January 25, 2023 - 9:21 am - Posted in News

Lester, Iowa — An Inwood man was taken to the hospital after an accident on Monday afternoon near Lester.

According to the Lyon County Sheriff’s office, at about 4:30 p.m., 38-year-old Christopher Driesen of Inwood was driving a 2016 Buick Regal westbound on Highway 9, about three miles west of Lester, when the vehicle went into the south ditch.

The Lyon County Ambulance took Driesen to Avera Merrill Pioneer Hospital in Rock Rapids.

The sheriff’s office says Lester Fire and Rescue and the Lyon County Ambulance assisted with the response to the accident.

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Northwest Iowa — The latest unemployment numbers show Lyon and Sioux counties continue to have the lowest unemployment in the state. Meanwhile, the latest numbers available show the state unemployment rate held steady at three-point-one percent in December.

Iowa Workforce Development director, Beth Townsend, says there were some positive signs as the year wrapped up.

The labor force participation rate dropped slightly as Townsend says about 17-hundred people dropped out of the workforce.

Townsend says the state entered 2023 on good footing in the face of some ongoing national issues.

Employers continue to cite the need for more skilled workers, and she says that’s one thing Iowa Workforce Development will continue working on.

She says there are a lot of good programs trying to create employee pipelines that are crucial to fixing the workforce crisis employers face.

The latest numbers available for local unemployment are those from November. Workforce officials remind us that these numbers are not seasonally adjusted.

Sioux County remains the county with the lowest unemployment in the state, at 1.7 percent, unchanged from the previous month. Lyon County has the second-lowest unemployment, at 1.9 percent, up a tenth of a percent from the previous month, when it was 1.8 percent. Unemployment in Osceola and O’Brien counties remains low as well. Osceola County’s unemployment was at 2.0 percent in November, up from 1.8 percent in October. And in O’Brien County, unemployment is at 2.4 percent, up from 2.1 percent the month before.

January 21, 2023 - 8:08 pm - Posted in News

Alvord, Iowa — An Orange City truck driver was injured in a single-vehicle rollover accident near Alvord Wednesday afternoon.

According to the Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, about 3:30 Wednesday afternoon, They responded to a single-vehicle rollover in the 2300 mile of Elmwood Avenue.

Deputies say Bradley VandeWeerd, of Orange City, was driving a 2018 Peterbuilt semi tractor, pulling a load of wet distilled grain. According to authorities, while making a corner VandeWeerd’s trailer tires went off the roadway, causing both the trailer and tractor to overturn on to the passenger side, in the ditch.

VandeWeerd reportedly sustained minor injuries during the event and was transported to Hegg Memorial Hospital in Rock Valley by Lyon County Ambulance.

The truck and trailer are estimated to be a total loss, with an estimated value of $200,000.

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A man who led authorities on a pursuit that entered three states will soon face a felony charge in Iowa.

The pursuit started in Canton, South Dakota traveled through Lyon County, into Rock County, Minnesota, and back into South Dakota, back in May 2022.

Lincoln County (South Dakota) Sheriff’s officials say 31-year-old Vincent Whaler of Sioux Falls allegedly cut off his monitoring bracelet. Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputies spotted him in Canton and began a pursuit.

Once speeds got too high and the chase was approaching the Iowa line, Lincoln County deputies say they broke off the chase. Lyon County Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep says an Iowa State Patrol trooper found the vehicle and the chase was on again. He says they chased him around on gravel roads between Lester and Larchwood and then he eventually entered Minnesota, where their officers pursued him until he again entered South Dakota. He was eventually stopped on the north edge of Sioux Falls.

Authorities tell us Whaler is charged with numerous counts in all three states, including escape, eluding, speeding, and other charges. According to the Iowa State Patrol, his Iowa charges include felony eluding and misdemeanor reckless driving. Court records say he now faces a preliminary hearing on Monday, February 6th. He was arrested and released on Tuesday.

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A Storm Lake man has been arrested on felony OWI and drug charges after a traffic stop in Rock Rapids earlier this week.

According to a criminal complaint filed with the Lyon County Clerk of Court’s Office by the county sheriff’s office, 32-year-old Joel Angelo Rivera of Storm Lake is accused of doing drugs and driving under the influence. He was arrested on Sunday.

In his report, the deputy stated that he was getting gas at Casey’s when he saw two people get inside a vehicle and leave without even acknowledging the officer, which, the officer says, “is peculiar behavior in Rock Rapids as they were clearly attempting to avoid drawing any attention to themselves.”

The deputy says that as they left he says he saw one of their brake lights was not functioning, so he made a traffic stop. He says the driver exhibited watery eyes, odd speech and dilated pupils, plus his hands were twitching at times.

According to the deputy, Rivera said that they were coming from the casino. He allegedly admitted to marijuana usage a few days prior and eventually admitted to using meth a few hours before the stop.

