Rock Rapids, Iowa — Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has a new plant person in northwest Iowa.

Dawn Henderson is their new horticulture program coordinator for Lyon, Osceola, Sioux and O’Brien Counties. Her first official day on the job was June 10. She takes over for Margaret Murphy who moved to Wisconsin to be closer to family.

Henderson’s responsibilities include: answering horticulture-related questions, providing consumer horticulture programming throughout the four-county area, maintaining a strong local Master Gardener volunteer organization and working with the local community and donation gardens.

Henderson is a 2019 graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science in Agronomy. Previously, she served as a water resources intern with Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks!; an agronomy intern with local ISU Extension and Outreach Field Agronomist Joel DeJong; and a summer naturalist intern at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center.

Henderson looks forward to the position and working with local communities.

She says, “Community education has always been a passion of mine and I have been interested in working with Extension since the beginning of college.” She says she is excited to combine her passion for agriculture with the opportunity to work directly with the public on conservation education.

Henderson will be based out of the ISU Extension and Outreach Lyon County office in Rock Rapids with frequent travel around all four counties (Lyon, Osceola, O’Brien, and Sioux).

To welcome Henderson, you can stop by the ISU Extension and Outreach Lyon County office located at 710 North 2nd Avenue East in Rock Rapids, call 712-472-2576 or email

June 16, 2019 - 7:38 am - Posted in News

Northwood, Iowa — The Grand Falls Casino near Larchwood agreed to a fine for a gambling violation this past week at the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission meeting at the Diamond Jo Worth Casino in Northwood.

Commission administrator, Brian Ohorilko says the violation was discovered at Grand Falls when a minor was stopped from entering the gambling floor.

Ohorilko says the male minor was not challenged by security in the first visit.

He says this is the second violation by Grand Falls in the last 365 days — which is why the penalty was 20-thousand. A third violation in the same time period would result in a 30-thousand dollar fine.

The Lakeside Casino in Osceola also agreed to a fine at the meeting this week. Theirs resulted from a violation of the rules for gamblers who have banned themselves from casinos. An individual who was on that list received promotional mailings and shouldn’t have.

June 14, 2019 - 3:49 pm - Posted in News

George, Iowa — After having served only two years, the superintendent of the George-Little Rock Schools is resigning.

In a statement, Superintendent John Eyerly said that he is “charting a new journey.” Eyerly says he has decided to resign and focus on family. He says he grew up in southwest Iowa near Council Bluffs and was “thrilled to return to Iowa from Wisconsin to be closer to my elderly mother.”

Eyerly says he appreciates the support he has received from George-Little Rock students, staff and community.

He says that the George-Little Rock Board Of Education is reviewing various options to fill the position.

Eyerly tells us he wishes nothing but the best for the George-Little Rock school and community.

June 14, 2019 - 3:35 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — It’s summer festival season. Along with Primghar’s Cobblestone Days, Rock Rapids has their Heritage Days this weekend.

Rock Rapids’ Mayor and Heritage Days Committee Member Jason Chase tells us what’s going on on Saturday.

And don’t forget to look for the red KIWA Jeep in the parade.

He tells us about Sunday’s activities.

Click here for the full schedule.

June 14, 2019 - 10:31 am - Posted in News

Larchwood, Iowa — More details have been released about what we now know will be a $10 million expansion at Grand Falls Resort & Casino near Larchwood.

Casino officials had told us that they would be making some changes on the casino floor to accommodate what they’re calling their “sports book” — the area where sports bets will be able to be placed, and people can watch their favorite sports on TVs. Legislation signed into law this year by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds made sports betting legal in Iowa.

Now, casino officials are telling us that in addition to that project, they’re also going to add additional hotel rooms. Grand Falls General Manager Sharon Haselhoff tells us about it.

She says that the new on-floor entertainment space will be a little more intimate, so some acts that used to play there will now play in the event center space instead. According to Haselhoff, they hope the sports betting area will open toward the end of August or beginning of September.

Haselhoff tells us about the hotel expansion — which, money-wise is actually the bigger project.

Grand Falls opened in June 2011 after Lyon County’s citizens approved a measure to allow gaming facilities in the county in September of 2008.

Northwest Iowa — An Iowa farmer invited to speak when President Trump visited an ethanol plant in the state this week used the moment to make a plea on behalf of “corn country.”

Kevin Ross said, “Mr. President, you delivered on E15, but we have more work to do.” He told the President that EPA’s oil refinery waivers threaten to undo what the President did. Ross asked Trump to listen again because “the pain that the ethanol and biodiesel industries have endured is holding back a farm economy that has further capacity to produce clean air and clean liquid fuels for this country.”

Trump complimented Ross for his speech but did not directly address the EPA waivers that let big oil companies avoid adding ethanol to gasoline. Trump told the crowd the deal recently struck on immigration with Mexico includes a pledge to buy more U.S. ag commodities.

Trump said, “Mexico’s going to be doing a lot of buying, a lot of buying. Within a year and a half, I would say, you’ll be in the best position that you’ve been in in 15 years as farmers and you deserve it.”

Trump signed an executive order at the event in Council Bluffs. It directs federal agencies to streamline regulations that deal with agricultural biotechnology.

