Home News KLEM News for Wednesday, November 8

KLEM News for Wednesday, November 8


There’s a new city councilman, and two new members of the school board in Le Mars, as the result of elections Tuesday.  Brad Pick was one of four candidates for an at-large seat on the city council.  Pick received 643 votes, Patrick Renken 262, Mark Miller 90 and Mark Lindsay 89.  Pick replaces Mike Donlin, who served one term on the council and did not seek re-election.  Also, councilman Steve Wick, was re-elected in Ward 2, running unopposed.  Mayor Rob Bixenman was re-elected to a second two year term, running unopposed.

In school board elections, Zach Davis won the Director District 3 seat, with 863 votes, over Joe Sitzmann, who received 618 votes.  Davis replaces Jane Arnold, who did not seek re-election to the board.  There were two at-large seats up for vote, and four candidates seeking to fill them.  Zach Lancaster polled 949 votes, and incumbent Kyle Plathe 669 votes, to be elected. Scott Eilts had 473 votes, and Shawn Olson 440.  Board Chair Angela Catton did not seek re-election for an at-large seat on the board.  In Director District 5, incumbent board member Jill Feuerhelm was re-elected, running unopposed.  Voters also passed a special measure on the Le Mars Schools ballot, to extend the district’s revenue purpose statement for SAVE funds to the year 2051.

Hinton voters rejected a proposal to issue 16.1 million dollars in bonds for school improvements.  A majority was in favor of the proposal, with 425 voting yes, and 414 no.  The measure failed to reach the necessary 60% majority in order to advance.


The Le Mars city council yesterday authorized the renewal of property and casualty insurance for the city. The plan through Iowa Communities Assurance Pool, or ICAP, will cost some 362-thousand an increase of nearly 52-thousand dollars, or 16.7% from last year. Matt Susemihl of Perspective Insurance reviewed the plan with the council. Casualty insurance increased 14.1%, due to more vehicles to insure, and expansion of the police force. Property insurance was 18 percent higher, in part because of 15 million dollars in increased values.


The Le Mars city council approved a change order to the PlyWood Trail Phase 1A Project. The change order omits a trail head from the project, and adjusts an error to materials used in construction of a bridge across the West Branch Creek north of Merrill. The change order reduced costs by 64-hundred dollars. The overall project is now at one million, 507-thousand dollars.


Hinton voters rejected a proposal to issue 16.1 million dollars in bonds for school improvements. A majority was in favor of the proposal, with 425 voting yes, and 414 no. The measure failed to reach the necessary 60% majority in order to advance.

Third time was the charm for two School bond issues in northwest Iowa Tuesday. Voters in the West Sioux Community School District passed a 15.5 million dollars bond issue by an 80% majority. This will fund expansion of elementary schools in Hawarden and Ireton
Rock Valley School District voters approved a 25 million dollar bond issue with a 73% majority. The plan calls for building a new high school adjacent to the current junior-senior high building.
Both of these bond issues failed twice previously.

Several other bond issues passed in northwest Iowa.
Voters in the West Lyon School District passed a 19.8 million dollar bond issue by a 69% majority. This project includes renovations of their k-12 building located between Larchwood and Inwood.

Sheldon School District voters approved a bond issue by a 70% majority, Their project includes issuing 19.1 million dollars in bonds for renovation and expansion of Sheldon High School. The total cost of the project is 33 million. Sales tax proceeds will cover the rest of the financing.

Osceola County voters approved a 5 million dollars bond issue for renovation and expansion of the county jail at Sibley.

Sioux Center voters approved an increase in the city’s hotel-motel tax from 5% to 7%.


