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Wednesday News, November 19

Conservation Board Presents Annual Report To Supervisors

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Conservation Board Executive Director, Nick Beeck delivered the Conservation Board's annual report to the county supervisors on Tuesday.  Beeck's take on the year....

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Beeck says one area of annual revenue which will not take place this year is the sale of elk. 

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The Conservation Executive says the new Dennis Sohl Center for Outdoor Learning located at Hillview Park has been extensively utilized.

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Beeck updated the supervisors regarding the new River's Bend lake project located near Akron, which the County Conservation Board took possession of two years ago.   He says work on the boat ramp and the new restroom facilities should be completed by early spring.  Beeck says due to the flooding of the Big Sioux River, several invasive fish species has entered the 21 acre lake, and they will need to be euthinized, before additional game fish can be stocked.  He says he will seek a state grant to help with the financing of the project.

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Beeck says the new lake needs to remain idle for only three weeks before new fish can be introduced and the lake stocked. Beeck says the new estimate is slightly lower than $14,000 to treat the new lake.


Supervisors Take No Action On Request For Tax Rebate

(Le Mars) -- In other action during the county supervisor meeting, the supervisors heard from Ron Kneip of Kneip Investments.  Kneip had asked the supervisors to grant him a tax rebate on a parcel of land that Kneip had plotted into a subdivisional lots.  Kneip reported that nearly two-thirds of the lots in the addition have been sold.  However, due to state laws, Kneip is faced with paying the entire property tax on the remaining unsold development lots, which he says amounts to $16,000.  Supervisor Mark Loutsch questioned if the county supervisors were to grant Kneip his request, if it would lead to other development addition owners with unsold lots, to also ask for tax rebates?  The supervisors seemed to sympathize with Kneip with his situation, but they chose not to act on the request.


County Supervisors Approve Asphalt Overlay Projects

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors also approved the plan to have two stretches of farm to market county highways to have an overlay of asphalt.  County engineer Tom Rohe submitted the plan for the supervisors' approval.  The plan calls for nine miles of County road C-16 and four miles of County road K-13 to have a new layer of asphalt.  The supervisors will accept bids for the projects with an expected bid letting date of February 17, 2015, and the project to be completed during the spring.  Rohe estimates the cost to be $2.6 million, of which the county will seek a loan from the Iowa Department of Transportation.  The money is an advance allocation of Plymouth County's share of revenue collected from federal and state gasoline taxes.


Supervisors Certify Debt On Joint Urban Renewal Development 

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors also certified the city of Le Mars portion of the debt as part of the Joint Urban Renewal Development project.  The total amounts to $15,850,467.  Earlier in the month, the county de-certified its debt in the amount of $23,744.  The debt relates to the Le Mars Industrial Business Area located on the southern edge of town.


City Closes Grass, Leaf, And Twig Disposal Site

(Le Mars) -- There will be no more disposal of grass, leaves, and twigs at the city disposal site, at least not for this year.  City officials announced during the city council meeting on Tuesday that the site located on the west side of town is closing, effective immediately.


Sioux City Woman "Bumped" By Train

  SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a woman who was "bumped" by a train in Sioux City has been hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
     Sioux City police Lt. Rex Mueller says the woman stepped onto tracks Monday as a train was approaching. The engineer was able to slow down the train, and Mueller says it "bumped her."
     The woman was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Additional information about her condition is not available.
     Mueller says the woman appeared to be emotionally distressed prior as she walked on the tracks. No other information was released about the circumstances of the incident.


Authorities Investigate School Fire

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Council Bluffs authorities are investigating a fire that led to the evacuation of an area high school. 
     No injuries were reported after the fire at Abraham Lincoln High School on Tuesday. Council Bluffs Fire Marshal Larry Wohlers says someone intentionally set fire to a football tackling dummy in the school field house. 
     Smoke and flames activated a sprinkler system that extinguished the flames. 
     The school was evacuated for about 10 minutes while the firefighters worked to vent the smoke. 
     School officials say there is water damage on the balcony and in the music wing at the school. 
     No arrests have been reported.


King To Host Presidential Summit In January

(Washington) -- Congressman Steve King will host several potential 2016 presidential candidates at an Iowa political summit in January.
     King and the conservative group Citizens United will co-host will hold the Iowa Freedom Summit on January 24th in Des Moines.
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      Confirmed participants include Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and Utah Senator Mike Lee.
      All are considered possible 2016 Republican presidential candidates.
      Other participants include Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn, Ambassador John Bolton and Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlitt-Packard.   

