SUPERVISORS THANKED FOR ARMORED VEHICLE
Plymouth County Chief Deputy Rick Singer, speaking on behalf of several law enforcement agencies, today expressed thanks to the Board of Supervisors today for their support of the armored Bearcat vehicle, used most recently in the Amber Alert incident near Remsen. Singer told the Supervisors that the Bearcat has been put to use five times since it was placed in service in 2023. The Chief Deputy said the vehicle was instrumental in locating the subject in a farm field and bringing an end to a standoff which lasted 2.5 hours, without injury to the suspect, the child, and law enforcement. The Bearcat was called to the scene a week ago Thursday when the suspect in a child abduction case from Greene County fled to Plymouth County, where his vehicle ran off the road east of Remsen. The subject then took the child, his son, and a rifle, and fled into a field. The CERT Team was called in. They arrived with the Bearcat within 30 minutes. The Bearcat was able to approach the suspect, and a negotiator inside the vehicle made contact with the abductor. Singers’ statement to the Board was signed by Chief Deputy Singer; Plymouth County Sheriff Jeff Te Brink, Le Mars Police Chief Kevin Vande Vegte; Sioux County Sheriff Jamie Van Voorst, and Cherokee County Sheriff Derek Scott. They and the Cherokee Police Department make up the members of the CERT Team.
NEW DEPUTY, EXPANDED VETERANS DUTIES
The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to hire an additional full-time deputy in the county Sheriff’s Office for the next fiscal year. County Sheriff Jeff Te Brink previously requested the deputy, citing his department short of deputies on routine patrols. The number of deputies in the county are lower than those located in counties of similar size and population.
The Supervisors today also approved an expansion of the County Veterans Administrator to full-time status. Jim Jones has been carrying on more activities and outreach in the county to veterans. There is a proposed 35-thousand dollars increase in the Veterans Affairs Department in the new budget to cover the move.
SURFACE TRANSPORTATION GRANT
The Le Mars city council today approved submitting an application to the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, for future street improvements in the city. The project identified is a concrete resurfacing of 7th Ave SE, from 12th Street to 18th Street. 7th Avenue is a main connection to county road C-38. This project includes removal and replacement of the middle portion of the road with a concrete surface. The estimated cost of the project is 1.21 million dollars. The request would be for 969-thousand dollars, with the remainder covered by Road Use Tax Fund proceeds. The application will be for funds to cover street construction in fiscal year 2028.
The Plymouth County Board of Supervisors deal with more budget items today. There will be discussion and possible approval of adding a full-time deputy at the County Sheriffs Office; and the expansion of the VA Director to full-time status. The Supervisors will also continue their overall budget review, and consider approval of a Budget Director. There will also be a closed session to discuss collective bargaining issues.
LE MARS CITY COUNCIL PREVIEW
The Le Mars City Council meets today at noon. Two hearings will take place at the beginning of the session. One will be approval of the Le Mars Interchange Track Project, where an additional rail siding will be considered for the industrial park. The second hearing will consider including two properties into the city’s industrial park. The Palmer and Martfeld properties, along Lincoln Avenue, are to be rezoned industrial. Action items today include an application for a regional surface transportation grant for street construction, and a request from the Le Mars Area Daycare Center.
FORMER AG SECRETARY NORTHEY DIES
Former Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey has died. He was 64. Northey was a fourth-generation farmer from Spirit Lake and an Iowa State University graduate. He talked about his path to becoming Ag Secretary after receiving an Iowa Ag Leader Award in 2022 for his outstanding and distinguished service to Iowa agriculture.
Northey said he loved the job.
Northey was reelected twice to the state post and then resigned in early 2018 after being appointed an Under Secretary in the U-S Department of Agriculture, where he oversaw the Farm Service Agency. Governor Kim Reynolds has ordered all flags in Iowa to be lowered to half-staff and they are to remain at half-staff until sunset on the day of Northey’s funeral.
AG BIRD SEEKS ASKS FOR FUNDING OF ‘COLD CASE’ UNIT
Attorney General Brenna Bird is asking the legislature for over half a million dollars to start a cold case unit in the Iowa Department of Justice.
Bird proposes hiring three investigators and a prosecutor to dig into those unsolved murders.
Bird is asking legislators for money to hire three other prosecutors for her office as well as a prosecutor to focus on so-called cold cases.
The Iowa legislature voted to create a cold case unit in the Iowa Department of Public Safety in 2008, but never provided the money for it to operate. More than a decade ago, state officials used a federal grant to hire a couple of investigators and a lab technician to cull through cold cases. State Senator Jeff Taylor of Sioux Center had made reviving the cold case unit a legislative priority. He opted this year to get behind a push from the Attorney General.
GOVERNOR TO SEND ANOTHER GROUP OF IOWA OFFICIALS TO ASSIST TEXAS AT SOUTHERN BORDER
Governor Kim Reynolds says she will send another group of state law enforcement agents and Iowa National Guard soldiers to the U-S-Mexico border, but she’s waiting to coordinate the timing with Texas officials. Reynolds plans to use federal pandemic relief funds to cover the costs of the mission. Reynolds was among a dozen Republican governors who were in Texas Sunday in support of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s actions at the border. Reynolds sent a group of state troopers and investigators to assist Texas officials at the border in 2021 for two weeks. Then she deployed 109 Iowa National Guard soldiers and 31 state law enforcement officials to Texas for a month last year.
HOUSE DEMOCRATS RAISE CONCERNS ABOUT KOCH PURCHASE OF IOWA FERTILIZER CO.
Democrats in the Iowa House are raising concerns about the pending sale of a southeast Iowa fertilizer plant. Koch Industries plans to buy the Iowa Fertilizer Company near Wever for three-point-six BILLION dollars. Representative J-D Scholten of Sioux City, says four companies already control 75 percent of the nitrogen fertilizer market in the U-S.
In 2012, the State of Iowa provided 112 million dollars in tax credits and loans for the project. Lee County provided a 30 million dollar property tax abatement. Representative Elinor Levin, a Democrat from Iowa City, says state officials need to ensure Koch meets the terms for those incentives.
Scholten says the other concern is what happens to the 260 Iowa Fertilizer Company employees.
Koch’s acquisition of the southeast Iowa plant is being reviewed by federal anti-trust regulators, House Democrats have sent a letter to the U-S Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird that outlines concerns about the sale. Koch Industries already operates a fertilizer plant in Fort Dodge.