MAIN STREET AMERICA
A consultant has spent the day with Le Mars businesses, surveying the downtown business community. Kathy LaPlante says her organization, Main Street America, was contracted by Main Street Iowa to visit each of the 55 communities in Iowa which have downtown historic districts. She got a great first impression of LeMars.
LaPlante’s overall impression of Le Mars is that the downtown is typical of most historic districts.
Typical, too, are the challenges facing Le Mars historic downtown.
LaPlante says there are several options available to Le Mars to develop their downtown historic district.
The city of Le Mars is considering a vacant building ordinance to get building owners to improve their properties. LaPlante says that is the most common tool Iowa cities are using to preserve and develop their historic downtown.
SUPERVISORS BUDGET AMENDMENT
The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors today held a public hearing on a budget amendment for the current fiscal year.
The Supervisors approved a transfer of an additional 13-thousand dollars in revenues, the funds coming from court fees for the county jail. 3-thousand of that amount will be applied to Physical Health and Social Services, and 75-hundred to Administration. The Board also approved another 150-thousand dollars in Mental Health Services spending through their provider, Sioux Rivers Regional Mental Health. That will leave a closing budget balance for the current fiscal year of 7 million, 560-thousand dollars.
Forecasters say warmer weather should arrive by Friday, assuring there will be thousands of pleasure boats on Iowa’s waterways for the start of the holiday weekend. Kim Bogenschutz, aquatic invasive species program coordinator for the Iowa D-N-R, urges all boaters and anglers to “Clean, Drain, and Dry” their boats to protect our lakes and rivers from aquatic hitchhikers.
It’s not just a suggestion or a recommendation, it’s the law.
Creatures like zebra mussels can be moved from one waterbody to another by hitchhiking on boats, in bait buckets and on other equipment used in the water. Bogenschutz says invasive species often grow quickly and spread fast when brought to another lake or stream due to lack of natural controls.
Checking for unwanted hitchhikers will help protect Iowa’s waterways for future generations, she says. Learn more about aquatic invasive species at: www.iowadnr.gov/ais
VOUCHER BILL DEAD
The speaker of the Iowa House says he doesn’t have the votes to pass the governor’s plan to provide state scholarships to private school students. House Speaker Pat Grassley spoke to reporters Monday morning.
At the end of March, Republicans in the Senate approved 55-hundred state scholarships to send 10-thousand K-through-12 students to private schools, but a group of House Republicans objected to the idea, saying it would divert state money from rural areas since 42 counties do not have a private school. Grassley says some details are still being worked out in the eight-point-two BILLION dollar plan for the state budgeting year that begins July 1st.
Grassley told reporters. Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver is offering a bit of optimism about making final budget decisions in the next few days.
Republicans hold firm majorities in the House and Senate. Republican Governor Kim Reynolds has not yet commented on the decision to table her private school scholarship plan, but she has begun endorsing Republican candidates for the Iowa House who support the proposal. That includes a Republican who’s running against an assistant G-O-P leader in the Iowa House.
Two men were arrested by Sioux County authorities on assault charges. The Sioux County Sheriffs Office investigated a reported assault that occurred May 14 at a residence north of Sioux Center. Saturday, deputies arrested 20 year old Bryce Van Dyken of Hull and 21 year old Carter Kooi of Sioux Center. Witnesses told deputies that the two were involved in a disturbance where they punched and kicked the victim, resulting in injuries that required medical attention. Van Dyken and Kooi were both charged with assault causing bodily injury.
A Sioux City man was arrested by Plymouth County authorities on three active warrants. 19-year-old Rigo Angel Aguiar is charged with failure to appear in court to answer to three separate drug and impairment offenses. He was booked into the Plymouth County Jail and held on bond.
Students at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City are working to restore a large western Iowa prairie to its original ecosystem. Students cut down black locust trees from the Sioux City Prairie. Professor David Hoferer says the trees can cause prairie grass to die and subsequently force out species that nest in the land. Hoferer says the project is a part of a growing movement to “re-wild” Iowa.
The 150-acre property, located next to the university, is one of the nation’s largest urban prairies. Student Zach Allen, a junior at Briar Cliff, led a group of 20 students to cut down the black locust trees, which aren’t native to Iowa. Allen says he wants to see more efforts across the state to preserve natural habitats.
He says he was inspired to action by what he learned in the classroom. Prairie used to cover around 80 percent of Iowa. Now, it’s down to less than one percent.
The Iowa Senate has voted without debate to cap the number of casino licenses at the current 19 for the next two years. The moratorium was attached to a bill that must be reviewed by the House. If the governor approves, Linn County’s application for a casino license would be blocked. State gambling regulators began developing a timeline for reviewing new casino applications after Linn County voters approved a gambling referendum last November.
Lawmakers have voted to make changes in Iowa’s popular “Bottle Bill.” Republicans today (Monday)voted to accept House adjustments and send the bill to the governor. The legislation would let grocery stores stop accepting empty bottles and cans and paying deposits. Republicans say more redemption centers will open once the per container handling fee is tripled with the change. Senator Claire Celsi (SELL-see), a Democrat from Des Moines, says letting grocery stores and other retailers opt-out of accepting empties means many Iowans will have nowhere to get their deposits back. The governor hasn’t said what she will do with the bottle bill changes.
Council Bluffs has new workers to help clean up the city’s landscaping. A herd of 55 goats. The Omaha World Herald reports the goats started working last week clearing four acres of land under Interstate-480 along the Missouri River. They’re expected to be on the job until early next month. Experts say goats can eat up to four pounds of hay and vegetation in a day.