Home News KLEM News for Wednesday, January 4, 2023

KLEM News for Wednesday, January 4, 2023


A public hearing will be held before the Le Mars city council on plans for an extension of the PlyWood Trail, the recreation trail connecting Le Mars with Sioux City and Sergeant Bluff.
This is Phase 1B, where the trail will be extended from just north of Merrill along the West Branch Creek, to County Road C38, at the south edge of the city of Le Mars, The estimated cost of the project is 1.5 million dollars. The city will be the contracting authority. A public hearing on the project was set for January 17. Bid opening will be April 18, and a contract awarded in early May. The project will be funded by the PlyWood Trail Foundation and a Destination Iowa Grant. The council also approved a federal aid agreement for the Federal Recreation Trails Program Project.


The Le Mars city council Tuesday voted to move ahead on the 24th St SW Bridge Project. A fire damaged part of the east abutment of the bridge in February of last year. The matter was tabled last week, as the council sought more information about the repairs to be made. A bridge inspection done at the time by the Schemmer Associates design and engineering firm, said the damaged bridge elements are essential to the proper function of the bridge, but none of the damaged items were critical to opening the bridge. The council voted unanimously to seek bids for the project. The estimated costs of repairs is 140-thousand dollars. Bid are due from contractors on February 15. A contract will be awarded on February 21.


The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors held an organization session Tuesday. The Board reappointed Don Kass of Remsen as Chairman for 2023, and Craig Anderson of Merrill as Vice Chair. The Board reappointed all current members fo the county Compensation Commission. Four others were reappointed to county boards and commisions: Dan Plueger to the Veterans Affairs Board, and Paul Schroeder to the county Board of Health . These are both three year terms. Tim Brown was reappointed to the Conservation Board, and Dan Albert to the Board of Adjustment, both five year terms. The Supervisors have yet to fill a vacancy on the county zoning board, and on the Garfield Township Board.

The Le Mars Water Department is responding to a watermain break located in the area of Central Ave south & 10th St SE. The Water Dept. will have Central Ave. closed to traffic between 10th St. S.W. / S.E. and 11th St. S.W./S.E., due to a water leak. Until repairs are complete, properties in the area may experience no water pressure or reduced water pressure. Property owners in the area of the break are asked to please refrain from or reduce the use of water if possible. You may experience discolored water up to a day after repairs are made. Central Ave will be closed between 10th St south & 11th St south for the safety of our workers.


December is traditionally a very busy, profitable month for retailers, but the latest economic survey for Iowa and eight other Midwestern states shows another dip in the business barometer for the final month of 2022. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says the state and regional economies fell further below growth neutral, or 50 on the zero-to-100 scale, during December, pointing to higher recession risk for 2023.

Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota are all seeing employment levels now that exceed pre-pandemic levels, but the survey shows Iowa has yet to hit that mark. Goss says the region is still lagging several thousand jobs, but hiring numbers did rise during December.

The future outlook is far from glowing, Goss says, as the overall Business Conditions Index has fallen for seven of the past nine months. Plus, he says about 60-percent of supply managers surveyed expect the economy to slump into a recession in 2023.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Iowa’s current labor force participation rate is two percentage points lower than before the pandemic. Goss says that indicates more than 34-thousand Iowans remain out of the workforce, thus contributing to the state’s labor shortage.


Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen has been elected to another term. Christensen’s two-year term as the leader of the court expired December 31st and she was elected to a new term by fellow justices that began on January 1st. Christensen was first selected chief justice in 2020 to succeeded Chief Justice Mark Cady who died suddenly in 2019. The Harlan native has served on the high court for five years after being appointed by Governor Kim Reynolds.


Former President Barack Obama has released a video online to mark the anniversary of his victory in the January 3rd, 2008 Caucuses. Most of the video centers around Obama’s meeting with six people who served as local organizers around the state. Obama told the group he rode the wave of their work, as most national polls throughout 2007 showed him trailing Hillary Clinton. Obama won the Iowa Caucuses 15 years ago tonight (Tuesday), finishing with about 37 percent support. Clinton finished third.



A fire damaged a residence in Le Mars yesterday afternoon.  Le Mars Fire Rescue Chief Dave Schipper said the department was called around 4 pm Tuesday to a house fire at 1340 4th 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.



A Winter Weather Advisory has been extended across northwest Iowa through noon today.  The advisory area extends north of a line from Sioux City to Storm Lake.  Snowfalls up to 4.5 inches was noted in much of northwest Iowa, on top of a layer of ice up to a half inch thick in some cases.  One report from Le Mars indicated freezing rain accumulating up to an inch, including a one inch layer of snow.  Travel this morning is still not advised in western Lyon County, due to ice-covered roads.  Iowa Highway’s 60 north of Le Mars, and Iowa 10 in southern Sioux County, have ice-covered bridges. Travel will be slow this morning.

The ice build-up Tuesday snapped tree limbs and caused scattered power outages. At one point, nearly 800 homes in Storm Lake were without power.

The Sioux County Sheriffs Department says two semis went out of control on icy roads near Fairview, South Dakota, and south of Hull Tuesday.  No one was hurt in either accident.  A grain truck crashed Monday south of Rock Valley.  The vehicle, driven by 30-year old Derrick Nelson of George, lost control, entered a ditch and rolled.  Nelson received minor injury.



Businesses have had to do some adjusting with increased costs and the continued tight labor market. The C-E-O of the Ankeny-based Casey’s convenience stores, Darren Rebellez, says they decided to focus on employee turnover.

Rebellez said during his recent quarterly report, that focus has led to the highest employee engagement scores they’ve ever had as a company.

He said that allowed them to avoid cutting back store hours due to a lack of staff.

Rebellez made his comments during the recent investor update.



A new study finds more than 45-percent of seriously injured drivers in Iowa had at least one drug in their system. The director of Drugged Driving Research at the U-I’s National Advanced Driving Simulator says the study will help better direct messaging to prevent people from driving impaired. But Tim Brown says it shows all drivers should be aware of other motorists around them and to drive defensively. The top drugs found in Iowa drivers were alcohol and cannabinoids — from products that come from cannabis plants, while Brown says the rise in prescription drugs found was alarming.



Governor Kim Reynolds will be sworn in for another term on Friday, January 13th, but the other five statewide elected officials have started their terms. The new terms for Secretary of State Paul Pate and State Auditor Rob Sand started on Sunday, January 1st. Newly elected State Treasurer Roby Smith took office Sunday as well. January 2nd was the starting date for Mike Naig’s second full term as secretary of agriculture. Newly-elected Attorney General Brenna Bird started her term Monday, too.