     King says this is the right time to bring leaders to Iowa in advance of the state's leadoff caucuses in early 2016.
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     King says the event will "energize conservatives".


Iowa Pharmacy Board To Review Changing Status For Marijuana

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Board of Pharmacy will consider again recommending changing state law to reclassify marijuana so it could be used to treat medical conditions. 
     The board is set to meet Wednesday. Members heard testimony on the issue Monday. 
      Currently, marijuana is classified under state law as both a Schedule I drug, meaning it is has no medical use, and as a Schedule II drug, which has medicinal value. Advocates want the drug to be moved only to the Schedule II category. 
     The board recommended that the Legislature make such a change to state law in 2010, but no action was taken.
     Lawmakers this year approved legislation that allows the use of oil derived from marijuana to treat chronic epilepsy.


Regents Consider Freezing College Tuition Costs

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - A memo from the Iowa Board of Regents says freezing tuition rates for all students next year would cost $14.5 million in lost revenue for the state's three public universities.
     The Iowa Board of Regents is scheduled to set tuition rates Dec. 3.
     Key members have indicated they would like to freeze tuition for a third straight year for resident undergraduate students, and are considering whether to extend the freeze to nonresident and graduate students.
     A memo released Tuesday says the resident undergraduate freeze would reduce revenues by $4.5 million. Extending the freeze to all students would cost another $10 million.
     University of Iowa President Sally Mason and Iowa State University President Steven Leath said Tuesday they can handle a resident undergraduate freeze, but broadening it would be difficult.


University Of Iowa To Consider Offering Early Retirements To Save Money

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Facing pressure to cut costs, University of Iowa President Sally Mason says she will soon recommend an early retirement program to trim payroll expenses.
     Mason said Tuesday that the school would be asking the Board of Regents to approve a program modeled after those that helped avert layoffs in 2009 and 2010.
     The details of the new proposal are still under review. But in 2009, employees who were 57 were allowed to retire in exchange for five years of insurance coverage and payments for accrued vacation and sick leave. The following year, the school offered the program to those who were 55.
     Regent Larry McKibben said Tuesday the program could help smooth the impact of an ongoing administrative restructuring. He expects the state's other two universities to consider similar ideas.


Activists Want Iowa City Business Investigated For Denied Wages

 IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Activists are asking the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate allegations that workers at an Iowa City factory have been illegally denied wages.
     The Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa filed the complaint Tuesday against RockTenn, a Georgia-based corporation that operates a packaging facility in Iowa City. Two staffing companies are also named.
     Executive Director Misty Rebik says she believes there are 300 temporary workers at the factory, and most are instructed to show up 30 to 45 minutes early without being paid. She says she believes that is a violation of federal law.
     In addition, she says workers have complained that they are not issued paystubs and not compensated for all the hours they work.
     RockTenn denied the allegations, saying it complies with state and federal law.








Tuesday News, November 18

Supervisors To Discuss Joint Urban Renewal Area

(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors are scheduled to meet this morning at the County Courthouse Boardroom.  The Supervisors will hear from Ron Kneip of Kneip Investments seeking a residential rebate agreement.  County Conservation Executive Director, Nick Beeck will appear before the supervisors to submit the Plymouth County Conservation Board's annual report, and County engineer, Tom Rohe is scheduled to appear before the supervisors to review and receive final approval for two construction projects. The supervisors are scheduled to adjourn for lunch which is the County's annual Thanksgiving dinner. Following lunch, the supervisors will reconvene to discuss the city of Le Mars Debt Certification in the Joint Urban Renewal Area.


City Council Will Also Address Joint Urban Renewal Area

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council will discuss the Joint Urban Renewal project and its restructuring during its Tuesday meeting.  In other action, the city council will discuss it municipal bonds in accordance with new rules by the Securities Exchange Commission. The city has contacted the Dorsey and Whitney firm from Des Moines to assist with reviewing all past bond issues and to file the request for amnesty.  Amnesty must be requested prior to December 1st.    


Senate Expected To Vote On International Oil Pipeline Today

(Washington) -- The U-S Senate is expected to vote on the proposed XL Keystone oil pipeline today.  The Obama Administration, along with Senate majority leader Harry Reid, have been able to delay the vote until now.  Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says he favors the construction of the oil pipeline.

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The House of Representatives passed a similar measure this past Friday.


