Tuesday Afternoon News, February 24
Backpack Program Receives Donation From Alceco
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Backpack program was given a financial boost as a local farmer's cooperative has donated $2000 for the program. The money will be used to purchase food items to be distributed to more than 400 children from various schools and day care facilities. Alceco of Albert City along with the Land O'Lakes Foundation made the grant possible. Brenda Nohava, who started the program, says the food distribution program has been ongoing for five years. She says the participation numbers keep growing. There is no cost for a child to participate in the program. Nohava says "this is a needed program in the community, and the funding will help purchase the food we need to fill the backpacks." Alceco's Board Secretary and Treasurer, Dixon Van Meeteren presented the $2,000 check. He says "Alceco strongly believes in supporting communities where our members live and work. He says Alceco wants to help feed the hungry, as it is something our farmer members do everyday in their operations. Each week volunteers help by placing food items in backpacks so the children will be assured of having a nutritious meal during the weekend.
Floyd Valley Hospital The Focus For "Lunch And Learn" Session
(Le Mars) -- Floyd Valley Hospital was the focus during Monday's Lunch and Learn session. The gathering of nearly 35 community and business leaders were able to gain some insight regarding services offered at Floyd Valley Hospital. Hospital administrator Mike Donlin says Floyd Valley is the only hospital within the region to conduct stem-cell research.
Another area in which Floyd Valley Hospital is making medical advancements involves orthropedics.
Still, another area that Donlin is proud to share with others is the physical therapy center's work with Parkinson's patients.
The hospital administrator also informed the group of the good work being done with the home health care services.
During Donlin's address he updated the group on the latest trends occuring at Floyd Valley, as well as offered a construction update relating to the new north addition. Donlin also reminded the "Lunch and Learn" attendees that Floyd Valley serves as a major employer within the community by having a staff of 350 people and a $50 million business.
Sioux City Officials Allow Home Owner 5 Months To Make Repairs
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) - Sioux City officials have granted the new owner of a historic mansion five more months to at least make significant progress on renovations.
Salvador Carrasco signed an agreement with the city on Monday that also says that if he doesn't make the required improvements, the city will raze the house and bill him the expected $70,000 or more in demolition costs. Carrasco acquired the mansion from James Gengler.
The 125-year-old building in Sioux City's Rose Hill Historic District was flagged by the city in August 2013 for severe rot and other structural issues.
Senate Approves 10 Cent Per Gallon Fuel Tax
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Senate has approved a 10-cent increase to the state fuel tax to help pay for road improvements.
The Senate voted 28-21 in favor of the bill Tuesday, with Democrats and Republicans supporting the bill. It now moves to the Iowa House, where it is also expected to pass. The plan would provide over $200 million annually for Iowa's network of bridges and roads, many of which are in disrepair.
For years, the Legislature has considered raising the tax, which has not been changed since 1989. But until this year, lawmakers never took any action, despite heavy lobbying by groups representing farmers and trucking companies.
This session, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad voiced his backing for increased infrastructure funding, sparking a more serious conversation.
Senate Looking At Electronic Voter Registration
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Iowa senators are reviewing legislation that would expand an effort to offer online voter registration in the state.
A Senate subcommittee discussed the proposal Tuesday. Iowa does not currently offer online registration, but the secretary of state is working on a system that will offer the service to anyone with a valid driver's license or state issued identification.
The proposed legislation would also offer online registration to those without those forms of ID. The bill did not immediately receive subcommittee approval, but Democratic Sen. Jeff Danielson says he hopes it will move forward.
Deputy Secretary of State Carol Olson says the office would prefer to get the first system up before starting such an initiative but that the office would work with the Legislature.
Creston Family Leaves Large Estate To Catholic Parish
CRESTON, Iowa (AP) - A family's estate has donated more than $3 million to a Catholic parish and school in Creston after the last of nine siblings died and their farmland was sold.
After Irene Pesik died in September 2012 at age 93, the 440 acres her family had owned was put up for sale. It sold for just over $3 million in January.
The money was split between Holy Spirit Parish and the St. Malachy Foundation, which funds the St. Malachy School.
A committee that represents the parish and foundation agreed to invest the money with a goal of only spending the interest.
None of the nine Pesik siblings married or had children.
Plaques to honor the family will be installed at the parish and school.
Air Service Returns To Fort Dodge Airport
FORT DODGE, Iowa (AP) - Commercial airline service has returned to Fort Dodge for the first time in more than a year.
Air Choice One began service Monday from the Fort Dodge Regional Airport to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport in Missouri and Chicago O'Hare International Airport in Illinois.
The restoration of commercial airline service to Fort Dodge comes about a year after Great Lakes Airlines halted operations at the local airport due to a lack of pilots.
Rhonda Chambers, director of aviation at the Fort Dodge airport, says Monday's flights are the result of year-long efforts to secure a new airline.
Erik Straka is the first passenger to depart from Fort Dodge, and he says the option to fly out of the city's regional airport was convenient.
Mental Hospital Fires Some Staff Members
MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa (AP) - A mental hospital that Gov. Terry Branstad wants to close has fired three workers and made changes after a patient's attempted suicide revealed major safety gaps.
Administrators at the Mental Health Institute in Mount Pleasant say three workers walked past a psychiatric patient who'd tied a bedsheet around his neck to a bathroom doorknob Oct. 19. They say all three should have stopped immediately to help the patient, who had a history of assaulting employees.
But the workers dispute that the patient, who ultimately wasn't harmed, was in immediate danger or that they did anything wrong. They say they weren't given training on responding to suicide attempts.
An investigation by the Department of Inspections and Appeals concluded that "systemic failures and deficient practices" led to an unsafe environment for patents.