May 14 News

JACKSON -- A fire erupted early Sunday morning at the AGCO manufacturing plant in Jackson, damaging some paint equipment but resulting in no injuries.

Eric Fisher, director of operations at AGCO Jackson, said the plant’s fire suppression systems performed just as designed and contained the damage to the origin of the fire. He also credited AGCO employees and local emergency responders for their swift response.

JACKSON -- After more than a month with no permanent staff, the Jackson County Extension office welcomes three new employees in May.

Current Jackson County 4-H parent Melonie Vancura will start May 12 as administrative assistant. Former Jackson County 4-H member Kate Anderson, a student at South Dakota State University majoring in agriculture education, will be this year’s summer intern beginning May 19. And Blake Potthoff from Martin County will start May 27 as interim program coordinator for the summer.

The Jackson County Extension office had been in transition since its former program coordinator, John Verly, resigned in February due to health concerns, and administrative assistant Staci Beseke resigned in March to take a position with Jackson Economic Development Office.

Potthoff is a former Martin County 4-H member who interned at the Martin County Extension office the past two summers. He’s a senior at Luther College and will graduate this month.
Stamp out hunger food drive netted nearly 2000 pounds from the local post office collection efforts this past Saturday.

JACKSON -- The Jackson County Central School District is searching for a new middle school principal.

Kari Wilkinson, a 17-year school district veteran who has served as middle school principal for the last 12, has accepted a position as elementary school principal in Sioux Rapids, Iowa.
Interviews for her replacement are scheduled for May 23.

SHELDON -- The Sheldon School District Board of Education asked for people’s preferences for either a weekly late start or an early dismissal for the 2014-15 academic year, and the response helped sway its decision.

During their regular monthly meeting Monday, May 12, board members voted in favor of a final version of next year’s school calendar with a 60-minute early dismissal on Wednesdays. The 2014-15 School Calendar Committee recommended that option over a 60-minute late start on Mondays and a 60-minute late start on Wednesdays

SLAYTON -- Mediation sessions between representatives of the Marshall-Lyon County Library and the Plum Creek regional library system kicked off this week. Members of the MLCL Board said they were among the people who met with a member of the state Bureau of Mediation Services at the Murray County Government Center in Slayton. While MLCL board members didn't get into much detail about what was discussed with the mediator, they did share their thoughts on the process during a regular board meeting on Monday afternoon.

Board members' reactions to the session were mixed, although board member Jennie Hulsizer voiced some hope that mediation could find some common ground between the two groups. MLCL and Plum Creek have been at odds for several months about issues including sharing policies for new library materials. MLCL board members maintain that the conflict is about more than that, ultimately coming down to how much autonomy Plum Creek member libraries have to set their own policies.

FAIRMONT -- The Fairmont City Council meeting Monday was the scene of a face off between the Mayo Clinic Health System and members of the Fairmont community including past and present employees of the Mayo Clinic Health System, and before that, the Fairmont community hospital. Dr. Robert Nesse, CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System, admitted their were problems and troubles with in the Fairmont medical center and the intention was to work harder at making things better.

Tom Hawkins, former president of the Fairmont community hospital board, said that Mayo had to start by improving collaboration within their own workforce. Other comments accused Mayo of using intimidation tactics that led to 38 doctors leaving the facility Mince mayo took over operations, according to former Fairmont mayor Donna Holstine. Her husband, Dr. John Holstine, has practiced medicine at the Fairmont location and was on the hospital board when it agreed to merge with Mayo. He says that Mayo has abandoned the mission.

SPIRIT LAKE -- A new birth center and surgery center are part of a $21 million construction project at Lakes Regional Healthcare in Spirit Lake and residents can have a first look on Saturday. An open house introducing the new east wing to the public will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 17. A picnic lunch will be provided and residents can take tours of the new facility and ask questions. The county hospital added a new birth center and surgery center on the east wing. The 18-month construction project included a new east entrance with registration, a chapel, a gift shop, more parking and an extension of Zenith Avenue. Physicians and staff members plan to move into the new east wing around May 20. The project was funded from several sources.

MILFORD -- The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board on Friday is expected to consider a $1 million financial incentive package that could add at least 150 Polaris jobs in Milford.

The Milford City Council approved a resolution in support of the state application at a meeting Monday. Funding through the High Quality Job Creation Act includes a $700,000 investment tax credit and a $300,000 forgivable loan at the Polaris location in Milford.

Workers at the plant in Milford already produce the company's line of off-road vehicles, including full-sized Rangers. The company plans to invest $10 million at the location over the next three years. The city previously assisted with tax increment financing and matching funds as well as sanitary sewer and infrastructure improvements in 2012. Friday's state board action does not require additional local funds.

IOWA STATE NEWS --The State Appeal Board has rejected a $500,000 claim filed by a former resident of the Iowa Juvenile Home.

Nineteen-year-old Jessica Turner, of Okoboji, said the state violated her constitutional rights by inflicting cruel and unusual punishment and denying her due process. She says she spent nine months in isolation at the now-closed home.

The juvenile home came under intense criticism after The Des Moines Register published a series of stories beginning last summer about questionable treatment of teenagers, including use of isolation cells and a lack of educational opportunities. The home was closed in January by order of Gov. Terry Branstad

The Register says Turner so far is the only former resident to pursue a claim over the home's use of long-term isolation cells.

IOWA STATE NEWS -- Twenty-nine Iowa cities will benefit from a combined total of more than $33.7 million in low-cost water quality loans through the State Revolving Fund, and two of the projects are in our part of northwest Iowa.

State Revolving Fund Construction Loans are a low-cost construction financing option available for Iowa cities and municipalities for water quality initiatives. Planning & Design Loans are zero percent loans that assist with the first-phase of project expenses. The Iowa Finance Authority and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources jointly administer the State Revolving Fund.
The City of Sanborn is receiving a $225,000 Planning & Design loan. The City of Ashton is receiving a $400,000 Clean Water Construction loan.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp says that the State Revolving Fund is an important resource for Iowa communities as they face a wide- array of water quality improvement needs. He says that quality water costs money, and the State Revolving Fund helps make the investment in Iowa’s water more affordable for communities.

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