Northwest Iowa — The number of positive COVID test results has exploded in the four-county area since last week’s report.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, 714 new positive COVID test results were reported in Lyon, Osceola, O’Brien and Sioux counties within the past seven days. That’s up from 338 one week ago, an increase of more than 100%.

Those positives break down to 366 in Sioux County, 143 in O’Brien County, 135 in Lyon County and 70 in Osceola County, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Sadly, there was one additional COVID-related death to report in the area this week. For the second consecutive week, a resident of Osceola County lost their battle with a COVID-related illness, bringing the Osceola County total to 20 since the start of the pandemic. Sioux County remains at 78 deaths, O’Brien at 63 and Lyon at 44 COVID-related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

As for adult vaccination rates in the four-county area: O’Brien County has the highest percentage of vaccinated adults at 61.5%, up 0.1% from one week ago; 55.0% of Osceola County adults are fully vaccinated, an increase of 0.1% from last week’s report; Sioux County stands at 52.7% of fully vaccinated adults, up 0.2% from one week ago; and Lyon County has 52.3% of its adult population fully vaccinated, up 0.3% from last week.

Buena Vista, here in northwest Iowa, still has the highest percentage of fully vaccinated adults in the state, with 81.6%, while Davis County, in southeast Iowa, remains the least vaccinated county in Iowa, with 47.5% of its adults being fully vaccinated.

Western Iowa — An expert who studied the Iowa gambling market says the state-licensed casinos in Council Bluffs and Sioux City are going to feel a big impact as Nebraska’s casinos ramp up — but says they will weather the storm.

Matt Rowe of Spectrum Gaming Group says there will be some adjustments.

He says the Iowa casinos have some advantages in resources.

He says they can offer promotions for their properties outside of Iowa while the Nebraska casinos don’t have as many options.

He says the same thing applies in Sioux City, which is a Hard Rock casino. The Council Bluffs market is currently Iowa’s largest in terms of revenue. Projections are that the Council Bluffs casinos could lose 45 percent of their market to new Nebraska competition. The report estimates Sioux City’s Hard Rock casino could see a loss of 50 million dollars in adjusted gross revenue.

The company that owns the Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort near Larchwood is one of the companies planning new casinos in Nebraska. Elite Casino Resorts is planning a casino at Fonner Park in Grand Island, Nebraska. In addition to the casino near Larchwood, Elite already has the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort south of Iowa City and Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport. Fonner Park at Grand Island is approximately 150 miles east of Omaha. The Grand Island Elite casino is planned to open with 650 slots, 20 table games, a sportsbook, and a show lounge. A hotel, spa, fine dining, and more are planned. Officials say it will employ well over 300 people.

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A Rock Rapids man faces a class B felony charge in a case that arose this past week. According to Iowa Code, Class B felony charges are the second-most serious charge in the state, surpassed only by class A felony offenses such a murder.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office tells us that on Thursday, January 13th, their deputies carried out a search warrant on a home in Rock Rapids.

They report that as a result of the search, they subsequently arrested 38-year-old Laurence James Stock IV of Rock Rapids on four charges: Indecent Contact with a Child, an Aggravated Misdemeanor; Drug Distribution to a Person Under 18, a Class B Felony; Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, a Simple Misdemeanor, and Possession of a Controlled Substance 1st offense – Marijuana, a Serious Misdemeanor.

At last report, Stock remained in the Lyon County Jail in Rock Rapids in lieu of a $25,000 bond.

If convicted of a class B felony, Stock could face up to 25 years in prison, according to Iowa code.

According to records from the clerk of court, Stock faces a preliminary hearing on Monday, January 24th.

January 14, 2022 - 2:21 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — Governor Kim Reynolds is proposing a way to trigger CORPORATE income tax cuts. The governor did not mention cutting taxes for corporations during her Condition of the State address earlier this week, but her plan is included in a budget report submitted to lawmakers.

If Iowa corporations pay more than 700 million dollars in state income taxes this year, Reynolds proposes lowering the top corporate income tax rate next year. Democrats like House Minority Leader Jennifer Konfrst says it’s a break for only the most profitable corporations.

In December, a key Senate Republican working on tax policy said before lawmakers would lower the corporate income tax rate, corporations would have to sign off on reduced or eliminated tax CREDITS that — in some cases — erase a corporation’s entire state tax bill. And House Speaker Pat Grassley has said House Republicans are focused on personal income tax cuts this year.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

Statewide Iowa — Iowa National Guard Adjutant General Benjamin Corell says the soldiers in his ranks are a wealth of talent for the state not seen since World War II, but during the annual “Condition of the Guard” address Thursday morning at the Capitol, Corell said the Guard is going to lose some soldiers due to the Pentagon’s COVID vaccine mandate.

