Home News Wednesday Afternoon News, November 17th

Wednesday Afternoon News, November 17th


City To See 16 Percent Increase Of Costs For Casualty And Property Coverage

(Le Mars) — During Tuesday’s city council meeting, council members were given an update on the city’s casualty and property insurance coverage by Rob Bixenman of Perspective Insurance.  Bixenman who was recently elected to become the next mayor of Le Mars indicated this would be his last time appearing before the city council as their re-assurance agent.

Matt Susemihl of Perspective Insurance was introduced to the city council, and will take over the city’s account.

Similar to his comments to the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors a few weeks back, Bixenman reminded the city council the program, Iowa Communities Assurance Pool although often times is referred to as an “insurance program” Bixenman says it is actually a risk management program funded by the those communities and entities that are being protected.

Bixenman informed the city council that there would not be a credit given back to the city this year, and the reason is because of the derecho storm that struck many Iowa communities in August of 2020.

Bixenman says as a result of the damage from the derecho storm,  the program used up all of its reserve funds to help pay for the property damage from the derecho storm, and now must increase the premium rates to build up again the reserves.

Bixenman says across the entire state, premium rates were increased.

Le Mars will see an increase of premium rates amounting to 16 percent, or in the amount of close to a $35 thousand dollar increase.

The total coverage premium for Le Mars for casualty and property coverage will be just under $250 thousand dollars.  The city council did approve the renewal of coverage with the Iowa Community Assurance Pool.




City Rejects City Employee Collective Bargaining Unit Proposals

(Le Mars) — The city of Le Mars has made its initial counter offer to the city employees for the collective bargaining unit.  Most of the proposals by the city employees were rejected by the city.  The city employees had wanted only a one-year contract, whereas, the city government indicated they wanted to work with a two-year contract beginning July 1st of 2022 and continuing to June 20th of 2024.  City employees had proposed eliminating the base pay from the wage schedule, but the city countered with step one becoming the new base pay.  The city’s employee bargaining unit had proposed a wage adjustment of $3.00 an hour increase in the wage schedule for police officers and other city employees.  After the wage adjustment is figured, an eight percent increase for police officers and other city employees.  The city rejected that proposal, and instead is offering city employees a two-and-a-half percent increase in salary for the first year of the contract, followed with another two-and-a-half percent increase in pay for the second year of the contract.  Le Mars city employees proposal of raising the longevity pay by 5.7 percent was rejected by the city, based on the terms are not negotiable per the Iowa Code Chapter 20.  Another area that is not negotiable per the Iowa Code was the bargaining unit’s proposal to salary schedule advancement procedure for police employees.  The city also rejected the employees’ collective bargaining unit of amending the advancement on the salary schedule.  Employees had proposed Step One as the the level at hiring date, with Step 2 as 25 to 36 months of employment, Step 3 with 36 to 48 months of employment, and Step 4 as those employees that have worked for the city at 48 months or more.  The city countered with Base Pay at the level at hiring, Step 1 with employment between 25 and 36 months, Step 2 with employment between 36 and 48 months, and Step 3 with employment at 48 months or above.  The city proposes to remove several categories of employment from the contract including: Taxi driver, Custodian, Assistant Library Director, Building Inspector, Construction Inspector, Draftsperson/Inspector, Draftsperson, Assistant to the City Engineer, Engineering Cad Manager, Engineering Technician, Meter Reader, and Paramedic from the wage schedule.  The city proposes to add Firefighter/Paramedic to the wage schedule.




Story Book Walk To Be Dedicated Today (Wednesday) At Cleveland Park

(Le Mars) — Dedication ceremonies are scheduled for this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. for the new story book walk located at Cleveland Park.  Kiera Laskie was the individual with the idea to include a story book walk at the park.  The Le Mars Public Library will supervise the story book walk, and from time to time will change the stories being featured.  Le Mars Public Library Director Shirley Taylor tells us what is involved with the story book walk.

Taylor says depending on the weather conditions, but library officials hope to change the story at the end of each month.  She tells of the first featured story as it was selected by Kiera Laskie, the girl behind the project.

Taylor says each of the featured stories will be a picture book directed for children between 3 years of age and 8 years of age, but she says everyone will enjoy them.  Taylor says the stands featuring the different pages are conveniently located for a short enjoyable circular pattern walk with the last page close to the start of the story walk.




Iowa State Patrol Investigates Jackson County Crash That Killed 2

(Maquoketa, IA)  —  The Iowa State Patrol is investigating a two-vehicle crash in Jackson County Tuesday that left two people dead.  The accident report say a car tried to make a turn off Highway 61 north of Maquekota and collided with a pickup.  Both vehicles ended up in the ditch.  State troopers say 68-year-old Gary Schlapia and 61-year-old Michael Griffin of Maquoketa were in the car and both died at the scene.  The two occupants of the truck were taken to the hospital.




Muscatine Police Dog Nero Dies Unexpectedly

(Muscatine, IA)  —  The Muscatine Police Department is mourning the loss of its police dog.  Officials say K-9 Officer Nero died Monday “peacefully and unexpectedly” after serving the department for seven years.  Nero was nine-years old and had begun uniform patrol with his handler Sergeant Minnat Patel in 2014.  Nero was a male German Shepherd from Slovakia and was purchased with a 15-thousand-dollar grant.  Police Chief Brett Talkington said Nero was a great dog and did some amazing things for the citizens of Muscatine and the Police Department and will be missed by all.




Ex-Cedar Rapids Pharmacist Pleads Guilty to Diverting Drugs For Personal Use

(Cedar Rapids, IA)  —  A former Cedar Rapids pharmacist is pleading guilty to federal charges for diverting controlled substances for his personal use.  Thirty-five-year-old Brandon Iacobo of La Crosse, Wisconsin admitted to diverting hundreds of drugs from January through November of 2020 while he was the pharmacist-in-charge.  Prosecutors say Iacobo falsified controlled substance cycle counts in the pharmacy’s inventory and shorted customers’ tablets from their prescriptions.  In 2016, a California administrative law judge determined that “Iacobo lacked continued ability to perform the duties of a licensed pharmacist” and found his pharmacy license should be revoked.




Celebration Planned For Opening of New I-74 Bridge in Quad Cities

(Bettendorf, IA)  —  The Interstate-74 bridge construction team is planning a big party next month to celebrate completion of a new, six-lane bridge over the Mississippi River at the Quad Cities.  The massive undertaking has been underway for more than four years.  On December 1st, the public is invited to take a walk on the east-bound bridge between Moline and Bettendorf, while those Illinois-bound lanes will open to traffic a few days later.  The old, Illinois-bound side of the original twin bridge will close the same day the new one opens.  Project manager George Ryan says we appreciate all of the motorists having so much patience with us.  Construction started in July of 2017 and the project cost one-point-two-billion dollars.