February 23, 2021 - 4:05 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa (RI/KIWA) — The Sioux County Auditor testified against provisions of a bill that shortens Iowa’s early voting period and makes other election law changes.

Republican Representative Bobby Kaufmann of Wilton convened a public hearing Monday night and announced that the bill will be slightly adjusted, to set up a 21-day period for absentee voting.

(as said) “It is really easy to vote absentee today under current law,” Kaufmann said, “and it will be really easy to vote absentee after this bill passes and is sent to the governor’s office Wednesday night.”

Gary Leffler of West Des Moines, a Trump supporter who testified during the public hearing, urged Iowa lawmakers to investigate allegations of election fraud in other states.

(as asid) “I was at the (U.S.) Capitol on January 6. What people are concerned about is this: voter integrity,” Leffler said. “…They’re trying to figure out: How in the world did this happen?”

Janice Weiner of Iowa City says just as Senator Joni Ernst won her election, President Biden won freely and fairly.

(as said) “The remedy for the big lie of a stolen election is not to take an ax to election laws that work exceedingly well,” she said. “It’s simply to tell the truth.”

Election officials from four Iowa counties drove to Des Moines to urge legislators to make major changes in the bill.

Sioux County Auditor Ryan Dokter tells us what he told legislators.

(as said) “Regarding satellite voting in larger counties, the county auditors there set up satellite polling locations because they know where those locations will be the most effective so that they don’t waste time and money in ineffective locations… whether those be being libraries or other places where they can be sure to use that time and those resources wisely. That bill takes that ability away and makes the voters have to petition for those sites only. So there would be no option for the auditors to determine for themselves where these satellite voting locations would be.”

Dokter says these satellite locations are for in-person absentee voting before the actual election day. He says the bill would give broad authority to the Secretary of State.

(as said) “It’s basically giving some more power to that position. Basically putting the county auditors under the direct supervision of the Secretary of State’s office. [I] was warning about the unintended consequences of that if that position changes from one party to another hopefully there’s no… I guess buyer’s remorse on that kind of action… where now there might be county auditors targeted because they’re in a different party than the current Secretary of State. I mean, it just creates more friction between those positions of elected government. And then also kind of in that line… There’s plenty of uniformity in elections and that’s good. But what’s also good about each county doing something maybe slightly differently when it comes to elections… I’m not saying they’re doing anything wrong, but the processes might be just slightly different… that creates further integrity in elections because if somebody is going to try to interfere or do something with elections if it’s completely uniform across the board…. they know they’re going to be successful in 99 counties rather than just that one county. And then the last thing that I talked about was local control and I think all these points that we brought up tie back to local control. There’s a provision in the bill to take county home rule away as it pertains to elections. Local county leaders know what’s best for their community. They live here they work here. They see the need and that local decision-making is really key to maintain.”

Rebecca Bissell, a Republican who is the Adams County Auditor, says due to Postal Service delays, the shorter window for mail-in voting will cause problems.

(as said) “Smaller rural counties have a large elderly population who typically choose to vote absentee because of weather or health concerns,” Bissell said. “Why are we making it harder for them to vote?”

Auditors from Grundy and Woodbury counties also testified against the bill.

February 23, 2021 - 2:11 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Following last week’s brutal cold and severe winter storms, gasoline prices have jumped up to 20-cents a gallon — or more — in some Iowa cities.

Nick Jarmusz, a spokesman for Triple-A Iowa, says the price you pay at the pump depends on where you live.

(As above) “For the state we’re seeing an average increase that is about 15 cents,” Jarmusz says, “but in some places it is more than that.” 

He adds, refinery shutdowns in Texas are typically not a major factor in Iowa’s gasoline prices.

(As above) “Our refining is all done here in the Midwest,” Jarmusz says. “There’s refineries in the Chicago area, there’s refineries up in Superior (Wisconsin) and that’s mostly refining oil that’s coming down from Canada.” 

The sizable winter blast that brought Iowa snow and prolonged subzero temperatures also dumped flakes on parts of the U.S. that rarely see snow, spinning off a deadly tornado in North Carolina and knocking out the power to four-million homes in Texas. The largest refineries in North America were idled because severe cold cut electricity, water and fuel supplies across Texas.

(As above) “There is an indirect effect, because of the commodity nature of gas,” he says. “There’s less of it out in the national market, and that does push prices up, even in places that aren’t directly impacted by that capacity.” 

