Inwood, Iowa — Some grass was burned in a fire on Friday, June 24, 2022, by Lake Pahoja near Inwood.

According to Inwood Fire Chief Troy Van Beek, at about 3:20 p.m., the Inwood Fire Department was called to the report of a grass fire just south of Lake Pahoja.

The chief says the fire department saw the grass fire as they approached the scene. He says they used water to fight the fire.

Van Beek says no injuries were reported.

Chief Van Beek reports that there was less than an acre of grass damaged in the blaze. He says the firefighters who responded were on the scene for about 40 minutes.

Van Beek reminds people, especially with Independence Day coming soon, that they need to be very careful with fireworks, both from a personal injury standpoint and a fire prevention standpoint. He says the grass is drying out, and any firework that can go airborne can be even more of a fire hazard, both on your property and on that of your neighbors.

June 27, 2022 - 3:56 pm - Posted in News

Hull, Iowa — An Inwood teen was taken to a hospital after a crash near Hull on Saturday, June 25th.

According to the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office, at about 8:20 a.m., 56-year-old Sergio De Hoyos of Rock Valley was driving a 2020 Kenworth semi-truck pulling a 2010 Walker tank trailer eastbound on Highway 18, two miles west of Hull. They tell us 14-year-old Gavin Feenstra of Rock Valley was driving a 2014 Ford Flex, also eastbound on 18 behind De Hoyos.

Deputies say De Hoyos slowed for the stop sign at Highway 75 and Feenstra struck the tank trailer.

According to the report, the Hull Ambulance took a passenger in the Feenstra Ford, 14-year-old Gavin Brands of Inwood to Hegg Health Center in Rock Valley. Gavin Feenstra and another passenger 14-year-old Gradyn Feenstra of Rock Valley, reported minor injuries, were treated by emergency medical technicians at the scene, and declined further medical treatment.

Damage to the Ford was estimated at $10,000. The tank trailer sustained approximately $2,500 in damage.

Feenstra was cited for Following Too Closely.

The Hull Ambulance Squad, Hull Fire Department, and the Rock Valley Police Department assisted with the response to the accident.

Democratic Congresswoman Cindy Axne of West Des Moines and Republican Senator Joni Ernst voted for the bipartisan gun bill President Biden signed into law over the weekend.

On the other hand, the rest of Iowa’s congressional delegation opposed it.

Republican Congresswomen Ashley Hinson of Marion and Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa, Congressman Randy Feenstra of Hull, and Senator Chuck Grassley all voted no on the bill. They all had similar concerns regarding that it does not provide adequate due process rights when it came to confiscating a gun from someone considered a threat to themselves or others.  Miller-Meeks made an emphasis on not including the access to mental health records during background checks for gun buyers under 21.

Republican Senator Joni Ernst says the law does not place new restrictions on law-abiding gun owners. Congresswoman Axne, a Democrat from West Des Moines, says the bill will make schools safer, but doesn’t go far enough. Axne supports restoring the ban on assault weapons.

Sioux Falls, SD — One of the tools that the National Weather Service meteorologists use to predict the weather, create forecasts, and issue severe weather warnings for northwest Iowa is down, and has been for a few days.

Meteorologist Amanda Penning with the National Weather Service Sioux Falls office tells us their Doppler radar isn’t broken, but it is offline for a planned upgrade.

She tells us what that entails.

She says with the radar offline, it is a little more of a challenge for meteorologists in the office to do their job, but it’s not impossible. And people shouldn’t be concerned if severe weather does occur.

Penning says there are a lot of WSR-88D units (that’s what the weather service calls their Doppler radar units) in the United States, and they’re all being upgraded.

Coincidentally, the National Weather Service Weather Radio transmitter for the tri-state area on 162.4 MHz is also down at this time. Penning says they’re also upgrading that so it will be more robust and not break down so often. She says this does NOT affect the other weather radio transmitters in the area such as the one near Sheldon at Sanborn, the one near Worthington, the one near Milford, or the one near Storm Lake.

Statewide, Iowa — Teachers who go through an Iowa college program no longer have to pass a professional exam to be licensed, thanks to a new state law that eliminates the so-called Praxis requirement for new teachers.

The test was a particular obstacle for dual-language immersion programs because it’s only offered in English. Noelia Espinal, a teacher at the Muskie Early Learning Center in Muscatine, says it was an unnecessary hurdle for bilingual teachers.

The Praxis test will still be required for teachers coming to Iowa from outside the US, which is a major drawback for schools that rely on teachers from Spanish-speaking countries. Rebecca Gomez leads a Spanish-immersion program at Pella Christian where many of the teachers are native Spanish-speakers from outside the US. Gomez says it’s hard to find qualified candidates locally.

She says the school’s religious requirements also narrow the hiring pool. Gomez says taking and retaking the Praxis can add months to the process of bringing in a new teacher on a visa.

