April 24, 2015 - 6:46 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — Lyon County has been getting some free help this semester with several projects throughout the county.
Students in the Iowa State University Retail Scapes program have been working all semester on their Lyon County projects, and will be presenting their final Lyon County projects at the Forster Community Center in Rock Rapids from 4 to 6 PM on Monday, April 27.

The partnership with Lyon County began with the students touring the county earlier this year, on January 25-26 and then selecting projects. The students have been researching, creating, designing and working on their projects since that trip as part of their classroom work. Twenty-eight students will be present on Monday, April 27 to exhibit their Lyon County projects. The public is welcome to attend to view the students’ projects.

ISU officials say the unique course allows the students real-world experience as they study Lyon County and “think outside the box” on potential projects in the county.

Making this possible are Lyon County Economic Development, Rock Rapids Development Corporation, Iowa State University College of Design, Iowa University Extension and Outreach, the Lyon County Extension Council, Lyon County Riverboat Foundation and Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort.

April 23, 2015 - 11:45 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped again last month, and twelve of northwest Iowa’s sixteen counties had rates at or below the statewide rate.
The statewide rate fell to 4.0 percent in March from 4.1 percent in February. The state’s jobless rate was 4.4 percent one year ago. The U.S. unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent in March.

Nonfarm employment increased for the sixth-consecutive month in March, adding 3,300 jobs, according to Iowa Workforce Development officials. They say that the state’s nonfarm employment expanded to an all-time high, and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.0 percent, making it the lowest rate since May 2008.

In our area, Lyon County again had the lowest unemployment in the state at just 2.2 percent. That’s down from last year’s 3.3 percent. Osceola and O’Brien County were tied at 3.4 percent. That’s down from a year ago, when Osceola County had 3.7 percent, and O’Brien County had 3.9 percent. Sioux County unemployment was down from 3.8 percent a year ago to 3.1 percent this year.

In Cherokee County, where they’re still recovering from the loss of 450 jobs when the Tyson plant closed in September, their unemployment was up from 5.8 percent in March of 2014 to 6.6 percent this March. Cherokee County was the only county in the state to post an increase in unemployment from March of 2014. Their 6.6 percent unemployment was the highest in the state.

More information from Iowa Workforce Development:

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 67,800 in March from 70,300 in February. The current estimate is 6,200 lower than the year ago level of 74,000.

The total number of working Iowans increased to 1,647,100 in March. This figure is 600 higher than February and 25,500 higher than one year ago.

Seasonally Adjusted Nonfarm Employment
Iowa’s nonfarm employment posted another gain this month, adding 3,300 jobs. Following last month’s revision upward, total nonfarm employment has now increased in six consecutive months. Job growth was fueled primarily by service sectors, with private services gaining a combined 3,100 jobs. Public sectors added 500 jobs at the local level and remain up 3,600 jobs compared to one year ago. The state itself has added 26,900 jobs since last March (+1.7 percent).

The education and health services sector added the most jobs this month (+2,300) due to expansion in both private education and health care. Trade and transportation also posted a strong showing this month (+2,100) following a slight drop in February. This month’s gain was primarily bolstered by hiring in retail (+1,800) in preparation for increased summer traffic. Other monthly increases were small and included professional and business services, mining, and construction. Losses were slight this month and included a drop in leisure and hospitality (-1,100). A majority of this decline was in accommodations and food services (-900). Manufacturing pared jobs for the first time since October, with small losses occurring in both durable and nondurable goods factories. Financial activities pared 400 following an unexpectedly large increase in February.

Since last March, nonfarm employment has steadily advanced with growth occurring in most segments of the Iowa economy. Trade and transportation now leads all super sectors with 6,700 jobs added, followed by construction (+6,200) then professional and business services (+4,300). The only sector to trail last year’s level is the information sector (-1,000) as media becomes less labor-intensive and more technology-based. Iowa’s indicator sectors, manufacturing and financial services, are up 600 jobs combined.

April 22, 2015 - 4:14 pm - Posted in News

Inwood, Iowa — A rural Inwood woman is without her house after a fire on Tuesday, April 21, 2015.
FD fire lightbar
According to Inwood Fire Chief Mike Knobloch, about 9:50 PM, the Inwood Fire Department was called to the report of house fire at the home of Angie Kuecker at 2223 Cleveland Avenue, a mile northeast of Inwood.

