May 25, 2015 - 8:12 am - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Some of the response has not been fast enough. That’s what Senator Joni Ernst and other leaders heard from some of the farmers whose barns have been hit by avian influenza. Ernst had planned to be at meetings in Sibley, Rock Rapids, and Sioux Center but due to late votes on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and an extension of the Patriot Act in the Senate, she was only able to make the Sioux Center meeting.
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Congressman Steve King, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey were at all the meetings, as were local legislators.

One of the producers said that there have been dumpsters full of birds producing an odor and attracting millions of flies — sitting on his property for four weeks. He says he’s been told several times that they would be taken care of “soon”. Some people also worry that flies could transmit the virus, but Congressman King says research is leaning toward that being unlikely.

Some turkey farmers near Cherokee have banded together and have started composting birds on their own instead of waiting for government crews. But that brings up the issue of compensation.

Ag Secretary Northey says the problem is that no one expected an outbreak this large. He says the size is unprecedented.

Another big question is when the barns that held the infected birds can be re-populated, says Northey.

He says options being considered include fumigation and “shrink wrapping” the barn and heating it to the point that the virus couldn’t survive.

According to Northey, there may be another phase where producers put what he calls “sentient birds” into a facility to see if it’s disease free. He says these birds would probably be layers that were close to the end of their egg-producing stage anyway.

Northey says experts still don’t know how the virus is spreading, except that it arrived via wild birds. He says the truth is, we may never know whether it’s spreading via foot traffic, truck traffic, dust, dander, feed, or another method. In fact he says it may be spreading many ways.

Representative John Wills says people also have to remember the economic ripples this outbreak is going to have.

We asked Wills if he had any solutions to the economic impact. He says right now, they’re just trying to get through the initial disaster stage. He says they talked about a response through the Legislature, but decided that the best thing to do would be to let the disaster funds kick in.

Congressman King says the main things they are working on right now are on-site incineration of birds, disinfection with heat, and the possibility of a federal insurance program for poultry producers. He says the producers will be receiving indemnification payments because the USDA requires them to destroy healthy birds to prevent the spread of the disease.

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May 23, 2015 - 9:43 am - Posted in News

Hawarden, Iowa — Two people from Sioux City were taken to a hospital after an accident near Hawarden.
Ambulance Front Generic
The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that just a few minutes before noon on Thursday, May 21st, 26-year-old Jetske Wauran of North Sioux City, South Dakota was driving a 2006 Ford Freestyle northbound on Highway 12, two miles south of Hawarden. They report that 82-year-old Jack Lethcoe of Sioux City was driving a 2004 Buick LeSabre southbound on Highway 12.

The report says Wauran drove onto the shoulder of the road and overcorrected. The vehicle entered the southbound lane and struck the Lethcoe vehicle.

The Hawarden Ambulance crew transported Lethcoe and a passenger 82-year-old Annette Lethcoe of Sioux City to the Hawarden Hospital.

The Wauran Ford and the Lethcoe Buick sustained about 5000 dollars in damages, each.

Wauran was cited for failing to yield half the roadway when meeting a vehicle.

The Hawarden Fire Department, Ambulance crew and Police Department assisted the Sioux County Sheriff office.

May 23, 2015 - 9:42 am - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — As the response to and cleanup of the bird flu continues, disposal — specifically having enough disposal options available to deal with the quantity of birds that have been euthanized, has become a huge issue.
bird rolloffs
We talked with Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig about the disposal of the birds. He tells us the current situation.

Naig says the goal is to decrease the amount of time that it takes to clean up. He says that not only makes turnaround faster for the facilities affected, but also stops the spread of the virus quicker.

He says different kinds of birds are being disposed of in different ways in Iowa.

But he says chickens are not composted in the buildings.

Naig says the Northwest Iowa Solid Waste Agency Landfill near Sheldon and another landfill in southwest Iowa are the only two landfills that are taking the chickens.

Naig says when it warms up, that should help stop the virus, plus depopulating and disposal of infected flocks quickly will help stop the spread as well. He says biosecurity needs to be stepped up as well.

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May 23, 2015 - 9:41 am - Posted in News

UPDATE: Senate business has concluded and Senator Joni Ernst will attend the town meeting in Sioux County at 1:45 pm on Saturday to discuss the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in addition to other topics.

