Home News Thursday News, May 19

Thursday News, May 19



The city council of Le Mars is going to hold a public hearing soon on a vacant building ordinance. Mayor Rob Bixenman says the city’s downtown committee had been urging him to address the problem of rundown, unused buildings in their historic district.

Mainstreet volunteer Richard Zeittlow says it’s not good for business when neighboring buildings stand unused.

Some downtown buildings are seeing new life by construction of loft apartments on the second floor, but some still strand empty. Under the ordinance, vacant businesses are required to have a vacant building permit. This would allow the city to inspect these unused buildings, and also build an inventory of places where businesses can locate. First reading of the vacant building ordinance will be June 7.



A Remsen man has been arrested on a drug charge. The Plymouth County Sheriffs Department says Tuesday night, a deputy stopped a vehicle near the intersection of Iowa Highway 3 and County Road L12. The driver, Riley Taite Woten, 34, had a no bond warrant pending in Union County, South Dakota. Woten was also in possession of Methamphetamine. This was his 3rd of subsequent controlled substance offense. Woten was arrested on the two charges, and was booked into the Plymouth County Jail. Remsen Police assisted in the case.



Senate Republicans are scaling back the amount of money they’re willing to set aside to hire four new judges and provide pay raises to judges and other employees in the Iowa court system.

G-O-P Senator Julian Garrett of Indianola says it appears some of those expenses can be covered with money no longer needed for the pension system for judges.

He says their pension fund is in “very good shape,” so Senate Republicans want to transfer nearly five million from the fund to cover the cost of judicial pay raises and filling vacancies.

But Caitlin Jarzen, an administrator in the court system, says state law prohibits this kind of transfer AND it would result in job cuts.

House Republicans have passed a separate budget bill for the state court system that does NOT include the money transfer.



Everyone in Orange City is a Dutchman this weekend, as the 81st annual Tulip Festival takes place.  The town of 64-hundred is bedecked in Tulips, as the city goes back in time to the late 18-hundreds today through Saturday.

That’s Tulip Festival Queen, Naomi Mellema, as she and her court are in great anticipation for the festival taking place.

Mellema was involved in two different Tulip Festivals – while a young child in Pella, and now in Orange City.

Displays, tours, and museums open at 9 a.m. each day.

A street festival and street scrubbing occur each day at 1 pm, with the afternoon parades at 2 :15.  There’s also an evening parade at 6:30.  The evenings are capped with the performance of Mamma Mia! At the Orange City Town Hall at 8 p.m.

For a complete list of daily activities, go to octulipfestival.com.



The statewide average cost of gasoline rose several more pennies a gallon to set another record Wednesday, but the travel forecast for Memorial Day weekend calls for it to be the busiest in years.

Meredith Mitts, spokeswoman for Triple-A-Iowa, says despite the high price to fill the tank, people are ready to get out of the house and down the road.

The motor club says the statewide average for gas is now four-15 a gallon, the highest price Iowans have ever paid to fuel up, however, it won’t foil many of our vacation plans.

Besides the high price at the pump, some Iowans are turned off by having to wear masks. While many airlines have eliminated the mask requirement, it would be wise to still pack plenty of them in your carry-on bag.

Triple-A projects Memorial Day weekend will be the busiest in three years. Reservations for flights, hotels and cruises for Memorial Day weekend are twice as strong as last year’s holiday. While Iowa’s average gas price is $4.15 a gallon, the national average is $4.56, versus the country’s most expensive gas in California at $6.05.



A new report details the economic benefits of a proposed pedestrian and bike trail running from Washington D-C to Washington state, including an Iowa segment stretching from the Mississippi River to the Missouri. Kevin Belanger , project manager of the Great American Rail-Trail, says the ambitious effort could generate a major financial boost for the communities and states it serves.

A study estimates the full trail could generate more than 229-million dollars in visitor spending every year, along with 104-million in labor income and nearly 23-million in new tax revenue.

The cross-country trail has the potential to bring visitors, businesses, jobs and spending to communities along its 37-hundred-mile route, he says, though it may be many years before it’s finished.

The Great American Rail-Trail would incorporate 28 existing
trails in Iowa, including the Government-Arsenal Bridge at
Davenport, the Iowa River Trail, and Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge
linking Council Bluffs and Omaha, Nebraska.



A special investigation by the state auditor’s office has found the former city clerk in a small southwest Iowa town used the city’s money for thousands of dollars’ worth of personal purchases. Auditors reviewed financial transactions over a four-year period and concluded former Silver City Clerk Artema Gray made more than 42-thousand dollars’ worth of improper purchases on the city’s credit cards — including such things as clothing, sheets, jewelry, games, video streaming services and an Ancestry test. In total, auditors attribute nearly 62-thousand dollars in improper or unsupported spending to Gray during her tenure as city clerk. The investigation has been forwarded to the Iowa D-C-I as well as the Mills County Attorney and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.



One of three ex-Minneapolis officers accused of aiding and abetting Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd is pleading guilty. Thomas Lane entered a guilty plea Wednesday to a charge of aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.  Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a statement, saying, “his acknowledgment he did something wrong is an important step toward healing the wounds of the Floyd family, our community, and the nation.”  J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao are scheduled to stand trial June 13th.  All three were found guilty in a federal civil rights trial in February.