Home News Wednesday News, May 25

Wednesday News, May 25



This morning, earth was turned at MMCRU’s Marcus campus, to signal the start of a project to update two buildings, and add a third.  MMCRU Superintendent Dan Barkel explains the project.

There will be no disruption of classes while the new elementary building is erected.  Renovating the high school will require staging.

Barkel says the MMCRU high school building is 60 years old, but still useful.

One of the most attractive features of the Marcus elementary project is a plan to serve early childcare needs.

The partnership with the daycare helped increase the appeal of the project to voters, who approved a bond issue to pay for it

The construction and renovations will accommodate future growth in the MMCRU District.

The project is in three parts – the elementary school, the daycare, and the high school.  In February, MMC voters approved an 18 million dollars bond issue for the school projects, and another 2 million dollars bond to build the daycare center.  The elementary school/daycare will be completed first, by early 2023, and the high school renovations will follow into 2024.



The Le Mars Community School District Board today held a public hearing on an amendment to their current budget.  The amendment, which was passed by the board, will cover an additional 550-thousand dollars in expenditures for instructional support, and for new equipment for the district’s food service.



Only minor injury resulted from a tractor accident Sunday morning in rural Sioux County.  The Sheriffs Department said 33 year old Jesse Andrews was driving a tractor pulling a loaded feed wagon, when he lost control because of a mechanical malfunction.  The tractor crossed the road and entered a ditch.  The tractor and wagon rolled onto its side.  Andrews sought medical attention on his own.  He suffered minor injuries.



The 2022 legislative session ended overnight, but one of the governor’s priorities was tabled. Governor Kim Reynolds had asked lawmakers to approve 55 million dollars worth of state scholarships to cover private school expenses for 10-thousand students. Some House Republicans opposed the plan, saying it would siphon money away from small, rural schools. House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst says the governor’s extended lobbying unnecessarily delayed the end of the session. In the final bill introduced in the House and Senate, G-O-P lawmakers voted to allow open enrollment transfers from one public school to ANY other public school — at any time during the school year. Under current law, open enrollment transfers must be made by March 1st  and are restricted to adjacent school districts.



Senate Democrats have refused to confirm the four Iowans Republican Governor Kim Reynolds selected to serve on the commission that nominates people to openings on the Iowa Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. Senator Nate Boulton, a Democrat from Des Moines who’s an attorney, says according to state law, political affiliation isn’t to be considered, but all of the governor’s nominees to the commission have been either Republicans and independents.

Reynolds says she nominates highly qualified commissioners who share her judicial philosophy and she says it’s shameful for Senate Democrats to play these political games. It takes the “yes” votes of 34 senators to confirm the governor’s nominees to the commission. Senator Brad Zaun of Urbandale is one of thirty-TWO Republicans and Zaun says he’s looking forward to the day when Democrats don’t have the power to make these decisions.

A super majority would be 34 senators — enough to confirm ALL of the governor’s picks for position in state government. The 17 member Judicial Nominating Commission has already begun the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Brent Appel (like “apple”) who will retire this summer. Every other justice on the court was nominating by Governor Reynolds or Republican Governor Terry Branstad. It appears state law allows the four people Reynolds had nominating for the commission to serve for two months. That means they’d complete the process of sending Reynolds a slate of three candidates for Appel’s seat on the Iowa Supreme Court before rotating off the nominating commission.



Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a Republican from Red Oak, says her outspoken stance against the Russian invasion of Ukraine is probably the reason she’s been banned from Russia. She says Vladimir Putin is “an autocratic murderous thug” — and being on that list that actually tells her she’s doing something right,” Ernst says. All four members of Iowa’s House delegation were sanctioned by Russia in mid-April.



An off-duty Cherokee police officer has been charged with a serious misdemeanor of leaving the scene of an injury accident. The Iowa State Patrol says 52-year-old Michael McGee of Cherokee was driving a pickup truck in Cherokee, when he allegedly struck a six-year-old female in the crosswalk. The patrol says McGee fled the scene and failed to return after the vehicle and driver had been identified. The girl was taken to Cherokee Regional Medical Center with injuries that include a concussion.



A temporary moratorium on the use of eminent domain to seize property along carbon pipeline routes passed the House in March, but it was never considered in the Iowa Senate. The plan would have prevented pipeline developers from filing an application with the Iowa Utilities Board before February 1st, in order to acquire land where property owners are refusing to grant access. Representative Bruce Hunter, a Democrat from Des Moines, says lawmakers have played a shell game with Iowans who wanted some assurances their land won’t be seized against their wishes.

Republican Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton says the threat of a moratorium got pipeline developers to assure him they won’t seek eminent domain authority until next March.

Kaufmann says state utility regulators have also told him their review of any eminent domain requests for carbon pipelines won’t start until after the 2023 legislature convenes.



The planting season is pushing closer to the finish line after another good weather week. Corn planting is now 86 percent complete — compared to 57 percent the week before. That’s 13 days behind last week — but only three days behind the five-year average. The U-S-D-A report says 47 percent of the corn crop has emerged. Soybean planting is now 69 percent completed. That’s 12 days behind last year but now one day ahead of the five-year average. Eighteen percent of soybeans have emerged.



The victim of a deadly plane crash in Nebraska is identified.  Tom Dafoe died when the plane he was piloting crashed at the Wayne Municipal Airport on May 20th.  The crash took place as  Mayday STOL  Drag Race events were taking place at the airport, but officials say the crash was not related to an ongoing race.  The NTSB and the FAA are investigating the deadly plane crash, which is believed to be a stall-spin accident.