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Wednesday Afternoon News, November 18

Burnt Turkey Responsible For Fire Call

(Le Mars) -- A burnt turkey cooking in an oven is responsible for the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department responding to an alarm at about 11:15 a.m. this morning.  Smoke was emitting from a residence at 230 11th Street southwest.  Fire chief Dave Schipper says fire fighters entered the home and disposed the burnt turkey in the backyard, and then used high pressure fans to help ventilate the smoke from the home.  There were no injuries associated with the call, and fire fighters were on the scene for only a half an hour.




City Council Discusses ATV's And Snowmobiles On City Streets

(Le Mars) -- Should all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles be allowed on the streets of Le Mars?  That question was debated by the Le Mars city council during their Tuesday meeting.  The issue was first brought to the attention of the city council at their last meeting.  City staff researched the issue and contacted other cities of similar size of Le Mars to inquire how they handle ATV's and snowmobiles.  City code officer Jason Vacera modified the existing ordinance in an effort to make the language simpler.  At one point, city leaders were contemplating whether owners of ATV's and snowmobiles should register their recreational vehicles with the city.  However, city councilman Rex Knapp said he would be opposed to another registration process, saying the city didn't have the staff, or the resources, to conduct such registrations, and adding the city didn't need the money generated from registration fees.  It was noted that all terrain vehicles and snowmobiles currently need to register through the county. The city council decided to allow ATV's and snowmobiles the opportunity to operate on city streets with the exception of Highway 3 and Business Highway 75.  Other areas where ATV's and snowmobiles are not allowed would be public parks, sidewalks or parking right of ways, and recreational trails.  Vacera says the vehicle must be equipped with both head and tail lights, a muffler, and brakes, along with brake lights.





Lawton School Superintendent Under Scrutiny For Expenses Without Receipts

LAWTON, Iowa (AP) - A northwest Iowa school district is facing scrutiny after an administrator purchased thousands of dollars' worth of food and alcohol, and reimbursed staff members without receipts.
The Des Moines Register ( ) reports it made an inquiry into nearly $300 Superintendent Jeff Thelander charged to the Lawton-Bronson School District credit card for a meal for several teachers, a medical researcher and his friends at a Sioux City steakhouse. 
Thelander said the meal was a "thank you" for the researcher's participation in a school event. 
After the inquiry, Thelander repaid the school district for $2,800 for reimbursed food and alcohol purchases for which he had no receipts. The superintendent said he had lost many of his receipts for purchases made with the district card.
According to district expenses, administrators would also often purchase lunches as a thank you for staff members.





Casey City Clerk To Face Federal Charges

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The former city clerk for the small western Iowa city of Casey will face federal charges that she used city funds for personal use and burned down City Hall the night before state auditors were to arrive to investigate missing money last year.
Federal prosecutors in Des Moines said Wednesday that Dorothy Dillinger has been indicted on charges of mail fraud and malicious use of fire.
Federal court records don't list an attorney for her. She is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 30.
She has no apparent listed home telephone number.
State auditors say Dillinger cost the city $300,000 over six years by charging personal expenses to city credit cards and failing to deposit utility payments.
Dillinger apologized and asked for forgiveness in a written statement last year.







Wednesday News, November 18

Wells Enterprises Gives A Check Of $45,000 To The City Of Le Mars

(Le Mars) -- At Tuesday's Le Mars City Council meeting Well's Enterprises CEO, Mike Wells shared his appreciation to the city.  Wells informed the city council that this past year was the best year ever for Wells Enterprises with record sales.  Wells says the ice cream maker will share some of those profits with the employees with the profit sharing incentive program.  Wells told the city council that "as goes Wells (Enterprises), so goes the city and vice versa.  Wells then presented a check to Le Mars mayor Dick Kirchoff for the amount of $45,000 which is to be split three ways with one third going to help finance the Le Mars Police Department, a third to the Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department, and the remaining $15,000 to go to the Le Mars EMS- Ambulance services.






