Spencer, Iowa — A mental health center with offices in several northwest Iowa communities has received a $4 million grant.

Kim Scorza, the CEO/President of Seasons Center for Mental Health says they applied for the grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA.

She says they got the grant through a scoring process.

She says the funding will be used to expand services and add services for which they do not receive funding through the state.

She says the purpose of this grant is to improve the quality of community behavioral health services through a comprehensive approach by creating access, stabilizing people in crisis, and providing the necessary treatment for those with the most serious, complex mental illnesses and substance use disorders. This system of care emphasizes recovery, wellness, trauma-informed care, and physical-behavioral health integration.

Scorza tells us the funding covers nine rural northwest Iowa counties, including Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola, Palo Alto, and Sioux.

She says expanded office and clinic hours and more will be part of the funding.

Scorza says they have 20 positions they are trying to fill. If you qualify and are interested, she invites you to call Seasons Center in Spencer.

March 12, 2019 - 4:21 pm - Posted in News

Inwood, Iowa — An Inwood man was tasered, arrested, and was charged with interference with official acts after an altercation in Inwood recently.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office tells us that on Saturday, March 9th, at about 10:30 p.m., one of their deputies arrested 39-year-old Travis Jensen of Inwood. Jensen was charged with interference with an official act, a simple misdemeanor.

According to court records, the deputy says that while he was on routine patrol, he was stopped by five kids along the street. He says the deputy they told him that there was a fight or domestic situation going on at their home. The deputy says he stopped at the home and the kids held the door open for him and told him that the people were in the back room.

He states that as he got to the kitchen area he could hear yelling and he announced his presence by shouting, “Sheriff’s Office.” The deputy says that a female opened the door and said
something to the effect of, “Now look who is here.”

The deputy says that’s when Jensen came around the corner and was very aggressive towards the deputy. He says he deployed his taser and he says Jensen continued to come at him.

The deputy’s statement says Jensen continued to be aggressive and threatening towards him. He says when another deputy arrived, he again became very aggressive when he was told that he was being placed under arrest.

He says the other deputy again deployed a taser, and after a short altercation, Jansen was taken into custody.

No court dates have been set yet in the case.

Inwood, Iowa — As of this Thursday, until further notice, West Lyon students will have to get on the bus on a hard-surfaced road, whether or not they live on one.

West Lyon Superintendent Shawn Kremen says impetus behind the policy was when were getting all the snow. The idea was that they would still be able to have school, even if the buses couldn’t get through the gravel roads so that they could get all their school days in. He says in that way, they wouldn’t have to extend the school year into June. However, now protecting students, drivers, and buses from getting stuck is a concern as well.

He tells us specifically what that means.

Kreman says basically, the districts 15 buses would pick up students only on hard-surfaced roads that are already part of the bus’s normal route.

Central Lyon also has such a policy in place for similar reasons, but at last check, they had activated it for current conditions.

Click here for a document detailing West Lyon’s Hard-Surfaced Routes

March 12, 2019 - 3:21 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Numbers released by Iowa Workforce Development show the state’s unemployment rate stayed to same in January.

Iowa’s unemployment rate held at two-point-four percent and has been at that level since October. The Workforce Development report says the number of Iowans in the workforce is the highest it has been in the history of the state at one million-654-thousand-400. That’s an increase of 32-hundred workers in January.

The report says the education sector added 700 jobs in January, and manufacturing firms added 500. The construction industry did lose 400 jobs in January– the third straight monthly loss — and professional and business services lost 400. But the losses were offset by job gains, and Iowa is tied with New Hampshire for the lowest unemployment in the nation.

March 12, 2019 - 3:15 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) —  A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday on a plan that would force local officials to take a public vote if property tax payments in their city or county increase more than two percent.

Representative Lee Hein, a Republican from Monticello, says he often hears complaints from constituents unhappy with their updated property assessments.

