3-1 NEWS

The Northeast Iowa Community College board of trustees aproved the issuance of nearly ten million dollars of general obligation school bonds at its meeting this month. College officials say the bonds will provide funding for the College’s first phase of construction and renovation projects. The funding was approved by voters last September when district voters approved the continuation of a 39 million bond levy. College officials says Max Clark Hall on the Calmar campus will be among the projects that will be funding with the issuance of their bonds.

The tough winter weather over the last six weeks has presented a challenge to the city of Decorah’s budget. Decorah city manager Chad Bird.
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Bird says the city not concerned about running out of supplies
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Bird says the street department has a reserve fund which they use in winters like this to cover the cost.

A new poll says most people in Iowa are against legal sports betting within the state, according to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll. It says more than half of Iowans say they are against legal gambling for professional sports events. Around 40 percent are in favor of legalizing and the rest say they are unsure. More people said they were opposed to betting on college games with nearly 70 percent against it. Just 25 percent of those who responded are in favor of it. A bill to legalize sports gambling is currently moving through the state legislature.

Five members of the Iowa House have signed off on the IDEA of charging a new fee to the owners of electric vehicles AND a new, per-kilowatt-hour tax at public charging stations. Michael Triplett, a lobbyist for the Automobile Manufacturers Association, urged legislators not to set the fee higher than what electric car owners are paying in neighboring states.

Triplett

The Iowa D-O-T has recommended a 130-dollar annual fee for electric vehicles. That’s higher than what’s being charged in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri and Nebraska. Drivers of gas-powered vehicles pay the state fuel tax which finances the upkeep and construction of roads and bridges. Scott Newhard (NEW-hard), a lobbyist for the Associated General Contractors of Iowa, says electric vehicles should pay into the Road Use Tax, too.

New hard
By late last year there were 800 battery-powered vehicles registered in Iowa. There were about 19-hundred plug-in hybrids that can switch to gas power when the charge runs out.

2-28 NEWS

The area has dealt with a lot of winter weather over the past six weeks. Why are we in this weather pattern? The question was asked to Todd Shea with the National Weather Service of La Crosse.
Shea
Shea says there are signs of a warm up coming in mid-March, but he admits forecasting anything beyond 10 days is nothing more than an educated guess.

A bill filed at the statehouse last week would limit the amount of time schools would have to make up related to weather related cancellations. State senator Mike Breitbach of Strawberry Point says they should pump the breaks.
Breitbach
The proposed legislation would limit the requirements of schools to five days or 30 instructional hours. Tuesday was the 10th snow day the Decorah school district had this winter.

The first two eggs have been laid this year at the Decorah Eagles nest. The Raptor Resource Project announced on its facebook page says the first egg was laid Saturday night and the second egg was laid Tuesday night. Raptor Resource Project officials say the eggs usually hatch in late March or early April. The Eagle cam is available at raptor-resource-dot-org-slash-birdcams-slash-decorah-dash-eagles.

2-27 NEWS

A bill was introduced at the statehouse last week that would limit the time school districts would have to make-up from weather-related cancellations. State representative Mike Bergan of Dorchester says it’s a conversation worth having.
Bergan
Schools would only be required make up five days or 30 instructional hours under the proposed legislation. Tuesday was the 10th weather-related cancellation for the Decorah school district.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is the chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Grassley is holding hearings this week to discuss the cost of prescription drugs.
Grassley
Seven C-E-Os of drug companies will testify before the committee.

A Waucoma woman has been sentenced to probation for theft from a trucking company. Court records say 38 year old Lisa Diana Schroeder was accused of taking the checks, forging them, and then cashing them at a bank in Calmar between July and September of 2018. Authorities say the checks totaled $4,900.95. Schroeder pleaded guilty to six counts of forgery and one count of 2nd degree theft and has been sentenced to two to five years of probation. Schroeder must also pay $875 in law enforcement surcharges.

The Decorah Area Chamber of Commerce will host a luncheon (Wednesday) to learn how community development opportunities occur. The event will be held at the T-Bocks Sports Bar and Grill from noon until one-30 p.m. Decorah city manager Chad Bird and Winneshiek county development director Stephanie Fromm will review how developers approach cities regarding development opportunities. Bird and Fromm will also breakdown some recent development projects. A soup and sandwich lunch will be available for ten dollars. To register on-line, persons can contact the Chamber office or the chamber website.

Winneshiek county crews say they’re working as fast as they can to open up the county’s secondary roads system. County engineer Lee Bjerke says the process is going slow due to large drifts and the large amount of snow. Bjerke says they’ve had multiple break downs as well and they’re asking for the public’s patience to give their crews time to clear the roads.