Privatization Of Medicare Could Have Negative Consequences To Life Skills Training Center

(Le Mars) -- Governor Terry Brandstad's plan to privatize the Medicare program is having some negative consequences on many of the state's health care programs.  Locally, Life Skills Training Center of Le Mars may in fact be adversely affected by the new program. Four companies will now handle the disbursements of funding for the program that is slated to begin on January 1st of 2016.   Life Skills executive director Don Nore says state officials should delay the start of the implementation of the program, until such time when more information is shared.

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Nore says the rate of funding for the rehabilitation services given to Life Skill's clients has been frozen for the last six years at the 2009 funding level.

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Nore says ultimately it will be the providers and the families of the members receiving the services that will have to make up the short-fall of funding. Rose Nicoson serves as the Business Manager for Life Skills.  She estimates that the local facility that assists mentally handicapped individuals could lose as much as $20,000.  But she says the worst part is that there could be some clients already being served by Life Skills that may not qualify for state funded assistance in the future.

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Nicoson says Life Skills may be able to handle the anticipated loss of $20,000 a year, but it does not make up the funding that has been capped and will remain capped for at least another two years.

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Nicoson says she believes the state's mental health industry is unfairly being targeted with the cuts.





Three State Senators Hope To Stop Branstad's Privatization Of Medicare Program

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Three Iowa Senate Democrats plan to meet with federal officials in Washington on Wednesday in hopes of stopping implementation of Gov. Terry Branstad's proposed privatization of the state's Medicaid program.
Senate President Pam Jochum of Dubuque and Sens. Amanda Ragan of Mason City and Liz Mathis of Robins say the privatization plan is disorganized and leaves too many major questions unanswered to be implemented on Jan. 1.
The governor must get permission from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to go forward with the plan, which would shift management of the state's $4.2 billion Medicaid program to four for-profit private insurance companies. The program provides care to poor children and families, disabled people and some low-income adults.
Branstad says the privatization move will improve care and cut costs.





Supervisors Offer County Employees Contract Proposal

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday submitted their counter proposal for contract changes for the secondary road bargaining unit.  The supervisors propose a three-year contract with the following salary increases: in fiscal year 2016-2017 the county employees would recieve a 1.5 percent increase, in fiscal year 2017-2018, a two-percent increase would occur, and in the final year of the contract, the supervisors would offer the county road employees another two percent salary raise.  The supervisors are also proposing that employees would not be charged with a sick day to go during work hours to get their wellness physical, subject to the permission by the County engineer or his designee, of date and time that the employee is leaving work to go to the physical.  All full time employees under the county contract who are covered by the county insurance policy will participate and fulfill all programs set out by the wellness committee.  If an employee fails to do so, that employee will pay an additional five percent in premiums per month over what the other members are paying for the following calendar year.  Finally, the supervisors propose secondary road employees portion of the county health insurance premium be at 12 and a half percent for the first fiscal year, 15 percent for the second year, and 17.5 percent for the final year of the contract agreement.





Ava Grossmann Selected As Tulip Festival Queen

(Orange City) -- A senior at Unity Christian High School at Orange City will be the 76th Tulip Festival Queen.  On Monday, Ava Grossmann was crowned as the new queen.  She is the daughter of Jonathan and Glenda Grossmann.  Grossmann and her court will serve as ambassadors for the upcoming Orange City Tulip Festival as they will travel in the spring making several media and public appearances.  The tulip festival queen will be joined by her court which consist of: Maddie Christy, Grace De Haan, Kelsey Lang, and Kaylee Puttmann.  Grossman and her court spent Monday afternoon interviewing with judges, and during the public pageant that was held Monday evening, each of the candidates answered questions on various topics and gave an individual presentation.  Grossmann was crowned the queen at the conclusion to the evening.

From left to right: Kaylee Puttmann, Maddie  Christy, Queen Ava Grossmann, Grace De Haan, and Kelsey Lang.   Photo submitted.


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