Northwest Iowa — The four northwesternmost Iowa counties have seen a net increase of three cases of COVID-19 in the 24-hour period ending at noon on Friday according to the latest statistics from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Sioux County had an increase of two cases for a total of 214. Lyon is unchanged at 19. O’Brien is up one at 28. Osceola County is unchanged at 32.

Again, these numbers are raw numbers and do not take into account how many people have recovered.

No deaths from COVID-19 have been reported in these counties.

Total numbers of cases from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report (5/28/2020):

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 127, up 8
Cherokee 25, up 1
Buena Vista 715, up 15
Clay 13, unchanged
Dickinson 19, up 3

Minnesota counties:
Jackson 39, unchanged
Nobles 1503, up 7
Rock 22, unchanged

South Dakota counties:
Minnehaha 3330, up 13
Lincoln 236, down 1
Union 88, unchanged

In order to give you an idea of the density of cases, here are some selected numbers adjusted for population — given the number of cases actually in a county — the following are the numbers of cases there would be if the population of the county were 100,000 residents. But keep in mind, that these numbers include people who have had COVID-19, and have since recovered.

As far as regional hot spots, Nobles County, Minnesota tops the list with a density of 6949 per 100,000. Next is Buena Vista County with 3598. Next is Woodbury County with 2642, and then Minnehaha County, South Dakota with 1717.

In the four northwesternmost Iowa counties, Sioux County tops the density list at 613 per 100,000. Osceola is next with 530. Next is O’Brien County with 202, and Lyon County reports a density of 161.

Statewide Iowa — The government has sent out nearly 150 million Economic Impact Payments (a.k.a. coronavirus stimulus payments) to Americans, most of them through direct deposits or paper checks.

But a small portion of those people — roughly 4 million — are getting their payment a different way, through a prepaid debit card that arrives in the mail.

Heidi Brown, Executive Vice President at Citizens State Bank, talks about why some taxpayers received their stimulus as a debit card.

(As said, “Some people got ACH or automatic clearing house and electronic deposit into their account. because what the treasury leaned on was they went back to the last tax return, where there was, if you either received an electronic refund or you made an electronic payment, they relied on that bank account information. If that hadn’t happened and you were never an electronic filer, and you didn’t receive those things electronically, then they went out and there was a round of checks. That started taking quite a long time and so these EIP prepaid cards have gone out. I really can’t give you a solid answer as to why they decided to do part in checks. They sent out, the information that I got, said there were approximately four million of these VISA debit prepaid EIP cards sent out. They’ve been out, the earliest customer I’m aware of has had theirs in their hands for about two weeks already. So they’ve been sending them out in rounds. )

Brown tells us how one goes about activating the card.

(As said, “If you get one in the mail, it comes in a welcome packet. It’s a VISA, Metabank VISA prepaid card and it’s got the taxpayers name on it. That’s going to be based on filings. So some of them are coming, you know, if you filed single then it’s coming in your name, and if you are married and filing jointly, it’s got two names on it. And in the welcome packet, there are instructions because you do have to activate it. So you call into the 800 number that’s listed in that welcome packet. You set your four digit pin during that activation call, then you sign the back of the strip per the VISA, that’s just a VISA rule that if cards aren’t signed, they’re not valid. So you call the 800 number, you set your pin number, you sign it, and you can start to use it”)

The Visa Debit Card is good where ever Visa Debit Cards are accepted

(As said, “You can use it anywhere VISA Debit Cards are accepted, and you can use it in store, online, or by phone”)

For those who do not want the money on a card, Brown says there is a way to deposit the stimulus to your bank account.

(As said, “In the welcome packet, again, that you get there are instructions. For instance the customer that I talked to didn’t want it on her card, she just wanted to get it all transferred into her checking account, and you can do that. There’s instructions but they tell you that you need your banks routing number and then your account number, but you can make a transfer, and just put it all in your bank account if you prefer to do that”)

For more information, you can visit the official stimulus debit card website at EIPcard.com.

May 29, 2020 - 9:43 am - Posted in News

SIOUX CENTER, Iowa – Members of the Iowa Air and Army National Guard, working with the Iowa Department of Public Health, helped set up a COVID-19 test site in Northwest Iowa.

The site in the hamlet of Sioux Center is one of a number of “TestIowa” COVID-19 test sites to operate since mid-April. A key concern for the TestIowa initiative includes communities with meat processing plants.

Guard members have been assisting local and state agencies at drive-through test sites throughout the state.

Senior Airman Manuel Zertuche from the 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City was suited up in personal protective equipment and lending a hand as part of a group of 20 Guard members at the Sioux Center test site.

Zertuche, a full-time student at the University of Iowa who works as a medical technician for the 185th Medical Group, says that this is a great opportunity to put their military training to use. He continues that it is good to help people out, help everyone stay safe and give some peace of mind.

