Home News Thursday News, February 17th

Thursday News, February 17th

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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.

 

 

 

County Supervisors Hear From Energy Companies Regarding Transfer Of Ownership Of Plymouth County Wind Farm

(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.

 

 

 

Legislators Seeking Information on Allegations Against Judge

(Des Moines, IA) — The House Judiciary Committee will be issuing subpoenas, seeking notes, and other information following a complaint about the actions of a judge on the commission that interviewed candidates and nominated two people for a district court judge vacancy. Some commission members complained that Judge Kurt Stoebe (STOH-bee) of Humboldt coached one candidate and lied about another withdrawing. House Judiciary Committee chairman Steven Holt says legislators have been unable to get notes or emails related to the commission’s October 12th meeting from the judicial branch, and the subpoenas require a response within 14 days. The House committee is also asking the judicial branch if a complaint has been filed against Stoebe (STOH-bee).

 

 

 

House Budget Bill Passes

(Des Moines, IA) –The Iowa House has passed the one-point-six BILLION dollar tax reduction package backed by Republicans that will shrink the personal income tax to a single rate of four percent and erase the state tax on retirement income. Representative Lee Hein (rhymes with “mine”) from Monticello leads the House tax policy committee and calls the bill historic. House Democrats offered an array of alternatives, but each was rejected by Republicans, including the idea of altering the G-O-P’s tax rate reduction schedule — to speed up tax cuts for low and middle income Iowans. Three Democrats did join with all the Republicans present to approve the bill.

 

 

 

Mask Mandate Bill Passes

(Des Moines, IA) — A bill that would ban mask mandates and any future vaccine mandates in schools — including colleges, as well as in businesses, non-profits and government agencies — has passed a House committee. Republican Representative Jon Jacobsen of Council Bluffs says the bill prevents discrimination and protects personal medical information. The bill would forbid employers from firing a worker because of their vaccination status. All the Democrats on the panel voted no. Representative Bruce Hunter, a Democrat from Des Moines, says it’s a dangerous bill. The bill is now eligible for debate in the full House.

 

 

 

Iowa Appeals Court Upholds Murder Conviction Of Man Who Killed His Wife

(Des Moines, IA)  —  The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld the murder conviction of an Earlville man who killed his wife with a corn rake.  Todd Mullis was found guilty by a Delaware County jury in September of 2019.  Prosecutors had told the court Mullis killed his wife, Amy.  Attorneys for Mullis appealed – saying there wasn’t enough evidence to show he was the one who attacked her in a hog barn and used the corn rake to kill her.  The appeals court disagreed.  It ruled there was plenty of evidence presented that Mullis was the only one who could have killed her.  His motive was his suspicion that she was having an affair and he didn’t want to lose his farming operation in a divorce.

 

 

 

Congresswoman Axne Calls Out US Department Of Treasury For Delay

(Washington, DC)  —  Congresswoman Cindy Axne is calling out the U-S Department of Treasury for its delay in approving 35-million dollars in rental assistance funds for Polk County.  The Iowa Democrat says the delay has forced the county to stop accepting new applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.  The reallocation of those funds was requested earlier this year.  Axne points out that residents haven’t been able to apply for help for more than a week due to the delay.  She wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen seeking swift approval for the application process.  The Polk County request was submitted more than three weeks ago.

 

 

 

Iowa Man Given Life Sentence For Double Murder

(Fort Dodge, IA)  —  An Eagle Grove man has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for a double murder.  A Webster County jury found 57-year-old Michael Shivers guilty last year.  He was sentenced earlier this week to two 50-year sentences to be served consecutively.  Shivers has to serve a minimum of 70 years before he would be eligible for parole.  He was found guilty in the June 16th, 2020 deaths of 25-year-old Jamael Cox and 47-year-old Tyrone Cunningham.  Two women were wounded when Shivers fired his rifle in Fort Dodge.

 

 

 

Attorney General Reaches Settlement With Company Over Mailers

(Des Moines, IA)  —  Iowa’s attorney general has reached a settlement with a Florida company that was accused of sending mailers that appeared to be from government agencies.  Attorney General Tom Miller says Centurion Filing Services and its owner Dean Marshlack used the name “I-A Certificate Service” to send out mailers that looked like invoices requesting 67 dollars for an “Iowa Certificate of Existence.”  The Iowa Secretary of State’s Office provides them for only five dollars.  Centurion has agreed to provide nearly 79-thousand dollars in refunds to more than 12-hundred Iowa business owners and charity operators.  It also promises not to send mailer solicitations to Iowans, or form any Iowa location.