March 7, 2017 - 3:23 pm - Posted in News

USDA NASSNorthwest Iowa — The numbers for the 2016 crop year are in, and according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Values Summary, Iowa’s field and miscellaneous crop production was valued at $14.9-billion for the year.  That’s a 5-percent increase from 2015.

According to the report, the value of corn for grain production totaled $9.18-billion, up 4-percent from the previous year, and production was up 9-percent.  Iowa’s average corn price was $3.35 per bushel, a decrease of 17-cents from the previous marketing year.

The report lists the value of soybean production at $5.34-billion, which is a 9-percent increase over 2015, despite the fact that production was up only 3-percent.  Average prices increased 49-cents per bushel from the  previous year to $9.40 per bushel.

Value of production decreased in 2016 from the previous year for oats, alfalfa hay, other hay, and all forage.  Value of production increased for the previous year for winter wheat.

For a look at the complete USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service Crop Values Summary, click here.

March 7, 2017 - 2:34 pm - Posted in News

poker chipsNorthwest Iowa — Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed a proclamation last week designating March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month in Iowa.  Branstad called it an opportunity for Iowans to start the conversation with friends or family who may show signs of a problem with gambling, or to have an honest conversation with themselves.

Cheryl Buntsma is a Certified Prevention Specialist with Compass Pointe Behavioral Health, who tells KIWA that the latesst report shows a slight drop in the number of Iowans who are gambling.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, that 3-percent of the adult population who experienced a problem translates to 294-thousand Iowans.

Buntsma says that 84-percent of Iowa 6th, 8th, and 11th graders haven’t gambled for money or possessions, but 1-percent of those that DO have bet and lost more than $100.

As for adults who gamble as a recreational activity, Buntsma had this advice.

She says help is available for individuals or families affected by problem gambling.

In case you missed those numbers, you can call 1-800-BETS OFF (1-800-238-7633), or visit  You can also call Compass Behavioral Health at 712-262-2952.

March 7, 2017 - 10:17 am - Posted in News

Lyon County Sheriff Car Door 60-8Rock Rapids, Iowa — An Ellsworth, Minnesota man was taken to a hospital after an accident on Saturday, March 4, 2017.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that 23-year-old Zackery P. Timmer of Ellsworth was driving a 2004 Dodge Ram pickup southbound on K52, about a mile south of Highway 9 in Rock Rapids.

The Sheriff’s Office says Timmer failed to negotiate a curve, and the pickup entered the ditch and struck some utility wires.

They say a passerby took Timmer to his home. They tell us he was then taken to the hospital after complaints of arm soreness.

Timmer’s vehicle sustained about $18,000 dollars in damages. The utility pole and wires are owned by Rock Rapids Municipal Utilities and sustained approximately $30,000 dollars in damages.

Sheriff’s officials say the investigation found the accident occurred sometime between 1:00-2:00 a.m.

Timmer was cited on a charge of failure to maintain control.

March 6, 2017 - 4:19 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A new plan has been approved for the pickup and dropoff of students at Central Lyon Elementary and Middle School in Rock Rapids. It’s hoped it can be implemented at the start of the next school year.

School administrators have been working with the school board and the Rock Rapids City Council on a plan that would create a safer and more organized environment for students entering and leaving school.

Central Lyon Superintendent David Ackerman says the new plan has several safety advantages, and they’ve been talking about making changes for a couple of years.

The present situation, says Ackerman is that there are several ways students leave at the end of the day. Students riding home with parents are to use the back door on the west side of the building near Greene Street. But some parents pick up their students in front of the school. The front entrance is also used for releasing students to the buses and by students who walk home. Plus he says Kids Club kids leave from the south gym door.

Several years ago, the buses parked all in a row in the parking area on South Story Street, but the worry then was that a student walking home or walking to a waiting parent’s car might dart between the buses and into the path of a car going down the street. So at that time, the bus drivers were instructed to stagger their parking so that they blocked the street. That solved the problem of darting between the buses, but Ackerman says it’s not ideal for traffic and some drivers still try to get between the buses.

He says in the morning several parents are dropping their students off in the front of the school instead of the back, and when they come from the north it’s not a huge problem, but if they come from the south, it exposes the students to traffic coming from the other direction.

