July 3, 2019 - 3:34 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — After a slow start due to a very wet spring, field and crop conditions are improving in Iowa.

Brad Medlock, the Agricultural Statistician for the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service for the Upper Midwest Field Office says that more days have been available for fieldwork than earlier in the spring when farmers were lucky to get in one day per week.

But he says the alfalfa and pasture stats are not as good as they could be.

Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig says that the much-needed warmer temperatures have helped the crops progress. He says that some parts of the state had below-average rainfall recently, but sub-soil moisture is still adequate for the crops to grow.

Here in the northwest reporting district, 95 percent of soybeans have emerged, and 91 percent of alfalfa fields have been cut for the first time.

July 3, 2019 - 3:05 pm - Posted in News

George, Iowa — The George-Little Rock Board of Education has offered a contract for the position of Interim Superintendent of Schools.

In his resignation letter, former Superintendent John Eyerly said that he is “charting a new journey.” Eyerly says he has decided to resign and focus on family. He served the district for two years.

The George/Little Rock board has offered the interim position to Mr. Les Douma. Mr. Douma has served as a Superintendent of Schools at MOC-Floyd Valley Community Schools in Orange City and in the Rock Valley Community School District in Rock Valley. Douma has also served as the Chief Administrator of Northwest AEA and Area Education Agency 4.

G/LR officials tell us that Superintendent Douma received his Bachelor’s of Arts Degree from The University of Northern Iowa in Mathematics, a Master’s of Arts Degree in Educational Administration from Chapman College, and his Educational Specialist degree from The University of South Dakota in Educational Administration.

Douma began his teaching and coaching career in Primghar as a junior high teacher, where he also coached. He taught mathematics and coached in Ida Grove; Sibley; Santa Ana, California; and Sheldon. Men’s Basketball at the college level was next in his career. He served as the Head Men’s Basketball Coach for Westmar College and Northwestern College, where he also served as the Athletic Director and Vice President for Development. He then entered the superintendent positions.

According to George/Little Rock officials, Mr. Douma began his employment with the George-Little Rock Community Schools this Wednesday.

July 2, 2019 - 3:24 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — A bunch of rain fell on northwest Iowa on Monday night. And reports were quite spotty — even reports quite near each other varied by quite a bit.

Coming out on top of reports are unofficial reports around Hospers. One report was of 6.2 inches, one of five inches, and one of four inches in Hospers. Not too far northwest of Hospers, only 3.12″ was reported. Two unofficial reports near Hull said they had around four inches, but in Hull, only 2.5 inches were reported. Orange City reports include three inches, 3.62 and 3.37. The official Sioux Center total, measured at the wastewater treatment plant was 3.00 inches, with other Sioux Center area reports of 2.31, 2.25, and 2.07 inches.

Trusty weatherman Clarence Stubbe reports they had 2.48 inches in George. The official Sheldon report was 2.33 inches. The National Weather Service says they received a report from four miles north-northeast of Lester of 1.63 inches. In Rock Rapids, the official amount was 1.53 inches, but less than two blocks away, 1.71 inches were reported. Sibley got the least rain of our survey, with an official total of 1.0 inches.

Thanks to the official and not-so-official reporters of precip around northwest Iowa for providing us with this information.

A flash flood watch was posted for the area in the 4 p.m. hour Monday, with flash flood warnings posted in the 11 p.m. hour.

July 2, 2019 - 12:35 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — While tornadoes can strike during any month of the year in Iowa, the peak months are April, May and June. Now that we’re into July, the risks diminish slightly.

Meteorologist Brooke Hagenhoff, at the National Weather Service, says Iowa had zero tornadoes during April and didn’t see this year’s first twister touch down until May 22nd.

We’re never out of the woods with tornadoes, so she urges people to remain vigilant, though at the moment, Iowa is well behind normal for the potentially-deadly wind storms.

The past few years, Iowa had above-average numbers of tornadoes, with 55 in 2017 and 69 last year.

July 2, 2019 - 11:32 am - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — It may not seem like it, but June 2019 saw less rainfall in Sheldon than we’d see in a normal June, and a LOT less than June 2018.

According to the official National Weather Service Sheldon Weather statistics, June 2019 saw 2.41-inches of precipitation fall on Sheldon. That’s an inch-and-a-half below the normal June rainfall of 3.91-inches, and more than 9-inches below June of last year. The biggest single-day rainfall total in March this year was just 0.65-inches on June 28th.

