Wednesday News, January 27
City And County Dispute Over Library Funding
(Le Mars) -- Le Mars mayor Dick Kirchoff met with the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to help resolve a dispute between the city of Le Mars and the county governing board over the funding of the Le Mars Public Library. At issue is the fact the Le Mars Public Library's expenses have been growing over several years, and the city of Le Mars would like Plymouth County to help with some of those expenses. Kirchoff was joined by Library Director Shirley Taylor. The Le Mars mayor says the library has the second highest subsidized program for the city, second only to the city's police department.
Kirchoff informed the county supervisors that the city council told the library board that enough was enough, and expenses would need to come down, or other provisions would need to be adopted. Kirchoff tried to explain to the supervisors there is a great disparity between what the Le Mars tax payer contributes to the library and what county residents contribute, given the fact both sectors can equally use the library's resources.
Kirchoff says the Le Mars Public Library does not want to take away any money from the other four libraries within the other Plymouth County communities. Kirchoff informed the supervisors that the Le Mars Public Library served nearly 79,500 people last year, and its doors are open 57 hours a week. Kirchoff says according to available data, Plymouth County rural residents accounted for nearly 14.6 percent of the library usage.
At the start of the new year, the Le Mars Public Library imposed an additional fee for county rural residents wanting to use the library's services, which was met with opposition from many rural residents. Kirchoff told the supervisors that he hates the idea of charging additional fees from rural residents. The Le Mars mayor proposed having two supervisors, two city council members, and two library board directors get together to further discuss the issue, and try to come up with a suitable solution to the dilemna. Supervisor Craig Anderson reminded Kirchoff that he and former county supervisor Jack Guenthner had made that very suggestion, four years ago, and were turned down. Kirchoff says he was unaware of that happening. County supervisor chairman Jim Henrich asked Kirchoff what was the reason for the ever-growing increases? Kirchoff responded by saying much of the increase has to deal with the purchase of electronic media such as e-books. Kirchoff says the city council has asked the library board to investigate to see where expenses can be cut and reduce the library budget. Several members of the supervisors shared their concern and outrage over the letter that was sent to Plymouth County rural residents asking them to contribute a fee of $40 in order to use the library services.
Supervisor Don Kass told Kirchoff that the county has no control over a city's budget, and therefore the higher expenses the library is encountering is not necessarily the county's concern.
The supervisors told Kirchoff that the county's portion of money allocated to the Le Mars Public Library is to be used only for updating books, references, and other services. It is not to be used for salaries, benefits, or general maintenance of the building and grounds.
Plymouth County Attorney Darin Raymond weighed in on the issue saying the library coalition was a good idea and the formula that has been used was created by smart people that put a lot of thought into the formula. Raymond says the formula has been revised a few times over the years. Raymond told Kirchoff and Taylor that what type of library is to be offered is their decision, and the county will only help with providing services.
Raymond suggested to Kirchoff to build consensus in trying to move forward on the issue.
Supervisor John Meis says he is a resident of Le Mars and admits he doesn't utilize the library, but he indicated he is disappointed in how the library conducted its business with rural residents.
The supervisors and the mayor and library director did not come to a resolution with the issue, other than it was suggested the Le Mars Library board meet with the library coalition to hash out some type of agreement.
Police Department Establishes Safe Transaction Place
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Police Department is trying to make unknown transactions a bit safer by initiating the Transaction Safe Place. Online sites, like Craigs list and Facebook swaps require some transactions to be conducted in person, and inviting unknown people into your home or meeting them at a unsecure location may be dangerous. Le Mars Police Department officer, Kevin Vande Vegte says the idea evolved from hearing about other police departments offering this service.
Vande Vegte says the Police Departments from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Ankeny, Iowa have started similar programs.
The Le Mars Police officer offers tips to consider when making a transaction with an unknown source. He says people should follow common sense.
Vande Vegte continues with additional safety tips to consider when making transactions.
Four People Sentenced To Prison For Distributing Methamphetamine
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Four people convicted of selling meth in O'Brien County have been sentenced to federal prison.
49-year-old Joe Leal, 31-year-old Mackenzie Jellema, 37-year-old Isaac Esquivel and 30-year-old Valerie Ortega were sentenced in U.S. District Court in Sioux City.
Leal was sentenced to six years and nine months in prison, and Ortega received three years and six months. Jellema was sentenced to four years in prison, and Esquivel was sentenced to a three-year prison term.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says the four admitted to the sale of more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. Law enforcement officers also made undercover purchases from them totaling 271 grams.
Iowa's Historical Museum May Lose Space During Renovation
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The department that oversees Iowa's flagship history museum says a nearly $80 million renovation to the building will cut its square footage. Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Mary Cownie says the State Historical Museum in downtown Des Moines would shrink from about 230,000 square feet to about 155,000 square feet under a renovation plan that would span several years. Cownie told an appropriations subcommittee the new square footage would be more manageable and include outdoor space.
Escaped Inmate Now Captured
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say officers have captured an inmate listed as escaped from the Council Bluffs Work Release Facility.
Council Bluffs police say Roger Madsen ran from a pickup after it was pulled over Tuesday. The officers caught Madsen after following his tracks in the snow.
The 32-year-old was listed as escaped when he didn't return to the facility after work on Jan. 14.
Madsen is serving a 20-year sentence for prohibited acts involving a controlled substance, two counts of theft, assault with intent to injure a peace officer and assault with a weapon on a peace officer.
Missing Person Found In Ravine
ALBIA, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say the body of a missing man has been found in his car at the bottom of a ravine in southern Iowa.
Albia police say a passer-by spotted the car and officers reached it Tuesday morning in the ravine near the intersection of Iowa highways 5 and 137.
The car was upside down, and the body of 50-year-old Leslie Allan Hartley, of rural Albia, was found inside.
He'd been reported missing on Jan. 20.
The Iowa State Patrol is investigating the crash.