Northwest Iowa — There have been 119 new positive COVID results in the four-county area in the past seven days, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The total is the O’Brien, Sioux, Osceola and Lyon County area breaks down to 62 new cases in Sioux County which is up 21 from a week ago, 34 new cases in Lyon County which is up 8 from last week, 16 new cases in O’Brien County and 7 in Lyon County. Both O’Brien and Lyon Counties were down 1 from the week before.

The streak of several weeks with no COVID-related deaths in the four-county area came to an end in the last seven days, when O’Brien and Sioux Counties each had one resident claimed by the virus. That brings the total dead since the start of the pandemic to 191; 752 in Sioux County, 58 in O’Brien County, 41 in Lyon County and 17 in Osceola County.

As of Monday morning, 52.7% of O’Brien County residents age 12 and up have been fully vaccinated, with 47.2% in Osceola County, 43.3% in Lyon County and 43.7% in Sioux County.

Patients hospitalized statewide, as of Monday morning, stands at 578, with 158 being treated in Iowa Intensive Care Units. Of those hospitalized, 76.9% are not fully vaccinated. For those in ICU, 87.7% are not fully vaccinated.

There are 26 Long-Term Care Centers in the state experiencing COVID outbreaks as of Monday morning, according to the IDPH.

 

Northwest Iowa — The proposed redistricting plan introduced Thursday by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency would cause a shake-up in state legislators for northwest Iowa.

The proposed Iowa House District 10 would include all of Cherokee County, western Buena Vista County, southern Plymouth County and a northern area of Woodbury County. Both Representative Dennis Bush of Cleghorn and Gary Worthan of Storm Lake would be in the new District 10. Meaning that if the redistricting plan is approved, one of the two incumbents would be forced to either not seek reelection, or move, or the two would have to face one another in a Republican Primary.

The same is true with the proposed House District 3, which would put both Representative Skylar Wheeler, of Orange City, and Representative Tom Jeneary, of Le Mars in the new District 3, which would include the southern two-thirds of Sioux County and most of northern Plymouth County. As with District 10, either Wheeler or Jeneary to make the choice to either move, or not seek reelection, or run against one another in a Republican Primary.

The redistricting proposal presented to the Iowa Legislature is only a proposal and the plan may be redrawn multiple times before finalized.

Redistricting is required by law every ten years to redraw legislative districts to match population shifts uncovered by the once-a-decade census.

Orange City, Iowa — Sioux County Master Gardener interns have been working to make a space in Orange City that was in danger of soil erosion into a place that both people and creatures can now enjoy.

Sioux County’s new “Butterflies and Blossoms” Garden is located at 400 Central Ave. NW in Orange City. The public is invited to an open house viewing of the garden Monday, Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m. and the official ribbon cutting on Thursday, Sept. 30 at 10 a.m.

“We’re very excited to unveil the ‘Butterflies and Blossoms’ garden located near the ISU Extension and Outreach Sioux County office,” said Donna Mills, Sioux County Master Gardener Program Coordinator with ISU Extension and Outreach. “There was already a monarch habitat installed in that location in 2018, so as part of their community volunteer hours, local Master Gardener interns dug, planted and weeded their way to expanding it to include many other native Iowa plants and flowers. Thus, the ‘Butterflies and Blossoms’ garden was born.”

Mills said that the existing space was in dire need of help before the Master Gardener interns got to work. The trees in the area had exposed roots and the soil was beginning to erode further with an expanding area of bare ground. Besides that, it was far from aesthetically pleasing, according to Mills.

After seeing the space, Sioux County Master Gardener interns John Buntsma, Lindsay Millard, Phyllis Van Gelder and Donna Mills put together a plan which was well received and supported by the Sioux County Extension Council. The original plan soon evolved into a much bigger and better project with options to continue adding plants.

The financial support of the Sioux County Extension Council allowed for plants and garden signage to be purchased, and the partnership with the Orange City Area Health Systems allowed for the area to be cleaned and excess brush removed, and for sod to be laid for a natural walking path through the garden.

Mills said that the project had a three-fold goal:
Prevent further soil erosion by adding vegetation.
Fill in bare areas where grass does not grow to beautify the space.
Create an educational area for native species and habitat through signage.

“Planting native Iowa plant species in the courtyard at the downtown campus not only improved the appearance but also addressed other problems,” Mills said. “We hope the public joins us at the open house and/or ribbon cutting to see the beautiful new space that we can all enjoy.”

For more information about the “Butterflies and Blossoms” garden, contact Mills at 712-737-7295 or donnam@iastate.edu.

September 17, 2021 - 3:16 pm - Posted in News

Orange City, Iowa — An Orange City home has received extensive damage due to vandalism via spray paint, and Orange City Police are looking for the public’s help.

Officers tell us they would like your help finding the person or persons responsible for the vandalism, which was to a residence on Boston Avenue. They say the crime happened when suspects entered a vacant house and spray-painted the interior sometime between Thursday, September 16, at 11:00 p.m. and Friday, Sept. 17, at 8:00 a.m.

According to nearly 20 pictures of the interior of the home posted by the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office on behalf of the Orange City Police Department, multiple surfaces in multiple rooms were vandalized with spray paint.

Click here to see the post on Facebook.

(Profanity has been blurred)

Alton, Iowa — A Denison woman was airlifted to a Sioux City hospital in the aftermath of a fiery crash near Alton early Thursday evening.

According to the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office, about 5:20 Thursday evening they were called to investigate a motor vehicle accident that occurred on Highway 60, one mile north of Alton.

