June 19, 2018 - 4:51 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — This year’s American Cancer Society Relay for Life in Lyon County this past Thursday was a little different, but perhaps different was better in this case.

The format this year was switched from a more traditional Relay For Life to what was called a “Carnival for a Cure.” It started with the community’s “Thanks With Franks,” which was followed by carnival games, a sidewalk chalk art competition, a kiddie parade, and a dunk tank. One of the traditional activities that was retained was a survivor lap, this time around the courthouse. The luminarias that people can buy in honor or in memory of someone with cancer changed to pinwheels with the same purpose.

A number of acts participated in the talent show, which included dancers, singers, and instrumentalists.

Ronda Ahrends, who is one of the people who help organize the Relay every year says they don’t have all the final numbers in yet, since more money is still coming in, but overall, she says the event was a success. She says the crowd was larger and very enthusiastic about the format.

Ahrends tells us the games were “a hit” and the talent show was “amazing.” She says there is lots of great talent out there and the committee is, “so thankful they are willing to share.”

She tells us that so far just over $17,000 has been raised. She says they hope that increases as well. She asked us to remind people that donations continue to be accepted.

June 19, 2018 - 4:49 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — Some lifesaving technology is now in the hands of some people who could potentially make a difference. The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office says that eight automatic external defibrillators are now in Lyon County patrol cars, ready in an emergency.

We talked to Lyon County Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep, who tells us where the idea for the devices came from.


He tells us how the Physio-Control Life-Pac CR plus AEDs work.


Vander Stoep says that sometimes deputies are the first people to get to a medical call, and this device can be used until the ambulance or rescue unit gets there, and can even go with the patient on the way to the hospital.

He says while the Lyon County Sheriff’s office has twelve officers, including the sheriff and chief deputy, the grant was only enough for eight units. Vander Stoep says the cost per unit was $1,695, for a total of $13,560 for the eight units. He says he’d like to thank Health Services of Lyon County for their assistance in getting the funds.

He says not only does he hope to eventually outfit every patrol vehicle with a unit, he’d like an extra AED at the Law Enforcement Center as well. The sheriff says they have one now, but he’d like one in the jail area as well as one in the administration area. He says they have carried the one in the administration area over to the jail on a number of occasions, and it would be good to have one in each location. He says they’ll continue to look for grants to make it possible.

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Rock Rapids, Iowa — No ribbon was cut on Tuesday — instead, commemorative glasses of water were used to toast those involved with bringing Lewis & Clark Water System water to the first Iowa community — Rock Rapids.

Lewis & Clark Executive Director Troy Larson says that Rock Rapids’ history with Lewis & Clark started when the system was just getting organized. However, on a 2 to 1 vote of the Rock Rapids Utility Board, Rock Rapids left the system in the early days. Years later, after the route had been planned, Rock Rapids Utility Board members decided they wanted back in. Rock Rapids Utility General Manager Jim Hoye says since the community joined late, Rock Rapids was not eligible to have the pipe coming directly to the town and had to take delivery of the water from points along the main line. Rock Rapids’ connection to the system is north of Lester on the state line.

Hoye says years ago, their customer, Lyon & Sioux Rural Water was making a connection between a water tower six miles west of Rock Rapids and the city of Lester. He says Rock Rapids heard about that and paid to have that line upgraded so they could also use it for the Lewis & Clark connection. Last year contractors working for Rock Rapids Municipal Utilities completed a million-dollar project to install six miles of 10-inch plastic pipe from Rock Rapids’ water treatment plant north of town to the Lyon & Sioux tower. A $500,000 Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture helped pay for the project.

When the Grand Falls Casino Resort was being built on the state line northwest of Larchwood, they needed a good water supply. Rock Rapids Municipal Utilities used their membership with Lewis & Clark to help out the casino resort. Rock Rapids gets the water from the Lewis & Clark main near the casino and sells it to Lyon & Sioux Rural Water, who then sells it to the casino and hotel. So in one way, Rock Rapids Municipal Utilities has been hooked up to Lewis & Clark since that connection went live in 2011. But the businesses, industry, and citizens of Rock Rapids have only recently been able to use Lewis & Clark water. Larson says that happened last October.

