October 18, 2019 - 1:31 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The state unemployment rate is back in a holding pattern again, staying at two-point-five percent in September.

Iowa Workforce Development deputy director, Ryan West, says it’s the third month at that rate after 12 straight months where it held at two-point-four percent.

The unemployment rate hasn’t changed, but there has been movement both ways in the September job market.

He says the increase in workers getting into the workforce offset an increase in people who don’t have a job.

The total number of working Iowans has increased by 45-thousand-200 compared to last September. West says a lot of the increase in labor is companies hiring extra workers to get work finished before the winter weather sets in. West says it is hard to get a handle on how long it takes someone who loses a job to get a new one.

He says the time of year and type of employment play a big role in how quickly someone gets a new job. West says Iowa Workforce Development sometimes tries to help people get back into the workforce by expanding their search beyond the job they held in the past.

Iowa’s unemployment rate remains well below the U.S. rate, which fell to three-point-five percent in September.

Northwest Iowa — County Emergency Management Agencies from O’Brien, Sioux and Lyon Counties were among were six county EMA organizations that were each presented with a check for $20,000 in a ceremony held Thursday in Storm Lake.

The checks were from the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is making the donation to each county through which their pipeline travels, with the total donation, statewide, of $360,000. With the aim of helping first responders, each county is encouraged to use the funds where they need it most, according to a release from the pipeline company.

Dakota Access Pipeline says they are committed to being a good neighbor, a good business partner and a valued member of Iowa’s communities. Dakota Access plans to make similar donations to county emergency management agencies across its four-state route, totaling $1 million across 50 counties in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

The counties presented checks on Thursday were O’Brien, Sioux, Lyon, Cherokee, Buena Vista and Sac. The County EMA Coordinators from our immediate area, Jared Johnson of O’Brien County, Nate Huizenga from Sioux County and Arden Kopischke of Lyon County all indicated the money would be used for new emergency response equipment for their first responders.

Dakota Access Pipeline traverses approximately 101 miles through Lyon, Sioux, O’Brien, Cherokee, Buena Vista and Sac counties in Iowa. The company will also be donating to the Iowa 4-H Foundation and the Iowa FFA Foundation, as well. They made a similar donation of $1 million to county EMAs after the pipeline began service in 2017.

October 17, 2019 - 3:56 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — After last weekend’s cold snap and snow, this week has seemed comparatively pleasant.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Brad Temeyer at the Sioux Falls office says that while it seems nice, temperatures are not that much above normal.


He tells us that while the system will probably have some precipitation, it won’t be heavy and widespread.


According to Temeyer, it will be warm enough that any precip that does fall this weekend into Monday will be rain, and not snow. But he says looking at the middle to the end of next week, like starting around October 23rd, there may again be some precip, and at this point, it’s hard to predict whether that will fall as rain or snow.


We asked Temeyer to peer into his crystal ball and tell us what the rest of the fall and the first part of the winter will be like. He says while below normal temperatures are forecast for next week, as a whole, chances are better than even that temperatures will be above normal for the remainder of October, November, December, and into January. But he says chances are also better than even that we’ll see above-normal precipitation throughout that period too.

October 17, 2019 - 2:21 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The U-S Environmental Protection Agency is proposing some major changes to a rule that regulates lead in drinking water. One change would require water systems with lead above 15 parts per billion to annually replace at least three percent of their lead service lines right up to individual homes.

EPA Regional Administrator Jim Gulliford says this change is an improvement. The current rule requires water systems to replace seven percent of just their portion of the lead service lines, which he says doesn’t help individual homes.

Water systems with even higher amounts would need to replace at least 3 percent of their lead service lines each year.

The EPA is taking public comment on the proposed rules for 60 days once they’re published in the Federal Register.

October 16, 2019 - 11:14 am - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — A former Des Moines Register columnist who hosted many of the newspaper’s yearly bike rides across the state of Iowa is hoping for a reconciliation that keeps the event’s management team in place. The man who’s managed the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa for the past 16 years resigned yesterday, along with the rest of the RAGBRAI staff, and announced plans for a competing “Iowa’s Ride” during the same week as RAGBRAI next July.

Chuck Offenburger was the “Iowa Boy” columnist for the Register for 21 years.

