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Soderberg Seeks 5th Term Re-election

(LeMars) -- State Representative Chuck Soderberg of LeMars has announced his intentions to seek re-election for a fifth term in the Iowa legislature.  Soderberg made his announcement on Wednesday before a group of community leaders at the LeMars Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon.  Soderberg, a republican, says with the new re-districting, if elected, he will serve nearly all of Plymouth County including each community.  The new district also includes some portions of Woodbury County, east of Sioux City.

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(LeMars) -- Commercial Property Tax Relief may be the main focus for the upcoming legislative session, according to two local state legislators.  State Representative Chuck Soderberg of LeMars and State Senator Bill Anderson of Pierson appeared together yesterday at the LeMars Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon.  Soderburg told the gathering what is the primary goal for the upcoming session. 
 

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The Iowa House Representative says at present time, Iowa is not competitive with our neighbors.  Soderburg indicated that Illinois is raising its property tax rate up 60 percent, but it would still be cheaper than in Iowa.  Another comparison Soderberg made was the property tax rate for Iowa and New York's Manhattan.  He says something is wrong when Iowa's property taxes are higher than Manhattan.  Soderberg says in 2011 the Iowa legislature was able to pass a budget where spending was less than revenue.  He indicated that Iowa was spending $1.18 on every $1 of revenue.  Last year, the state legislature was able to reduce the state's spending so for every $1.00 brought in through taxes, 97 cents was being spent.  State Senator Bill Anderson of Pierson was also at the chamber luncheon.  Anderson informed the group that because of the Senate's split of 26 Democrats to 24 Republicans it will be difficult to pass much legislation.  Anderson said the property tax relief introduced in the State Senate last year was "a joke" because it did not offer any substanial tax relief to businesses. 

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Other topics that were discussed included a proposed road use tax, the Iowa Film Office, Environmental Regulations placed on municipalities, and the governor's proposed education reform.

 

(LeMars) -- Don't look for any tax credit programs to come out of the upcoming state legislative session, that according to State Senator Bill Anderson.   Anderson says because of the various scandals including the Iowa Film Office and CIETEC, the Democratic Controlled State Senate is weary of creating any new tax credit programs because of the fear it could lead to another potential scandal.  Anderson says the Democrats know the scandals occurred during their watch and they don't want to take any chances of it happening again.  Anderson admits there are some legitamate causes that may deserve tax credits, but he says it will be difficult getting anything through the state senate.

 

(LeMars) -- LeMars Police have arrested a LeMars man for sexual abuse and supplying alcohol to a person under 21.  On Monday, officers  received a complaint of an adult supplying alcohol to a minor and sexual abuse of a 15 year old female.  Taken into custody was 21 year old Adam McKee.  McKee was booked into the Plymouth County jail on both charges.  Sexual abuse is a third degree Class C felony.  Also arrested was David Kelly, age 60, also of LeMars.  Kelly was also charged with providing alcohol to a person under 21.
 

(LeMars) -- The Holidays can be a time for family gatherings, festive decorations, special treats, and gift giving.  However, the Holidays can also present its share of dangers, especially fires.  Candles, space heaters, worn extension cords, and dried out Christmas trees can all be the cataylist for a deadly fire.  LeMars Fire Chief Dave Schipper offers some holiday safety suggestions.

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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa has a new farmland price record.  It happened on Wednesday when a 74-acre tract near Hull in Sioux County in northwest Iowa sold for $20,000 an acre.
     The previous record was in October when a 120-acre parcel went for $16,750 per acre near Sioux Center, also in Sioux County
     Auctioneer Pete Polleman, of Hull, who called Wednesday's sale, says farmland in northwest Iowa is very valuable, with good commodity prices and a strong livestock industry.
     Economist emeritus Neil Harl of Iowa State University calls the prices "amazing."
     A survey or real estate agents in September put the state average at $6,477 an acre, an increase of over 30 percent in the last year. ISU will release its annual farmland survey Dec. 14.

 

 

 

   

Legislative Luncheon Scheduled Today

(Des Moines) -- As a way to pay tribute to the thousands of sailors and soldiers that lost their lives 70 years ago during the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has ordered that all flags be flown at half staff today. Branstad issued the order on Tuesday to fly flags in the state
at half-staff from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
     The bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, killed 2,390 Americans and brought the United States into World War II.

(LeMars) -- The LeMars Chamber of Commerce is hosting a legislative luncheon today at noon at the American Bank.  State Senator Bill Anderson and State Representative Chuck Soderburg will address the issues that will come before the general assembly during the 2012 legislative session.  Contact the Chamber office to make reservations.