Larson says while they are happy that Rock Rapids is now fully connected . . .


He says that Rock Rapids water is a mixture of Lewis & Clark water and water from Rock Rapids’ wells, so they wanted to make sure they got the mix correct before scheduling the ceremony. He says they wanted to do it in the spring, but with the winter weather hanging on as long as it did, they had to wait until now.

Rock Rapids Economic Development Director Micah Freese says people may not realize the impact of this connection.


Larson says they hope to hold two more of these celebrations in 2018, one for Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water’s connection near Adrian, Minnesota and one for the city of Worthington.

He says that next for the Iowa part of the system is installing the pipe from Beresford, South Dakota to Sioux Center.


He says they’ll have enough money to do 50 to 60 percent of that this time. Larson says that once Sioux Center is connected, Hull will receive water too, as there’s already a line between Sioux Center and Hull. He says it is their hope to have Sioux Center and Hull connected in the next three to four years, depending on funding levels. And the line to Sheldon from Hull will be constructed after that.

He says this fiscal year, they received around $15 million from the federal government. He says that’s a lot better than the around $9 million per year they had been receiving — and that if that funding level continues, that could accelerate the timeline for Sioux Center, Hull, and Sheldon.

Larson says Sibley is the last Iowa community scheduled to receive water. (With Madison, South Dakota being the last community in the entire system to be connected) That’s the bad news. But …


Larson says that the meter building north of Lester was also named on Tuesday in honor of Rock Rapids Municipal Utilities manager Jim Hoye, who he says was instrumental in the decision for Rock Rapids to re-join the system.

UPDATE: George, Iowa– A Melvin man and a Hull woman were taken to hospitals and the DNR is cleaning up a diesel fuel spill after an accident near George on Monday, June 18th.

The Iowa State Patrol reports that about 8:15 a.m., 19-year-old Jacob Schultz of Melvin was driving a 2000 Chevy pickup northbound on L26, six miles east of George or six miles south of Little Rock. They say 53-year-old Rhonda VanDerZwaag of Hull was eastbound on A34 in a 1986 Peterbilt pulling a hopper trailer. A third vehicle, a 2015 Ford pickup, driven by Douglas Heibult of Sheldon was westbound on A34.

The report doesn’t list any details about the circumstances of the crash.

The George Emergency Medical Service took Schultz to the Osceola Community Hospital in Sibley. The Lyon County Ambulance took VanDerZwaag to Sanford Rock Rapids Hospital. Heibult refused medical treatment.

Schultz ‘s Chevy pickup sustained about $8500 in damages, and VanDerZwaag ‘s Peterbilt sustained about $50,000 in damages. Heibult’s pickup received $10,000 in damage.

No charges have been filed.


Original story — Posted 3:51 p.m., Monday, June 18, 2018:

Lyon County, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is responding to a crash and diesel fuel spill near Marsh Avenue and A-34, about 6 miles south of Little Rock Monday morning.

No details have been released as yet on the crash itself, but the DNR says a semi’s fuel tank was punctured in the crash, and they estimate that fewer than 100 gallons of fuel leaked from the tank.

With the overnight heavy rains in the area, the DNR says the fuel was carried into Whitney Creek, a tributary of the Little Rock River, and Rock River.

A DNR spokesman says boom and pads have been deployed, but the heavily flowing water is making it difficult to keep the fuel conpletely contained.

The Iowa DNR says they will continue to monitor the situation.

KIWA will bring you more details of the crash when it becomes available.

June 18, 2018 - 3:21 pm - Posted in News

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Rock Rapids, Iowa — Construction continues ahead-of-schedule on the new $28 million hospital and clinic building in Rock Rapids.

