Home News KLEM News for Thursday, November 17

KLEM News for Thursday, November 17

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BURN BAN LIFTED

The Burn Ban for Plymouth County will be lifted tomorrow morning at 8 am. Le Mars Fire Rescue Chief Dave Schipper gave notice Wednesday that the ban will be lifted. The ban was put in place on September 20. There was a previous burn ban imposed in the county this spring, when dry conditions and strong winds created a combusatble environment. It was later lifted. Burn bans for Sioux, O’Brien, Osceola, and Cherokee Counties have also been lifted. There are still active open burning bans in Woodbury and Crawford counties in effect.

 

RECORD LAND SALE

The sale of 73 acres of farmland near Sheldon appears have set the record price for Iowa agland. Mark Zomer of Zomer Company Realty and Auction of Rock Valley handled the sale last Friday.

A month ago, 53 acres of Plymouth County farm ground between Marcus and Remsen sold for over 26-thousand dollars an acre. Zomer says the parcel he sold in Sioux County on Friday is highly-rated cropland.

Zomer says the buyer is adding the 73 acres to a family operation. There’s only so much farm ground for sale and, according to Zomer, that makes the land market very strong.

The land that sold for 30-thousand dollars an acre last Friday is located between Sheldon and Boyden.

 

ERNST LEADERSHIP

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst has moved up one rung on the Senate G-O-P leadership ladder, to the number four position. Ernst’s colleagues have elected her chair of the Republican Policy Committee, after what have been described as tense meetings of Senate Republicans this week. Ernst is promising to foster collaboration, to make sure all voices in the Senate G-O-P Conference are heard. Ernst remains the top ranking woman among Senate Republican leadership. She’s been vice chair of the Senate Republican Conference for the past four years.

CEL PHONE LAWS

The number of crashes and deaths involving distracted drivers is swiftly rising in Iowa and the leader of the state’s largest cycling organization is calling for stricter laws on the use of cell phones by motorists. Mark Wyatt, executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, says they’ve gotten bipartisan, committee-level support of get-tough laws in the past two legislative sessions, but haven’t been able to get a measure to a floor vote in either chamber. It’s illegal to text and drive now, but Wyatt wants it required for drivers’ phones to be in hands-free or voice-activated mode. An Iowa D-O-T report says in 2001, there was one reported death from distracted driving in Iowa and about 500 crashes. Last year, there were ten deaths statewide caused by distracted driving and nearly 11-hundred crashes. To sign the petition, visit drive-safe-iowa-dot-org.

HOLIDAY LIGHTS

It’s a Christmas tradition that dates back more than 30 years as crowds gather in downtown Atlantic for Thursday night’s festivities to kick off the holiday season. Bailey Smith, executive director of the Atlantic Area Chamber of Commerce, says the Grand Lighting Ceremony at 5 P-M features the simultaneous switching on of more than 200-thousand twinkling lights. City crews spend up to six weeks restringing the lights and making sure they all work. Atlantic is Travel Iowa’s number-one destination in the state to celebrate the Christmas Season and Smith says the Grand Lighting is a big reason why.

 

EDUCATION REFORM

House Speaker Pat Grassley will be chairman of a new committee that he says will review bills containing significant reforms to Iowa’s educational system. Republican Governor Kim Reynolds’ plan to provide state scholarships to cover the private school expenses for 10-thousand students failed to clear the Republican-led Iowa House last year. Reynolds has indicated she’ll seek a larger plan in 2023 that would apply to ALL parents. Speaker Grassley says the new committee will consider a broad set of education reforms. This past year G-O-P lawmakers considered but did not enact new pathways for teacher certification. Another stalled bill would have let schools find out if teachers or coaches applying for jobs had resigned from another district after being accused of inappropriate contact with students.

 

DEMOCRAT REFLECTION

State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald says it’s time to do some personal reflection, and for the Democratic Party to do the same after he lost his re-election bid.

He says this was the one time he couldn’t overcome a Republican surge.

The entire Congressional delegation is now Republicans and only one Democrat state officeholder hung on. Fitzgerald says that should lead to some examination by the Democrat party.

 

MARRIAGE RIGHTS

Iowa’s U.S. Senators have split their votes on legislation that would protect marriage rights for same-sex and interracial couples. The bill would grant federal recognition of same-sex and interracial marriages. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley voted against allowing the Senate to consider the bill. Grassley says he opposes the bill on religious liberty grounds, but also believes it’s unnecessary. Senator Joni Ernst was among a dozen Republicans who voted to let the bill advance. It’s likely the U.S. Senate will approve the bill in the next two weeks.  The U.S. House passed a similar bill after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that opinions on same-sex marriage and the right to contraception were based on the same legal grounds as Roe v Wade — the 1973 abortion decision the court overturned this summer.

 

APP CHALLENGE 

A Sheldon student has won this year’s Congressional App Challenge in the 4th Congressional District of Iowa. US Representative Randy Feenstra announced that Natilie Schmith, a 7th grade student from Sheldon, developed an app called Mental Health: Teens.  It allows young people to manage their mental health through password-protected, digital diary entries.  It was developed for Web, iOS, and Android.  The Congressional App Challenge is a nationwide competition that encourages students to learn to code and exposes them to the possibilities of a career in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

 

HUTCHINSON CANDIDACY

Arkansas Governor Asa (AY-suh) Hutchinson — a likely presidential candidate — is suggesting the Republican Party needs to separate itself from former President Trump. Hutchinson says voters are weary of the chaos Trump creates. Hutchinson’s second term as Arkansas governor ends in early January. He says Trump’s launch of a 2024 presidential campaign this week could speed up plans from others like him who plan to compete in the Iowa Caucuses. Hutchinson spoke this (Wednesday) morning to the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale.

 

IOWA FIRING

The Iowa Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in an effort by the state seeks to remove the governor from a lawsuit by the former spokesperson for the Iowa Department of Public Health. Polly Carver-Kimm says she was forced to resign after fulfilling public information requests to reporters during the pandemic that the governor thought reflected poorly on her administration. The attorney for the state, Samuel Langholz, argued the governor should not be part of the lawsuit because the governor didn’t fire her and the claim shouldn’t extend out to indirect influence over a discharge decision of another. Langholz also argued the state should have immunity under a new law that was passed after the firing, and that Carver-Kimm should not be covered by the whistleblower act.  Carver-Kimm’s attorney, Thomas Duff,  says retroactively giving immunity in the case  is a violation of both federal and state due process. And he says if there is pressure being put someone by their supervisors to not disclose what should be lawfully disclosed or to delay the disclosure of information that harms the person and the public. The court will release its ruling at a later date.