Tea, SD — The water system that delivers Missouri River Aquifer water to many communities in the tri-state area and hopes to soon serve four more in northwest Iowa received some good federal funding news recently.

Lewis & Clark Regional Water System Executive Director Troy Larson says they have heard from the Bureau of Reclamation about Fiscal 2021 funding.

(as said:) “We received great news from the Bureau of Reclamation that for FY 21, Lewis and Clark will be receiving a total of seventeen point five million dollars. That’s great news considering the administration only proposed $100,000 for us which isn’t even enough to cover our oversight cost for the Bureau of Reclamation. Fortunately, the tri-state delegation was able to secure additional funding for the Rural Water Program and from that additional funding, we ultimately received seventeen point four million on top of the hundred thousand that the administration proposed. That brings our total to 17 point five million. So needless to say seventeen point five million is a lot better than a hundred thousand.”

He says they plan to use the funding in three main places.

(as said:) “First of all, we have a couple of projects where the construction is already underway, and this will help pay for the remaining construction. One project is a 16 million gallon-a-day collector well by Vermilion. The second project already underway is a 2.5 million-gallon water tower at Beresford. So this funding will complete those projects. The third item is where we’re going to construct a meter building at Sioux Center, expand a meter building at Hull, and add pumps to the Beresford Pump Station and that will all be one contract for those items. So that’s really where the main dollars will go and the good news for Sioux Center and Hull is that this is the last funding we need to deliver water to those two communities. We’re currently delivering water to 15 of our 20 members. So this will get water to two more of our members and we expect that to happen by early 2023 assuming all goes well with construction.”

Larson says that based on current funding levels, they hope to have water to Sheldon by late 2023. Sheldon is the end of the line that splits off at Beresford and heads for Sioux Center and Hull. Meanwhile, Sibley is on the Worthington branch, and also based on current funding levels, they hope to have water to Sibley in late 2024, according to Larson.

January 21, 2021 - 3:46 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Last fall’s mild, dry weather allowed many Iowa farmers to harvest their crops in record time, but now those same conditions are causing concern.

Meteorologist Dennis Todey, director of the USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, says drought continues to be the biggest worry.

(As above) “We have some very dry soils throughout the Northern Plains into northwest Iowa,” Todey says. “The dry season and dry fall allowed quick access to fields and harvest activity but we didn’t get much recharge, unlike some previous years.” 

The state’s seen some big snowfalls already this winter with more coming this weekend, but with the ground frozen, any snow that falls won’t add much moisture to the soil.

(As above) “We may get a little bit of runoff as whatever melting occurs, so ponds, streams, dugouts will get a little bit of benefit from that,” Todey says, “but we’re going to have to get more moisture once we get towards the spring and we get soil temperatures thawing and get a chance to get something in that profile.” 

The report released Thursday from the US Drought Monitor shows conditions across western and northwest Iowa ranging from moderate to extreme drought and Todey doubts that trend will shift significantly.

(As above) “We don’t expect the drought situation overall, especially Drought Monitor maps, to change too much,” Todey says. “While we get these snowfalls, they are nice, even bigger snowfalls don’t include a lot of moisture in them, so changes in the U.S. Drought Monitor are going to be pretty slow this time of year. We’re slow to worsen and slow to improve, just because we don’t expect much precipitation.”

The latest long-range outlooks call for above-normal temperatures and near to below-normal precipitation into early February.

 

January 21, 2021 - 3:04 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Two more deaths and thirty-one new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties on Thursday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

There was one more death in Osceola County and one more in Lyon County. The death toll for the area is now at 154 since the pandemic began. The death totals are 54 in O’Brien County, 57 in Sioux County, 33 in Lyon County, and ten in Osceola County.

There were three new cases in Lyon County on Thursday, seven in O’Brien County, four in Osceola County, and 17 more in Sioux County. Nearly twelve percent of northwest Iowans have tested positive for COVID since March 2020.

Out of the 1,394 Lyon County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, 1208 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 87%.
Out of the 4,573 Sioux County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, 4223 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 92%.
Out of the 1,704 O’Brien County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, 1531 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 90%.
Out of the 644 Osceola County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, 604 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 94%.

As far as people who actively HAVE COVID-19, Osceola County currently has 30 active cases, up one from the previous day. There were 119 in O’Brien County, which is also up one. Sioux County has 293 active cases, which is up five from the previous day. Lyon County has 153 active cases, which is down six.

