2-28 news

The frac sand mining issue will be discussed again at Monday’s Winneshiek County board of supervisors meeting. The board will meet with the county planning and zoning commission at noon. The board’s frac sand mining moratorium fact finding subcommittee will present its report. The two entities will discuss the report information and where the county should go from here. The joint meeting will begin at noon Monday at the Winneshiek county courthouse in Decorah.

Some critics of the legislature raising the gas tax complained the legislation was passed too quickly. Republican state representative Josh Byrnes of Osage, who chairs the house transportation committee, says nothing could be further from the truth.

Byrnes

Byrnes says they also wanted to get the bill done in February to get money into the pipeline for spring projects.

The increase in infrastructure funding that passed the legislature should have a positive effect on the local economy. Keith Bruening is with Bruening Rock Products in Decorah.

Bruening

Winneshiek county officials say five percent of county households are connected in someway to the road construction industry.

A public hearing on the fiscal year 2015-2016 city of Decorah budget will be held at the Decorah city council meeting Monday night. Decorah city manager Chad Bird.

Bird

The meeting will begin at five-45 at city hall.

A record low was set in Decorah (Friday) morning. The Decorah water department, the city’s official weather reporting station, recorded a low of 23 degrees below zero. The previous record low for February 27th was 19 below set back in 1915.

2-27 NEWS

With the immediate need to improve infrastructure, Republican state senator Mike Breitbach of Strawberry Point says it was important to pass a gas tax increase. But Breitbach says its important to look at other avenues to keep revenue coming into the road system.

Breitbach

Breitbach says the state cannot wait another 26 years before improving infrastructure funding. Governor Branstad signed the bill into law Wednesday. The gas tax will go into effect Sunday.

The gas tax increase will bring in more money to the city of Decorah for infrastructure upkeep. Decorah city manager Chad Bird.

Bird

Bird says the increase has no negative effect on the city budget since taxing entities are exempt from paying the gasoline tax.

A Spring Grove woman was injured in a single vehicle accident on the Locust Road Wednesday afternoon. The Winneshiek county sheriff’s department says around 2:30 p.m, a vehicle driven by Elise Lund lost control entered the ditch and rolled onto its side. Lund was taken by ambulance to Winneshiek Medical Center.

Last week, Houston County commissioners voted unanimously to send a bill banning frac sand mining to the county attorney. However, at their meeting on Tuesday, a few commissioners appeared to rethink their position on the issue. The county attorney discussed his findings on the ban on Tuesday with the board and said the ban could be passed and defended in court. However, some commissioners wanted to tone down the proposed ban, despite voting for the ban in the last meeting. This meeting comes a week after that heated public meeting where more than 150 Houston County residents shared their opinions on frac sand mining. According to the commissioners, 92 percent of the residents were in favor of a frac sand mining ban. The commissioners will vote to finalize the ban on March 3. If the ban is passed, it will be the first of its kind in the state of Minnesota.

The Decorah city council street committee will meet this evening. The committee will discuss layout and financing options for Locust Road. The meeting will begin at five p.m. at city hall.

2-26 News

A Decorah man recently won 50-thousand dollars playing an Iowa Lottery scratch game. Dave Vine told the Iowa lottery website he won the prize playing the Lottery’s Super Crossword instant-scratch game.

Vine

Vine purchased the ticket February 17th at Nordic Express in Decorah and claimed his prize last Thursday at the Lottery’s regional office in Cedar Rapids.

A ten cent per gallon fuel tax increase passed both the Iowa House and Senate Tuesday. Democratic state senator Mary Jo Wilhelm of Cresco was one of 21 no votes on the issue in the senate.

Wilhelm

Governor Branstad signed the bill into law Thursday morning. He explained why he took action so quickly.

Branstad

Winneshiek county supervisors chair John Logsdon says the legislature did the right thing by passing a gas tax increase.

Logsdon 1

Logsdon says the extra funding will help in a variety of ways.

