Home News KLEM News for Thursday, January 5, 2023

KLEM News for Thursday, January 5, 2023


Le Mars Police announced that they brought on a new officer, and promoted two others.  Police Chief Kevin Vande Vegte says Officer Chad Singer comes from Cherokee County.

A recent retirement on the Le Mars police force created an opportunity to revamp their schedule.

Chief Vande Vegte says had been preparing for a change in leadership structure for some time.

The sergeant candidates underwent a testing process before the promotions were made.

Le Mars Police also had qualifications in mind for these promotions

Vande Vegte said he wanted to make sure the most experienced officers are on duty at all times.

All three police officers began their new duties this week.



There have been several storms dropping heavy snow in the area this winter.  But State climatologist Justin Glisan says it will take significantly more precipitation to break Iowa’s long-running drought.

Large portions of Iowa are in moderate to severe drought, and multiple northwest Iowa counties are in the D-3 category of extreme drought, but parts of Woodbury and Monona counties are in the worst category, D-4, for exceptional drought. State Climatologist Justin Glisan says the soil needs to recharge in order to rebound.

Glisan says it takes a lot of snow to melt down to usable precipitation. He says it’s anywhere from eight to 12 inches of snow that equate to one inch of rainfall.

Much of Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota has been in a significant drought for most of the last two years.



The city council of Orange City this week approved the hire of a new Community Development Director. Ryan McEwen will begin work for the city on January 30. He currently serves as Facilities Director for Northwestern College.   He previously worked in construction and sales for an electrical supply wholesaler. As Community Development Director, Mc Ewen will promote housing, retail, commercial and industrial development. He replaces Mark Gaul, who last year was hired to a similar position in the city of Le Mars.



The Loess Hills Audubon Society will host a guest speaker tonight. Kari Sandage, a naturalist with the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center, is a former National Park Service ranger. Kari will share her experience living and working in Denali National Park in Alaska. She’ll talk about the natural history of Denali and about what life was like living in one of the most beautiful places in the world. The Audubon Society Board Meeting begins at 6:00 PM Thursday, January 5, with the Denali program beginning at 7:00 PM.  The board meets at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center.



An Iowa D-O-T vehicle was heavily damaged Tuesday in a crash on Interstate 29 in western Iowa. A motor enforcement officer was inside his vehicle, providing traffic control at a crash south of Onawa, in the southbound lanes of I-29, when a semi hit his S-U-V from behind. The officer inside the S-U-V was injured, taken to a hospital and has been released. The D-O-T says investigators do not know yet if the winter weather conditions at the time of the crash played a role in the accident — but the agency is urging drivers to slow down and focus on the task of driving, especially when conditions are less than perfect.



The first Iowan to reach orbit has died. Astronaut Walter Cunningham was born in Creston and said in a recent interview that he grew up poor, dreaming of flying airplanes, not spacecraft, though he went on to do both. Cunningham enlisted in the U-S Navy in 1951 and later became a Marine Corps pilot, serving in Korea. After getting a doctorate in physics, Cunningham became an astronaut, and in 1968, was the lunar module pilot on the Apollo 7 crew. They spent 11 days in space and paved the way for the moon landing the following year. Cunningham died Tuesday in Houston at age 90.



An Iowan who was thought to be the oldest living person in the United States died Tuesday. The Lampe & Powers Funeral Home says Bessie Hendricks of Lake City died Tuesday at the Shady Oaks Care Center in Lake City. Hendricks celebrated her 115th birthday on November 7th, and lived 57 more days. A funeral for Hendricks is scheduled for this Saturday in Lake City. She was reportedly the 10th oldest person in the world.



The top Republican in the Iowa House says the 2023 legislature is unlikely to fill a state fund created to finance water quality and outdoor recreation projects. In 2010, Iowa voters passed a constitutional amendment creating the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund where money from a FUTURE sales tax increase would be deposited. Last year, Senate Republicans proposed a maneuver to fill that fund, by converting all local option sales taxes to a statewide one percent sales tax. House Speaker Pat Grassley says about 50 cities and counties, though, do not have a local option sales tax, so it would be an increase in those areas — and House Republicans didn’t campaign on this issue. The 2023 legislative session begins Monday.



It’s been nearly six months since the state launched the new 9-8-8 hotline number for people seeking crisis mental health support, and the call volume has doubled. Foundation Two Crisis Services in Cedar Rapids is one of the two non-profits contracted with the state to run 9-8-8 call centers. C-E-O Emily Blomme says though they are still behind initial federal call estimates — in part because they asked the state not to launch a major campaign to promote it until they have staff to handle the volume. She says the organizations are starting to work on figuring out how to centralize dispatch for mobile crisis teams statewide and integrate the service with 9-1-1 dispatchers.



The Fort Dodge couple who allegedly drowned their infant daughter shortly after she was born on November 16th have pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. Twenty-four-year-old Taylor Blaha (BLAH-hah) and 31-year-old Brandon Thoma (TOH-muh) submitted written pleas of not guilty during their arraignment yesterday (Tuesday). Both were arrested and charged with first degree murder last month for the death of their infant daughter. Thoma faces an additional charge of abuse of a corpse after allegedly disposing of the baby’s body. Webster County Attorney Darren Driscoll says the search for the baby’s remains does continue. There’s a $1500 reward through Webster County Crimestoppers for information that leads to the discovery of the baby’s body.



The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will stock rainbow trout in five urban lakes and ponds this month for anglers who enjoy winter fishing. Mike Steuck (STIKE), the D-N-R’s regional fisheries supervisor for northeast Iowa, says trout get stressed in warmer water and can even die if the temperature is too high. Stike says the trout don’t like temperatures higher than 70, they’ll quit feeding, act a little funny and seek out colder water. Steuck says water temperatures are much cooler now, in the 30s, so it’s an ideal time for the D-N-R to stock the trout — and for Iowans to seek them out by casting a line. The DNR will stock one-to-two-thousand trout in lakes in Sioux City, Council Bluffs, Mason City and a few other locations.