June 13, 2019 - 3:52 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — One of our Senators from Iowa is proposing a change to our change — our currency.

Many people online have advocated the elimination of the penny for many reasons, not least of which is because it costs more to make them than they are even worth. Some push the fact that it costs more in time to deal with them than they are worth. Plus, they are so worthless that some people even throw them away rather than dealing with them.

Senator Joni Ernst isn’t suggesting that we get rid of the penny, but she is suggesting some common sense reform. Or perhaps that’s common “cents” reform.

Ernst says it would save over $150 million of taxpayer money if the U.S. Mint were allowed to modify the composition of certain coins.

According to Ernst, it costs taxpayers seven cents to make one nickel. She says Congress can fix this, and they need to. Ernst says that’s why she’s put forward a bill that will allow the Mint the flexibility to use cheaper materials to produce certain coins, without changing the size or functionality of them.

Called the “Currency Evolution Now To Save” or “CENTS” Act, it would give the Treasury Department, specifically the U.S. Mint, the authority to change the composition of the nickel, dime, quarter, and half dollar coins if these changes save taxpayer dollars and do not impact the coins’ size or functionality. These changes would happen under the conditions that (1) the changes reduce the overall cost of minting the coin and (2) the changes do not affect the diameter, weight, and functionality of the coin. She says this could save more than $150 million over 10 years.

In their Fiscal Year 2019 budget justification, the U.S. Mint requested that Congress give it the authority to change the composition of coins in order to save taxpayer money. In addition, a March 2019 watchdog report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office recommended Congress consider providing the U.S. Mint with that authority.

Northwest Iowa — The USDA says more than 90 percent of the Iowa corn crop is now in the ground as farmers had nearly a full week of good planting conditions. The percentage planted went from 80 to 93 in the last week — but that is still more than two weeks behind last year and almost three weeks behind the five-year average. Farmers who have planted or are planting late have had crop insurance and federal program issues to deal with.

The latest crop report said this was the first time this season farmers had more than 5 days suitable for fieldwork in a week.

Soybean planting also has been going well — moving from 41 percent planted to 70 percent. Soybean planting is 17 days behind last year and the five-year average.

Seventy-three percent of the crop has emerged statewide, which is more than two weeks behind last year. The corn condition rated 58 percent good to excellent. Thirty-five percent of the soybeans have emerged — which is two weeks behind last year.

Here in the northwest district, the latest crop report said that corn was 95 percent planted and 70 percent emerged. Soybeans were 70 percent in the ground, with 26 percent emerged.

Holland, Michigan — The governing body that makes decisions for many churches in northwest Iowa has wrapped up their annual meeting at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. And that denomination may look different in the future.

The Reformed Church in America’s — or RCA’s — General Synod is one step closer to making a decision about what to do about the continued division in the church. At last year’s General Synod meeting, a team was formed to prayerfully explore different scenarios for the future of the RCA.

Church officials tell us that after a year of prayer, research, and developing emotional maturity, the team, called the “Vision 2020 Team,” brought three scenarios to the General Synod for delegates’ consideration and feedback: staying together, radical reorganization, and grace-filled separation. Throughout the process, the team has emphasized that at least as important as what the RCA decides is how the denomination decides it.

One of the consultants who have been working with the team, Trisha Taylor explained the idea of being “defined and connected” as holding your convictions tightly in one fist while reaching out with your other hand to shake someone’s hand. She encouraged synod delegates to act with a similar spirit as they engaged the scenarios and their fellow delegates.

The team will continue to gather feedback and prepare a final proposal for General Synod 2020. The scenarios the team proposed are starting points for discussion; they may shift over the coming year. In order to collect feedback, the team is inviting RCA churches to facilitate discussion groups like the ones that took place at Synod.

In a lengthy evening discussion and vote, delegates approved a change to the Book of Church Order that would require approval from a simple majority of classes—rather than the current two-thirds majority required—for proposals related to the work of the Vision 2020 Team. Officials tell us that since this is a Book of Church Order change, it requires approval from two-thirds of classes and ratification at next year’s synod before taking effect.

Also, beginning in January 2021, churches will begin contributing a percentage of their income to support denominational ministries and operations, rather than a per-member assessment.

Click here for a summary of decisions made at the meeting.

Rock Rapids, Iowa — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds visited northwest Iowa on Wednesday.

She started the trip in Le Mars, where she attended the Grand Reopening and Expansion Celebration for the Wells Dairy Ice Cream Parlor & Visitor Center. After that, she signed a proclamation that June is Dairy Month in Iowa at a Dairy Open House event at J&S Dairy near Maurice. The governor gives us her impressions of the dairy operation.

Governor Reynolds was also impressed by the new hospital and clinic in Rock Rapids.

After the tour of the new Merrill Pioneer Hospital-Avera, Reynolds visited with officials from the Avera Health System, the Merrill Pioneer Hospital Board, and the Forster Trust, who all helped to make the facility possible. Reynolds shared that one of her priorities is rural broadband, which helps to make facilities like the new hospital and clinic more viable through telemedicine. They also briefly discussed physician recruitment and priorities for the future of Rock Rapids.

Photo caption: Governor Reynolds (left) speaks with Dr. David Springer and Hospital Administrator Craig Hohn