February 8, 2017 - 12:16 pm - Posted in News

WillsDes Moines, Iowa — Republicans in the Iowa House have sent the governor a bill that will increase general state aid to public schools for the next academic year.

District 1 Republican State Representative John Wills of Spirit Lake tells us about it.

Democrats opposed the bill, saying the increase was not large enough. The Iowa House Democrats accused Republicans of voting for larger class sizes, teacher layoffs, and school cuts. Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City, says this level of state aid will force more school consolidations. Wills says this is inaccurate.

He says the bill that passed was the best compromise that could be reached and leaves funding available for other important services.

Representative Walt Rogers, a Republican from Waterloo, is chairman of the House Education Committee. He says, “Funding education is a top priority of what we do. K-12 education gets 43 perent of our budget.”

February 8, 2017 - 12:47 am - Posted in News

music-notesSpirit Lake, Iowa — Seven of the ten northwest Iowa high schools that participated in a jazz choir festival were from our listening area, and of those, four received the top rating.

The Iowa High School Music Association State Jazz Choir Festival was held on Monday, February 6th, at the Sami Bedell Center for the Performing Arts in Spirit Lake.

From the four-county listening area, the jazz choirs of Central Lyon, South O’Brien, West Lyon, and Sheldon all received Division One or “Superior” ratings. The jazz choir from Sibley-Ocheyedan received a Divison Two or “Excellent” rating. Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn’s jazz choir received a Division Three or “Good” rating. Harris-Lake Park’s jazz choir elected to receive comments only.

Other results included Akron-Westfield’s choir number two and Spirit Lake’s jazz choir, who both received Division Ones, and Akron-Westfield’s choir number one and Okoboji’s jazz choir, who both received Division Two ratings.

The jazz choirs were evaluated by three adjudicators on vocal jazz ensemble characteristics of tone quality, blend, rhythmic feel, interpretation, precision, musicianship, solo improvisation, and balance. Following the judged performance, each choir had a 20-minute clinic with the judges where they received additional suggestions to improve their vocal jazz and the groups were praised for their fine performances and display of excellent leadership. Each choir is rated according to Iowa High School Music Association guidelines receiving a rating of Division One-Superior Rating, Division Two-Excellent, Division Three-Good, or the group can choose to receive comments only.

February 8, 2017 - 12:43 am - Posted in News

pipeline constructionWashington, D.C. — After it looked like the Dakota Access Pipeline would be delayed indefinitely, it now appears it’s on a fast track to move forward.

The Army Corps of Engineers tells Congress it intends to grant an easement to allow for the completion of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), according to a statement from the Army.

The pipeline has become a focal point of protests against the final stage of the project, which is opposed by the Sioux at Standing Rock tribe, stemming from fears of damage to Lake Oahe, next to their reservation.

Robert Speer, acting Secretary of the Army says that today’s announcement will allow for the final step, which is granting of the easement. He says once that is done, they will have completed all the tasks in the Presidential Memorandum of January 24, 2017.

The line was installed this past year in Lyon, Sioux, and O’Brien counties on its way to a terminal in Illinois.

February 6, 2017 - 7:57 am - Posted in News

Lyon County AmbulanceRock Rapids, Iowa — One woman from Marcus and one woman from Le Mars were taken to a hospital after an accident south of Rock Rapids on Sunday, February 5th, 2017.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 6:35 p.m., 42-year-old Melony Jackson of Marcus was driving a 2011 Ford Edge northbound on Highway 75, about a mile south of Rock Rapids. The report says Jackson fell asleep and crossed the centerline and struck a southbound 2012 Buick Enclave driven by 46-year-old Teresa Nemmers of Le Mars.

They say the Lyon County Ambulance took Jackson and Nemmers to Sanford Rock Rapids Hospital.

The sheriff’s office reports that both vehicles were totaled in the accident.

February 6, 2017 - 7:57 am - Posted in News

Central Lyon Play Equipment 2017Rock Rapids, Iowa — An update is planned to playground facilities at an area school, and you can help.

Principal Steve Harmon at Central Lyon Elementary School in Rock Rapids says their elementary population has grown exponentially in the past few years, but their playground hasn’t been updated or touched in the last 20 years. He says parts of it are unusable, such as a broken handicap swing and a cracked slide. He says they’ve been working with the teachers and students, and noting their concerns.

He tells us about the current playground equipment.

He says some other equipment in that southern area of the playground will remain, such as the sand tables, which are used quite a bit by kids with disabilities. He says the current main play area is for 7-12-year-olds, but the new equipment would have a different age focus.

Harmon says they’re looking at putting a rubber mulch under the new equipment. He says the mulch has a better “fall factor” than the current pea gravel. That is to say that if kids fall on it, they have a lower chance of getting hurt.

He says really, it’s all an incentive to get kids outside.

Harmon tells us about the budget.

He says the playground is the only playground for about three-quarters of a mile in the southern part of Rock Rapids, so it gets used by neighborhood kids in the summer too.

Harmon says the Rock Rapids Kiwanis is looking to help out as well. They have an annual pancake supper and this year, the proceeds will be going to the playground project. It’s scheduled for Wednesday, February 15th, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Forster Community Center in Rock Rapids.