Triple-A says the average gas price in Iowa is two-61 a gallon. The state’s most expensive gas is selling in Des Moines at two-67, while Sioux City has the cheapest gas at two-49. Here in Sheldon, as of early Tuesday afternoon, gas was selling within a penny, or two, of two-59 a gallon.

February 22, 2021 - 3:11 pm - Posted in News

Sioux Center, Iowa — Dordt University conducted its annual field trials in 2020 despite an unusual year of weather, with moisture about 50 percent of normal. The field trials are part of the Field Crop Production and Management course that Dordt agriculture students take. Students are challenged to find solutions to problems commonly associated in grain production.

“We want to thank Mike Schouten and the Dordt University AGRI 350 Field Crop Production and Management students for their harvesting of this year’s field trials,” says Dale Vos, agriculture professor. “We added a couple of new trials and continued the trials seeking long-term data.”

The students spend a large part of the course doing research in the fall that helps to determine what is planted in the spring.

The trials include:
Corn Boron
Corn Cover Crop V-5
Corn Cover Crop V-8
Corn Down Pressure
Corn Fungicide Timing
Corn Fungicide
Corn High Yield
Corn Trait Trial
Gall Midge
Early and Late Soybean Populations
Soybean Boron
Soybean Fungicide Timing
Soybean Fungicide
Soybean High Yield

Dordt University offers both two and four-year programs in agriculture. Students have numerous opportunities for hands-on learning, including spending time at the Dordt University Agriculture Stewardship Center.

For more information, visit the Dordt College Website.

February 22, 2021 - 2:27 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — Iowa officials have tweaked the state health department’s coronavirus website to better reflect some of the figures, especially with regards to COVID-19 test results.

Kelly Garcia, director of the Iowa Department of Human Services says they are shifting from individual tests to total tests on the website. She says that means that Iowa’s overall positivity rate will align with total test results. She says it will make it easier when home tests become available.

Previously the website kept track of how many people had tested positive. Now, it will instead track the number of TESTS that have come back positive. But this means that a person who has been tested four times will now show up as four results, so the numbers on the website have increased dramatically.

Because of the change, the numbers reported from northwest Iowa are significantly up. But remember these are now TESTS, and not people. Sioux County reported an increase of 182 from the end of last week to a total of 4894. O’Brien County reported an increase of 142 since then, for a total of 1915. Osceola County’s total was up 25 for a total of 691 on Monday, and Lyon County reported an increase of 9 for a total of 1444.

The Iowa Department of Public Health says the new way is the way they keep track of other diseases, such as influenza.

February 22, 2021 - 1:23 pm - Posted in News

Washington, D.C. — Republican Senator Chuck Grassley began Monday’s hearing on Merrick Garland’s nomination to be U.S. Attorney General by addressing his own role in denying Garland a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012.

(As above) “I had something to do with that after the death of Justice Scalia,” Grassley said. “…As you’ll recall, it was an election year with a divided congress.” 

Grassley criticized how Democrats reacted to the 2018 election year nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, who was ultimately confirmed to the court.

(As above) “Yes, it’s true that I didn’t give Judge Garland a hearing. I also didn’t mischaracterize his record. I didn’t attack his character,” Grassley said. “…I admire Judge Garland’s public service. Just because I disagreed with anyone being nomination didn’t mean I had to be disagreeable to that nominee.”

Grassley praised Garland for his role in prosecuting Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and called Garland an honorable person.

(As above) “So, Judge Garland, I just want to say that I like you, I respect you and I think you’re a good pick for this job,” Grassley said, “but I have a lot of questions about how you’re going to run the Department of Justice.” 

Garland’s confirmation hearing is scheduled to last two days. It takes 51 “yes” votes in the senate to be confirmed as attorney general.

Statewide Iowa — Organizers hope that thousands of RAGBRAI riders will be pedaling across Iowa this summer. Last year’s edition of the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa was cancelled because of the pandemic.

The 2021 ride will start in Le Mars and end a week later in Clinton. Lesley Webster, director of the Clinton Convention and Visitors Bureau, says they’re working to create a safe destination.

(As above) “We assume that COVID will be somewhat of a factor still, so we want space where people can cue up and there’s still space around them and they don’t have to be right on top of other people,” Webster says. “We’re aiming for a nice, smooth flow and I think that’s going to be great.” 

RAGBRAI offers a tremendous economic boost to cities and towns along the route, with up to 20,000 riders likely. Many thousands of volunteers will be needed statewide to make it all work. Webster says Clinton already has several committees in place and projects are underway.

