Northwest Iowa — Dakota Access Pipeline, the pipeline that carries oil from North Dakota through Lyon, Sioux and O’Brien counties as it crosses the state diagonally, has released information related to its 2018 annual property tax payments in Iowa.

DAP has paid $417,766.59 to O’Brien County. The company says in 2018, more than $18 million was paid to 18 counties across the state. Iowa is expected to receive $25 million for property taxes in 2019.

According to a press release, Dakota Access has actively supported O’Brien County since 2017, with a $20,000 donation to the local emergency management department as part of the pipeline’s effort to assist each county emergency management agency across its four-state route. The donations to emergency management departments totaled $1 million across 50 counties in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

The release says Dakota Access Pipeline also gave a total of $10,000 to O’Brien County’s 4H and FFA programs as part of a statewide donation program totaling $180,000 to benefit local youth as well as students across the state through conference sponsorships and curriculum support. This donation was equally divided among the 4-H and FFA programs in eighteen counties the pipeline crosses.

The other area counties that received property tax payments from Dakota Access include $427,572.72 to Lyon County, with Sioux County receiving $1,479,759.42 in property tax from the pipeline, according to Dakota Access.

Dakota Access Pipeline, which has been in service since 2017, transporting more than 520,000 barrels per day of domestically-produced crude oil was a $3.78 billion investment by Energy Transfer that created approximately 3,000 – 4,000 construction jobs in Iowa, and nine full-time employees. It also generated millions in state and local revenues during the construction phase and hundreds of millions in sales and income taxes. The pipeline will continue to have a positive economic impact on local communities as it continues to safely operate and transport America’s energy, according to the Dakota Access Release.

March 15, 2019 - 1:49 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — The land values survey released this week by the Iowa Chapter of the Realtors Land Institute shows a one-percent reduction in the average cropland values in the state.

Spokesman Kyle Hansen says the change in value depends on which part of the state you are in.

He says a better outlook for crop yields help boost the prices in southeast Iowa.

The north-central areas of the state saw the impact go the other way.

Hansen says the ongoing trade talks do have some impact on farmland values.

The latest land value survey is for the September 2018 to March 2019 period. Hansen says the longer view of prices shows no big ups or downs.

The Realtors Land Institute has conducted their survey since 1978.

Northwest Iowa — Tis the weekend for leprechauns, corned beef and cabbage and green beer. But before you partake in one of those things you should figure out how you’re going to get home safely.

Iowa State Patrol Sergeant Vince Kurtz says law enforcement officers will be out in force this weekend, looking for impaired drivers.

Sergeant Kurtz urges drivers to get a Designated Driver to make sure you arrive safely at your destination.

He says the time to choose a Designated Driver is BEFORE the party starts.

Kurtz says that, while the financial cost of an OWI is high, it’s nothing compared to the emotional price if you have a crash and someone is hurt or killed.

Sergeant Kurtz wants you to have a good time celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but he urges you to do it in a safe and responsible way.

March 14, 2019 - 3:46 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — The Republican-led Iowa Legislature has again endorsed a proposed gun rights amendment to Iowa’s constitution.

Legislators had discussed this same proposal before and had hoped to place the issue before voters in 2020, but the Secretary of State failed to meet a publishing deadline last fall, so the process has been restarted. 2022 is the earliest Iowa voters could decide whether to add the amendment to the state constitution. Senator Zach Whiting, a Republican from Spirit Lake, noted a number of gun rights activists were at the capitol Wednesday, lobbying for it.

Senator Brad Zaun, a Republican from Urbandale, says the amendment’s “strong language” is necessary.

Senator Tony Bisignano, a Democrat from Des Moines, was among those who suggested that if voters approve the amendment, it could lead to the repeal of current gun-related laws.

Senator Claire Celsi, a Democrat from Des Moines, was a “no” on the proposal.

Celsi also went on Twitter to announce she had asked that security officers be dispatched to the balcony overlooking the senate. Celsi said supporters of the amendment sitting in the gallery were giving her “dirty looks” and she was “fully aware that most of them are carrying guns.” The Senate approved the gun-rights proposal Wednesday afternoon on a 33-to-16 vote. The HOUSE took up the issue, too, and passed it Wednesday night by a narrower, 53-to-46 margin.

March 14, 2019 - 3:21 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A northwest Iowa police dog has received some high honors after a police dog contest in the opposite corner of the state.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that their K9 unit recently competed in the United States Police Canine Association Region 21 narcotic detector dog trials in Fort Madison, Iowa.

Sheriff’s office officials tell us that 64 dogs from the state of Iowa competed. They tell us that Lyon County Deputy Kyle Munneke and his K9 Rizzo scored 100.00 on the vehicle search and 99.67 on the indoor search for a total of 199.67 points. According to the sheriff’s office, the maximum number of points available was 200. Deputy Munneke and K9 Rizzo placed third overall out of the 64 dogs who took part in the event.

