May 12, 2022 - 4:15 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — On Wednesday, the Rock Rapids Fire Department was called to a ditch fire that burned into some CRP ground near 160th Street and Jackson Avenue, at about 3:45 p.m.

That’s five miles east and a mile south of Casey’s in Rock Rapids. Rock Rapids Fire Chief Ed Reck says the owner had done some burning a few days before, and the wind switched, causing the fire to go where it was not wanted. Reck says Rock Rapids firefighters put out the fire with water and fire flappers.

No injuries were reported, and firefighters wrapped up their efforts in about 45 minutes. He says about three or four acres of the CRP ground burned.

Northwest Iowa — Power outages, along with trees blown over and damage to at least one hog confinement were all part of the thunderstorm that blew through northwest Iowa Wednesday afternoon.

Winds that gusted to nearly 50-miles per hour blew the roof off a hog confinement near Rock Valley, according to Sioux County EMA Director Nate Huizenga. He says that was the only major damage of which he is aware.

Power bumps and blackouts were reported across the area as the storm rumbled through. In Sheldon, there were a few short-lived power bumps, but power never went completely out. In Orange City, residents tell us the lights went out for about 5 minutes, while in other areas the power outages lasted considerably longer.

According to a MidAmerican Energy spokesperson, a possible tornado south of Rock Valley took out 27 of their electric transmission structures, which resulted in damage to five substations, and plunged some 3800 customers in the Rock Valley, Inwood, Alcester and Hudson areas into darkness. The outage occurred at about 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, with power restored by abut 6:00 pm, according to MidAmerican.

In Rock Rapids, the strong winds blew over a tree, which landed on a parked car. Fortunately, the car was unoccupied at the time and there were no injuries.

The storm brought much-needed rain to the area, but the amount varied greatly, by location. In Sibley, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports 1.65-inches of rain, while 0.8-inches fell in Rock Rapids and 0.78-inches in George. Unofficially, Orange City saw about 0.7-inches of rain. In Sheldon, only 0.21-inches found it’s way into the KIWA rain gauge.


May 12, 2022 - 1:02 pm - Posted in News

Washington, D.C. — Both of Iowa’s U.S. Senators, as expected, joined with their Republican colleagues in defeating the bill Democrats sponsored to guarantee access to abortion nationwide.

Senator Chuck Grassley spoke during debate of the bill.

Senator Joni Ernst did not speak during debate. The Washington Post has reported Ernst will introduce a bill in the Senate to ban abortions after the sixth week of a pregnancy. Grassley has said in interviews with Iowa reporters he will not comment on a nationwide ban until after the U.S. Supreme Court issues its final ruling. During remarks on the Senate floor, this is how Grassley described his approach to the issue.

Grassley said the bill Democrats were offering would invalidate current state laws that regulate abortions.

The U.S. Senate is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats and the outcome of Wednesday’s vote was expected, since there weren’t 60 senators willing to allow a vote on the bill. Abby Finkenauer, one of the Democrats running for a chance to face Grassley in the November election, says Wednesday’s vote shows why Democrats need to win more seats in the U.S. Senate. Mike Franken, who is also competing for the Iowa Democratic Party’s U.S. Senate nomination, says Grassley has consistently voted to take rights away from women.

Northwest Iowa — Warmer temperatures and drier conditions are in the forecast and farmers will soon be in the fields in full-force. That means more equipment will be on the roadways in the coming days.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach says moving farm equipment on public roads can be a dangerous activity. Farm operators need to drive defensively and remain alert every second they are on the road.

Steven Freeman, a professor in agricultural systems and bioengineering at Iowa State University, reminds equipment operators of some important dos and don’ts this spring.

He says injuries can happen when farm equipment operators:

· Lack the experience to handle heavy, slow-moving machinery.
· Drive too fast, particularly when pulling a heavy load or turning.
· Drive partially over the centerline.
· Drive partially on the shoulder, and partially on the main road surface.
· Run into a tree or other fixed object.

