4-1 NEWS

Republican state representative Darrell Branhagen of Decorah says there’s no end in sight to the K-12 education funding stalemate at the statehouse. Branhagen says there’s only one responsible way for schools to budget right now.

Branhagen

The Republican controlled house passed a 1.25 percent state supplement aid package. The democratic senate passed a four percent increase. Branhagen says the most that can be justified in his mind is 1.6 percent, the current rate of inflation.

A new Winneshiek county sheriff is expected to be appointed (Wednesday) morning. (Tuesday) (is/was) the last day on the job for Leon Bohr who has been sheriff for the past 12 years. Bohr is retiring after a 30 year career in law enforcement. Deputies Dan Marx and Tim Felton interviewed for the job last Wednesday. The board of supervisors will meet to discuss the issue (Wednesday) morning at nine-30 at the courthouse in Decorah.

Decorah’s yard waste disposal site will open for the season (Wednesday). The site, located on Trout Run Road, will be open Wednesdays from one until seven p.m. and Saturday mornings from eight a.m. until noon.

State geologist Dr. Bob Libra spoke before the Winneshiek county board of supervisors Monday. He spoke on the potential of frac sand mining on how it would effect ground water and water sources. Libra was asked if the karst topography of Winneshiek county could create any concerns.

Libra

Libra was the most recent in a series of speaker the supervisors have brought in to discuss issues related to frac sand mining.

Iowa schools will be able to start the upcoming academic year no earlier than Aug. 23, under a compromise bill that is now headed to Gov. Terry Branstad for approval. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal on Tuesday lifted a procedural hold he placed on the bill last week. The state House and Senate both approved the legislation, but Gronstal stalled, citing concerns that high schools would be excluded from setting year-round calendars. Gronstal says it was time to move on. Branstad promised to sign the bill into law. The state announced plans late last year to stop issuing automatic waivers to allow districts to bypass current start date rules. Many lawmakers wanted districts to have control over their calendars, but Branstad argued that early start dates hurt tourism.

3-31 NEWS

Iowa State University Extension recently updates their guide on Emerald Ash Borer, an insect that has killed thousands of trees around the country. It’s now been spotted in TWENTY Iowa counties. The new recommendations list some new pesticides that can be used for treatment and includes some information on identifying the pest. State Entomologist Don Lewis says taking preventative measures is prudent, but it has to be done in a smart way.

Lewis

Lewis says treatment is most necessary when the insect has been spotted within FIFTEEN miles of an ash tree, and the Extension has known cases available on their website.

The Decorah high school prom is two weeks from Saturday night. The Decorah CREW organization is looking for donations for its post-prom party. Erika Randall is with the Decorah Parks and Recreation Department.

Randall

The post prom party will be held at Marty’s on the Luther college campus that evening after the prom festivities conclude.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has approved a permit for the expansion of a animal confinement facility near Ridgeway. KG4 Dairy, operated by Kevin Moellers and his two sons, applied to expand its dairy facility in Orleans Township. The Winneshiek county supervisors recommended permit approval at its February 23rd meeting. County officials were notified of the DNRs decisions last week.

Winneshiek county officials say a permit to expand a hog confinement in Lincoln Township. Goldbrook LLC has applied for a 7500 head facility near Ridgeway. County sanitarian Doug Groux says Goldbrook has entered a revised manure management plan for the application. The supervisors recommended denial of the permit, with the manure management plan being one of the primary concerns. Groux says they will allow written public comments on the new application until April 15th then the county will send all information to the DNR, who has the final day on whether or not the permit gets approved.

Iowa’s unemployment rate was down in February. Sue Danielson has the story.

A reception for Dave Hageman will be held tonight. Hageman is retiring as director of the Winneshiek county landfill, a position he has held since 2004. The reception will be held from five until eight p.m. tonight at the Train Station in Calmar.

Last week’s snowfall has delayed the opening of the Pulpit Rock Campground in Decorah. Parks and Recreation officials say the campground is now scheduled to open April eighth.

3-30 NEWS

A Luana man has been charged with third degree harassment, a simple misdemeanor. The Fayette county sheriff’s department says 26 year old Jordan Bacon is accused of making numerous threatening phone calls and text messages to a Fayette county resident. Authorities say he was located in Allamakee county last Wednesday and transported to the Fayette County Jail where he was held for an initial appearance.

The Iowa State Geologist will speak in front of the Winneshiek county board of supervisors today. Bob Libra will discuss the geological and hydrological impacts of frac sand mining in a presentation that begins at noon at the Winneshiek county courthouse. The board will also hear from the Locust school committee at its meeting, discuss staffing for HAWC Partnerships for Children and will review the exempt employees policy portion of the compensation and classification study. The meeting will begin at nine-30 at the courthouse in Decorah.