According to authorities, 38-year-old Michael Nelson, of Crescent, Iowa, was driving a 2021 Peterbilt semi-truck pulling a cattle trailer northbound on Highway 60. Deputies say he slowed to turn east onto 440th Street, when a 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan, driven by 37-year-old Kayleen Stallman, of Denison, struck Nelson’s trailer. Deputies say the minivan caught fire after the collision, with Stallman trapped inside. She was freed from the vehicle by another motorist, according to authorities and transported by the Alton Ambulance to Orange City Area Health before being airlifted to MercyOne Medical Center in Sioux City.

Deputies say the cattle trailer sustained approximately $20,000 in damage. Damage to the minivan was estimated at $10,000.

Stallman was reportedly cited for following to close and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended driver’s license.

The sheriff’s office was assisted by the Orange City Police Department, Alton Ambulance, Alton Fire Department, Orange City Ambulance and Iowa State Patrol.

Northwest Iowa — While alfalfa may be about ready to cut, one northwest Iowa expert says that depending on your plans for next year, making hay may not be the best course of action right now.

Iowa State University Extension Agronomist Joel De Jong tells us that if your intent is to keep the alfalfa and harvest hay from it again next year, it might be best to hold off on the last cutting for a while.

Waiting on cutting alfalfa shouldn’t be much of a problem for area farmers, most of whom are busy getting ready for soybean and corn harvest at this point.

Lebanon, Iowa (western Sioux County) — A milestone was reached in northwest Iowa this week in the construction of the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System. Troy Larson, the project’s executive director, says the final section of pipe between Beresford, South Dakota, and Sioux Center was laid this week.

Larson says there’s still a lot of work to do before water is flowing through that pipe.

Larson says they still have a few more member cities to bring online.

Larson tells us about the line connecting Hull and Sheldon.

He tells us that while Sheldon getting water is a few years away yet, they are getting things ready in the Sheldon area.

For clarification purposes, water going to Sibley will come off of the Worthington branch, which is separate from the Sheldon branch.

Larson says they are also watching the U.S. House of Representatives closely, as the infrastructure bill that they are considering contains the remaining federal funding that Lewis & Clark needs to complete the base system — $132 million.

Larson tells us that the Lewis & Clark board is already planning for expansion from 45 million gallons per day to 60 million gallons. He says the proposed expansion will involve expanding the water treatment plant, adding more pumps to existing pump stations, adding two more pump stations, adding more wells in the same area, and adding more lime drying beds.

First developed in 1989, the water system is a partnership of cities and rural water districts in Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota. It uses some 340 miles of underground pipe to move treated water to communities from wells near the Missouri River, south of Vermillion, South Dakota.

Photo caption(left to right): L&C Executive Director Troy Larson, Hull Councilman Eric Rankin, Hull City Administrator and L&C Director Jim Collins, Sioux Center Assistant Utilities Manager Adam Fedders, Sioux Center Water Department Supervisor Harlan Kruid, Sioux Center City Manager Scott Wynja, Sioux Center Mayor Dave Krahling and Sioux Center Utilities Manager and L&C Chairman Murray Hulstein.

Des Moines, Iowa — The redistricting plan the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency presented to Iowa lawmakers Thursday morning would expand the fourth congressional district, which is represented by Congressman Randy Feenstra of Hull, from 39 to 44 counties.

Feenstra plans to seek reelection in 2022 and he lives in the proposed fourth congressional district. It would include cities like Sioux City, Fort Dodge and Mason City — which Feenstra currently represents, but the contours change as the proposed district flows to the south. Council Bluffs and Sidney on the far southwest corner of the state would be included, but Ames — which Feenstra current represents — is NOT included.

The proposed fourth district would still be a Republican-dominated area, with just under a quarter of voters registered as Democrats compared to more than 45 percent of voters being registered Republicans.

Donald Trump won the 44 counties that would be included in the proposed fourth congressional district by a more than 30 percent margin.

Here is what the proposed redistricting of Iowa would look like…..

 

 

September 16, 2021 - 2:10 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — A new report finds Iowa’s adult obesity rate rose significantly from 2019 to 2020. The study by the non-profit Trust for America’s Health found 36-percent of adult Iowans were considered obese last year, putting Iowa among 16 states with a rate above 35-percent.

The Trust’s Dara Lieberman says the shift in many people’s daily routines and a reported decrease in physical activity during the pandemic may have contributed to the increase.

Lieberman says obesity is linked to an increased risk for many conditions like diabetes, heart disease and even getting severely ill from COVID-19. She says obesity rates differed along racial lines due to social and economic factors, with black Iowans having higher rates than white and Latino Iowans.

Iowa is tied with Delaware for the seventh highest obesity rate in the country. Lieberman says lawmakers need to push for more resources to be invested in combating obesity.

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa Supreme Court has set December 1st as the deadline for Iowa lawmakers to approve new boundaries for Iowa congressional and legislative districts.

The Legislative Services Agency will release new maps Thursday, part of the once-every-ten-year process of redrawing congressional and legislative district lines based on new Census data. That data showing shifts in Iowa’s population didn’t get delivered until August — four months late — making it impossible to meet the September 15th constitutional deadline for having a redistricting plan approved. Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Susan Christensen has issued an order that sets December 1st as the new deadline.

The chief justice says Iowa’s redistricting law has been recognized as the nation’s gold standard and has been studied and praised by redistricting commissions in other states. Christensen’s order cited the strict criteria the Legislative Services Agency uses to reconfigure the districts as she granted the legislative branch permission to proceed with the process that has been used since 1981.

Senate Republican Leader Jack Whitver of Ankeny says he appreciates the Supreme Court’s work in helping to maintain Iowa’s nationally recognized redistricting process. Governor Kim Reynolds has set October 5th as the date for legislators to reconvene in special session to vote yes or no on the set of maps that will be released this Thursday.