The chief says the fire department saw that the house was fully engulfed as they approached the scene. He says they saw that all the windows were already out. Knobloch says they tore down walls to get to the fire, as they decided it was not safe to enter the home because they didn’t know if they could trust the floors. He says they went into defensive mode at that point and they were able to save the other buildings on the place.

Knobloch reports that there were no injuries to people, pets, or livestock.

The fire department asked for the help of the Larchwood Fire Department for extra manpower and water.

Knobloch says the cause of the fire is undetermined but could be related to a space heater.

Chief Knobloch reports that the house was totally destroyed.

He says they used eight to ten thousand gallons water to fight the fire, and crews were on scene three hours.

April 22, 2015 - 1:01 am - Posted in News

Hull, Iowa — A Rock Rapids man has died from injuries sustained in a car accident near Hull on Monday evening, April 20th, 2015.
fatal ambulance II
The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 8:50 PM, 22-year-old Steven Broersma of Sunnyside, Washington was driving a 1995 Case-International 7240 farm tractor pulling a manure spreader westbound on 290th Street, two miles north of Hull. Eighty-five-year-old Alvin Sohl of Rock Rapids was driving a 2006 Chrysler Town & Country minivan behind Broersma. As Sohl approached Broersma he was unable to stop and struck the rear of the manure spreader.

Alvin Sohl and a passenger, 82-year-old Arlene Sohl of Rock Rapids were transported to the Sioux Center Hospital
by the Hull Ambulance. They were both transferred to Avera Hospital in Sioux Falls, where Alvin Sohl died later that night.

The Hull Fire Department and Hull Ambulance crew assisted the Sheriff’s Office.
Click here for Alvin Sohl’s obituary.

April 21, 2015 - 12:25 am - Posted in News

George, Iowa — A George manufacturing facility is expanding.
Dur-A-Lift, Inc. will be holding a ribbon cutting for its newly completed factory and corporate office expansion. It will be at 10:30 AM on Wednesday, April 22nd at Dur-A-Lift’s new facility located at 2002 Kingbird Avenue, a mile northeast of George.

Along with a number of area leaders and community members, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds will be at the ribbon cutting. Governor Branstad will be speaking. Company officials say the event celebrates the latest milestone in the ongoing growth and expansion of Lyon County’s largest manufacturer, and non-gaming based employer.

Diversified Technologies Incorporated (or DTI) is made up of three divisions. Dur-A-Lift, Inc. manufactures truck and van mounted aerial lifts for electrical, telecom, sign and rental industries. Sudenga Industries, Inc. is a leading agricultural equipment manufacturer and Ranger All-Season Corporation supplies mobility scooters to the healthcare and rental industries.

Company officials say Dur-A-Lift’s building project adds 26,000 square feet to DTI’s existing 200,000+ square foot facility. DTI expects to add jobs to its 260+ person workforce, and double its Dur-A-Lift production capacity with this latest expansion in Lyon County.

Through its Sudenga division, DTI traces its roots back over 125 years in George, to its founding in 1888 by blacksmith Folkert Sudenga.

April 20, 2015 - 5:03 pm - Posted in News

Rock Valley, Iowa — The members of three northwest Iowa agriculture coops have approved a unification measure.
grain elevator silos
Mark Finck, General Manager of Farmers Elevator Coop tells us about the vote.

Members of the three coops, Farmers Elevator Coop locations based in Rock Valley, Cooperative Elevator Association locations based in Ocheyedan, and United Farmers Coop locations based in George approved the measure by over 70 percent, says Finck. Finck says while they are releasing the fact that the measure passed, they are not releasing the numbers at this time. He says that may be done in the future.

He tells us the name of the new company and about the leadership structure.

Cooperative Farmers Elevator will begin their unified operations on September 1st, 2015.

If your browser or device cannot access the audio players above, here are the direct links to the audio sound bytes:

Cut 1
Cut 2

April 20, 2015 - 4:18 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — If you were in Rock Rapids Monday morning, April 20th, you may have wondered what all the sirens and the helicopter were about.