We had a chance to get a construction update from general contractor Journey Construction’s job superintendent, Kevin Brockmueller. He tells us what has been going on the past few days.


Brockmueller says a good portion of the behind-the-walls work such as plumbing, HVAC, and electrical is done.


He tells us what’s going to keep them busy in the next few months.


After the facility is complete in early 2019, those that run the hospital will need to install all the equipment and get the facility ready to see patients in the spring.

The current local hospital owned by the Merrill Pioneer Community Hospital (MPCH) board of trustees is leased to Sanford Health and operates as Sanford Rock Rapids. Avera will assume the lease in 2019. It is not known at this time what will be done with the current hospital and clinic building.

June 15, 2018 - 1:36 pm - Posted in News

Lester, Iowa– A a side by side utility vehicle and a pickup were destroyed in a fire on Thursday, June 14, 2018, near Lester.

According to Lester Fire Chief Morris Metzger, about 4:15 p.m., the Lester Fire Department was called to the report of a side by side utility vehicle on fire close to a couple buildings and gas tanks at 1334 Dove Avenue, about a mile north of Lester.

The chief says the fire department saw the side by side and the pickup on fire as they approached the scene. He says they used water and foam to fight the fire.

Metzger says no injuries were reported.

He says the cause of the fire is undetermined, and that the utility vehicle and pickup were both totaled in the fire.

He says they used about 1,000 gallons of water to fight the fire, and the seven firefighters who responded were on scene for about an hour.

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Rock Rapids, Iowa — A new incarnation of the Lyon County American Cancer Society Relay For Life will be unveiled this Thursday evening (June 14th) in Rock Rapids. Called “Carnival For A Cure,” the new event takes the place of the more traditional Relay For Life events of the past.

Ronda Ahrends, who is one of the people in charge, tells us what to expect at the event, which will be held in conjunction with Rock Rapids’ Heritage Days.


And then, she says they’ll have a local talent show.


Ahrends gives us an idea of the kinds of acts that will be showcasing their talent.


She says that to go along with the carnival theme, they’re changing the luminarias to pinwheels.


Ahrends says you can buy pinwheels from any Cancer Society volunteer, including Rochelle Herbert, Kathy Van Berkum, Jill Funke, or Ahrends. Or you can buy them at the event.

She says they’ll also have raffle items, as usual.


Ahrends reminds people to bring their lawn chairs, as the event will be on the courthouse square.

Rock Rapids, Iowa — The Community Foundation of Lyon County has been in place for several years, giving their first grants to nonprofit projects in 2006. However, one of the revenue streams for the foundation was ended when a gambling facility began in the county seven years ago in June of 2011.

Iowa counties’ community foundations are given some money if they do not have a casino or betting track in the county. The law stipulates that such counties are eligible to receive one-half of one percent of the state’s gross gambling receipts.

If the county DOES have a gambling facility, the community foundation does not receive those state dollars. However, the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation, which is the nonprofit license-holder for the Grand Falls Casino, gets a certain percentage of the casino’s gaming take and gives it back to the community in a similar grant process.

So the Community Foundation of Lyon County doesn’t get any gambling money, but private donations to the foundations are also accepted and encouraged, and that is how the Community Foundation is able to give out grants. In fact, they recently awarded six grants totaling $24,000 to nonprofit organizations in support of projects and programs throughout Lyon County. The dollars granted and distributed are made possible by the annual distribution from the Community Foundation of Lyon County’s Endowment Fund.

The CFLC was formally established in 2005 through affiliation with the Siouxland Community Foundation and is governed by a local nine-member advisory board composed of representatives, with one at-large member, from each of the eight communities in Lyon County; Alvord, Doon, George, Inwood, Larchwood, Lester, Little Rock, and Rock Rapids.

