Northwest Iowa — A northwest Iowa based company has been approved for a pair of state grants to bring broadband internet service to two locations in this area.

The Governor’s Office announced Tuesday afternoon that Premier Communications, which is headquartered in Sioux Center and serves multiple communities in this area, has been approved for two grants through the Broadband Grants Program from Empower Rural Iowa.

One of the grants is for just over $1.745 million to be used to bring broadband internet access to the rural Ashton area. Premier Communications CEO Doug Boone, tells us more.

The second grant, for just over $7.405 million is for a project in rural Plymouth County.

Boone says, if Premier accepts the grants, in-depth engineering work will begin in those areas.

He says there are circumstances beyond Premier’s control that may force the schedule to be pushed back.

Boone says he’s excited to serve these underserved areas.

The state has allowed Premier Communications ten business days to accept these grants.

 

Larchwood, Iowa — A Sioux Falls man, who authorities say collided with the roof of a Larchwood home this past February, has been arrested in connection with the incident.

According to the Iowa State Patrol, at about 10:20 pm on the night of February 2nd, a car driven by Irrael Hidalgo, of Sioux Falls, was northbound on Highway 9 in Larchwood, completely missed the curve, went airborne and crashed into the roof of a residence.

In the days after the crash, Lyon County Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep said speed was definitely a factor, and the house was pretty much totaled.

The Lyon County Ambulance took Hidalgo to Avera McKennon Hospital after the crash, but he escaped serious injury.

With the investigation complete, authorities have now charged Hidalgo with speeding, reckless driving, failure to have a valid driver’s license, failure to reduce speed at a proper rate when approaching a curve and operating while intoxicated-1st offense.

Authorities say Hidalgo was taken into custody on Monday on active arrest warrants for those charges.

Above photo shows Hidalgo’s car being removed from the the roof of the Larchwood home he crashed into.

Statewide Iowa — The president of the state teachers union says some Iowa school districts plan to require that students and staff wear face coverings if state law banning mask mandates is overturned.

That’s Iowa State Education Association president Mike Beranek. He says masks can help prevent the recent increase in COVID cases among Iowa students.

Late last week, a state judge declined to temporarily block Iowa’s ban on mask mandates in schools. A federal judge has yet to rule on a similar request to at least temporarily block the law. The U.S. Department of Education also is considering action against Iowa’s mask ban. Some school officials in Florida have implemented mask mandates, contrary to Florida policy, but Beranek says that’s unlikely here.

The Iowa Department of Public Health is updating COVID case numbers on Wednesdays. Last Wednesday’s data showed 29 percent of the Iowans who had tested positive for COVID in the previous week were under the age of 18.

Statewide Iowa — Fourth district Congressman Randy Feenstra of Hull has joined his Republican colleagues on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee in voting “no” on ag-related elements of the infrastructure package House Democrats are proposing.

The panel began reviewing amendments Friday. Democrats defeated the four that Feenstra offered. One dealt with taxes and could have partially blocked a proposal to change the way inherited property, like farmland, is taxed.

The Biden Administration proposes taxing inherited property as if it were a sale, with an exemption for the first one million dollars of inherited property for an individual. Feenstra proposed freezing all spending outlined in the bill until the U.S. Ag Secretary confirms no farming operation with an annual income below $400,000 would see its taxes raised under the plan. The House Ag Committee took a vote on the package Monday morning and it passed on a party-line vote.

The $3.5 trillion infrastructure package House Democrats are proposing includes about 90 billion in ag related spending. Congresswoman Cindy Axne, a Democrat from West Des Moines, is also on the House Ag Committee. She voted “yes” on the ag committee’s portion of the infrastructure plan, citing the one billion dollars included for biofuels infrastructure and the 18 billion for USDA Rural Development.

September 13, 2021 - 11:01 am - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — The weekly COVID numbers for the four-county area of O’Brien, Sioux, Osceola and Lyon Counties have taken another jump, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

In last week’s report, 87 area residents had tested positive for COVID. That number has jumped to 95 for the past seven days. Sioux County reports 41 positives, down two from the last report; Lyon County reports 26, up five; O’Brien County had 17, up three; and Osceola County had 8, up two from last week’s report.

Thankfully, this week’s report shows no additional COVID-related deaths in the four-county area over the past seven days…a statistic we’re happy to report. However, 189 of our friends and neighbors have perished from COVID-related illnesses since the pandemic began; 74 in Sioux County, 57 in O’Brien County, 41 in Lyon County and 17 in Osceola County.

Statewide, 64% of Iowans have been vaccinated, while here in the four-county area the numbers are somewhat lower. O’Brien County has the highest vaccination rate in the four-counties at 55.9%, Osceola comes next at 50.7%, 47.5% of Lyon County residents have been vaccinated, while just 47.2% of Sioux County residents have received the COVID vaccine.

