February 22, 2019 - 2:44 pm - Posted in News

Hull, Iowa — An industrial location along the railroad tracks southwest of Hull may become a biodiesel plant. And if it does, over 30 jobs will be created.

ReadiFuels-Iowa, LLC, a newly-created entity started by Applied Research Associates, Inc. (ARA) and C&N Biofuels, LLC was given a $2.8 million grant by the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board on Friday.

The company plans to utilize a variety of feedstocks to produce approximately 34 million gallons of renewable diesel and renewable naphtha annually. If that happens, the facility will be the first facility of its kind in the state.

ReadiFuels-Iowa says they plan to construct a new production facility utilizing existing infrastructure at a partially-abandoned property near Hull. The location was going to be a Bison Renewable Energy biogas plant, but bankruptcy forced a sale of the site in 2012. The site is two miles west and a mile south of Hull, a half mile west of Highway 75, along the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad tracks.

The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) Board awarded ReadiFuels-Iowa tax benefits from the High-Quality Jobs Program toward the $58.7 million capital investment. The IEDA says the project is expected to create 31 jobs, of which 27 are incentivized at a qualifying wage of at least $20.47 per hour.

February 22, 2019 - 2:19 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — (RI) — Abortion opponents rallied at the statehouse Thursday in support of new efforts to ban abortion in Iowa.

Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds announced this week she had determined there was no way to successfully appeal a district court ruling that nullified a ban on abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The governor told the group she and other Republicans who were elected in November now aim to change the judges making the decisions.

Reynolds touted GOP plans to change who appoints half the members of a commission that nominates Iowa judges and justices for the Iowa Supreme Court. Republican Representative Sandy Salmon of Janesville, another speaker at the rally, amplified that message.

Senators convened a hearing right after the rally on a proposal that would grant citizenship rights at the moment of conception. Another hearing was held in a HOUSE subcommittee on a plan to cut off federal funds for sex ed and pregnancy prevention programs at any organization that performs abortions or refers patients to abortion providers.

February 21, 2019 - 3:00 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — (RI) — Two Republican senators are advancing a bill that would require every Iowa business, even businesses with just one employee, to use the federal E-verify system to check the citizenship status of prospective workers.

Businesses caught “knowingly” employing an “unauthorized alien” would lose any license or permit to operate in the state. Republican Senator Julian Garrett of Indianola patterned the proposal after an Arizona law.

Senator Jason Schultz, a Republican from Schleswig, says it’s time for states to act because the federal government isn’t.

The Iowa Chamber Alliance, representing the 16 largest chambers of commerce and economic development groups in Iowa, opposes the bill. John Stineman, the group’s executive director, says the E-Verify system is “wildly inaccurate.”

Senator Garrett responded.

Dave Stitz, a vice president at the McAninch Corporation, says his construction firm has used the E-Verify system voluntarily for 12 years for all prospective employees.

Stitz told lawmakers he’d gladly hire “non-U-S citizens.”

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry raised concerns the bill might prompt a statewide hiring freeze if businesses can’t check the E-Verify system because of another federal government shutdown.

February 21, 2019 - 1:37 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — We’ve barely finished digging out from this week’s snowstorm, and the National Weather Service tells us there’s more of the white stuff on its way.

Jeff Chapman is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Office in Sioux Falls, and he says the next winter storm to visit the area is a two-part system.

Chapman says the first part of the system should have a limited impact on northwest Iowa.

However, he says the National Weather Service is keeping a close eye on the second part of the system.

At this point, the National Weather Service is forecasting three to four inches of new snow this weekend, but Chapman says regardless how much new snow this system drops, blowing and drifting WILL occur.

Once we get through the weekend the forecast calls for snow Monday and Monday night, with the snow leaving the forecast for Tuesday into mid-week next week.

Des Moines, Iowa — (RI) — A bill that would have given Iowa parents another way to opt out of vaccinations for their children has failed to advance in the Iowa Senate.

Iowans may now obtain a religious exemption to required immunizations before students may be admitted to public schools or licensed daycares. The bill that failed a Senate subcommittee would have created a philosophical objection to vaccines as well. Pediatrician Dr. Nathan Boonstra says when it’s easier to get an exemption, more people get vaccine-preventable diseases.

Dozens of parents and their children crowded into a committee room in the Iowa capitol to signal their support of a new exemption. Many, including Sonya Swan of West Des Moines, wore stickers for the group Iowans for Informed Consent.

Megan Wisner, another member of Iowans for Informed Consent, says some of her relatives have had allergic reactions to vaccines.

Spencer farmer Randy Heikens, a father of three, says vaccines are unsafe.

Dr. Kate Linkenmeyer of Des Moines responded to that criticism.

Senator Tom Greene, a pharmacist from Burlington, was one of two senators on a three-member committee who defeated the bill.

A second bill related to vaccines was killed by a senate subcommittee Tuesday. The defeated bill would have banned hospitals and other health care providers from firing staff or rejecting patients who haven’t been immunized against infectious diseases.

