Monday News, April 22
Gehlen Ball Sets Record For Fund Raising
(Le Mars) - More than 850 people attended the 26th Annual Gehlen Ball held Saturday evening at the Le Mars Convention Center. Lee and Vi Kellen were honored during the evening's festivities as being named the recipients of the Peter Gehlen award. The Kellen's have been longtime supporters of the Gehlen Catholic school system with each of their children attending the local Catholic school. The Gehlen Ball serves as a fund raising event for the school and this year, a record was set in terms of the amount of money raised. A check was presented to Father Kevin Richter, president of Gehlen, and other Gehlen school officials. Karen Mousel, served as a co-chair of the event and summarizes the evening, as well as how much money was raised.
With this year's pledged revenue, the Gehlen Ball has generated over three million dollars since it started in 1987. The money raised will help benefit Gehlen in many ways as Lisa Niebuhr explains.
Friends of Gehlen decided for this next school year, the honor of having the naming rights of the gym will go to former Gehlen Physical Education instructor Steve Shea. Shea past away a few weeks ago. Next school year Spalding Catholic and Gehlen Catholic will unify the high school classes, and at Saturday's event, there was great support illustrated by the Spalding Catholic family.
Niebuhr says Gehlen Catholic is not just for those of the Catholic belief.
School Board To Discuss School Security
(Le Mars) -- School security will be discussed during this evening's Le Mars Community Board of Education meeting. The school board will examine the cost for the installation of security cameras for the district's buildings, as well as look at the cost of installing walls for the Kluckholn Elementary building. The school board will also hear a report from Assistant Superintendent Steve Webner and two teachers who organized professional development classes. The school board will also discuss the upcoming annual foundation banquet, hear from High School principal Larry Johnson as he reports the anticipated number of graduating seniors.
Wartburg College Choir Performs In Le Mars
(Le Mars) -- A standing room only crowd watched and listened to the rich music of the Wartburg College Choir as they performed in Le Mars on Sunday afternoon. The near 80 member choir is currently on a four-state tour and sang both at the St. Joseph Catholic Church and the St. Johns Lutheran Church. The Le Mars Community High School choir also sang a couple of numbers, and for one song, both choirs joined together, to sing a composition written by a current student Connor Koppin of Mason City. The college choir received a standing ovation for their hour and a half concert performance.
Legislators Look At Home Schooling Rules
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - While most of the education debate in the state Capitol this year has been on how to improve teachers and enhance schools in Iowa, some lawmakers are focused on a very
different educational goal - seeking to reduce regulations for homeschooling families.
Language added to an education bill passed in the Republican-controlled state House in February would remove oversight for some households that homeschool their children. The issue could complicate negotiations as Republicans try to reach a compromise with the Democratic-controlled Senate on an education overhaul plan.
Some Republicans have made clear that they will not support the overall education policy plan without these provisions.
Democrats are noncommittal on the homeschooling proposals. Democratic Senate President Pam Jochum, of Dubuque, says it would "receive a lot of discussion in our caucus."
Plymouth County Ready To Start Road and Bridge Construction Projects
(Le Mars) -- Once the weather warms up road construction will commence at various points across Plymouth County. County Engineer Tom Rohe recently submitted his proposed five-year road construction and bridge repair projects to the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors. Rohe says Plymouth County has 365 miles of paved highways, and more than 600 bridges or culverts that at some point will all need to be repaired or replaced. Obviously, the cost to repair the roads and bridges is constantly rising. Rohe says many of the bridges and wooden structures were designed to last for forty to fifty years and were built in the 1960's and 70's. However, Rohe says the roads and bridges are deteriorating at an accelerated rate due to more volume of heavier trucks and farm equipment.
Rohe says the local ethanol plants have also contributed to an increase of truck traffic on Plymouth County roads. He says the funding for road construction projects hasn't kept up with the pace for the need of road and bridge repair.
The county engineer says the money that is collected from vehicle registration fees has actually passed the amount of money the state collects from fuel tax. Iowans have not had an increase in the fuel use tax for more than twenty years. Rohe says the new structures are designed to last for several decades.
Transportation Officials Arrested For Theft
NEVADA, Iowa (AP) - Officials say they have uncovered a large-scale theft and money-laundering operation involving a former Iowa Department of Transportation employee and another man.
The Iowa Department of Public Safety says 56-year-old David Weigel of Nevada, Iowa and 59-year-old Grady Marx of Sioux City were arrested Saturday after state, local and federal authorities
executed search warrants in three counties in central and western Iowa.
Weigel, who worked for the Transportation Department from 1995 to 2011, and Marx are charged in warrants with theft, conspiracy to commit theft, money laundering and criminal conduct. Weigel is also charged with felonious misconduct in office.
Investigators say Weigel sold department land and fraudulently charged for maintenance, keeping nearly $240,000. Marx is accused of collecting nearly as much for mowing and other maintenance he
did not perform.
Harkin Endorses Braley For Senate Seat
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - U.S. Senator Tom Harkin is endorsing fellow Democrat Bruce Braley to replace him in the U.S. Senate.
Harkin announced his support for Braley in a press release Saturday. In a statement, Harkin says Braley "has fought for working people and the struggling middle class."
Braley announced in February that he'd seek the Senate seat held for decades by Harkin, who won't seek re-election. The 54-year-old Braley is a four-term House member from Waterloo.
Braley also has been endorsed by Iowa Rep. Dave Loebsack and by former Iowa congressman Leonard Boswell, as well as Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald. All are