He says that a major reason for farm machinery incidents on public roads is the difference in speed between automobiles and agricultural equipment. Motorists approach the slow-moving farm equipment so quickly that they only have a few seconds to identify the hazard and react appropriately.

Freeman says that’s why it is so important for farm equipment to be highly visible and properly identified with a slow-moving vehicle sign which must be visible from 500 feet away. He says the signs must be kept clean and faded or damaged signs should be replaced.

Tractors must be equipped with lights if operated on public roads at night, or under conditions of reduced visibility. Highway travel requires headlights, red taillights, and reflectors. Flashing amber lights provide day and night warning to traffic approaching from either direction. The more highly visible the equipment is, the better.

As for motorists driving road vehicles like cars, trucks, and motorcycles, the Iowa State Patrol says that even if you’re only going the speed limit you need to really pay attention. Because if you come over the crest of a hill and discover a slow-moving farm implement, you’re going to close in on that vehicle really quickly.

Troopers tell us that too many people combine high speed with distracted driving and a rear-end collision is the result. They advise you to slow down, put down the phone, and keep all your attention on the road, especially during busy farming seasons like planting and harvest. It’s also sometimes hard to know the intentions of the farm equipment operator as sometimes they need to swing wide for a turn and it seems like they’re turning one way when they may be turning the other. Or, you might not see them signaling at all. Troopers remind you to give farm vehicles a wide berth as you may not know the operator’s intent.

More information for farm equipment operators, direct from Iowa State University Extension & Outreach:

Freeman reminds farm equipment operators to perform a complete check of both the tractor and trailed equipment before heading onto the road.

· Use safety-type hitch pins, and make sure they are securely fastened.
· A safety chain must extend from the tractor to the frame of the towed equipment.
· Check all tires (on both tractor and towed equipment) for air pressure, cuts and bumps.
· Always lock brake pedals together for road travel. Sudden braking on one wheel only at high speed could put the tractor into a dangerous skid.
· Rearview mirrors, flares, and fire extinguishers should be standard equipment for tractors that are frequently driven on public roads.
· Confirm that all lights are operating properly.
· Make sure that the SMV sign is clean, unfaded, and properly mounted.
· Check towed equipment. Any load should be balanced and properly secured. Make sure the towed load is light enough for the tractor to handle safely. Heavy wagons should be equipped with independent brakes.

Farm machinery operators can make road travel safer for themselves and others by taking the following precautions.

· Avoid busy roads whenever possible, even if travel time will be longer.
· Travel at a speed that will allow you to maintain full control at all times.
· Slow down when making turns or rounding curves.
· Observe road travel precautions listed in operator manuals. Some tractors freewheel in higher gears. This can be very dangerous when coming down a hill. · Use lower gear ranges when climbing or descending hills.
· If possible, drive on the shoulder of a paved highway. However, don’t drive partly on the shoulder and partly on the paved lane.
· Stay alert for hazards such as soft shoulders, narrow bridges, loose gravel, bumps, potholes, and deep ruts.
· When cars are lined up behind you, and a suitable shoulder is available, pull over to let the traffic pass.
· If possible, move equipment in daylight during periods of light traffic.
· Travel after dark only if absolutely necessary. Remember that you need proper lighting for night driving.
· Don’t take chances by pulling onto a road in front of moving traffic. Enter and exit roadways very cautiously if your view is obstructed.
· Obey traffic laws and signs. Courtesy is a key component of road safety.

May 11, 2022 - 2:53 pm - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — Over 200 college students will graduate in Sheldon on Friday.

According to Northwest Iowa Community College officials, 218 students will graduate from the Sheldon college on Friday, May 13th.

They tell us that the Nursing Pinning and Commencement Ceremony will be held in the Northwest Iowa Lifelong Learning and Recreation Center at 9:30 a.m.