He says another problem is that so many parents are picking up students from the back door.

Plus, he says there are cars parked all the way down South Twelveth Avenue as well. He says that wouldn’t be so much of a problem if the cars filed into the parking lot one-by-one and picked up their students, but students see their parents’ car and run to it, even if it’s across the street.

Ackerman says the current situation causes confusion practically every day.

He says the new plan will eliminate most of that, as students will all be leaving from the same area. He says a similar plan will be in effect in the morning. According to Ackerman, the school will be removing the curb and grass between the street and the sidewalk on the south side of the building on South Twelveth Avenue. So the busses will drop off their students to the south gym door.

The back door on the west side will not be used anymore for pickup or dropoff, says Ackerman. He says they’re going to use the front door now for that, on the east side, on South Story Street.

He says that the idea will be more of a park and drop-off or a park and pick-up situation, rather than a line of cars in a lane or on the street picking up or dropping off in sequence. He says they may in the future add a semi-circle for pickup and dropoff, but they’re going to do it this way for a while and see how it works.

He says the city is going to install some safety improvements too.

Ackerman says they will also be making improvements to the truck approach to the kitchen door, moving a fire hydrant and a water main, and repairing some storm sewer lines that the roof drains drain into. He says the project is going out for bids this week, and work should happen this summer, with the new plan going into effect when it’s finished. He says it should probably cost between $50,000 and $80,000, but they’ll know more when the bids come in.

He says two other Central Lyon projects will also take place this summer — a playground project and the replacement of the football field and track lighting. The older light towers were erected in the fall of 1978.

For more information, click here. You can also contact Ackerman at 712-472-2664.

Fire DangerNorthwest Iowa — The strong winds in northwest Iowa Monday and Tuesday have prompted an Extreme Fire Danger advisory from the National Weather Service.

The Iowa Grassland Fire Danger Index rates most of the state, west of Interstate 35, in the “Extreme” danger category.  The most notable exception would be the northwest Iowa counties of Osceola, O’Brien, Dickinson, Clay, Cherokee, and Ida, all of which are at a “Very High” fire danger through Tuesday.  Lyon, Sioux, and Plymouth counties are all rated in the “Extreme” category.

The strong winds and dead or dormant plant life at this time of year, combine to cause the higher danger categories, according to Mike Gillispie of the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls.

We asked Gillispie for his best advice for those planning a controlled burn this week.

In addition to holding off on planned burns, please remember to dispose of smoking materials properly.  A lit cigarette thrown from a car window can start a blaze that will be very difficult to extinguish in the high winds.

Lyon Courthouse Lion EntranceRock Rapids, Iowa — A man facing a laundry list of charges after a pursuit in Rock Rapids last November, faced a pretrial conference on Monday, March 6th in Lyon County District Court.

The Lyon County Sheriffs Office says that on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 they responded to a suspicious vehicle parked on the side of the road near the Highway 75 and 220th St intersection, six miles south of Rock Rapids’s south side. As a Lyon County deputy arrived in the area the vehicle left the scene. It was allegedly observed traveling at a high rate of speed and passing in a prohibited area. They report that the deputy activated his emergency lights and siren in an attempt to stop the vehicle. Sheriff’s officials say the vehicle continued traveling at a high rate of speed and passed vehicles in prohibited areas. They tell us that another Lyon County deputy deployed his spike strips on the south edge of Rock Rapids city limits. The vehicle struck the spike strips and continued into the city at a high rate of speed, again allegedly passing in a prohibited area. They say the vehicle attempted to turn westbound on Highway 9 but was unable to make the turn as all four tires had been deflated by the spike strips. The driver, identified as 21-year-old Bayron Revolorio Garcia, was arrested.

Revolorio Garcia was charged with class D felony counts of eluding and forgery; as well as Identity Theft, an aggravated misdemeanor; first offense OWI, a serious misdemeanor; and simple misdemeanor counts of:

* Possession of drug paraphernaila
* Failure to have a valid drivers license
* Operation without registration
* Violation of financial liability coverage
* Four separate counts of speeding
* Four counts of prohibited passing
* Failure to slow down/move over for certain vehicles
* Failure to yield to emergency vehicles
* Reckless driving

A jury trial is scheduled at this point for Tuesday, April 4, 2017.