According to the “TestIowa” website, community members who suspect they have been exposed or have symptoms of COVID-19 can be tested. Once eligible, residents are directed to makeshift locations like the one set up in the Sioux Center middle school parking lot.

At the site, Guard members direct motorists to medical staff who administer the test. The process is accomplished simply by having the person roll down their window to submit to a quick nasal swab.

The test site in Sioux Center has Iowa Air Guard Med Techs like Zertuche and Army Guard medics working alongside civilian nurses and medical staff administering tests. The goal of the project is to help track the spread of COVID-19 in the Hawkeye State.

Each day samples collected from around the state are sent to the Iowa Hygienic Laboratory in Coralville for processing. The distance from the site to the lab makes Sioux Center the most remote location where TestIowa COVID-19 testing is conducted.

National Guard members plan to staff the test site in Sioux Center through at least the first week of June.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — New unemployment claims moved up slightly last week.

First-time claims were 14,586 which is up around 25,000 from the previous week. It is the first time in three weeks those claims have gone up. Manufacturing saw the most new claims with 3,835. Self-employed and independent contractors filed nearly 2,382 first-time claims.

The number of continuing unemployment claims dropped by around 4,000 for the week to 180,670. The state paid out nearly $49 million in unemployment benefits last week.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Animal rights groups are criticizing the methods used by Iowa pork producers to euthanize the animals that they are not able to take to the packing plant.

Coronavirus shutdowns slowed production and Ag Secretary Mike Naig says no producer wants to destroy animals.

(As he says)”As it relates to some of the activist activity in the state, I think it is disgusting,” Naig says.

He says hog farmers hate this more than anyone.

(as he says)”I think that our producers are experiencing and unprecedented disruption in their business and their way of life. And we’ve got folks with a clear agenda that are kicking our farmers while they are down,” he says.

Naig says producers follow specific guidelines.

(as he says)”The facts are that producers work with their veterinarians. Veterinarians follow the American Vet Med Association’s guidelines for euthanasia– humane euthanasia, even in constrained situations like we are in today,” according to Naig. “That’s the guidelines, those are the best practices that producers will use. No producer wants to be in this situation.”

Naig says the backup of hogs will reduce as meat processing plants get back up to full production — but it will still take some time to catch up.

Sheldon, Iowa — Things are slowly inching back toward normal at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon.

NCC Vice President for Student and Academic Services, Dr. John Hartog tells us about it.

But, says Hartog, there are some classes that meet in the summer that need face-to-face, hands-on instruction.

He says they continue to serve the community, but at this time the campus (with the exception of the Lifelong Learning and Recreation Center — or LLRC) remains closed to the public.

Dr. Hartog says the LLRC is open to members with some limitations including limited open hours. For more information, you can contact the LLRC.

We asked Hartog about the fall semester. He says we need to keep in mind that this is a fluid situation.

Hartog says if you have any questions, you may certainly call NCC at 324-5061 or 800-352-4907. Or check out the information on their website at nwicc.edu.

May 28, 2020 - 3:54 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Not everything is negative in this time of the pandemic. Some things are actually better than normal. One of the things that would fit into that category, or at least the category of being somewhat normal — is the planting and crop progress in area fields.

Iowa State University agronomist Joel De Jong tells us that compared to last year, farmers are much further along in the process.

He gives us some more details on crop progress.

Next, we asked De Jong to peer into his crystal ball and tell us how he thinks corn and bean prices will be affected this fall by COVID-19. De Jong reminds us, he is an agronomist, not a marketing specialist, but he says there are supply and demand issues.

He tells us that what happens this growing season remains to be seen and there are still many variables that could change things by then as well.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The Iowa Department of Agriculture has launched a program to help pork producers deal with hogs they can’t take to market after coronavirus shut downs at packing plants.

Ag Secretary Mike Naig says it’s something no producer wants to deal with.

(As above) “Farmers are doing everything they can to avoid having to take the step of euthanizing and disposing of animals,” Naig says. “They are finding alternate ways to market, they are selling direct to consumers, they’re changing their feed ration to slow down the rate of gain — they are doing everything they can. This truly is an action, a decision of last resort.”  

The Ag Department is offering producers 40 dollars for each animal to help cover some of the disposal costs for market-ready hogs.

(As above) “It won’t cover all costs, but it is a part of the cost that they’ll incur to euthanize and dispose of animals,” he says. 

Naig says they are still hoping for federal help to cover the loss of revenue from the hogs. Iowa State University estimates that by mid-May there were approximately 600-thousand pigs in Iowa that were unable to go to the packing plants. Iowa producers were faced with killing thousands of chickens and turkeys during the avian influenza outbreak five years ago — and Naig says they learned some things then.

(As above) “One of the key learnings from that was to really empower producers to make decisions and to take control of the situation,” according to Naig. “They know their operations better than anyone else. And they also know the resources at their disposal better than anyone else. We learned that back in 2015.” 

