3-1 NEWS

Luther College has officially announced Paula J. Carlson as its tenth president. The college board of trustees voted Carlson for the position at a meeting Friday morning. Carlson’s appointment will be effective July first. She will succeed David Tiede, who has been serving as interim president since the retirement of Richard Torgerson last June. Carlson becomes the first female president of Luther college.

Republican state representative Josh Burns of Osage has introduced another measure at the statehouse in regards to increasing infrastructure funding in the state.

Brynes

Burns says any idea related to increasing infrastructure funding will not be effected by any funnel deadlines at the statehouse.

The Oneota Film Festival will be held in Decorah this weekend. Erica Kambs is the director of the event

Kambs

23 films will be screened this weekend. A complete schedule is available at oneotafilmfestival-dot-org.

Negotiations between the Decorah school district and the district’s education association on a master contract for the 2014-2015 school year will begin next week. The D-E-A will present its initial proposal on a master contract Wednesday afternoon at three-30 at the central administration office.

THE COLD WINTER CONTINUES TO PUT STRESS ON IOWA’S LOW INCOME HEATING ASSISTANCE PROGRAM, KNOWN AS LIHEEP. BILL BRAND SAYS HOUSEHOLD ENERGY USE IS UP ABOUT 20-PERCENT THIS WINTER

brand

BILL BRAND OF LIHEEP SAYS LAST MONTH, UTILITIES ISSUED OVER 103-THOUSAND DISCONNECT NOTICES, COMPARED TO 85-THOUSAND A YEAR AGO. THOSE SIGNED UP FOR LIHEEP FALL UNDER THE “DISCONNECT-MORATORIUM,” -WHICH KEEPS THE HEAT ON UNTIL APRIL. HE SAYS AGENCIES THAT PROVIDE HEATING ASSISTANCE ARE STRETCHED THIS WINTER, AND MAY FIND IT DIFFICULT TO EXTEND A HELPING HAND TOO FAR INTO APRIL.\

 

 

 

3-2 NEWS

The Winneshiek county board of supervisors has a light agenda for its meeting tomorrow. The board will meet with county attorney Andy Van Der Maaten will discuss a contract for the county engineer and a 28-e agreement for a mental health coordinator. County engineer Lee Bjerke regarding road matters. The meeting will begin at nine-30 at the courthouse in Decorah.

The Decorah chorale has a new conductor. John Bay is stepping aside after leading the group of 17 years. Bay’s final concert as conductor will be held this spring. The new conductor will be Jason Rausch. Rausch is the vocal music director at Decorah high school.

Winneshiek county habitat for humanity will be holding the first of two Sundays of fundraisers this weekend. Georgie Klevar (klee-ver) is with the organization.

Klevar

The phone a thon will take place tonight and next Sunday night from six until nine p.m.

Decorah will be presented with the Iowa River Town of the year award this week. The Iowa Rivers Revival organization recognized Decorah for the vision and efforts of Decorah officials and citizens have done much to enhance the city’s connections with the Upper Iowa River. The presentation will be held Friday at the Peace Dining Room at Luther College at eleven a.m.

Decorah high school will hold a blood drive this week. The Drive will be held Tuesday from nine-30 until two p.m. To sign up persons can log onto lifeservebloodcenter.org

The 31st annual KDEC Home, Sport and Garden show is today. The event will run from ten a.m. until three p.m. at the newly renovated Decorah high school. The sunflower pancake breakfast will begin at nine-30 a.m. Nearly 80 exhibitors will be on hand.

 

2-28 NEWS

The Iowa Senate approved a measure to expand the stability and availability of child care for lower income working families this week. Republican state senator Mike Breitbach of Strawberry Point says he supported the bill.

Breitbach

The measure passed the senate on a 48-0 vote.

The Luther College Board of Regents will meet in a special session (Friday) morning. Earlier this week, the presidential search committee announced they are recommending the board hire Dr. Paula Carlson as the college’s 10th president. Carlson would be the first female president of Luther College. Carlson is currently vice president for mission at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.

Add Decorah city manager Chad Bird to the list of local government officials calling for the state legislature to increase the fuel tax.

Bird

Bird says its frustrating the issue has become a political football. Bird says increasing the fuel tax is good public policy and good policy should be good politics.

