Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate — the commissioner of Iowa elections — says there is no way for hackers to alter VOTES in Iowa because every one of the state’s voters cast a PAPER ballot.

Pate warns, however, that “bad actors” on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook may try to sow doubt about election results.

Pate, a Republican, served one term as secretary of state in the 1990s and returned to office in 2015. He is seeking reelection to a third term as secretary of state. His Democratic opponent, Deidre DeJear, last week accused Pate of not doing enough to secure voter registration information that IS computerized, as recent news from the investigation of Russia’s attempt to influence the 2016 election revealed Russian operatives visited the websites of some Iowa counties. Pate says new voter ID requirements will address that, as voters show a driver’s license, a military or tribal ID, a passport or voter registration card at their polling place.

The voter ID requirement takes effect in 2019. For this year’s election, Iowans who do not show an ID at their polling place may sign an oath verifying their identity and will be allowed to cast a ballot.

Northwest Iowa — Iowa 4th District Republican U.S. Congressman Steve King says the best thing the Trump Administration could do to alleviate farmers’ angst about the trade war would be to allow higher percentages of ethanol to be blended into gasoline year-round.

King met privately Monday evening with EPA acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. King says Wheeler is trying to strike a deal that will placate the ethanol and oil industries.

King says the 2017 tax bill was an early Christmas present that is still giving and has created confidence and optimism in the business community.

King says he’s warned the Trump Administration things “will get pretty tense” in Iowa if there’s no progress on trade deals by the time soybeans are maturing in September.

Northwest Iowa — According to a new study, income growth in northwest Iowa is among the fastest in the state.

According to SmartAsset, median base pay for workers in the United States climbed by 1.6 percent in June, which was the strongest growth in the wage statistic so far in 2018. SmartAsset analyzed Census data over a five-year period to determine where incomes were growing the fastest, and three of the four northwest Iowa counties that make up our main coverage area ranked among the top places in Iowa. This metric is part of SmartAsset’s overarching study on the most “Paycheck Friendly” places.

The study shows that the top county in Iowa for income growth is Delaware County (between Waterloo and Dubuque on Highway 20), where it says income growth was 3.8 percent. The next two counties were here in northwest Iowa, where the study says Lyon County income growth was at 3.7 percent, with Sioux County next at 3.3 percent. Down the list just a little bit is O’Brien County at number 8. Income growth in O’Brien County was at 2.7 percent, according to the survey.

SmartAsset says they assumed a $50,000 annual income in every county, then indexed the paycheck amount for each county to reflect the counties with the lowest withholding burden. Next, they created a purchasing power index for each county. Finally, they calculated the weighted average of the indices to yield an overall paycheck friendliness score.

Both Lyon and Sioux counties also rated high in this index with Sioux County having the second-most paycheck-friendly score, behind only Dallas County. Lyon County was third.

August 14, 2018 - 4:04 pm - Posted in News

George, Iowa — When students go back to school at George-Little Rock, a new face will greet them. A new principal will start his first school year this year.

Mr. Steven Green says he is not only the new principal of the George-Little Rock High School and George Elementary in George, he is also new to the principal job at any school.

His previous experience was in eastern Iowa, in the Ottumwa Community School District, teaching upper elementary and middle school, and serving as a high school coach.

He tells us about where he went to college.

Mr. Green tells us about his philosophy of education.

Green says his wife Molly works for Sanford Sheldon, and his daughters Megan and Grace will both be attending George-Litte Rock High School. He says they currently live in Hawarden but are transitioning now to the George area.

He says he’s looking forward to this year. He says George-Little Rock made a big investment in technology by buying Chromebooks for students, and that will present many opportunities this school year.

Green says he’s going to challenge everyone to have a “growth mindset.” He says he will be a “servant leader,” and a “transparent leader.” Mr. Green says everyone needs to be working toward a common goal as a team. He says, “we need to serve each other and embody the value of relationships.”

August 14, 2018 - 3:26 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Farmers in Iowa and across the region want quick resolution to the looming trade war due to the negative impact it’s starting to have on their bottom lines.

Speaking in Des Moines, the U-S Ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, says he isn’t sure how long the impasse with China will last.

Branstad, a former Iowa governor, says President Trump is justified in putting tariffs on imports of Chinese goods into the US. He says China is in worse financial condition than the US due to the drop in that nation’s stock market and currency value.

Speaking at the Iowa State Fair, Branstad says it’s unfortunate American farmers have been collateral damage in the trade war and he’s unsure what it will take for China to finally cut a deal with the US.

Branstad says US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has been in talks with Chinese officials over the past two weeks, so the countries are trying to negotiate.

August 14, 2018 - 2:07 pm - Posted in News

Larchwood, Iowa — The Larchwood Fire Department has been busier in the last week than usual, responding to two fire calls and an accident.

According to Larchwood Fire Chief Damon Langenhorst, about 8:55 p.m. on Monday night, August 13th, the Larchwood Fire Department was called to the report of a smoke in a house after a small fire in the garage at 1309 Holder Street in Larchwood.

The chief says the fire department saw smoke in the house upon arrival. He says they used fans to ventilate the home.

Langenhorst says no injuries were reported.

He says the fire was out by the time they got there, but the cause of the fire appeared to have been electrical in nature and was centered around an outlet in the garage.

Chief Langenhorst reports that damage was minimal, and was limited to a few melted items.

He says the nine firefighters who responded were on scene for maybe ten to fifteen minutes.
A payloader was destroyed in a fire on Thursday, August 9, 2018, near Larchwood.