He says they will hand out the funding in at lease three rounds.

(As above) “The first round closes Friday of this week, and farmers will need to reach out to our office. They can call the main number or they can go to IowaAgriculture-dot-gov and there is a way to apply there. And then we will subsequently roll out rounds two and three,” Naig says.

Naig says this will help producers deal with the short-term problem. In the long-term, he says they need to continue to make the packing plants safe for workers.

(As above) He says that it will allow the employees to confidently show up and know that they can work safely. “That’s ultimately what it takes to return to full processing capacity. Today in Iowa we are running at about 75 percent of our normal processing capacity — an again that number steadily improves each day.” Naig says.

He says this could continue to be a problem throughout the summer. Each applicant who is approved will receive funding for at least one-thousand animals and up to 30-thousand each round, depending on the number of applicants. The money comes from federal coronavirus relief funding.

Ireton, Iowa — The investigation into the shooting death of a Cleghorn man has led to an upgraded charge against his accused killer.

According to the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office, a disturbance inside a rural Ireton residence, back on May 9th, led to the shooting death of 58-year-old Grant Wayne Wilson, of Cleghorn.

The Sheriff’s Office initial investigation led to the arrest of 70-year-old Gregg Winterfeld, of Spirit Lake, on a charge of 2nd Degree Murder, for allegedly shooting Wilson to death.

After discussion with the Sioux County Attorney late last week, deputies say the County Attorney amended the charge against Winterfeld, charging him with 1st Degree Murder in Wilson’s death.

Authorities say case remains under investigation.

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Update posted 2:00 pm, May 11, 2020

Ireton, Iowa — The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office has now released the name of the victim who was killed during a disturbance that occurred on Saturday night.

Authorities identify the victim as 58-year-old Grant Wayne Wilson, of Cleghorn.

Deputies say Wilson was shot and killed during a disturbance at a rural Ireton residence late Saturday evening.

A Spirit Lake man has been arrested in connection with the incident. Authorities say 70-year-old Gregg Winterfeld of Spirit Lake faces a charge of 2nd Degree murder in connection with the slaying.

The case remains under investigation by the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office.

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Original post 5:17 pm, May 10, 2020

Ireton, Iowa — A Spirit Lake man is charged with 2nd Degree Murder following a shooting incident late Saturday night at a rural Ireton residence.

Sioux County authorities say they received a report of a disturbance shortly after 10:00 pm Saturday, which involved a shooting inside a residence on Dove Avenue Avenue, three miles northwest of Ireton. WHen deputies arrived they discovered a 58 year old male inside the residence, who was dead of an apparent gunshot wound.

As a result of the investigation, the sheriff’s office arrested 70-year-old Gregg Winterfeld,of Spirit Lake, on a charge of 2nd degree murder. Deputies say one other person was inside the residence at the time of the shooting and was unharmed.

The victim has been transported to the Iowa State Crime Lab in Ankeny, where an autopsy will be performed.

The sheriff’s office is withholding the name of the victim, pending notification of the next of kin.

The sheriff’s office was assisted by the Hawarden Police Department, Sioux Center Police Department, Orange City Police Department, Sioux County Conservation, Rock Valley Police Department, Ireton Ambulance, Ireton Fire and Ireton Rescue.

The incident remains under investigation by the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office.

Northwest Iowa — Iowans will go to the polls this coming Tuesday, June 2nd, in the 2020 Primary election. Area Republicans will have one more opportunity to comparison-shop the candidates seeking the 4th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday night, when they take part in a debate that will be aired on KIWA-FM 105.3, with live streamed video available on our website, kiwaradio.com.

The candidates for the Republican nomination in the 4th District are: the incumbent, Congressman Steve King, of Kiron; who is being challenged by State Senator Randy Feenstra, of Hull; Arnolds Park businessman Steve Reeder, former Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor, of Sioux City; and Businessman Bret Richards, of Irwin.

On Tuesday, Republican voters will select one of the five to face off against Democrat JD Scholten, of Sioux City, who is running unopposed in the Democratic primary. Scholten squared off against King in the 2018 general election, with the incumbent Republican winning by a slim margin.

With five candidates in the Republican race, to win the primary outright, one candidate must receive at least 35% of the vote. If that doesn’t happen, the race will go to the 4th District Republican Convention, where convention delegates will choose a winner to face off against Scholten in November.

Friday night’s debate has been organized, and is sponsored by, the Republican Central Committees of O’Brien, Sioux, Osceola, Lyon and Plymouth counties, and will run from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. You can see the debate, which is being held in a virtual format, by going to kiwaradio.com, where live streaming video will be available, or you can hear it by tuning in to KIWA-FM 105.3.

Please join the event’s Moderator, KIWA’s Tom Traughber, along with the Republican candidates for the 4th District congressional nomination, Friday night from 7:00 to 8:30 on FM-105.3, or at kiwaradio.com.