January 29, 2015 - 1:58 am - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa unemployment rate is down, and while unemployment is up just a little in Lyon County, it’s still the county with the lowest unemployment in the state.
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The state unemployment rate dropped down in December, and a spokesperson for Iowa Workforce Development says the state is getting close to “full employment.” I-W-D spokesperson, Kerry Koonce, says the December unemployment rate hit four-point-one percent, compared to four-point-three percent in November.

(as she says)”Four-point-one percent is actually the lowest rate we’ve had since June of 2008. The national rate is still standing at five-point-six percent for December,” Koonce says.

She says the national experts believe Iowa is getting close to what’s called full employment, or the percentage of the labor market that is able to find a job if they want a job.


(as she says)”It’s between three-and-half and four percent for Iowa, closer to the four percent,” Koonce says. “It used be closer to the three, three-and-a-half, but as the economy has changed over the years, they say the full employment for Iowa falls in that three-and-a-half to four percent range.”

It is the third straight month that the unemployment rate has dropped.


(as she says)”What we’ve seen is we’ve seen a decrease in the number of people who are unemployed, plus a continued increase in the size of our labor force couple with adding 21-hundred jobs to the economy in the month of December, that’s what allows us to bring that rate down continually,” Koonce explains.

She takes about the areas where the state gained jobs.


(as she says)”A large portion of the jobs were in manufacturing — that was 16-hundred of them — another 500 still in construction, plus we saw 15-hundred in business and professional services, and 600 of those were also in what we call other services, which is kind of a combined category,” Koonce says.

The state lost one thousand jobs in the trade and transportation area, which Koonce says included the retail sector.


(as she says)”You saw a lot of people leave at the end of the holiday season, plus the retail trade is just seeing a lot more people move to on-line shopping, so that just decreases the numbers they need in the actual stores,” she says.

Local and state government saw the loss of 900 jobs in the month, but she says but many of these losses were seasonal transitions and should be recovered in January. Iowa’s largest manufacturing employer, Deere and Company, announced the layoff of 900 workers last week. Koonce says that won’t have an immediate impact on next month’s unemployment numbers.


(as she says)”We’ll see it in the job numbers, but it may be kind of a slow progression. And that’s because the layoffs are spread out over three to four months with John Deere,” Koonce explains. “So they won’t be completed until the end of April, so it would be our May report which is for April numbers, when all of that would have taken effect. But if it’s spread out over several months it will be a small decline, you are not going to see a sudden drop of 900 all at once.”

Koonce says Iowa Workforce Development already is responding to help the Deere workers as they face the layoffs. I-W-D says the total number of working Iowans reached a current-year peak of one-million-642-thousand-900 in December. This figure is 31-hundred higher than November and 38-thousand-100 higher than one year ago.

Lyon County is the county with the lowest unemployment rate in the state for December at 2.1 percent. That is up a little from November when it was 1.9. Sioux County is number eight on the list with 2.9 percent, also up slightly since November, when it was 2.3. Plymouth County is 13th, with 3.1 percent. O’Brien is 23rd, with 3.6 percent unemployment in December, up from 2.9 in November. Clay is 25th with 3.7 percent. Osceola is 46th with 4.0 percent unemployment, up from 3.1 percent in November.

We should mention that the state figures are seasonally-adjusted, while the county figures are not adjusted for seasonal layoffs.

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January 27, 2015 - 5:28 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — Lyon County high school freshmen and sophomores will hear about careers available in Lyon County on Friday, January 30th at a Career Exploration Day.
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Lyon County Economic Development Director Steve Simons says it’s a project he’s been working on with George-Little Rock, Central Lyon and West Lyon guidance departments, Rock Rapids Economic Development Director John Hulshof, and Northwest Iowa Community College.

He says that more than 20 local business professionals will be participating and presenting information in Agriculture Related, Arts/Audiovisual Technology, Building Trades, Business/Entrepreneur, Engineering/Surveying, Finance, Health Sciences, Hospitality/Tourism, Manufacturing and Social Sciences categories.

The half-day session will be held in seven locations with the Forster Community Center as the centerpiece.

He says the nearly 290 students have been surveyed and selected three career categories/sessions that they will attend.

He says Anderson will also hold a workforce and education session for Lyon County parents and community members on Thursday, January 29, at 7 PM the evening before the Career Exploration Day at the Forster Community Center in Rock Rapids.

We had a chance to talk to Lynn Anderson and she gave us a preview of the information she’ll present to the students.

She says she’s also got some advice for parents on Thursday night.

Anderson says research indicates most students now entering the job force will change careers nine times in their life. She says that means it’s not enough to get any old college degree — the field of education is changing too.

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The Career Exploration Day schedule is:

Thursday, January 29
Parent’s program on workforce and education at Forster Community Center in Rock Rapids

Friday, January 30
Student Career Exploration Day at Forster Community Center and other locations in Rock Rapids.

