July 7, 2020 - 3:56 pm - Posted in News

Orange City, Iowa — A few tense moments were experienced in Orange City on Monday, when a natural gas line was struck.

According to Orange City Fire Chief Denny Vanderwel, the call came in about 12:55 p.m. on Tuesday, July 6th. He says the incident at 420 Fifth Street Northwest happened when a contractor working on a house’s deck accidentally struck the home’s natural gas service line. He says that’s when 911 was called.

Vanderwel says when fire crews arrived, the Orange City Utility personnel were already on the scene. He says they dug up the line and put a clamp on it to stop the gas from escaping.

Chief Vanderwel reports that they didn’t need to evacuate anybody or block any roads. He says firefighters were on the scene for 15 to 20 minutes. Eyewitness reports say there were people working on it for the rest of the afternoon.

Northwest Iowa — The four northwesternmost Iowa counties reported 10 more COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, according to the latest statistics from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Sioux County was up seven cases at 480. Lyon County was up one at 45. O’Brien County was up one at 89, and Osceola County was up one at 62.

As far as active cases, Lyon County has four, Sioux County has 108, O’Brien County has 21, and Osceola has thirteen.

Recovery rate:

Lyon — out of 45 cases, 41 have recovered, for a rate of about 91%
Sioux — out of 480 cases, 372 have recovered, for a rate of about 78%
O’Brien — out of 89 cases, 68 have recovered, for a rate of about 76%
Osceola — out of 62 cases, 49 have recovered, for a rate of about 79%

Also, one death has been reported in these four counties since the beginning of the pandemic, that in O’Brien county on Tuesday, June 9th.

Total numbers of cases from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report (7/6/2020):

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 325, up 3
Cherokee 76, up 1
Buena Vista 1717, up 4
Clay 137, up 3
Dickinson 266, unchanged

Minnesota counties:
Jackson 55, unchanged
Nobles 1672, up 3
Rock 31, unchanged

South Dakota counties:
Minnehaha 3685, up 18
Lincoln 371, up 5
Union 137, unchanged

Here are some density numbers from regional hot spots. But keep in mind, that these numbers do include people who have had COVID-19, and have since recovered.

Buena Vista County, Iowa has a density of about one case in 12 people. Very close to that density is Nobles County, Minnesota, where there is one case in 13 people. Next in our region is Woodbury County with one case in every 31 people, and then Minnehaha County, South Dakota with one case in 52 people.

In the four northwesternmost Iowa counties, Sioux County tops the density list at one case in 73 people. Osceola is next with one case per 97 people. Next is O’Brien County with one in 156 people, and Lyon County reports a density of one case in every 262 people.

July 7, 2020 - 9:52 am - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — The new varieties of corn have made the old standard “knee high” by the Fourth of July a thing of the past as corn in some areas is already five to six feet high.

Iowa State University Field Agronomist, Angie Rieck-Hintz says the differences in rainfall are really starting to show in her north-central Iowa area.

(as she says) “We can certainly tell where the drier than usual places are — because the corn is starting to get that pineapplely look in some places and it is starting to happen early in the day. Which just means between the heat stress and lack of water — that crop is under stress,” Reick-Hintz says.

She says Webster and Humboldt counties are good examples of drier areas.

(as she says) “Humboldt County is almost five-and-a-half inches below its normal rainfall going back to April. “So, you can definitely see that stress in the crop. And as we get hotter this week, that will probably continue to worsen.”

Those crops show the pineapple effect she talked about as their leaves curl up. But Rieck-Hintz says other counties are doing pretty well.

(as she says) “You get into eastern Hamilton County, you get in Hardin County, Franklin County, where they had a few more rains not that long ago, that crop still looks really good right?” Rieck-Hintz says. “We don’t see that leaf rolling in the morning or as early in the day. But, this is going to be a big week for heat and doesn’t sound like we are going to get a lot of rain.”

Reick-Hintz says she is seeing some tassels starting to appear — which is a sign the corn is advancing it its development. The soybeans are also making progress.

(as she says)”We have beans which are almost to R-3, which means beginning pod. So they are starting to set pods on there and pretty soon there will be little beans. There are little beans in the little pods — so that’s awesome,” she says.

Rieck-Hintz says getting enough moisture is the biggest issue facing the development of both crops right now.

(as she says)”We don’t see a lot of disease pressure out there in corn or soybeans,” she says. “We don’t have a lot of insect activity going on.”