FORGET A MINIMUM WAGE OF $10.10 AN HOUR…A NEW STUDY SHOWS A SINGLE-FAMILY PARENT IN IOWA WITH ONE CHILD NEEDS TO MAKE AT LEAST 34 THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR..OR OVER 13 DOLLARS AN HOUR JUST TO PAY THEIR LIVING EXPENSES. RESEARCHER PETER FISHER WITH THE IOWA POLICY PROJECT SAYS ONE OF THE BIGGEST EXPENSES IS CHILD CARE

FISHER

RENT AND UTILITIES ARE THE HIGHEST EXPENSE…AT 681 DOLLARS A MONTH FOR A SINGLE PARENT WITH ONE CHILD…924 DOLLARS A MONTH FOR A SINGLE PARENT WITH TWO CHILDREN. A FAMILY WITH TWO WORKING PARENTS AND ONE CHILD NEEDS TO MAKE OVER 45 THOUSAND DOLLARS A YEAR TO MEET EXPENSES, ACCORDING TO THE STUDY. FISHER SAYS LAWMAKERS MAY WANT TO LOOK AT INCREASING CHILD CARE SUPPORT AS A WAY TO HELP STRUGGLING FAMILIES.

 

2-27 NEWS

Winneshiek Medical Center’s Ossian Clinic will open Monday. The clinic will be open daily from seven-30 a.m. until three-30 p.m. and will offer same appointments as well as Walk-In Wellness lab testing. The clinic will be located at 112 East Main in Ossian in the Hugh and JeDene Wagner building.

Local elected officials continue to be frustrated by the lack of action at the statehouse to improve infrastructure funding. Democratic state senator Mary Jo Wilhelm of Cresco previously served on the Howard County board of supervisors.

Wilhelm 1

Wilhelm says the state needs to look at finding a long term solution to the issue, instead of a short term one

Wilhelm 2

Wilhelm says she’s open to a conversation about the gas tax. She also stated the democratic controlled senate had enough votes to pass the issue last year, but did not bring the measure up because they felt it would be ignored in the house.

The failure to upkeep the state’s infrastructure does have it’s effect on school districts. Decorah school superintendent Mike Haluska.

Haluska

Haluska said there would be no financial ramifications on school districts from a gas tax increase since school districts do not pay gas taxes.

Gov. Terry Branstad says a statue of Norman Borlaug will be installed in the U.S. Capitol next month.
Branstad will attend the official installation on March 25, which is the 100th anniversary of Borlaug’s birth.
In 2011, Iowa officials agreed to replace a statue of Sen. James Harlan at the U.S. Capitol with one of Borlaug. Borlaug was a Cresco native who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his role in combating world hunger. South Dakota artist Benjamin Victor created the sculpture. The statue is finished and is in Aberdeen, South Dakota, awaiting transport to Washington. Each state can display two sculptures in the Capitol. The Borlaug statue will replace one of former senator and Interior Department secretary James Harlan. The Harlan statue will return to Iowa.

A review by an independent consultant says the $1.3 billion in reserves held by Iowa’s dominant health insurer is “reasonable and prudent” for now. Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart hired Risk and Regulatory Consulting, LLC, to review whether Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield had the right amount of customers’ money in reserves. Its report released Wednesday says Wellmark is holding an appropriate amount given the risks the company faces. The report says a smaller future surplus might be needed if the insurance market stabilizes following full implementation of federal health reform.
Some Democratic lawmakers, including gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch, demanded an investigation into Wellmark’s reserves, contending much of that money should be returned to policyholders.
Wellmark provides coverage for more than 2 million people in Iowa and South Dakota

2-26 NEWS

The Luther College presidential search committee has recommended Dr. Paula J. Carlson to be Luther College’s 10th president. Carlson is currently the vice president for mission at St. Olaf College. She is a graduate of St. Olaf and holds multiple degrees in English and comparative literature from Columbia. Carlson has taught at the University of Dubuque, Wisconsin-Platteville, Yale and St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. A special meeting of the board of regents is planned for Friday in which the board will elect the college’s next president.

The victim of a fatal car crash in Allamakee county over the weekend has been identified. 49 year old Todd Patrick Scott of Waterville died in a crash which occurred around ten a.m. Saturday morning near Watervillle.

