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Monday News, June 20

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CHAMBER REORGANIZATION

The Le Mars Area Chamber of Commerce announces a new staff and a new organization.  Chamber Board President Michaela Brown says Lori French, has been promoted to Chamber/Main Street Director.  In this position, she will oversee activities in both programs.   Heidi Nemmers has joined the Chamber/Main Street staff as Event and Member Coordinator.

 

FATAL CRASH

Two teenagers from Nebraska are dead and three other people injured following a two-vehicle crash in Fremont County in southwestern Iowa. The Iowa State Patrol says a Dodge Charger driven by 26-year-old Rogelio Martinez, also from Nebraska, struck a Jeep Wrangler on Interstate 29 near Percival. Five people were in the Jeep, all of whom were fully or partially ejected. Sixteen-year-old Alice Tupper and 14-year-old Joseph Tupper were both killed, while three others — including the driver — were injured. Martinez was not injured, and the Iowa State Patrol believes alcohol played a role in the crash.

 

IOWA QUIT RATE

The search for workers to fill open jobs continues to be one of the top priorities in surveys of Iowa businesses. Iowa Workforce Development Director, Beth Townsend, says the numbers for March don’t show a lot of workers leaving one job for another. She says Iowa’s quit rate was two-point-six percent in March, “the eighth lowest in the country.” Townsend says that may change when the numbers for April or May are released. She also says there may have been an incentive to move to another job in the past — but businesses have taken steps to keep employees.

 

HEAT ADVISORY

For the third consecutive day, there’s an advisory in effect for high heat and humidity.  A Heat Advisory covers the western third of Iowa, and the eastern half of Nebraska and South Dakota.  Heat index values up to 107 expected. The overnight heat index above 75 degrees possible. The advisory is in effect until 10 p.m.  The high temperature today in Le Mars is forecast at 98 degrees, with a heat index of 105.  Hot temperatures and high humidity may cause heat illnesses to occur.

The National Weather Service advises taking precautions to cope with the extreme temperatures.  Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances. If you work or spend time outside, limit your exposure to the sun, and take frequent breaks. When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.

 

DE JEAR RUNNING MATE

Deidre DeJear (DEED-ruh duh-JEER), the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor, is asking party activists to remember Iowa has a history of progressive politics.  DeJear spoke at the Iowa Democratic Party’s state convention this weekend and formally accepted the party’s nomination to challenge Republican Governor Kim Reynolds in the General Election. DeJear also announced Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker is her running mate for the General Election.  Van Lancker, who’s in the middle of his fourth term as Clinton County’s top election official, lost his bid for the Democratic Party’s nomination for secretary of state in the June 7th Primary. Van Lancker says he and DeJear will provide leadership on issues like voting rights as well as public education, housing, broadband and health care. DeJear told Democrats the race ahead won’t be easy, but she says issues like abortion access and public schools can sway independent voters. After her speech, DeJear told reporters Reynolds appears to be more focused on enhancing her national profile and that will be an issue in the race.

 

ABORTION RULING REACTIONS

Pro-life advocates welcomed the Supreme Court ruling on abortion. Kristie McGregor has spent every Wednesday outside the Sioux City Planned Parenthood clinic for the last two years praying. She says since her miscarriage in 2017, she’s devoted herself completely to fighting for a ban on abortion. McGregor says she’s happy with the ruling – but she’s not celebrating yet. She says that won’t come until abortion is outlawed completely.

A-C-L-U of Iowa legal director Rita Bettis Austen says the ruling that abortion is not a fundamental right under Iowa’s constitution is a devastating reversal of prior precedent.

McGregor says the court’s reversal as a step in the right direction. But until abortions in Iowa are banned, McGregor says she’ll keep showing up every Wednesday to pray.

 

INTERN PROGRAM

Eight Iowa businesses, including Wells Enterprises of Le Mars, will be part of the Iowa DNR’s Pollution Prevention Intern Program this summer.  The program helps increase the efficiency of operations and reduce costs.   The interns are upper-level engineering students.  They will work at their assigned company to help find solutions which help these firms reach their environmental performance goals.  Other companies participating in the program include Tyson Foods of Storm Lake, Polaris Industries of Spirit Lake, and Monogram Foods of Denison.  For over 20 years, nearly 200 Iowa companies, hospitals, Universities, and government agencies have participated in the program.  Funding for the P2 Intern Program includes federal grants, portions of solid waste tonnage fees and cost share contributed by the host companies.

 

PLYMOUTH COUNTY ROAD CONSTRUCTION

The Iowa Department of Transportation says a concrete overlay project on Iowa 3, from Le Mars to Remsen in Plymouth County will begin Monday.  This will require lane closures during construction.  Pilot cars will direct motorists through the work zone.  This is a 7.9 million dollar project, and it should be completed by July 1.

 

BIRD TRACKING

Iowa is now part of an international network of radio receiver stations, stretching from Canada to South America, tracking long-distance migration patterns of birds, bats and insects. Anna Buckardt Thomas, an avian ecologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says it’s called the Motus Wildlife Tracking System, “motus” being the Latin word for movement.

Iowa now has seven of the receiving stations scattered statewide, with an eighth going online this fall, and plans to add four or five more. Trackers in Iowa have recently picked up signals from birds that are migrating from Jamaica and even as far away as Columbia.

As yet, the Iowa D-N-R isn’t tagging any flying creatures, but that’s something that’s being planned for the near future. For now, experts in Iowa tracking stations are keeping an eye — or an ear — on many thousands of creatures that have been tagged elsewhere. While we may already know a lot about the big picture of migration patterns, Buckardt Thomas says these stations will help us to understand even more about where various species winter and threats they may face.

Iowa’s seven tracking stations are located in areas that met elevation requirements and were placed on buildings owned or leased by the Iowa D-N-R. There’s one at Lewis and Clark State Park, with six more near the towns of Early, Boone, Swisher, McGregor, Wapello, and Burlington. The state started installing the stations in August of 2021.

https://motus.org/

 

AMAZON OPENING DELAYED

Amazon is aiming to have a Sioux Falls fulfillment center open by 2024.  Amazon announced last week that the opening of the online fulfillment center at Foundation Park was being delayed.  The facility was originally set to open this year.  Amazon is releasing few details about the exact timeline, but city officials say a two year delay is expected.

 

GREEN HYDROGEN

Saint Cloud wants to be the first city in the world to produce “green hydrogen” at its wastewater treatment facility, and it is racing to get the project up and running before its partner city in Germany. Public Services Director Tracy Hodel says Saint Cloud already has much of the necessary infrastructure in place but needs an “electrolyzer” to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen. Hydrogen gas would be used to power Saint Cloud’s wastewater treatment plant. Any excess could be sold — officials say possibly to Xcel Energy or to New Flyer, which has talked to the city about potentially manufacturing hydrogen-powered buses. Saint Cloud has applied for a one-point-one-million-dollar state grant to help pay for the three-million-dollar project.