9 a.m. – Student arrival from three schools

9:10 a.m. – Whole-group presentation (40 minutes/10 minutes movement)

10 a.m. – Session 1 (25 minutes presentation/10 minutes movement)

10:35 a.m. – Session 2 (25 minutes presentation/10 minutes movement)

11:10 a.m. – Session 3 (25 minutes presentation/10 minutes movement)

11:45 a.m. – Lunch at Forster (35 minutes)

12:20 p.m. – Students to busses

12:30 p.m. – Buses depart

January 27, 2015 - 8:22 am - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — There’s going to be a “Food Summit” in Sheldon on Thursday.

What’s a food summit? The extension service says food producers, consumers, community leaders, gardeners, cooks and anyone with an interest in local foods are invited to attend the free event. Extension specialist Margaret Murphy tells us more.

She says “Flavors of Northwest Iowa” is basically focused on smaller farms that for the most part sell directly to the consumer.

She says at the 2013 summit, they identified some short and long-term top priorities.

Again, the summit runs from 8:30 AM until 12:30 PM at Northwest Iowa Community College. It will feature guest speaker Lynn Heuss, assistant coordinator for the ISU Extension and Outreach local food and farm program, discussing funding opportunities, the farm bill and the collective impact method for coalition building.

ISU Extension and Outreach Regional Food Coordinators Margaret Murphy and Laurie Taylor will be on hand, as well as Craig Tordsen from ISU Extension and Outreach’s Value Added Agriculture program. There will be a review and discussion of the regional action plan, roundtable discussions, and information and resources available to attendees.

Murphy says they really want to hear from local stakeholders as to how things are going and what more can be done to promote locally-grown foods.

For more information, contact the Woodbury or Lyon County extension offices at 712-276-2157 or 712-472-2576. More information can also be found at www.flavorsofnorthwestiowa.org. They do request that you pre-register by Tuesday, January 27th.

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January 27, 2015 - 8:21 am - Posted in News

Doon, Iowa — The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office is looking for help to try to find a car involved in an accident in Doon.
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They report that about 2:30 Monday afternoon, January 26, 2015, 76-year-old John Van Surksum of Doon was northbound on Hubbard Avenue in his 2006 Buick Lucerne. A white car was eastbound on South First Street when it entered the intersection and struck Van Surksum’s vehicle in the left rear. The white car continued east on South First Street and was not seen again.

Van Surksum’s Buick received approximately $700 in damages and the damage to the white car is unknown. No injuries were reported.

If you have information on the white car involved in this accident please call the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department at 712-472-8300.

January 26, 2015 - 3:32 pm - Posted in News

Sioux County Iowa, just west of Fairview, SD – Two people from Rock Valley were taken to a Sioux Falls hospital after an accident in western Sioux County on Saturday night.
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The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that just before 10 PM, 38-year-old Daniel Rice of Rock Valley was driving a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado eastbound on county road A54B when he lost control of the vehicle, which entered the south ditch and rolled into a farm field. Rice became trapped in the vehicle and a passenger, 44-year-old Lisa Simonsen of Rock Valley was ejected from the vehicle.

Rice and Simonsen sustained severe injuries and were transported to the Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center. They were both later transferred to Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD.

The Chevrolet sustained approximately $18,000 in damages.

The accident remains under investigation and authorities believe alcohol was a factor.

The sheriff’s office was assisted by the Iowa State Patrol, Rock Valley Police Department, Fairview Fire Department, and the Canton-Inwood Ambulance crew.

January 26, 2015 - 8:13 am - Posted in News

Doon, Iowa — A Doon man faces several charges including two felonies after authorities say he wouldn’t stop his ATV when a deputy tried to make a traffic stop in Doon.
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The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that on Friday evening, January 23, 2015, they received complaints of loud ATV’s driving around Doon. A deputy located two four wheelers on 5th Avenue near North 4th Street and activated the emergency lights in an attempt to stop them.

One four wheeler came to a stop and the second one continued south onto 6th Avenue. The Deputy then activated the sirens and the four wheeler continued, cutting through residential yards. The deputy then caught up to the four wheeler on 7th Avenue near North 4th Street where the four wheeler came to a stop. The deputy exited his car in an attempt to apprehend the subject. The four wheeler then started west on North 4th Street nearly striking the deputy. The eluding four wheeler came into sight again when it drove past the first four wheeler and a second deputy. The four wheeler came within feet of striking the second deputy.

The Sheriff’s Office says the driver of the first four wheeler, which stopped immediately was 40-year-old Travis Joe Caratachea of Buckeye, AZ . He was arrested on a charge of Operating While Intoxicated, a Serious Misdemeanor, and cited for Operating an ATV on Roadways, a Simple Misdemeanor.

They report that the driver of the second ATV was 30-year-old Matthew James Johnson of Doon. Johnson was later located and arrested at his home on charges of Operating While Intoxicated 3rd Offense, a Class D Felony; Assault on a Peace Officer with a Dangerous Weapon, a Class D Felony; Eluding a Police Officer, a Serious Misdemeanor; Reckless Driving, a Simple Misdemeanor; and Disorderly Conduct, a Simple Misdemeanor. Johnson was also cited for Driving without a Valid Driver’s License and Operating a ATV on Roadways, both Simple Misdemeanors.

