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Thursday News, February 21

Le Mars Housing Construction Down

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars housing growth has slowed down during the past few years, and that has city council members somewhat concerned.  During Tuesday's city council meeting, Jason Vacura, the city's code enforcement director informed the city's leaders that last year Le Mars had only 13 new homes that were constructed.  During the last five years, Le Mars has witnessed housing construction that has been at or below 15 homes a year.  From 2003 to 2006, there were more than 30 homes constructed each year, with 2004 seeing 44 new homes that were built.  City Administrator Scott Langel urged the council to look at construction incentives.  Langel is looking ahead to the 2020 census, and says Le Mars could lose out on some government programs.

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Langel says he would like to see the same type of housing growth that was seen during the previous three census.
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Commercial business construction has also slowed down somewhat in recent years.  In 2005, Le Mars saw eleven new businesses being constructed, since that time, the city has averaged five new businesses being constructed each year.

 

Museum To Hold Open House On Sunday

(Le Mars) -- Over the years the business landscape in Le Mars has has changed. As with anywhere, some businesses come and go, some stand the test of time, but all leave some kind of foot print.  If you have been a part of a Le Mars business from years past, the Plymouth County Historical Museum invites you to share your memories at a special open house this Sunday at 2pm. 

Long time Le Mars resident and museum volunteer, Delores Burkhard, says that the recently constructed Le Mars Main Street Exhibit will be featured.

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Joan Kroepel, whose father ran Mount Drug, will speak about the drug store.  Glada Koerselman, former longtime editor of the Sentinel will be there as well.  Artifacts and stories from the history of other Le Mars businesses will also be shared.  

Burkhard, who has lived in Le Mars since 1954, told me one of her memories of downtown Le Mars was closely connected with fresh made bread.

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The Le Mars Main Street Exhibit and Business Memories Open House will wrap up with a hot dog feed on the second floor.  The Open House starts at 2pm this Sunday, February 24th and the museum will be open all afternoon from 1-5pm.

 

Legislators Work Load Reduced Due To Pending Snow Storm

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -  Most legislative action is being cancelled Thursday at the Iowa Capitol because of a snowstorm expected to sweep through the state.
The National Weather Service predicts up to 10 inches of snow could pile by Thursday night in Des Moines, and heavy snow is forecast for much of the state. Gusty winds also are expected.
The House and Senate will convene Thursday, but no floor action is scheduled and most committee hearings have been cancelled.

 

Lawmakers Table Bill That Applies To Pregnant Inmates

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill that would limit the use of restraints on pregnant inmates has been tabled in the Iowa state House.
Republican Representative Linda Miller, who heads the House human resources committee, says Wednesday that she has put the bill aside because the state Department of Corrections and law
enforcement officials have agreed to follow strict guidelines for when to use force on pregnant inmates.
The updated policy from the Department of Corrections would prohibit inmates who have been pregnant for at least 22 weeks from being restrained unless they pose an immediate risk. Officials
announced that change in January.
Miller says she can revive the legislation if the rules are not being followed.


Proposal To Limit Regents Political Participation

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A proposal to limit the Iowa Board of Regents from political activities has prompted sometimes heated exchanges at a legislative hearing.
The Des Moines Register reports an Iowa Senate subcommittee met Wednesday to discuss the bill, which would require Regents to hear more public feedback regarding some decisions.
Senator Jeff Danielson, a Democrat from Cedar Falls, says the bill would bring transparency and accountability. Senator Jack Whitver, a Republican from Ankeny, says the bill could limit
Regents' freedom of speech.
The Senate State Government Committee plans to meet again over the legislation.
Regent Bruce Rastetter was criticized Tuesday after records showed he intervened on behalf of ethanol industry leaders who were upset with a prominent University of Iowa professor over research.

 

U of I Keeps Human Rights Center

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa is abandoning plans to close a center dedicated to the study of human rights issues and will keep it open under a restructuring.
Supporters of the Center for Human Rights had protested for months against a plan to close it because of funding problems.
Provost P. Barry Butler announced Wednesday the center will stay open, but move from the international programs division in his office to the law school July 1. The center's new director will be
law professor Adrien Wing.
Butler says the new reporting structure and funding model should ensure a strong future for the center, which opened in 1999.
An advisory board will be created to coordinate the center's activities across the university, including its undergraduate certificate in human rights and lecture series.