March 1, 2017 - 1:25 pm - Posted in News

Grand Falls RouletteLarchwood, Iowa — Over $450,000 was given to non-profits and government groups on Tuesday night by the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation.

The competitive grants are announced twice a year, in February and October.

Foundation officials say they gave 22 grants totaling $463,425.36 for their Spring 2017 Competitive Grants program. They say that seven of these grants were to projects to which the committed funding in previous grant cycles. Those grants totaled $204,450. Fifteen new grants were given, totaling $258,975.36.

The new grants ranged from nearly $78,000 toward field lighting for the Larchwood Baseball Club to a little over $1,200 toward first aid kits for the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office.

Other grants went to the cities of Rock Rapids and Lester for generators; to the City of George for a pool playground project; to the Lyon County Fair Association toward a grandstand project; to the Food Bank of Siouxland toward their mobile food pantry; to Central Lyon Schools toward the purchase of drums; to the Rock Rapids Congregational Church toward a cooling project; to Lyon County Conservation for a 3D archery project; to the Little Rock Town and Country Club toward a ball field update; to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach – Lyon County toward DASH coding robots; to the George American Legion Post 404 toward an Avenue of Flags update; and to the City of Rock Rapids toward pool safety training equipment.

The foundation also gave $10,000 to the G.I.V.E. Foundation, which, according to their web site, is a non-for-profit organization to provide a structured golf program for injured Veterans. The Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort is working with the Sioux Falls VA and the Area PGA (the Professional Golf Association) with this program.

The Lyon County Riverboat Foundation is the non-profit license holder for the Grand Falls Casino near Larchwood. State law mandates a certain percentage of the casino’s gaming take has to go back to the community. The agreement between the casino and the non-profit stipulates that for the first $20 million the casino collects in gambling winnings in a year, they will give the foundation 4.5 percent. When they get up to $20 million, the percentage goes up to 4.75 percent; and when they get up to $30 million, it goes to 5 percent. Half of the funds are given in this competitive grant process and the other half goes directly to the county’s cities, schools, and county government.

Entity Project   Grant
Larchwood Baseball Club Field Lights $77,960.00
City of Rock Rapids Standby Generator $75,334.00
City of Lester EM Back-up (gen) $22,807.87
City of George Pool Playground $18,572.00
Lyon County Fair Association Grandstand RR $14,832.41
G.I.V.E. Foundation 3rd Annual Charity Golf $10,000.00
Food Bank of Siouxland Mobile Food Pantry $10,000.00
Central Lyon CSD Drums $5,568.60
Congregational Church Cooling Project $5,000.00
Lyon County Conservation Foundation 3D archery $4,904.14
Little Rock Town and Country Club Ball Field Update $4,575.00
Lyon County Extension DASH Coding Robots $3,916.65
Am Legion Post #404 George Avenue of Flags Update $2,771.30
City of Rock Rapids Pool Safety $1,445.00
Lyon County Sheriff First Aid kits $1,288.39
Total: $258,975.36

Award Total   per   16-Mar 16-Sep BALANCE 17-Mar 17-Mar
Season Project Awarded Cycles Cycle as of 1.18.17
Sp 2012 Inwood Aquatic Center $750,000 20 $37,500 $37,500 $37,500 $375,000 $37,500 11 of 20
Sp 2013 Kids Club RR $750,000 20 $37,500 $37,500 $37,500 $450,000 $37,500 9 of 20
Sp 2013 Larch-Sioux Fire District $492,500 11 $33,200 $33,200 $33,200 $99,600 $33,200 9 of 11
Fa 2013 Fellowship Village $250,000 10 $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $75,000 $25,000 El of 10
Fa 2013 City of LR $162,500 10 $16,250 $16,250 $16,250 $48,750 $16,250 8 of 10
Sp 2015 Doon VFD $262,899 10 $37,899 (1st) $25,000 $25,000 $150,000 $25,000 5 of 10
$25,000 (2-10)
Fa 2015 City Of RR
Flood Hazard Mitigation
$300,000 10 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $210,000 $30,000 4 of 10
TOTALS $204,450

Rock Rapids, Iowa — The Rock Rapids City Council met in regular session at the Forster Community Center in Rock Rapids on Monday, February 27th, 2017 at 5:45 PM.

