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Trump calls for unity on immigration, infrastructure in State of the Union

WASHINGTON — Addressing a deeply divided nation, President Donald Trump summoned the country to a "new American moment" of unity in his first State of the Union address, challenging Congress to make good on long-standing promises to fix a fractured immigration system and warning darkly of evil forces seeking to undermine America's way of life.

Trump's address Tuesday night blended self-congratulation and calls for optimism amid a growing economy with ominous warnings about deadly gangs, the scourge of drugs and violent immigrants living in the United States illegally. He cast the debate over immigration — an issue that has long animated his most ardent supporters — as a battle between heroes and villains, leaning heavily on the personal stories of White House guests in the crowd. He praised a law enforcement agent who arrested more than 100 gang members, and he recognized the families of two alleged gang victims.

He also spoke forebodingly of catastrophic dangers from abroad, warning that North Korea would "very soon" threaten the United States with nuclear-tipped missiles.

"The United States is a compassionate nation. We are proud that we do more than any other country to help the needy, the struggling and the underprivileged all over the world," Trump said. "But as president of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, and my constant concern is for America's children, America's struggling workers and America's forgotten communities."

Trump addressed the nation with tensions running high on Capitol Hill. An impasse over immigration prompted a three-day government shutdown earlier this year, and lawmakers appear no closer to resolving the status of the "Dreamers" — young people living in the U.S. illegally ahead of a new Feb. 8 deadline for funding operations. The parties have also clashed this week over the plans of Republicans on the House intelligence committee to release a classified memo on the Russia investigation involving Trump's presidential campaign — a decision the White House backs but the Justice Department is fighting.

The controversies that have dogged Trump — and the ones he has created— have overshadowed strong economic gains during his first year in office. His approval ratings have hovered in the 30s for much of his presidency, and just 3 in 10 Americans said the United States was heading in the right direction, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. In the same survey, 67 percent of Americans said the country was more divided because of Trump.

At times, Trump's address appeared to be aimed more at validating his first year in office than setting the course for his second. He devoted significant time to touting the tax overhaul he signed at the end of last year, promising the plan will "provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses." He also highlighted the decision made early in his first year to withdraw the U.S. from a sweeping Asia-Pacific trade pact, declaring: "The era of economic surrender is totally over."

He spoke about potential agenda items for 2018 in broad terms, including a call for $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure spending and partnerships with states and the private sector. He touched only briefly on issues like health care that have been at the center of the Republican Party's policy agenda for years.

Tackling the sensitive immigration debate that has roiled Washington, Trump redoubled his recent pledge to offer a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants — but only as part of a package that would also require increased funding for border security, including a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, ending the nation's visa lottery method and revamping the current legal immigration system.

"Americans are dreamers too," Trump said, in an apparent effort to reclaim the term used to describe the young immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

A former New York Democrat, the president also played to the culture wars that have long illuminated American politics, alluding to his public spat with professional athletes who led protests against racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem, declaring that paying tribute to the flag is a "civic duty."

In a post-speech rebuttal, Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, was seeking to undercut Trump's optimistic tone and remind voters of the personal insults and attacks often leveled by the president.

"Bullies may land a punch," Kennedy said. "They might leave a mark. But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future."

The arc of Trump's 80-minute speech featured the personal stories of men and women who joined first lady Melania Trump in the audience. The guests included a New Mexico policeman and his wife who adopted a baby from parents who suffered from opioid addiction, and Ji Seong-ho, a defector from North Korea and outspoken critic of the Kim Jong-un government.

On international affairs, Trump warned of the dangers from "rogue regimes," like Iran and North Korea, terrorist groups, like the Islamic State, and "rivals" like China and Russia "that challenge our interests, our economy and our values." Calling on Congress to lift budgetary caps and boost spending on the military, Trump said that "unmatched power is the surest means of our defense."


Local
breaking
No charges filed against Manly day care owner after 7-month-old baby died

MANLY | The Iowa Department of Human Services and local law enforcement will not seek criminal charges against Manly day care owner Carrie Lohmann after a 7-month-old baby died while in her care. 

After the Globe Gazette submitted a open records request to the DHS, the department provided a public disclosure summary concerning the December incident at 131 S. Grant St., Manly, that led to the death of Haven Rozevink.

According to the summary, Rozevink was asleep in her car seat and had slipped down, causing the seat to tip forward and the straps to tighten around her neck and chin. The seat's bottom buckle was not fastened, the summary said. 

The DHS concluded through its report that although Lohmann was "responsible for placing Haven at risk of harm," she would not face criminal charges, per the results of the Child Protective Assessment.

