April 3, 2020 - 4:05 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — A number of changes have been made to the court system and legal situations to deal with issues brought on by the COVID-19 situation.

Access to courthouses is very limited. The Iowa Judicial Branch is telling people to call their clerk of court for more information.

There are also things to keep in mind in regard to child custody and visitation orders. For instance, the school closures resulting from COVID-19 are not considered extended spring break or early summer vacation and do not result in changes to the parenting schedule unless the changes have been mutually agreed on by both parents.

Court debt rules are also being relaxed during this time, and accounts will not be deemed delinquent if not paid within 30 days after the date the debt was assessed, set out in court order, or due in an installment agreement.

In certain circumstances during this pandemic, the court has ruled that electronic or attorney signatures for clients are permissible.

Criminal trials are also postponed. The 90-day speedy trial clock and the one-year speedy trial clock is not to start on any criminal case until April 20th.

If you have questions, you can contact the Iowa Judicial Branch, your clerk of court, or an attorney. You can also click here for the full release with more information.

Rock Rapids, Iowa — If you have a business in Lyon County that has been affected by COVID-19, a new grant could help you out. But you’re going to have to hurry.

Small businesses with no more than 15 full-time equivalent employees in Lyon County, Iowa, can apply for a competitive emergency funding grant to help cover rent, account payables, fixed expenses, utilities, and employee salaries. All may apply, however, businesses closed by the Governor to aid in fighting COVID-19 will be considered first.

The Lyon County Lend-A-Hand Program was created because of the disruptions that COVID-19 has created for our small business community. Organizers say that you must show that you lost revenue due to COVID-19, and that your business is located in Lyon County.

Time is very short for this opportunity. Applications are due by noon on Monday, April 6th.

For more information, click here.

Statewide Iowa — The Iowa Board of Medicine met in emergency session by telephone Friday morning, unanimously passing a resolution asking the governor to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order.

Kent Nebel is the board’s executive director.

(As above) “The concern is that individuals or people are not fully complying with the recommendations for self-isolation,” he says, “and that is increasing the risks to both health care providers who are out there providing services and to the public for spread of the virus.”

Governor Reynolds has forbidden gatherings of 10 or more and ordered schools and an array of businesses to close and she has repeatedly said those steps are akin to the stay-at-home orders other governors have issued. Six doctors, a nurse and an attorney serve on the Iowa Board of Medicine.

(As above) “The board is supportive and believes she’s done an excellent job of establishing appropriate safeguards,” Nebel says, “but as the spread of the virus gets worse, I think they believe that she needs to take one step further and issue a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order.”

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reports a doctor from the Quad Cities who is a member of the board raised concerns about Illinois residents crossing into Iowa to get away from the restrictions there. All members of the Board of Medicine were appointed by Reynolds or her predecessor, Governor Terry Branstad.

During her daily press conference Friday afternoon, Governor Reynolds addressed those who have urged her to institute a “Shelter-In-Place” order. Reynolds said that, “side-by-side comparisons between what’s being done in Iowa and other states that have Shelter-In-Place Orders, they’re much the same.” She went on to say that states that have issued Shelter-In-Place orders have kept the majority of their businesses open. Governor Reynolds said, “What matters is the substance of the order, not it’s name.” Reynolds urged Iowans to do the same things she’s been urging all along, wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing, and if you don’t have to leave home, don’t leave home.

Friday’s Press Conference Is Below

Sheldon, Iowa — Many businesses have had to close down due to COVID-19. But livestock auctions are not one of those.

Governor Kim Reynolds says livestock auctions are part of the food production supply chain and may continue.

(as said) “They need to practice social distancing,” Reynolds said yesterday during her daily news conference. “They need to adhere to the guidelines that have been in place by the Department of Agriculture as well as the Department of Public Health.”

Mike Koedam, who is the co-owner of Sheldon Livestock, Tri-State Livestock in Sioux Center and Sioux Falls Regional Livestock in Worthing, South Dakota tells us they have had to deal with a few changes.

(as said:)”As far as cattle sales, they have probably been down a little bit because the COVID obviously affected the Board of Trade has come down quite a few dollars in the last thirty to sixty days which ranchers, farmers not quite sure if they should sell or hold onto the cattle. Most of them have been kind of holding out a little bit to see what happens but it does kind of keep trickling down seems like every week on the Board of Trade so some cattle have been selling but our numbers are definitely down [from what] typical sales are before the COVID.”

He says that there are changes being implemented at their facilities as well.