Hein says under current practice, when the assessed value of a house, business or farm increases, property owners will pay more in taxes even if the property tax levy remains the same.

Hein’s proposal would require a city council or county board of supervisors to vote to approve an increase greater than two percent in local property tax revenue. In addition, voters could petition for a referendum on any property tax hike that’s above two percent. The Iowa State Association of Counties has registered its opposition, while the Iowa League of Cities is listed as “undecided” on the bill.

Rock River Basin, Iowa — With the predicted rains and snow-melt, Rock Valley City officials continue to be concerned about river flooding this spring, after two floods in five years. Upstream however, Rock Rapids City officials are less concerned.

Rock Valley officials say that they have received an updated river elevation forecast for the Rock River in Rock Valley from the National Weather Service and that it shows that the Rock River will crest between 15.00 to 19.00 feet by midday on Friday. At last report, the Rock River in Rock Valley was at 6.46 feet.

At 19 feet the City hasn’t needed to construct berms to protect properties. River levels above 20 feet require active flood protection measures. Historically, the highest river crest occurred in 2014 at 22.72 feet and in 2018 at 21.30 feet.

City officials say that there are numerous existing conditions that may impact the forecast, which may lead to the National Weather Service to amend their forecast. The City of Rock Valley says they will be closely monitoring the conditions and the forecasts.

Meanwhile, upstream in Rock Rapids, City officials appear to be much less concerned. Rock Rapids Mayor Jason Chase says that City officials are aware of the potential for flooding this spring. He says a fast thaw will increase the risk, but a nice slow thaw will minimize it. Chase says, “We always have plenty of sandbags and supplies at the ready, along with new pumps to help with localized backups and flooding. We also have contacts for other equipment, should the need arise. Unlike Rock Valley, we were able to complete a major mitigation project after the 2014 flood that amounted to over $6 million dollars.”

Mayor Chase says that project removed a majority of the flood-prone housing stock in Rock Rapids, making the town much less susceptible to the flooding problems that Rock Valley had last year. Chase says Rock Rapids’ main concerns will be making sure the sanitary sewer system can keep up with the increased loads brought on by the spring thaw. He says the City will have sand and bags available to those neighborhoods that feel the need to put them out to protect their homes.

Rock Rapids City Administrator Jordan Kordal echoes the Mayor’s sentiments. He says that the City of Rock Rapids has been preparing for the next flood since the last such event.

Kordahl says that after the June 2014 flood, the City used federal and state funding to acquire and demolish 54 residential and two commercial properties and convert those properties into permanent open space. The project was closed out in December 2018, with final payment from FEMA in January 2019.

He says that properties that showed either substantial damage from the 2014 flood and/or significant potential for future exposure to flooding were identified as eligible for the buyout program. Participation in the program was not required. However, in order to encourage voluntary acceptance of the buyout, the City offered pre-flood market values, along with relocation assistance, when applicable.

Kordahl says that the purpose of Hazard Mitigation is not to recover from past disasters, but rather to prepare for future events. Buildings located in the floodplain contribute toward increased flood heights and velocities. Removal of such obstructions helps to reduce the severity of future flooding. It also prevents future damages to these buildings that result from their exposure to flood waters.

According to Kordahl, the primary purpose of the hazard mitigation project was not to provide financial assistance to individuals, but rather to mitigate damages from future disasters by reshaping the floodplain.

He says, “Other benefits include access in times of flood for emergency vehicles; reduction in the cost of providing services during and after flood conditions; and the assurance of continued eligibility for property owners to purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.”

March 11, 2019 - 3:23 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Flu is now widespread in Iowa and it’s claiming more lives.

The state health department is reporting six more people have died from the flu statewide. Among the six is the first child to die from the flu in Iowa this season, though no name or location was given. Iowa’s flu season started at the end of September and since then, it’s taken the lives of 20 Iowans and several more due to flu complications. As of March 2nd, at least 25 Iowa schools reported at least ten-percent of their student body was absent because of the flu.

