Cedar Falls, Iowa — A prototype business and school partnership in Rock Valley has become a model for more such partnerships, proposals for which are being accepted now.

The Iowa Governor’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Advisory Council is now inviting proposals from school-business partnerships across the state to compete for 15 Iowa STEM BEST® (Businesses Engaging Students and Teachers) awards.

The STEM advisory council says that STEM BEST drives community collaborations where schools work together with local employers to create work-based learning experiences linked to local business and industry applications. STEM Council spokesperson Angel Mendez says that applied learning, once the sole domain of career and technical education, is now expanding to core mathematics, science, and technology education.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds says that one way to grow the state’s workforce is to first expose students to the STEM careers available to them in the communities around them. She says that STEM BEST is all about students, teachers, and businesses coming together to work on projects and find solutions to local issues, and in return, students gain career interests and employability skill sets before they even graduate high school.

Since 2014, the STEM Council has established 18 of these innovative models across Iowa, now serving as examples for other communities to follow. From rural schools, such as Rock Valley and IKM-Manning, to urban settings, including Davenport and Des Moines, current STEM BEST models represent a variety of business and industry sectors throughout Iowa.

The STEM Council invites communities across Iowa to submit their proposal to build a STEM BEST model at www.IowaSTEM.gov/STEMBEST/Proposal. Any Iowa K-12 private and public schools or school districts are eligible to apply. All 15 awarded applicants will receive $25,000 to be matched with local cost-share, each earning designation as an Iowa STEM BEST Partner. The application window will close on Friday, September 15, 2017, and recipients will be announced in late October.

To learn more about Iowa STEM BEST, you can visit www.IowaSTEM.gov/STEMBEST or register for “Fast-Track Iowa’s Future” Conference on June 21, 2017, where many of the current models will be showcased: www.IowaSTEM.gov/Fast-Track-Iowas-Future.

May 23, 2017 - 4:34 pm - Posted in News

Alton, Iowa — Here in northwest Iowa, when someone mentions the word “farm” we tend to think of corn and soybeans, cattle, and hogs.  But a new Alton company will soon be manufacturing equipment for fish farms.
Brian Schutt of Global Aquaculture Supply Company, LLC, says the company will be manufacturing and distributing aquaculture equipment later this year.

Schutt says he and his partners are currently involved in shrimp and fish farming, but were having problems acquiring some of the equipment they needed.

He says the company has already had other fish farmers calling, wanting to know when they can acquire the products that GASC will manufacture.

Late last week, the Iowa Economic Development Board voted to award Global Aquiculture Supply Company, LLC $64-thousand in direct financial assistance as well as tax benefits for GASC’s $3-million capital investment.  The Iowa Economic Development Board said the project was expected to create eight jobs at a qualifying wage of $19.60 per hour, but Schutt says the business should employ even more than expected.

He says ground has been broken for the facility, which will be located in Alton’s Industrial Park.

In case you were wondering, “aquaculture” is a term that has to do with farming animals normally found in the sea.

May 23, 2017 - 4:30 pm - Posted in News

gavel_sxc[1]Northwest Iowa — All state court offices in Iowa will be closed this coming Friday, May 26th, due to budget constraints.

According to an order from Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady, all court offices, including district court offices and the office of the clerk of the appellate courts, will be closed, and all court personnel except judges and magistrates will be placed on unpaid leave status for May 26th.  Cady writes that judges and any magistrate scheduled to work on that day will work in their chambers or take vacation on that court closure day.

Cady’s order went on to say that any filing of a motion in a pending action, or if an appeal falls on the day when the clerk’s office is closed, the time will be extended to include the next day the clerk’s office is open.

The Iowa Judiciary’s budget was cut by more than $5-million for fiscal year 2017, with another $3-million being cut after lawmakers resumed their work in January of this year, according to Cady.  He says that, after the initial budget cuts, the Supreme Court approved a hiring freeze for all vacancies on the judicial branch, holding open judicial vacancies for an average of 6-months, reducing travel by 10%, reducing furniture and non-IT equipment by 50%, shifting some funding for IT operations to the Court Technology Fund, and instituting a moratorium on the expansion of specialty courts.

Cady says the additional $3-million budget cut led to the one-day closing, this Friday, of all court offices in the state.

