ONE VEHICLE ACCIDENT ON IOWA 60
A one-vehicle accident occurred this morning on Iowa Highway 60. The Plymouth County Sheriffs Office says 43 year old James Loraditch of Le Mars was driving south on Iowa 60 near the U.S. 75 exit, when he lost control of the vehicle and slid into the median. The vehicle slid into the ditch, spun and rolled, landing on the passenger side, facing north. Icy road conditions contributed to the accident. Loraditch was not injured, but damage to the vehicle was approximately 5-thousand dollars.
JENEARY TRAILS INVENTORY BILL
Iowa Third District Representative Tom Jeneary has filed a bill that would inventory trails at all of Iowa’s parks for people with disabilities. Rep. Jeneary says he’s introduced the bill before.
It’s been a slow process to work up this inventory, as there are 73 state parks to survey.
It will take a couple of years to complete the listings.
It’s important to improve everyone’s access to the state’s parks.
There are some trails that persons with disabilities can’t access, but Rep. Jeneary says the parks are providing virtual access.
Rep. Jeneary, the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, says once the bill is completed, it’s assured near-unanimous support from the chamber.
HARMS CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER
Court documents say a Le Mars man placed a choke hold on his victim until he was unconscious. 24 year old Reese Harms was charged with attempted murder and willful injury in the incident, which occurred Friday afternoon. A criminal complaint filed in Plymouth County District Court says Harms and his victim, 44-year-old Michael Roy Gomez of Merrill, were in a dispute. This resulted in Harms placing a choke hold on Gomez. Le Mars Police and Le Mars Fire Rescue were called to the Fieldcrest Apartments on 2nd street SE in Le Mars at 5:20 p.m. They discovered Gomez was not breathing. First Responders rendered lifesaving measures, and transferred him to Floyd Valley Healthcare. Later, Gomez was taken to Mercy Medical in Sioux City.
HINTON HIGHWAY EXPANSION
The Iowa Department of Transportation is holding discussions on improvements for U.S. Highway 75 at Hinton. This is the last segment of a project that includes a redesign of the highway between Merrill and Hinton. DOT Planner Dakin Schultz says they want to widen the highway at Hinton, but it’s complicated by properties on both sides of the highway.
Several options were considered at the Hinton intersection.
Schultz says the Main Street/US 75 intersection is narrow, and difficult to widen.
Another complication is that some of the buildings near US 75 are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Schultz met with the Hinton city council at their meeting last Thursday.
DECEMBER UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPS
Iowa’s unemployment rate dropped slightly in December after four months of slight increases. Iowa Workforce Development director, Beth Townsend, says the rate dropped one-tenth of a point to three-point-two percent. She says that may be people getting back into the workforce, and, December’s weather was good, allowing people to work longer than normal. The number of people in the workforce did drop by 85-hundred in December. Townsend says most of them reported that it was a voluntary leave, so it was not the product of layoffs.
GOVERNOR SAYS IOWA DOES NOT NEED NINE AEAS
Governor Kim Reynolds says her push to overhaul Area Education Agencies is designed to address a bloated bureaucracy and 20 years of lagging test scores among Iowa students with disabilities. Reynolds says Iowa is a small state and does not need nine A-E-As.
Reynolds originally proposed having Iowa’s nine A-E-As focus solely on special education services for disabled students, but she’s adjusting her plan to retain other services like a media lending library and curriculum outlines for teachers. Reynolds says her goal is to have the Iowa Department of Education develop a list of approved A-E-A services schools may choose to use.
Reynolds has not proposed closing or consolidating A-E-As, but she has asked legislators to hire dozens more staff in the Iowa Department of Education to oversee the 34-hundred people who work in Area Education Agencies around the state.
Reynolds says her realignment will let local school districts choose whether to continue using A-E-A services, hire their own staff, or find a private vendor with the combination of state, federal and local property taxes that under current law automatically funneled to the A-E-As.
Reynolds made her comments during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that was broadcast last Friday on Iowa P-B-S.
DESOTO REFUGE SEES A DROP IN MIGRATING BIRDS
The manager of the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge in western Iowa reports not as many birds flew through the area this past migration season. Desoto manager Tom Cox says the drought, left the refuge without the water to flood as much wetland for geese, ducks, and swans. Cox says birds tend to follow the habitat, and with the region-wide drought, they’re probably skirting around the area and finding better habitat. Cox says the dry conditions led to bird numbers dropping 50 percent. He says that opens your eyes that the birds are after habitat, and that’s what supports them. The refuge is along the Missouri River near Missouri Valley, Iowa. Cox says overall, he isn’t too worried because conditions usually bounce back, allowing for better birdwatching during a different season.