Investigators suspect embers from ground up hay sparked a large fire Sunday in rural Sioux County.
A deputy Sioux County sheriff says a machine had been grinding hay in the area and investigators suspect some of the hay left on the ground started smouldering and embers reached the bales of hay nearby. The fire drew a response from two dozen fire departments, 17 from Iowa and 7 from South Dakota. The fire started Sunday afternoon in large hay bales on a farm near Rock Valley. The fire departments were on the scene, battling high winds and a fire in the combustible hay bales. Rock Valley Fire Chief Brent Eshuis estimates two-hundred-thousand gallons of water were used to knock down the fire in a thousand bales of hay, keeping the flames from reaching a cattle lot.


State Banking Superintendent Jeff Plagge says the Sac City bank he declared insolvent on Friday had heavy losses on some of its loans to commercial trucking firms, including some out of state firms. Citizens Bank in Sac City reopened Monday as a branch of Iowa Trust and Savings Bank of Emmetsburg. An August court order identified some Citizens Bank loans to the trucking industry as higher risk than the bank had previously disclosed and Plagge says that sped up the already scheduled examination of the bank’s portfolio. Plagge, who was a commercial banker for 42 years, says there’s no reason for concern about the overall health of the state’s banking industry, since 96 percent of Iowa banks are rated one or two on a scale of one-to-five — with one being the best.



The Le Mars City Council deleted an urban renewal area in the city and replaced it with another.  The council Tuesday deleted the Le Mars Highway 75 Bypass Urban Renewal Area.  The deleted area was to expires in 2026, and will not generate enough revenue to recoup expenses.  In its place, the council set a public hearing for December 5 to designate the same area as the Le Mars Business Corridor Urban Renewal Area.  This also includes two projects.  The Erdmanville area and the Highway 75 Business Park are both owned by Le Mars Business Initiative Corporation.  Development projects are planned for both areas.  The new Urban Renewal Area would also make developments in the area eligible for tax credits.



The Le Mars City Council today approved two measures intended to attract and retain police officers in Le Mars. The first was to amend the city’s ordinance concerning residency required for police officers.  The amendment allows officers to live within 35 miles of Le Mars Police headquarters, instead of the previous 15 miles.   The other move by the council increases police officers’ pay, and adds increments to their salary scale.



A car – pedestrian accident in Orange City Tuesday morning resulted in injury to the pedestrian.  Orange City Police say an SUV struck a man crossing Iowa Highway 10 at the Northwestern College campus.  The victim, 30-year-old Jay Determan of Rapid City, was crossing from a parking lot to Van Peursem Hall, when he was struck in the crosswalk by a vehicle driven by 62 year old Laura Lenz of Alton, who was traveling east on the highway.  Determan was taken by ambulance to Orange City Health System.  He was later airlifted to a regional hospital.  Lenz was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian.



The Animal Rescue League of Iowa is now caring for the 46 horses that were seized from a property in Dallas County near Madrid (MAD-rid) last week. The Dallas County Sheriff charged the owner of the horses, 78-year-old Linda Kilbourne of Johnston, with livestock neglect — and says more charges are pending. Robyn Dobernecker (DOB-er-necker), the A-R-L’s animal welfare intervention coordinator, says the property owner did not surrender custody of the horses, which means a legal battle looms. It’s taken several days to physically move all of the horses to the A-R-L facility, get them all assessed, and start giving them the medical treatment they desperately needed. Dobernecker says the horses were living in heartbreaking conditions.



Much of Iowa has seen warmer-than-normal temperatures in recent days, but autumn will soon transition to winter and the National Weather Service is encouraging Iowans to prepare now for the inevitable. Meteorologist Chad Hahn (HON) says this Thursday is Winter Weather Awareness Day, which is devoted to getting our homes and vehicles ready for the cold season ahead. The Iowa D-O-T says 75-percent of winter crashes occur with two inches of snow or less, so he says even light snowfalls need to be taken very seriously. Hahn says Iowans should be familiar with the differences between a watch and a warning, and outfit a winter survival kit for your car. The weather service will be releasing a variety of winter preparation tips on its social media pages, including at the website: www.weather.gov/dmx. We still have about six weeks of fall ahead, as winter arrives on December 21st.