Representatives from the Senator’s office will host the other two meetings in Lyon and Osceola counties on her behalf. In addition, the guests below are still confirmed to attend.

These town meetings are open to the public.

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Northwest Iowa —  U.S. Senator Joni Ernst says she’ll do everything in her power to attend the town meetings she has set up in Osceola, Lyon, and Sioux counties this Saturday, May 23rd to discuss the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). However, due to pending votes in the Senate, she now says it’s unlikely that she’ll be able to make it. The town meetings, which are open to the public, will still be held. Members of Ernst’s staff will attend, whether she’s able to attend or not.
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The Senator’s staff (and hopefully Ernst herself) will start the day at 9:30 AM at Cooperative Energy at 1708 Pierce Avenue at Sibley.  At 11:15 AM, they will be at the Rock Rapids Public Library at 102 South Greene Street in Rock Rapids. At 1:45 PM, it’s on to Sioux Center for a meeting at the De Yager Student Activities Center in the Campus Center on the campus of Dordt College at 498 Fourth Avenue Northeast.

Confirmed guests at the Sibley and Rock Rapids appearances will be Congressman Steve King, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey, State Senator David Johnson, and State Representative John Wills.

At the Sioux Center appearances, will be King, Northey, and State Representative John Kooiker.

Ernst tells us why this issue is important to her and to the state.

Ernst says she’s interested in hearing from people whose lives are being affected by the outbreak.

Last week, Ernst and Senator Grassley sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack encouraging the USDA to ensure that resources have been properly deployed to Iowa to fight the ongoing outbreak of HPAI.

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May 22, 2015 - 7:39 am - Posted in News

Hawarden, Iowa — Hawarden Regional Healthcare has broken ground on a nearly $14 million hospital expansion project. The ceremony was on Thursday, May 21st.
Hawarden Hospital
Hospital officials say the project will add approximately 20,000 square feet and they’ll remodel other parts of the facility.

Hawarden Regional Healthcare, a city owned facility, has been in the planning stages for expansion for the last four years. Over $2.5 million has been raised through pledges and donations from area community members and businesses.

Mike Wiggins, President of the Hawarden Regional Healthcare Foundation says that their fundraising campaign was an unprecedented success and he says it shows that the community is committed to the success of this project and will be proud of it upon completion.

The expansion project is largely funded by a USDA loan and by two community banks.

Construction is to begin in June and is expected to take just under two years to complete.

May 21, 2015 - 9:44 am - Posted in News

Orange City, Iowa — School is wrapping up for the year in most districts. At MOC/Floyd Valley, students will come back to some new and updated facilities in the fall.
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MOC/FV superintendent Russ Adams says it’s not one construction project, but many. He tells us how it all got started.

He tells us about what they’ve already done.

He says there are some projects that are in progress right now.

Adams says it will be a busy summer.

He says there’s concrete work to be done too, starting at OC Elementary.

He says there are also upgrades planned to some athletic fields.

He says a rough estimate on all the projects is in the neighborhood of eight million dollars.

Adams says Hoogendoorn Construction has been the general contractor for the science wing and will be for the athletic fields as well. Jellema Construction is doing the concrete work, and M & D Construction is doing the gym floors.

He says most of the projects will be completed before school starts in the fall, and they’re shooting for a final completion date of October 23rd.

He says he’s thankful for all the people who have helped and he says they wouldn’t have been able to do it without the one percent sales tax, which he says he hopes gets extended.

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May 20, 2015 - 5:17 pm - Posted in News

Rock Valley, Iowa — The flood of 2014 happened 11 months ago. Flood recovery has gone well in Rock Valley, according to city officials.

2014 Rock Valley flooding

2014 Rock Valley flooding

The Sioux County Supervisors have approved tax abatement for several mobile home owners whose homes were damaged or destroyed in last year’s flood. Rock Valley City Administrator Tom Van Maanen tells us that the county abated tax on the mobile homes for the period that they were not in livable condition after the flood.

Van Maanen says that like Rock Rapids, Rock Valley is participating in a flood buyout program.

He says an organization has been helping the city and its residents through flood recovery.

Van Maanen says there’s another reason recovery has gone so well there.