Total numbers of cases since the beginning of the pandemic from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report:

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 3,517 , up 12
Cherokee 1,361 , up 5
Buena Vista 3,949 , up 14
Clay 1,700 , up 9
Dickinson 1,878 , up 17

Larchwood, Iowa — A California woman who was arrested in Lyon County nearly a year ago on drug trafficking charges, has been sentenced to more than 7 years in federal prison.

34-year-old Marissa Weisbly, of Los Osos, California, was sentenced after an August 19th plea to one count of Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine.

On February 8th last year, law enforcement was patrolling the parking lot at Grand Falls Casino near Larchwood and conducted a search of a vehicle connected to Weisbly and ultimately recovered nearly 3 pounds of meth and drug trafficking materials, according to federal authorities. Earlier that winter, Weisbly and her co-conspirators had brought pounds of meth to the Midwest for distribution. All in all, authorities say she was found to have been involved in the trafficking of 70 pounds of methamphetamine from across California, Iowa and South Dakota.

Weisbly was sentenced Wednesday in Federal District Court in Sioux City to 93 months’ in a federal prison and must serve a 3-year term of supervised release following her prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

Federal authorities say the case was investigated by the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, Lyon County Attorney’s Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

Washington, DC (RI) — All but one member of Iowa’s congressional delegation attended Wednesday’s inauguration.

Congresswoman Cindy Axne, a Democrat, endorsed Biden just before the Iowa Caucuses. Axne said at the time that Biden was the one candidate who had the experience and the heart to bring the country together. On Wednesday morning, she tweeted that the inauguration is “the start of working to unify, heal and build the country back better than ever before.”

Congresswoman Ashley Hinson of Marion, a Republican, posted a statement on Facebook on Wednesday morning. Hinson says she’s among the thousands of Iowans who voted for Trump, but “in a democracy you don’t always get the result you want and it’s time to move on.”

Republican Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa, issued a statement Wednesday morning. She tweeted what she described as her sincere willingness to work together with Biden on COVID relief, infrastructure, and rebuilding the economy.

Also on Wednesday morning, Miller-Meeks and Hinson signed onto a letter with a group of other Republicans in the U.S. House. The letter said: “the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans does not serve a single American.”

Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst attended the inauguration. Grassley tweeted a photo from his vantage point and said he looks forward to working with Biden and Vice President Harris on behalf of the people of Iowa. Ernst called the inauguration a “sacred tradition” and, in a tweet, Ernst described herself as an eternal optimist who hopes to work with the Biden-Harris Administration in a bipartisan way to deliver for the American people.

Congressman Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull is in Iowa. He was to attend “senior night” for his daughter’s basketball team at Dordt University this Wednesday evening, then return to DC this Thursday.

January 20, 2021 - 7:08 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Fifteen new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties on Wednesday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

There were two new cases in Lyon County on Wednesday, three in O’Brien County, one in Osceola County, and nine more in Sioux County. About one in eight northwest Iowans have tested positive for COVID since March 2020.

The death toll for the area remains at 152 since the pandemic began. The death totals are 54 in O’Brien County, 57 in Sioux County, 32 in Lyon County, and nine in Osceola County.

Out of the 1,391 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 1200 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 86%.
Out of the 4,556 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 4212 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 92%.
Out of the 1,697 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 1525 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 90%.
Out of the 640 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 602 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 94%.

Osceola County currently has 29 active cases, down three from the previous day. There were 118 in O’Brien County, which is down two. Sioux County has 287 active cases, which is down nine from the previous day. Lyon County has 159 active cases, which is down seven.

Total numbers of cases since the beginning of the pandemic from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report:

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 3,505 , up 2
Cherokee 1,356 , up 6
Buena Vista 3,935 , up 3
Clay 1,691 , up 13
Dickinson 1,861 , up 4

January 20, 2021 - 2:28 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Traffic fatalities in Iowa in 2020 came at a higher number than officials were hoping for.

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, preliminary traffic fatality numbers for 2020 show 335 people died in traffic crashes last year. Iowa State Patrol Trooper Kevin Krull says that was well above the goal the state had hoped to reach.

(As above) “We didn’t quite make our goal. We’ve been striving to get under 300 for a few years now. Like most things, we set some goals that we want to attain to make everybody safe. But just like some of our personal goals that we might set, we might not always hit them. But you know what? We’re not giving up on that goal, we’re going to keep going forward with that in 2021.”

Trooper Krull says fatality numbers were down during the early months of the pandemic, as traffic volume was down on Iowa’s roads. But then, he says, they ran into another traffic menace, excessive speed.