(as said:)”We got to start following rules put on by the LMA or Iowa Livestock Marketers Association that does require us to let a certain amount of people in the auction. They kind of recommend that we let in mainly buyers in. Sellers [they] prefer to stay out of the arena area just to keep the numbers down and it did come out with here as of April 3rd that were allowed to have around 25 people present at a sale. So we got that’s you know, another issue we have to deal with moving on here the next 30 days. So yeah, it has affected us. Obviously the numbers have been down a little bit. We got to kind of watch the foot traffic in our auction markets and try to keep that to a minimum.”

For more information on Sheldon Livestock, you can visit them on the web at www.sheldonlivestock.com.

April 3, 2020 - 12:51 pm - Posted in News

Lyon County, Iowa — A case of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been confirmed in Lyon County. The age range of the confirmed case is 45-60 years of age.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), the individual is self-isolating at home.

Lyon County Public Health Director Melissa Stillson says that while this is Lyon County’s first case, it may not be the last, and that’s why they encourage all residents to continue to make prevention a priority. These actions include:

• Washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds each time.
• Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow/upper arm.
• Staying home when ill.

Approximately 80% of Iowans infected with COVID-19, will experience only a mild to moderate illness. Most mildly ill Iowans do not need to go to their healthcare provider or be tested to confirm they have COVID-19. Sick Iowans must stay home and isolate themselves from others in their house. Stay home and isolate from others in the house until:

Stay home and isolate from others in the house until:
 You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers)
AND
 other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)
AND
 at least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.

If you think you may need healthcare, call first. Your provider can assess whether you need to be seen in the office or if you can recover at home. There may also be options for you to talk to a medical provider from home using technology.

For up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the IDPH webpage at https://idpkiowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus and follow the department on Facebook at @IowaDepartmentOfPublicHealth and on Twitter at @IAPublicHealth.

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa businesses that Governor Kim Reynolds ordered to close last month must remain closed during the month of April.

(as said)”I am also ordering that school closures are extended through April 30th,” she says. “Keeping Iowa students out of classrooms is a very difficult decision — but it remains necessary for now.”

Schools, by law, will have to make up classes missed AFTER April 12th unless they come up with plans to conduct classes online or by distributing, collecting and grading paper copies of homework.

(as said) “At this time I am not ordering schools to close for the remainder of the school year,” Reynolds says. “…That said, it is also important that Iowa schools do their part to provide continuous learning opportunities for their students and so many school districts have already taken the initiative to do just this.”

School districts must submit their plans for virtual learning — or plans for summer school — to the state by April 10th.

(as said) “There are a number of ways that schools can continue to engage students during this time and it’s each district’s responsibility to do so,” Reynolds says.

Iowa Department of Education director Ann Lebo says schools may have different plans for different grade levels.

(as said) “The recommendation to close schools through April 30th was not made lightly and we know the challenges that this decision puts on our schools and families,” Lebo says. “During these unprecedented times, we remain focused on supporting our schools, families and community partners to ensure Iowa learners are safe healthy, engaged and prepared.”

Lebo says state officials understand that uniform, consistent access to WiFi is a barrier for online classes in some districts.

(as said) “We are working with Governor Reynolds, Iowa’s AEAs and other partners to coordinate efforts so resources are in place,” Lebo says.

The governor praised Lebo and others for taking steps to “re-imagine” how schools may function during this difficult time.

(as said) “It’s really important that we continue to engage students regardless of these extraordinary circumstances,” Reynolds says.

Legislative leaders announced Thursday afternoon that the 2020 legislative session would remain suspended through April 30th. Lawmakers in mid-March had suspended the session until April 13. The 20-member Legislative Council will convene sometime next week by telephone or video to conduct some pressing business.

April 2, 2020 - 4:05 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — If you’ve been parking somewhere else all winter because you would really like to park your vehicle on a city street overnight, but you can’t — you can rejoice. In some communities, you can now park on the street again, and in some others, it won’t be long.

In Sheldon, parking is prohibited on any street in the city between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. from November 1st to April 1st. Violation of Sheldon’s overnight parking ban is subject to a citation that carries a $10 fine.

In Sanborn, no parking is allowed from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m., year-round, on Main Street. In addition, from November 1st through March 31st, no parking is allowed on any city street in Sanborn from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Violation of Sanborn’s overnight parking ban carries a $15 fine.

You’ll have to wait a little longer in Sibley. According to Sibley city officials, their overnight parking ban calls for no parking on any city street between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., from November 1st through April 15th. The fine for violating Sibley’s overnight parking ban is $25.