The afternoon Spring Commencement ceremony (for all programs except nursing) will also be held in the Northwest Iowa Lifelong Learning and Recreation Center at 1:30 p.m. The Commencement Address will be given by Sara Vaske, of Le Mars, who is a Design Technology graduate. The Alumnus of the Year Award will also be presented.

Northwest Iowa Community College officials tell us that NCC is what they call a “progressive learning college rapidly responding to the global needs of our changing community.” NCC offers many programs from career and technical programs to arts and science transfer programs. NCC has seamless transfer agreements with the University of Iowa and Iowa State University and many students start their college experience at NCC and transfer to other area institutions of higher learning. NCC has also been honored for having among the best online programs in the nation.

May 11, 2022 - 1:04 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — It’s more expensive to fill our gas tanks in Iowa than ever before. Prices reached a record high in the state this Tuesday morning, topping a previous record that had stood since the recession 14 years ago.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, places the blame on the Democrat in the White House.

Triple-A-Iowa says the statewide average for gas is now $4.08 a gallon, beating the record of $4.02 that had stood since July of 2008. Grassley and his fellow Republicans blame Biden.

Grassley also faults the Biden Administration for suspending federal funding for U.S. oil company projects in other countries.

Grassley says the US. should return to relying on its own stores of fossil fuels as well as biofuels, not imports, which he says have taken the country from being energy independent to energy dependent.

Democrats who are competing for the chance to run against Grassley say fuel prices are rising across the globe due to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Abby Finkenauer, Mike Franken and Glenn Hurst all support President Biden’s recent move to allow E-15 sales nationwide this summer, a move Biden says can help reduce gas prices. Finkenauer has called for a federal gas tax holiday.

Triple-A says the national average for gas is $4.37 a gallon, while California has the most expensive average at $5.84. The motor club says diesel fuel hit a record high in Iowa on Monday, as well, reaching $5.31 a gallon.

Larchwood, Iowa — A Sioux Falls man was jailed Tuesday as the result of a burglary near Larchwood.

According to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, about 2:20 Tuesday morning, deputies were called to a burglary in progress at a residence northwest of Larchwood. But deputies say the burglar had fled the scene upon law enforcement’s arrival.

Authorities say that at approximately 10:15 AM Tuesday the suspect was seen near the residence walking.  Law enforcement was able to make contact with the suspect and after a brief investigation, arrested 41-year-old Ricky Lee Blekestad, of Sioux Falls, for Burglary in the 3rd degree, a Class D Felony, Theft in the 3rd Degree, an aggravated misdemeanor, Possession of Burglar tools, an aggravated misdemeanor, Possession of a controlled substance – methamphetamine, a serious misdemeanor, Possession of drug paraphernalia, a simple misdemeanor, and trespassing, a simple misdemeanor.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation.

According to online court records, a Preliminary Hearing in the case is set for 2:00 pm on Friday, May 20th, in Lyon County Magistrate Court.

May 10, 2022 - 1:29 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — There wasn’t a lot of action in Iowa farm fields last week.

The U.S.D.A. crop report says weather limited farmers to just about two good days in the field. With no tractors pulling planters — only 5 more percent of the corn crop got in the ground for a total now of 14%.

That pace is two weeks behind both last year and the 5-year average.

Soybean planting moved from four to seven percent. That is 12 days behind the bean planting pace for last year and 11 days behind the 5-year average.

Statewide Iowa — Gasoline prices hit a new record high in Iowa as of Tuesday morning.

According to Triple-A Iowa, the average pump price for regular unleaded gas in Iowa hit $4.08 Tuesday morning. That’s up 8-cents since Monday, up 18-cents since one week ago, up 27-cents since this time last month and $1.26 higher than it was one year ago.

The highest prices in the state are in northeast Iowa’s Winneshiek County, where regular unleaded is selling for $4.20 per gallon, while the county with the lowest average price in the state is here in the northwest. Palo Alto County has the lowest average pump price for regular unleaded, at $3.91 a gallon.

