Friday News, February 12
City Officials To Make Major Announcement On Monday
(Le Mars) -- Le Mars city officials are calling for a special news conference regarding the Community Betterment Program phase 2 to be held Monday afternoon. The news conference will be held at the city hall council chambers at 4:00 p.m. Monday afternoon. Mayor Pro-tem Rex Knapp says in his more than 25 years as a city council member the news that will be shared with Le Mars residents on Monday afternoon ranks among the top five positive things that have happened during his time as a council member. Knapp says residents of Le Mars will be able to watch the special news conference on the cable television public access channel 12.
Thursday Snowfall Causes Accidents And Vehicles Sliding Into Ditch
(Le Mars) -- Yesterday's snow kept tow trucks, and emergency rescue people busy as there were several reported accidents and vehicles that had slid into the ditch. Nearly a dozen vehicles were reported to have slid off the roads. There was a collision that happened Thursday afternoon shortly after 2:00 p.m. Two vehicles met at the intersection of Highway 75 and County Road C-12. Although airbags were deployed, it appeared as though the injuries sustained were minor. The Le Mars Fire and Rescue Department and the Le Mars Ambulance, along with the Plymouth County Sheriff's Office were dispatched to the scene. The names of the drivers from both vehicles has not been released as of yet. The Iowa Highway Patrol is investigating that accident.
Agriculture Secretary And Natural Resources Director Meet With House Ag Members
(Des Moines) -- Both Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gibb met with members of the Iowa House Agriculture Committee during this past week to present their budget requests. State representative Chuck Holz of Le Mars sits on the House Agriculture Committee. He says both individuals are aware of the tight budget issues facing the legislature, and both presented a budget that for the most part was in line with last year's budget requests. Holz noted that Secretary Northey did make a special request.
Holz says as a former veterinarian he understands why Northey would make such a request to allocate state funds for the prevention of a possible animal disease outbreak within Iowa. However, as a state legislator, he is not certain if he can go along and support such a request.
Holz says there were no major bills that came to the House floor this past week, and he says most legislators are looking at the first funnel deadline that is quickly approaching.
State House of Representatives Pass Budget Proposal
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Republican leaders in the Iowa House have released budget targets for the upcoming fiscal year, and they propose to spend less money than both Gov. Terry Branstad and Senate Democrats.
House Republicans on Thursday called for spending about $7.32 billion from the general fund for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Senate leaders recommend $7.398 billion and Branstad proposes just over $7.4 billion.
The targets released by Republicans would spend less money than Democrats on several budget items, including education and health care. The parties don't agree how much money is available to spend, which influences the budget targets.
The targets do not specify potential cuts. House Republicans and Senate Democrats say committees will use the targets as they prepare agency budgets and at some point will reconcile the differences.
Senate Democrats Pass Measure To Abolish Medicaid Privatization Plan
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Democratic-controlled Senate has passed legislation that would dismantle plans to switch Iowa's $4.2 billion Medicaid program into private management, though the bill isn't expected to advance in the divided Legislature.
The chamber voted 29-19 Thursday for the bill, which would terminate Iowa's contracts with three private companies.
The bill was introduced amid growing tension in the Legislature over the future of Iowa's Medicaid program, which provides health care to roughly 560,000 low-income and disabled residents. Senate Democrats recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama and other federal officials asking them to end the privatization move, set to take effect March 1.
Although three Republican senators voted for the bill, the GOP-majority House isn't expected to take up the measure, which has also been criticized by Gov. Terry Branstad.
Sioux City Magistrate Selected For Federal Judge
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A U.S. magistrate from Sioux City has been approved to serve as a judge on one of Iowa's federal courts.
Sen. Chuck Grassley announced Thursday that the U.S. Senate unanimously approved the nomination of Leonard Strand, of Sioux City, to serve as a U.S. district judge for the Northern District of Iowa.
President Barrack Obama nominated Strand in June to replace U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett. The nomination will go back to Obama for final approval.
Strand graduated from the University of Iowa law school in 1990 and had a private practice before becoming a magistrate in 2012.
The Senate also confirmed Rebecca Ebinger's nomination as a U.S. District judge for the Southern District of Iowa on Tuesday.
Man Impersonating Police Officer Get Seven Years In Prison
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - A Sioux City man accused of impersonating a police officer and enticing young girls and inappropriately touching them has been sentenced to seven years in prison.
31-year-old Joey Alberts pleaded guilty Wednesday to enticing away a minor, indecent contact with a child and three counts of impersonating a public official.
According to court documents, Alberts was arrested in March 2014 after authorities say he approached girls in 2012 and 2013, telling them he was a police officer. Alberts was accused of inappropriately touching two 13-year-old girls on separate occasions, and trying to lure a 12-year-old and 13-year-old girl into his car in separate incidents.
Alberts must register as a sex offender upon release from prison.
April Trial Set For Council Bluffs Woman Accused Of Stealing From Wal-mart
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - An April trial has been scheduled for a Council Bluffs woman accused of conspiring to steal from a Wal-Mart store.
Jeri Atilano pleaded not guilty Tuesday to theft, conspiracy and ongoing criminal conduct. Her trial is set to begin April 5.
Prosecutors say Atilano worked with a Wal-Mart cashier, Keisha Kephart, in buying items that Kephart would mark down for Atilano. Kephart also would take coupons that were for other items. The bogus transactions cost Wal-Mart more than $4,000.
Kephart pleaded guilty Monday after making a deal with prosecutors that includes her agreement to testify against Atilano. Kephart was sentenced to two years of probation.