2-26 NEWS

A variety of perspectives were brought up regarding potential incentives to bring a Hy-Vee to Decorah at a Decorah city council work session Monday night. Winneshiek county development executive director Stephanie Fromm told the council discussions have been taking place with Ridge Development of Cedar Rapids since last June. Fromm told the council the developer has not signed a lease agreement yet and the developer said the former Quillin’s location, which is being considered for the store, would need significant remodeling. Council member Dan Bellrichard said it will be difficult to determine the net benefit of providing incentives for the project, considering the potential negative effects it could have on existing grocery stores and the downtown area. Council member Ross Hadley said he would support a tax abatement for the project but would like to see an overall economic vision for the city, which would include support for downtown businesses. Council member Johanna Bergan said she had concerns with providing incentives for a grocery stores to compete with three existing grocery stores, saying the city needs to encourage more diverse businesses. Council member Randy Schissell called it “interesting” that the city was discussing economic incentives after saying no to Menards, who asked for no incentives. Schissell also expressed concerns over the developer considering the former Quillins building also looking at sites in Waukon and New Hampton for a store. Council member Steve Luse said an existing business would bring more of a pull factor for all city businesses than the current empty store front. Since it was a work session, no council action was taken.

Iowa gas prices have increased 11.4 cents a gallon in the last week, to an average of $2.36 per gallon. GasBuddy’s weekly report states the national average has increased 6.1 cents a gallon to an average of roughly $2.39 a gallon. Prices Sunday were 18.1 cents a gallon lower than one year ago, and 24.8 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. During the last month, the national average has gone up 11.6 cents a gallon, according to GasBuddy.

A West Union man went into the ditch with his vehicle Friday night, but that ended up the least of his problems. The Fayette county sheriff’s department says 34 year old Brian Otdoerfer ended up being arrested for driving while his license was suspended and possession of stolen property.

Fayette county authorities are releasing details of a Thursday afternoon incident which lead to the arrest of two Hawkeye residents. The Fayette county sheriff’s department says 19 year old Allison Rose Butikofer was charged with domestic abuse assault and 20 year old Dalton James Bunn was arrested for false imprisonment.

Winneshiek county and State DOT Crews are still at work digging out from this weekend’s blizzard. Winneshiek county engineer Lee Bjerke is asking the public to not follow plows too closely. Bjerke says the plows are having to back up frequently and cars are often in their blind spots. Bjerke is also asking the public to not pass plows. He says with the drifts, the plows can shift left at any point potentially creating a dangerous situation.

A Decorah man was charged with assault on a police officer while he was being booked into the Winneshiek county jail Sunday night. Decorah Police say 34 year old Brent Fullhart was taken into custody on an arrest warrant. Authorities say while at the jail, Fullhart became combative and shoved an officer. Police say an officer injured his hand while trying to control Fullhart.

The mounting number of snow days for the state’s school district’s has some asking if technology could be used to make up the time. Iowa Department of Education director Ryan Wise says that question has come up a lot lately.

Wise 1

Wise says state law requires districts to either have 180-days of school or one-thousand-80 hours.

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Wise says the question has come up a lot with the number of cancelled days this year — and because schools have been trying out e-learning.The discussion of online learning has been talked about too for rural districts with declining enrollment as a way to beef up their offerings.

2-25 NEWS

The possibility of a well-known grocery chain coming to Decorah will be discussed in a work session of the Decorah city council tonight. Ten days ago a joint press release from Winneshiek county development and the city stated a well-known grocery chain is discussing locating the former Quillins location. Quillins closed late last year. The council will also discuss the issue of affordable housing in the work session which begins at five-15 at city hall.

The Winneshiek county board of supervisors will discuss road matters at its meeting today. County engineer Lee Bjerke and county roadside manager Corey Meyer will meet with the board to discuss a right of way maintenance ordinance. The board will also discuss tax abatement for the Ridgeway shop property and will review amended insurance contracts for fiscal year 2020. The meeting will begin at nine-30 at the courthouse annex building in Decorah.

Democratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is scheduled to be in Decorah later this week. Warren will attend a house party Friday afternoon at five-45 in Decorah. Persons can sign up to attend the event at the campaign website and the location will be revealed with an RSVP.

Decorah high school students had a successful day the district individual speech contest held Saturday in Decorah. The varsity team received 27 division one ratings and the ninth grade team received 11 division ratings. All performances receiving division one ratings will advance to the Northeast District State Speech Contest in Forest City on March 9th.

2-24 NEWS

The Decorah historic preservation commission will hold a work session Tuesday afternoon. The topic of discussion will be signage issues in Decorah, especially in historic districts. The work session will be at four-30 at the home of Mark Muggli at 722 Washington Street.