June 23, 2022 - 12:06 pm - Posted in News

Statewide, Iowa — Survey numbers from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources show hunters bagged around 375-thousand pheasants this past season. Wildlife biologist, Todd Bogenschutz, says that’s around a 25 percent increase over the previous year.

He says the information from hunters confirmed their August roadside survey — which show bird numbers up in the northern third of the state and across the central portion — while tough winter conditions dropped bird numbers in south.

Bogenschutz says he was shocked to see an increase in the number of hunters.

While bird numbers have trended up the last couple of years — Bogenschutz says habitat and weather remain the key factors that determine the trend will continue.

The DNR will conduct its roadside pheasant survey again in August. Bogenschutz says the weather conditions this spring have been good for nesting and he expects the numbers will stay strong.

Des Moines, Iowa — A bill signed into law allows Iowa parents to enroll their children in any public K-through-12 school at any time.

Governor Kim Reynolds just approved this change to Iowa’s current open enrollment policy, which now allows parents to transfer their children out of their residing district. Previously, parents usually had to make a request of transfer by March 1st, and transfers were only permitted into nearby school districts.

As of today, the adjacency rule is also gone, but school districts may still refuse transfer applications for a lack of room. These changes were included in a budget and policy catch-all bill that was approved on the last day of the 2022 legislative session.

Governor Reynolds signed two other bills into law Wednesday, completing action on all bills approved during the 2022 Iowa General Assembly. One bill outlines the budget for the Iowa Department of Agriculture. The other is designed to boost the artisanal butchery profession in Iowa.

Statewide Iowa — Three Iowa Democrats made a pitch to national party leaders Thursday, arguing the Iowa Democratic Party’s Caucuses should be first in 2024.

National Democrats are hearing applications from 16 states and Puerto Rico seeking to be among the five early voting states in the presidential campaign. Members of the party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee have made it clear they’re looking for states with diverse populations. State Representative Ras Smith of Waterloo is a member of the Black Caucus in the Iowa House.

Smith says while Iowa’s overall population is nearly 91 percent white, Iowa is diverse in other ways.

The chairmen of the Iowa Democratic Party AND the Iowa GOP have both been arguing that Iowa inserts geographic diversity in the presidential selection process. Smith says national party leaders need to consider what will be lost if Iowa’s Caucuses aren’t an early proving ground for those who aspire to be president.

Smith made his comments during a recent episode of Iowa Press on Iowa PBS. Iowa Democratic Party chairman Ross Wilburn, Democratic National Committee member Scott Brennan of Des Moines and House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst made Iowa’s pitch to the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee Thursday morning. They discussed a big change in the voting process, specifically detailing mail-in balloting rather than a Caucus Night scramble in precinct meetings that involves complicated math to ultimately decide who wins the Democratic Party’s Caucuses. The Republican National Committee has already set its calendar of 2024 presidential contests. The Iowa GOP’s Caucuses, which essentially conduct a straw poll to determine the winner, are first.

Statewide Iowa — In July 2020, the Federal Communications Commission directed phone companies to implement 988 as the new toll-free nationwide suicide prevention hotline by July 16, 2022. The nationwide 988 crisis line will go active next month, providing help for people experiencing a mental health crisis.

Foundation 2 Crisis Services in Cedar Rapids is one of the two Iowa centers that will answer calls. CEO Emily Blomme tells KCRG TV she is concerned about meeting anticipated demand.

It’s estimated 71 thousand Iowans will call, chat or text 988 during the first 12 months of the launching of the new service. One of the biggest concerns is having enough staff.

The second Iowa center is CommUnity Crisis Services in Iowa City. If a call center in Iowa is not able to pick up — the call will be rerouted to a center in another state. While every call will be answered, Blomme says having them answered locally is ideal. She says about 87 percent of situations can be de-escalated over the phone, saving lives.

The 988 line goes active on July 16th. The current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number 1-800-273-8255 is still active for anyone who is struggling.

June 22, 2022 - 12:34 pm - Posted in News

 

Des Moines, Iowa — The University of Iowa unveiled a new mobile medical training truck Tuesday at the Iowa State Capitol. UI program advisor, Cormac O’Sullivan says it allows medical professionals to get trained at home.

He cites one example where they would stage a car accident with mannequins for the local fire department.

They would then take them through training in the emergency room. O’Sullivan says there’s already staff shortages — and it’s tough for small towns to take everyone to a training session.

O’Sullivan is an associate professor in the College of Nursing where this first truck will be based in Iowa City. Two more trucks will be coming.

The goal is to reach every single facility, provider, and county in the state at least once a year with some continuing education training with simulation. Sioux City EMT Trainer, Terry Regaller, was on hand for the announcement.

He says the training is very important to the success of first responders.

The start-up of the program is funded with an eight-million-dollar grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust. Trustee Walter Panzirer, says Iowa is the fifth state to get these types of trucks.

The funding will gradually drop down over four years, and then the University of Iowa has to find money to keep the program going.