March 24, 2019 - 9:27 am - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — The wet conditions in the state have caused issues with the handling of animal waste. DNR Environmental Specialist, Doyle McKeever, says they recently got an anonymous report of manure runoff reaching Storm Lake.

McKeever says they traced runoff to manure application on fields at Don Jackson’s Pike Farms cattle feedlot. He says Pike had been spreading manure for three days.

McKeever says Pike is going to stockpile the manure until the conditions are better for applying it to the land. Ice covering the lake prevented them from knowing if there were any dead fish. He says producers have had issues with finding the right time to apply manure without it getting into waterways.

McKeever says they are asking livestock producers to be aware of the conditions.

McKeever says the rain has filled up some holding lagoons and the large amount of snow has added to the issue of trying to find dry ground to apply manure.

The DNR also had to address high levels of water in two earthen manure storage basins located about 20 miles east of Council Bluffs. DNR staff observed diluted manure-laden water into two different unnamed streams from Cyclone Cattle owned by Russell Keast. The DNR required Keast to stop both discharges. The investigation is ongoing and no dead fish were found. McKeever says livestock producers should contact their local DNR field office if they have questions about manure spreading.

Meanwhile, Iowa State University Extension is also reminding farmers that they can help with drainage issues and designing facilities to handle the issue. Agriculture engineer Kris Kohl says farmers can use free ISU Geographic Information Systems (GIS) images to access the current and future drainage needs on their farm. He suggests that farmers lay out a long-term plan to improve the drainage and a plan to pay for it. He says you can use free websites to calculate the performance of plastic drainage tubing. He also encourages farmers to review current research and practices on drainage and water quality. According to Kohl, farmers also should consider new surface intakes that take less maintenance and solve side-hill seeps. For more information, you can call Kohl at 712-732-5056.

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa House has voted to remove a requirement that children between the ages of 12 and 15 complete a hunter safety course in order to hunt deer with a pistol or revolver. Republican Representative Matt Windschitl of Missouri Valley says this clarifies part of a 2017 gun rights law.

Under the bill, anyone under the age of 20 would be able to legally hunt deer with a handgun or pistol if they’re under the direct supervision of a parent or responsible adult who’s at least 21. Representative Art Staed of Cedar Rapids was among the Democrats who criticized the bill. Staed said it will cause more serious injuries and deaths.

House Democratic Leader Todd Prichard of Charles City unsuccessfully argued tweens and teenagers should complete a hunter safety course before being allowed to hunt with a pistol or handgun.

Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, says children need to take the course to learn how to properly handle and aim a gun.

Windschitl says requiring hunter safety courses for kids is an arbitrary restriction on parental rights.

Fifty-seven members of the House agreed and voted to send the bill to the Senate. Under CURRENT state law, Iowans between the ages of 12 and 15 may hunt without adult supervision, but they must have passed a hunter education course and paid for a hunting license.

Washington, DC — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says the president’s criticism this past week of the late Senator John McCain may’ve been inappropriate but Grassley doesn’t think Trump needs to apologize. Grassley was asked about the President saying McCain had pushed for a war, failed America’s veterans, and Trump complained he wasn’t thanked for how the Arizona Republican’s funeral was handled.

Following a town hall meeting in DeWitt, Grassley simply said “no” when asked if Trump should apologize to the McCain family for his negative comments. When pressed for elaboration, Grassley said, “You better ask the President that.”

Grassley says it makes him “irritated” when he’s asked to respond to something — like a comment from the President — which he doesn’t know anything about.

Grassley says his committee priorities include trade deals with Canada and Mexico and getting drug prescription prices down. McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2017 and died last August. Trump and McCain had long been rivals. Speaking in Ames during the presidential campaign in 2015, Trump said of McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

McCain served in the U-S Navy. His plane was shot down in Vietnam in 1967, he was captured, held prisoner and tortured for more than five years.

Des Moines — Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law this week designed to help military families.

The bill also helps military spouses transfer their professional licenses when assignments change and they have to move.

United States Airforce Secretary Heather Wilson joined the governor for the bill signing.

Wilson says she has talked to her counterparts and it is an issue across the services.

U-S Senator Joni Ernst was also at the signing. She is a veteran who knows what families go through.

Ernst says Iowa’s bill can be used as a model for the rest of the country.

The governor signed the bill at the Iowa Air National Guard Base in Des Moines.

Sioux County, Iowa — One of the community action agencies serving part of our area has announced that they’re helping people affected by flooding to access needed resources.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds issued a disaster proclamation for four counties in the Mid-Sioux service area in response to recent flooding and severe weather. The governor’s proclamation activated the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program (IIAGP) and the Iowa Disaster Case Management program. The four counties in the Mid-Sioux service area declared are – Ida, Sioux, Cherokee, and Plymouth.

Mid-Sioux officials tell us that individuals suffering losses of personal property or having structural damage to their personal residence may contact Mid-Sioux Opportunity, Inc. at 712-722-3611 (Sioux), 712-364- 2175 (Ida), 712-225-3322 (Cherokee), or 712-546-6603 (Plymouth), or 800-859-2025.

