Home News Thursday News, September 16th

Thursday News, September 16th


Le Mars Community Schools Decides To Take A “Wait And See” Position With Regards To Masks 

(Le Mars) — Several changes have occurred within the last few days regarding the use of masks and face coverings for schools.  It was last spring when the Iowa legislature passed a bill that stated masks would not be required for schools and other public places.  Governor Kim Reynolds then signed that bill and it became law.  Jump ahead to the last few days and weeks, where the number of COVID cases and its variants have been on the increase, especially with people who are not vaccinated against the virus.  On Monday, a federal court judge handed down the ruling to stop the implementation of the mask law.  Since that time, the Des Moines school district and Iowa City, and Cedar Rapids school districts have gone back to having a mask mandate for all students, faculty and staff.  What about the Le Mars Community School District?  During Monday evening’s monthly school board meeting, the topic of masks was not listed on the agenda, and the school board did not mention the issue, and there were no parents that attended the school board meeting asking about whether or not masks would again be required inside the Le Mars Community school system.  Dr. Steven Webner, the school superintendent for Le Mars Community, says recent actions have placed school officials in a difficult position.

Webner says Le Mars Community has been fortunate not to see a big surge of new positive COVID cases.

Webner says, he and school board officials, have heard parents express opinions that reflect both strong sides of the mask mandate issue.

The Le Mars Community School Superintendent says there have been some parents who have decided to home-school their children, or request on-line remote education, as a result of the COVID virus outbreak.

Webner says the situation is constantly changing, and he asks that parents be cooperative with school officials as they are constantly wrangling with the issue.




Iowa State Patrol Cracking Down On Excessive Speeders

(Spencer) — The Iowa State Patrol is concerned with the number of speeding motorists on Iowa highways, and they are stepping up their enforcement efforts today (Thursday) with what is being referred to as “Special Enforcement Thursday.”  According to Trooper Karey Yaneff with the Iowa State Patrol, the state law enforcement entity is deeply troubled by the drastic increase of motorists that are driving at excessive speeds, of well over 100 miles per hour.

Yaneff says already for 2021, there have been 236 fatalities on our roads and highways.  She says the Iowa State Patrol always sets a goal of fewer than 300 fatalities for a given year.  Yaneff was asked if the extra patrol units are making a difference with motorists driving style and habits?

Yaneff reminds motorists that any time you exceed the posted speed limits by 25 miles per hour or more, you will likely lose your driving privileges.

Yaneff says for whatever the reason, motorists are just not as patient as they need to be, and are not aware of their surroundings.  In addition to speeding, the Iowa State Patrol trooper says drivers are not coming to a complete stop at stop signs, and passing cars during a no passing zone.




Clay County Fair Officials Pleased With Attendance

(Spencer) — The Clay County Fair is halfway through its nine-day event, and officials say they are pleased with the attendance so far.  Jeremy Parsons serves as the CEO of the “World’s Greatest County Fair” and says he is pleased with what has occurred with this year’s fair.




State Lawmakers Get First Look At Proposed New Districts

(Des Moines, IA)  —  Members of the Iowa Legislature get their first peek at the new maps for the state’s four congressional districts and 150 legislative districts.  House Speaker Pat Grassley tells reporters it’s going to be stressful today (Thursday).  Lawmakers will gather at the Capitol to see where the new political boundaries are.  Redistricting was supposed to be worked on last spring, but the U-S Census Bureau didn’t release the needed information until August.  That’s when the Legislative Services Agency started its work.  The Census Bureau blames the COVID-19 pandemic for delays.  Iowa legislators must live in the district they represent, so some could find themselves needing to move or give up their seats.




US State Department:  Iowa Expected To Receive 400 Afghan Evacuees

(Washington, DC)  —  The U-S State Department is reporting that Iowa is expected to receive 400 Afghanistan evacuees from the first group arriving in the country.  Thirty-seven thousand evacuees are going to be resettled around the country.  They fled from their homes in Afghanistan when the U-S decided to withdraw its troops last month while ending the long war.  The Biden administration has reportedly asked Congress for funding to pay for the resettlement of 65 thousand Afghans by the end of September and 95 thousand by this month next year.




