Wednesday News, February 18
Fire Department Responds To Car Fire
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department responded to a vehicle fire Tuesday afternoon at about 1:20 p.m. The car that caught on fire was at the intersection of County roads C-38 and K-22, about seven miles southwest of Le Mars. Fire Chief Dave Schipper says the fire started in the engine area of the vehicle and quickly spread to consume the dashboard and the interior of the vehicle. The car is a total loss. There were no injuries associated with the vehicle fire, however, the driver was taken into custody by the Plymouth County Sheriff's deputies for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
County Supervisors Approve TIF Agreement With Le Mars
(Le Mars) -- The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution involving a tax increment financing agreement with the city of Le Mars during its regular weekly meeting held Tuesday morning. Supervisor Don Kass, who is a member of the Joint Urban Renewal Development Board explains the city will acquire the county portion's of debt for development along Key Avenue, an area extending from Well's corporate offices going north past ICON Ag and Turf.
Kass says the debt ratio was skewed to the point Plymouth County didn't feel it could ever recover, so it decided to relinguish the entire financial responsibility to the city of Le Mars.
Kass explains the county can and will continue to collect taxes from the area in question. However, the city of Le Mars will get the increment financing from the area along Key Avenue.
In other action, the county governing board approved to vacate a portion of Otter Avenue.
Police Department Delivers Annual Report
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Police Department was one of five city departments that submitted its annual report to the city council on Tuesday. Police Chief Stuart Dekkenga informed the council, with few exceptions, the numbers from last year were similiar to those in 2013.
Dekkenga says the total number of complaints investigated by the Le Mars Police was at 5,092 which was 887 more than in 2013. Dekkenga says the complaint category includes many aspects. He says one reason for the higher number of complaints fielded, is because it involves those complaints from the parking enforcment provision.
The Le Mars Police Chief did indicate the number of burglaries had fallen.
In terms of number of arrests made in 2014, Dekkenga says the numbers were similar.
In 2013, there were a total of 438 arrests with 370 adult arrests and 58 juvenile arrests. Dekkenga breaks down the numbers even further.
Copies of the police annual report can be obtained at the Police Department or at the Le Mars Public Library.
City Council Approves Convention And Visitor's Bueau Grant Recommendations
(Le Mars) -- During city council action from Tuesday's meeting, the city council approved the funding of nearly $32,500 in project grants that were recommended by the Convention and Visitor's Bureau board. Some of the recipients of the CVB grants include the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce, the Le Mars Area Youth Network, the National Traditional Country Music Association, Plymouth County Pioneer Village Christmas, and the Plymouth County Cyclists.
Senate Panel Passes Bill To Forbid Therapy To Convert Sexual Orientation
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Senate panel has approved a bill that would ban mental health providers in Iowa from practicing therapy aimed at converting the sexual orientation of a minor.
Members of a human resources subcommittee discussed the bill Tuesday. It now moves to a full committee for consideration.
The bill would prohibit a licensed mental health provider from attempting to change the sexual orientation of a person who is under 18 years old. The mental health provider would be subject to disciplinary action if there's an attempt at such therapy.
Groups in support of the bill say the therapy causes irreparable mental damage. The Family Leader, a social conservative political party in Iowa, opposes the bill and says parents should pursue professional medical care for their children without interference from the government.
Fuel Tax Bill Moving Quickly Through Legislature
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A plan to hike the state's fuel tax by ten cents is quickly moving through the Iowa Legislature.
A Senate Committee backed the bill in a 9-3 vote Tuesday. The legislation would raise the state fuel tax by 10 cents. That would provide about $215 million annually for the state's network of bridges and roads, many of which are in disrepair.
Similar proposals have failed to advance in past years, but Gov. Terry Branstad and legislative leaders have been vocal this year about raising money for infrastructure. The Senate bill now moves to another committee. A similar effort is moving through the House.
Iowa's fuel tax is now 22 cents per gallon for gasoline, including fees. The tax hasn't been raised since 1989.
Senate Moves Minimum Wage Bill
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A bill to boost Iowa's minimum wage has won preliminary approval in the Iowa Senate.
A three-member subcommittee backed the bill Tuesday, with two Democrats and one Republican voting in favor. The bill would gradually raise Iowa's minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.75.
Sen. Tony Bisignano, a Des Moines Democrat, says the bill was an overdue effort to help low-wage workers. Sen. Rick Bertrand, a Republican from Sioux City, said this would keep Iowa wages in line with neighboring states.
The bill is expected to win approval in the Democratic-majority Senate, but prospects are less clear in the Republican-controlled House. Asked last week if House Republicans would support raising the minimum wage, Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, of Hiawatha, said his caucus was more focused on training for high-paying jobs.
Regents Task Force Member Objects To Funding Model
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A member of a task force that assisted the Iowa Board of Regents in creating a new performance-based funding model has reiterated his criticism of the model to lawmakers.
Len Hadley, retired chief executive officer of Maytag Corp., told an education appropriations subcommittee Tuesday that the model would unfairly compare funding needs at the state's three public universities.
Hadley, who has previously criticized the model, represented the University of Iowa on a five-person task force that issued a funding proposal to the regents. He voted against it.
The new model rewards universities for recruiting more in-state students. The regents say the model, which they approved last year, is more transparent in its method for requesting state dollars.
Des Moines City Councilman Questions Speeding Ticket
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Des Moines city councilman says he was not trying to get a speeding ticket waived when he contacted the interim police chief.
Joe Gatto was given a ticket for driving 10 miles over the speed limit during a traffic enforcement event on Dec 3.
After the traffic stop, the councilman contacted the Interim Police Chief Doug Harvey. His speeding ticket was voided 27 minutes after being downloaded onto the police department's server.
In a statement to KCCI, Gatto says that he did not contact the police chief to have the ticket waived, but to express concern about how the traffic stop was handled. He said that Harvey independently dismissed the ticket.
Gatto apologized for how he personally handled the situation, and said that he would pay the ticket if it was reissued.
Soon after the statement was released, the police department reissued Gatto's ticket.