In a statement posted online, the RAGBRAI director T.J. Juskiewicz, who resigned, said the decision was based on how The Register and its owner handled its story about Carson King. King is the former ISU student who raised three MILLION dollars for the University of Iowa children’s hospital with a poster he held up during an ESPN broadcast. Offenburger, who resigned from the Register in 1998 to protest treatment of other veteran reporters, says in his view the paper “handled the story appropriately,” but Offenburger is hoping the RAGBRAI staff who resigned and The Register’s management can meet and resolve the dispute.

Offenburger, the newspaper’s “co-host” of RAGBRAI for 16 years, says the annual, week-long ride is one the most important tourism events in the state.

The RAGBRAI’s now-former manager says the newspaper’s executives blocked him from responding the way he wished to RAGBRAI enthusiasts who had questions about the paper’s Carson King story. The Iowa Bicycle Coalition issued a written statement expressing extreme concern about the future of RAGBRAI, which the coalition described as “iconic” and both culturally and economically important to the state of Iowa. The group expressed hope that a cross-state bike ride would continues, in whatever version that may be, in a way that elevates bicycling and promotes safety.

Statewide Iowa — Leaders of Iowa farm commodity and biofuels groups held a news conference Wednesday to call on President Trump to force the EPA to follow the deal on ethanol and biodiesel that Trump struck with the industry a dozen days ago.

Primghar farmer Kelly Nieuwenhuis is board president of the Sioux Center ethanol plant that has shut down joined the event by phone. He told reporters President Trump “has lost a lot of support” over his administration’s approach to ethanol policy.

Iowa Corn Growers Association CEO Craig Floss warned thousands of farmers who invested in ethanol and biodiesel plants will go out of business if the EPA plan stands. Grant Kimberly, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, agrees.

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw says the EPA draft for implementing the ethanol and biodiesel mandates over the next three years will create an economic crisis.

EPA officials, in revealing details of their ethanol and biodiesel policies for 2020, said their action “fulfills the agreement reached on October 4th with the White House, EPA and USDA.”

 

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Original story posted 11:13am, 10/16/2019

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Iowa’s ethanol and biodiesel industry reacted in disbelief and anger after the Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft policy on future biofuels production targets.

The president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association was first to react, saying he was outraged the EPA failed to implement the details of a plan President Trump announced less than two weeks ago. Trump’s outline suggested oil refineries would be forced to blend more ethanol in gasoline next year, to make up for the ethanol blending waivers granted this year. The Iowa Corn Growers’ leader said the EPA’s document fell “well short” of that mark.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association blasted the EPA for reneging on Trump’s biofuels deal. The Iowa Biodiesel Board said the EPA’s plan did not restore the integrity of the Renewable Fuels Standard, as Trump had promised.

The EPA, in issuing its announcement, included comments from Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst as well as Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg, all Republicans, all of whom the EPA quoted praising the proposal.

Reynolds, in a separate written statement late Tuesday afternoon released by her own office, said she understands the industry’s frustration and distrust, and Reynolds suggested farmers need to make their voices heard during the 30-day period for public comment on the EPA’s plan.

Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Iowa City, was the first member of Iowa’s congressional delegation to speak individually on Tuesday’s news. He called the EPA’s proposed policy “outrageous” because it provides no guarantee the ethanol and biodiesel production mandates will ever be restored. Congresswoman Cindy Axne, a Democrat form Des Moines, called it a broken promise from the president that’s “insulting, deeply disappointing, but unfortunately, not surprising.” Congresswoman Abby Finkenaur, a Democrat from Dubuque, said once again Iowa farmers are being let down by a president who “plays favorites with big oil.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign was the first in the Democratic presidential field to weigh in, issuing a statement on what it referred to as “the Trump Administration’s continued sabotage of Iowa’s renewable fuels industry.” Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar accused Trump of being more interested in his “big oil buddies” than in the plight of farmers.

Photo Courtesy Radio Iowa

Rock Rapids, Iowa — The Rock Rapids City Council met in regular session on Monday, October 14th at the Forster Community Center.

The meeting began with a public hearing regarding a “vicious dog” hearing. The dog in question is a pit bull mix owned by Drew and Lezlee Benz. A memo from City Attorney Jennifer Wippert says law enforcement first received a complaint from Sue Boogerd alleging an unconfined vicious dog owned by Benz attacked her dog on August 21, 2015. Then, on July 26th, 2019, law enforcement received another complaint, this one from Tricia Drenth, alleging that the same dog was unconfined and attacked her dog.