The latest USDA Crop report rated topsoil moisture levels rated 3% very short, 19% short, 76% adequate and 2% surplus. Subsoil moisture levels rated 2% very short, 14% short, 81% adequate and 3% surplus.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — A federal judge has ordered the Dakota Access oil pipeline that runs through Iowa to shut down until an environmental review is completed.

The pipeline carries oil from North Dakota to Illinois. It runs 350 miles through 18 Iowa counties, entering the state in northwest Iowa’s Lyon County and exits from Lee County in the southeast. Oil began pumping through the pipeline more than three years ago. The company that runs the pipeline is seeking permits to double its capacity.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s lawsuit asks the court to throw out the federal permit for the pipeline. In 2016, the Sierra Club and more than a dozen Iowans who owned land along the pipeline’s route unsuccessfully sued in state court to try to block operation of the pipeline.

July 6, 2020 - 3:48 pm - Posted in News

Sioux Center, Iowa — Dordt University has two new programs to offer students.

The Biology Department has a new emphasis available — in public health. Dr. Jeff Ploegstra has led the biology department in collaboration with other campus programs to add additional paths for students called to the public health profession. Dordt officials tell us trends in public health continue to show the need for a greater emphasis on proactive approaches to health and a broadening scope that more deeply includes psychological and community-based strategies for wellness. Ploegstra believes this program is a great mission-fit for Dordt seeking to equip students.

The Education Department has some new opportunities as well — a joint Agriculture/Biology Education major and an expanded Agriculture Education major. Dr. Ryan Zonnefeld, director of the Teacher Preparation Program at Dordt, and Gary De Vries from the Agriculture Department have led this major proposal.

Dordt is one of three schools in Iowa offering an Agriculture-Education program, but the only one to offer it from a Christian perspective.

Worthing, SD — There’s another reminder that the pest that’s been devastating the ash tree population in the United States is almost literally next door to our area.

The South Dakota Department of Agriculture has confirmed that an infestation of emerald ash borer (EAB) has been discovered in Worthing, South Dakota. This May, an infestation was reported near Canton, South Dakota, which is right across the Big Sioux River from Lyon County. Both communities are in South Dakota’s Lincoln County. In 2018, the first confirmed infestation in South Dakota was identified in Sioux Falls. Emerald ash borer is an invasive insect that has killed millions of ash trees in at least 32 states. Its presence was confirmed in Iowa ten years ago.

EAB has also been confirmed to our south and east in Cherokee and Buena Vista counties, and there are unconfirmed reports that it is in southeastern O’Brien County.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says adult emerald ash borer beetles live on the outside of trees and feed on the leaves during the summer months, while the larvae feed on the living plant tissue underneath the bark. The tunneling and feeding activity of the larvae is what ultimately kills trees. EAB attacks trees of any size, age, or stage of health, and trees can die within two years of infestation.

Near Sioux Center, Iowa — Construction continues on the water system that is to bring Missouri River aquifer water to a number of northwest Iowa communities.

The Lewis & Clark Regional Water System is celebrating its 30th year of incorporation and this month is celebrating its 20th anniversary of being authorized by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton. Executive Director Troy Larson says that as they celebrate these important milestones, they are very pleased that construction is moving full speed ahead this summer.

Work recently started on three projects and is expected to begin on a fourth in September. Construction is also wrapping up on a fifth project. These five projects represent a combined $54.1 million in construction.

The three projects upon which work has recently begun are part of the transmission line that will ultimately provide water to Sioux Center, Hull, and Sheldon.

Carstensen Contracting of Dell Rapids, SD is nearing completion of 11.2 miles of 24-inch diameter pipe that started at Beresford and headed east. Construction began in the spring of 2019 on this $9.8 million project.

Carstensen is constructing 10 miles of 24-inch diameter pipe starting at Sioux Center and heading west. The substantial completion deadline is December 2020 for this $8.2 million project.

They plan to begin construction in September on 12.6 miles of 24-inch diameter pipe between Sioux Center and Beresford, which includes the Big Sioux River crossing. 7.6 miles of the project will be on the Iowa side and 5 miles on the South Dakota side. The substantial completion deadline is December 2021 for this $19 million project.

Workers are also working on a new well, which is expected to produce 16 million gallons a day. By comparison, most of Lewis & Clark’s 11 vertical wells each produce in the range of 3 million gallons a day. They hope to have that done by the spring of 2022.