Normally those sounds would mean a tragic incident had probably taken place. In this case the idea was to hopefully prevent a tragic incident. Central Lyon High School students have their prom this coming weekend, and according to Lyon County Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep, Monday’s event was a mock accident to teach teens the dangers of driving while intoxicated and driving distracted.

Vander Stoep tells us how the ball got rolling for the mock accident.

He says Central Lyon teachers, staff, and administrators played a major role as well. Vander Stoep says they brought in two vehicles, one from Lems Auto Recyclers in Doon, and one that had been donated to the fire department a while back. The accident vehicles were pre-set and then draped with a tarp, he says.

The Sheriff says when responders arrived, they went through the process as if it were a real accident.

He tells us about the reaction from students and staff.

Vander Stoep says after the accident, the students went back inside the school. A short time later, they heard some speakers talk about the dangers of alcohol and the dangers of distracted driving.

Central Lyon’s prom is this Friday night, April 24th.

Photo credit: Arden Kopishke/Lyon County Emergency Management
Thanks to Rock Rapids Fire Chief Ed Reck for forwarding them.

If your browser or device cannot access the audio players above, here are the direct links to the audio sound bytes:

Cut 1
Cut 2
Cut 3
Cut 4
Cut 5

April 19, 2015 - 8:20 am - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Iowa’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor are going to be in northwest Iowa this week.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad

They’ll start in the southern part of our region, and move north, before heading back south again.

In our area, the executive pair will start in Cherokee. On Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 3 PM, Governor Terry Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds will attend the Cherokee Connect Iowa and Skilled Iowa Community announcement at the Spring Lake Yacht Club at 606 Spring Lake Drive in Cherokee.

From there, it’s on to Paullina for a 4:30 PM tour of Mill Creek Machining. That’s at 119 North Willow Street in Paullina.

Then on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 9 AM, Governor Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds will attend the Sibley Rotary Club meeting, which will be at the Osceola County Courthouse, on the third floor. That’s at 300 Seventh Street in Sibley.

At 10:30, they’ll be at the ribbon cutting ceremony at the Dur-A-Lift facility near George, at 2002 Kingbird Avenue. The ribbon cutting is to celebrate the new facility and the latest milestone in the ongoing growth and expansion of Lyon County’s largest manufacturer. Dur-A-Lift and sister companies Sudenga Industries and Ranger All-Season make up Diversified Technologies, Incorporated.

As we’ve told you previously, at 12:30 PM, they will be at the Rock Valley Community Schools library to hold a Teacher Leadership Conversation. The school is at 1712 20th Avenue in Rock Valley.

At 2:30 PM, the governor will sign a Soil and Water Conservation Week proclamation at the Bob Puetz Farm at
16175 Marble Avenue near Le Mars.

April 19, 2015 - 8:15 am - Posted in News

Doon, Iowa — A Maurice teen has been arrested on drug-related charges in Lyon County.
Lyon County Sheriff Car Door 60-8
The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 2 AM on Saturday morning, one of their deputies stopped a vehicle on First Street and Hubbard Avenue in Doon. They report the driver was identified as 18-year-old Kolten Van Voorst of Maurice.

The Sheriff’s Office says that a search of the motor vehicle allegedly resulted in a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia being found. They say Van Voorst was arrested and transported to the Lyon County Jail.

April 16, 2015 - 8:08 am - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A Rock Valley man who was arrested on a felony charge of Threats of Terrorism has had that charge dismissed.
Lyon County Sheriff Car Door 60-8
The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that they arrested 53-year-old Michael Eugene Kats of Rock Valley early on Wednesday April 8, 2015.

Deputies say the arrest stems from a search after Kats allegedly made a 911 call to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department and sent multiple text messages to Lyon County Deputies.

Kats was charged with Harassment of a Public Officer, a Simple Misdemeanor, and was also originally charged with Threats of Terrorism, a Class C Felony.

Lyon County Attorney Shayne Mayer moved to dismiss the charge because of insufficient evidence. District Judge Patrick Carr dismissed the threat of terrorism charge on Monday.

Kats pled not guilty to the Harassment of a Public Officer charge, and has requested a jury trial. No date has been set.