City Officials Discuss RAGBRAI During Council Meeting
(Le Mars) — RAGBRAI, the bicycle ride across Iowa, was the main focal point during discussion of the Le Mars City Council meeting held Tuesday. At issue, is whether Le Mars should proceed with plans to host the opening night of the cross-state bicycle ride, or if there are enough concerns with the COVID-19 virus that Le Mars should pass on the opportunity. Storm Lake has already indicated to RAGBRAI officials they intend to pull out from hosting the cross-state bicycle ride. If RAGBRAI should resume its ride this summer, Sac City may be the overnight community in place of Storm Lake. City Administrator Jason Vacura says RAGBRAI officials have established March 15th
as the deadline to decide whether to proceed with the ride, or to postpone the ride again until the summer of 2022. In addition to Storm Lake, the town of Maquoketa, Iowa has also announced its intentions to no longer host the annual bike ride. The general sentiment among city council members is they would like to see RAGBRAI come to Le Mars, as it would help our community.
However, many council members are concerned about the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus. City council member Clark Goodchild expressed his opinion.
Goodchild says RAGBRAI is a great event and it would be great for the community of Le Mars, but Goodchild isn’t convinced the city should host the event this year. City administrator Jason Vacura says RAGBRAI officials and other host towns are excited and optimistic, that a ride will be able to resume this summer.
Vacura says he asked the question of RAGBRAI officials during a recent virtual zoom meeting if other towns have shown any reluctance to hosting the bike ride? Vacura told city council members that according to RAGBRAI officials, no other town has indicated they would like to pass on hosting the event.
Brad Pick, a member of the Le Mars RAGBRAI Executive committee appeared before the city council. He says this year, RAGBRAI will not be asking people living in the host communities to open their homes to house participants. Le Mars Fire Chief Dave Schipper also addressed the city council since he serves as an advisor for Le Mars event. He says the city may need to think about the additional costs beyond what was originally placed in the budget. Schipper says as an example, if social distancing
requirements are still in place during RAGBRAI, the city may need to find open spaces to accommodate the 20,000 plus expected riders. Schipper says in stead of just the fair grounds to hold everyone, we may need to find ten different locations to accommodate 2,000 people. Councilman Rex Knapp directed City Administrator Jason Vacura to contact other overnight host communities to inquire if they have any concerns about the spread of COVID-19? RAGBRAI is scheduled to take place between July 25th through July 31st, with Le Mars serving as the first overnight location scheduled for Saturday, July 24th.
Feenstra Lone Member of Iowa Delegation Not Attending Inauguration
(Washington, DC) — All but one member of Iowa’s congressional delegation are attending today’s (Wednesday 11a-m) inauguration. Republican Congressman Randy Feenstra of Hull is still in Iowa holding meetings. Iowa’s lone Democrat – Congresswoman Cindy Axne – tweeted that the inauguration is the start of working “to unify, heal and build our country back better than ever before.” G-O-P Congresswoman Ashley Hinson of Marion posted a statement saying she’s among the thousands of Iowans who voted for Trump, but “in a democracy you don’t always get the result you want” and it’s time to move on. Fellow freshman Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa described as her “sincere willingness” to work together with Biden on Covid relief, infrastructure and rebuilding the economy. Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst did not issue statements but are both attending.
USDA Under Secretary Northey Returning to Iowa
(Des Moines, IA) — An Iowan who served nearly three years in the Trump Administration is heading home. Bill Northey resigned as Iowa agriculture secretary in March of 2018 to become under secretary for farm production and conservation in the U-S Department of Agriculture. Northey said, “it’ll be different waking up now every day not thinking about all the things we need to do at U-S-D-A.” Northey helped draft the agency’s rules for implementing the 2018 Farm Bill and he helped set up the payments to farmers impacted by trade disputes and the pandemic. As the former state ag secretary exits the U-S-D-A, a former Iowa governor is returning. Tom Vilsack served as President Obama’s secretary of agriculture for eight years and will hold that position in the Biden Administration. 61-year-old Northey says he’s not ready to retire.
Eric Branstad Key Backer of One of Trump’s Pardons
(Des Moines, IA) — Eric Branstad, who led President Trump’s campaigns in Iowa, is a key supporter of one of the pardons President Trump has granted. President Trump pardoned Elliott Broidy, a former top Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws for clients in China and Malaysia. Eric Branstad’s name is among 21 listed by the White House as supporting Broidy’s pardon. Broidy was a fundraiser for Trump’s 2016 campaign. Branstad managed Trump’s Iowa campaign in 2016 and worked in Minnesota and Wisconsin as well. Prosecutors say Broidy received millions of dollars to try to end the investigation into embezzlement in Malaysia. He would have faced up to five years in prison.
3rd Victim Dies From Injuries Suffered in Bettendorf House Fire
(Bettendorf, IA) — Police in Bettendorf report a third person did not survive injuries suffered in a house fire last Thursday. Officers confirmed Tuesday that 63-year-old Mary Wickman died over the weekend. She had been hospitalized in critical condition. Investigators say 66-year-old Robert Wickham and five-year-old Taylor Treanton died of smoke inhalation late last week. Eighteen-year-old Jodd Wickham was treated and released for minor injuries. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.