January 26, 2015 - 8:11 am - Posted in News

Doon, Iowa — A Rock Valley woman was taken to the hospital, and a horse had to be destroyed following an accident near Doon on Friday night, January 23, 2015.
lyon co ambulance side
The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 7:20 PM, 35-year-old Andrew Krogman of Doon was traveling east on county road A52, a half mile east of Highway 75; or five miles east of Doon, when he came upon a horse in the roadway. Krogman began to herd the horse to a yard using the 2013 Ford pickup he was driving. Thirty-seven-year-old Cassandra Cavin of Rock Valley was westbound on county road A52 in a 2001 Chevrolet Tracker when she struck the horse in the roadway. The horse landed on the hood of the Chevrolet, she then crossed the center line and struck the front end of the Ford.

The Lyon County Ambulance transported Cavin to the Hegg Memorial Hospital in Rock Valley.

The Chevrolet Tracker, owned by Cavin, was totaled with a $3,000 loss. The F-150 pickup received approximately $2,500 in damages. The horse, owned by Harlan Gorter of Doon, had to be disposed of and was a $4,000 loss.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Department was assisted by the Doon Fire and Rescue and the Lyon County Ambulance.

January 24, 2015 - 4:54 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — Lyon County is going to be getting some free help with several projects from college students at Iowa State University.
Lyon County Seal
Lyon County Economic Development Director Steve Simons tells us more.


He says 27 senior and graduate students from ISU are taking part. The first phase of the class is for them to travel to Lyon County and visit with residents, business people and tour the area, says Simons.

They will view several attractions in the county including Gitchie Manitou, Blood Run, Lake Pahoja, the Depot Museum, Island Park, Rapid Speedway, Murals, Rapids Theatre, Locker Park, and several more.

Simons says the next steps will be a video conference on February 27 with their ideas for stakeholders to view and give feedback. A video conference mid-design review will be held the week of March 30. The students will return April 27 for final presentations.

Simons says Lyon County will be the focus of their work Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons for the entire semester.

Simons says that he’s looking forward to working with the students.


Simons invites everyone to the stakeholder sessions, Sunday evening at 6:30 PM at Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort, Monday morning at 10 AM at Forster Community Center in Rock Rapids, and Monday afternoon at 1:30 PM at the George Community Center.

Sunday, January 25

  • 1 PM                Arrive and check in at Grand Falls
  • 1:45 PM            Bus trip to Gitchie Manitou, Blood Run, Lake Pahoja Recreation Area, Calico Skies Vineyard and Winery, Inwood (downtown, pool and park), West Lyon and Larchwood (downtown, park, golf). Return to hotel at 5 p.m.
  • 5:30 PM       Dinner for students
  • 6:30-8:00            Stakeholder session 1 (LCED and others in meeting room/refreshments/cookies)

Monday, January 26

  • 7 PM                Check out and Breakfast at Grand Falls
  • 8-10:00 AM     Bus to Rock Rapids – drive through Lester (Gerber Strawberries) on the way and tour Rock Rapids (downtown, LCHS Museum, Island Park, Raceway and Fairgrounds, country club, Central Lyon, Courthouse, Murals, pool, Kids Club, Rapids Theater, etc.
  • 10:00-11:30   Stakeholder session 2 at Forster Community Center
  • 11:30-12:30   Lunch at Pizza Ranch Rock Rapids
  • 12:30 PM       Bus trip to George and tour George – Locker Park, downtown,trail, pool, campground, GLR School.
  • 1:30-3:30 PM   Stakeholder session 3 at George Community Center
  • 4:00 PM            Depart for ISU (box lunches Pizza Ranch)

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January 22, 2015 - 5:36 pm - Posted in News

Larchwood, Iowa — The Grand Falls Casino agreed to a 20-thousand dollar fine on Thursday for an illegal gambling violation at the facility near Larchwood. Iowa Racing and Gaming administrator, Brian Ohorilko, explained the situation to the Racing and Gaming Commission.
Grand Falls Roulette

(as he says)”We had a minor on December 14th enter the gaming floor unchallenged, was on the gaming floor for 30 minutes and had gambled,” Ohorilko says.

Casino general manager, Sharon Hasselhoff, apologized to the commission.


(as she says)”We take it very seriously, we did not I-D this guest as we should have,” Hasselhoff says. “Simply, there’s no excuse. We did not do our job.”

Hasselhoff says they have taken steps to ensure this does not happen again.


(as she says)”Since this incident, we have had significant re-training with our employees, reminding them of the importance of their job,” Hasselhoff says. She says 127 employees in security, table games and food and beverage areas went through I-D checking and training to check for intoxication since the incident.

She says they stressed during the training the importance of always following through and the consequences for the facility if they let someone in without checking their I-D.


(as she says)”Again, we’re very sorry that this happened and are using it as a retraining lesson for our employees,” Hasselhoff says.

Gaming administrator Ohorilko says the 20-thousand dollar penalty is standard for underage gambling violations. He says Grand Falls has a very good record and has not had any other recent violations.

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