Northwest Iowa — Monday’s crop report from the United States Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Statistics Service says 92% of the state’s corn acreage has been planted.  Here in northwest Iowa, we’re slightly above that level at 95%.  The report says this year’s corn planting is 3-days behind last year, but 2-days ahead of the 5-year average.

Soybean planting has reached 62% complete, 2-days behind last year, but 1-day ahead of average.

Iowa State University Agronomist Paul Kassel, who is based in Spencer, monitors 10 counties here in northwest Iowa.

Farmers had only two days suitable for field work during the past week, according to the USDA report. Kassel says standing water in some fields is causing problems for farmers.

Corn planted after mid-May often yields less and Kassel said cool temperatures are impeding corn plants already in the ground. The USDA report shows planting progress is slowest in south-central Iowa, where 78-percent of the corn and 42-percent of soybeans were in the ground as of Sunday.  Northwest and central Iowa are at the top end of the spectrum, with 95% of corn, and 68% of soybeans planted through this past weekend.

Doon, Iowa — A Rock Valley woman was taken to a Sioux Falls hospital after an accident on Friday, May 19th.
The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 5:45 p.m., 47-year-old Kary Holliday-Stiens of Rock Valley was eastbound on 270th street near Dogwood Avenue, about seven miles west-southwest of Doon in a 2013 Chevrolet Suburban. The Sheriff’s Office reports that her vehicle veered toward the north ditch.

Her Suburban then struck a utility pole belonging to Northwest REC, then entered a crop field, traveled about 100 yards through the field and struck a creek embankment before coming to rest.

The Doon Rescue Squad took Holliday-Stiens to Hegg Memorial Hosptial in Rock Valley. The deputy who filed the report says she was later taken to a Sioux Falls hospital.

The crop field, owned by Lance VanderPol, sustained about $500 in damage. The cost to repair the utility pole was estimated at $1000. Damage to Stiens’ Suburban was estimated at $10,000.

The Sheriff’s Office says the accident remains under investigation.

May 19, 2017 - 2:44 pm - Posted in News

Orange City, Iowa — Two people received serious injuries in a car accident on the west edge of Orange City on Thursday, May 18.

The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 12:15 p.m., 63-year-old Deb Stevens of Paullina was driving a 1998 Honda Accord westbound on Highway 10 near Ironwood Avenue. That’s about a mile and a quarter west of the Albany Avenue traffic light, near the city’s western welcome sign. They report that 40-year-old Keith Scholten of Orange City was driving a 2014 Ford F150 pickup, also westbound on Highway 10 behind Stevens. The third vehicle was a 2001 Oldsmobile Intrigue, driven by 20-year-old Justine Van Sloten of Maurice, which was eastbound on Highway 10.

According to the report, Stevens crossed the center of the roadway and struck the Van Sloten Olds. After the accident, the Oldsmobile rolled onto its top on the roadway and Scholten drove into the south ditch to avoid striking the vehicles.

Stevens and Van Sloten were both trapped in their vehicles and required extrication by fire department personnel, says the report. The Orange City Ambulance took both of them to the Orange City Health System Hospital. Their injuries were described as “serious” in the report.

It says Van Sloten was later flown to Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and then on to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

The Stevens Honda sustained about $5,000 in damage. The Van Sloten Oldsmobile sustained an estimated $3,000 in damage. The Scholten Ford pickup that had to take the ditch received about $50 in damage, according to the report.

It says Stevens was cited on a charge of failure to yield half the roadway.

The Sheriff’s Office reports that the Orange City Fire Department, Orange City Ambulance Squad, the Orange City Police Department and the Iowa Department of Transportation assisted them with the response to the accident.

Rock Valley, Iowa — May is Beef Month. Beef producers in northwest Iowa and around the nation want consumers to know what a nutritious food lean beef is.

But in our part of the world beef producers have another group that they would like to get a message out to — other beef producers.

Kent Pruismann of Rock Valley is a past president of the Iowa Cattlemens Association and a past member of the executive committee of the national Cattlemen’s Beef Board. He’s currently the chairman of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation.

He went to Mexico as a beef trade “ambassador” earlier this year, and tells us about that experience.

Pruismann says he was also surprised by the disparity. He says he literally saw a man in a field with a burro and a two-wheel cart right next to a field with a John Deere tractor with air conditioning and GPS.

