A fire damaged a residence in Le Mars Tuesday afternoon. A press release from Le Mars Fire Rescue Chief Dave Schipper said the department was called around 4 pm Tuesday to a house fire at 1340th Ave SE. Heavy smoke was coming from the back of the home when firefighters arrived. The homeowner, Richard Moritz, had come home and came upon the fire. He was outside when firemen arrived. The fire came from the kitchen of the home. Firefighters quickly extinguished the fire. They also rescued a dog that was trapped inside. Schipper says the cause of the fire was accidental, most likely due to unattended cooking. A pan on the stove ignited. The fire spread to a microwave oven and cupboards above the stove. There was heavy fire damage in the kitchen, and heavy smoke damage in the rest of the main floor. There were no injuries reported. Assisting the fire department were Le Mars Police, Plymouth County Sheriff Le Mars Water and Street Departments, and Campbell’s Electric.
There’s another possibility of snow late this afternoon into tomorrow. That Ice Storm Warning this morning was cancelled. A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect until 6 am Wednesday. Snow, possibly mixed with freezing rain, is forecast from late this afternoon, ending before midnight. Blowing snow is a possibility tonight as well. Roads are completely covered in Sioux County, and travel is not recommended in northern Sioux and the western half of Lyon County, due to slick roads. A Winter Storm Warning continues through the night in Lyon County.
The bad winter weather in December kept people away from Christmas Acres, the huge light display located 7 miles west of Le Mars. Rob Scheitler says donations were down to an estimated 15,500 dollars. A snowstorm, then bitter cold, and in the last week of December, rain, caused fewer opportunities to turn on the lighted displays. Scheitler says rain tends to overload their circuit breakers, and bitter cold curtails electricity usage. Donations totaled 27-thousand dollars last year, and 42-thousand in 2020. All cash donations are given to the Christian Needs Center of Le Mars. Scheitler says they continue to receive other donations. These include street decorations from area towns, or private displays from other parts of the area. These are added on each year to the Christmas Acres display. Visitors come from all over Iowa and surrounding states to see Christmas Acres. Scheitler says next year’s tentative opening will be November 17.
Last week, a person wanted in Plymouth County was arrested in Clay County. 34 year old Jeffrey Krowiorz of Spencer was taken into custody by the Clay County Sheriffs Office on an active US Marshal Warrant out of Plymouth County for violating probation. No bond was set. Krowiorz is held for another agency.
PROPERTY TAX REFORM
Key Republican lawmakers are making it clear property tax reform will be a priority for the 2023 Iowa legislature, which starts next Monday. Senate Republican Leader Jack Whitver suggests it may take a while to come up with a plan, though, as it’s a “really complicated issue.” Whitver says they’re taking a “holistic look” to see what is the best long-term strategy for property taxes. He notes it’s among the least popular forms of taxation, dating back many decades. In 1934, the Iowa Legislature enacted a statewide sales tax and a state income tax as property tax relief measures.
LE MARS CITY COUNCIL
The Le Mars city council met today in regular session. Their agenda opened with three public hearings – one on an airport hangar lease extension for Wells Enterprises, another for a watermain replacement project on Plymouth Street, and a third concerning changes to the city’s sidewalk regulations ordinance. Action items today included the 24th Street SW Bridge Repair Project. That item was tabled from the last city council meeting for further study. PlyWood Trail Phase 1B is also before the council for action today.
The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors meets this morning. They will begin by adjourning the 2022 board to reorganize for 2023. A chair and vice chair will be appointed. The board will later assign committee memberships among the Supervisors. They will also fill vacancies on various county boards. Under new business, the board will consider approval of an amended IT memorandum of understanding with Sioux Rivers.
A week from now, the 2023 Iowa legislature will convene and Governor Kim Reynolds has made it clear she’ll ask lawmakers to pass what she calls “school choice.”
Over the past two years, Reynolds has proposed a limited number of state scholarships for parents who enroll their child in a private school, but she’s now calling for every parent to be able to get state money to cover private school expenses for their child.
The previous proposals Reynolds made did not have enough Republican votes to pass in the Iowa House. Last June, the governor backed G-O-P primary candidates who defeated a few Republicans who were “no” votes. House Speaker Pat Grassley says he’s optimistic something will pass in 2023.
Democrats in the Iowa House and Senate oppose spending more state tax dollars on private schools, a priority of Governor Reynolds in the next state Legislature. Senate Democratic Leader Zach Wahls says the idea is of grave concern to rural residents.
House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst says 42 of Iowa’s 99 counties do not have a private school — so most rural families wouldn’t benefit from the governor’s plan.
Governor Reynolds will deliver the annual “Condition of the State” address on Tuesday, January 10th and she may unveil her major policy ideas during the speech.
All six members of the leadership team for the 36 Democrats in the Iowa House this year are women.
That’s House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst (KON-first). After each election, Republicans AND Democrats in both the House and Senate meet privately to choose senators and representatives to serve in leadership positions. This is the first time one of those four partisan groups will have women in every leadership post.
Lindsay James of Dubuque is minority whip, the number two Democrat in the Iowa House. The assistant leaders for House Democrats are Representatives Sue Cahill of Marshalltown, Heather Matson of Ankeny, Amy Nielsen of North Liberty and Sharon Steckman of Mason City. Konfrst, who has been House Minority Leader since mid-2021, posted a photo of the group on social media.
Republican Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake is the only women to be elected by her peers to serve as Speaker of the House, a role she held from the fall of 2015 through late 2019. Republican Mary Lundy of Marion is the only women to be elected to be a floor leader in the Iowa Senate. Lundy held the position in 2006 and 2007. After this year’s General Election, Senate Republicans chose Amy Sinclair of Allerton to be Senate President. She’s the second woman elected by her peers to that post.
Healthcare facilities and pharmacies are continuing to see shortages of antibiotic medications as hospitals are reporting high levels of kids getting sick with viral infections like the flu and R-S-V. The executive director of pharmacy for UnityPoint Des Moines, Brian Benson, says they’re being careful to make sure they’re saving medications like amoxicillin (uh-mox-uh-sill-en) for bacterial infections — because it doesn’t work on viruses. He says they’re able to get by on the supply they have, and patients can help by understanding how things are treated. Benson says parents can prevent the spread of all infections by keeping their kids home when sick.
CREDIT CARD STATEMENTS
Iowans are being warned to look over their credit card statements during these first days of the new year as there may be charges for unwanted subscription services. Consumer protection advocate Michael Domke says many people agree to sample services for an introductory fee and don’t realize they’re being charged every month — or that the price went up.
The fine print can sometimes be tricky, and Domke says you also might have signed up for a subscription without even realizing it.
With so much click-bait on social media outlets, Domke says it’s very easy to get duped into paying — or overpaying — for an app or service these days.
Domke says to go through your credit card and bank statements, line by line, to make sure you’re not paying for something you don’t use or don’t want.