He says he’s glad World Renew could help them out, because there were people that needed help that no one knew about. He says through their help, he feels that everyone who needed help received it.

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May 20, 2015 - 4:21 pm - Posted in News

George, Iowa — Eleven people were overcome by fumes of some kind on Wednesday afternoon at a chicken confinement between George and Boyden.
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According to Lyon County Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep, the call came in about 2:40 PM, for eleven people experiencing symptoms such as vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, and respiratory problems at 3902 260th Street. That’s about five miles south of George, or 11 miles north of Boyden, and a mile west on A52. The address is a chicken barn which was under quarantine because of Avian Influenza (bird flu).

The sheriff says that the people were washing the walls after the bird flu outbreak. He says they originally thought the gas was anhydrous ammonia, or ammonia of some kind, but the workers said that their gas masks should have protected them from that.
20150520_182456The Sheriff says the George Fire Department was on the scene late Wednesday afternoon checking oxygen levels in the building.

The Sheriff says the investigation continues.

The George Fire Department, George Rescue Unit, Boyden Ambulance Service, Little Rock Ambulance Service, and the Lyon County Ambulance service all responded to this incident.  Patients were transported to Sanford Sheldon and Sanford Rock Rapids Hospitals.

May 20, 2015 - 4:03 pm - Posted in News
First section of 24 inch steel pipe

The first section of 24-inch steel pipe being installed

Washington, DC — Minnesota’s senators continue to push for funding for the Lewis and Clark water system.

Democrat U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken have introduced a bill to invest in rural water projects in order to address delays and complete construction. The Authorized Rural Water Projects Completion Act would establish a guaranteed annual investment of $80 million from the Bureau of Reclamation for 20 years to fund the construction of six Congressionally-authorized rural water systems, including the Lewis and Clark project. When completed, the Lewis and Clark Water System will cover a service territory of more than 5,000 square miles and provide drinking water to 300,000 residents and businesses in southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa, and southeast South Dakota.

Franken says that communities across the region have in good faith paid their full share to fund this project, and they’ve been waiting “far too long for the federal government to do the same”. He says this bill will help fund projects like Lewis and Clark, and that he’ll keep fighting for funding until the Lewis and Clark project is completed.

Ongoing construction of 14 inch PVC pipe

Ongoing construction of the 14-inch PVC pipe

Funding under the Authorized Rural Water Projects Completion Act would complement existing appropriated funds. The 2015 Energy and Water appropriations bill provided $47.2 million spread across the Bureau of Reclamation’s rural authorized water projects, but current funding is insufficient to complete the projects in a timely fashion.

For more information, click here for the news release on Senator Franken’s site.

Meanwhile, Lewis and Clark Executive Director Troy Larson says that Carstensen Contracting of Pipestone is making good progress on the pipeline to Luverne. He says they started construction in February on the 23 borings for the highway, stream and railroad crossings between the Iowa border and Luverne. The contract includes 5.9 miles of 14-inch PVC pipe and 12.7 miles of 24-inch steel pipe. He says Carstensen started installing the 14-inch PVC pipe in early April and plans to have it all in the ground by late May. The first section of 24-inch steel pipe was installed on May 12. Weather permitting, Luverne is expected to begin receiving Lewis & Clark water in December. The City has reserved 821,000 gallons a day.

May 20, 2015 - 2:09 pm - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — Some of the dead birds from the bird flu outbreak will be buried near Sheldon.

The Northwest Iowa Solid Waste Agency Landfill north of Hospers will be accepting truckloads of euthanized birds at its facility.

Landfill Compactor (generic file photo)

Landfill Compactor (generic file photo)

We talked to landfill director Larry Oldenkamp, and he says they signed a contract on Tuesday, May 19th to accept four million pounds of dead birds from flocks that were destroyed after Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza was found in the flock. He says the birds will be placed in large bags, and then loaded onto roll off dumpsters for transport to the landfill for disposal.

The birds will be kept separate of other refuse, and will be buried in a segregated area of the landfill, he says. According to Oldenkamp, the bird carcasses will be transported by a USDA contractor, along pre-approved routes.

He says trucks moving the birds will be disinfected at the poultry barn, they’ll be kept separate from other traffic at the landfill, and then the trucks will be disinfected before they leave the grounds as well.