A reception for retiring Winneshiek county sheriff Leon Bohr will be held today. Bohr’s last day on the job as Winneshiek county sheriff will be Tuesday. Bohr has been in law enforcement for 30 years, with the last 12 years serving as Winneshiek county sheriff. The reception will be held from one until three this afternoon at the Winneshiek county courthouse.

Republican state representative Josh Byrnes of Osage says the debate over educational funding has lead to some ugly tactics from his fellow lawmakers.

Brynes

Brynes says house republicans are trying to be fiscally responsible in their commitment to education, than make promises they cannot keep.

Decorah Police say a woman was injured in a fall at the Bluffs Inn last Wednesday night. Police say 27 year old Irene Jones, who resides at the Bluffs Inn, appeared to have fallen around 25 feet through a foam covering into a dry swimming pool at the motel. Authorities say Jones sustained serious injuries and was transported to Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse. Police say the incident appeared to be an accident.

Decorah Police two people were arrested after they were called to a disturbance on Linn Street early Sunday morning. Police say 24 year old Shane Micheal Bruening and 22 year old James Marshall Doughty were both charged with possession of marijuana.

Ten Winneshiek county high school students will be heading to Cedar Falls today for the Individual all-state speech festival. The students qualified through outstanding performances at the Northeast State Individual speech contest held on March 14th at Starmont High school. Decorah high school students Garrett Baumler, Dalton Brown, Micheal Foster, Parker Fretheim, Steven Holkesvik, Connor Freeman, Gara Lonning, Will Yahr and Josh Nierengarten will attend the festival. South Winneshiek high school student Jessica Lechtenberg will also attend the all-state festival.

A Decorah man was arrested was charged with providing alcohol to an underage person after an incident at Kwik Star late Saturday night. Police say 21 year old Gary Halvorson was cited with the offense. Police say as part of the investigation, Wyatt Anderson was charged with possession of alcohol under the legal age.

3-29 NEWS

A Luana man has been charged with third degree harassment, a simple misdemeanor. The Fayette county sheriff’s department says 26 year old Jordan Bacon is accused of making numerous threatening phone calls and text messages to a Fayette county resident. Authorities say he was located in Allamakee county last Wednesday and transported to the Fayette County Jail where he was held for an initial appearance.

Due to last week’s snowfall there has been a change in location for today’s Decorah Parks and Recreation Department East Egg Hunt. The Hunt will now be held at the Decorah Public Library beginning at two p.m. Parks and Recreation officials say registered participants should arrive by one-30 if they want their picture taken with the Easter bunny.

The stalemate regarding K through 12 education funding is continuing at the statehouse. Senate democrats want a four percent increase. House republicans and Governor Branstad want a one-point-two-five percent increase. Senate Majority leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs read a letter from Allamakee school district elementary principal Ann Hart at a press conference Friday.

Gronstal

A conference committee assigned to the issue met for the first time in two weeks last week.

An individual and a business were recognized as Friends of Agriculture at the Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce Ag appreciation luncheon held earlier this month. The Individual friend of Agriculture was Ron Stoskopf of Viking State Bank and Trust in Decorah. The business award went to Cary’s Machine and Welding in Decorah. The Chamber’s Ag committee also awarded scholarships to Decorah high school senior Morgan Franzen and NICC student Bethany Glaser of Alta Vista at the luncheon.

The Decorah school board will meet in a special session this week. The board will discuss a potential real estate purchase and sale in a closed session. The meeting will begin at five p.m. Wednesday afternoon at the Central Administration office.

Persons have until tomorrow to vote for Iowa’s Dairy Center as the Silos and Smokestacks people’s choice site of the year. The center located just south of Calmar is one of three finalists for the award, which will be presented at the Golden Silo Awards Luncheon on April first in Willamsburg. Each year, Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area celebrates the best in heritage development by presenting Golden Silo Awards to individuals and organizations whose contributions demonstrate outstanding excellence in preserving and sharing America’s agricultural story. Persons can vote at silosandsmokestacks.com

The City of Decorah’s Yard Waste Disposal site will open this week. The site will open Wednesday afternoon. City officials say grass clippings, leaves, garden waste, sticks, branches and trees will be accepted. All branches and brush must be cut into lengths not exceeding eight feet. Prohibited items include processed lumber, rock, concrete, roots, plastic bags, cardboard boxes or any other containers. The site will be open Wednesday afternoons from one until seven p.m. and Saturdays from eight a.m. until noon.