Des Moines Man Arrested Following Random Shootings

PLEASANT HILL, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say a man who drove around a Des Moines suburb and randomly opened fire is charged with attempted murder.
     Pleasant Hill Public Information Officer Adam Choat says 32-year-old Pete Jason Polson faces several charges stemming from Monday morning's shootings, including two counts of attempted murder. Two men have been hospitalized.
     Choat says Polson has been linked to three shootings within a 12-minute span. A third man was fired at but was not hurt. Choat says the victims appear to have been randomly targeted.
     The Southeast Polk Community School District canceled classes following the shootings. Superintendent Craig Menozzi says classes likely will resume Tuesday.
     Authorities say the shootings aren't related to earlier threats made on social media against a local high school.


Des Moines Schools In Lockdown

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Officials in Des Moines say a high school, a middle school and an elementary school were briefly locked down because of a nearby shooting.
     Des Moines Public Schools says East High School, Hiatt Middle School and Carver Community School were put on a partial lockdown Monday morning following reports of a nearby shooting. A partial lockdown means students are allowed to move around inside the schools.
     Police say resource officers were dispatched to provide additional security.
     The lockdown was later lifted. No suspects have been identified in the shooting, which police believe involved a dispute between several people. No injuries have been reported.
     Authorities say there is no connection between the lockdown and shootings in nearby Pleasant Hill, which led to the cancellation of school for several area schools.


Iowa Public Information Board Appoints New Executive Director

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The board meant to promote openness in Iowa government has named a government lawyer with experience in election and campaign law as its next executive director.
     The Iowa Public Information Board said Monday that Charlie Smithson would succeed Keith Luchtel on Dec. 1.
     Luchtel, an attorney, served as executive director since the board started operating last year but is stepping down. The board enforces Iowa's open meetings and records laws.
     Smithson has served as legal counsel and legislative liason under Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz since 2012. But he's probably best known for serving as executive director of the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board from 1998 to 2010.
     Board Chair Robert Andeweg says Smithson has great management experience and "knows his way around the Statehouse."


Mason City Man Given Two Years Probation After Stealing From Motel

 MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - A 55-year-old northern Iowa man has been given two years of probation for stealing from a hotel in Mason City where he'd been working as general manager.
     On Monday morning, Robert Walker also was given a deferred judgment and 40 hours of community service. Under the deferred judgment, Walker's conviction will be expunged from his record if he successfully completes probation.
     He'd pleaded guilty to felony theft after prosecutors dismissed two other charges. Prosecutors say Walker stole from the Holiday Inn Express from September to December 2013.
     Judge Gregg Rosenbladt said at Walker's sentencing hearing that Walker posed no threat to the community and told him that, "You are just about squeaky clean except for this one incident."


Farmers File Lawsuits Against Syngenta

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - More farmers are filing lawsuits against agrochemicals giant Syngenta in a legal battle tied to the sale of a genetically modified corn seed. 
     Agrisure Viptera is genetically altered to kill corn-eating bugs and is approved by the United States. It was marketed to farmers in 2011.
     But China, a major corn market that refuses to buy genetically modified crops it hasn't tested, had not agreed to import it. It began rejecting U.S. corn last year when Viptera was detected.
     More than 50 lawsuits have been filed and hundreds more are being prepared. The lawsuits say losing China as a buyer has cost corn farmers more than $1 billion.
     Syngenta says the lawsuits are without merit and upholds the right of farmers to use approved new technologies.


State Corn Harvest Nearing Completion 

(Des Moines) -- The latest weekly crop report shows the state's corn harvest had slowed down due to the cold temperatures and snow.  Still, Iowa farmers have been able to harvest 92 percent of the corn, which is equal to 2013, but two days ahead of the five-year average.  This was the first time this season the corn harvest was ahead of normal pace.  The corn harvest in south central Iowa continues to trail behind the rest of the state with only 79 percent complete.  The state's soybean harvest is all but completed with 98 percent harvested.


Farm Credit Official Predicts Land Values To Still Be Strong

(Kansas City) -- While land prices in many parts of the Midwest have come down from their record highs, there are no indications they’re going to collapse.  Doug Stark, president and CEO of Omaha-based Farm Credit Services of America, says there’s still a lot of strength under farmland overall.
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But Stark says if the profitability in farming remains low—and interest rates start to rise—it’s likely to have a dampening effect on land prices going forward.
Farm Credit Services of America serves farmers in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.







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