(As above) “There are already some things in the works, like some really cool, metal frames for photo opportunities,” Webster says. “We have a local person that’s designing them, welding them and putting them together, and things like that.” 

On Sunday, July 25th, riders will begin the ride in Le Mars. Then they’ll pedal to Sac City, Fort Dodge, Iowa Falls, Waterloo, Anamosa, DeWitt, and will finally arrive in Clinton on Saturday, July 31st, to dip their front tires in the Mississippi River.

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa House and Senate have approved a bill to make it a crime to use fake urine for workplace drug and alcohol tests. Representative Brian Lohse, a Republican from Bondurant, says it’s become a pervasive problem.

(As above) “As a small business owner myself, I can personally attest to this as it has become such a problem in our own business that we simply ended our pre-employment drug testing program,” Lohse says. “It was basically useless.” 

Under the bill, an Iowan found to have used fake urine for a drug test would be guilty of a simple misdemeanor on the first offense — and a judge could require substance abuse screening and treatment, at the offender’s expense. Synthetic urine is being sold under brand names like U-Pass, Clean Stream and Quick Fix. Democrats in the legislature argued it would be better to outlaw the sale of these products. Senator Liz Mathis, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says it’s being sold online and at truck stops.

(As above) “We need to go after the source of the problem on synthetic urine,” Mathis says. 

Federal data indicates more than half of American businesses randomly test employees or require prospective employees to undergo drug screening. Businesses typically test for amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates and PCP. The Iowa Motor Truck Association, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry and groups representing general contractors lobbied for the bill.

February 20, 2021 - 7:43 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Nominations are now being accepted for this year’s Iowa Character Awards, which will go to individual Iowans, businesses or organizations that display good character.

Hillary Ortman, associate director of the Robert and Billie Ray Center at Drake University in Des Moines, says they’re hoping to single out an array of Iowans.

(As above) “Since 2005, we’ve recognized more than 150 Iowans, both groups and individuals, for demonstrating good character,” Ortman says. “These are people who are invested in their community, treating others with respect, and working to make not only their community but the state of Iowa and the world a better place.” 

While COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of a host of events for many months, Ortman is hopeful they’ll be able to go ahead with an awards ceremony this summer.

(As above) “We typically host our events on a Friday in July and due to moving a different event that we usually host in April, we are now going to be hosting the Iowa Character Awards on Sunday, August 29th, at the Prairie Meadows Events Center in Altoona.”

She says there are a host of categories in which nominations are now being taken.

(As above) “We accept nominations for local businesses and organizations of character, an adult citizen, a youth citizen, an educator of character,” Ortman says. “We also recognize a school, a student organization, a community of character.” 

The entry deadline is May 2nd. Learn more at: www.iowacharacterawards.org.

Northwest Iowa — With the increased need for substitute teachers in schools across Northwest Iowa, Northwest Area Education Agency (AEA) will host more Substitute Authorization classes in March, beginning on the 15th.

This course is designed to meet the requirements for the Substitute Authorization Program. Receiving a Substitute Authorization will allow an individual who holds an associate’s degree or has completed 60 semester hours through a regionally-accredited institution to substitute teach in grades PK-12. An individual who holds a paraeducator certificate without an associate’s degree and completes the Substitute Authorization course will be authorized to substitute in any classroom except driver’s education.

During the Governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency signed July 17, 2020, a Substitute Authorization may be issued to an individual who:

1. has successfully completed all the requirements of the approved Substitute Authorization course;

2. has achieved at least one of the following: (1) holds an associate’s degree or has completed 60 semester hours through a regionally-accredited institution, OR (2) has completed an approved Paraeducator Certification Program and holds a Paraeducator Certificate from the Iowa Board of EducationalExaminers; and

3. has attained a minimum age of 20 years.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

February 19, 2021 - 3:57 pm - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — Well, we appear to have climbed out of the deep freeze and are back to more normal temperatures for this time of year.

We talked with weather technician Tim Masters with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, and he tells us what’s on tap for the next few days.

Normal highs for late February in Sheldon are in the mid 30’s, reaching the upper 30’s by the end of the month. This coming Tuesday looks like it might be the warmest for the next week with a high that day near 43.

We asked Masters what caused the arctic air and why it’s warmer now.

The six-to-ten-day forecast is calling for normal temperatures and normal precipitation. Unfortunately, the further out forecasters attempt to predict the weather, the less accurate the forecast. So beyond that, we’ll just have to wait and see, says Masters.