Home News Wednesday News, August 3

Wednesday News, August 3

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TAX ABATEMENT

The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors gave tentative approval to a Tax Abatement Resolution Tuesday. This will end a long-standing legal dispute over unpaid property taxes, penalties, and interest due from Country Grain, LLC, and from Plymouth Energy. The Board voted to sign a settlement release, and approve nearly 100-thousand dollars in tax abatements. Over 25-thousand dollars of that amount represents property taxes owed, and the rest is interest and penalties. The Board also passed a resolution authorizing the document be signed only when the two firms pay the amounts stipulated in the legal agreement between the businesses and the county – 70-thousand dollars from Country Grain LLC and 20-thousand from Plymouth Energy. As of today, the Plymouth County Auditor says she’s received checks from the parties form Country Grain, and awaits payment from Plymouth Energy.

 

INJURY ACCIDENT
A Le Mars teen was injured Tuesday in a car-bicycle accident. Le Mars police say the collision occurred at the intersection of Central Ave and 4th Street SW. A police report indicates 15 year old Hailie Jo Jessen was riding west on a sidewalk parallel 4th St. A car driven by 67 year old Richard Paul Miller was stopped on Central at 4th. The report says Jessen traveled through the intersection without stopping, and struck the car as it was pulling away from the stop sign. She hit her head on the windshield of Miller’s car. Le Mars Fire Rescue came to the scene and transported the cyclist to Floyd Valley Health for treatment. Jessen received non-life-threatening injuries in the crash. Miller was not hurt, and was not cited in the accident.

 

DROUGHT RESOURCES
Three state agencies are developing guidelines and real-time resources for city and county officials who may have to restrict water usage during a drought emergency. Tim Hall of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says the first-ever state “drought plan” would leave decisions about limiting water usage to local officials.

The latest information from the U.S. Drought Mitigation Center shows there are “extreme” drought conditions in four northwest Iowa counties, but water shortages haven’t dropped to the level of what’s called an “exceptional” drought.

In July, state officials hosted meetings in Sioux City, Cedar Rapids and Creston to hear from water utilities, local communities, county emergency managers and industries that use water. A final virtual meeting is being held this (Wednesday) morning with about 70 representatives of those groups.

Hall is the hydrology resources coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. On Thursday, Hall will be issuing a statewide summary of water resources. He says water levels in some areas of northwest Iowa are alarmingly low.

The situation, though, isn’t currently as dire as the last major drought of 2012, according to Hall.

According to the state climatologist, unseasonably dry conditions persisted across Iowa last week and the drought intensified in the state’s northwest corner.

 

AFGHAN DRIVERS LICENSES
Afghan refugees in western Iowa can now take the state driver’s license exam in their own languages, as driving courses are now available in Pashto (POSH-toe) and Dari (DAR-ee) for Iowa’s latest arrivals. Refugee organizations are collaborating with the Iowa Department of Transportation to ensure the tests are available in Afghan languages. The D-O-T currently offers the test in 21 languages, but not in Pashto or Dari. That’s why Lutheran Services of Iowa in Sioux City is offering twice monthly opportunities for the test to be translated and read aloud. Ahmedullah Kohbandi (ah-med-OO-lah co-BAN-dee) passed his written exam last week and says he’s excited to drive to places other than work or home — once he passes the road test.

 

LE MARS COUNCIL

The Le Mars City Council gave third reading and adoption to a Vacant Building Ordinance.  This ordinance requires permits for vacant buildings in the Le Mars Downtown Historic District.  This ordinance is to assure property owners that a vacant building complies with minimum standards, and is not an immediate or potential safety risk.  Fees for these permits have been set at 50 dollars.

