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Wednesday News, January 7

City To Get New Welcome Banners

(Le Mars) -- Le Mars City Convention and Visitors Bureau director, Jessica Brownmiller appeared before the city council on Tuesday to formally request the council to approve the purchase of new "welcome banners" to be placed on city street lamps.  Brownmiller informed the council that a total of 48 new banners would be needed.  She says the existing banners have been on display for more than ten years and are showing their age by being torn and faded.  Each new banner would be made of vinyl material at a cost of $120.74 each with a total investment of $5,795.52.  The city council approved to fund the project with funds to be used from the hotel-motel tax.  Assistant city administrator Bill Cole indicated to the city council the hotel-motel tax revenues has more than $60,000 in the account.

 

Airport Annual Report Submitted For Council Review

(Le Mars) -- City Airport Manager, Earl Draayer submitted the annual airport report to the Le Mars City Council during their meeting at the city hall council chambers.  Draayer indicated the airport had seen an increase amount of business flights during the past year.  He told the city council, the Le Mars airport is an effective part of the transportation system for the city, and county.  He says the Le Mars Airport needs to remain competitive with other cities and counties for new and expansion business opportunities.  Draayer reviewed the airport's five-year plan which includes a ramp expansion to improve the air agricultural services and to improve the ability of the airport to service large corporate aircraft.  Draayer proposed the runway turn-a-rounds and parallel taxiways to fully utilize the displaced thresholds currently in place.  Draayer also advocated the city consider lengthening the runway to 5,000 feet to be able to fit into the Insurance industry standards for medium size corporate aircraft, thus allowing local industry expansion capability and transient fractional jet operation to operate in and out the municipal airport.  Other goals Draayer has established for the airport is to install security fencing, remodel the current airport terminal, and to purchase land to insure the instrument approach safe zones remain clear of obtacles and trees.

 

Langel Would Like To Streamline City Staff

(Le Mars) -- City Administrator Scott Langel submitted a plan for the council to review that would make the city staff more efficient.  Langel informed the city council that many of the city's staff are approaching retirement.  He wants to determine the city's needs for skilled and certified staff, as well as, for the un-skilled staff.  Langel suggested to the council that in the future many of the jobs could be out-sourced.  He wants to eliminat "scheduled" overtime when possible, evaluate equipment requirements for each city department.  Langel wants to review the efficiencies of full-time employees versus part-time employee status.  Langel indicated developing and maintaining a balanced budget is a necessity for the city.  He wants to prioritize between required functions and non-essential functions.  Langel says as the city grows geographically and fiscally, increasing pressure will be realized to balance opperations of each department with increasing staff or hiring the private sector to accomplish the tasks.

 

Kooiker Wins Special Election For Legislative Seat

(Orange City) -- A farmer has won Tuesday's special election in Sioux County for a seat in the Iowa House. Republican John Kooiker of Boyden is a neighbor of the late Dwayne Alons who easily won reelection to the House on November 4th, but died November 29th of cancer.

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Living close to South Dakota, which does not have an income tax, helps puts Kooiker in the column of Republicans who'd like to see the House try to reduce Iowa income taxes.

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Kooiker says he'll be "an advocate for family values" and has an understanding of the state's agriculture sector because of his stewardship of a 240 acre farm. Kooiker, a 68-year-old Army veteran, is a math and science teacher who decided to take over the family farm in 1975. He has been a substitute teacher in the area and is active in the Gideons organization. Kooiker got over 61 percent of the nearly 34-hundred votes cast in yesterday's special election. A write-in candidate got almost 25 percent of the vote and the Democratic nominee for the seat, John Buntsma of Orange City, got 13-and-a-half percent.

 

Des Moines Water Works Considering Suing Sac, Buena Vista, And Calhoun Counties

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - An official says Des Moines Water Works likely will sue three counties that manage drainage districts with high concentrations of nitrates. 
     Water Works officials say the nitrates flow into the Raccoon River and threaten the city's water quality. Water with concentrations above a certain threshold can be deadly to children younger than 6 months because nitrates can reduce the amount of oxygen carried in their blood. 
     Water Works board chairman Graham Gillette says the board will vote Thursday to move forward with the lawsuit.  
     The trustees' vote would trigger a notice to the boards of supervisors in Buena Vista, Calhoun and Sac counties, notifying them of Water Works' intention to sue.
     Experts say most of the nitrates come from fertilizer applied to farm fields.
     ---

 

Health Officials Investigate The Death Of 7 Year Old Boy Diagnosed With Influenza

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Public health officials are investigating the death of a 7-year-old Iowa boy who was diagnosed with influenza.
     The Iowa Department of Public Health says it's investigating three pediatric deaths that they believe resulted from flu-related complications.
     The family of 7-year-old Travon Epps says the boy was taken to Blank Children's Hospital on New Year's Day. He was diagnosed with the flu and later died.
     Officials say cases of the flu are spreading across Iowa. There have been confirmed cases in every region of the state.

 

Ernst Sworn Into Senate

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's newly sworn-in Sen. Joni Ernst says she is thrilled to be getting down to business.
     Ernst was officially sworn in Tuesday morning in Washington. The Republican from Red Oak was joined for the ceremony by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and former Sen. Tom Harkin, the Democrat whose retirement created an opening for Ernst.
     Ernst says she is excited to be working for Iowans and pledged to protect the state's farmers and push for government efficiency.
     Ernst scored a decisive victory in November, helping the GOP take control of the Senate. She started the race as a relatively unknown state senator but soared to national stardom, promoting her farm upbringing and role as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard.