According to Larchwood Fire Chief Langenhorst, about 8:25 p.m., the Larchwood Fire Department was called to the report of a payloader on fire at 1974 170th Street, which is about three miles south of Larchwood and one and a half miles east.

The chief says the fire department saw the payloader fully engulfed as they approached the scene. He says they used water to fight the fire.

Langenhorst says no injuries were reported.

He says the cause of the fire is undetermined, and that the payloader was totaled. He says firefighters were on the scene for about 30 minutes.
Shortly after that fire call, the firefighters were called to the report of an accident near the West Lyon School. Five people were taken to Sioux Falls hospitals as a result of that crash, as we reported on Friday.

August 14, 2018 - 12:00 pm - Posted in News

Washington, DC — The first part of a three-part farm aid package is scheduled to be rolled out by the USDA in about three weeks.

Spirit Lake farmer, and former Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey, the USDA Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Ag Services, says more details will be out soon on what’s being called a market facilitation program.

Northey says the delay on the program’s details is because they’re still working on the rule-making part of the process.

Northey says they’re trying to make it so producers can certify their production numbers as simply as possible.

Northey also encourages farmers and ranchers to visit that site for more details on the tariff aid package.

That website again is

Rock Rapids, Iowa — The Rock Rapids City Council met Monday night in regular session at the Forster Community Center.

Amanda Huisman and Gary Broesder were there to air their concerns about a fence on South Bradley street that they felt was against the rules of a building permit. The council and city personnel will research the issue and get back to them.

The city’s Public Safety Committee talked recently about fireworks that fly or can be shot skyward or forward. There is a concern that the flying fireworks are a fire hazard on roofs. Discussion continues.

Discussion also continues on the possible construction of two softball fields south of the current ones at Borman Forster Fields — one competition field and one recreation field. Central Lyon and the City have a 28E Agreement for shared costs. At a recent Parks and Recreation Committee joint meeting with school officials, it was decided to move forward with the two entities sharing in the cost for preliminary engineering and dirt work. City representatives requested that when the bids are let, to have an alternate bid on the construction of the second field as an option, that would be funded by the City either concurrently or at a later date.

The council approved a claim for reimbursement for the airport project in the amount of $213,043.

Council members voted to place on file an Iowa DOT Right-Of-Way permit for the Story Street Project.

The council approved a driveway easement across the Holy Name property. The easement would be extinguished if at some future point the city decided to go through with their plans to re-align South Greene Street in that area.

Northwest Iowa — With the start of school in just a few days, some changes are in store regarding school lunches.

The Iowa Legislature passed, and Governor Reynolds signed — a new law to end the “food shaming” some say is happening in a few Iowa schools.

Many lawmakers said it’s not the fault of the children if their parents failed to pay for lunch at school.

The law says that the school can’t publicly identify students with lunch debt. In bigger cities, this has taken the form of making students with lunch debt sit at different tables, stamping hands or requiring students to wear wristbands, putting students’ names on a poster, requiring them to do chores to get a lunch, and not allowing students with lunch debt to participate in extracurricular or after-school activities. The law bans all of these practices in Iowa.

When the bill was being discussed earlier this year, legislators said that they have found that if a child is hungry, it affects their ability to learn. Some have said that there are children who, just by standing in a lunch line — not knowing if they’ll be embarrassed — causes them so much anxiety that they avoid lunch altogether.

Many legislators said one key provision may help parents who’ve fallen behind on the school lunch tab for their children. Under the old state law, Iowa school officials could only notify parents once a year about enrolling their child in the free or reduced lunch program. Now the law requires them to provide information twice a year and if the student owes for five or more meals.

The law still allows schools to provide an “alternative” lunch to students who are in debt, but that same type of lunch has to be made available to anyone who asks — to avoid identifying a student as having accrued meal debt.

The law focuses only on students. School districts are still able to collect meal debt by any legal means.

The law also allows school districts to set up a special account to which people or community organizations can donate to pay down the meal debt of students in the district.

Also, in an effort to prevent food waste, school districts are encouraged by the law to place the pay station before the area where the meal is received to prevent dumping of food that can’t be paid for.

School districts are making their policies public. For instance, we received a document outlining the details of the hot lunch program at Sibley-Ocheyedan.

Among the highlights there:

All meal purchases are to be prepaid before meal service begins. When their balance reaches $0.00 a student may charge no more than $15.00 to this account. When an account reaches this limit, an alternative meal will be offered to the student. They tell us that their student information system automatically notifies parents of low or negative nutrition account balances.

They also say that the policy and supporting information regarding meal charges shall be provided in writing to all households at or before the start of each school year; students and families who transfer into the district, at time of transfer; and all staff responsible for enforcing any aspect of the policy.

As is the case in the majority of the school districts in northwest Iowa, Free and Reduced Lunch Applications are available in each of Sibley-Ocheyedan’s offices, the central office, and the district’s website. This form may be completed at any time during the school year. Sibley-Ocheyedan officials tell us that means a patron may complete the application whenever there is a change of circumstances.

August 13, 2018 - 2:46 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is still looking for volunteers to help with its annual wild turkey survey this summer.

The work is pretty simple: while outdoors in Iowa this August, keep an eye out for wild turkeys. If you see one, determine if it is an adult female or adult male (males have beards on their breast), and whether there are young poults (baby turkeys).

Count the number of young, make a note of the date and the county in which you saw the turkey, or turkeys, and then report your sighting online to the Iowa DNR’s Wildlife Bureau at