The city council set August 16 as the date for a public hearing on a joint paving project between the city and Plymouth County.  Plans call for repaving 2/3 of a mile of 7th Ave. SE, or county road K49, from 18th St in Le Mars to south of 200th St in Plymouth County.  The estimated cost of the project is 911-thousnd dollars, with 625-thousand coming from State DOT funds, and 286-thousand from local Road Use Tax Funds.  Bids will be taken by the Iowa DOT on November 15, with construction to take place in 2023.

The city council awarded a contract for repaving the intersection of Hawkeye Ave. and 12th St SW.  I and A Construction of Sioux City had the lowest of two bids on the project, at 154-thousand dollars.  The project estimate was 169-thousand dollars.

 

GAUL INTRODUCED

Le Mars’ new economic development director spoke to the city council for the first time Tuesday.  Mark Gaul began his duties in Le Mars on July 25, after previous stints in economic development in two other communities.

Gaul describes the best assets available to encourage growth in the Le Mars

Gaul intends to do in Le Mars what he has done in the other communities he has served.

He’s looking forward to shaping economic development efforts in the community.

Gaul is a Le Mars native, and that makes it exciting to return.

Gaul comes to Le Mars from Orange City, and before that, Sheldon. He worked in both communities in economic development.

Economic development activity in Le Mars was tied to the Le Mars Chamber of Commerce.  Recently, that model was discontinued, with the city opening an economic development office.

 

SPECIAL DEPUTY

The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors tabled a proposal to hire a Special Deputy to provide security at the county courthouse.  A retirement at that post has left a vacancy there.  At Tuesday’s Board meeting, Sheriff Jeff Te Brink introduced Carl McIntyre as his choice to fill that position.  McIntyre, from Pennsylvania, now of rural Le Mars, has been a part-time deputy, and also serves parttime for the US Marshall in Sioux City.  Te Brink proposes that McIntyre be hired full-time, serving as court security, prisoner transport, and filling occasional road deputy shifts.  The Supervisors tabled a decision on the proposal, saying it needs more study.

 

SIOUX CITY RESCUE

Sioux City firefighters performed a rope rescue at a cell phone tower. Firefighters were called out around 5 p-m Monday when a worker became trapped around 200 feet up the tower after a temporary pole  fell and pinned his foot. Two other tower workers were able to free him and lower him to a platform that was 150 feet above the ground. Sioux City fire rescue deployed the high-angle rope rescue team and climbed the tower to the platform and safely lowered the man to the ground. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment of on-life-threatening injuries.

 

DRY CROPS

The Iowa Crop and Weather report for the final week of July shows half of Iowa topsoil is short or very short of moisture. That’s a 12 percent increase from the previous week. Drought conditions intensified in northwest Iowa last week and the condition of Iowa’s statewide corn crop fell slightly to 76 percent good or excellent, according to the U.S.D.A. That’s a four point drop from the previous week. The report indicates the conditions of soybean fields statewide declined slightly as well. A lack of rain is putting more stress on livestock and the U-S-D-A indicates less than half of Iowa pasture land for grazing is in good to excellent shape.

 

MIDWEST ECONOMY

The latest Creighton University survey of businesses in nine midwest states shows continued growth — but economist Ernie Goss says that growth isn’t very fast.

The survey asks questions about employment and other economic trends and creates an index ranging from zero to 150.  The overall index moved up by a little more than a point to 59-point-eight in July.

There’s a debate about whether the country has moved into a recession — Goss says the signs point that way.

Goss says the recession is not having a full-blown impact on all sectors of the economy.

Goss says to listen carefully to what the Federal Reserve Governors say because when they see a recession ahead they’re going to be raising interest rates.

 

GRASSLEY DEFENDS PELOSI

U-S Senator Chuck Grassley says this country shouldn’t let China dictate the travel itinerary of any American – especially a high-ranking official like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  She is visiting Taiwan as part of an Asian tour, prompting China to issue a series of threats.  China considers Taiwan part of its territory.  Grassley says the visit is not a mistake because it sends a message that the U-S supports Taiwan’s independence.  The Iowa Republican says it would show weakness if we backed down.