According to Mid-Sioux officials, the Iowa Individual Assistance Grant Program (IIAGP) may provide up to $5,000 of assistance, reimbursement and/or vendor voucher, for covered items to households at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. An application must be made through your local community action office. You may be eligible for repair or replacement of items damaged by storms/flooding. Potential applicants have 45 days from the date of the proclamation to submit a claim.

Meanwhile, Mid-Sioux officials tell us that the other program, the Iowa Disaster Case Management (IDCM) program is to address serious needs to overcome disaster-related hardship, injury or adverse conditions. Disaster case managers work with clients to create a disaster recovery plan and provide guidance and referrals. There are no income eligibility requirements for Disaster Case Management and there is no direct financial assistance provided by Disaster Case Management. Disaster Case Management closes 180 days from the disaster proclamation.

Orange City, Iowa — It’s been a wet spring. While we can be thankful we don’t have issues in the magnitude that Nebraska and southwest Iowa are facing, flooding has affected many roads in northwest Iowa.

We got an update on the flooded and flood-damaged gravel roads in Sioux County from County Engineer Doug Julius.

He says the hard-surfaced roads are in better condition.

Julius says some of the bridges remain in unknown condition.

He tells us that for the most part, people can get around on the roads that are open, but he says they may find more damage.

While heavy rain is not in the immediate forecast, we may get some rain in the coming days. High temperatures will remain in the 50s, and the National Weather Service says river flooding continues and will increase over the next weeks.

Statewide Iowa — A farm organization based in North Dakota is offering help to the many farmers and ranchers who were hit by the recent flooding. Farm Rescue plans to activate “Operation Hay Lift” for the second time, the first time was during a drought.

Farm Rescue is a non-profit organization that provides planting, haying, harvesting and livestock feeding assistance free of charge to farm and ranch families who have experienced a major illness, injury, or natural disaster. Communications Director Dan Erdmann says farmers and ranchers have their cattle herds stranded because of the flooding.

He says they could use some drivers too.

Erdmann says Farm Rescue hopes to establish several drop off locations. He says applications are now being accepted from farmers and ranchers in need of the donated hay. Erdmann says for farmers and ranchers, or livestock yards wanting to make donations of hay need to contact Farm Rescue.

Farm Rescue’s first hay lift came in 2017 for those farmers and ranchers in South Dakota and North Dakota suffering from a drought. He says the organization had a successful event, hauling 275 semi trailer loads of hay to more than 154 farmers and ranchers. Erdmann says Farm Rescue hopes to have similar success with this hay lift.

March 22, 2019 - 11:30 am - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — 4th District Iowa Congressman Steve King is under fire again, this time over comments he made at a town hall meeting Thursday in Charter Oak.

The Democrat governor of Louisiana and a Republican congressional leader are both criticizing King for his remarks about hurricane victims in their state. During Thursday’s town hall meeting King compared victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 to Iowans dealing with floodwaters now.

Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, the second-ranking Republican in the House, represents the New Orleans suburbs. Scalise called King’s remarks “absurd and offensive and…a complete contradiction” to how the people of New Orleans responded to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, tweeted that King’s comments were “disgusting and disappointing.” King tweeted yesterday that he’s “working to restore free speech to the halls of congress.” During his remarks in Charter Oak Thursday, King said in 2005 he made four visits to New Orleans to tour the devastation.

King toured flood damage in Missouri Valley and Hornick Thursday, promising to work closely with local leaders to help Iowans recover from this disaster. King said as the only Republican in Iowa’s congressional delegation, he won’t hesitate to use his influence with President Trump to help Iowans gain access to federal flood relief.

March 21, 2019 - 3:09 pm - Posted in News

Hawarden, Iowa — The National Weather Service has decreased its forecast crest for the Big Sioux River near Hawarden to 33-point-eight feet which is nearly three-feet below the previous forecast.

Leaders in Hawarden had been calling for more volunteers to help sandbag along the Big Sioux River, but City Administrator Mike De Bruin says they will no longer be filling sand bags. They saw flooding last week, but he says that was a different type of flooding with many low-lying areas receiving water.

He says damage in town was minimal, with some infrastructure and road damage, but not crippling. De Bruin says they’ve received a lot of support and the community really appreciates it.

Officials will continue to monitor the flood forecasts and stay in contact with the National Weather Service, Emergency Management, and other agencies.

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa Senate has passed a bill that would prohibit the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation from borrowing money from a state fund to purchase land for water quality projects.

Senator Tim Kapucian, a farmer from Keystone, is among the 31 Republican senators who voted for the bill.

Farmers in the senate said too much Iowa farmland has been taken out of production for conservation projects, making it difficult for beginning farmers to buy land. Democrats like Senator Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids say the bill will undermine efforts to create wetland areas upstream that will reduce downstream flooding.

The bill passed on a mostly party-line vote. One Republican voted against it and one Democrat voted for it.