Wednesday Afternoon News, June 19
Gov. Branstad Wants Schools To Start After Sept. 1st
(Le Mars) -- Governor Terry Branstad has asked the state education department to enforce the state laws requiring schools to start school on the week of September 1st. Many school districts seek a waiver from the state which allows the school districts to start sometimes as early as mid-August. Le Mars Community School Superintendent, Dr. Todd Wendt says Le Mars is one of the few schools that traditionally begins in late August.
Wendt says many schools prefer to start early in order to offer the semester tests before the Christmas holiday break. But he doesn't know of studies that indicate students perform worst on a test following the break as opposed to taking the tests prior to the ten-day vacation.
The argument against starting school early is that it interrupts with teenager summer employment opportunities such as being a lifeguard, or working at amusement parks, resorts, campgrounds, or even restaurants. The Iowa State Fair is one of the strongest proponents for a later start date, saying early school starts has hurt the fair's attendance and number of exhibitors.
Des Moines Schools Beef Up Security
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Des Moines school district has approved the purchase of 182 additional security cameras.
The school board Tuesday night approved a plan to buy and install the new cameras at a cost of nearly $370,000.
The expense will be covered by grants and money from a local option sales tax.
District chief operations officer Bill Good says Des Moines Public Schools already operates more than 500 cameras.
Good calls the cameras, "just one part of our security strategy."
The district has about 32,000 students in more than 60 schools.
Wrong Way Collision
DESOTO, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa State Patrol says a man has died from injuries he received in a crash on Interstate 80 in central Iowa caused by a wrong-way driver.
20-year-old Jessie Leeper, of Adair, died early Wednesday. Leeper was injured June 9 in a head-on collision near DeSoto with a vehicle driven by 24-year-old Megan Wakeham, of West Des Moines. After the crash, a vehicle driven by 49-year-old Lori Wallace, of Greenfield, rear-ended Leeper's car.
Wakeham died in the collision.
The state patrol says the crash remains under investigation.
NORA SPRINGS, Iowa (AP) - Heavy rain has been blamed for the partial washout of the Nora Springs dam in northern Iowa.
Floyd County Emergency Management Coordinator Michael Morlan says the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inspected the dam last week.
Morlan says the engineers didn't see any reason for immediate concern. Morlan says the engineers just said to watch it.
State officials will be inspecting the dam as well.
Morlan says it would take a lot more rain to take out the entire dam.
Ottumwa To Renovate Downtown Buildings
OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) - A grant will help Ottumwa improve the look of buildings on a downtown block.
Tuesday, the Iowa Economic Development Authority gave the city conditional approval for a $500,000 grant for the estimated $1.1 million project. Other funding will come from the city, the Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation and property owners.
Ottumwa plans to make improvements to 16 of 18 building facades on a block within 18 to 24 months of receiving the grant. Two years ago, the block was designated a slum and blight area.
Planning and Development Director Nick Klimek calls it "virtually a complete face-lift for the 300 block of East Main Street."
Work already has begun to improve some facades, and ultimately officials say 93 percent of the properties will be renovated.
No Trace Of Remaining Fuel After Train Derailment
CHARLES CITY, Iowa (AP) - The Canadian Pacific Railroad says an evaluation shows no trace of fuel following a May derailment east of Charles City.
An evaluation commissioned by the railroad showed no trace of fuel after the May 20 derailment, caused by washed out tracks. Four cars loaded with ethanol, one carrying rocks and three locomotives careened into the Little Cedar River.
About 49,000 gallons of ethanol, up to 400 gallons of diesel fuel and 100 gallons of lube oil leaked.
Railroad spokesman Ed Greenberg says in an email the evaluation now shows no fuel and "no impact to aquatic life."
The railroad did the assessment voluntarily and will submit it as part of a required 30-day post-spill report to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.