May 23, 2019 - 4:34 pm - Posted in News

Sioux Center, Iowa — A long-distance outage caused headaches for some northwest Iowans on Thursday morning. But things appear to be back to normal now.

Premier Communications’ Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Scott Te Strote tells us what happened.

Te Strote says it did not affect other products such as broadband internet, cable tv, local calling, or 911 service.

Te Strote says they strive for 100 percent up-time, but that’s not always possible.

According to Te Strote, Premier serves 28 communities in northwest Iowa, east and west from Hawarden to the Iowa Great Lakes area, and north-south from Rock Rapids to Hinton.

Iowa Great Lakes — With this weekend being the traditional start to the summer season at the Iowa Great Lakes and other water bodies in northwest Iowa, the Iowa Department of Natual Resources is reminding boaters about what they are calling “aquatic hitchhikers.”

The DNR is repeating the mantra, “Clean, Drain, and Dry.” Mike Hawkins is the DNR Fisheries Biologist at the Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery. He tells us there are many kinds of aquatic invasive species that they consider “aquatic hitchhikers.”

But, he says, while there are a lot of “hitchhikers,” there are some simple steps that you can take to help stop their spread.

Hawkins says that unfortunately, you can’t just take your boat out of the water if you don’t have fishing luck in one lake, and transport it and your live bait to another body of water to try your luck there anymore. He says you can still switch lakes, but there are more steps. You’ll have to at least drain your boat and power wash it, throw away any leftover bait in the trash, and buy fresh bait before you switch lakes.

And just a reminder — this is not just for anglers. Anyone who uses a watercraft — pleasure boaters, personal watercraft users, and even hunters in the fall need to take these steps if they use their watercraft in more than one body of water.

The DNR says you can find more information about aquatic invasive species and a list of infested waters in the current Iowa Fishing Regulations or at

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The Trump Administration has announced another round of payments for farmers, to compensate for lower commodity prices amid trade tensions with China.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig says it’s needed, because corn and soybean prices are below the cost of producing a crop.

The first payments are scheduled to be made in late July or early August, but the final calculations aren’t set. The payments to individual farmers will be based on the impact trade has had on corn and soybean prices in their county. The assistance will not be determined by what farmers plant THIS year, but a farmer MUST have put some seeds in the ground this year to qualify for these payments. Naig says farmers would prefer to trade rather than get aid, but the unresolved trade dispute with China, along with a pending U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, have created havoc in the markets.

Naig says farmers understand what’s at stake as the Trump Administration presses China to make trade concessions.

While U.S. soybean sales to China have been healthy over the last several years, Naig says China has been blocking imports of U.S. beef, poultry, ethanol and corn. The Trump Administration plans to make nearly $15 billion in payments to farmers in three waves, this summer, again in November and then in January.

And Naig says China’s marketplace has been the opposite of fair.

Photo Caption: Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig

Hull, Iowa — Some students at Boyden/Hull High School are learning about forensics. And recently, they had a chance, with the help of the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office to get an idea about how real crime scenes are investigated, through some hands-on interaction.

Sioux County Sheriff’s Office School Resource Officer Waylon Pollema tells us about it.

He tells us that he and Mr. Zevenbergen decided what to do.

Pollema says that through their investigation, students learned how to use evidence collection, fingerprint analysis, suspect interviews and collaboration to determine a suspect who they believed had committed the crime. He says students were also educated on the importance of photography, documentation and report writing methods law enforcement uses in these types of investigations.

Statewide Iowa — A monthly report from the Iowa Association of Realtors finds almost 32-hundred homes were sold in Iowa last month, down about 200 homes from April of last year.

Association president John Goede, of Spencer, says there are several reasons for the drop.

There were more homes on the market statewide during April, almost 63-hundred compared to 54-hundred a year ago. The average price statewide was almost $194-thousand, up from $187-thousand last year, while the median price also rose from $157-thousand to $164-thousand.

Houses sold a little faster in Iowa during April, spending an average of 73 days on the market versus 79 a year ago, which he says has a lot to do with the change in seasons.

Goede says he’s booked to show homes all four days of Memorial Day weekend as interest is picking up. May and June will be strong for sales, he predicts, adding, central Iowa is best for new construction.

While the sale of single-family homes fell 8.5 percent statewide last month, the sale of townhomes and condos rose 8.1 percent.

May 22, 2019 - 4:21 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Farmers in this area are getting a little nervous when it comes to getting the corn planted. But as Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Agronomist Joel De Jong tells us, it could be worse.