Three people were arrested after Fayette county authorities executed a search warrant in Waucoma Monday. The Fayette county sheriff’s department says 42 year old Dwight McDougald of Waucoma was charged with distribution of metahphetamine, a class c felony, possession of marijuana, a class d felony, holding a gathering where drugs are used, a class d felony and possession of drug paraphernalia. It was also determined McDougald had an outstanding warrant out of South Carolina for a probation violation. Authorities say 24 year old Natasha Coonradt of Windom, Minnesota and 30 year old Eli Shaw of Monona were both charged with possession of meth, a simple misdemeanor. Coonradt was also charged with possession of marijuana. Shaw was also charged with possession of a controlled substance II, a serious misdeameanor and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A West Union woman was arrested (Tuesday) morning on Chickasaw county warrant. The Fayette county sheriff’s department said the original charge was the manufacture of methamphetamine. Durscher was transported to the Fayette county jail and later extradited to Chickasaw County.

A bill to expand the punishment for texting while driving got out of committee at the statehouse last week. Democratic state representative Roger Thomas of Elkader says lawmakers should pump the breaks on the idea.

Thomas

Currently, texting while driving is a primary offense for 16 and 17 year olds and a secondary offense for those 18 and over, meaning another violation must be taking place for the offense to be registered.

 

2-25 NEWS

Recent Luther College students have told the school they wish they had developed other skills during college that would have helped them prepare for life after college—not physics or philosophy, but practical skills like learning how to handle a job interview or learning how to prepare meals. Luther College Career Center Director Brenda Ranum says that input has led to the creation of a series of seminars called “Beyond the Bubble.” For instance, one seminar gives advice on that all-important first year on the job:

RANUM #2 for :17 Outcue: …first year of your first job.”

The seminars are scheduled on various days at various times in an effort to make them available to all interested students.

A NEW REPORT FROM THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE SAYS THE NUMBER OF FARMS IN IOWA HAS FALLEN BUT THE TOTAL LAND FARMED IN THE STATE HAS REMAINED STABLE. SUE DANIELSON REPORTS.

Winneshiek county development director Randy Uhl updated the Winneshiek county board of supervisors on the community housing assessment team efforts Monday morning.

Uhl

Uhl says the team is working behind the scenes on efforts to improve the housing situation in the county. He says they will begin working with city of Decorah officials to improve the situation then will talk with other governing bodies in the county.

The public safety committee of the Decorah city council has rescheduled its postponed meeting from last Thursday night. The topic of discussion will be negotiations for a fire protection agreement with the rural fire association. The meeting will begin Tuesday night at five p.m. at city hall.

 

2-24 NEWS

The early retirements of 17 teachers in the Decorah school district will save the district around four hundred thousand dollars per year, according to Superintendent Mike Haluska. Haluska says the district is also examining offering a similar incentive for non-teaching staff.

Haluska

Haluska says the savings could finance books, fuel for books, fuel for buses, electricity or natural gas.

Housing issues will be discussed at today’s meeting of the Winneshiek county board of supervisors. Winneshiek county development director Randy Uhl will meet with the board regarding a community housing assessment team study update. The board will also discuss an employee handbook with county attorney Andy Van Der Maaten. The board will also discuss road matters with county attorney Lee Bjerke and emergency management issues with county emergency management coordinator Bruce Goetsch. The meeting will begin at nine-30.

A student at Luther College in Decorah has discovered nine ancient Egyptian documents written on a (pa-pie-rus) in a cardboard box in the college library’s archives. The college says sophomore Brittany Anderson was conducting a routine inventory of the papers of the late Orlando W. Qualley, longtime professor and dean of the college, when she came across the nine documents. They were among Qualley’s letters and journals donated to the college in the 1980s. The documents, written in ancient Greek, are thought be nearly 2,000 years old, and some are believed to be decrees issue by the Roman Emperor Decius. Luther College plans to work with the University of Michigan to preserve the documents and make them available online.