According to  Wippert, the Benzes were told they could keep the dog if they kept it confined, took it to classes to try to eliminate the behavior, and keep it muzzled if it’s in public. She says they did not agree to the muzzle, and that’s why the matter came before the council.

The Benzes maintain that the dog is not vicious and has never attacked a person. They say that she does have a problem with smaller animals. Drew Benz says he’s willing to take the dog to classes and put up a fence, but they do not want to have to muzzle the dog.

Those whose dogs were attacked made it clear that they do not want the dog destroyed, but think that something needs to be done.

The council took the matter under advisement and tabled the public hearing until the next regular city council meeting.

The topic of blighted properties came up, and one of the properties discussed was 410 South Second Avenue, which is the house to the west of the alley, south of the Christian Church (Disciples). The Finance and Administration Committee says there has been no communication with the property owner, who lives out-of-state. The committee’s recommendation is to pursue condemnation and see what happens. A letter will be drafted by City Attorney Wippert, and will be sent to the owner via certified mail.

The council also heard an update on the Moon Creek bridge north of Casey’s on North Union Street. At this point, the approaches need to be poured yet, and they hope the project is completed by mid-November. A question came up on a change order, so that was tabled until the next meeting when it is hoped an expert can explain the situation. Two payment requests were approved.

October 15, 2019 - 10:46 am - Posted in News

Ames, Iowa — The Iowa DOT has decided to change the name of a segment of Interstate highway north of Council Bluffs.

Originally opened in 1966 and called I-80N, the segment is just south of Missouri Valley near Loveland, Iowa and allows travelers on southbound Interstate 29 to get on Interstate 80 eastbound without having to go all the way south to the Omaha/Council Bluffs area first. After a change in 1973, it has been known as I-680. The problem seems to have been that I-680 also leaves I-29 to the west to head into Omaha.

Iowa DOT officials say, “Having two portions of a road both named I-680 got a little confusing to some people during this flood season.” They say that in an effort to reduce the confusion, they have renamed the northern portion I-880.

The DOT’s Scott Suhr says, “This spring when we had 680 from I-29 to Nebraska closed for the flood — the portion of 680 from I-29 east to 80 was open. So our detour sign said ‘I-680 closed. Use I-680 to 80 east,’ which is confusing to the motorist.”

So if you’re heading toward Des Moines from I-29 southbound, you should now look for I-880. If you’re headed into north Omaha, you should continue to look for I-680. They tell us sign changes should start to take place within the next month.

Northwest Iowa — If you have internet through Premier Communications, your service may have had a hiccup Sunday night.

Premier officials say that some of their customers experienced intermittent internet connectivity Sunday night. Premier’s Chief Technical Officer Frank Bulk tells us they were on the receiving end of a high volume DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack.


Bulk tells us what a DDoS attack is.


He says that someone out there sent that traffic maliciously. He helps us speculate as to why someone would do such a thing.


Premier Communications’ Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Scott Te Strote says that they don’t know how many customers were affected. He says it wasn’t in any particular geographic area or town, but it affected a subset of their network.

They tell us the malicious overload of Internet traffic caused some of their customers to experience brief and/or intermittent Internet outages Sunday evening. They say the high rate of malicious traffic dropped off by 8:15 p.m., and that mitigation steps were put into place, so that things returned to normal shortly thereafter.

October 14, 2019 - 1:38 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — October is recognized as “National Domestic Violence Awareness Month”, and Cathy Van Maanen with the Le Mars office of the Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence says statistics show one in every three to four women will experience some type of domestic violence in her lifetime.

Van Maanen says domestic violence is a common occurrence in Iowa and it happens to across the spectrum regardless of your income. And victims can be both males and females.

She says many people are showing support for domestic violence victims by wearing purple colored ties, scarfs, or other purple colored clothing. Businesses have also hung purple ribbons on their doorways.

A victim of domestic violence will often return to their abuser. Van Maanen says the abuser will use power, control, along with intimidation on the victim, making that victim feel compelled to return. She says abuse is not always the hitting and things that we know are not legal.

She says a person averages leaving five to seven times before they leave for good. Van Maanen says she deals with more than 150 reported cases of domestic violence in Plymouth County each year, and every week on average, two new cases of domestic violence are referred to her agency.