March 14, 2019 - 12:05 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — State unemployment benefits didn’t go out as scheduled on Wednesday.

Iowa Workforce Development says a systems processing error did not allow the unemployment benefits to be loaded onto debit cards of recipients. The agency says there will be a one-day delay in the payment. Iowa Workforce Director Beth Townsend issued a statement saying they are working to fix the problem.

It also says: “We apologize for any inconvenience, and will provide more information as it becomes available. We understand not receiving an expected payment can be upsetting and we are diligently working to minimize the impact of this error.”

March 13, 2019 - 4:47 pm - Posted in News

Orange City, Iowa — A fun place for kids, a place to get fall decor, and a place to try out an annual corn maze looks like it will not be open this fall, and has quite possibly been open for the final season.

Dave and Helen Huitink run Pumpkinland for 28 years. Dave Huitink passed away last year and with the help of family and many others, Helen was at the helm for the last time this past fall, for a total of 29 years.

In the interest of keeping people up-to-date with what’s going on, Helen Huitink is advising people that they will not be running Pumpkinland this fall.

Huitink says many thanks go out to everyone who made last year possible.

She says, “It breaks my heart to make this announcement, but Pumpkinland will not be re-opening this fall.” She says she feels it would be extremely difficult to go on another year running the facility without her husband, who she calls, “my life partner and best friend.”

Huitink goes on to suggest that last fall may have been their final year anyway, as she says it was her husband’s desire to retire from Pumpkinland by the time he reached 70, and this summer he would have turned 70.

Huitink says, “I have spent endless hours in prayer and struggled greatly, as this decision was not easy to make or made lightly in any way.”

We talked to Huitink, and she says no decisions have been made regarding the future or selling the property at this time — only that Pumpkinland will not be open this fall.

Bigelow, Minnesota — A five-point-five to six-million dollar soybean facility just north of our area could have implications for soybean growers in northwest Iowa.

Cooperative Farmers Elevator or CFE, headquartered in Ocheyedan and Rock Valley has announced they’re going to build a new soybean facility. CFE’s CEO, Rob Jacobs tells us about the planned facility.


He gives us an idea of what the project entails.


Jacobs tells us that the facility will have an impact on several of their northwest Iowa locations as well.


He says that while they do have a rail loading facility at Ashton that’s a big part of their operations, most soybeans grown in northwest Iowa stay pretty local. He says a lot of them end up at MNSP at Brewster or AGP in Sheldon, with some going to CHS in Fairmont, Minnesota.


Jacobs says they hope to use the facility for the fall harvest. He says bids are being let and contractors are being lined up. The only question mark is the weather, says Jacobs. He says they’re excited to get the project kicked off and excited about the opportunity to better serve their customers.

Sheldon, Iowa — An online tool to help students find the right online college for them has ranked Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon the number one best online community college in the United States.

According to “Guide to Online Schools,” they have been helping prospective students find the right online college since 2004. They say their tools allow prospective students to find schools based on degree, tuition, student recommendation rate, military benefits, and more.

The online guide says that Northwest Iowa Community College offers six online Associate of Applied Science degrees: agriculture, business management, health information technology, and power line technology. An online Associate of Science in Computer Science and an online Associate of Arts in Business are also available. They go on to say that online diploma programs are offered in business, medical coding, and web and graphic design.

They also tell visitors that NCC has partnered with Gatlin Education Services and Ed2Go to offer hundreds of classes and courses online. Ed2Go’s instructor-guided courses run for six to eight weeks, and each consists of 12 lessons. Prospective students can take an online quiz on NCC’s website to see if distance learning is a good fit for them, according to the online guide.

To find the best online community colleges, Guide to Online Schools says they conducted manual research to provide prospective students with more details about the schools’ online programs.

SR Education Group says they created Guide to Online Schools to help students choose the best school for their career aspirations and budget. Find more information at www.guidetoonlineschools.com.

March 13, 2019 - 3:12 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — District 6 of the Iowa State Patrol, which covers an eight county area of northwest Iowa, has announced the selection of a new Public Resource Officer for the area.

According to Sergeant Vince Kurtz, Trooper Nick Erdmann has been promoted to fill the position left vacant when Kurtz was promoted to Sergeant.

Trooper Erdmann is a 2006 graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Stout with a Bachelor’s Degree in Vocational Rehabilitation and minors in Criminal Justice and Spanish.  He is a 12 year veteran of the Iowa State Patrol, specializing as a Technical Crash Investigator and Drug Recognition Expert.  Trooper Erdmann resides in Spencer with his wife and two children.