Here in the far northwest corner of the state, Triple-A says the average pump price for regular unleaded in Sioux County is $4.13. Lyon County prices are at $4.01 a gallon and Osceola County is at $3.95 a gallon. Triple-A says there is no data available for O’Brien County, but a quick check of Sheldon stations shows the average pump price for regular unleaded stands at $3.99, up a dime a gallon from Monday.

Tripled-A says the national average pump price for regular unleaded as of Tuesday morning was $4.37 a gallon. The price range nationwide, according to Triple-A is $3.90 a gallon in Georgia to $5.84 in California.

May 9, 2022 - 4:14 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Sample ballots are now available for the June 7th primary election. Find a link to yours below.

In our area, for the new House District 3, Thomas Jeneary of Le Mars was the only Republican to file. District 3 covers southern portions of Sioux County and northern portions of Plymouth County. No Democrats filed. For the new House District 4: Skyler Wheeler is currently from Orange City which is not in the district, but has said he and his family are moving to Sioux Center or Hull. The other GOP candidate to file is Kendal Zylstra of Larchwood. No Democrats filed. The new District 4 is made up of all of Lyon County and the northern part of Sioux County, including all of Sioux Center and the extreme western part of Sheldon lying in Sioux County. For the new House District 5, your GOP candidates will be Dennis Bush of Cherokee, Zachary Dieken of Granville, and Thomas Kuiper of Sibley. No Democrats filed for that seat either.

For the State Senate, Senator Jeff Taylor will not need to run for his District 2 seat, as he was elected in 2020 and does not face another incumbent in the newly-redistricted District 2. Some of his area is at this time being represented by Senator Jim Carlin of Sioux City, who is challenging U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley for his seat in D.C. The new District 2 is made up of all of Lyon and Sioux counties and portions of northern Plymouth County.

The other State Senate District in our area is Senate District 3, where Lynn Evans of Auriela is taking on Anthony LaBruna of Storm Lake for the GOP nomination. District 3 is made up of all of Osceola and O’Brien counties and portions of Clay, Buena Vista, and Cherokee counties. No Democrats filed for the seat.

Senator Dave Rowley and Representative John Wills, both of Spirit Lake, who both serve portions of our area now, will not serve any of our four counties next year, as while they haven’t moved, due to redistricting, they will no longer live in this area’s districts. Both will run for the seats in the districts that now include Spirit Lake.

Republican incumbent Governor Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Deidre DeJear of Des Moines are the only two candidates listed for governor, so both will run unopposed in this primary. In the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Chuck Grassley and Jim Carlin of Sioux City are listed for the Republican Primary ballot. The list shows three candidates for the Democratic Party’s U.S. Senate Primary — Abby Finkenauer of Cedar Rapids, Michael Franken of Sioux City, and Glenn Hurst of Minden.

In other statewide races, Democratic Primary voters will decide whether Clinton County Auditor Eric Van Lancker or Linn County Auditor Joel Miller will face Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate in November. The other four statewide races for ag secretary, attorney general, state auditor, and state treasurer appear set for the General Election ballot.

Ag Secretary Mike Naig, a Republican, will face Democrat John Norwood of West Des Moines. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller will face Republican Brenna Byrd of Dexter. State Auditor Rob Sand, a Democrat, will face Republican Mary Ann Hanusa of Council Bluffs. State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, a Democrat, will face Republican Roby Smith of Davenport. But all of these candidates will be unopposed in the primary.

Republican Congressman Randy Feenstra is seeking a second term in the U.S. House (District 4) and he will be unopposed in the primary. One person is on the Democratic ballot for 4th District U.S. House. He is Ryan Melton from Nevada, Iowa.

Absentee ballots are not yet available. They will start being sent out and be available to vote in person at auditors’ offices on Wednesday, May 18th. The deadline for absentee ballots to be requested by mail and for voter pre-registration is Monday, May 23rd.

· O’Brien County Sample Ballots
· Sioux County Sample Ballots
· Lyon County Sample Ballots
· Osceola County Sample Ballots