February 8, 2018 - 8:14 am - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — It’s been a few days now since a George girl who went to Central Lyon Elementary School in Rock Rapids died in a tragic house fire. And those in charge at Central Lyon are doing their best to help students touched by her death.

Central Lyon Elementary Principal Steve Harmon tells us about 9-year-old Riley Meyer.


Harmon tells us about the school’s approach to helping the students deal with the tragedy.


Harmon says they wanted to let the students know that it’s OK to be sad, and it’s OK to be angry or confused. He says people are going to have a number of questions.


Harmon says that if people are feeling helpless, one thing they can do that has purpose is to donate to help Meyer’s family, who lost not only a daughter, but all their possessions in the fire.


He says it’s also important for the family to know that they can ask for help even months down the road if they need it. Harmon says their main focus is remembering Riley.


Mr. Harmon tells us that they’re considering canceling school on Monday for the funeral. But he says there are other concerns to keep in mind — like students who would be alone at home during the funeral if school was out. He says school administrators will make that decision as they are able.

February 8, 2018 - 8:13 am - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Voters in two northwest Iowa school districts have approved a bond issue in one district and to continue a levy in another.

Voters in the Boyden-Hull School District decided to support a $9.8 million bond issue by a margin of 426 to 269. That’s 61.29% yes, to 38.71% no. The bond issue needed a 60% supermajority to pass, and according to the unofficial results from the Sioux County Auditor’s office, it was approved. Results become official after they are canvassed by the County Board of Supervisors.

Doug Beukelman of Boyden is on the bond issue steering committee. He tells us improvements will be made at the high school in Hull in industrial technology, vocational agriculture, family and consumer sciences, fine arts, athletics, and education in general. The improvements will also include better security, improved accessibility, and learning environments that reflect the changing needs of students. New additions are planned for vo ag and instrumental music. The Boyden elementary will also receive some renovations, including those for increased security and accessibility of the building and a new preschool playground.

Meanwhile, voters in the George-Little Rock School District approved the continuance of a Physical Plant and Equipment Levy or PPEL by an even wider margin. Turnout was low, but the measure received 77.48% “yes” votes and 22.52% “no” votes. The raw vote totals were 86 yes to 25 no.

George-Little Rock business manager Cathy Bonestroo tells KIWA that the PPEL has been in place for a number of years, and was due for renewal. According to the ballot language, the PPEL is be authorized for another ten years at not more than a dollar and thirty-four cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. Plus, it will also reauthorize a PPEL income surtax of not more than six percent, determined by the George-Little Rock Board of Directors each year.

The revenue raised by the tax can be used for several uses, mostly related to buildings and grounds and transportation. Iowa Code says, however, that PPEL revenues may not be used for employee salaries or travel; supplies; printing costs or media services; or for any other purpose not expressly authorized by Iowa Code.

Again, the results become official after they are canvassed by the County Board of Supervisors.

February 7, 2018 - 3:15 pm - Posted in News

George, Iowa — The Iowa State Fire Marshal Division has released a report on the investigation into a house fire that claimed the life of a young George girl early Sunday.

Shortly after midnight Sunday morning firefighters from George, Little Rock, Rock Rapids, Doon, Ashton, Sheldon and Sibley responded to a house fire at 200 South Sydney in George. The fire was eventually extinguished by fire crews.

The body of 9-year old Riley Meyer was discovered in the home by firefighters, according to investigators.

Investigators with the State Fire Marshal Division say they believe the fire started in an enclosed porch on the back of the house.

The Fire Marshal’s report indicates that the cause of the fire is undetermined, but they do not believe it to be suspicious in nature.

Officials say the case remains under investigation.

February 7, 2018 - 10:41 am - Posted in News

Doon, Iowa — A Doon man suffered minor injuries after rolling his tractor-trailer rig into a ditch west of Doon late Tuesday afternoon.

According to the Iowa State Patrol, the crash happened about 4:15 Tuesday afternoon when a 2007 International semi tractor, pulling a trailer, driven by 44-year old Julio Barrientos, of Doon, was eastbound on 260th Street, and attempted a right turn to go south on Eagle Avenue.

Troopers say Barrientos was unable to maintain control during the turn. They say the tractor-trailer rig started to skid, but then straightened out and rolled over into the east ditch. Troopers say tire marks showed Barrientos had nearly  put his trailer into the west ditch, at the southwest corner of the intersection. Barrientos reportedly told Troopers that he was going approximately 15-mph at the time of the crash, but officials say that may have been too fast for road conditions at the time of the crash.

Barrientos was transported to the Rock Valley Hospital by Rock Valley Ambulance for treatment of cuts and head pain.

Troopers estimate the damage to Barrientos’ tractor-trailer rig at approximately $10-thousand.

Barrientos was reportedly ticketed for Failure To Maintain Control.