(LeMars) -- Floyd Valley Hospital received its annual financial audit yesterday. Denman and Associates, a certified public accountanting firm from West Des Moines performed the audit.  The annual audit revealed the local hospital has increased its total assets by 103 thousand dollars from last year to this year allowing Floyd Valley Hospital's total assets to exceed $27.3 million dollars.  Fiscal Year 2011 net patient service revenue increased by $222 thousand, primarily due to higher patient volume.  Fiscal Year 2011 expenses increased by $808 thousand related to higher staff costs.  Operating expenses were $29.5 million which was one percent less than budget expectations for the fiscal year ending June 30th.

(LeMars) -- The LeMars City Council met Tuesday and again the council chambers was filled with residents concerned about the city's proposal to change the water meters.  City administrator Scott Langel says the citizens' opinions were valued as the city council revised the original proposal and came up with a proposal that seemed to meet everyone's approval.  The city is now proposing that there would not be any private meters, however it does recognize that some residents want a second meter for when they irrigate their lawns. Langel explains the new proposal.


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Langel says the city will charge an installation fee, on average about $240 for the second meter, but the second meter would not be charged any sewer rates.  He says due to the changes of the proposal, that has pushed back the council's official reading schedule.

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In other action, the city council approved the financial audit of the Floyd Valley Hospital, scheduled a public hearing for December 20th on the pending sale of the city's share of LeMars Communications L.L.P, and they made an agreement with the Iowa Department of Transporation for a RISE grant to assist with the infrastructure on the new Dogwood Properties. 

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(LeMars) -- Plymouth County librarians met with the County Board of Supervisors informing them of the important role libraries have for communities.  LeMars Public Librarian, Sue Kroesche says local libraries help with economic development and help build communities.  The librarians were at the supervisor meeting to offer a request for funding for the next year.  Last year, the supervisors allocated $72,000 to the various county librarys which equates to $8.61 per person living in Plymouth County.  Kroesche says libraries need to keep up with the latest technology.  She says for every dollar invested into local libraries, the return to the community is $12.  The community libraries are requesting the Board of Supervisors to consider a four percent increase in funding which would equate to a total of $75,000.  The Supervisors also heard from Deb Steffen, the Plymouth County Board of Health Director.  Steffen informed the supervisors the board has three vacancies.  She said the board consists of five members.  The County Health Director hopes to have the vacancies filled before their February meeting.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - MidAmerican Energy plans to raise electric rates by 3 to 4 percent in 2012 to cover rising costs.
     Spokeswoman Tina Pothoff says letters to customers will be sent in February, with the increase by March. She says it's necessary to recover rising environmental requirements and energy production
costs.
     Iowa law allows utilities to impose rate increases on a temporary basis until the Iowa Utilities Board can make a final decision.
     MidAmerican Energy, the state's Iowa's largest utility, has 770,000 customers in Iowa. It has been operating under a rate freeze that preserves rates until 2013.  But the agreement with state regulators allows MidAmerican to impose special adjustment charges.
     MidAmerican has not raised base electric rates in 16 years.
    

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. has agreed to buy a 550-megawatt solar energy farm in California from First Solar Inc.
     Des Moines-based MidAmerican said in a news release Tuesday that First Solar will complete construction of the more than $2 billion Topaz Solar Farm in California's San Luis Obispo County.
Construction began last month and is expected to be finished by early 2015.
     MidAmerican and Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar say Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will buy electricity from Topaz under a 25-year agreement. The plant is expected to provide enough renewable energy
to power about 160,000 average California homes.
     MidAmerican is a subsidiary of Warren Buffett's Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

AMES, Iowa (AP) - A top Iowa State University administrator has been named one of five finalists to become president of the University of New Mexico.
     Iowa State Provost Elizabeth "Betsy" Hoffman will be visiting the Albuquerque campus over the next two week. The decision is expected by early next month.
     The current president, David Schmidly, is stepping down in June.  Hoffman has been executive vice president and provost at ISU since 2007.
     The other finalists are Douglas Baker, provost and executive vice president of the University of Idaho; Robert Frank, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs of Kent State University; Meredith Hay, special adviser to the chair for strategic initiatives for the Arizona Board of Regents; and Elsa Murano, professor and president emerita of Texas A&M University.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A task force working to reshape Iowa's child sexual abuse laws has decided against adding college officials to a list of those required to report such abuse.  The Iowa Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Task Force decided instead on Tuesday to increase detection training.  The task force was considering the expansion following the Penn State University child sex abuse scandal. Task force members say deciding which college officials would be required to report suspected child abuse would have been complicated.  The task force prefers a recommendation that members of all groups that involve children or come in contact with them undergo voluntary detection training made available by Iowa.  The task force also will ask lawmakers to protect from employer retaliation anyone who reports suspected sex abuse.

 

 


  

 

   

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