Logsdon 2

The increase takes effect Sunday

Locust Road will be the topic of discussion when the street committee of the Decorah city council meets this afternoon. The committee will hold a work session at three-30 with the University of Iowa student group studying storm water in the city. The committee meeting will begin at five p.m. to discuss a conceptual street layout and financial options for the project. Both meetings will be held at city hall.

2-25 NEWS

Anti-bullying legislation is being discussed at the statehouse. Republican state representative Darrell Branhagen of Decorah says every effort should be made to curtail bullying but there’s only so much that can be done.

Branhagen

The measure is being discussed in a subcommittee of the Senate Education committee.

Decorah high school and the Decorah Parks and Recreation department have received grant money from Northeast Iowa R-C and D. The organization’s employee giving fund has awarded both a Connecting with our local environment awards. The grants are focused on helping youth explore, learn and celebrate Northeast Iowa’s natural landscape, the dynamic ecosystems, flora, fauna and geology that make this part of the state special.

THE TOP THREE ELECTED OFFICIALS IN THE STATE HAVE GOTTEN GOOD REVIEWS IN A NEW POLL OUT TODAY.JIM BOYD REPORTS

A user fee for infrastructure funding passed both the Iowa house and Senate today. A ten cent per gallon increase in the fuel tax passed the Senate 28-21 and the house 53-46. Governor Branstad is expected to sign the bill. If he does it will be the first fuel tax increase in the state since 1989. Of the local elected officials, senator Mike Breitbach and representatives Josh Byrnes and Darrell Branhagen voted for the increase. Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm voted against the increase.

The Future of Turkey Valley Committee will hold its initial meeting this evening. The committee has the charge of investigating options for the future of the district. Tonight’s agenda includes appointing a chairperson and a committee secretary, establishing dates, description of committee roles and options to communicate information to the board and the public. The meeting will begin at seven p.m. tonight at the high school media center.

2-24 NEWS

The full Iowa house and senate are expected to vote on a ten cent per gallon tax increase this week. Republican state representative Josh Byrnes of Osage says the recent increase in prices at the pump shouldn’t be a part of the debate.

Byrnes 1

Byrnes says if the measure passes this week, people could be able to see immediate benefits.

Byrnes 2

Byrnes says the measure would bring an additional one-point-one million dollars into Winneshiek county for infrastructure funding.

The Northeast Iowa Community College board of trustees approved the fiscal year 2016 budget at its meeting last week. The property tax levy asking will remain the same at 90.8 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value. College officials that the tax rate represents 2-3 percent of a homeowner’s tax bill. The budget total is estimated around 60 million dollars.

The Winneshiek county supervisors unanimously recommended denial of a permit application for a hog confinement in Lincoln Township. Goldbrook LLC has applied for a permit for a 7500 head facility in Lincoln Township near Ridgeway. Supervisor Mark Kuhn said although the facility did pass the state’s master matrix scoring system, the manure management plan was extremely flawed and the proposed site being in the flood plain was not a good idea. All of the public comments, the board’s recommendation and other information will be sent to the DNR who will have the ultimate say on whether or not the permit gets approved.

The supervisors did not recommend approval of a permit to expand a animal confinement facility near Ridgeway. KG4 Dairy, operated by Kevin Moellers and his two sons, is applying to expand its facility in Orleans Township. Supervisor Mark Kuhn called the application a solid one and it passed the master matrix scoring system. During the public hearing concerns were raised about air and water quality, potential pollution and big picture issue of confinement agriculture. All of the information will be forwarded to the DNR who will make the ultimate decision on the permit application.

Monday morning was the coldest February 23rd ever in Decorah. The Decorah water department, the official water reporting station in Decorah, recorded a low of 17 below Monday morning. The previous record low for the date was 14 below in 1910.