3-28 NEWS

The state supplemental aid issue remains at an impasse at the statehouse. Republican state representative Josh Byrnes (Burns) of Osage says K-12 education will get an increase. Other parts of state government may not.

Byrnes

Byrnes says until the education funding stalemate is resolved, other budget work cannot begin.

The frac sand mining issue will be discussed again at Monday’s meeting of the Winneshiek county board of supervisors. Doctor Robert Libra will make a presentation regarding the geological and hydrological impacts of frac sand mining. Libra has worked with the Iowa Geological Survey and Iowa DNR since 1982 and has been the state geologist since 2003. Libra’s presentation will be at noon at the Winneshiek county courthouse.

Winneshiek county sheriff Leon Bohr will be retiring next week. Bohr will wrap up a 30 year career in law enforcement, with the last 12 years as county sheriff, next Tuesday. A reception for Bohr will be held Monday from one until three p.m. at the Winneshiek County Courthouse.

The Aase Haugen home is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Aase Haugen senior services will be hosting two concerts in a series of events tied to the anniversary this weekend. Mike and Bonnie Jorgensen will present concerts at Decorah Lutheran Church Saturday at seven p.m. and Sunday at one-30 p.m. The concert will feature the works of Theodora Cormontan, a Norwegian composer who was a resident of Aase Haugen Home in the 1920s.

Ten Winneshiek county high school students will be heading to Cedar Falls Monday for the Individual all-state speech festival. The students qualified through outstanding performances at the Northeast State Individual speech contest on March 14th at Starmont High school. Decorah high school students Garrett Baumler, Dalton Brown, Micheal Foster, Parker Fretheim, Steven Holkesvik, Connor Freeman, Gara Lonning, Will Yahr and Josh Nierengarten will attend the festival. South Winneshiek high school student Jessica Lechtenberg will also attend the all-state festival.

3-27 NEWS

The Iowa State Patrol has corrected a report regarding an accident north of Decorah last night. The State Patrol says 26 year old Korbin Paul of Decorah was airlifted to Gundersen Lutheran in La Crosse after injuries suffered in the accident. The report states a vehicle driven by Paul lost control on highway 52 around five-30 last night and collided with a vehicle driven by 43 year old Rhonda Schnitzler of Decorah. Schnitzler was taken by ambulance to Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah.

Winneshiek county is a healthy county. And now there’s numbers to back it up. A combined study from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin population health institute have ranked all of the counties in the country. In Iowa, Winneshiek county is ranked first for health factors and fourth in health outcomes. Health outcomes consists of length and quality of life. Health factors include health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. Winneshiek county is ranked first in health behaviors and physical environment.

Should the Metronet become a public utility in Decorah? Some in town think so. Decorah city manager Chad Bird says one of the general goals in creating the metronet was economic development.

Bird

Bird says it will be up to the Metronet’s governing board to make that decision. The metronet is a combined effort of the city, county, school district, Luther College, Winneshiek Medical Center and Upper Explorerland.

The school start date issue remains unresolved at the statehouse. After the house passed a bill setting August 23rd at the start date, a similar bill passed the senate Wednesday. After its passage, Senate majority leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs filed a procedural motion to hold the bill in the senate. Gronstal said some republican senators said they were going to challenge the house position and did not. Republican state senator Mike Breitbach of Strawberry Point explains what will happen if the issue remains unresolved.

Breitbach

The senate originally passed a bill which would leave the start date up to the school district.

The Iowa State data center is out with its county population estimates. All six area counties lost population from July 1, 2013 to July 1, 2014 according to the data. Winneshiek county has the 30th largest county population in the state at 20,768. That’s down 111 residents from a year before. Fayette county lost 58 residents for a population of 20, 343, 34th largest in the state. Clayton county’s population lost 93 residents to 17,692, 39th in the state. Allamakee county’s population ranks 57th in the state, down eight residents to 14,038. Chickasaw county was down 24 residents to 12, 264, ranking 63rd in the state. Howard county’s population is 9,449, down 62 residents to 79th in the state.

3-26 NEWS

SO SPRING HAS SPRUNG, BUT YOU’RE NOT CONVINCED? STATE CLIMATOLOGIST HARRY HILLAKER SAYS VARIETY IS THE “NAME OF THE GAME” THIS TIME OF YEAR. JUST A WEEK AGO, SIOUX CITY RECORDED A 90-DEGREE TEMPERATURE, AND NOW NORTHEAST IOWA IS DEALING WITH A FRESH BLANKET OF SNOW. HILLAKER SAYS THIS TRANSITIONAL MONTH- TENDS TO HAVE A LOT OF VARIABILITY.