The council approved the purchase of a chassis for a brush fire truck at a cost of $13,750 from VanderLee Motors. Maintainer Custom Bodies will transfer the body, including the tank, pump, etc. from the previous truck to the new truck for $3600. According to councilman and Rock Rapids Fire Chief Ed Reck, the older truck proved to be too small to use it in the manner in which they are now using it. Reck says when the truck was purchased they didn’t envision four firefighters in full bunker gear to be riding in the truck at the same time. He says the brush truck actually gets used as a smaller response vehicle when not all the firefighters are needed, and the extended cab wasn’t big enough, so they decided to replace it with a crew cab. The money will come from the fire department’s reserve fund, according to city administrator Jordan Kordahl.

The council also acknowledged funding from the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation. The city received a grant of $1445 toward pool safety training equipment and $33,475 toward a standby backup generator.

Council members also approved an airport improvement project costing $350,000. The city will apply to the Iowa Department of Transportation for grant funding assistance of up to $262,500. Some funding could also come from the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation.

The city council approved new flooring for part of the community center. They accepted a bid of $15,891 for vinyl flooring from Rapid Flooring. New vinyl flooring will be installed in the kitchen, pantry, dish room and restrooms. They also approved a bid for snow removal from sidewalks around the Forster Community Center from Brock Huisman, at a price of $50 per hour with $50 minimum.

Council members approved a residential demolition application for a house owned by Scott Ohlemann for the demolition of a home, which was at 127 North Marshall Street.

The next Rock Rapids City Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 13th at 5:45 PM at the Forster Community Center.

February 28, 2017 - 9:27 am - Posted in News

chickensNorthwest Iowa — Northwest Iowa poultry producers are again on-guard for avian influenza after a wild duck in Montana was recently diagnosed with the illness. Iowa had more losses than any other state after a bird flu outbreak in 2015, with many of those losses coming here in our area.

USDA Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Jack Shere, says producers need to be watchful for any problems in their flocks.

Shere says ramping up biosecurity is one answer but that’s hard to do after an outbreak is already underway.

A large bird flu outbreak was reported recently in South Korea and 30-million birds were destroyed, boosting demand for the export of eggs from Iowa producers. It’s believed the disease is spread by migrating wild waterfowl like geese and ducks. Given the latest case in Montana, Shere says the USDA is continuing to monitor for the virus.

During the 2015 bird flu outbreak, cases were confirmed at 77 Iowa poultry operations in 18 counties. It resulted in the destruction of more than 31-million birds and an economic loss to the state of one-point-two billion dollars.

February 24, 2017 - 3:58 pm - Posted in News

end of 6th Avenue in Rock RapidsRock Rapids, Iowa — The City of Rock Rapids is looking to add some affordable housing after the loss of several homes in the aftermath of the flood of 2014.

Several Rock Rapids residents who lived near the Rock River and Moon Creek found their homes destroyed, unlivable, or unsafe. The City of Rock Rapids has been partnering with the federal government for a buyout program in which the city uses federal funds to help buy the property, demolishes the structures, and then turns the property into permanent green space so any future flood causes less damage. The two neighborhoods now look very different, with few to no homes remaining.

Rock Rapids Mayor Jason Chase tells us that the City of Rock Rapids is trying to address the problem of having so many fewer places for people to live. He says a housing project is being planned in which the houses would be in the range of $170,000 or less.

Chase says all ten houses probably wouldn’t be built at once, but they’d like to have them built in the next couple of years.

Chase says the houses will probably be fairly similar but there will be some room for customization. He tells us it will probably be done in a way similar to how he’s seen other communities are doing it.

Chase says they’re also considering other plans and incentives. He says at this point nothing is set in stone and it’s all theory. He says for more information or to submit a proposal, you can contact Rock Rapids Development Director Micah Freese at 712-472-4585.

Photo caption: The west end of Sixth Avenue in Rock Rapids, looking west. The new homes would be built here, southeast of the Borman-Forster Soccer Fields