In addition, what’s being billed as the tallest 2.5 million gallon water tower in the nation is being built for the system near Beresford.

The Hull to Sheldon and the Worthington to Sibley segments are future projects for the system.

Larson says that when these five projects are completed Lewis & Clark will be close to 85% complete. Funding-wise, he says if they continue to receive $18 million per year in federal funding, which is what was appropriated in the past fiscal year, the project is estimated to be completed by 2030.

Photo caption: Workers install pipeline for the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System near Sioux Center

Northwest Iowa — The four northwesternmost Iowa counties reported 22 more COVID-19 cases over the Independence Day Weekend, according to the latest statistics from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Sioux County was up twelve cases since Thursday at 473. Lyon County was up four at 44. O’Brien County was up two at 88, and Osceola County was up four at 61.

As far as active cases, Lyon County has four, Sioux County has 101, O’Brien County has 25, and Osceola has thirteen.

Recovery rate:

Lyon — out of 44 cases, 40 have recovered, for a rate of about 91%
Sioux — out of 473 cases, 372 have recovered, for a rate of about 79%
O’Brien — out of 88 cases, 63 have recovered, for a rate of about 72%
Osceola — out of 61 cases, 48 have recovered, for a rate of about 79%

Also, one death has been reported in these four counties since the beginning of the pandemic, that in O’Brien county on Tuesday, June 9th.

Total numbers of cases from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report (7/2/2020):

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 322, up 10
Cherokee 75, unchanged
Buena Vista 1713, up 8
Clay 134, up 7
Dickinson 266, up 7

Minnesota counties:
Jackson 55, unchanged
Nobles 1669, up 8
Rock 31, up 2

South Dakota counties:
Minnehaha 3667, up 29
Lincoln 366, up 14
Union 137, up 11

Here are some density numbers from regional hot spots. But keep in mind, that these numbers do include people who have had COVID-19, and have since recovered.

Buena Vista County, Iowa has a density of about one case in 12 people. Very close to that density is Nobles County, Minnesota, where there is one case in 13 people. Next in our region is Woodbury County with one case in every 32 people, and then Minnehaha County, South Dakota with one case in 53 people.

In the four northwesternmost Iowa counties, Sioux County tops the density list at one case in 74 people. Osceola is next with one case per 99 people. Next is O’Brien County with one in 157 people, and Lyon County reports a density of one case in every 268 people.

July 6, 2020 - 9:45 am - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — State climatologist Justin Glisan says Iowa was a divided state in June when it came to rainfall.

(as he says) “If we use I-35 as a dividing line — eastern Iowa was above average for rainfall. Anywhere from four to six inches in northeastern Iowa,” according to Glissan. “And then we go to the western part of the state — drier than normal across much of west-central and north-central Iowa. Anywhere from two to three inches below average.”

Glissan says one major weather event drove some of the disparity in precipitation and was the only real notable issue.

(as he says) “The remnants of Tropical Storm Cristobol that went through eastern Iowa and left over four to six inches of rainfall over a 24-hour period,” Glissan says. “But if we look at June in general, yes it was kind of a ho-hum month.”

Glissan says the temperatures for June were not too far away from average.

(as he says) “The average temperature was about 73 degrees — which is about three degrees above average.”

Glissan says the long-term forecast is for warmer weather — and precipitation is called E-C or equal chance for above or below average.

(as he says) “That E-C designation is a little concerning as the state needs some rain in the dry areas to catch them back up with the rest of the state.”

Glissan says there’s hope the rainfall will come later in the month.

July 6, 2020 - 9:40 am - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — A new state law that took effect this week ensures Iowa kids have a right to sell lemonade, cookies and other types of food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Senator Roby Smith of Davenport says a number of states have enacted similar laws.

(as said) “In 2011, Coralville Police shut down a lemonade stand operated by a four-year-old because they did not have a permit,” Smith says.

Child-run lemonade stands were technically illegal in Iowa before this Wednesday, when the governor signed the new law. Senator Zach Wahls notes a few cities around the country have cracked down on Girl Scouts selling cookies and the new law makes it clear kids don’t have to get government permits if they want to sell baked goods or beverages.

(as said) “As an Eagle Scout myself who spent many, many years selling popcorn definitely without a permit…I look forward to protecting future generations of scouts — boy scouts and girl scouts — from needless liability,” Wahls said.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Iowa is at least the 15th state to waive the government permitting process so kids under the age of 18 may sell food door to door or set up a lemonade stand.