The entertainment for this year’s Winneshiek county fair was announced Monday. The Winneshiek county fair board hosted the monthly Decorah area chamber of commerce luncheon. The fair will open on Tuesday, July seventh with the Bill Riley Iowa State Fair Talent Search at 1:30 and the Upper Iowa Speedway Stock Car Races at 6:30. Wednesday night, July 8th will feature country music entertainment with Cory Farley followed by James Otto. Thursday night, July 9yh the Tri-State Truck and Tractor Pull will be in front of the Grandstand. Friday night, July 10th music takes the stage again with the Last Ride followed by Sawyer Brown. The fair will close out on July 11th with the CC Bull Riding and Barrell Racing. Grandstand admission will be by button again and Evans United Shows will return to the Midway.

2-23 NEWS

A Monona man has been awarded $25 million in punitive damages in his civil suit against a workers compensation insurance company. a 2009 tractor-trailer accident left 37-year old Toby Thornton paralyzed from the chest down. He was fired after the accident and the company’s Louisiana-based insurance carrier delayed paying workers compensation for years. American Interstate claimed Thornton could still work. When the Iowa Industrial Insurance Commission ordered the company to pay, it appealed. That company plans to appeal this latest verdict too.

The entertainment for the 2015 Winneshiek county fair will be announced this afternoon. The Winneshiek county fair board will host this month’s Decorah area chamber of commerce luncheon. The luncheon will begin at noon at the Danan Lansing Building on the fairgrounds. This year’s fair will run July seventh through the 11th.

The Iowa Attorney Generals office is joining 8 other states, concerned over a proposed merger between two wholesale food distributors. Conor Quealy has more:
audio-Quealy-SyscoMerger
U.S. Foods and Sysco would make up about 75% of broad-line food distributors nationwide if the merger goes through. Attorney General Tom Miller says 32 Iowa markets would be affected by the merger. In Decorah, Quillins is partially supplied by Sysco, but Fareway Foods handle their distribution independently.

A public hearing on a permit application for an expansion to an animal confinement will be held Monday at the Winneshiek county supervisors meeting. KG4 Dairy and Goldbrook LLC are looking to expand a facility near Ridgeway. A public hearing on the dairy expansion will be held at 10:30. A public hearing on the hog expansion will be held at noon. After the public hearing, all of the information will be sent to the DNR who will have the ultimate say on whether or not the permit will get approved.

It was literally a banner day for two groups of Decorah high school large group speech students at this weekend’s all-state speech festival in Ames. An ensemble acting group and ninth grade short film group were awarded the banner winner at the festival. Critics award the banner winner for a state championship quality performance that stands out above the rest. The ensemble acting group included Charles Baldwin, Simon Cropp, Olivia Dieschbourg,Paul Fadness, Parker Freitheim and Shelby Stalberger. The ninth grade short film was directed by Naomi Davidson, Gara Lonning and James Lee and featured Nick Bockman, Avery Dugger, Jenna Galligan, Anna Hanson, Dawson Holkesvik, Jonah Johnson, Alexandra Nesset, Jarod Phillips, Rachelle Sullivan and Brynne Valkosky. A record 14 Decorah high school students and 115 DHS students attended the festival in Ames Saturday.

2-22 KDEC NEWS

A Monona man has been awarded $25 million in punitive damages in his civil suit against a workers compensation insurance company. a 2009 tractor-trailer accident left 37-year old Toby Thornton paralyzed from the chest down. He was fired after the accident and the company’s Louisiana-based insurance carrier delayed paying workers compensation for years. American Interstate claimed Thornton could still work. When the Iowa Industrial Insurance Commission ordered the company to pay, it appealed. That company plans to appeal this latest verdict too.

Lake Meyer will be the scene of two events today…one of them moved from an earlier weekend because of extremely cold & windy weather. The Lake Meyer Ice Fishing Derby was originally scheduled for last Saturday but was moved to 12:30-4:30 today. Simultaneously, the Lake Meyer Ski Program for cross-country skiers and snowshoers is scheduled for the Campground Shop at 2 p.m. today.