Manly baby incident

Matt Highland, public information officer for the DHS, clarified the investigation process via email Tuesday afternoon.

"The Child Protective Assessment encompasses the work conducted by the Social Worker 3 while investigating the allegations received at intake," Highland wrote. "During the course of the assessment, law enforcement — based on their own investigation — had determined not to file charges before the SW3 had completed their assessment."  

Highland added law enforcement, not the DHS, takes the lead in filing criminal charges.

Manly Police Chief Aaron Pals previously told the Globe Gazette no foul play was suspected. He provided the Globe Gazette with a call record from the Worth County Sheriff's office, following a open records request from the newspaper.

The log shows a call was placed about 3:01 p.m. Dec. 28 for a baby not breathing. The call was made from a number at Lohmann's day care.

Less than an hour later, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation had been contacted and was headed to Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa to investigate.

Chris Callaway, a Iowa DCI agent based in Mason City, declined to comment on the department's investigation Tuesday.

When asked about how quickly the DCI was called in to this incident, he said the department's response time differs from case to case.

"We're an assist agency," Callaway said. "So we respond when we're called in. Sometimes it's right away ... sometimes it's a long time."


Local
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Bob Wolfram, aka 'Mr. Ventura,' remembered for giving spirit, loyalty (with photos)

VENTURA | In 2002, when Robert "Bob" Wolfram Sr. was re-elected as mayor of Ventura, he gave out 300 boxes of chocolate cookies as his way of saying thank you to the community he loved.

Giving back to the community was a big part of his character, according to friends and relatives.

Wolfram, 91, known throughout North Iowa as "Mr. Ventura," died Sunday at the Muse Norris Hospice Inpatient Unit in Mason City.

Submitted 

Bob Wolfram interacts with a youngster in one of the many parades in which he was a popular participant.

He was mayor from 1982 to 1993 and served on the City Council from 1996 to 1999. He then ran again for mayor in 2002 and served until he retired in 2009.

"Bob was Ventura's number one promoter and he thoroughly enjoyed being our mayor for many years," said Else Taylor, Ventura city administrator. "His long list of accomplishments and devotion for making this community a better place to live was his lifelong passion. He will be greatly missed," she said.

"Mr. Ventura — what a great guy," said Clear Lake Mayor Nelson Crabb. "He was always the gentleman politician. He liked to come over to Clear Lake City Hall and talk about what was going on.

"He was one of the people instrumental in the restoration of Clear Lake because he knew the value of the lake to all of North Iowa," Crabb said.

Clear Lake City Administrator Scott Flory also recalled Wolfram's visits to City Hall.

"He was instrumental in recognizing the benefit of 24/7/365 policing for Ventura and negotiating for police service between the communities," said Flory.

"He was always a gentleman — humble and kind — but all business when he needed to be. Whether you agreed with him or not, you always respected his love for his community," he said.

"He was a unique personality, a throwback to an earlier age. But he had an effective way of communicating with anyone he spoke to, regardless of their generation."

Those who knew him said Wolfram had a special place in his heart for people who couldn't even vote for him —the kids of the community. One of his special events was January wiener roasts for Ventura children.

One of his daughters, Robin Wolfram, said the compassion he had for other people, and particularly children, is one of his legacies.

"He secured an old school bus and used it to transport kids from Opportunity Village to church every Sunday," she said. "That's the kind of person he was."

But another side of him, she said, was his fundraising ability for Ventura and children's causes. "He would quietly — and sometimes not so quietly — go after donations," she said.

Another daughter, Wendy Wolfram-Joseph, said, "He is the man I compare others to, in terms of loyalty and integrity. He set the bar high for all of us."

Wolfram's son, Robert Jr., known as Bobby, once calculated the amount of time his dad devoted to being mayor — and it came about to about 29 cents an hour, according to Robin. 

Wolfram was a sales representative for the Liggett & Myer tobacco company for more than 30 years. When he decided to retire in the mid-1980s, friends encouraged him to run for mayor.

"I gave it great thought and I said, hey, why not try it," Wolfram said in a 2010 interview with the Globe Gazette. "I didn't know much about government. I still don't," he said.

During his time in public office, Wolfram is credited with helping with the merger of the Clear Lake and Ventura police departments, establishing the city's first park on West Lake Street (later named in his honor), securing cable television service for the city, construction of the library/post office and construction of a new community center and weather safety room. 

Wolfram's wife, Cynthia, died on Feb. 27. 2017, at age 81.

Services are 1 p.m. Thursday at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Ventura. Burial will be at Memorial Park Cemetery in Mason City. Visitation is 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Ward Van Slyke Colonial Chapel, Clear Lake.