June 27, 2017 - 6:17 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — The trial is underway in the case of a man who is charged with intimidation with a dangerous weapon after an incident over a year ago.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that on June 8th of LAST year, 2016, about 9:30 PM, they received a 911 call in reference to a man who was possibly suicidal.

They say that 55-year-old Jerome Sechser was believed to be armed in an outbuilding in the 1900 mile of Jay Avenue, which is about two miles north and two west of George.

They say Sechser discharged a weapon and demanded law enforcement leave the property.

At that point, Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep says the SRT, or Special Response Team was called in. But Vander Stoep says soon after that, and a few minutes after 10 PM, Sechser put down the weapon and surrendered to deputies on the scene. The Sheriff says Sechser was then taken into custody and was transported to Sanford Rock Rapids Hospital for evaluation.

Sechser was later taken to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office and was charged with intimidation with a dangerous weapon and reckless use of a firearm.

Jury selection got underway on Tuesday morning, June 27th, 2017 at about 10:00 a.m. By noon, a jury of twelve and two alternates had been selected from the jury pool after questions of prospective jurors were asked by the judge and attorneys for the state and defense. Preliminary instructions were given to the jury by Judge Patrick Tott. Tott says the trial is expected to last three days.

June 27, 2017 - 3:46 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A Rock Rapids woman has filed a written arraignment and plea on a drug-related charge.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office advises that the case arose when their office received a call in February alleging the theft of medication. During the course of the investigation, investigators from the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office and the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals- Medicaid Fraud division charged 30-year-old Cassandra Joy VanBerkum of Rock Rapids with prohibited acts – schedule 1, 2, or 3 controlled substance, a class C felony. She was also charged with tampering with records, an aggravated misdemeanor.

According to court documents, Van Berkum has filed a written arraignment and plea of “not guilty” to the charges. The documents also state that Van Berkum has waived her right to a speedy trial. No pretrial conference or trial dates have yet been set.

June 27, 2017 - 1:00 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — The other member of the St. Paul, Minnesota pair who was found to allegedly be in possession of a stolen camper and two stolen snowmobiles after a pair of traffic stops near Little Rock earlier this month has now also filed a written arraignment and plea.

Authorities say 35-year-old Stephen Martin-Hall and 32-year-old Traci Cranston are charged with first-degree possession of stolen property, a class C felony; and second-degree possession of stolen property, a Class D felony; as well as several misdemeanor drug and traffic offenses.

Cranston’s attorney filed a written arraignment and plea of “not guilty” to the charges she faces. Her pretrial conference has been set for July 10th, with the trial scheduled to get underway on August 1st, both at 9:30 a.m., according to court records.

Martin-Hall filed a written arraignment and plea of “not guilty” over a week ago. Court records indicate his pretrial conference and trial are set for the same dates and times as Cranston’s.

June 27, 2017 - 11:25 am - Posted in News

Doon, Iowa — Two people were taken to the hospital as the result of a 2-vehicle crash near Doon late Monday morning (June 26th).

According to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, the mishap took place shortly before 11:45 Monday morning at the intersection of 260th Street and Elmwood Avenue, three miles west of Doon.

Deputies say a 2007 For Fusion, driven by 16-year old Cassidy Eppinga of Rock Valley, was northbound on Elmwood Avenue, and at the intersection with 260th Street, made a U-turn in front of a 2011 Peterbilt cement truck, owned by Tri State Ready Mix, and driven by23-year old Jeremy Vos of Hudson, South Dakota, which struck Eppinga’s car.

According to authorities, after the collision, the cement truck went into the east ditch and rolled onto it’s side.  Deputies say both the truck, and Eppinga’s car, were totaled in the crash.

Authorities say Eppinga and a juvenile passenger in her car, were transported to the Rock Valley Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s office was assisted by Doon Fire and Rescue, Lyon County Ambulance and Rock Valley Police Department.

June 26, 2017 - 9:19 pm - Posted in News

Click picture for the schedule

George, Iowa — This weekend is the first weekend of July. That means it’s time for the Freedom Days celebration in George.

George Chamber President Rob Van Egdom tells us what’s on the schedule.

Of course the big day is Saturday. Van Egdom tells us about that.

He says there are some fun things Sunday too.

Again Dad’s Belgian Waffles will be at the Community Rooms downtown this year. That’s all for Freedom Days this weekend in George.

Rock Rapids, Iowa — The Rock Rapids City Council met in regular session at the Forster Community Center at 5:45 p.m. on Monday, June 26th, 2017.

The council heard from the Green Space Committee and citizens about a community garden proposal for an area near the fairgrounds. Around 25 people were in attendance and all spoke in favor of the proposal. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach garden specialist Margaret Murphy says that the $20 per season per space will go into a bank account for the garden to pay for expenses. The council approved the proposal, but it needs to be approved by FEMA as well.