Lawmakers hoping to find someone to blame in the State Prison snafu are coming up empty-handed. Department of Administrative Services Director Janet Phipps was asked directly, who’s to blame for the delays in the construction of the new prison by lawmakers on the Government Oversight Committe this past week:
audio: 21906 Phipps
and even Phipps admits that was pretty much a “no-answer”. Design flaws have prevented prisoners from moving into the new state prison even though official ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held over a year ago.

Some students attending the University of Iowa starting in the fall may be able to complete their degree in 3 years. The school announced the accelerated program this past week:
audio: Mason degree in 3
U of I President Sally Mason says the same number of credit hours will be required for graduation, meaning courseloads will be heavier than in a 4-year program. International Studies, Marketing, Theatre Arts, Communications Studies, English and History are the six major eligible for the 3-year degree.

2-23 NEWS

The entertainment for the 2015 Winneshiek county fair will be announced this afternoon. The Winneshiek county fair board will host this month’s Decorah area chamber of commerce luncheon. The luncheon will begin at noon at the Danan Lansing Building on the fairgrounds. This year’s fair will run July seventh through the 11th.

The Iowa Attorney Generals office is joining 8 other states, concerned over a proposed merger between two wholesale food distributors. Conor Quealy has more:
audio-Quealy-SyscoMerger
U.S. Foods and Sysco would make up about 75% of broad-line food distributors nationwide if the merger goes through. Attorney General Tom Miller says 32 Iowa markets would be affected by the merger. In Decorah, Quillins is partially supplied by Sysco, but Fareway Foods handle their distribution independently.

The Decorah Downtown Betterment Association has announced Lawn Chair Nights will return this summer. Event organizer Lissa Greiner Blake says performances will be held Thursday nights at seven p.m. in front of the courthouse from the beginning of June to the end of August. Blake says anyone interested in performing can contact her at the Decorah Newspapers office.

The Iowa Tourism Office is launching a new $1.5 million dollar ad campaign, reaching out to potential visitors in nearby midwest cities. Spokesperson Jessica O’Reilly says, in the ad, Napoleon Bonaparte returns in modern times, takes a look around, and expresses regret that he sold Iowa as part of the Louisiana Purchase. O’Reilly says it features a number of places to visit:
audio: IA Tourism Campaign
The ads start airing next month in Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Kansas City and Omaha.

The Arlin Falck Foundation has awarded a grant to the Northeast Iowa community college foundation to support a financial fitness initiative at the college’s Calmar campus. The 27-thousand dollar grant will provide assistance to the NICC Financial Aid office’s financial fitness project that is designed to increase students’ financial skills and strengthen their financial futures.

2-21 NEWS

Biking in the middle of winter in Decorah won’t be confined to streets in the future. The city’s Parks and Recreation Board last night(Thurs night) approved a request by the Decorah Human Powered Trails organization, allowing them to groom trails in the snow at Upper Ice Cave and Van Peenen parks. Parks & Rec Director Andy Nimrod says the trails will not interfere with any cross-country ski trails that exist. Nimrod also told KDEC News that Campground Director Sue Macal (Mot zul) has tendered her resignation, effective April 1st. Macal has been in charge of the campground since assuming the duties after the death of Craig Hunt in 2010.

A citizens committee that will help decide the future of the Turkey Valley school district will hold its initial meeting next week. The Future of Turkey Valley committee was approved by the school board at its meeting earlier this week. The agenda will include the appointment of a chair and secretary, establishing committee dates, description of committee roles and determining the options the committee should evaluate. The meeting will begin at seven p.m. Wednesday night in the high school media center.

A public hearing on a permit application for an expansion to an animal confinement will be held Monday at the Winneshiek county supervisors meeting. KG4 Dairy and Goldbrook LLC are looking to expand a facility near Ridgeway. A public hearing on the dairy expansion will be held at 10:30. A public hearing on the hog expansion will be held at noon. After the public hearing, all of the information will be sent to the DNR who will have the ultimate say on whether or not the permit will get approved.

