Home News Thursday News, February 11th

Thursday News, February 11th


Law Enforcement Agencies Crack Down On Speeders On Plymouth County Roads And Highways

(Le Mars) — Area law enforcement agencies stepped up their patrol efforts on Friday, January 29th, and concentrated on Plymouth County. The purpose for the enhanced presence of law enforcement was to utilize a grant from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau and to crack down on the high number of
speeders, and hopefully reduce the number of serious and fatal traffic accidents within Plymouth County. In 2020, Plymouth County had nine fatalities from accidents, three of those occurred during November alone.
Authorities say the number of fatal accidents in Plymouth County last year was double the normal average for fatal traffic accidents within Plymouth County. Iowa State Patrol Trooper John Farley says the enhanced patrol proved to be successful.

Farley says the total number of citations from that one day may seem startling.

The Iowa State Patrol trooper says the intent wasn’t just to issue citations, but to educate motorists about the dangers of speeding, distracted driving, and intoxicated driving. He says the various law enforcement officials also gave several warnings to motorists.

Farley says from time to time, law enforcement officials will continue to focus their attention on Plymouth County until such time, speeding citations are reduced, and tragic accidents, including fatalities are also reduced.




Corn Growers Show Their Appreciation To Long-term Care Health Staff

(Le Mars) — Iowa Corn Growers are appreciative of the efforts by nursing staff at long-term care facilities, and as a way to show their gratitude, the commodity organization are delivering pizzas to each of the nursing care facilities within northwest Iowa. Lowell Appleton serves as the Corn Growers
Association’s District Field Manager and says all this week with the cooperation of Pizza Ranch and Chesterman Bottling Company, each member of the staff at our long-term care facilities will receive a pizza and soda.

According to Appleton, this marks the second time the Iowa Corn Growers have expressed their appreciation to Iowa’s health care professionals. Last year, the corn growers sent pizzas to the state’s hospitals for all the doctors and nurses.

Appleton explains why the Iowa Corn Growers Association has taken this action.

The Iowa Corn Growers official says pizzas will be distributed to 43 nursing care facilities located within northwest Iowa.




Reynolds Says COVID-19 Cases Are Declining In Iowa

(Des Moines) — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds defended her recent actions to lift many of the restrictions that were in place since November as a result of the emergency proclamation due to the COVID-19 virus. During her news conference held Wednesday morning, Reynolds informed the media she has said
all along during the pandemic, she would reduce the restrictions, including wearing a mask or face-covering, and allowing restaurants and bars to allow more patrons inside their establishments, when conditions have improved.
Reynolds says the number of cases of COVID-19 within the state have declined.

Reynolds acknowledged the pandemic is not over, but she says Iowans have proven that we can manage it while living our lives responsibly and normally.
The governor says it was never her intent to have the mitigation efforts become a permanent fixture.

Reynolds says prior to November their wasn’t a mask mandate, although many Iowans chose to wear a mask. She says she is confident that many Iowans will continue to do wear a mask or face covering even though the restrictions have been reduced. Reynolds also addressed the problem of having a low supply of
vaccines for the state. She says the issue should be resolved within the coming weeks. The governor says Hy-Vee and Medcap pharmacies will also begin giving vaccines in the coming weeks, which also should help reduce the long waits for a COVID-19 vaccine.




Reynolds Say State’s Efforts Against COVID Continue to Strengthen

(Des Moines, IA) — Governor Kim Reynolds claims the state’s efforts to fight the coronavirus continue to strengthen. The governor says some 90-thousand doses of the COVID vaccine were give statewide in the past week and fewer people need critical care. Reynolds said Tuesday there were 292 Iowans
hospitalized due to COVID-19, and “that is an 80 percent decrease since our all-time high in mid-November.” She says it’s the first time since September that hospitalizations have dropped below 300. The governor also noted that long-term care outbreaks in Iowa have dropped to 33 from a high of 166. Just
over a thousand new cases and 29 COVID deaths were reported Wednesday.




COVID Vaccine Scheduling Website Opens in 2 Weeks

(Des Moines, IA) — Microsoft is developing a website for Iowans to schedule COVID vaccinations and it should be up and running in two weeks.
Governor Kim Reynolds told reporters the biggest problem has been the amount of vaccine that state receives. Reynolds said, ” I don’t care what kind of system you had in place. That’s just not enough vaccines to really do what we needed to do.” The governor described the central website for scheduling Covid shots as a “front door” for Iowans. A call center for Iowans who don’t use the internet is still under development. State officials are evaluating which counties are not able to dispense at least 80 percent of their weekly allocation of vaccine doses. Starting next week, any county that cannot meet that threshold will see their share of doses sent to another county.