 

Three Men Face Charges Of Illegal Game Hunting

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Three men face a total of more than 150 charges in connection with fish and game violations in Greene County.
     The state Department of Natural Resources says 20-year-old Hossein Kolbehrdari, of Ankeny, 21-year-old Maxwell McGlothlen, of Ankeny, and 22-year-old Rheise Presnall, of Polk City, face a variety of charges.
     Kolbehrdari's charges include unlawful possession of game birds or animals. McGlothlen's charges include not having a hunting license and possessing a rifle while deer hunting. Presnall is accused of illegal possession of a whitetail deer, among other charges.
     Officials in November conducted a search of a rental home where the men were staying. Each faces different fines. Court records do not list attorneys.
 

 

 

   

Tuesday News, January 6

Supervisors To Hear Budget Requests And Hear Sub-division Proposals

(Le Mars) -- Plymouth County Board of Supervisors are scheduled to meet today at the County Courthouse board room.  The county supervisors will hear from various organizations as they submit their budget requests.  Shelly Thompson of Life Skills will offer an update on the services provided by Life Skills. Cathy Van Mannen and Margaret Sanders will appeal to the county supervisors for a budget request for the Council on Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence.  Al Fagan is seeking approval on behalf of Plymouth Energy for an addition in Section 2 of Plymouth township.  Doug Becker will also appear before the supervisors seeking approval of Big Whiskey Minor subdivision in Lincoln township.  County engineer Tom Rohe will also appear before the supervisors.  The supervisors will begin working on the county's budget late morning and into the afternoon hours.

 

City Council To Review Urban Revitalization Tax Exemption Requests 

(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars City Council will convene at the city hall council chambers beginning at 12:00 noon today.  On the city council agenda will be discussion to designate an official newspaper for 2015.  The city council will delegate the assignments for the mayor, council, and the city staff for 2015.  The council will review the urban revitalization tax exemption requests.  Also on the council's agenda will be discussion of the downtown banners, and Cresent Ridge infrastructure, and a list of fees, charges and licenses for 2015.  The city council will hear a report from Steve Hanson of the city's Public Works Department, and an annual report from Earl Draayer regarding the city's airport.

 

County Secondary Road Department Tackles Heavy Snowfall

(Le Mars) -- Yesterday's snowfall dropped at least four inches of the white fluffy stuff on Plymouth County.  Now the task is to clear the roads as quickly as possible.  Tom Rohe serves as the county engineer and oversees more than 1300 miles of roads in Plymouth county.  He says his department was ready for the heavy snow.

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Rohe says, priority is first given to the 365 miles of paved roads.

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The county engineer says crews will be applying a combination of sand and liquid calcium-choride on the slick roadways.

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Rohe says under normal snow conditions, his crews can clean the entire county within a few hours.

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Two Men Fall Through Ice At Okoboji

OKOBOJI, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say two men were hospitalized after the snowmobiles they were riding in northwest Iowa fell through ice.
     Arnolds Park/Okoboji Fire and Rescue say they received a report Sunday afternoon of two snowmobiles that fell through ice on East Okoboji Lake.
     Responders found two men in the water. One man was clinging to the edge of ice, while the other man was holding on to a piece of floating ice.
     Both men were removed from the water. They were treated at the scene then taken to a hospital for minor injuries, though additional information is not available.

 

Christie To Attend Branstad Inauguration

 DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be in Iowa next week to attend Gov. Terry Branstad's inauguration.
     Branstad will be sworn in for a sixth non-consecutive term on Jan. 16. Branstad spokesman Tommy Schultz said Monday that Christie would be in attendance at the event, held at a convention center in downtown Des Moines.
     Christie is also attending inauguration events in Florida, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, South Carolina and Maryland.
     Christie is weighing a bid for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He made several visits to the early voting state of Iowa during the midterm election cycle. He attended Branstad's birthday fundraiser in October.

 

Jindahl To Visit Iowa

 BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is headed back to Iowa to meet with local pastors and again look for support among Christian evangelicals for a possible White House campaign. 
     The stated reason for Jindal's trip on Tuesday is to talk about his appearance later this month at a prayer rally expected to draw thousands of people to Baton Rouge, and to discuss ways to mount a similar event in Iowa. 
     But the private meetings also come as Jindal courts religious conservatives across the country ahead of the 2016 campaign. 
     The trip to first-to-vote Iowa will be his fifth since June, and in recent months, Jindal has also spoken to pastors in New Hampshire, at a gathering of faith leaders in Washington, and in Oklahoma at an event promoting a Bible museum.

 

Iowa Democrats To Focus On Businesses And Workers

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa's top Democratic lawmaker says he'll focus on ways to help Iowa businesses and workers in 2015, though he said increasing the state's minimum wage will be a challenge in the divided Legislature.
     Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, of Council Bluffs, said Monday that two priorities for Democrats will be strengthening the preference for Iowa companies seeking state contracts and ensuring that employers are not stealing wages from Iowa workers.
     Republican House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, of Hiawatha, said Republicans are open to proposals on these topics. He said the GOP wants to look at cutting income taxes.
     Gronstal said Democrats support raising the state minimum wage, currently $7.25 an hour. But he said they may not succeed in the Legislature, where Democrats control the Senate and Republicans the House.

 

Ernst To Take Oath Of Office

(Washington) -- Iowa's newest Senator, Joni Ernst, a republican from Red Oak, and Iowa's first woman elected to Congress will take the oath of office today during a capital hill ceremony. 

 

Harkin's Papers At Drake University

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - About 800 boxes filled with papers collected by now-retired U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin during his days in Congress are now at Drake University, where they will be made available to the public. 
     The university is storing the Harkin papers in its archives on its library's second floor. The Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/1tLi3wi ) reports the documents include legislative bills, reports and constituent letters. 
     The Democrat left the Senate this month after several decades in office. Republican Joni Ernst now holds the seat.
     Officials say organizing, cataloging and digitizing Harkin's papers will take several months.
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