Friday Afternoon News, June 7
Frentress Honored As "Employee of the Month"
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce is recognizing the efforts of Dr. Misty Frentress as the Chamber's June "Employee of the Month". The honor was presented this morning to Misty at the Le Mars Hy-Vee store. Dr. Misty Frentress serves as a pharmacist with the Le Mars Hy-Vee. Store manager, Peter Streit nominated her for employee of the month. Streit says he has worked with Frentress for two and a half years, and has come to believe she is a vital link for the store's morale, customer service, and community involvement. Streit says of Frentress she is a great Hy-Vee employee, simply because at the core, she is a great person. Misty cares about every customer who enters the store. She knows every customer by name, always asks about their family, children, or parents; she truly cares how they are doing. Ask someone to name a professional they trust, and they will tell you it’s their pharmacist. People come to Dr. Misty Frentress when they are looking for someone they can trust to be professional, honest and ethical. I know that hundreds of people from this community could testify as to what an asset she is, and how many times she has gone above and beyond to take care of people. She is also an excellent mentor and leader of the entire staff in the LeMars Hy-Vee pharmacy. Our congratulations to Dr. Misty Frentress for being named the Chamber's "June Employee of the Month".
Sioux City Human Rights Commission Assesses Fine On Landlord
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Sioux City Human Rights Commission has upheld a $10,000 fine against a landlord accused of sexually harassing a tenant.
The commission voted Thursday to uphold a judge's decision to punish Pavel Benedic.
Benedic's attorney, Christopher Barondeau, says the allegation by Bridget McClure was meritless. McClure's complaints say Benedic had sexually harassed her and evicted her when she'd didn't respond
positively to his advances.
The commission fined Benedic $10,000 for violating Iowa's Civil Rights Act. He appealed to a state administrative law judge, who rejected the appeal and ordered Benedic to pay $10,000 more to
McClure for emotional distress. The judge sent his decision back to the commission, which upheld the original fine but asked the judge to reconsider the fine for emotional distress.
Iowa DNR Offers Free Weekend Of Fishing
(Des Moines) -- If you enjoy fishing, or even if you have never before gone fishing, this is the weekend to do so. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is offering a weekend of free fishing. DNR Fish Biologist Martin Konrad explains what that means.
Konrad says the conditions have been ideal for great fishing to take place either at the farm ponds, area lakes, or even the rivers.
Konrad offers some advice for first-time anglers...keep it small and simple.
The DNR official says the free weekend of fishing has encouraged those people to pick up the interest and toss their line in the water.
Branstad Says He Wants Alternatives To Raising Fuel Tax
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad says he wants to find alternatives to raising the state fuel tax to pay for road improvements.
Branstad made the statement Friday during a taping of the public television program, "Iowa Press." Branstad says he'd like to explore other options, such as allocating money from a state
infrastructure fund or using some sales tax revenues.
Branstad says there isn't public support to raise the fuel tax and that he doesn't want to increase it as fuel prices are rising.
Iowa's fuel tax -now 22 cents per gallon for gasoline including fees - hasn't been raised since 1989. A commission appointed by Branstad in 2011 recommended an increase of 8 to 10 cents a gallon
to boost funding for the state's network of bridges and roads.
Supreme Court Throws Out Environmental-Based Lawsuit
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court is throwing out a lawsuit filed by environmentalists seeking to block construction of a major Cedar Rapids highway through two nature preserves.
The court ruled Friday that that Sierra Club's lawsuit must be dismissed because the group didn't exhaust its administrative remedies.
Justice David Wiggins says the group should have asked the Iowa Department of Transportation to reverse its decision before filing the lawsuit.
The proposed extension of Highway 100 would run through the Rock Island County Preserve and adjacent to the Rock Island State Preserve, which environmentalists argue would threaten butterflies,
turtles and other rare and endangered plants and wildlife. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit say the highway would diminish their ability to hike and take photos there.
A similar federal lawsuit remains pending.
Supreme Court Rules Volunteers Can't Be Held Liable For Violating Open Meetings Laws
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Supreme Court says volunteers who serve on governmental bodies cannot be held personally liable for unintentional violations of the Iowa Open Meetings Act.
The court ruled Friday that volunteers are immune from liability unless they commit "intentional misconduct or a knowing violation" of the act.
The court declined the city of Postville's request to fine members of a regional planning commission in northeastern Iowa who violated the open meetings law by holding a secret vote in 2010.
The law says violators can face fines of up to $500.
But since the violations by the Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission were self-policed and corrected, Justice David Wiggins says members demonstrated "a desire to comply with the
requirements" of the law and not sidestep it. Therefore, he says they're immune.
State Auditor To Investigate Secretary of State
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's new state auditor says she will investigate whether Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz properly used federal funds intended to improve election procedures to hire
a state agent to investigate voter fraud.
Democratic Sen. Tom Courtney says he has been informed by Auditor Mary Mosiman that her chief deputy would lead the investigation into whether Help America Vote Act money was properly
Mosiman will not be involved because she served as Schultz's deputy of elections until her appointment last month to auditor.
Courtney says Schultz improperly used the money for a "voter fraud goose chase." Schultz's office did not immediately return calls.
The U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which oversees the federal election money, isn't investigating because it does not have enough appointed members to make decisions.