Helping Services for Youth and Family will hold a fundraiser for its youth mentoring program next month. Kathy Schwartzhoff is with Helping Services.
Schwartzhoff
The event will be held March 16th at Arrowhead Lanes in Waukon. Persons can sign up at helping-services-dot-org.

A study finds an early tool of genetic engineering in crops shows benefits beyond its original intent. So-called B-T seeds are engineered with genetics from soil bacteria that kill specific insects. Researchers now say B-T seeds provide additional environmental benefits. Steve Naranjo (nah-RON-hoe), with the U-S-D-A Agricultural Research Service, is one of the paper’s authors.
Naranjo
Naranjo cautions that insects are adaptable and can develop resistance to even the best tools, so he suggests farmers use technology alongside crop rotation and other strategies. Iowa State University entomologist Erin Hodgson, who was not involved with the study, says B-T has been fairly successful in corn.

The Decorah middle and high school vocal music departments will host a special mid-winter concert this week. The concert will be held Tuesday night at seven-30 at the high school auditorium. The concert feature over three hundred vocal music students.

The American Cancer Society is selling daffodils. Persons can make a minimum ten dollar donation to receive a bunch of approximately ten daffodils. Orders can be placed at Viking State Bank through next Thursday. Doffodils will be available to pickup on March 13th at the Decorah Lutheran Church from nine a.m. until noon.

The wicked winter weather we’ve endured recently has less people fueling up. While the demand for gas is dropping, prices at the pump are on the rise. Iowa’s average prices at the pump jumped 9 cents a gallon this week, while Minnesota is up 11 cents. AAA adds that “ongoing refinery problems coupled with crude oil prices hitting their highest level so far this year as global crude inventories tighten.” In addition, the national average jumped 6 cents this week up to $2.33/gal.

2-23 NEWS

A Decorah man accused of forcing a woman into sex is pleading guilty. Court records say Nathaniel Michael Darling has entered guilty pleas to assault and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. The Winneshiek County Sheriff’s Office says a woman reported Darling forced her to have with him in his truck on July 22, 2018. Darling has been sentenced to 30 days in jail, with credit for time served, and two years of probation. He will also have to sign up with Iowa’s Sex Offender Registry.

The Winneshiek Idea House will hold an event (Saturday) night in Decorah.

Eggen

Kristin Eggen with the Winneshiek Idea House says the event will be held from five until nine p.m. at the Elks Club. Persons can sign up for the event at winneshiek-development-dot-org

The Winneshiek county supervisors will discuss road matters at its meeting Monday. County Engineer Lee Bjerke (Beer-key) and Roadside manager Corey Meyer will meet with the board to discuss a right of way maintenance ordinace and a potential tax abatement on the Ridgeway Shop Property. The board will also meet with county attorney Andy Van Der Maatern and will review amended fiscal year 2020 insurance contracts. The meeting will begin at nine-30 at the courthouse annex building in Decorah.

A rally was held at the Capitol Thursday asking lawmakers to put a moratorim on factory farms in the state. State senator Mike Breitbach of Strawberry Point says the current rules regulate the industry better than the industry was regulated two decades ago.

Breitbach

House file 203 is calling for the moratorium on factory farms. It’s unclear whether or not the measure has enough to support to pass.

Alan Heavens has been named the district court judge in Judicial Election District 1A. Governor Kim Reynolds made the announcement Thursday. Heavens is currently the Clayton County attorney. Judicial Election District 1A includes Allamakee, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque and Winneshiek counties. Heavens, of Garnavillo, Iowa, received his undergraduate degree from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota and his law degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis.

2-22 NEWS

President Trump recently announced plans to enact a national emergency to help fund a wall on the United States’ southern border. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley was asked if he was concerned about the precedent that action could set

Grassley

Grassley toured and visited with staff at Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah this week.

Governor Reynolds signed an education funding bill this week that allows for an increase of two-point-zero-six in state supplemental aid. But Decorah schools superintendent Mike Haluska says that number will mean different things to different districts.

Haluska

Haluska says he’s very encouraged about an increase in transportation dollars that was part of the package. He says with the additional of the North Winneshiek district next year, the Decorah district will benefit greatly from the additional transportation money.

A West Union man was arrested early Thursday morning in Calmar. The Winneshiek county sheriff’s department says 38 year old Harry Schultz was charged with the violation of a parole warrant, possession of methamphetamine and third or subsequent offense possession of marijuana.

Snow is now piled everywhere across the state and that includes on the top of our homes. An Iowa State University Extension mechanical engineer says you shouldn’t have to worry now about that snow causing the roof to collapse.