Steve Luse, from the Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County, says the current Iowa Master Matrix system is flawed. His organization feels the power should be in the hands of the local population:
audio: Luse 1
Luse says this week’s action by the Houston County Supervisors, which effectively prohibits frac sand mining in their county, can still be superceded by the State of Minnesota or the Federal government:
audio: Luse 2
Luse maintains companies who want to extract frac sand may still try to prove the action unconstitutional.

Winneshiek county will be well-represented at (Saturday’s) All-state large group speech festival in Ames. Decorah high school will have a record 14 events at all-state. South Winneshiek will also be represented by three events. The students earned the honor through outstanding performances at the Northeast State Large Group Speech contest which was held in Decorah on February 7th.

A Fayette man was taken to jail after his arrest this week on probation violation charges. 26-year old James Lee Gardner originally was charged with willful injury causing bodily harm and false imprisonment. A no-bond hold was set. Fayette County authorities also arrested a Clermont man after he failed to appear in court on assault with a deadly weapon charges. 57-year old Mark Gingerich was taken to the Fayette County Jail and a bond of $2000 was set.

Republican state representative Darrell Branhagen of Decorah will host a legislative forum (Saturday) morning. The first term lawmaker will be at Decorah city hall beginning at eleven-15. The public is invited to attend.

Democratic state senator Mary Jo Wilhelm of Cresco will host a legislative listening post (Saturday). Wilhelm will meet with constituents at the Cresco Public Library at eleven a.m.

2-20 NEWS

11 items will go before the Decorah Parks and Recreation Board for its meeting tonight. The board will consider two requests. One is a land usage request for a Cyclocross Race around the City Prairie. The other is from the Decorah Human Powered Trails organization to groom trails for biking during the winter. Updates will also be provided by the Friends of the Park, regarding the water slide at the swimming pool and on the department’s endowment. The meeting will begin at seven p.m. at city hall.

The Iowa House yesterday voted to stick with the Republican plan to allow schools a 1.25% increase in funding, rejecting language in a Senate bill that would raise it to 4%. Republican representative Greg Forristall of Macedonia says, with Iowa’s uncertain economy, it may be time for teachers to forego a pay raise:
audio Forristal Education
However, Democrat Sharon Steckman of Mason City says it shows the G-O-P priority is not education:
audio: Steckman Education
The committee voted to change a Senate bill allowing a 4% increase in school funding back to the 1.25% passed by the House. It sets the bill up for House debate and an expected House-Senate Conference Committee to iron out the differences.

An area family’s appearance on the game show family feud will air (Friday) afternoon. The Reicks family consists of Sarah (Reicks) Soriano, a 1999 graduate of New Hampton high school, Sarah’s husband Rafael, her mother, Lisa Reicks of New Hampton, her sister Beth Larson of Decorah and her brother-in-law Mike Tobin of West Union. Two episodes involving the family will air at five and five-30 on KFXA-TV out of Cedar Rapids. The family will host a viewing party at the Harvest Church in New Hampton which is open to the public.

A minimum wage increase passed a senate panel this week. Republican state senator Mike Breitbach of Strawberry Point says he’s not sure its a major issue.

Breitbach

The proposed increase would boost the minimum wage from 7.25 per hour to 8.75 per hour. There’s no indication the measure will get brought up in the republican controlled house.

The IRS has delayed enforcement of a little-known penalty under the Affordable Care Act facing small-business owners who help their employees pay for their health insurance. Senator Chuck Grassley proposed an amendment to fix the problem last month. The penalty facing small business owners is a fine of up to $100 per day per employee for helping them purchase their health insurance. Small businesses are still prohibited from re-imbursing their employees for insurance costs. Grassley says the problem was created because Obamacare was poorly considered and rushed into law.

It looks like a high school wrestler is going to be ok after having a seizure following his match at the State Tournament in Des Moines yesterday(Wed). Flight paramedic John Cockrell with Unitypoint Cedar Rapids says the condition is known as Commotio Cordis. It can occur when the heart gets knocked out of rhythm by hard contact to the chest:
audio Cockrell A E D
Taylor Pettit from Creston/Orient-Macksburg remains in critical condition at a Des Moines hospital.