Temperatures proved to be fairly normal for June this year. The average high temp for this June was 79-degrees, which is exactly the normal for a June in Sheldon. On the warmest day of June 2019 the mercury reached 95-degrees, with that temperature coming on June 30th. The coolest high temperature reading was 64-degrees, which we saw on June 24th.

As for low temperatures, the warmest low recorded during June of this year was 77-degrees, and it came on June 30th. The coolest low temperature reading came on June 13th when the mercury dipped to 43-degrees. Our average low temperature for the month was 58-degrees, which is some 3-degrees warmer than the average low reading in June.

The records we checked date back through more than 100-years of record-keeping for Sheldon.

Northwest Iowa — Local, state, and county law enforcement organizations are advising us that they will be out in force before, during, and after the fourth of July holiday, to keep travelers safe.

We heard last week from the Iowa State Patrol about their plans for the holiday. Other law enforcement agencies are also chiming in.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office says that they are joining the effort put on by the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau. In an effort to combat drunk driving, they say their deputies will be exhibiting zero tolerance for impaired drivers.

Nationally, during the 2017 July 4th holiday period (the most recent statistics available) 601 people died in motor vehicle crashes, or, an average of 134 per day. During that same time there were four fatalities on Iowa roads. That is certainly nothing to celebrate.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 60 percent of those who died in alcohol-related crashes were in vehicles involving a driver with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .15 or higher, almost two times the legal limit of .08. Law enforcement agencies across Iowa will be participating in the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign from July 3 to July 7, 2019.

They tell us that besides the possibility of serious injury and death to the impaired driver, he or she is endangering the lives of anyone else in their vehicle, or anyone that they may encounter on the road. There is also a financial aspect of driving impaired. An OWI arrest can cost up to $10,000. You could lose your license, your car, and your job. You could serve jail time. Deputies say that before you set out to celebrate this holiday weekend, they suggest you make a plan – have a designated driver, call a taxi, or another rideshare service.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau reminds you that it is never okay to drink and drive.

Meanwhile, the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office is telling us they will concentrate on traffic enforcement and providing safety to their communities this upcoming 4th of July holiday.
According to Captain Jamie Van Voorst, “The Sheriff’s Office has always focused on Sioux County traffic enforcement. We believe it has resulted in the lowering of our traffic fatalities and generated safer travel within our county. We will particularly be watching for distracted drivers, alcohol and drug use as well as speeding violations.”

July 1, 2019 - 3:40 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — There’s a new option for license plates in Iowa. While there are several options, including plates supporting colleges, the DNR, Iowa Cattlemen, and several others, the new plate is almost the opposite of that trend.

The latest addition to the Iowa Department of Transportation’s options is the “blackout” plate — an all-black plate with white lettering authorized last legislative session. Some people had been buying the Dordt College license plate — since it’s white writing on a black background — and were then covering the parts of the plate talking about “Dordt” and “Defenders” with a custom license plate frame. That’s a no-no, so that’s what started the discussion about the blackout plates. The minimalist design appeals to people looking for a sleek look for their vehicle.

The Iowa Department of Transportation says this Monday was the first date that you could order the new plate. It’s offered as both a standard alpha-numeric plate and a personalized plate, and you can order both online or in-person. Iowa Prison Industries will make the plates and ship them to your county treasurer’s office, who will let you know when they are ready to pick up. The DOT says you should bring the plates you are replacing into your county treasurer’s office to turn them in when you pick up your new plates.

When compared to the cost of standard-issue sequential plates, the new plates will cost an additional $35 for a standard alpha-numeric set of plates and an additional $25 (for a total of $60) for personalized plates. You’ll also pay more to renew the plates. It’s $10 extra for standard sequential plates and $15 extra for personalized plates. These extra funds collected for special plates normally go to the organization sponsoring the plates, like a college or organization. But for the blackout plate, the extra fees will go to the Road Use Tax Fund, which funds state, county, and city road and bridge projects throughout Iowa.

The DOT says that license plates are an important tool used by law enforcement and others to help identify a vehicle. This identification has many practical purposes and can be life-saving in the case of criminal activity or a situation like an Amber Alert. They are reminding people that they should never use a license plate frame that obscures or blocks the numbers and letters on the plate. They say it can hinder this identification and violates state law.