February 20, 2019 - 4:37 pm - Posted in News

Hawarden, Iowa — Have you always wanted to try ice fishing, but didn’t have the equipment or guidance? Well there’s an opportunity coming up for you on Saturday.

Sunday Ford from the Sioux County Conservation Board tells us that a public ice fishing clinic, hosted by the Sioux County Conservation Board will take place this Saturday, February 23rd from 10:00 a.m. until noon at Big Sioux Rec Area near Hawarden, weather permitting.

Ford encourages people to bring their family, sack lunches, and buckets for their seats. She says the day includes ice fishing instructions and equipment to use. According to Ford, the holes in the ice will be pre-drilled, and bait is provided. You won’t even need a day park pass during the program. The only other thing you will need is if you are 16 or older, you’ll need a valid fishing license to actively fish.

Ford says they need you to pre-register, and that can be accomplished online at www.mycountyparks.com/county/sioux.aspx.

February 20, 2019 - 3:02 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — With the snowfall we’ve received over the past 24-hours or so, and the snowfall that’s forecast for the weekend, lot of us here in northwest Iowa are going to be doing a lot of shoveling. Physical Therapist Donna Ihnen of Sanford Sheldon has some tips for moving that mountain of white stuff.

Ihnen says the first thing you need to do before shoveling snow is prepare.

Once you’re prepared, she says it’s important to choose the proper shovel for the job.

When you have selected the right shovel, Ihnen says how you grip it is important.

Finally, she says your posture is important to keep from hurting yourself when you shovel.

Ihnen reminds you to life with your knees, and try not to twist your body as you move the snow. And, she says, like any form of exercise, if your body tells you it’s time to take a rest, pay attention and take a rest. Go inside, warm up, and take a drink of water before you return to shoveling. She says it’s best if you shovel for 20-minutes or or less at a time, and then rest for a bit. And if you experience chest pains while you shovel, stop and seek immediate medical attention.

February 20, 2019 - 12:49 pm - Posted in News

Sioux Center, Iowa– A semi-tractor was destroyed in a fire on Tuesday, February 19, 2019, near Sioux Center.

According to Sioux Center Fire Chief David Van Holland, about just before 9:00 p.m., the Sioux Center Fire Department was called to the report of a semi on fire in a building at 3757 Indian Avenue, four miles east of the Hardee’s corner in Sioux Center and a mile and a half north.

The chief says the caller had pulled the truck out of the building and it was on fire outside as they approached the scene. He says firefighters from Sioux Center and Ireton extinguished the fire, and no injuries were reported.

He says the cause of the fire is undetermined, but it seems to have started in the engine compartment.

Chief Van Holland reports that the semi-tractor was totaled in the blaze.

He says the 22 firefighters who responded were on scene for about a half an hour.

Northwest Iowa — With the snow we’ve received recently, and with more forecast in the next few days, area fire chiefs are asking for your help.

Several area fire chiefs are asking residents and business people to help make sure firefighters don’t have to waste time shoveling snow to gain access to fire hydrants, before fighting a fire.

Between the seven-plus inches of snow that has fallen on the area with this most recent storm, and whatever the coming weekend storm brings us, hydrants may become inaccessible.

Time is of the essence when fighting a fire, and the time firefighters spend digging out a fire hydrant when they could be fighting the fire, could end in tragedy.

Area fire chiefs as that you dig out an area of about three feet around any fire hydrants on your property, as well as a path to the street. They urge you to take a few minutes when you’re clearing snow from your sidewalks and driveway, and clear snow from the fire hydrants, as well. Make it a habit every time it snows. The area’s fire chiefs will thank you for it.

February 19, 2019 - 4:01 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — An energy efficiency plan for the electric utility company that serves Sheldon and other areas of northwest Iowa has been approved by regulators.

A five-year energy efficiency plan filed by MidAmerican Energy Company has been approved by the Iowa Utilities Board, or IUB. The company’s plan, approved for 2019-2023, includes 14 energy efficiency and demand response programs with a proposed total budget of $256 million.

The utilities board says that MidAmerican’s plan as approved contains approximately $709 million in net electric benefits and more than $41 million in net natural gas benefits, projected to cumulatively save 767 million kilowatt-hours and 8.3 million therms. The IUB determined MidAmerican’s plan meets cost-effectiveness testing; includes programs for residential, commercial and industrial customer classes; and projects expenses that fall within budget parameters defined by Iowa Code.

Information from the board says that Iowa law allows customers of rate-regulated utility companies to request an exemption from participating in an energy efficiency plan if a plan does not meet the threshold 1.0 score on a cumulative rate-payer impact test. MidAmerican’s plan score of 1.09 does not trigger that exemption for the utility’s customers.

MidAmerican’s total energy efficiency spending under the plan is approximately $163 million for electric and $33 million for natural gas, or about 2 percent of the company’s expected retail electric revenues and 1.5 percent of the expected retail natural gas revenues during plan years. MidAmerican’s demand response spending under the plan is approximately $60 million.