HILLAKER

ALL SIGNS POINT TO AN “EL-NINO” WEATHER PATTERN, WHICH COULD MEAN WARMER-THAN-NORMAL TEMPERATURES, AND NEAR-NORMAL PRECIPITATION. CURRENTLY, THE STATE IS ON THE DRY-SIDE. HILLAKER SAYS WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE BIG SNOW-STORM AT THE END OF JANUARY, THERE HASN’T BEEN MUCH PRECIPITATION SINCE MID-OCTOBER OF LAST YEAR.

There’s no end in site in the stalemate regarding k-12 education at the statehouse. Republicans say the four percent increase which passed the Democratic controlled senate is unsustainable. Democratic state senator Mary Jo Wilhelm of Cresco disagrees.

Wilhelm

A conference committee on the state supplemental aid bill met for the first time in two weeks Tuesday night.

Iowa’s Dairy Center in Calmar has been selected as a finalist for the Silos and Smokestacks site of the year. The Center was chosen as one of three finalists from seven sites in on-line voting last week. Each year, Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area celebrates the best in heritage development by presenting Golden Silo Awards to individuals and organizations whose contributions demonstrate outstanding excellence in preserving and sharing America’s agricultural story. An on-line vote will decide the winner between now and next Monday. The winner will be announced at the Golden Silo Awards Luncheon on April first. Votes can be cast at silosandsmokestacks.com

TRIPLE-A RESEARCHERS ANALYZED NEARLY 17-HUNDRED VIDEOS OF TEEN DRIVERS IN THE MOMENTS BEFORE A CRASH. THE BIGGEST CULPRIT IN CRASHES INVOLVING KIDS WASN’T TEXTING OR CELL PHONE USE – BUT TEENS HAVING PASSENGERS.

WEINHOLZER

THE TRIPLE-A’S GAIL WEINHOLZER SAYS THE VIDEOS CAME FROM A COMPANY CALLED DRIVE-CAM AND THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA IN PARTNERSHIP WITH TRIPLE-A.

TWO PEOPLE WERE INJURED IN A TWO VEHICLE ACCIDENT NORTH OF DECORAH WEDNESDAY NIGHT. THE IOWA STATE PATROL SAYS AROUND FIVE-30, A VEHICLE DRIVEN BY 26 YEAR OLD PAUL KORBIN OF DECORAH LOST CONTROL ON HIGHWAY 52 AND COLLIDED WITH A VEHICLE IN THE OPPOSITE LANE DRIVEN BY 43 YEAR OLD RHONDA SCHNITZLER OF DECORAH. KORBIN WAS AIRLIFTED TO GUNDERSEN LUTHERAN IN LA CROSSE. SCHNITZLER WAS TAKEN BY AMBULANCE TO WINNESHIEK MEDICAL CENTER IN DECORAH.

3-25 news

The Decorah city council will appoint a replacement for Paul Wanless for the ward three seat on the council. The council unanimously voted to do so at a special meeting Tuesday morning. Wanless announced last week he is leaving the council immediately to pursue another opportunity. City manager Chad Bird says interested persons can contact city hall by April 16th. Bird says they hope to make an appointment at the April 20th council meeting. City clerk Wanda Hemesath says after the appointment, the public has 14 days to petition for a special election, which would require 32 signatures. Hemesath says the ward three seat will be up for election this fall.

Republican state representative Darrell Branhagen of Decorah says while disagreements in the legislature get most of the media attention, there’s a lot of work that has been done in the past couple of weeks.

Branhagen

The main disagreement remains state supplemental aid for K-12 education. A conference committee assigned to the bill has not met in the last two weeks.

Want to become a weather spotter? A weather spotter training class will be held in Decorah tonight. Todd Shea with the National Weather service in La Crosse says weather spotters are key to the forecasting process.

Shea

The class will begin at six-30 at Decorah city hall. It is free and open to the public.

Two teams from Decorah high school will be heading to the state envirothon competition next month. The team qualified through the regional competition held last week at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids. The competition test the students’ knowledge of aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife and a special topic dealing with an environmental issue facing issue. This year’s topic was the potential effect of the Emerald Ash Borer upon urban forests across the state. The state envirothon will be held April 13th at the Springbrook State Park near Guthrie Center.

A statewide tornado drill will be held (Wednesday) morning as part of severe weather awareness week in the state of Iowa. Authorities say a test tornado watch will be issued at 10 a.m. followed by a test warning at ten-15 a.m. The Decorah law enforcement center will be activating and testing the Outdoor Warning Sirens countywide. County officials say all sirens will be sounded for three to five minutes to test for functionality.

