The Le Mars Community School Board heard the first report from consulting firm ISG concerning facilities in the school district. ISG was hired by the school board to make an assessment of the elementary, middle and high schools. The company has been gathering data since the start of the school year. The school board was told of the methods of gathering information, and then shown what was discovered. The report included the conditions of the physical structure of the buildings, and set priorities among the list of repairs that are needed. There was also an assessment of how the buildings affect education adequacy. This includes such things as storage space, ability to accommodate different learning styles, room for sensory students, breakout space for work with individual students, and assessments of administrative space, parking and playgrounds.
This is the beginning of a process that will conclude with an update to the district’s ten year facilities plan. In the proceeding months, the consultant will guide the school board through developing options, seeking feedback, and work toward a community survey, leading to a final plan by June.
PLYMOUTH COUNTY CONSTRUCTION BIDS
The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors took bids this morning on two construction projects at county facilities. Representatives of CMBA Architects opened two bids for a project to build a new salt shed at the county engineer’s facility near Le Mars. Graves Construction of Spencer submitted a base bid of 609-thousand dollars. Sitzman Construction of Le Mars submitted a base bid of 598-thousand dollars. The bids also included contingencies. There was one bid for the other construction project, a roof replacement at the Merrill maintenance shed. Wiltgen Consruction bid 199-thousand dollars for this project. All the bids will be reviewed by the architects, before contracts are awarded. That will take place at the next Supervisors meeting.
PLYWOOD TRAIL PROGRESS
Work is wrapping up on the PlyWood Trail Phase 1 for this winter. Lesley Bartholemew, with the PlyWood Trail Foundation, says they didn’t make all the progress they planned for, but will complete the recreation trail segment between Le Mars and Merrill early next year.
There are some finishing touches yet to complete before the trail can be opened between Merrill and Le Mars
A ribbon cutting to mark the opening of the trail will take place next April.
There are two other phases to connect a recreation trail from Sioux City to Le Mars. Phase two extends from Hinton to Merrill.
Phase Three will extend from Hinton to Sioux City. Phase Three is the next segment to be constructed.
Bids go out next spring, and construction will take place next year into 2025.
SENATE DEMOCRATS PROPOSE TARGETED INCOME TAX CUTS
Senate Democratic Leader Pam Jochum says Democrats are developing a plan of targeted income tax cuts, like raising the Earned Income Tax Credit for low and moderate income workers. Jochum says it will be an alternative to the G-O-P goal of getting rid of the state’s income tax. Jochum says the income tax is more fair than sales taxes, for example, because it’s based on the ability to pay. Governor Kim Reynolds and Republican lawmakers say eliminating the state income tax will make Iowa more competitive with states like South Dakota, Florida, Texas and Tennessee that do not have a state income tax. A Des Moines Register Iowa Poll conducted last March found 56 percent of Iowans favor gradually reducing the state income tax rate until it is eliminated.
IOWA MAN CHARGED WITH STABBING DEATH
An Iowa man is charged in the slaying of a Nebraska priest. The Washington County, Nebraska, Sheriff’s Office arrested Kierre Williams of Sioux City in the fatal stabbing of a priest in the rectory of a church in Fort Calhoun early Sunday. Deputies were called to the house on a report of an attempted break-in and found Reverend Stephen Gutgsell suffering from stab wounds. Gutgsell later died at an Omaha hospital. Deputies also found 43-year-old Kierre Williams of Sioux City in the rectory and charged him with homicide and use of a weapon to commit a felony. Williams is jailed in Blair. Williams was awaiting trial in Sioux City on an assault charge from a July 10th incident at the soup kitchen on west 7th Street. Williams failed to show for an October pre-trial hearing and was scheduled for a new hearing Friday in Woodbury County District Court.
NEW ‘IOWA POLL’ SHOWS TRUMP’S LEAD GROWING
The latest Des Moines Register/N-B-C News/Mediacom “Iowa Poll” shows former President Donald Trump has the support of just over half of likely Iowa Caucus-goers. The poll found Trump’s lead in Iowa has grown since late October by eight points. Trump now leads Florida Governor Ron DeSantis by 32 points and he’s 35 points ahead of former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. No other candidate had double-digit support. The Iowa Caucuses are five weeks from Monday.
MORE DETAILS IN THE SEARCH FOR AN IOWA TRUCKER
The Sac County Sheriff’s Office has revealed some details of the search for a semi driver who’s been missing for nearly three weeks. Fifty-three-year-old David Schultz of Wall Lake was delivering a semi full of pigs to Sac City. According to a news release from the Sac County Sheriff’s Office, video footage shows Schultz was inside a truck stop along Highway 20, near Fort Dodge, at about 11:15 p.m. on November 20th. He was last seen on a D-O-T camera heading west on the highway. Cell phone data suggests the semi stopped at 12:40 a.m. on November 21st. The trucker’s cell phone and wallet were found in the semi, which was parked on the highway near Sac City. The sheriff’s office says nothing is missing from the wallet and Schultz has not legally gone through a U-S Border Crossing.
LOCK UP GUNS AFTER THE HUNT
A mental health care professional urges hunters to keep their guns safely secured in the home before and after the hunt. Doctor Emily Rae, a psychiatrist with the Gundersen Health System, says responsible hunters know to always treat a gun like it’s loaded and to keep the weapon locked up when it’s not being used. Rae says guns are the leading cause of death in American youth through age 19, and studies show a child dies in a gun-related incident somewhere in the country every 24 hours. Suicide is the ninth-leading cause of death in Iowa, but it’s number-two for those between the ages of ten and 35. A report from Trust for America’s Health shows 549 Iowans died by suicide in 2021, which is a drop of three-percent from the year before. Studies find higher rates of suicide among people who live in homes with a gun, another reason Rae says to keep them secured. Free, confidential, round-the-clock help is available through the 9-8-8 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.