WATER DEPARTMENT OPERATOR
The city of Le Mars will hire a fifth Water Operator position. The position was requested because of increased EZ Valve installations and more work on the city’s distribution system. The Department, because of miscommunication, did not add the position to their budget request for the 2024 fiscal year. The cost of a new operator is some 90-thousand dollars in base pay for the first year. The department’s budget is able to cover the cost as they have a surplus of 160-thousand dollars. The city council approved the hire this week.
PLYWOOD TRAIL CONTRACT
The bids came in higher than estimated, but The Le Mars city council approve the award of contract for construction on the PlyWood Trail. A month ago, the Iowa Department of Transportation opened two bids for the project. Both bids were almost 20 percent above the project estimate. The PlyWood Trail Executive Board met twice to consider finances due to the high bid. They and the project engineer eventually recommended the contract be awarded to the low bidder, Godberson-Smith, at 2.3 million dollars. The city will be reimbursed by the PlyWood Trail Foundation, Le Mars Area Betterment Foundation, and a Destination Iowa grant and a Federal Recreational Grant. The trail will be extended from east of the West Banch Creek at Merrill lot the Le Mars city limits.
CHILD CARE ASSISTANCE BILL SIGNED
Governor Kim Reynolds has signed a bill into law that’s expected to offer child care assistance to more Iowans. It raises the income limit for families to qualify and increases government payments to facilities that care for the kids from those families. Reynolds says it’s been about 15 years since the state raised the income limit for state child care assistance. Parents have had to work at least 28 hours a week to qualify, but the new law raises that to 32 hours a week. The Legislative Services Agency estimates nearly 27-hundred more children will be enrolled in the state’s child care assistance program due to the hike in income eligibility for parents.
SENIOR LIFE SOLUTIONS
This is Mental Health Awareness Month. Floyd Valley HealthCare of Le Mars offers such care through Senior Life Solution, an outpatient mental health support group for seniors. Lori Johnson offers services through this organization.
Johnson says this age group one of the most vulnerable.
Loss is one of the common issues facing seniors. Isolation is another.
Johnson says don’t neglect your mental health
Contact Senior Life Solutions at Floyd Valley Healthcare at 546-3700 or go to Floydvalley.org.
SENIOR PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION
If you are 65 or older and own the home you live in, you can apply for a new property tax exemption. The new exemption was included in the tax plan Governor Reynolds signed into law earlier this month. It will reduce the taxable value of an elderly Iowan’s home by 32-hundred-50 dollars for property taxes due this September and next spring. The exemption doubles to 65-hundred dollars following year. If you are at least 65 years old by January 1st of THIS year must file a form by July 1st with their local county assessor to claim this exemption. Once the exemption’s granted, there’s no need to reapply in future years.
Iowa’s unemployment rate dropped down to two-point-seven percent in April, compared to two-point-eight percent in March. Iowa Workforce Development spokesperson, Jesse Dougherty, says the labor force participation rate moved up slightly as the labor force added 43-hundred new workers. Manufacturing saw an increase of 14-hundred jobs. He says there was a losses of 300 in overall non-farm employment. Doughtery says that was do to some some general tightening in the economy, but he says it , the first loss since November 2022. Dougherty says it’s not a concern for the overall economy.
This is prime time for Iowa bird watchers as spring migration season is bringing all sorts of unusual feathered travelers to our backyards, well beyond the everyday robins, sparrows and blue jays. Avian ecologist Steve Kolbe (COAL-bee) is working to raise awareness about migratory birds as they help provide pest control, pollination and serve as a food source for other wildlife. Kolbe says migrating birds face multiple perils on their journey each year, putting the ecosystem in danger. If a bird’s habitat has been degraded or destroyed, he compares it to a gas station you routinely use during road trips suddenly being closed. Kolbe urges cats owners to keep them indoors, as cats are a main source of mortality for birds, especially migrant birds. Iowans can see nearly 400 types of birds throughout the year.