He says that as a whole, this might be the latest ever planting in the corn belt. He says Ohio is at 9 percent in the ground and Indiana is only at 14 percent.

He says the wet, cool weather has got some producers thinking about planting soybeans on acres where they were planning on planting corn, since soybeans can get by with a shorter growing season. But that comes with risk as well.

As far as soybeans, about 15 percent of those are planted in the northwest district, says De Jong. But he says that’s mostly in the southeast part of the district. Up to the northwest, where we are, virtually no soybeans have been planted yet.

He says some farmers are at least getting more information about the prevented planting option in crop insurance, which he says isn’t used very often because it’s a significantly reduced payment, but it might be better than taking a risk on inputs that might not yield anything this year.

De Jong says for more information, you can visit the “Ag Decision Maker” Extension web site or call him at the Plymouth County Extension office.

Hull, Iowa — A Hull woman was taken to the hospital after the minivan she was driving struck a nursing home in Hull Tuesday afternoon.

Sioux County authorities say the mishap occurred shortly after 3:30 Tuesday afternoon on the parking lot of Pleasant Acres Care Center in Hull.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the crash happened when 88-year old Lavonne De Groot of Hull was attempting to park her 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan in a parking space at the care center. Deputies say De Groot pressed the van’s accelerator instead of the brake, causing the minivan to drive forward and strike the south side of the building.

Officials say De Groot was transported by the Hull Ambulance to Sioux Center Health for treatment of what were described as “minor injuries”.

Authorities estimate the damage to De Groot’s minivan at approximately $6 thousand, with about $20 thousand in damage to the building.

Sioux County deputies were assisted at the scene by the Hull Fire Department, Hull Ambulance and Iowa State Patrol.

May 21, 2019 - 4:14 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — May is Mental Health Month. Mental Health America (MHA) started May is Mental Health Month in 1949.

Kim Scorza, CEO/President of Seasons Center for Behavioral Health in Spencer says that attitudes seem to finally be changing toward mental health issues and those that struggle with them.

We asked her when people should seek treatment.

Scorza says Seasons Center is also encouraging small business managers and human resources departments to check in with their employees and if they are noticing any issues, to approach the employee, offering to help them seek services.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Zero Fatalities Iowa has won a national grant to continue its efforts to educate drivers about the dangers of driving drowsy.

Tracey Bramble of the Iowa DOT says they started the campaign two years ago with displays in rest areas that look like the Pac Man game and say “Don’t let the Sleepyzzz get you.” The new plan is to develop a virtual reality visualization that shows drowsy driving is not a game.

She says they want drivers to be able to recognize when they are in these situations and know what to do.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that driving drowsy causes more than 100-thousand crashes, 15-hundred deaths, and 71-thousand injuries every year. Bramble says it is hard to know how many drivers in Iowa are behind the wheel without enough sleep.

She says shift workers are often the ones who end up getting behind the wheel without enough sleep.

The 15-thousand dollar grant from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and The National Road Safety Foundation will allow them to develop the virtual reality experience.

She says the virtual reality library will have the videos they produce for the Iowa State Fair booth along with this new video. Iowa is one of five states to receive funding to continue its program. Zero Fatalities Iowa is a collaboration between the DOT, public safety, public health, and the Iowa Insurance Division to try and drop the number of fatal accidents on Iowa roadways to zero. For more information, go to their website.


May 20, 2019 - 3:08 pm - Posted in News

Sibley and Rock Valley, Iowa — We’re headed into the summer. And not only does that mean a greater need for blood due to more people being out and more traumas, but blood donations also go down because people are busy.

That’s from Community Blood Bank executive director Ken VerSteeg, who tells us that there are a couple of opportunities for you to help them out in the next week or so.

The Siouxland Community Bloodmobile will be holding their next blood drive this Wednesday, May 22, 2019 at the Osceola Community Hospital in Sibley. Officials there ask you to please take some time out of your day and give the gift of life. They say the life you save may be someone you know.

VerSteeg gives us some details.

He tells us some things to keep in mind.

Staff at the hospital tell us you can call the Osceola Community Hospital Laboratory to make an appointment at 712-754-5358. Again, the Sibley Blood Drive is on Wednesday, May 22nd.

But VerSteeg tells us that next week, they’ll be in Rock Valley at Hegg Health Center Avera. That drive is on Tuesday, May 28th. That’s the day after Memorial Day. They’ll be there from 1 to 3 p.m.