Orange City officials say that no parking is allowed on any of their city streets between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., from October 15th through April 1st. The fine for noncompliance in Orange City is $10.

In Sioux Center, there is no parking allowed on any city street between 2:00 and 6:00 a.m. year-round.

Rock Valley’s winter parking ordinance states that parking is not allowed for more than 30 minutes between 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. The ordinance stays in effect until April 1st. The fine is $20 per night.

There are a couple of area communities that don’t have an actual overnight parking ban, but do have an ordinance that’s effective when snow falls. So motorists who park on the street need to keep up-to-date on the weather forecast.

Hartley City officials tell us there is no overnight parking ban in that city. However, their ordinance says that vehicles must be off the streets when snowfall begins and must remain off the streets until the streets are cleared of snow. Failure to do so will result in a $15 fine from the City of Hartley.

In Rock Rapids, parking is banned on all city streets and alleys from midnight to 6:00 a.m. during snow removal operations from November 1st to April 1st. There is an exception, however. Parking is banned from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. in Rock Rapids’ downtown area, year-round, and there are signs posted to that effect. The fine for non-compliance in Rock Rapids is $25.

As always, make sure you know the ordinance in whatever community you are parking.

Des Moines, Iowa — Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate says the state will mail an absentee ballot request form to every active registered voter in the state — for voting in the June 2 primary.

Pate released a recorded message about the decision.

(as said) “The June 2nd primary election will go on as scheduled because it’s important for Iowans to make their voices heard by voting,” Pate said, “and the safest way to vote will be by mail.”

Pate last week announced he was using emergency authority to add 11 more days to the early voting period for the June primary and he encouraged Iowans to use the vote-by-mail option to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Pate’s office will send the absentee ballot request forms later this month and each will include prepaid postage for mailing the requests to county auditors.

(as said) “The safety of voters while casting their ballots is our top priority,” Pate said in the recorded message.

Pate indicated there are about two million active registered voters in Iowa. Iowans may request absentee ballots for the June Primary through May 22. County auditors begin mailing ballots on April 23.

Northwest Iowa — Personal Protective Equipment, or PPEs have been in short supply around the country, including right here in Iowa. But a group of volunteers from across the state have stepped up to try and help fill the demand.

Kevin Wilkinson is a tech teacher in Williamsburg, in eastern Iowa, and he says he is one of a number of people across Iowa with access to 3-D printers, who are helping to manufacture face shields, originally for University of Iowa Hospitals.

(As above) “My wife got in contact with some people on social media and we’ve been working with Eric Engleman and he coordinated with a lot of the cedar rapids school districts got all three D. printers from there and had kind of gotten a group together to help three D. print a lot of PPE headsets. So they’re primarily face shields.”

He talks about how the face shields are made, once the 3-D printers have made the frames.

(As above) “Between the 3-D prints, and then they take like overhead transparency pieces and they adhere those to that so it it’s at least helping with some of the shortage because Iowa was ordering the pieces and so what they did is on social media they reached out and asked if anybody has 3-D printers if they can help print that, so there’s people all over the state of Iowa that are printing different things and then trying to coordinate and bring those in.”

He says the designs of the PPEs have been tweaked throughout the process, making changes based on feedback from the front-line healthcare professionals who are using the items.

(As above) “The new version that they set up uses rubber bands to kind of hook on to the 3-D printer part so that way they don’t have to tie on weapons or anything. So what they’ve done is they’ve kind of gotten feedback from the medical staff that’s been using them, they’ve given kind of suggestions because they have to disinfect these in between each patient visit and stuff, so trying to make them as easy to sterilize as possible as well.”

Wilkinson says a website has been set up at newbo.co/ppe/. He says the site provides information about the program, as well as allowing medical professionals to place orders for the 3-D printed PPEs. In addition, a Facebook page has also been established. He says you can also find information about donating to the project.

 

March 31, 2020 - 4:04 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — The Rock Rapids Fire Department was called out to a fire on Monday, March 30, 2020, near Rock Rapids.

According to Rock Rapids Fire Chief Ed Reck, about 2:30 p.m., firefighters were called to the report of a burning trash pile out of control near 1555 Indian Avenue, three miles east of the east side of Rock Rapids and a half a mile south.

The chief says the fire department saw fire in a grove as they approached the scene. He says it didn’t take much to extinguish the fire.

Reck says no injuries were reported.

Chief Reck reports that there was minimal damage to trees and grass.

He says the 15 to 17 firefighters who responded were on scene for 15 to 20 minutes.

Reck says with the drier conditions and stronger winds lately, people should be very careful with fire, as the situation can go out of control very easily.