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News for Thursday, July 14

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AKRON POOL
The city of Akron is celebrating tonight.
Despite having to tear down their aged swimming pool last year, they’re holding a groundbreakin at 6 pm for construction of a new aquatic center.
City administrator Dan Rolfes says Akron and Westfield pool supporters planned to have more than just a groundbreaking tonight.

Even though Akron has no pool, most celebrants will get wet tonight.

Akron’s old pool, built in 1954, was torn down last year, as it was leaking thousands of gallons of water each day. It will be replaced by a 3.2 million dollars aquatic center, which will include a zero depth pool, play structures for kids, two different slides, a diving board, and water basketball and volleyball facilities. Rolfes says they plan to have the aquatic center open June 1st of 2023.

 

DARE CONFERENCE
The Iowa DARE Conference was held earlier this week in Le Mars. (Sunday through Tuesday) Le Mars Asst Police Chief Justin Daale says the DARE program is a fixture in schools and among law enforcement agencies.

Le Mars Police Department served as the host of the statewide conference.

Several current topics about the dangers kids face were discussed. These included vaping among elementary students.

Daale says kids are lied to about vaping, that it’s safer than smoking, when it is not.  School officers want to help students make good decisions when confronted with these substance.  Daale says Good decision making also pertains to use of social media by students.

Conferees also discussed the connection between social media and human trafficking.

These school resource officers will incorporate what they learned at the conference to their contacts with students and parents in the new school year.

 

REMSEN GROCERY
In Remsen, the city and its residents are working toward welcoming a new grocery store to the community. Remsen economic development Board member Jeremy Bunkers says it’s been four years since their grocery store was closed after a fire.

Bunkers says city leaders have been aided by state economic development officials to find a new grocer.

Their best option was found in a neighboring community.

Bunkers says there is one key element necessary to bring a successful grocery to Remsen.

Bunkers wouldn’t move forward on a plan without that support.

An agreement has been reached for the new grocery. Now it’s a matter of raising funds to cover the startup costs.  The city of Remsen has taken action to help bring a grocer to town, including the purchase of the damaged building and the home of the former owner. Businesses and individuals are contributing to the startup, too.  Bunkers anticipates the grocery to open by the end of the year, but a firm date has not been announced.

 

LE MARS EXPLOSION

A natural gas explosion in Le Mars yesterday morning injured three people, and destroyed two homes.

The home, at 327 3rd St SW, blew up around 6-30 am.  Le Mars Fire Rescue Chief  Dave Shipper was one of the first on the scene, and saw one of the three victims, the owner of the home, Bill Anthony of Le Mars climb out of the rubble.

Two others were also at the home when the explosion occurred. The home was rented to Jeff Dimmick.

Two victims were taken by ambulance to Floyd Valley Hospital.  They were treated and released.  Anthony suffered more serious burns, and was taken to Mercy Hospital in Sioux City, and later airlifted to St Elizabeth’s in Lincoln, NE, where he is being treated for burns.  He was in stable condition as of late yesterday.

Chief Schipper said the explosion caused extensive damage to a home next door, at 321 3rd St SW.  It was eventually demolished once the fire was brought under control.

Debris from the blast fell on homes within a block of the explosion.

Schipper estimated total damages around 350-thousand dollars.

Le Mars Fire Rescue was assisted by Orange City and Sioux Center fire departments, Mid American Energy, Le Mars Police, Plymouth County Sheriffs Department, the Le Mars water and Street Departments, and several others providing food and drink for the responders.

 

IOWA FIREFIGHTERS

The Department of Natural Resources says more than a dozen Iowans are helping fight wildfires in three other states this month.  Six Iowans are rotating in groups of three to west Texas where the Dempsey Fire has burned thousands of acres of forest land.  A two-person Iowa crew is fighting wildfires in Colorado and six firefighters from this state are in Alaska and will be there for 21 days.  D-N-R fire specialist Ryan Schlater says Iowa is still well-protected should a wildfire break out here.

 

TEMPORARY ROAD CLOSURE

A culvert replacement project on Iowa 12 one mile north of Plymouth County Road K-18 requires closing the roadway to traffic from Plymouth county roads C38 to K18 for 3 weeks beginning on Monday, July 18.  During this project, Iowa 12 traffic will be detoured onto Plymouth County roads C-38 and K18.  Motorists are reminded to drive with caution, obey the posted speed limit and other signs in the work area.  Fine increase for violations within road construction zones.

 

AVIAN FLU

The director of the North Central Poultry Association representing Iowa and Minnesota is encouraged by efforts to limit the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza.  Kevin Stiles says producers remain on high alert even though summer heat has neutralized the virus. Stiles says biosecurity practices have come a long way since the 2015 outbreak, and “the investments, the training, all of that they put in place we believe really helped to control the outbreak this time around. Unlike the previous avian flu outbreak, there was little to no evidence of farm-to-farm transmission this spring.

 

DOT COMMISSION

The Iowa Transportation Commission will hold a public meeting at the Sioux City Convention Center on August 9.  This meeting is designed to hear from local government, interest groups, and individuals about the state transportation program, policies, and issues surrounding the state’s highways, rail and river systems, bicycle trails, and public transit.

 

IOWA SOLAR POWER

The Nature Conservancy in Iowa is offering home and business owners a crash course in solar power. Patrick Snell, the organization’s climate and external affairs associate, says the Grow Solar program is in its fourth year of helping Iowans navigate a course toward finding an affordable source of renewable energy. The program aims to connect Iowa home and business owners with local, reputable installers, while warning them about the predatory tactics of some out-of-state solar companies. Grow Solar is underway this summer in Polk County, after successful runs in Dallas, Warren, Linn, Jackson, and Johnson counties. There’s also a longer program, the Solar Power Hour, where people can learn the basics of solar energy, along with some of the financial aspects.