First Lady Calls For Approval Of Infrastructure Spending During Iowa Stop

(Des Moines, IA)  —  First Lady Jill Biden wants Congress to approve spending on infrastructure that goes beyond roads and bridges.  Biden made a Wednesday appearance at Des Moines Area Community College.  She said federal money is needed for child care, universal pre-K, and the childcare tax credit should be expanded.  Third District Congresswoman Cindy Axne joined Biden at the event.  Axne said childcare is critical to efforts to rebuild the workforce that drives the U-S economy.  Biden says the childcare tax credit is an infrastructure that supports working families.




Des Moines Mother Arrested, Charged After Videotaping Of Her Abusing Son

(Des Moines, IA)  —  A Des Moines mother has been arrested and charged after a witness videotaped her abusing her autistic son.  The incident happened Sunday at a Des Moines convenience store.  Arkeya Quinn says she took out her cellphone and started recording the incident after seeing the woman hitting the boy.  Rejanie Morris faces two charges of assault and one of child endangerment.  The video reportedly shows her picking up the nine-year-old victim by the arms and throwing him facedown on the floor.  When Quinn tried to step in, Morris is accused of punching her in the back of the head.  The body was handed over to the Iowa Department of Human Services.




2nd Inmate Pleads Guilty to Killing Anamosa Prison Officer & Nurse

(Anamosa, IA)  —  A second inmate is sentenced to life in prison for murdering two staffers at the Anamosa state prison during an escape attempt in March.  Twenty-eight-year-old Michael Dutcher (DOO’-cher) originally pleaded not guilty, claiming he acted in self-defense before changing his plea to guilty Wednesday.  Fellow inmate Thomas Woodard was also sentenced to life earlier this month in the killings of corrections officer Robert McFarland and prison nurse Lorena Schulte.  McFarland’s wife, Sara, gave a victim impact statement in court, telling Dutcher, ” ..I hate you more than anything for taking Robert from us. I hope you rot in hell.”  Dutcher will be transferred to a prison in Missouri.




DNR Report Shows Derecho Damaged or Destroyed 7 Million Trees in Iowa

(Marion, IA)  —  A new report from the Iowa Department of Natural Resource says last year’s powerful derecho (dah-RAY-cho) storm damaged or destroyed an estimated seven-million trees across the state.  Disaster recovery coordinator Nick McGrath says diversity is key when Iowans replant trees and they should maybe focus on species that are left after the storm.  The report also says derecho damage to the urban tree canopy alone amounts to 20-million dollars a year in lost benefits.  McGrath says it could to take 30 to 60 years to replace what was lost.  The August 10th, 2020 storm impacted 27 counties along the Highway 30 corridor, primarily in central and east-central Iowa.




Hotel/Motel Taxes Rebound in Iowa Great Lakes This Spring

(Arnolds Park, IA)  —  Tourism in the Iowa Great Lakes appears to have rebounded this season compared to last year.  Hotel/motel taxes for the city of Arnolds Park this April, May and June were 52 percent higher than the same period a year ago while Milford saw a 31 percent increase.  Rebecca Peters of Okoboji Tourism says all of our indicators leading up to the summer showed that our businesses were going to have a great season and that we were going to see a big influx of visitors this year.  The City of Okoboji’s hotel/motel tax revenue for this April, May and June was up 37 percent from the spring of 2020, but it’s a few thousand dollars short of the amount collected in the pre-pandemic spring of 2019.  Peters says some of the hotel/motel tax revenue collected by cities surrounding the Great Lakes is used to promote tourism in the area.




Northwest Iowa Man Charged With Stealing $55K in Fuel From Ag Partners

(Newell, IA)  —  A man from the northwest Iowa town of Albert City is accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of gas from his former employer.  Newell police say 48-year-old David Sanchez stole nearly 55-thousand dollars worth of fuel from Ag Partners in Newell.   The investigation showed multiple unauthorized transactions using a company fuel card from November of 2020 through August of this year.  Sanchez turned himself into the Buena Vista County Jail.  He’s charged with first-degree theft.