Judge Agrees To Move Trial

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) - A judge has agreed to move the trial out of Charles City for a man charged with killing a 5-year-old northern Iowa girl in 2005.
District Judge Gregg Rosenbladt on Wednesday granted a motion by Casey Frederiksen's defense to change the venue for his first-degree murder trial in the death of Evelyn Miller of Floyd.
KIMT-TV reports that Frederiksen's attorney argued that pretrial publicity in the area was making it difficult for his client to receive a fair trial. The ruling means the trial, scheduled to
begin October 28th, will take place about 90 miles away in Webster City.
Frederiksen was charged in the 7-year-old case last September, when he was already serving time in federal prison on child pornography charges. Frederiksen was the live-in boyfriend of the girl's mother.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Wednesday Afternoon News, Feb. 20

Police See Only Slight Increase In Number of Incidents

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars Police Chief Stuart Dekkenga submitted the Police Department's annual report to the city council on Tuesday.  Dekkenga says there was a slight increase with the number of incidents reported to the city's police force.  Dekkenga says burglaries have increased, not only for Le Mars, but around the region as well.
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The Le Mars Police Chief says with all the other categories the numbers were close to a year ago numbers.  He mentioned to the city council that the police have responded to more calls for assistance, simply because the calls for the ambulance are higher.

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With regards to arrests made by the Le Mars Police Department, Dekkenga says there haven't been much change for the last five years.

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The Le Mars Police issued 471 arrests in 2012, slightly higher than the 432 of 2011.  However, the number of arrests for the previous three years were all above 500.

 

Family Concerned Over Early Parole of Murderer

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A woman is trying to prevent the man who killed her sister in northwest Iowa from being released five years early.
Beth Williams has written to Gov. Terry Branstad and local officials in an effort to keep Brian Davis in prison. The three-member Iowa Board of Parole recently granted Davis parole under certain conditions.
Davis was convicted in 1995 of second-degree murder in the death of Williams' sister, Julie Baack. He was scheduled to be released in 2018.
As part of his parole, Davis must live with family in Olathe, Kan., and have no contact with the victim's family.
Williams says she understands that overpopulation may have led to Davis' early release. But she's concerned he's being defined as a low-risk prisoner.
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House Passes Education Reform and Funding Bills

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - House lawmakers have approved a plan to water down Gov. Terry Branstad's education proposals.
In a 52-44 vote, legislators approved the bill Wednesday. Republicans in the House education committee last week scaled back Branstad's education plan, which aims to improve Iowa schools by
boosting minimum teacher pay and offering bonuses to senior teachers who take on tasks like mentoring. Under the revisions, school districts could opt-out of the reform.
Lawmakers also approved an amendment to the legislation Tuesday that would provide 2 percent increases to general school funding in the next two school years.


Military Personnel Can Make Up Classes At UNI

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) - The University of Northern Iowa Faculty Senate has approved a new policy that would let military personnel and veterans can carry out their duties or receive medical treatment without worrying about missing class.
The Faculty Senate OK'd the policy proposal on Monday. The proposal goes next to the university's Policy Review Committee before going to the administration for final approval.
The issue arose last fall when Iowa Army National Guard Spc. James Roethler filed a grievance with the university after a teacher wouldn't let him make up an exam that he missed while on National Guard training. He later reached an agreement with the university that the missed test wouldn't affect his grade.
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Artifacts Found At Proposed Fertilizer Site

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The state archaeologist says Native American artifacts have been found on the southeastern Iowa
farmland where an Egyptian company hopes to invest $1.4 billion to build a fertilizer plant.
John Doershuk said Wednesday that pottery and stone tools likely 1,000 years old have been found in clusters on the site near Burlington where Orascom Construction Industries hopes to start
building this spring.
Doershuk says a consultant is studying whether any of those areas may qualify for federal protection. If they do, he says Orascom would be required to pay for a "full-blown excavation"
before construction begins on them.
Doershuk says pottery and tools by themselves aren't particularly significant. But he says that if there's a lot of material and it's preserved, it could tell researchers a lot about the culture.

 

 

   

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