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January 14, 2022 - 1:26 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Several Iowa businesses and trade groups have joined a new alliance to combat human trafficking in the state.

The Iowa Businesses Against Trafficking or I-BAT is an initiative by Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate’s office.

Anyone filing the required paperwork for a new business in Iowa uses the registration portal in Pate’s office.

The National Human Trafficking Hotline fielded nearly 300 calls from Iowa in 2020, leading to 78 criminal investigations.

Pate says businesses can educate both employees AND customers about the signs of human trafficking. The Iowa Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery already has a training program for hotel employees and is supporting Pate’s initiative.

January 14, 2022 - 12:35 pm - Posted in News

Lyon County, Iowa — A Little Rock man has been arrested on a warrant accusing him of sexual assault.

According to court records, 37-year-old Jeremy Eben is accused of sexually assaulting a woman to whom he had given a ride on the early morning of October 3rd. Court records indicate Eben allegedly forced himself on the woman in his vehicle while parked in a Conservation Area in Lyon County.

According to online court records, a charge of 3rd Degree Sexual Abuse, a Class C Felony, were filed on January 4th, with an arrest warrant issued January 10th. Eben was arrested by Lyon County deputies on Thursday, January 13th.

A Preliminary Hearing in the case is scheduled for February 2nd in Lyon County Magistrate Court, according to online court records.

Des Moines, Iowa — Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has ordered all flags in Iowa to be lowered to half-staff on Thursday, January 13, 2022, in honor and remembrance of Senator Harry Reid, who represented Nevada in Congress and was the Senate Majority Leader from 2007 to 2015.

Reid died on December 28, 2021, at the age of 82. Reid’s funeral will be held on Saturday, January 8 in Las Vegas.

The governor’s order is issued in conjunction with President Joe Biden’s proclamation to lower the United States flag to half-staff.

Flags will be at half-staff on the State Capitol Building and on flag displays in the Capitol Complex. Flags will also be half-staff on all public buildings, grounds, and facilities throughout the state.

Individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties, and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flags at half-staff for the same length of time.

President Biden’s proclamation says, “Throughout his long career of public service, Harry Reid was instrumental in passing landmark legislation that made a positive difference in the lives of countless Americans and made our Nation stronger and safer. His devoted service to our Nation was not about power for power’s sake. It was about the power to do right by the American people.”

January 12, 2022 - 2:25 pm - Posted in News

Doon, Iowa — A Doon man was taken to a hospital after an accident near Doon on Monday morning.

According to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, about 7:35 a.m., Nicky Greene of Rock Valley was driving his 2017 Chevy Silverado pickup eastbound on 260th Street or A52, a mile east of the A42 intersection on the south edge of Doon, when he stopped for crossing deer. The sheriff’s office says Greene’s Silverado was then rear-ended by an eastbound 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Kyson Van Surskum of Doon.

Van Surksum was transported to an area hospital. His injuries were thought to be minor.

The report says both vehicles sustained heavy damage with the Van Surksum jeep being considered a total loss.

According to the sheriff’s office, Van Surksum was cited on a charge of Following Too Closely.

The sheriff’s office says the Doon Fire Department, Doon Rescue Squad, Lyon County Ambulance Squad, The Iowa State Patrol, Lems Auto Recyclers, and K&J Body Shop all assisted with the response to the accident.

Des Moines, Iowa — A key state lawmaker is drafting a plan to require that a large percentage of landowners agree to a carbon pipeline project before state regulators could approve seizure of the remaining property through eminent domain.

Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton is chairman of the House State Government Committee.

In 2006, the Iowa legislature overrode Governor Vilsack’s veto of a law that has limited the authority of local governments to seize private property for economic development projects. Kaufmann says current state law requires transmission lines and pipelines that ship electricity or products through the state to sign up a majority of landowners before the Iowa Utilities Board can grant eminent domain to seize the rest.

But Kaufmann says the two proposed pipelines aren’t just pass through operations like Dakota Access. Each would transport carbon emissions from Iowa ethanol plants, so he says the current law must be changed so it applies to pipelines with terminals inside the state’s borders.

Kaufmann says he’s currently aiming to force pipelines to have contracts with around 75 percent of landowners before state regulators could grant permission to get the rest of the property through eminent domain. Kaufman says he’s researching pipeline-related laws in other states and discussing the issue with stakeholders in the two proposed carbon pipelines that would cut through Iowa.