January 26, 2022 - 3:51 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — Health Services of Lyon County — the county health department — says four free COVID rapid antigen at-home test kits for each household are available from the federal government.

We talked to Public Health Administrator Melissa Stillson. She tells us about it.

Stillson says she’s happy to pass along the information they received, but the four free tests have nothing to do with the county health departments or the Iowa Department of Public Health. She says public health departments do provide COVID-19 tests, but they are a little different.

Just to clarify, the free test kits from the federal government ARE rapid tests, but the ones provided by public health are NOT, and have to be sent away.

We asked her how to know if you should take a COVID test.

Stillson says it’s hard to know if your symptoms are cold or flu symptoms or COVID, but generally, COVID symptoms are more severe. For instance, the body aches are more intense, and there is often shortness of breath along with the other respiratory symptoms, plus exhaustion. She reminds people that they can always call the public health department in their county or their medical provider’s office and they can help guide them to the appropriate steps to take.

She says that’s also the case if you take a home test that comes back positive. They’d like you to call in, because there have been several changes in the guidance that they follow from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC. Quarantine and isolation times are shorter, for one thing. She says with the ongoing change, there can be a lot of confusion, and they can help you wade through it all.

Stillson also took the opportunity to remind you, that if you feel sick, stay home.

Again, that address for free COVID tests mailed to your home is covidtests.gov.

For your convenience, here are the phone numbers for the public health departments in our area:
O’Brien County Public Health (712) 957-0105
Sioux County Public Health (known as Community Health Partners) (712) 737-2971
Lyon County Public Health (known as Health Services of Lyon County) (712) 472-8200
Osceola County Public Health (known as Osceola Community Health Services) (712) 754-4611

January 25, 2022 - 3:56 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A Rock Rapids man faces a felony domestic abuse charge after an incident on Sunday evening, January 23rd, 2022 in Rock Rapids.

According to documents obtained from the Lyon County Clerk of Court’s office, 37-year-old Joseph Slade of Rock Rapids is charged with domestic abuse assault – impeding air or blood flow, causing injury.

The deputy who wrote the report states that deputies were dispatched to an address in eastern Rock Rapids for a domestic disturbance call. He says that according to the victim, she was in a verbal confrontation with the defendant at first, then it turned physical. She alleged that Slade wrapped his arm around her neck from behind until she became unconscious. She advises she was out for about two minutes and found herself on the floor of the bedroom. Slade alleged that the victim struck him in the face nine times.

Slade faces a preliminary hearing on the matter on Friday, February 11th.

Des Moines, Iowa — The voting delegates of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, representing all of the state’s 99 county pork organizations are in Des Moines for the annual meeting to vote on policies.

Association spokeswoman Dal Grooms explains what is being discussed.

Under the pork check-off program, producers pay 45-cents per 100-dollars of pork value. Membership dues are used for lobbying, while the check-off funds can only be used for promotion, education, research, market development, and exports.

The industry trade show and seminars as part of the annual Iowa Pork Congress are being held this Wednesday and Thursday at Hy-Vee Hall in Des Moines.

Des Moines, Iowa — Key lawmakers say the Republican-led legislature is focused on cutting personal income taxes and the corporate income tax cut Governor Kim Reynolds has proposed isn’t part of their plans at this point.

Republican Senator Dan Dawson of Council Bluffs is chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Some of the current credits are so lucrative some corporations get a tax refund check from the state. House Speaker Pat Grassley says corporate tax credits and sales tax exemptions have to be reduced or eliminated if the corporate income tax rate is to be reduced.

Senator Dawson says the governor’s other tax proposal, to have just one rate of four percent for personal income taxes, is the focus.

The governor’s proposal retains current credits and deductions for individuals and couples filing personal income taxes. Reynolds is calling for a study about which tax breaks to get rid of and which ones to keep. Dawson says of some credits could also be called tax shelters for upper-income Iowans.

Dawson says Republicans do not intend to do away with the standard deduction, credits for the parents of minor children, or the minimum income threshold for filing, all of which ensure the poorest Iowans don’t pay income taxes.

January 24, 2022 - 4:18 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — This is National School Choice Week in the United States.

We talked to Trish Wilger, who is the executive director with Iowa Alliance For Choice in Education. She tells us they have a special message for Iowans.

In northwest Iowa, we tend to think of “school choice” as being support of Christian and Catholic schools. But Wilger says they have more of an “all of the above” point of view.

She says there are two distinct organizations, and she outlines their purposes.

Wilger tells us Iowa Alliance will be sponsoring a School Choice Breakfast for legislators this week at the Capitol.

She says they support education savings accounts, which are different from vouchers. She says vouchers are a direct payment to a specific school or family, where the state funding would go into an account for qualified education expenses under an education savings account or ESA.

For more information on National School Choice Week, which runs from now through Saturday, January 29th, you can visit schoolchoiceweek.com.