As of Monday morning there were 554 patients in Iowa hospitals with COVID and 153 in ICU’s across the state. Of those hospitalized, 78.7% are not fully vaccinated, with 89.5% of ICU patients not fully vaccinated.

Also as of Monday morning, there were COVID outbreaks at 20 long-term care facilities across the State of Iowa.

September 11, 2021 - 8:56 pm - Posted in News

Washington, D.C. — 4th District U.S. Congressman Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, says NASA research on what’s called “sustainable aviation fuel” should examine the use of biofuels for airplanes and spacecraft.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel — sometimes called biojet fuel — is a crop based alternative to jet fuel made only from petroleum.

During a U.S. House subcommittee meeting on Thursday, Feenstra proposed and the panel approved adding language to House Democrats’ infrastructure plan that will require NASA research and development of “sustainable aviation fuel” to include biofuels. Also Thursday, the White House invited representatives of the ethanol and biodiesel industry to a discussion about wider use “sustainable aviation fuel.”

September 10, 2021 - 3:03 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Harvest season is almost on top of us and Iowa State Trooper Kevin Krull says we need to keep an eye out for farm implements on the roadway to avoid crashes.

He says a No Passing Zone means that you cannot pass…even if you’re stranded behind a piece of slow-moving farm equipment.

Trooper Krull says during harvest season we all need to slow down, watch for farm implements, and expect the unexpected And remember, you’ll close fast on any slow moving vehicles in your path. And you’ll close even faster if you’re exceeding the speed limit.

September 10, 2021 - 2:35 pm - Posted in News

George, Iowa — A barn was damaged in a fire on Thursday, September 9, 2021, near George.

According to George Fire Chief Bill Sprock, about 3:00 p.m., the George Fire Department was called to the report of a barn fire at 2038 Kennedy Avenue, at the north city limits of George.

The chief says the fire department saw the barn on fire as they approached the scene, and got to work extinguishing the fire.

Sprock says no injuries were reported.

The fire department received assistance from the Little Rock Fire Department, in the form of a tanker of water.

He says the owners had been trying to clean up the acreage and had been using a burn pit. The chief says they believe the cause of the fire was sparks from the burn pit.

Chief Sprock reports that there was some damage to the barn and some old hay inside, but the barn actually had been scheduled to be demolished soon anyway, so the loss was small.

He says the firefighters who responded were on the scene for an hour and a half.

Lyon County, Iowa — A Rock Rapids woman was injured Thursday morning when the vehicle she was driving rear-ended a West Lyon Schools bus. The bus driver and students onboard escaped injury.

According to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, the crash happened at 8:00 Thursday morning at the intersection of Cleveland Avenue and Highway 9, west of Lester.

Deputies say a 2017 International school bus, owned by West Lyon Schools and driven by 41-year-old Kristi Ageson of Lester, had slowed down waiting for oncoming traffic and was attempting to make a left turn from Highway 9 onto Cleveland Avenue when the bus was struck from behind by a 2020 Chevy Trax, driven by 29-year-old Alyssa Sattler of Rock Rapids.

Authorities say nobody on the bus was injured, but Sattler was transported to Sanford USD Medical Center in Sioux Falls for treatment of serious injuries.

Damage to the school bus was estimated at about $3,000, while Sattler’s Chevy was termed a total loss.

Lyon County authorities say the crash remains under investigation.

Assisting Lyon County Deputies was Larchwood EMS, Larchwood Fire, Lyon County Ambulance, Lester Rescue and Inwood Body.

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Original post 10:07am 9/9/2021

Lyon County, Iowa — A West Lyon school bus and another vehicle collided Thursday morning, just east of the Highway 182 and Highway 9 intersection, according to West Lyon School officials.

In an email to parents, school officials say all the kids, as well as the bus driver, were examined by Lester EMS after the crash and are OK. School officials say the driver of the other vehicle was transported to a Sioux Falls hospital.

According to school officials, school staff have been informed and are available for students if needed, but if parents have concerns they should feel free to contact the school office at 712-753-4917.

We’ll have more information as it becomes available.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota — Avera Health has announced that it will become the third healthcare company to require full vaccination for its physicians, employees and volunteers, following in the footsteps of the company that owns MercyOne in Primghar and Sioux City and Sanford Health. Avera has given a vaccination deadline of December 1, 2021.

The policy also applies to students rotating in Avera facilities, contracted workers and vendors. Avera Health will consider exemptions for employees with medical contraindications and sincerely held religious beliefs. Employees who receive an exemption will be required to wear appropriate personal protective equipment and comply with regular COVID-19 testing and other preventive measures.

According to Avera, the majority of their employees are already vaccinated for COVID-19 and, in an all-employee survey, a majority of employees voiced support for requiring vaccination.

The policy will affect Avera facilities, including those in our area; Le Mars, Marcus, Rock Valley, Rock Rapids, Sibley, Spencer, Spirit Lake and Sioux Falls.