Rock Rapids, Iowa — Northwest Iowa flood victims are being helped by several different agencies and programs. One of those is Justice For All — the organization in charge of the Lyon County Disaster Relief Fund.money cash bills dollars

We had a chance to talk to Joe Vander Zee with Justice For All recently, and asked him about the progress of the fundraising and flood recovery effort.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

He says if you’re making a donation, those can be dropped off or sent to any of the Lyon County banks, and checks should be made payable to JFA-Lyon County Disaster Relief Fund.

Vander Zee says they are also still taking applications from victims, especially since people may have been too modest or proud to accept help before, but now are maybe thinking they could sure use some help.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

Vander Zee says they really appreciate the donations that people have given. He says that about a third of the money they have received so far has come in the form of a donation from the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation — the nonprofit arm that distributes a portion of the gaming take from the Grand Falls Casino.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

Again, that Rock Rapids Flood Information Meeting is Thursday, July 24 7:00 PM at the Forster Community Center in Rock Rapids. The public is encouraged to attend.

Also, the Small Business Administration is encouraging flood victims to see if they are eligible for low-interest loans. SBA assistance is available in the primary Iowa counties of Lyon and Sioux and the neighboring Iowa counties of Cherokee, O’Brien, Osceola and Plymouth; the neighboring Minnesota counties of Nobles and Rock; and the neighboring South Dakota counties of Lincoln, Minnehaha and Union.

Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations whose property was damaged or destroyed by this disaster. SBA representatives are on hand for a limited time at Disaster Loan Outreach Centers in Rock Valley and Rock Rapids to answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each individual complete their application. No appointment is necessary. The Rock Rapids office is at 114 First Avenue, in the Waagmeester building, and the Rock Valley office is at the Faith Reformed Church at 1305 Seventh Street.

Grants of up to $5,000 are available through the Iowa Individual Assistance program. Contact Mid-Sioux or Upper Des Moines Opportunity for more information. The Northwest Iowa Regional Housing Trust Fund is providing grants of up to $7,500 and low-interest loans of up to $15,000. Contact Sherry Zinn for more information at sherry.zinn@nwipdc.org or 712-262-7225 ext 139. And grants and low-interest loans for individual housing assistance are available through USDA Rural Development. Contact Desirae Willms at 712-546-5149 Extension 4 or at desirae.willms@ia.usda.gov.

Unlike the Justice For All grants, some of the other programs are income-based and some are age-based, so victims need to contact the agencies for more information.

Rock Rapids, Iowa — The new Miss Lyon County is Kendra Dryfhout, Miss Doon. First Runner Up was Miss Alvord, Cassidy Koedam. Miss Rock Rapids, Alison Wright, was Miss Congeniality. Lyon County Fair Rapid Speedway Combo Sign

Friends of the Fair were Dan and Deb Kruse and Dereck Van Der Brink, who got the races going after the troubles early in the season.

Winners were announced on Monday night in the grandstand at the Lyon County Fair.

July 22, 2014 - 4:55 pm - Posted in News

Ashton, Iowa — An Ashton man has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for distributing child pornography, according to a release from the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.

The release says that 22-year old Todd Techen of Ashton received the sentence after admitting that, between 2012 and January, 2013, he knowingly distributed child pornography.

Techen was sentenced to five years imprisonment in Federal District Court in Sioux City by United States District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett.  A special assessment of $100 was also imposed, and Techen must must also serve a ten-year term of supervised release upon completion of the prison sentence, as well as complying with all sex offender registration and public notification requirements.

The US Attorney’s office says the case was prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Mark Tremmel, and was investigated by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office.

Luverne, MN — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Rock County, Minnesota as a primary natural disaster area due to heavy precipitation, flooding and hail that occurred from June 11 through June 18.Flooded Soybean

Farmers and ranchers in Murray, Nobles and Pipestone counties in Minnesota also qualify for natural disaster assistance because their counties are contiguous. Lyon County, Iowa and Minnehaha and Moody counties in South Dakota also qualify.

