Home News KLEM News for Thursday, December 15

KLEM News for Thursday, December 15


Le Mars Police say there’s been a schedule change for tonight’s community event on social media with Officer David Gomez. The informational meeting will take place at 6 pm at the Le Mars Midle School Auditorium. Doors open atr 5-30 pm. Officer Gomez visited with 6th through 8th grade students about social media, and the danger and responsibilities associated with it. He’ll speak to parents and to the general public tonight.



Today (Thursday) marks one year since an extremely rare and very powerful December derecho swept across Iowa, killing one person and causing widespread destruction. Meteorologist Mike Fowle, at the National Weather Service, says the massive, long-duration storm is cemented in state history and will, hopefully, never be matched. Forty-nine of Iowa’s 99 counties were declared disaster areas.

While tornadoes can happen any day of the year, it’s very unusual to have one in December, let alone 63 in a single day. That one storm accounted for more than half of all tornadoes (114) statewide that year. A derecho is characterized as a widespread, long-lived, straight-line wind storm associated with a fast-moving group of severe thunderstorms. The December 15th derecho was the second one to hit Iowa in two years, following another on August 10th of 2020, which placed the term “derecho” into the vocabulary of everyone in the state. The August 2020 storm packed extremely powerful winds, peaking at 140-miles an hour near Cedar Rapids.

The power was knocked out to more than 140-thousand homes in the December storm, and the one person who was killed was a truck driver whose semi was blown into a Benton County ditch. Before the derecho the previous August, most Iowans had never heard the term, but forecasters knew it well.

Coincidentally, Iowa had a derecho earlier this year, in July, but it was nowhere near as destructive as the previous two.



More than 20 years after a southwest Iowan dug a large bone out of a creek bed near Shenandoah, researchers from the University of Iowa are publishing a paper about what turned out to be a family of three of the most prime specimens ever found of an ancient creature. Giant ground sloths were descended from tree-dwellers, but U-I Professor Emeritus Holmes Semken says there’s no tree that could have held these sloths, as they were the size of wooly mammoths, standing ten feet tall. While today’s tree sloths have a reputation of being very slow moving, Semken says the giant ground sloth likely would have moved more quickly. Most previous discoveries only involved a few bones, but he says the Iowa find was exceptional as the three sloth skeletons were in near-perfect condition. Semken calls the discovery a type of “Rosetta Stone” for understanding the family life of these mysterious Ice Age animals.



A Winter Weather Advisory has been called for counties adjacent to Plymouth County, to the north and west.  These counties include Sioux, O’Brien in Iowa, and Union County in South Dakota.  The advisory is in effect from now through Friday noon.  There will be snow and blowing snow, with accumulations in northwest Iowa 3 to 5 inches, along with winds gusting to 45 miles per hour.  Plan on slippery roads and poor visibilitiy in the advisory area.



Members of a key state panel say a recession would likely have little impact on Iowa’s economy. They’re predicting state tax receipts will decline slightly in 2023 due to cuts in the top income tax rate for individuals and corporations as well as the end of state taxation of retirement income. Kraig Paulsen is director of state agencies that oversee state tax collections and the state budget. If there is a recession in 2023, Paulsen predicts it will be shallow and short. Senator Janet Petersen, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee in the Iowa Senate, says Iowa’s labor market continues to lag behind neighboring states and the panel’s no-growth revenue estimate is yet another warning about Iowa’s  economy.



The Minority Leader in the Iowa Senate says Democrats will do what they can to push back on the governor’s goal of sending more state tax dollars to private schools. Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls says the plan is a threat to rural schools.

Governor Reynolds proposed giving the parents of 10-thousand kids state scholarships to cover private school costs. During the campaign, Reynolds said her goal was to give every Iowa parent the choice of where their child attends school.

Wahls suggests a plan to let tens of thousands of Iowa parents get state money after enrolling their child in a private school would divert hundreds of millions of dollars from public schools.

The governor’s previous school choice plans have failed to pass the Republican-led House, but some G-O-P opponents were defeated in primaries and a number of new Republican members were elected to  the House in November. The 2023 Iowa legislature starts in a month — on Monday, January 9th.



Governor Kim Reynolds has banned state employees from using TikTok on state-owned devices and state agencies are prohibited from subscribing or owning a TikTok account. TikTok is the Chinese-owned social media app. It has been downloaded 220 million times in the United States. Reynolds calls TikTok a national security risk. Reynolds says the safety of Iowans is her number one priority and that includes cybersecurity. The director of the F-B-I has warned the Chinese government could use the app to collect data on Americans. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem issued an executive order on TikTok at the end of November and eight other Republican governors have announced similar moves since then.



Iowa Congressman Randy Feenstra says the renewable fuel recommendations from the Biden Administration are a combination of positives and negatives. Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, supports the E-P-A’s recommended ethanol production mandate.

In the past, the federal government granted some oil refineries waivers, so they did not have to blend ethanol into gasoline. Feenstra says one downside of the E-P-A’s plan is the agency is recommending the production goal for soybean-based biodiesel remain the same for the next three years.

The E-P-A is also proposing a new program for electric vehicle manufacturers. It basically would create renewable fuel credits for the electricity used to make E-Vs.

Others have suggested the electric vehicle industry could be an ally to ag interests battling the oil industry’s aim to get rid of the Renewable Fuel Standard. The E-P-A will host a virtual hearing on January 10th to give the public a chance to comment on its three year plan related to ethanol, biodiesel and electric vehicle production.