February 3, 2017 - 5:04 pm - Posted in News

firefighter's fire helmetNorthwest Iowa — Fire chiefs from around northwest Iowa are concerned about the impact in the wake of charges against the former state fire training manager for allegedly issuing improper certifications to thousands of firefighters, but none of the chiefs that we talked to are concerned about the safety of their communities.

Former State Fire Services Training Bureau certification manager John McPhee was arrested last week on charges of misconduct in office and tampering with records.

Sheldon Fire Company Secretary and City Council member Brad Hindt told the council at this week’s meeting that all of their members certifications were in line.

Sioux Center Fire Chief David Van Holland says they will have some members that will need to re-take certification tests. He says the whole situation is discouraging.

Orange City Fire Chief Denny Vander Wel says he’s pretty sure there will be one or two of their firefighters who will have to re-take as well. He says this covers all certifications from Firefighter 1 to Fire Officer 1, to hazmat certification, and many more. He says Iowa used to be number one in firefighter certification, and this is certainly a black eye on the fire service. Vander Wel says they do plenty of local training, so he, like other area fire chiefs, is not concerned for the safety of the community. He says they do hands-on training and evaluation locally and all their firefighters passed. He also says that state certification is a plus for a firefighter, but it is not a requirement to be an Orange City Firefighter. Vander Wel says this situation has been going on for over a year, but things are just now coming to a head because of the charges that were filed against McPhee.

Sibley Fire Chief Kenny Huls agrees that it is a black eye on the fire service. He says the problem is also compounded because some of the certifications have prerequisites of other certifications. For instance, you can’t take Firefighter 2 until you have passed Firefighter 1. He says if your Firefighter 1 certification was improper, that calls into question whether you are certified for Firefighter 2 as well.

Rock Rapids Fire Chief Ed Reck says the Rock Rapids department will probably have a couple of firefighters affected by the situation. But like the other chiefs, Reck says the certification alone is the issue. Like most departments, they require firefighter recruits to take the course. He says the actual certification is nice, but they don’t require it to be a firefighter, and the community is not at risk.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety revealed that the state bureau issued nearly 23-hundred improper certifications to one-thousand-706 firefighters and emergency personnel between 2012 and 2016.

February 1, 2017 - 4:20 pm - Posted in News

Tyler Starr at Lyon Co Career DayRock Rapids, Iowa — Trying to keep more students in Lyon County. That was basically the goal of Lyon County Career Exploration Day last week.

The event for all freshman and sophomore students in Lyon County was held on Friday, January 27th.

Lyon County Economic Development Director Steve Simons says the day provided the students with the opportunity to hear from local business professionals on career opportunities, their education needs and other information helpful to the students’ future planning.

Simons says over 300 students from Central Lyon, George-Little Rock and West Lyon participated, along with Ellsworth, Minnesota.

He tells us that students had several presentations to choose from.

He says career day is a large undertaking.

One of the presenters was Lyon County native and NFL football player, Tyler Starr.

February 1, 2017 - 2:24 pm - Posted in News

west-lyon-wildcat-trackInwood, Iowa — West Lyon voters will be going to the polls to decide the fate of a $2.8m bond issue in April.

West Lyon Superintendent Jim Hargens tells us about the bond issue that will be decided on April 4th.

Hargans says most of the work will be repairs and updates, but there will be some new construction as well.

He says if you’d like to learn more, they will have some public information meetings.

He says if the bond issue is successful, construction would begin in the spring of 2018. He says that between a successful election and construction, architects would be meeting with administrators, faculty, and the public to determine what exactly should be done in the remodel areas. He says they hope to put the project out for bids in January, 2018; with bids awarded in February, 2018.

Hargans tells us how the 48 cents per thousand bond will affect property taxes.

He encourages people who are interested in the facts to come to their public meetings. Again, those are on Monday, February 6th and Thursday, February 9th, at both 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. both nights.

Click here to see some slides of the project

February 1, 2017 - 1:42 pm - Posted in News

iowa state capitol svaOcheyedan, Iowa — Iowa State Senators and Representatives are planning legislative forums around the state.

As usual, Senator David Johnson and Representative John Wills have some forums planned for our area.

“Eggs and Issues” is planned for Saturday, February 4th at 8:00 a.m. at the Forster Community Center in Rock Rapids. Coffee and rolls will be served and a freewill donation is welcome to cover those costs.

A town hall meeting will be held the same morning at the Senior Activity Center at 845 Main Street in Ocheyedan at 10:30 a.m.

The meetings are your chance to hear the legislators give updates and discuss issues they are working on this session. They will also be available to answer any questions people may have.

There will also be two forums on Saturday, February 25th with Johnson and Wills. They’ll be at the Forster Center in Rock Rapids at 8 a.m. and at the Sibley Public Library at 10:30 a.m.

January 26, 2017 - 4:22 pm - Posted in News

johnson, davidDes Moines, Iowa — A northwest Iowa legislator is trying again to fund expanded conservation efforts.

Independent District 1 State Senator David Johnson of Ocheyedan is again introducing a bill that would increase the state sales tax .375 of a percent. Johnson says his idea is to use the extra revenue for soil and water conservation.

The .375 percent hike would make the state sales tax 6.375 percent, and would raise an estimated $150 million a year, according to Johnson. He says he feels strongly about this issue.

The Senator says he believes Iowans want quality of life and clean water.

Senator Johnson lives in Ocheyedan and serves Clay, Dickinson, Lyon, Osceola and Palo Alto counties.