In Minnesota, damage from last month’s flooding has surpassed $50 million and is still rising, according to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. State and local officials are waiting for the federal government to declare a disaster. Dayton said he expects that declaration to be issued soon — securing federal funding to help state and local communities repair damaged roads, bridges and other public property.

All qualified farm operators in the designated areas are eligible for low-interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity. Farmers can apply for up to $500,000 in low interest loans.

July 21, 2014 - 1:06 pm - Posted in News

Rock Rapids Utilities Substation 2010 300The Rock Rapids Municipal Utilities have issued a peak alert for Monday & Tuesday, July 21-22, 2014. Rock Rapids Municipal Utilities residents are asked to postpone or reduce the use of electrical devices during peak times (between 12 Noon – 8 PM). Peak electricity is more expensive and the demand may increase electric bills for all residents. By reducing or postponing electrical usage during peak times, you’ll help keep down your utility costs. Thank you for your cooperation.

Larchwood, Iowa — The Grand Falls Casino near Larchwood is one of two casinos in the whole state at which revenues were up in the past year.

The report for the end of the latest fiscal year shows a drop in the revenue generated by the 18 state casinos. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission report shows a drop of almost 78 million dollars — marking the second year in a row that revenue was off — for a total of just under one-point-four (1.388) billion dollars. Iowa Gaming Grand Falls Casino signAssociation president, Wes Ehrecke, says weather was one factor for the drop off.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

(as he says)”The brutal winter that we had, especially January and February — subzero temperatures, the whole Polar Vortex — kept a lot of people at home and kept people from doing a lot of things in the whole entertainment world,” Ehrecke says. “You don’t get those months back, you just can’t recover from that, and I think that contributed a lot.”

He says competition from outside the state also had an impact.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

(as he says)”Illinois with their video gaming terminals that are located in bars and restaurants has certainly impacted some of the casinos on our eastern border,” he says. “Plus, I think there’s still a little bit of economic uncertainty.” He says the uncertainty has people spending less of their discretionary income on entertainment as they spend more on food, clothing, shelter and other priorities.

Ehrecke says he is not concerned about the drop, as he says there are new facilities in the works that should give the industry a boost.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

(as he says)”There will be a new casino up in Sioux City, the Hard Rock Casino. Davenport as well as Bettendorf are both looking to go with land-based casinos. When you have additional amenities and an improved property, we believe that that will certainly help with the revenues of those respective areas,” Ehrecke says.

He says the socioeconomic report conducted for the Racing and Gaming Commission and released earlier this year had positive news for the industry.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

(as he says) “That whole socioeconomic report I think was very promising in the fact that a very large percentage of people think that going to a casino is an acceptable form of entertainment, certainly many people do,” Ehrecke says. “Not only for the gaming portion, but for non-gaming type things, concerts, a comedy club, certainly fine dining,” Ehrecke says.

Ehrecke says the casinos will still continue to be an important part of the state’s economy.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

(as he says)”I think overall still we are a very strong and stable industry — about a billion dollar annual economic impact. I believe the trends look favorable going forward,” Ehrecke says.

The other casino at which revenues were up in the past year was Harrah’s Council Bluffs Casino.

Story from Radio Iowa

July 21, 2014 - 11:38 am - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa – The first extreme heat wave of the summer is forecast for Iowa this week, with highs in the 90s and the heat indexes in the 100s. With the National Weather service issuing a Heat Advisory, The Iowa thermometer - 102 degreesDepartment of Public Health (IDPH) reminds Iowans even young and healthy individuals can have a heat-related illness if they are active during hot weather.

IDPH Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says that sometimes the body’s temperature control system just isn’t enough.  She says that in such cases, a person’s temperature rises rapidly.  Especially when humidity is high, as it is today, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly.

Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, Dr. Quinlisk says the people who are at greatest risk include:

  • People age 65 or older
  • Infants and young children
  • Overweight individuals
  • People who are performing manual labor or exercising outdoors
  • People who have a chronic illness, especially those with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as those for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation.

