LE MARS COMMUNITY SCHOOL BOARD
A project to replace lighting at the Le Mars Community Schools baseball field has been put on hold. At a public hearing Monday night, only two bids were received for construction of the improvements, and one of the bids was incomplete. The lone bidder for the project bid 412-thousand dollars for the work. An advisor for the project asked local contractors why no more bids were submitted for the project, and they said they already have work next spring, when this project was to take place. On recommendation of the Superintendent, the school board rejected the bid, and decided to rebid the project in the summer of next year, with a spring, 2024 construction period.
There were several personnel items before the school board Monday, including two retirements, to take effect at the end of the current education year. Kluckhohn Elementary School principal Scott Parry, informed the board he will retire at the end of the year. He has served in that capacity for 20 years in the Le Mars Community School District. Special Education teacher Michelle Gaes intends to retire at the end of the school year. She has served in the district for 32 years. The retirements were approved by the school board, along with the resignation of teacher associate Kylie Jensen. She also served at Kluckhohn Elementary.
The Le Mars Community School Board approved a recommendation to redraw director district boundaries, to bring them in line with population shifts noted by the 2020 census. There are five director districts, with districts 2 and 3 extending further southwest and southeast within the city of Le Mars. Director District 4 becomes a bit more compact in north and west Le Mars. Director District 5 covers the rural area north, west, and south of Le Mars, and includes Merrill. The ideal population of each director district is around 28-hundred. The populations of the new districts are within one percent deviation from the ideal level. In addition to the 5 director districts, there are two at large directors on the Le Mars Community School Board.
Le Mars Police, Le Mars Community Schools, and CAASA are hosting a community event on social media and kids tomorrow night.
Assistant Police Chief Justin Daale says an Idaho police expert on these issues will be speaking to middle school students during the day, and to the community at large Thursday night.
Gomez works with a crimes against children task force in Idaho. Assistant Chief Daale says Le Mars police get questions on sex trafficking and human trafficking.
Asst Chief Daale says parents have to be aware of their children’s cel phone use.
Gomez will also urge students to be cautious with sharing information about themselves.
The community event is open to the public. Officer Gomez’s presentation will be at the Le Mars Middle School Auditorium Thursday at 7 pm.
The annual Iowa State University survey released Tuesday finds the average price of an acre of farmland set a record again at 11-thousand-411 dollars. I-S-U’s Wendong Zhang (When-dong John) oversees the survey.
Zhang says the inflation-adjusted farmland value was a nearly nine percent increase — which is also a record.
Both the regular and inflation adjusted values have set records. He says overall medium quality ground rose the most at 17-point-seven percent, the high-quality ground rose about 17 percent, and the low-quality ground rose 15 percent. Each county saw an increase.
Zhang says landowners are happy to see an increase in their land value — but do wonder how long it will last.
Zhang says commodity prices are the number one reason those in the survey say land values have increased — as everyone was thinking four-dollar a bushel of corn would be good — and nobody was expecting corn to get to six and seven dollars. He says there are several reasons for that rise — including the conflict in Ukraine.
He says corn and beans aren’t the only commodities seeing the impact.
He says this has shown up in the increased growth in land values in the northwest part of the state as there’s a significant presence of cattle producers and to a lesser extent hogs. He says producers need to have land to spread manure on for nutrient management purposes, so they are more aggressive in bidding on nearby grounds.
COUNTY ATTORNEY RESIGNS
Dickinson County Attorney Amy Zenor has resigned after being charged with public intoxication last month. The Dickinson County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to accept her resignation. Board chairman Bill Leupold wished her well.
Zenor, who is 39, was re-elected as Dickinson County Attorney on November 8th. On November 10th, the county sheriff’s office was notified that someone in the courthouse in Spirit Lake was drunk and Zenor was arrested. She is pleading not guilty to a simple misdemeanor charge and is scheduled for a non-jury trial early next year. It’s now up to the board of supervisors to decide how to fill the vacancy.
The board has put Assistant County Attorney Steve Goodelow in charge of the office until the decision is made. Zenor had been appointed Dickinson County Attorney since January of 2020. She was appointed to the post when the previous county attorney retired after nearly 39 years in office.
IOWA TAX REVENUES
State tax collections are continuing to grow significantly, but tax cuts that take effect soon are likely to alter that trend. Net state tax revenue is up six-point-seven percent over the past five months. However, the top state income tax rates for individuals and corporations will be reduced January 1st. Retirement income will become exempt from income tax in the new year, too. In October, a panel of experts predicted those cuts will lead to a two-point-seven percent reduction in total state tax collections. The Revenue Estimating Conference meets again today to review the latest data and settle on a new prediction. The panel’s total tax estimate will be used as a starting point for state budget decisions.