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.
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.
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.