He says the reason the Iowa delegation went to Mexico is to promote American beef and other ag products. He says both the American delegation and everyone they met was concerned about the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

Pruismann says the American beef industry is a mature protein market. He says he believes the future of the beef industry is outside the borders of the US. But he says they have a way to go, even to catch up with pork.

He says this will have to be a long-term effort. He also says he’s encouraged by the positive news when it comes to trading with China.

But again, Pruismann says, it’ll take time.

Pruismann says he wants consumers to know that American beef is produced with the utmost care, and people can be confident about eating American beef.

The Iowa Beef Industry Council says that beef provides 10 essential nutrients and there’s only 150 calories in one three-ounce serving. Beef experts also say that the nutrients in lean beef can also help satisfy hunger and maintain a healthy weight, build muscles, and fuel a healthy and active lifestyle. You can find more information including beef recipes at beef.org or beefitswhatsfordinner.com.

Orange City, Iowa — A Hawarden mother who is facing felony charges of child endangerment after her 11-year-old told a teacher he was being abused — is requesting contact with one of her children.

According to court records, authorities believe that on at least three separate occasions from September of last year until February of this year, 35-year-old Matthew Spaans abused his 11-year-old stepson, causing injuries. Authorities also believe the child’s mother, 33-year-old Nina Spaans told the boy to make up stories about how the injuries were received.

Matthew Spaans is charged with three counts of Serious Assault Causing Bodily Injury, a serious misdemeanor; and both Matthew and Nina Spaans are charged with three counts each of Child Endangerment Causing Bodily Injury, a class D felony.

Both have entered “not guilty” pleas.

The judge had initially ordered the defendants to have no contact with their children, but according to Sioux County Attorney Thomas Kunstle, Mrs. Spaans is requesting that order be withdrawn, at least infosar as it applies to her youngest child. Kunstle says he resisted that motion, and it will be the main topic of discussion at a continued pretrial conference, set for June 12th.

According to the Sioux County Clerk of Court’s Office, Matthew Spaans’ attorney has requested that his pretrial conference also be pushed back to June 12th, while plea negotiations continue.

A jury trial is scheduled for Tuesday, July 18th.

May 17, 2017 - 5:15 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — It’s been said that Iowa has two seasons — snow removal and road construction. It looks like we’re done with snow, so it’s time for road construction.

We talked with Dakin Schultz, who is a transportation planner with the Iowa Department of Transportation. He says there are a few construction projects in and around the Sheldon area planned for this year.

Schultz says the Iowa Transportation Commission has proposed another six bridge deck overlays in northwest Iowa.

He says the other bridge decks are in the Rock Valley area. Schultz says the work on Highway 18 will continue next year.

He says there are also construction projects planned on other highways.

He tells us what to expect in the construction zones.

He says the only detour in the area this year will be the one in the Spencer area.

Schultz says there are no major construction projects planned in the Iowa Great Lakes Area, or in Osceola or Lyon Counties this year.

Orange City, Iowa — It’s time for many of Orange City’s residents to “get their Dutch on.” The annual festival has been happening since 1936 with five years off during World War II, during which the town put on “Victory Days” instead.

Orange City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mike Hoffman says the festival really does have something for everyone, young and old. Museums, flower shows, many kinds of music, dancing, the traditional street scrubbing, horse-drawn trolleys, pedicabs, a carnival . . . and food. Who could forget the food?

Hoffman says the theme this year is “A Tribute to Tulips.”

He says they always plant a variety of types of tulips so there are almost always some blooming during Tulip Festival.

The younger set and those young at heart will enjoy what is probably for most their first chance in 2017 to go on carnival rides. The rides actually start before the festival, with wristband night on Wednesday night, and the rides will be available all three days and into the night.

Hoffman says they have some art-related opportunities as well.

He says the night show runs every night, Wednesday through Saturday, and tickets are going fast.

Other can’t-miss opportunities at Orange City’s Tulip Festival include the Dutch Street Organ, the Century House, the Vogel Mill, wooden shoe carving, and much more. Again, some Tulip Festival activities start Wednesday night, and the festival runs Thursday through Saturday in Orange City, with a community worship service capping off the festival for the year on Sunday morning at 11.

Find the full schedule of events by clicking here.