Decorah has been named the Iowa River Town of the Year. Iowa Rivers Revival is a statewide river education and advocacy organization, working to protect and enhance Iowa’s streams and rivers. Organization officials say the vision and efforts of Decorah officials and citizens gave done much to enhance the city’s connections with the Upper Iowa River. The Presentation will take place March 7th at the Peace Dining Room at Luther College at eleven a.m. The public is invited to attend.

A northeast Iowa man is dead following a single-vehicle rollover crash in Allamakee County. The sheriff’s office said it happened just before 10:00 Saturday morning on White Pine Road, about a mile south of Waterville. Investigators said the 49-year-old man was driving south when his vehicle went off the road and rolled, landing on its top, partially submerged in Paint Creek. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators have not released his name.

THE LEVEL OF HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TAKING CLASSES AT NORTHEAST IOWA COMMUNITY COLLEGE CONTINUES TO GROW. THE COLLEGE’S BOARD OF TRUSTEES REVIEWED ENROLLMENT FIGURES THIS WEEK. COLLEGE OFFICIALS REPORT AN 18 PERCENT GROWTH IN HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TAKING COLLEGE CREDIT COURSE IN THE LAST YEAR. COLLEGE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR INSITUTIONAL EFFECTIVENESS KRISTIN DIETZEL ADDS 17 PERCENT OF ALL STUDENTS ARE ENROLLED EXCLUSIVELY IN ON-LINE CLASSES AND ENROLLMENT IN CAREER AND TECHNICAL PROGRAMS IN OUTPACING TRADITIONAL TWO-YEAR ASSOCIATE’S DEGREE SEEKING STUDENTS.

Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014

The effort maintain a home for juvenile girls in Iowa continues to be debated in Des Moines. Republican State Senator Mike Breitbach of Strawberry Point says the movement has bi-partisan support, but it wouldn’t necessarily be placed in the same location:                              (Breitbach 14 audio)

Senator Breitbach says whatever is decided, the future facility would not be as large as the previous home in Toledo in Central Iowa.

The City of Decorah, along with other entities, shares revenue from taxes created from hotel and motel sales in the city. The current agreement on how the money is split expires next month. Decorah mayor Don Arendt told the City Council last week that the issue needs to be addressed soon. The city is using the majority of its allocation to pay off debt on the Trout Run Trail.

One of the city of Decorah’s big projects for this year will be the extending of utilities to the business park along Highway 9 East of the city. The Decorah city council has set a public hearing for March 3rd on the sale of 4.7 million dollars in general obligation bonds to finance the project. The specifics of the project will be discussed prior to the council’s next regular meeting. City Manager Chad Bird says the Utility Committee of the council will meet March 3rd at 6:30 to discuss the issue.

Crop prices will be down this year but livestock producers should see better income because of it. That’s the scenario many are painting for agriculture this year, including Iowa’s Agriculture Secretary, Bill Northey. He also expects the meteoric rise in land prices to soften:                  (Northey B)                                     Northey says there is no longer the support for land prices to continue the major upward movement of the last few years.

The number of deer taken by hunters in Iowa last year fell below 100,000 for the first time since the mid-1990s. It’s the eighth straight year the deer harvest has declined in the state. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says hunters reported 99,406 deer harvested in the 2013 season. That’s a decline of 14% from 2012 and 34% lower than the 2006 peak number.  The 2012 deer harvest was 115,606. The data will be considered when the department begins discussions on hunting season later this Winter. Deer hunters purchased nearly 360,000 licenses last year……nearly 18,500 fewer than in 2012.

 

Saturday, Feb. 22

Some good and some bad news related to Spring enrollment numbers at Northeast Iowa Community College. Vice-President Kathy Nacos-Burds presented the figures to the college’s Board of Trustees this week. Nacos-Burds says while Spring enrollment is down from last Spring, she told the board the enrollment figure is only an isolated statistic and should be viewed in the context of the college’s recent growth in career and technical education, concurrent enrollment and non-credit business and community solutions classes. Nacos-Burds says between the Fall of 2012 and 2013, total non-credit and credit enrollment grew 5.8 percent.

For ag producers, 2014 is looking like a reversal of the last couple of years. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey says he expects crop producers to pay closer attention to their expenses because of a downturn in commodity prices:

                                     Northey A audio

Livestock producers have suffered because of the high grain prices and are expecting to catch a break this year. Northey is also expecting a softening of land prices, which have gone through the roof over the last few years.