She says that to protect your health when temperatures and humidity are high, remember to keep cool and use common sense. The following tips are important:

  • Increase fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. The best way to tell you are well-hydrated is if your urine is light yellow. If it gets dark, stop and rehydrate by drinking water immediately.
  • If experiencing a lot of sweating, replace salt and minerals by eating foods like bananas and salty crackers, or drink rehydrating beverages that contain salts such as sports drinks, and special rehydration fluids.
  • Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and wear sunscreen.
  • Wear hats that shade your face such as sun hats, visors, etc.
  • Keep in the shade or air conditioned areas as much as possible.
  • Work slowly if you are not used to working or exercising in heat and humidity. Stop immediately if you get dizzy, nauseated, or feel weak. Go into an air conditioned space and drink cool liquids.
  • Use a buddy system. Watch others for heat-induced illness, since some people may not realize that they are suffering heat-related illnesses and can become confused or lose consciousness.

For more information about preventing heat-related illness, visit http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/heat_guide.asp.

The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls says that after what has been a relatively cool summer so far, we’re heading into a short stretch of more typical July conditions to begin the week.

A heat advisory is in effect until 9 PM this evening.

The Weather Service says temperatures will climb near 90 degrees in areas east of Interstate 29. In areas west of the Interstate 29 corridor, readings may top out in the low to middle 90s, with areas of central South Dakota reaching 100 degrees. These temperatures are expected to slowly fall during the evening hours. The heat, combined with increasing humidity, will produce heat index values between 100 and 105 degrees.

Precautionary/preparedness actions:

A heat advisory means that a period of hot temperatures is expected. Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water. Check up on relatives and neighbors, and do not leave children or pets unattended in vehicles.

To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency, call 9 1 1.

The dangerous heat and humidity will be short-lived, however, as high temperatures mainly in the 80s spread back into the region for Tuesday and Wednesday.

July 21, 2014 - 10:33 am - Posted in News

Rock Rapids, Iowa — Billed as the “best four days of summer,” the Greater Lyon County Fair continues in Rock Rapids through Thursday.

We had a chance to catch up with Elaine Hinsch on the Fair Board, and she tells us what’s happening at the fair this week.carnival fair ticket booth

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

There’s also a special raffle this year as a fair fundraiser, and some new activities, says Hinsch.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

Hinsch says even though the June flood did extensive damage to the fairgrounds and nearby homes and other structures, most of the fair should be just like any other year.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

She says the fair board and the whole county owe a lot to the volunteers who helped.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

Again, the Lyon County Fair runs through Thursday in Rock Rapids.

Click here for a link to the fair’s web site where you can find the schedule of events.

Larchwood, Iowa — A Lyon County Deputy Sheriff was taken to a hospital after he rolled his patrol car on Tuesday.
Lyon County Sheriff Car Door 60-8
The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office says the Iowa State Patrol covered the accident.

They report that about 10:30 Tuesday morning, July 15, 2014, 28-year-old deputy Charles Zech of Rock Rapids was driving a 2013 Chevy Impala patrol car eastbound on 135th Street on the west side of Larchwood, when he observed a westbound vehicle on Highway 9 committing a possible violation.

As he was watching the vehicle for possible enforcement action, the right side wheels of the patrol car went off the road. And due to the steep drop off without a shoulder at the location, the patrol car rolled over in the ditch.

Deputy Zech received minor injuries and was taken to Sanford Rock Rapids Medical Center.

The Iowa State Patrol report says there was $8000 in damage to the patrol car.

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A Sioux Falls resident wanted on a Lyon County felony burglary charge has recently been arrested in connection with the incident.Jail Door2

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office has just informed us that on Monday July 7, 2014 one of their deputies arrested 20-year-old Lawren Barse of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on an active Lyon County arrest warrant.

Barse’s charges stem from an incident that happened in December, 2013 in which he was charged with one count of Third Degree Burglary, a Class D Felony; and Operation Without Owner’s Consent, an Aggravated Misdemeanor.

Barse was picked up at the Minnehaha county jail and transported to the Lyon County Jail where at last report he was being held.