Lyon County, Iowa — Students and family in Lyon County are dealing with the loss of a 9-year-old girl early on Sunday morning. A fire in George claimed the life of a girl who was in third grade at Central Lyon Elementary in Rock Rapids.

Pastor Jeff Poppinga from Faith Baptist Church in Rock Rapids (pictured at right) says that he knew 9-year-old Riley Meyer quite well, as she attended the church’s AWANA program on Wednesday nights.


Poppinga says he’s been one of those who is helping Central Lyon students touched by the tragedy.


He says the kids are slowly coming to terms with the loss.


He says Meyer’s siblings also attend AWANA.


He says that program will also help the students deal with their grief this week.


He says if people want to help the family who lost not only their daughter but also all their possessions in the fire, he suggests two ideas.


We did speak to Ron Humphrey with the Iowa State Fire Marshall Division to see if there was any new information available about the fire or the circumstances surrounding it. He says it’s still an open investigation at this point, and that they’re still waiting on the autopsy. He says the results of that are hoped to be released on Wednesday, and there may be more information available after that.

February 4, 2018 - 8:03 am - Posted in News

George, Iowa — One person is dead in the aftermath of a house fire that was reported shortly after midnight Sunday (February 4th) morning.

George Fire Chief Bill Sprock confirmed to KIWA that there was one person who perished in the blaze at a residence located on South Sydney Street in George.

Sprock says firefighters and equipment from eight area communities fought the fire. He says firefighters had to contend with human fatigue and freezing water due to the sub-zero temperatures at the time of the call.

In addition to the George Fire Department, firefighters and equipment from the Boyden, Little Rock, Rock Rapids, Doon, Matlock, Sheldon, and Sibley Fire Departments were all called on to help extinguish the flames.

Sprock said firefighters poured more than 50-thousand gallons of water on the blaze to extinguish the flames. Firefighters were initially on the scene for about seven hours, according to the Chief.

George Fire & Rescue was again called to the location around 10:15 Sunday morning, after a passerby reported that flames had reappeared in the burned-out residence.

Chief Sprock told KIWA that he could provide no further information pending an investigation into the blaze by the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office.

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Original Story posted 8:03 am 2/4/18

George, Iowa — Firefighters and equipment from eight northwest Iowa communities were called to battle a house fire in George overnight.

The George Fire Department was called to a fire at a residence on South Sydney Street in George during the wee hours of Sunday morning.

In addition to the George Fire Department, the call was put out for crews from Boyden, Little Rock and Rock Rapids to assist the George Department. Fire departments from Doon, Matlock, Sheldon and Sibley were also summoned to provide water and manpower to help battle the blaze.

We’ll bring you more information when it becomes available.

February 2, 2018 - 9:14 am - Posted in News

George and Little Rock, Iowa — Voters in the George-Little Rock School District will be going to the polls on Tuesday, February 6th to decide whether to continue a Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (or “PPEL,” pronounced “pepple”).

George-Little Rock business manager Cathy Bonestroo tells KIWA that the PPEL has been in place for a number of years, and is up for renewal. According to the ballot language that voters will see on Tuesday, if approved, the PPEL would be authorized for another ten years at not more than a dollar and thirty-four cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. Plus, it would also reauthorize a PPEL income surtax of not more than six percent, determined by the George-Little Rock Board of Directors each year.

The revenue raised by the tax can be used for several uses, mostly related to buildings and grounds. Some of the items include asbestos projects, the purchase and improvement of grounds, surfacing and soil treatment of athletic fields, exterior lighting, demolition work, energy conservation, purchase or lease of technology, purchase of transportation equipment for transporting students, and several other uses.

Iowa Code says, however, that PPEL revenues may not be used for employee salaries or travel; supplies; printing costs or media services; or for any other purpose not expressly authorized by Iowa Code.

According to Carrie Johnson, election clerk at the Lyon County Auditor’s office, the polls will be open on Tuesday, February 6th from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m.

Full text of question to be on ballot:

Shall the Board of Directors of the George-Little Rock Community School District be authorized for a period of ten (10) years to levy and impose a physical and plant and equipment tax of not exceeding one dollar and thirty-four cents ($1.34) per $1,000 of assessed valuation, and be authorized annually, in combination, to levy a physical plant and equipment property tax with the levy of property taxes for collection commencing in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, and to impose a physical plant and equipment income surtax upon each individual income taxpayer resident in the school district on December 31 for each calendar year commencing with calendar year 2020 or, each year thereafter (the percent of income tax not to exceed six percent (6%) determined by the Board of Directors each year) to be used for asbestos projects (279.52), the purchase and improvement of grounds, including the legal cost relating to the property; acquisition, costs of surveys of the property, costs of relocation assistance under state and federal law, and other costs incidental to property acquisition; improvement of grounds, which includes grading, landscaping, paving, seeding, planting of shrubs and trees; constructing sidewalks, roadways, retaining walls, sewers and storm drains, and installing hydrants; surfacing and soil treatment of athletic fields and tennis courts; exterior lighting, including athletic fields and tennis courts; furnishing and installing flagpoles, gateways, fences, and underground storage tanks which are not parts of building service systems; demolitions work; and special assessments against the school district for public improvements, as defined in Iowa Code 384.37; purchase, lease or lease-purchase of single unit of equipment or technology exceeding $500 in value; payment of debts contracted for the erection or construction of schoolhouses or buildings, not including interest on bonds; procuring or acquisition of library facilities; repairing, remodeling, reconstruction, improving or expanding or schoolhouses or buildings and additions to existing schoolhouses; expenditures for energy conservation; the rental of facilities under Chapter 28E; purchase of transportation equipment for transporting students; purchase or lease-purchase option agreements for school buildings; or equipment purchase for recreational purposes, it being understood that if this proposition should fail to be approved, such failure shall not be construed to terminate or restrict authority previously granted by the electors to levy a special tax for any one or more of the foregoing purposes.

February 1, 2018 - 11:56 am - Posted in News

Little Rock, Iowa — A potentially crisis-level situation was averted in Little Rock on Wednesday night after a gas leak was discovered inside a home on the town’s east side.

According to Alliant Energy spokesperson Justin Foss, the call came into their operations center about 7:40 p.m. He says a gas pipe inside a home on Section Line Road was hit and natural gas was escaping. He says crews responded to the scene and shut off the gas at the meter, and locked it out. He says they then began ventilating the home. The Little Rock Fire Department was called to the scene about 8:30 p.m. to assist with ventilating the house of the gas. Fire Chief Joe Schilling says some remodeling was being done in the house, and workers struck the gas pipe.

Foss says in the event of a gas leak, there are some steps to take, and the order in which you take them is very important.


He says that while you may think you’re helping to dissipate the gas or the smell, there is a very important reason that they don’t want you to open or close windows and doors.


Again, Foss says after you’ve left the house and are a safe distance away, then make the call. He says if you hear a hiss of gas, call the gas company. But if you hear gas blowing or rushing, that indicates more gas is escaping and you should call 911 as well.

January 24, 2018 - 5:04 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — It’s almost time for the Iowa party caucuses again. Contrary to popular belief, caucuses are not only held on Presidential election years. In northwest Iowa, both parties are holding caucuses this year on Monday, February 5th.

On the Republican side, party leaders tell us that the caucus attendees will:
1. Vote for members of the Central Committee
2. Vote on delegates and alternates to the County Convention
3. Propose County Platform Planks

The Lyon County Republican Caucus will start at 7:00 p.m. All precincts will meet at the Forster Community Center in Rock Rapids. Leaders estimate it will last 30-60 minutes.
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On the Democratic side, they have basically the same purposes:

1. Discuss and adopt proposed resolutions to be added to the county platform
2. Elect Delegates and Alternates to the County Convention
3. Elect Precinct Committee Persons to the County Central Committee.

The Lyon County Democratic Party Caucus will be held at 7 p.m. You must be in line or signed in by 7 p.m. to participate. The Lyon County Democrats will meet at the Lester Community Center in Lester. Organizers say the precinct caucus is a great way to get involved in grassroots activities with the Iowa Democratic Party. All Iowa Democrats are encouraged to attend. If you have questions, please contact Kathleen Wilke, Caucus Chair at 605-215-7070.

January 23, 2018 - 5:41 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — A number of Casey’s General Stores in northwest Iowa have seen an upgrade, and there are more to come. That’s the word from Casey’s corporate in Ankeny.

Sheldon has two Casey’s stores, one on old Highway 60 and one on Washington Avenue, both on Highway 18. The newer one at the old 60 corner was built after Casey’s bought both Kum and Go stores and converted them to Casey’s. After the newer, bigger store was built, they closed the one a little farther south on old 60 — the one that used to be Super America. That happened in 2012.

Casey’s is now bringing that larger store concept to other locations. The George Casey’s has the expanded offering, and one is under construction in Sioux Center as well. Casey’s Vice President for accounting and treasurer James Pistillo tells us about that location.


He says they also are in the beginning stages of bringing the larger store concept to Rock Rapids.


The Rock Rapids City Council just approved the vacation and sale of the southern portion of an alley to Casey’s so they can build their new store. Adjacent property also needed to be re-zoned to make the new store possible.

Pistillo says they have many stores in northwest Iowa ranging from the newest layout to the oldest, such as the Casey’s in Hull, which still has the restroom behind the counter. We asked him if all of their stores would eventually be converted to the newer and larger store concept.


Pistillo says they either do a same-site replacement or look for another nearby site for a larger store in those instances.

He tells us what changes customers can expect if they are used to the older type of store and a new one is built in their town.


Pistillo says they are looking at changes to their stores in a number of northwest Iowa towns, but he said it would be premature to talk about those at this time.