Yesterday’s weather conditions created accidents over a wide area, but luckily few injuries. In the case of a Fayette County accident, the damage was costly, however. The sheriff’s office says a semi rollover in Fayette County caused an estimated $50,000. Authorities says an Illinois man was attempting to negotiate a turn near Westgate when his trailer tires went into the ditch and caused the semi to roll onto its side. The driver, Kerry Edwards, was unhurt.

The Decorah Parks and Recreation Board met in spite of the weather conditions Thursday night to discuss development of a park at the intersection of Nordic and Highland Drives. Director Andy Nimrod says the park will be called Vennehjem Park and will be approximately 2 acres in size. A shelter is expected to be built at the site this Fall.  The Park & Rec Board also continued discussion on the need for repairs and improvements at the city pool. Nimrod says issues include replacement of the slide and repairs to the showers and foundation. No specific action on the items was taken. Meanwhile, a scheduled meeting between the City of Decorah and the Rural Fire Trustees was postponed because of weather conditions. City Manager Chad Bird says he expects the meeting to be re-scheduled next Tuesday or Thursday evening.

Winneshiek County will be well-represented at Saturday’s (todays) All-State Large Group Speech Festival in Ames. Decorah High School will send about 100 students in 12 events to the festival. South Winneshiek High School will send 3 students in one event to Ames. The students earned the recognition through outstanding performances February 8th at the Northeast District Large Group State Speech contest held in Waterloo.

A fund-raiser for local energy efficiency efforts will be held Saturday(today) morning in Decorah. The Green Iowa Americorps team, in partnership with the Winneshiek Energy District, is hosting the First Annual Trout Ski 5-K Nordic Ski Race. The race will start and finish at the Decorah Trout Hatchery. A $10 suggested donation is requested per participant.

 

 

Friday, February 21

The number of snow days has forced some school districts to delay their last day of the school year. Some now have plans to continue classes into mid-June. Decorah has had better luck, according to Superintendent Mike Haluska:      Haluska 27

Haluska says he’s not only concerned about snow days, but Springtime conditions that might limit and change bus routes because of rural road conditions.

An agreement between the City of Decorah and the Rural Fire Trustees on a fire protection agreement will be discussed tonight(Thurs). The Public Safety Committee of the Decorah City Council will discuss the issue first, at 5 p.m. in the City Clerk’s conference room at City Hall. The 28-E Rural Fire Board will join the conversation regarding the agreement at 6 p.m. The joint meeting will be held in the City Council chambers at City Hall.

A variety of issues will go before the Decorah Parks and Recreation Board for its monthly meeting tonight(thurs). The Board will consider a long-range planning strategy for the board and staff, action on park development at the intersection of Nordic Drive and Highland, consider ways to fund pool improvements, get an update on efforts relating to a community center, and will discuss endowments.  The meeting begins at 7 at City Hall.

State Senators are trying to send a message to anyone who texts while driving. Maquoketa Democrat Tod Bowman argued for a bill that would raise such distracted driving to the level of a “primary offense”, meaning law enforcement could pull you over for texting while driving without waiting for some other law to be broken:  Bowman 11

and, Keystone Republican Dennis Kapucian says he was commuting the other day and noticed a driver next to him paying too much attention to his Smartphone…and not enough attention to his driving:  Kapucian 19

The bill passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee by an 11-1 vote today(Thursday).

A Waucoma man is in the Winneshiek County Jail today on several charges. Fayette County authorities yesterday arrested 34-year old Nathan Lutgen of Waucoma on a Winneshiek County Warrant for Domestic Abuse Assault, Failure to appear in court and driving while barred. Lutgen was taken to Fayette County Jail, then transferred to Decorah and held on a $4500 bond.

Area residents are being given an opportunity to help Decorah High School students by eating lunch at a cafe at the school. Decorah High School Family Consumer Science instructor Elaine Lore says the Viking Cafe at the school opened last week. Lore says the cafe will be open from 11:30-1 Tuesdays and Thursdays when school is in session. Students will served lunches for $5 while learning some practical lessons:  Lore 18  

The cafe is licensed by state inspectors. Lore says the public needs to make reservation by calling the High School office in advance.