City Officials Discuss RAGBRAI During City 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 instead 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 visit with other host community officials to see if they too have any reluctance in hosting this year’s RAGBRAI event. RAGBRAI is scheduled for July 25th through July 31st, with Le Mars serving as the host on Saturday, July 24th.
Year-end Statistics Show Plymouth County Had Nine Traffic Fatalities in 2020
(Le Mars) — 2020 was a deadly year in terms of fatal accidents that occurred within Plymouth County. According to Plymouth County Chief Deputy Rick Singer with the Sheriff’s Office, he says Plymouth County had nine different fatalities as a result of vehicle accidents.
Although there were fewer accidents reported in 2020 than in 2019, Sheriff’s Deputy Matt Struve says the trend generally shows an increase of traffic accidents within the county during the last few years. Struve serves as the traffic incident investigator for the sheriff’s office.
Struve says with each of the nine fatality accidents within Plymouth County last year, there were some common factors with those accidents.
With regards to the stop signs, Chief Deputy Singer says too many times, motorists would either ignore the stop signs, or if they did stop, they chose to pull out in front of traffic.
We will hear additional comments from Chief Deputy Rick Singer and Deputy Matt Struve, and learn of additional efforts that will occur to encourage people not to speed on the roads and highways that pass through Plymouth County.
Shriner’s Circus Is Cancelled, Again
(Sioux City) — For the second year in a row, the Abu Bekr Shrine Temple has cancelled their annual Shrine Circus. Shrine spokesman David Krogh says the ongoing pandemic is again the reason.
Krogh says it is very disappointing to have to cancel the well-known event for a second year.
He says the local temple is planning on hosting Shriners from around the Midwest this summer in Sioux City.
Krogh says the Iowa Shrine Temples still hope to hold the Shrine Bowl High School All-Star football game this summer at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. That game was cancelled last year because of COVID-19.
Iowa Politicians React to Inauguration of President Biden
(Washington, DC) – – Lawmakers from Iowa are reacting to the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. U-S Senator Chuck Grassley was standing near the podium wearing a mask and hat during Wednesday ceremony. The Iowa Republican tweeted, “Every day I set out to
lead by example. I’m focused on helping President-elect Biden bring our country together, getting us through this pandemic and on the road to economic recovery.” Senator Joni Ernst said, “as an eternal optimist, I am hopeful we can work together with President Biden and the first female Vice President Kamala Harris in a bipartisan way to deliver for the American people.” G-O-P Congresswoman Ashely Hinson said in a statement, “I stand
ready to find common ground with the Biden Administration where possible so that we can help Iowans & Americans.”
US Senator Grassley Urges Americans To Respect The New Commander-In-Chief
(Washington, DC) — U-S Senator Chuck Grassley says Americans should respect the country’s constitutional system – and it’s new command-in-chief.
The Iowa Republican says he knows many Americans aren’t happy with the election results, just like four years ago. Grassley says as a responsible senator he has to engage with the administrator who is in office. He says he will seek to find common ground with President Biden wherever possible, but
he will oppose policies he thinks are not good for Iowa or all Americans.
Grassley is no longer third-in-line to the presidency. A Democrat has replaced him as president pro tem of the Senate after that party became the working majority.
1335 New COVID Cases in Iowa, 62 Additional Deaths
(Des Moines, IA) — The Iowa Department of Public Health is reporting one-thousand-335 new positive COVID tests today (Wednesday), increasing the state’s total to 307-thousand-568 cases. Sixty-two more Iowans have died of coronavirus complications which brings the death toll to four-thousand-394.
The 474 people hospitalized with COVID-19 is down 26 from Tuesday. Eighty-six of those patients are in intensive care and 36 are on ventilators. There are COVID outbreaks at 71 long-term care facilities in Iowa. Fourteen counties have a 14-day average positivity rate of at least 15 percent. More than 41-hundred people were tested between Tuesday and Wednesday.
Trump’s EPA Grants More RFS Waivers in Final Hours
(Washington, DC) — On the last night of the Trump Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency granted three waivers to oil refiners, exempting them from the obligation to blend corn-based ethanol into fuel.
Leaders in the biofuels industry say the last minute waivers flout federal law and recent court rulings. Two of the waivers are for ethanol blending requirements in 2019 and one is for 2018. The Reuters wire service is reporting 45 waiver applications are still on file for review by the Biden Administration. The president of the Renewable Fuels Association says the industry is hopeful that Biden’s E-P-A will clarify that “this nonsense with giving out these small refinery exemptions is done.”
Iowa House Working On Bill To Let Students Transfer Out Of 5 School Districts
(Des Moines, IA) –– Legislation being considered in the Iowa House that would let all students transfer out of five school districts where diversity plans currently limit open enrollment to other districts. As it stands now, administrators in Des Moines, Davenport, Waterloo, Postville, and West Liberty schools can limit the number of transfers to maintain a student body
with diverse, economic, and racial backgrounds. Governor Kim Reynolds has said she wants the open enrollment limit in those five districts lifted. The proposal has made it through a subcommittee and is eligible for debate in the House Education Committee.
Former Iowa Sports Radio Host Sentenced to Federal Prison
(Des Moines, IA) – – A former Iowa sports talk show host will spend more than three years in prison for his involvement in ticket scams. A U-S District Court judge sentenced 60-year-old Marty Tirrell of West Des Moines to 41 months in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to mail fraud.
Evidence at his sentencing hearing showed Tirrell for some ten years marketed himself as a sports insider who got investors to pay for the tickets that he would resell at a higher price. He promised to pay investors — but used the money for his personal use — and when he was unable to find new investors,
he kited checks, stole credit cards, and made fraudulent claims to banks to try to obtain more money to perpetuate his scheme. Tirrell was also ordered to pay one-point-four million dollars in restitution.
Iowa Hunters, Anglers Buying Licenses In Impressive Numbers
(Des Moines, IA) — Iowa hunters and anglers are buying licenses in impressive numbers – setting a new record in at least one case. D-N-R Conservation and Recreation administrator Pete Hildreth says the 440-thousand fishing licenses sold represent a new record for the state and are 82-thousand more than last year. Hildreth says the state saw an increase of more than 10-thousand hunting licenses. That’s a jump of about 20-percent.
Outdoorsmen buying trout licenses also set a record, beating the old mark by more than 65-hundred.