Find more info here.
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July 1, 2019 - 11:50 am - Posted in News

Sioux Falls, South Dakota — Sanford Health has signed a letter of intent to explore a merger between the Sioux Falls-based hospital company and UnityPoint Health of Des Moines.

According to a press release from Sanford Health, the decision follows considerable exploration between leadership teams from each organization. The two organizations will build on their strengths in clinical care, research, innovation and education to deliver greater health outcomes and value in communities in the Midwest and around the world.

With more than $11 billion in operating revenue, the combined company would rank among the top 15 largest nonprofit health systems in the country. The new organization would employ more than 83,000 staff and 2,600 physicians and carry out operations in 26 states and nine countries, including hospitals, clinics, health plans and networks, post-acute care, research, innovation and other lines of business, according to Sanford Health.

The press release says that while the organizations are still in discussions, they have agreed on certain principles that will guide their work during the next few months:

Leadership: The new company would be led by Sanford president and CEO Kelby Krabbenhoft and UnityPoint president and CEO Kevin Vermeer. Krabbenhoft would serve as president and CEO, and Vermeer would serve as senior executive vice president.

Unified Board: A new governing Board would be established for the new company, made up of representatives from both legacy organizations, plus additional unaffiliated Board members with relevant national industry experience and expertise. UnityPoint Health would recommend the inaugural Board chair.

Care delivery: Both organizations would continue to operate their respective fully-integrated medical groups and maintain longstanding relationships with independent physicians, hospitals and other health care partners.

The transaction is subject to various regulatory reviews. Timelines are still fluid, but leaders intend for the transaction to be completed, pending regulatory reviews, by the end of 2019.

About UnityPoint Health
UnityPoint Health is one of the nation’s most integrated health systems. Through relationships with more than 280 physician clinics, 32 hospitals in metropolitan and rural communities and home care services throughout its 9 regions, UnityPoint Health provides care throughout Iowa, western Illinois and southern Wisconsin. UnityPoint Health entities employ more than 30,000 employees, working toward innovative advancements to become the Midwest’s premier health system known for redesigning the health care experience. For more information, visit unitypointhealth.org.

About Sanford Health
Sanford Health, one of the largest health systems in the United States, is dedicated to the integrated delivery of health care, genomic medicine, senior care and services, global clinics, research and affordable insurance. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the organization includes 44 hospitals, 1,400 physicians and more than 200 Good Samaritan Society senior care locations in 26 states and nine countries. Nearly $1 billion in gifts from philanthropist Denny Sanford have transformed how Sanford Health improves the human condition. For information, visit sanfordhealth.org or Sanford Health News.

June 28, 2019 - 1:43 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — There will be an increased law enforcement presence on northwest Iowa highways this Independence Day week.

The 4th of July, to many, means fireworks, BBQ and the celebration of America’s independence. Iowa State Patrol Trooper Nick Erdmann says there will also be a noticeable increase in traffic as people travel to their 4th of July destinations.

Trooper Erdmann says the Iowa State Patrol will have troopers out in force during 4th of July week.

He says one of the things they’ll be looking for is excessive speed.

Erdmann says seat belts can save lives, and troopers will be on  the lookout for motorists who aren’t buckled up.

Trooper Erdmann says troopers will be focusing on Iowa’s Distracted Driving law, as well.

Another part of their concentrated effort, he says, are motorists who violate Iowa’s “Move Over” law.

Erdmann says there will also be a special emphasis on impaired driving, as well. He says if you plan to party hearty you should develop a plan to get home BEFORE the party starts.  Whether it’s a designated driver, a taxi, or a rideshare, plan ahead and avoid an OWI arrest.

June 28, 2019 - 12:03 pm - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — It’s going to be hot this weekend — that from the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. A heat advisory is posted for today, and weather service officials say they’ll probably post one for Saturday and Sunday as well.

Meteorologist Kyle Weisser with the National Weather Service’s office in Sioux Falls tells us what people should keep in mind.

He gives us some specific numbers.

Sometimes, heat and humidity add up to severe storms. Weisser says those are not forecast this time, as it’s more heat and humidity trapped at the surface, with drier air aloft.

Sunday afternoon, however we will start a chance for showers and thunderstorms, and that chance will stick with us through the Fourth of July. Our highs next week should be in the mid-eighties.