Jackie Telford, representing the Rapids Theatre Preservation Society says that the Society wants to make the theatre renovation project more visible, and to that end they are sponsoring movies in the park. She says they are renting a blow-up screen, and will show three movies this summer between the trail trestle and the campground. She says popcorn and water will be sold, and donations will be accepted. The council granted permission to use Island Park.

The council approved the Sunset Court preliminary plat, and a rezoning for the project as well as supporting an application for workforce housing tax credits for the project.

Council members also approved a contract for marketing, website, and visioning with Spireworks for $33,000, a seal coat proposal with Pearson Brothers at $1.63 per square yard, and a contract for bridge inspections with Calhoun-Burns for $800 for the inspections, plus $500/hour for doing the updated load rating computations and reports.

They selected depositories and considered an election planning worksheet.

The council approved a storefront incentive application from Smith Construction for the former McCormack Transportation building across the street south of the post office.

They also approved the annual contract with Elderbridge for Dinner Date services for Elderbridge to pay the City $161.50 per month to serve five meals a week at the Forster Community Center.

June 26, 2017 - 8:44 am - Posted in News

Alvord, Iowa — A Lyon County man’s vehicle was extensively damaged after the vehicle rolled near Alvord on Friday, June 23rd.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that at 11:45 pm on Friday night, Donovan Lowell Schley was driving a 2004 Ford F-150 westbound on 220th Street. According to the report, Schley made a left turn onto Garfield Avenue. Donovan hit the west shoulder of Garfield Avenue and rolled the vehicle into the west ditch. Donovan removed the vehicle from the scene and reported the accident the following day.

No injuries were reported.

Ashton, Iowa — A Lakefield, Minnesota man was injured after his tractor and trailer overturned west of Ashton on Tuesday, June 20th.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that just after 3:30 pm on Tuesday, 57-year-old Wayne Van Voorst of Lakefield, Minnesota was driving a 2012 Peterbilt pulling a 2012 trailer eastbound on 230th Street, just east of Marsh Avenue in Lyon County. According to the report, the trailer went off the roadway to the right.  Van Voorst was unable to bring the trailer back on the roadway due to low shoulder at which time the tractor and trailer overturned.

The tractor and trailer received $100,000 damage.

Van Voorst received minor injuries.

Des Moines, Iowa — The Lewis & Clark Regional Water System is one of the top infrastructure priorities on a list that Iowa’s governor has sent to the President.

President Trump is pushing Congress to pass a spending plan to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure. Trump asked each governor to submit a list of their top five infrastructure priorities.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has put three water-related projects on her list. “Modernization” of the Upper Mississippi River Locks and Dams is at the top.

Number two on Reynolds list is the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System. When complete, it will provide drinking water to 300-thousand residents in northwest Iowa, southwest Minnesota and southeast South Dakota. Lewis & Clark was incorporated in 1990. Ten years later in 2000, the project was authorized. While the member communities and water systems have paid their share, the federal government has been slow to keep up their end of the bargain, according to Lewis & Clark Executive Director Troy Larson. The estimated cost to complete the system is over $580 million. While cities and systems are slowly being connected, the system has yet to reach Sioux Center, Hull, Sheldon, and Sibley in Iowa; Worthington, Minnesota; and Madison, South Dakota. Rock Rapids is the only system in Iowa that’s connected in any way so far.

Number three on Reynolds’ list is the Cedar Rapids Flood Mitigation Project. Reynolds also lists reconstruction of the interchange in the Iowa City area where Interstate 80 and Interstate 380 intersect as number four. The fifth project on the governor’s priority list is the expansion of the terminal at the Des Moines Airport.

June 21, 2017 - 6:34 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa  — The four northwest Iowa counties in our primary coverage area remain in the top 10 for lowest unemployment in the state, and three of the counties are ranked first, second, and third.

The May 2017 county-by-county unemployment rates were just released, and Lyon County again has the lowest (non-seasonally-adjusted) unemployment rate in the state, at just 1.5 percent, unchanged from April. Sioux County is second, with 1.7 percent, also unchanged from April. Osceola and Story counties are tied for third at 1.9 percent unemployment. Osceola is unchanged from April. A little further down the list, rounding out the top 10 at number 10 is O’Brien County with just 2.2 percent unemployment, up a tenth of a percent from the April figure of 2.1 percent.

Lee County, in the opposite corner of the state, had the highest unemployment in May, at 5.1 percent.

Statewide, the employment rate stayed the same, but the state did add some jobs, according to Iowa Workforce Development Communications Director Cory Kelly.

He says the good news continues for Iowa.

Kelly says that hiring in trade, health care, and manufacturing establishments helped keep the state growing.

He says that while the state added jobs and the unemployment rate stayed the same, more people were unemployed in May than in April.

Kelly says that you can visit www.iowalmi.gov for more information about current and historical data, labor force data, nonfarm employment, hours and earnings, and jobless benefits by county.