as the G.A. Addition.  The city council also approved the request from Nor-Am Cold Storage to change the zoning of a parcel from Residential R-1 to General Business B-2.  The city council has set the date of May 12th as the day contracts are to be submitted to the city's attention for bid letting on asphalt overlays for 23 blocks of city streets, as well as the date for contracts for the water main improvement projects.  The city council hopes to award the contracts for those projects on May 17th during its regularly scheduled council meeting.

 

 

 

 

Judge Neary Comments On The Decision To Grant Probation Or Sentencing

(Le Mars) -- We continue our visit today with Judge Jeff Neary of the Iowa 3rd  Judicial District.  Neary was recently a featured speaker at the Lunch and Learn session.  Neary says often times the decision to offer probation versus sentencing the person to jail or prison is a difficult decision for any judge.  He says people don't always realize a presiding judge does not have the flexibility to modify sentences.

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Judge Neary offers an example where the law dictates to him what the sentencing must include.

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Judge Neary says a presiding judge must take many factors into consideration, before ruling either the subject is given probation, or should be sentenced.

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The Third District Judge says before judgment is rendered, a judge will look at each individual separately.

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Neary says, sometimes, even though the subject had a clean record prior to the committed crime, and all indications show the individual had been an outstanding citizen, he must still choose prison as the punishment.  Neary points to a recent case involving two young females who together staged a robbery of the Security National Bank located within the Sioux City Hamilton Blvd. Hy-Vee store.  The two females were sentenced to second degree theft.  Neary says it is difficult to send young people to prison, but he felt the circumstances warranted the punishment.  He says the two collaborated on the scheme.  He says the two females had intended to steal up to $50,000 in cash, but the teller's cash machine would only dispense $10,000 and that is why the two were charged of second degree theft, as opposed to first degree theft.

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Neary says he still has some options available.  He says district judges have up to one year to reduce the sentencing time table.

 

 

 

 

Sioux City Council Passes Snow Removal Ordinance

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City Council members have approved a measure to penalize Sioux City property owners an extra 25 percent on unpaid city fees for removing snow from sidewalks.
The penalties were approved Monday and will be levied on the unpaid fees added to the parcels' property taxes.
City code requires owners to clear sidewalks within 12 hours after snow or ice has stopped falling. Noncompliance can result in a civil citation. If a sidewalk isn't cleared after a 24-hour shovel notice is posted, a city contractor clears the sidewalk and the city bills the property owner for those costs.
Contractors shoveled 94 residential sidewalks this winter, resulting in $17,195 in fees. There were 62 property owners who failed to pay those fees.

 

 

 

 

Hinton School Children Incorporate Sphero Technology Into Classroom

(Sioux City) -- Hinton Elementary School students incorporated Sphero technology into a fun lesson for some local business people Tuesday at the United Center in downtown Sioux City.

Sphero is a robot in the shape of a ball that students control by programming code and it has several applications that help teach science, technology and math.

Chad Sussex is the Hinton Schools Tech coach, and started the Sphero program in November to teach coding and teamwork skills to 3rd through 8th graders;

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Hinton teacher Kate Ortegren brought her third graders to show off their skills to employees from United Real Estate Solutions, Cannon Moss Brygger Architects and Robert W. Baird & Company  in a friendly game of robotic miniature golf:

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Kayley Baker was one of the 24 3rd graders who taught the business people how to maneuver Sphero through virtual sand traps and water hazards in the lobby of the United Center:

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At the end of the presentation, the businesses surprised the students and their teachers by presenting a $1200 check to the Hinton School District to purchase more Sphero technology.


 

 

 

 

Motorcyclist Dies After Fleeing From Council Bluffs Police

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a fleeing motorcyclist has died after a Council Bluffs crash.
Police say an Iowa Transportation Department officer was trying to pull over two motorcyclists around 10:20 p.m. Tuesday near the Pottawattamie County Jail when they sped away.
One soon went out of control. It struck a curb and then a fence, ejecting the driver. The other motorcyclist raced away. 
Police say the injured motorcyclist died later at a Council Bluffs hospital. He hasn't been identified.
Police say the motorcycle was stolen.

 

 

 

 

U-S Cellular Employee Accused Of Stealing $30,000

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - A former U.S. Cellular employee has been accused of stealing nearly $30,000 in merchandise from the company in Council Bluffs.
Iowa online court records say 21-year-old Sayeg Moreno Padilla, who lives in Omaha, Nebraska, is charged with felony theft and ongoing criminal conduct. His attorney didn't immediately return a call Tuesday from The Associated Press. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 9.
Prosecutors say Moreno Padilla opened fraudulent accounts and stole 44 cellphones and $1,500 in gift cards between May 6 and June 16 last year.







 


   

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