Home News Thursday News, November 18th

Thursday News, November 18th


Firefighters Respond To Floyd Valley Apartments For Elevator Equipment Fire

(Le Mars) — Residents living in the Floyd Valley Apartments were awaken this morning at about 1:50 a.m. to the sound of fire alarms and the smell of smoke.  Firefighters responded to find the smoke in the apartment complex was coming from the basement with the origin of the smoke was from the elevator equipment room where the pumps used to help operate the elevator had caught on fire.  Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire and ventilate the smoke, but unfortunately for the residents, once again they are without an elevator for the five-story building.




City Rejects City Employees Collective Bargaining 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 30th 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.




Total Motors Donates Money To Breast Cancer Patients And Area Hospitals

(Le Mars) — The month of October is recognized as “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” and the auto dealership of Total Motors of Le Mars and Orange City has again raised funds for area individuals suffering from breast cancer and is seeking medical treatment.  This marks the fifth consecutive year Total Motors has donated money for breast cancer patients and local hospitals.

For the year 2021, they have officially surpassed $50,000 in local donations which are generated by Total Motors’ commitment to donate $100 for each sold vehicle during October. This year, Total Motors raised $11,000 by the number of vehicles they sold during the entire month. These funds help local families and individuals with their fight against breast cancer. A portion of the money raised goes to locally nominated individuals who either previously had or currently have breast cancer and could use extra assistance to help them in their fight against breast cancer. To help other individuals beyond October, Total Motors donates a portion of the funds to their community hospitals. Of the $11,000 that was raised in 2021, Total Motors donated $2,000 to both Orange City Area Health System and Floyd Valley Healthcare in Le Mars.

Orange City Health Systems

Floyd Valley Healthcare

In addition, Total Motors gifted $7,000 in total donations to four individuals, those named individuals were: Cheri Herbst of Le Mars, Iowa; Natalie Braun Eldred of Gilbert, Iowa; and Teresa Sauer of Le Mars, Iowa. The last individual will be kept private.

Cheri Herbst

Natalie Braun Eldred

Teresa Sauer

Mitch Christoffel, General Manager of Total Motors says, “Total Motors is fortunate to be able to locally support individuals and families in their fight against breast cancer. This disease is something they can’t fight alone. We appreciate those who help give meaning to this important program in our local communities.”

(photos contributed.)




John Deere Union Members Approve Third Contract Offer

(Moline, IL)  —  Ten-thousand John Deere union workers have voted to return to the job after a strike lasting five weeks.  After they had rejected two previous offers from the company, John Deere made what it called its final, best offer.  Sixty-one percent of the union members voted in favor of the proposal.  At Deere’s Waterloo plant a major of union members continue to oppose the agreement, but enough voted to approve at other locations to end the strike.  Operations resumed with the third shift last night just hours after the votes were totaled.  The six-year deal includes an immediate 10-percent raise and cost-of-living adjustments.  It also continues pension benefits for new workers and increases performance payments.




Two Vehicles, Items Stolen From EveryStep Organization Recovered

(Urbandale, IA)  —  Urbandale Police says two vehicles and several items taken from the Every Step organization on Tuesday have been found in Des Moines.  Thieves broke into the Urbandale warehouse where volunteers were preparing to send out holiday Cheer boxes to those who have lost a loved one. They took items from the boxes and a van and truck used to deliver them.  Police say there have been no arrests made in connection with the burglary.  Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact Urbandale Police.




Iowa Department Of Education Offers Reasons For Enrollment Decline

(Des Moines, IA)  —  The pandemic and the tight labor market are cited as two of the main causes for a drop in community college enrollment in Iowa. The Iowa Department of Education’s Community College administrator Jeremy Varner says, “Our enrollment at our 15 community this fall is down about one-point-six percent from the prior year — bringing us to about 82-thousand students,” Varner says. National enrollment at community colleges is down about five-point-six percent.  The Des Moines Area Community College saw the largest decrease in students at around 11 percent, followed by North Iowa Area.




State Board of Education Discusses Teacher Shortage in Iowa

(Des Moines, IA)  —  The shortage of teachers in Iowa was a key issue at Wednesday’s State Board of Education meeting in Des Moines.  Some districts have had to cancel classes due to a lack of teachers or substitutes, and some are looking at extending the Thanksgiving break due to shortages.  Department of Education director Ann Lebo mentioned the issue while updating the board on her webinar with school superintendents.  Lebo says a teacher shortage task force group is is looking at the experience of shortages and potential solutions.  Board member Mike May of Spirit Lake called it a critical problem that has to be addressed as soon as possible.  Lebo says they have to develop solutions on two fronts: recruitment and retention of teachers.




Former Iowa Governor To Serve As “Ambassador-In-Residence” At Drake

(Des Moines, IA). —  Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will be “ambassador-in-residence” at Drake University, meeting with students and planning to host a yearly conference about U-S and China relations. Branstad was President Trump’s Ambassador to China and he graduated from Drake’s law school 50 years ago.  Branstad, the nation’s longest-serving governor, has just turned 75. His office on the Drake campus is in the law library.




Book About Student Who Loves Bugs More Than People Chosen

(Ames, IA). —  A book about an Iowa State University student who loves bugs more than people is the 2022 choice for the All Iowa Reads program. Author Rachel Mans McKenny, of Boone, says her first published novel, “The Butterfly Effect,” is heavily focused on Reiman (RY-mun) Gardens in Ames but is ultimately about learning how to get along with people. “My book is about a grumpy entomology PhD at Iowa State who has to return home from her research to take care of her brother who’s had an aneurysm,” McKenny says.  Established in 2003 by the Iowa Center for the Book, the goal of the All Iowa Reads program is to foster a sense of unity through reading.




COVID Hospitalizations in Iowa Increase For 2nd Straight Week

(Des Moines, IA)  —  The number of COVID patients in Iowa hospitals is up for the second straight week.  The Iowa Department of Public Health’s weekly report shows 544 patients are hospitalized and more than a fifth are in intensive care units.  Ninety-nine COVID-positive patients were admitted in the last 24 hours.  The total number of confirmed cases is also on the rise in Iowa, with more than nine-thousand Iowans testing positive this past week.  Children under the age of 18 account for more than 20 percent of the week’s positive test results.  The Department of Public Health’s website shows 72-hundred-68 Iowans have died of Covid since March of 2020.