No animals were hurt and no one was injured in a fire at the NICC Dairy Center Sunday night. College officials say the fire started around six p.m. and the Calmar and Fort Atkinson fire departments responded. College officials say the fire originated in the robotics room and the fire was under control by nine-30 p.m. No damage estimate is available. Damage was limited to the interior walls and ceiling trusses. The robotics milking system resumed by Monday afternoon.

The Winneshiek County board of supervisors will interview two candidates for the county sheriff’s position at a special meeting this morning. Dan Marx will be interviewed at nine-30 and Tim Felton will be interviewed at ten-30 at the Winneshiek County courthouse. The two are seeking to replace Leon Bohr, who is retiring from the position next week. The board choose to appoint a replacement for Bohr rather than call for an election to save cost. The board is planning to make an appointment to the position next Wednesday, April first.

3-24 NEWS

Last week, 19 year Decorah city council member Paul Wanless announced he was leaving the council immediately. Wanless said he will be pursuing an opportunity that would no longer allow him to serve on the council. The remaining six members of the council will meet in a special session (Tuesday) morning. The topic of discussion will be the consideration of methods to fill the vacancy. The meeting will begin at seven-30 at the city clerk’s conference room at city hall.

March Madness was March sadness for some Iowa Hawkeye basketball fans Friday night. Mediacom customers in Decorah, Freeport, Calmar, Ossian, Fort Atkinson and Spillville had their service interrupted just before six p.m, right before Iowa’s first round NCAA Tournament game verses Davidson. Company officials issued a statement (Monday) morning. They said a fiber optic line and vault were burnt after a farmer burnt a road ditch near Lawler. The incident caused a total loss in video, H-S-D and phone service. Technicians were able to restore service around two a.m. Saturday morning.

This is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Iowa as residents statewide are encouraged to be prepared for spring and summer storms. Mike McClure with the National Weather Service says this is also the time to refresh yourself on the difference between a warning, which means severe weather is occurring or imminent, versus a watch, which means conditions are favorable for the development of severe weather.

McClure

The first tornado reported in Iowa last year happened in late March causing minor damage in Clarke County, with a statewide total last year of 55 tornadoes, the highest since 2008.

The Winneshiek county board of supervisors will interview two candidates for the position of county sheriff on Wednesday. Supervisors chair John Logsdon says deputies Dan Marx and Tim Felton will interview for the position. Current sheriff Leon Bohr will retire effective next Tuesday, March 31st. The board cannot make an appointment until April first. The supervisors say they choose the appointment route to save county taxpayers the cost of an election.

The National Weather Service will be hosting a severe weather spotting course in Decorah tonight. Todd Shea is with the National Weather Service in La Crosse.

Shea

Shea says the class will begin at six-30 at Decorah city hall. The class is free and open to the public.

3-23 NEWS

Republican state representative Josh Byrnes of Osage says he’s frustrated by the rhetoric when it comes to the debate on education funding at the statehouse. Byrnes says republicans are simply trying to make a promise they can keep.

Byrnes

The Revenue Estimating conference downgraded their prediction on dollars coming into the state coffers last week. The Republican controlled house passed a one-point-two-five percent increase in state supplemental aid and the Democratic controlled house passed a four percent increase. A conference committee assigned to iron out the differences has not met in nearly two weeks.

A Business and Educators Network Summit will be held on the Northeast Iowa community college campus today. Wendy Mihm-Herold is the Vice President of Business and Community Solutions at NICC.

Mihm-Herold

Mihm-Herold says 60 percent of job opportunities in Iowa require up to a two year degree. She says the event helps develop partnerships between businesses and individuals trying to enter the workforce.

Roads, Veterans affairs matters and mental health will be among the topics at today’s Winneshiek county board of supervisors meeting. County engineer Lee Bjerke will discuss fiscal year 2016 projects, Freeport Trail fiber conduit and other road matters. County veterans affair administrator Faith Hlubek will provide a report on a recent V-A town hall meeting held in Decorah. And county service coordinator Chalsea Carroll will discuss mental health matters. The board will also discuss procedures to fill the sheriff’s vacancy. The board is expected to conduct interviews for the position on Wednesday. Current sheriff Leon Bohr will retire effective the end of the month. The meeting will begin at nine-30 at the courthouse in Decorah

A group with the charge of helping determine the future of the Turkey Valley school district will meet again tonight. Tonight’s agenda will include a public forum, discussion on the assets of the district, questions to send to area schools and a question and answer session. The meeting will begin at seven p.m. in the high school media center.