Foundation officials tell us that their mission is to enhance the overall quality of life in the county for present and future generations by providing opportunities for donors to leave a legacy, by building a permanent collection of endowment funds, and by making grants in response to priority community needs. They also tell us that a decision has been made that they will give grants every two years instead of annually so that larger sums may be given out.

The following are recently awarded grants from the CFLC:

Fellowship Village Community Integration $6,000.00
Granite Threshermens Association Inc. Train Depot Restoration $6,000.00
Inwood Trails Committee Bike and Walking Trail $6,000.00
Kingdom Kids Community Daycare Update Needed Storage $1,000.00
Merrill Pioneer Community Hospital New clinic & hospital $2,000.00
Rapids Theatre Preservation Society, Inc. North and West Tuck Pointing $3,000.00

Rock Rapids, Iowa — This Friday is the third Friday of June. That means this is Heritage Days Week in Rock Rapids — the next entry on the list of northwest Iowa summer festivals.

As usual, Heritage Days will feature both old favorites and some new and different ideas.

In the old favorites category, a classic activity has made a comeback in recent years and is back again — the Heritage Days medallion hunt, which will be on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Dad’s Belgian Waffles will be coming back for the classic waffle breakfast on Friday morning from 7 to 9 at the Forster Community Center. An activity that may date back to the beginning of Heritage Days is happening again — the Friday Methodist Church Salad Luncheon. It includes a craft sale and runs from 11 to 1. The River Valley Players will again perform a Heritage Days Revue on Friday night at Forster Auditorium at Central Lyon High School. The Road Race will make a repeat appearance on Saturday morning starting at 8. There’s a 10K, a 5K, a 1-mile, and a half-mile kids’ fun run. This year the starting line moves to the Central Lyon High School. The parade will be at 11 downtown, or at 4 if it’s raining at 11. The kids’ activities and inflatables will be in Island Park again from noon to 4. There will be an all-school reunion again from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Forster Community Center. A street dance will again be held Saturday night downtown. And the annual community church service will again be held Sunday morning at 10:30 at Island Park. Plus, there will be racing both Friday and Saturday nights.

Some newer activities include the new incarnation of the Lyon County Relay For Life. It’s a circus theme this year called “Carnival for a Cure.” It’s from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday night at the courthouse square. There will be a movie in the park that night when it gets dark. It’s put on by the Rapids Theatre Preservation Society and will be the Lego Batman Movie. Some other newer activities include karaoke at Sporty’s and a cruise night downtown, both on Friday night. A newer activity on Saturday is popcorn and root beer available at the Rapids Theatre downtown, put on by the Rapids Theatre Preservation Society. The Lyon County Historical Society is doing their Cowpie Bingo fundraiser again at the Depot Museum on Saturday. Also, the firefighters are doing water wars again Saturday on South Story Street. And back once again on Sunday is the Soapbox Derby at the swimming pool parking lot.

These and many other activities are all this weekend at Heritage Days in Rock Rapids.

June 11, 2018 - 2:15 pm - Posted in News

Little Rock, Iowa– A house was damaged in a fire on Saturday, June 9, 2018, in Little Rock. But the fire chief says it could have ended differently.

According to Little Rock Fire Chief Joe Schilling, about 12:30 a.m., the Little Rock Fire Department was called to the report of a house full of smoke at 126 Third Avenue in Little Rock.

The chief says the fire department saw flames coming from the front of the house as they approached the scene. He says they used water and foam to fight the fire.

Schilling says no injuries were reported.

He says the cause of the fire appeared to be electrical in nature. Chief Schilling reports that there was extensive heat and smoke damage.

The chief tells us that they were assisted by firefighters from the George Fire Department, and personnel from Little Rock EMS and the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office.

He says they used about 4,000 gallons of water to fight the fire, and crews were on scene three and a half hours.

Schilling says that this fire call is a good example of why smoke alarms are so important. He says the occupant woke up due to smoke alarms going off. He says without smoke alarms, this fire could have had a very different outcome.