The deputy also stated he found meth and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle.

Rivera was charged with operating while intoxicated, third or subsequent offense, which is a class D felony. He also faces misdemeanor charges of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, title transfer violation, and no insurance.

If convicted, Rivera could face up to five years in prison.

He faces a hearing on Monday, February 6th, 2023.

January 19, 2023 - 10:23 am - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — We did get some snow yesterday afternoon and overnight, but the amounts were generally less than expected.

Meteorologist Craig Cogil at the National Weather Service, says wide sections of the state did get heavy snow, but not the foot of snow that was expected in some areas.

Sheldon recorded five and a half inches of snow. Rock Rapids had six inches. Eight inches of snow was reported in George. Cogil says dozens of school districts are either on delays or have cancelled classes for the day and anyone who’s on the road will need to use great caution.

Cogil says the precipitation should be ending very soon.

Tow bans are in effect through the morning in several Iowa counties. For the latest road report go to 511ia.org. Patchy blowing snow is forecast for today for the Sheldon area, but for the next week, the only mention of precip at this point is just some flurries Sunday night and Monday.

Des Moines, Iowa — The 2023 Iowa Legislative session continues its second week.

We had a chance to talk with District 4 State Representative Skyler Wheeler, who represents Lyon County and the northern part of Sioux County, including the city of Sioux Center and the Sioux County portion of the city of Sheldon, and we asked him about his priorities for 2023.

He says, like many Republicans, education is top on his mind.

He says his he and his collegues have discussed their big issues.

Wheeler highlights some other areas of concern.

The second week of the 2023 session started on Monday.

Rock Rapids, Iowa — A Lester woman faces a felony charge after her car was reported as stopped along the roadway near Rock Rapids.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that one of their deputies arrested 41-year-old Brandi Phillips of Lester on Friday afternoon.

They tell us that someone had reported a vehicle on the side of Highway 9 about a mile west of Rock Rapids. The driver, who was later identified as Phillips was described as having been “hunched over.”

The report says the vehicle was found to be partially stuck in the snow, with two children in the back seat, and the vehicle running.

Phillips was charged with operating while intoxicated 3rd offense, child endangerment, and open container. The operating while intoxicated charge is a class D felony, due to the fact that this would be Phillips’ third or subsequent conviction for that charge if she’s convicted.

January 13, 2023 - 5:32 pm - Posted in News

Washington, DC — This area’s Congressman, Randy Feenstra from Hull was selected for the US House Ways and Means Committee this week.

Feenstra says he was selected by his Republican colleagues to serve on what he calls the “influential” committee.

Feenstra says, “I am humbled to be selected to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee for the 118th Congress to continue my work serving and delivering for Iowa. From agriculture and trade matters to healthcare and tax policy, Ways and Means covers a wide array of legislative priorities important to our agricultural community and rural way of life. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I will continue to be a strong voice for Iowa families, farmers, producers, taxpayers, and small business owners who deserve a seat at the table.”

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) praised Feenstra’s appointment saying, “Congressman Feenstra is a leader in fighting for the interests of rural America, and he will continue that leadership on the Ways and Means Committee. He will be an invaluable partner in solving the major challenges that face rural America – opening up new markets for farmers, creating jobs, and expanding access to health care, to name a few. The Ways and Means Committee is ready to advance a bold Republican agenda that supports the millions of working-class families struggling after two years of Democrat one-party rule.”

Des Moines, Iowa — If you or your children were on Medicaid before the pandemic, and during the time since, your income rose above the limit, you will probably lose your Medicaid benefits this year.

From March 2020, through April 1, 2023, Iowa Medicaid was required to maintain continuous health care coverage for members. This meant that if a member’s situation changed (e.g., financially) in a way that would normally disqualify them from the program, Iowa Medicaid was required to maintain coverage for the person during the public health emergency.

On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which ends what’s called the Medicaid program’s “continuous coverage requirement” as of April 1, 2023.

According to the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, that means that most Medicaid members will go through a redetermination process during the 12-month unwinding period to determine if they are still eligible for any Medicaid program(s). This includes members who have not had a redetermination in the last 12 months and those who have been deemed ineligible but whose coverage is being maintained.

With the initiation of the unwind plan, Iowa Medicaid says they will share important information with members. They say it is critical that Iowa Medicaid members have up-to-date contact information in Medicaid’s database, watch for mail from Iowa Medicaid, and respond to requests for information.

If members do not respond to renewal letters or requests for information, they may lose coverage.

Medicaid officials tell us that if you are set to lose your benefits, they’re not just going to leave you in the lurch. The process will take several months, and they say they will assist by providing information, resources, and processes on obtaining alternative health coverage after disenrollment.

For more information, click here.