Thursday News, January 22
Le Mars New Housing Drops Slightly
(Le Mars) -- New housing for Le Mars has remained fairly steady during the last few years, that according to City Code Enforcement officer, Jason Vacera. Vacera appeared before the Le Mars City Council on Tuesday to deliver the code enforcement and building annual report. He says Le Mars saw 21 new homes being built in 2014, which compares to the 23 new homes that were constructed in 2013. Construction value of the 21 homes amounts to $5,420,600. Commercial construction was higher in 2014 than in 2013 with four new buildings compared to just two in 2013. Vacera reports there were a total of 356 nuisance notices issued in 2014, up from 171 reported in the previous year. The city had 64 nuisance abatements which more than doubled from the 31 reported in 2013, 49 were a result of mowing infractions, and 15 for snow removal. The city performed 105 building inspections and had 27 urban revitalization tax exemptions.
Reservations For Chamber Banquet Due By Monday
(Le Mars) -- The Le Mars Chamber of Commerce wants to remind you to make your reservations for the annual dinner and awards program. The annual dinner will take place on Saturday, January 31st at the uper level of the Le Mars Convention Center beginning with social hour at 6:00 p.m. with the dinner to follow at 7:00 p.m. The evening will have hilarious skits, musical entertainment, and the presentation and recognition of community awards. Reservations need to be made by Monday, January 26th. Tickets are $45 each.
Sioux City Police Apprehend Wanted Subject
(Sioux City) -- Sioux City police officers were wanting to locate a wanted party, proceeded to the 1800 block of West 6th Street on Wednesday. Upon arriving, officers made contact with individuals at the residence to determine if the suspect was present. While speaking to occupants, a male subject fled out the rear of the residence where he encountered officers. He then went back into the residence, and announced to officers that he was suicidal and wanted officers to leave. Crisis negotiators at the scene negotiated with the subject who was barricaded on the second floor. Officers made multiple attempts to get the subject to volunatry surrender with no success. Officers then fired a sponge round through and upstairs window as a distraction and moved to take the subject into custody. Officers located the subject in a second floor room and took him into custody without incident. The 30 year old male was not injured during his contact with officers, but he had ingested an unknown substance. He was transported by ambulance to a local hospital for treatment. Criminal charges against the individual are pending.
Governor Branstad Addresses State's Mental Health Issues
(Des Moines) -- Governor Terry Branstad says the state will look to other facilities to provide care if his proposal to close the state-run Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant moves forward. The governor's budget sent to legislators does not include any money to keep the institutions open past June 30.
The governor says they want to use facilities that have the proper staffing to help patients.
The idea is not favored by everyone, including Representative Dave Heaton, a Republican from Mount Pleasant. Heaton is chairman of the subcommittee that writes the budget for the Iowa Department of Human Services, the agency in charge of the Mental Health Institutes, and he’s arranged for the agency’s director to go to Mount Pleasant Saturday (January 24th) to explain the proposed closure to the community. Five years ago a consulting firm hired by then-Governor Chet Culver recommended that the Mental Health Institutes in Clarinda and Mount Pleasant close, but Heaton and others worked to keep the institutions open. The Mental Health Institutes are routinely the treatment option of last resort for acute care of mentally ill patients. The governor’s budget indicates the state will save 15-and-a-half million dollars by closing the two facilities. The M-H-I at Clarinda opened in 1888 while the Mount Pleasant facility opened the year the Civil War broke out, in 1861.
Iowa Department Of Education Tells Schools To Justify Early Starts
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The Iowa Department of Education says school districts seeking permission to start classes earlier in the summer must prove that academic achievement is at risk.
The department sent the new guidelines to school districts. The guidelines say districts must show students would be affected in a "negative and significant manner" if classes start during the week of Sept. 1. Districts must provide research backing up the claim.
Last month, department Director Brad Buck told districts the state would stop granting automatic waivers to school districts seeking to start classes earlier in the summer.
State law requires districts to start school no earlier than the calendar week including Sept. 1 but in the past, most have obtained waivers allowing them to begin classes earlier.
Legislators Disagree Over Education Funding Levels
(Des Moines) -- Republicans and school groups are staking out widely different positions over how much state aid should be forwarded to Iowa's public school districts. Governor Terry Branstad and many of his fellow Republicans favor a one-and-a-quarter percent increase for the next academic year, while all the state's major school groups are seeking a six percent hike. Representative Cecil Dolecheck (DOHL-uh-check), a Republican from Mount Ayr, scoffs at that.
A bill that would provide the one-and-a-quarter percent increase in general state aid to schools cleared the House Education Committee with just the votes of Republicans. Dolecheck says that level of spending is more than what many House Republicans really wanted. Margaret Buckton lobbies for the Urban Education Network AND the Rural School Association of Iowa. She says state funding for schools has lagged behind actual costs for several years.
Brad Hudson of the Iowa State Education Association says the one-and-a-quarter percent hike that Republicans propose won't even cover teacher salaries, which are expected to go up an average of three percent.
But Republicans like Representative Ron Jorgenson of Sioux City say the increase in general state aid to schools that Republicans propose is in line with state budget reality.
Jorgensen, who is chairman of the House Education Committee, is a former school board member. Senate Democrats have been critical of the level of state aid for schools Republicans propose, but they have yet to offer their own target level for school spending.