Hull, Iowa — What are vaping and Juuling, why should parents be aware, and what should they look for? Those are just some of the questions that will be answered at an information session coming up at Boyden-Hull High School next week.

We had a chance to talk with Sioux County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officer, Deputy Waylon Pollema, who tells us the history of the event.

He tells us that there will be presentations for students during the day, but the Wednesday evening presentation is for everyone, including church youth groups and students from other schools.

He says one of the features of the night will be the Iowa Narcotics Association’s mobile training trailer called “What You Don’t See.”

Pollema says the devices and their pods don’t smell like cigarettes. He says they might smell like perfume or fruit, or even bubble gum. Plus the devices are as small as a USB computer drive — a little bigger than a stick of gum — so they’re very easy to hide. He says people are even concentrating drugs now and making them available to vape in these devices as well. So he encourages everyone to come to the presentation at Boyden-Hull on Wednesday night, March 13th, at 7 p.m.

March 8, 2019 - 2:42 pm - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — Three college students from northwest Iowa and one from southwest Minnesota — all Northwest Iowa Community College students — have received a state honor.

NCC officials say the four were named to the All-Iowa Academic Team. Kathleen Chicas, Matthew Grave, Thomas Holzman, and Taylor Schettler were recognized at the annual All-Iowa Academic Team Banquet this week in Des Moines.

Kathleen Chicas from Hospers is an Associate of Arts student and will graduate from NCC in May of 2019. Matthew Grave of George is an Agriculture student who graduated from NCC in December of 2018. Thomas Holzman of Alton is an Automotive Service & Light Duty Diesel Technology student and will graduate from NCC in July of 2019. Taylor Schettler of Wilmont, Minnesota is an Associate Degree Nursing (RN) student and will graduate from NCC in May of 2019.

The All-Iowa Academic Team award is an award that is offered through the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society in conjunction with the USA TODAY All-USA Community College Academic Team, and the Coca-Cola All-State Community College Academic Team each year.

Students who apply for this award must be currently enrolled at their respective community college with a minimum of 36 total credits already obtained, be on track to earn an Associate or a Bachelor degree with a minimum of 30 semester credits in the last 5 years, and must hold a minimum GPA of 3.5 on a possible 4.0 scale.

NCC officials tell us that individuals from each Community College in the state of Iowa are selected by a committee on campus, to represent the college on the state level. Then from all of the Academic Teams from across the state of Iowa, 60 outstanding two-year college students are selected to proceed onto the All-USA Academic Team. This prestigious award is given each year to represent the state of Iowa at the national level.

They tell us that the criteria are designed to find students who excel academically and demonstrate intellectual rigor in their course of study; show academic growth and potential; and use their two-year college education to better themselves, their schools and their communities. Because the team is designed to represent the diversity found on two-year college campuses, all types of students – traditional, non-traditional and international – are eligible.

Photo caption: NCC Honorees (Left to Right): Matthew Grave, Kathleen Chicas, Thomas Holzman, Taylor Schettler

Washington, DC — (RI) — Iowa 4th District Congressman Steve King voted “present” as the US House passed a resolution condemning “hateful expressions of intolerance.”

The resolution mentioned “imputations of dual loyalty.” That addressed comments from a Minnesota Congresswoman who suggested US backers of Israel exhibit dual loyalty, a remark condemned as antisemitic.

King, as you may recall, was the subject of a House resolution passed in January mentioning his comments to The New York Times about white supremacy. King has said he was misquoted. The Republican leader in the House said it wasn’t the first time King made such a remark and King was stripped of his committee assignments.

John Kennedy, a spokesman for Congressman King, issued a written statement saying King voted present on this week’s resolution “because he isn’t going to validate a rigged game which punishes Republicans for things they don’t say, while moving heaven and earth to provide cover to Democrats for the things they did say.”