Home News Wednesday Afternoon News, February 16th

Wednesday Afternoon News, February 16th

Le Mars Police Department Submits Annual Report To City Council

(Le Mars) — The Le Mars Police Department submitted its annual report to the city council on Tuesday.  Police Chief Kevin Vande Vegte appeared before the council and offered the highlights from the year 2021.

Chief Vande Vegte then covered some of the other highlights from 2021 as it related to the Le Mars Police Department.

Members of the city council asked Chief Vande Vegte about the School Resource Officer position and the success of the program.

Vande Vegte mentioned the police department had received $2,000 from the United Way for the Youth Police Academy.  He also thanked the community for its overwhelming support of the police department’s K-9 program, contributing close to $20,000.  Vande Vegte offered to the city council the statistics from last year.

In his annual report, Chief Vande Vegte indicated officers made 482 arrests in 2021, including 55 juveniles resulting in 683 charges.  There were 247 reported accidents resulting in 28 injuries, and one fatality.  Vande Vegte reports the police department had 13,192 calls for service last year.  When you break down the calls, Vande Vegte shared a pie-chart graph with city council members.  There were 1,134 total calls, of which 13 percent, or 148 were drugs and alcohol related.  120 thefts that represented 11 percent of the total calls.  Other categories included motor vehicle thefts at one percent, sexual abuse cases at one percent, domestic assault was listed at two percent, assaults were at 78 calls, or seven percent of the total. Disputes were listed at one percent, and criminal mischief at six percent.  The vast majority of the police calls were listed as “other complaints” including death investigations, disturbances, missing people, mental health cases, trespass, search warrants, welfare checks, and abandoned vehicles equaled 486 calls, or 43 percent of the total.




Plymouth County Board Of Supervisors Listen To Report Involving Wind Turbine Farms

(Le Mars) — During the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors meeting held Tuesday, the county governing board heard from representatives of Invenergy and MidAmerican Energy.  The topic of discussion was the transfer of ownership of the wind turbines located on the eastern side of Plymouth County.  Harry Finch with Invenergy began the conversation regarding the road use agreement.  Plymouth County attorney, Darin Raymond advised the county supervisors to not rush in with signing the road use agreement.  Raymond asked the question as to whether the construction with the wind turbines is complete?

Finch admitted there may still be some need for large cranes to return to a few of the wind turbine sites for additional maintenance.  In a letter given to the supervisors, Finch requested the release of execution of the road use agreement document.  The release of the road use agreement bond and rely on the $500,000 specified in the release against the county can invoice as repairs as they are completed in the spring.  The third request was for the county to accept the assignment of entrance points to MidAmerican Energy.  Supervisor chairman, Don Kass asked if Invenergy is looking at a deadline date to release their part of the responsibility of the wind turbine farm?  Finch says he isn’t concerned as much with a specific ending date, as he was that all parties see the need to begin the transition process.




Supervisors Approve Salary Increase For County Employees Through Collective Bargaining Unit

(Le Mars) — The Board of Supervisors also approved the collective bargaining contract with the county’s secondary road employees association.  In that agreement, the county has agreed to increase the salary of county employees by six percent starting with the new fiscal year that begins on July 1st.  The county governing board also approved the increase of $1.50 per hour in addition to the six percent of salary pay for the two county mechanics.  The county board also set up a salary schedule for newly hired employees.  The probationary period for probationary employees is for the first six months of employment, of which they will be paid at 85 percent of the base pay.  For the second six months of employment, the new employee will receive 90 percent of base pay, and for the third six months of employment the rate is at 95 percent.  After the employee has worked for a duration of 18 months, then the employee will receive 100 percent of the base pay.




Regional Swine Meeting Scheduled For Monday At Orange City

(Le Mars) — Pork producers will want to attend a Regional Swine Seminar that is scheduled for Monday, February 21st to be held at the Sioux County Extension and Outreach offices at Orange City.  Swine specialist Dave Stender says the program will feature three speakers talking about timely topics. Stender says he will teach the Pork Quality Assurance program during the morning hours for those pork producers that need to be re-certified.  Then the regional meeting will begin at 1:00 p.m. with Dr. Chris Radamacher, the state’s swine veterinarian, talking about several swine diseases.

Following Dr. Radamacher will be Joe Kerns from Partners for Production Agriculture, and he will be discussing the many opportunities available to farmers, and what the markets are showing.

Lee Schultz, the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach livestock marketing specialist will conclude the program with an outlook on hog and pork prices, as well as other factor influencing the livestock industry.

Lee Schulz (Photo by Christopher Gannon/Iowa State University)

The regional swine meeting is being co-sponsored by the Iowa Pork Producers Association, along with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.





Reynolds Expected to Sign Trangender Athletes Bill

(Des Moines, IA) — Governor Kim Reynolds is likely to sign legislation that would limit participation in girls’ sports in Iowa to students who have female marked on their birth certificate. But she’s withholding a definite answer until the bill reaches her desk. She says separate competitions for girls were “set up for a reason way back when,” and suggested allowing transgender girls to compete would be unfair. Critics of the bill say it discriminates against transgender girls and amounts to state-sanctioned bullying of kids who are at greater risk of depression and suicide. The bill allows girls to sue if they are harmed directly or indirectly by a school that allows transgender athletes to participate in girls’ sports.




Eminent Domain Bill Up for Debate in Senate Committee

(Des Moines, IA) — A bill scheduled for debate in a Senate committee today (Wednesday) would take away the Iowa Utilities Board’s power to grant eminent domain to private companies, so land may be seized for carbon pipelines and similar projects. Senator Jeff Taylor, a Republican from Sioux Center, is the bill’s sponsor. He says there is “neither constitutional nor ethical justification for the government to use coercive power to seize private land or force an easement primarily for the benefit of wealthy, well-connected business owners.” Jeff Boeyink (BOY-ink), a lobbyist for Summit Carbon Solutions, says changing the rules for eminent domain would send the message that Iowa’s regulatory climate is unstable.




Reynolds Renews Pitch for Using Public Money for Private Schools

(Des Moines, IA) — Governor Kim Reynolds is making another public pitch for her plan to establish 10-thousand state-funded accounts for parents who wish to send their kids to private schools. She says they’ve made a lot of “concessions and compromises” with this year’s bill, but pledges to work to “get it across the finish line.” The governor’s bill has yet to advance out of a legislative committee, but a Senate panel is likely to debate it this week. A key Republican, though, says the concept is stalled in the House. Reynolds says she’s not giving up.




SkyWest Cutting Flights to Mason City and Fort Dodge

(Mason City, IA) —  SkyWest Airlines plans to reduce the number of weekly flights out of Mason City and Fort Dodge, citing staffing issues. SkyWest filed the notice of intent with the U-S Department of Transportation on February 2nd that they intend to cut back the number of flights a week under the Essential Air Service program between Mason City and Chicago from 12 to ten. The carrier also plans to cut weekly flights from Fort Dodge to Chicago and Denver from 12 to ten. SkyWest and a handful of other markets wants to eventually further reduce the number of weekly flights to seven. SkyWest tells the U-S D-O-T that staffing issues caused by the COVID pandemic are causing the need to reduce flights across their network.