(As above) “We did have some individuals…actually quite a few individuals…who increased their speed last year to just crazy speeds. Those 140’s, 130’s, then back out here on the county roads they were…25 over was not uncommon to find out here. Those speeds have spiked very high, and then, unfortunately, with that when people realized that we truly are out here doing our job they thought they’d try to run away from us and elude from us. That didn’t always work out the best for them.”

He says when traffic picked back up, fatalities picked back up, as well.

(As above) “We had some of our worst months in July, August and September. We had 52 deaths on the road in August. That’s just crazy and up to this past year we only had a couple of times…two months, I believe…that we actually had 40 or more deaths on the roads. Then last year we had three months in a row that they were well over 40, or at 40.”

Trooper Krull says while 2020’s death toll was lower than the previous year, law enforcement will be trying some things this year to help make it safer on Iowa’s roadways.

(As above) “We did better than last year (2019), I guess, but we’re still only the third best in five years last year (2020). So we’re going to do some things this year to try and make it a little bit safer…try to figure some stuff out here. See how we can get some better education out to people and also we’re going to increase the enforcement.”

Krull says as far as the enforcement end, the Iowa State Patrol is partnering with Iowa DOT Enforcement and local law enforcement to help make Iowa roads safer.

Northwest Iowa — We’re getting closer and closer to the day when we can all get vaccinated against COVID-19. Read The Full Story…

January 19, 2021 - 2:15 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — One new death and twenty-five new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties on Tuesday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The new death was a resident of Sioux County. The death toll for the area is now at 152 since the pandemic began. The death totals are 54 in O’Brien County, 57 in Sioux County, 32 in Lyon County, and nine in Osceola County.

There were six new cases in Lyon County on Tuesday, five each in O’Brien and Osceola counties, and nine more in Sioux County. About one in eight northwest Iowans have tested positive for COVID since March 2020.

Out of the 1,389 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 1191 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 86%.
Out of the 4,547 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 4194 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 92%.
Out of the 1,694 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 1520 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 90%.
Out of the 639 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 599 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 94%.

Osceola County currently has 31 active cases, up three from the previous day. There were 120 in O’Brien County, which is down nine. Sioux County has 296 active cases, which is down 24 from the previous day. Lyon County has 166 active cases, which is down five.

Total numbers of cases since the beginning of the pandemic from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report:

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 3,503 , up 14
Cherokee 1,350 , up 8
Buena Vista 3,932 , up 12
Clay 1,678 , up 16
Dickinson 1,857 , up 11

Parker, SD — A Spencer, Iowa man has been arrested near Parker, South Dakota on several charges after a pursuit that started in Lyon County, Iowa.

According to the Lincoln County, South Dakota Sheriff’s Office, their involvement in the pursuit came when they were made aware of a stolen gray Mitsubishi Outlander being driven near Klondike on Iowa’s 180th Street or A26. (That’s a little more than four and a half miles west of the West Lyon School.) Lyon County Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep says the car was being tracked by a tracking device and his deputies had been alerted to the vehicle’s presence by South Dakota authorities.

Vander Stoep tells us that Lyon County deputies found the car near Beloit, and activated their emergency lights to make a traffic stop. He says almost immediately, the vehicle crossed the Big Sioux River bridge and entered South Dakota, where Lyon County deputies continued the pursuit for a little while but when South Dakota authorities joined the pursuit, the Lyon County deputies let them take over, and they turned around.

Lincoln County authorities tell us the pursuit lasted for several miles in Lincoln County with speeds reaching 110 miles per hour. At one point, the suspect drove through a field to avoid capture. The pursuit eventually entered Turner County north of Lennox, and then went through Chancellor and continued westbound for several more miles at high speeds, according to Lincoln County officials.

They tell us that during the pursuit, spike strips were deployed several times but were unsuccessful. A South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper was able to successfully stop the vehicle using what is known as the “PIT Maneuver,” in which the suspect car is bumped from the side near the rear wheel, causing the suspect vehicle to spin out.

The pursuit was ended about a mile south of Parker, South Dakota, which is about 30 miles northwest of where the pursuit entered South Dakota near Beloit.

The male driver was arrested and later transported to the Minnehaha County Jail. The driver was identified as 25-year-old Christopher Macleod of Spencer, Iowa. Lincoln County authorities say Macleod was booked in on charges of aggravated eluding, possession of stolen property, DUI 1st, possession of controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia, as well as other traffic-related offenses. They tell us Macleod is currently on probation.