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Shawn Shouse says you have to take into consideration the amount of water weight in the snow to determine if it might collapse the roof. You can find that out by taking a core sample of the snow and melting it.

Shouse 2

He says one thing to look for is an uneven distribution of the snow.

2-21 NEWS

An Alta Vista woman whose infant son’s body was found in a baby swing has been imprisoned for life without possibility of parole. Court records say 22-year-old Cheyanne Harris was sentenced Tuesday in New Hampton to the state-mandated penalty, and her request for a new trial was denied. A jury found her guilty Feb. 6 of first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death. The charges stem from the death of 4-month-old Sterling Koehn, whose body was found Aug. 30, 2017 at an apartment in Alta Vista. The swing was in a sweltering bedroom. An autopsy shows he died of malnutrition, dehydration and an E. coli infection. The baby’s father, Zachary Koehn, also has been sentenced to life in prison.

Earlier this week at the statehouse, a senate subcommittee approved a bill which would expand Iowa’s medical marijuana law. The measure would let health care providers approved use of marijuana products for any condition for which they determined it would be medically beneficial. State senator Mike Breitbach of Strawberry Point says the state should leave those decisions to the experts.

Breitbach

A similar bill did pass the Iowa senate last year but failed to garner support in the house.

Iowans who want to see a moratorium on factory farms in the state rally at the State Capitol (Thursday), even though they aren’t convinced the bill they’re backing will pass this year. Iowa is home to 10-thousand factory farms, estimated to produce 22-million gallons of animal waste each year. Some 70 organizations will call on legislators to back House File 203, to stop factory-farm expansion until stricter regulations are adopted. Emma Schmit, an organizer for the group Food and Water Watch, believes the pollution generated by industrial animal operations is diminishing the state’s quality of life.

Schmitt

Opponents of new regulations on factory farms say large animal-confinement operations allow individual farms to better participate in the global economy. The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers argues they already navigate a “maze of state and federal regulations” before building a new hog confinement.

Wednesday afternoon, the Allamakee county sheriff’s department released details of a single vehicle accident which took the life of a Lansing man. Authorities say shortly after eleven p.m. Monday night, a vehicle driven by 52 year old Marty Roger Melcher was westbound on Schweinfurth Road when Melcher failed to stop at the intersection of Village Creek Road, entered the ditch and struck a tree. Melcher was transported by ambulance to Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon where he was pronounced dead. The accident remains under investigation.

The Decorah-North Winneshiek school board discussed hiring a new employee in the district’s transportation department at its meeting last night. District transportation coordinator Jim Samuelson told the board the person would serve as a mechanic and also drive a morning and afternoon bus route. Board member Brian Petersburg says with the district currently out-scouring its mechanical work, the hiring of an additional employee should save the district money. Superintendent Mike Haluska says the board will likely approve the job description at its March meeting and the hire at its April meeting. North Winneshiek superintendent Tim Dugger suggested current North Winneshiek schools transportation coordinator Jeff Austin be hired for the position. Dugger says Austin is the only North Winneshiek employee that hasn’t solidified their plans for next year. Haluska stated while Austin would certainly be a qualified candidate, the district would have to advertise for the position.

The monthly meeting of the Decorah Parks and Recreation Board will be held tonight. A routine agenda will go before the board beginning at seven p.m. at city hall.

2-20 NEWS

The Spectrum Network has announced its Thrift Store will be closing. Spectrum officials say the store will close Saturday. Spectrum officials say they are closing the store to focus their efforts on their other services and resources they provide. Jeannie Barness with Spectrium says they thank the community for their support through contributions and volunteer hours.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds announced she would not appeal a court decision related to a fetal heartbeat abortion bill. State representative Mike Bergan of Dorchester says it’s the right call.

Bergan

The bill, which was the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, passed the legislature and was signed by the Governor last year. A polk court district court judge ruled the bill unconstituional last month.

The Iowa Utilities Board will hold a public hearing in Decorah in May. The I-U-B will accept public comments on a requested Alliant Energy-Interstate Power and Light Company rate increase. The public hearing will be held May second at six p.m. at the Hotel Winneshiek. Alliant is requested a five-point-nine-four percent rate increase.

Winneshiek Medical Center is in the process of conducting a community health assessment survey. Lisa Radtke is the chief administrative officer at Winneshiek Medical Center.

Radtke

This is will the third time the medical center has conducted the survey. Persons can take the survey on-line. Papers copies are available at Winneshiek medical center and all of their area clinics.

The Decorah-North Winneshiek interim school board will meet (Wednesday) night. A public hearing will be held on the 2019-2020 school budget. The board will also discuss hiring an additional transportation employee and receive an update on the bus garage. The meeting will begin at six at the central administration office.