Iowa Senate Bill Would Protect Financial Advisors Reporting Exploitation

(Des Moines, IA) — State lawmakers are crafting legislation to address the exploitation of adults who can’t take care of their own financial affairs due to their age or a disability. Chance McElhaney of the Iowa Insurance Division told a Senate subcommittee, “financial exploitation of adults has grown more sophisticated.” The bill is patterned after laws in 27 other
states. McElhaney said”at the heart of the bill, it allows a broker-dealer or an investment advisor, when they see something, to be able to say something.” A recent national study of elder abuse reports involving family members found 62 percent of the cases were about alleged financial abuse of an elderly relative. If the Iowa bill becomes law, financial advisors would be shielded from lawsuits for reporting concerns about relatives or guardians
to state officials.




Iowa House Passes Childcare Support Legislation

(Des Moines, IA) — A series of bills that provide state grants and tax grants in hopes of boosting access to child care have passed in the Iowa House. One bill would set up a tax credit for businesses that provide child care benefits for employees. Representative Jane Bloomingdale of Northwood says it address two of the state’s major problems — a shortage of workers
and a lack of child care options for parents who want to work. Another bill that passed the House would significantly raise the income threshold for the state’s child care assistance program. About 25-thousand Iowa children who live in low-income households with parents who work or go to school are
covered by the program.




Senate Bill Sets New Bathroom Policy For Transgender Students

(Des Moines, IA) — Transgender students in Iowa schools would need to use bathrooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificate under a bill that cleared a Senate committee. Republican Senator Jim Carlin of Sioux City says “the concern is not so much with transgender individuals …but that sexual predators would exploit such laws for posing as transgender in order to gain access to women and girls.”

A lobbyist for Iowa school boards says the policy would put schools in the impossible position of violating Iowa’s Civil Rights Act and federal guidelines — and set the state up for lengthy litigation. Keenan Crow of One Iowa said, “transgender students in Iowa have been able to use restrooms that match their gender identity since 2007 and over that 14 year period we haven’t seen any uptick in school restroom safety incidents.”




Cedar Rapids Has Plan To Replace Trees Lost In Derecho

(Cedar Rapids, IA) — The city of Cedar Rapids is moving forward with a plan to spend 500-thousand dollars to replace the trees destroyed six months ago in the derecho that tore across the city. Some 70 percent of public trees were lost in the wake of the storm. The city is partnering with the local nonprofit Trees Forever to draft a reforestation plan to guide replanting efforts for the next decade or more. Trees Forever spokesperson
Shannon Ramsay says the plan will engage neighbors, neighborhoods, and volunteers. Some replanting has already begun. In the coming months, the city will hold public meetings and recruit volunteer “treekeepers” to help develop and implement the plan.




Driver’s License Rules Updated in Iowa

(Ames, IA) — The state Transportation Commission has adopted some new driver’s license rules that were approved by the Iowa Legislature in 2020.
D-O-T Motor Vehicle Division director Melissa Gillett says one of the changes will allow drivers who are 72 to get an eight-year license that will be good up until they hit the age of 80. Gillett says a driver’s license with a two-year expiration date will be issued beginning at age 78 and beyond. They also updated the rules to allow teenagers upgrading from an intermediate
license to do so online.




Creston Man Convicted in Death of Man Found Lying on Madison County Road

(Winterset, IA)  —  A Madison County jury is convicting a Creston man for the death of a man found lying in a rural roadway last summer.  Prosecutors say 42-year-old Gerald Parker was found guilty of first-degree robbery and the first-degree murder of 39-year-old Jonathan Hoffman.  A delivery driver found Hoffman face down at an intersection July 21st.  The medical examiner determined that he died of multiple gunshot wounds.  The trial was held on the Madison County Fairgrounds due to COVID-19.  No word on a date for Parker’s sentencing hearing.




Feenstra Offers Amendments To Agriculture Budget Bill

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee held a markup on the Democrats’ proposed $16.112 billion ag reconciliation bill.

In an effort to improve the bill, Rep. Randy Feenstra (IA-04) introduced amendments that were considered during today’s hearing — including one to authorize the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) to include those in need of assistance from last summer’s massive derecho storm,
which exacerbated the challenges Iowa farmers are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a big win for Iowa farmers, the House Agriculture Committee adopted Rep. Feenstra’s amendment.

“I promised to deliver results and fight for Iowa farmers, main street businesses, and hard working families, and that’s exactly what I’m doing,” said Rep. Feenstra. “My amendment will provide much-needed and timely relief for hardworking farmers affected by last summer’s derecho. I’m proud the House Agriculture Committee passed my amendment, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on this committee moving forward to deliver more results for our agriculture community.”


Rep. Feenstra’s amendment would add a provision to make assistance available to producers who suffered disaster losses in 2020 — including losses due to high winds and the derecho that devastated a large swath of Iowa. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated damages from the
derecho to be $7.5 billion, which is a larger cost than nine of last year’s 10 hurricanes and tropical storms that made landfall. The provision would provide payments to producers who suffered damages as a result of the derecho through the USDA’s Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program (WHIP). Despite arguments made by the majority, this amendment would not impact the overall budgetary impacts of this legislation; it would simply redirect some of the $4 billion in funding allocated in the relevant section towards this needed purpose.