January 24, 2022 - 4:00 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — There were 72 more positive COVID test results in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties this week than there were last week, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

In the last seven days, of all the tests that were given, 786 of them came back positive, which compares to 714 the previous week. The highest percentage of tests coming back positive in Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola, and Sioux counties this week was Lyon County, where 34 percent of given tests came back positive. 151 tests came back positive, an increase of 16 tests. In sheer numbers, O’Brien County had the highest number of positives, with 188, an increase of 45 positive results over the 143 positives a week ago. But only 33 percent of tests given came back positive, which is lower than Lyon County’s percentage. There were 11 more positives this week than last week’s positive count in Sioux County. Last week it was 366, this week it was 377, which represents 26 percent of given tests. Coincidentally, Osceola County had the exact same number of positive results this week as they had last week, at 70, which this week represents 30 percent of given tests.

Three more people lost their lives to COVID-related causes in the last seven days. They were two people in Sioux County and one person in Lyon County. Sioux County’s total is now 80. Lyon’s is 45. Osceola and O’Brien remain at 20 and 63, respectively.

January 24, 2022 - 2:48 pm - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — This summer’s RiseFest Christian music festival in Sheldon is taking shape. And a couple of announcements were made Monday morning.

Already announced as planning to appear at this year’s RiseFest are TobyMac, For King and Country, Mac Powell, and Unspoken. Rise Ministries is the Sheldon organization that runs RiseFest, and Rise Ministries Founder and President Rob Rozeboom tells us about two more artists and a speaker.

Rozeboom tells us about Megan Fate Marshman, who he says “Has a lot of energy.”

He says Marshman has had to deal with tragedy in her life.

If you’d like to know more about Marshman, be listening for the latest issue of Rozeboom’s podcast and/or visit her website at meganfate.com.

Rozeboom tells us more about Ben Fuller and his music.

Find out more at riseministries.com. RiseFest is set for June 10 and 11 in Sheldon.

January 22, 2022 - 5:48 pm - Posted in News


Statewide Iowa — Iowa’s record 2021 corn harvest led to a significant increase in traffic on the rail lines that run through Iowa.

That’s Iowa DOT director Scott Marler, who says railroad traffic nationwide increased seven percent in 2021, but has not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. Marler says the volume of cars and trucks on Iowa streets and highways dropped over 40 percent at the beginning of the pandemic.

Marler says that’s likely because of the high volume of trucks carrying freight on Iowa highways and interstates. Passenger traffic at Iowa airports that offer commercial flights dropped significantly during the first year of the pandemic and Marler says it’s bouncing back.

Marler made his comments during a briefing for the Iowa House Transportation Committee.

Statewide Iowa — Advocates in Iowa are stunned over the decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, to deny coverage for an entire class of drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Lauren Livingston, spokeswoman for the Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, says the blanket decision has tremendous implications beyond the initial drug, Aduhelm.

The draft decision says all future FDA-approved treatments in this class of drugs, regardless of clinical trial results and what the FDA recommends, will NOT be covered except in another clinical trial.

Aduhelm is showing promise in the treatment of early-stage Alzheimer’s and for others with mild cognitive impairment. For CMS to deny coverage, Livingston says, is putting concerns about money over the lives of patients.

Many other drugs used in treating other afflictions are quite expensive and ARE covered by CMS, she notes. A statement from the national association’s CEO says: “People living with Alzheimer’s disease deserve the same access to therapies given to those living with other conditions like cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS. For those in the Administration to treat those with Alzheimer’s disease differently than those with other diseases is simply unacceptable.” About six-million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s, including some 66-thousand Iowans.

You can visit the Iowa Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org/iowa.

Des Moines, Iowa — MidAmerican Energy has filed plans with the Iowa Utilities Board for a three-point-nine BILLION dollar($3.9) renewable energy project.

Company spokesman Geoff Greenwood says the goal is to hit net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

They are calling the project Wind PRIME and Greenwood says they would add more than two-thousand megawatts of wind generation and 50 megawatts of solar. The location of each has not yet been decided.

Greenwood says past projects were built with federal production tax credits — but the amount paid in tax credits is dropping — and could lead to customers paying more.

The wind and solar projects are the major part of the plan, while Greenwood says they want to explore other things like carbon capture. That would help reduce emissions for coal-fired energy plants.

He says they want to look at all the technology available and the does include the small modular nuclear generation.

The proposal has to go through the IUB process to get the plan approved. That will include public hearings and comments on the plan.

In our area, MidAmerican provides both natural gas and electric service in Sheldon, Archer, Germantown, Calumet, Sutherland, Granville, Newkirk, Hospers, Boyden, Hull, Rock Valley, Doon, Alvord, and Inwood. They also provide electric service only in Beloit, Carmel, Middleburg, Chatsworth, Ireton, Maurice, Carnes, and Gaza.