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.

Orange City, Iowa — When Iowa voters vote in the upcoming November election, several new provisions will be in effect.

We talked to Ryan Dokter, who along with being the Sioux County Auditor is also the President of the Iowa State Association of County Auditors, and he tells us about some of the important changes.

That voter registration deadline for the November election will be October 18th, but as Dokter says, you can register another way. He says absentee voting has changed as well.

So, for this election, here are the dates:

Absentee voting in person and the mail-out of absentee ballots can start on October 13th. People were able to request an absentee ballot as early as August 24th, and that continues. The last day your Auditor’s office can mail out ballots is October 18th.

Dokter says that postmarks will now have no effect on whether your completed mailed-in absentee ballot will be counted or not.

The auditor tells us that there are also several changes to the way county election officials handle several aspects of the election. One of those is that county auditors can no longer set up satellite voting sites at their discretion. He says any satellite voting sites now have to be requested by petition. He says this is not a provision that affects Sioux County at this time, but it does affect some of the larger counties in the state. He also says that willful violation of the election law by election officials is now a class D felony offense.

Hawarden, Iowa — Voters in Hawarden have decided not to sell the city-owned telecommunications utility in the southwest Sioux County town.

The service, known as HiTec — an acronym for “Hawarden Integrated Technology Energy and Communications” provides cable television, telephone, and high-speed internet to Hawarden residents who subscribe. Hawarden City Administrator Mike DeBruin tells us that just like many other issues in life, it comes down to money.

He says the main issues are the need for upgrades, people cutting the cable, and stopping landline telephone service in favor of only having a cell phone — plus a shrinking subscriber base. We asked him, now that the measure failed at the polls, what is next for Hawarden and HiTec.

The question of whether to sell HiTec failed at the polls on Tuesday by a margin of 315 “no” votes to 204 “yes” votes, or 39.30% “yes” to 60.70% “no.”

DeBruin says it’s not impossible that the issue could come before the voters again, but since it was a referendum, it won’t come up again for at least four years. He says the Hawarden City Council will probably discuss the situation in upcoming meetings.

Northwest Iowa — A northwest Iowa based company has been approved for a pair of state grants to bring broadband internet service to two locations in this area.

The Governor’s Office announced Tuesday afternoon that Premier Communications, which is headquartered in Sioux Center and serves multiple communities in this area, has been approved for two grants through the Broadband Grants Program from Empower Rural Iowa.

One of the grants is for just over $1.745 million to be used to bring broadband internet access to the rural Ashton are. Premier Communications CEO Doug Boone, tells us more.

The second grant, for just over $7.405 million is for a project in rural Plymouth County.

Boone says, if Premier accepts the grants, in-depth engineering work will begin in those areas.

He says there are circumstances beyond Premier’s control that may force the schedule to be pushed back.

Boone says he’s excited to serve these underserved areas.

The state has allowed Premier Communications ten business days to accept these grants.

 

Chatsworth, Iowa — A South Dakota man was jailed in Sioux County late Tuesday (September 14th) morning after allegedly being found passed out behind the wheel of his car in Chatsworth, which is in far southwest Sioux County.

Court documents obtained by KIWA say a Sioux County deputy, while on routine patrol shortly after 11 am Tuesday, noticed a vehicle parked, running and with the driver, who authorities identify as 37-year-old Steve Lundgren, asleep in the vehicle in the driver’s seat. Upon closer investigation, the deputy noticed that the vehicle was still in gear (in drive) and suspected that Lundgren was allegedly under the influence of a controlled substance.

After allegedly failing standard field sobriety tests, Lundgren was placed under arrest for 3rd Offense Operating While Impaired (OWI) and Possession of Methamphetamine, both Class D Felonies.

Sioux County authorities say their Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) assisted in the investigation.

Booking photo courtesy Sioux County Jail

September 14, 2021 - 9:53 am - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Dordt University has been ranked the fifth and Northwestern College was ranked sixth best regional Midwest college, according to the 2022 U.S. News and World Report rankings.

These rankings take into account a variety of factors, including graduation and retention rates, undergraduate academic reputation, social mobility, alumni giving, and more.

Ranked the number one school for “Best Undergraduate Teaching (Regional Colleges Midwest)” Dordt is a school where “faculty and administrators are committed to teaching undergraduate students in a high-quality manner,” as stated in the U.S. News and World Report methodology.

5th ranked Dordt tied for third in the “Most Innovative (Regional Colleges Midwest)” ranking, which, according to the methodology, “examines the colleges and universities that are making the most innovative improvements in terms of curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology, and facilities.”

Dordt made additional rankings on U.S. News and World Report, including “A+ Schools for B Students (Regional Colleges Midwest)” and “Top Performers on Social Mobility (Regional Colleges).” Dordt ranked 24th on the “Best Value Schools (Regional Colleges)” list, which considers both the academic quality and cost of an institution. Dordt also was included on the list of “Undergraduate Engineering Programs (No Doctorate),” which considers engineering schools whose highest degree is a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

6th ranked Northwestern is also one of 33 Best Value Schools and 38 institutions cited as Top Performers on Social Mobility. The rankings, which include more than 1,400 schools nationwide are available at www.usnews.com/colleges.

Northwestern is in the top 10 in several individual categories, including six-year graduation rate, third at 68%; peer assessment, fifth; and alumni giving rate, 10th.

The U.S. News rankings are based on key measures of quality such as outcomes (freshman retention, graduation rate and graduate indebtedness), faculty resources (including class size, the percentage of faculty with the top academic degree, student-faculty ratio and compensation), expert opinion, student excellence, social mobility, financial resources and alumni giving.

Hospers, Iowa — A corn crib was damaged in a fire on Saturday, September 11, 2021, near Hospers.

According to Hospers Fire Chief Jason Overmole, about 6:00 p.m., the Hospers Fire Department was called to the report of a corn crib fire at 4288 380th, two miles west of Hospers and two north.

The chief says the fire department saw a small portion of the corncrib’s roof on fire as they approached the scene. He says they sprayed some water on the roof and then sent guys up into the rafters to make sure it was out. They also used thermal imaging cameras to look for any hot spots to prevent overnight flareups.

Overmole says no injuries were reported. He says the Granville Fire Department automatically gets paged to structure fires in Hospers’ district, so they helped as well.

He says sparks from a yard waste burning pile were carried on the wind and deposited on the roof of the corn crib, which started the fire.

Chief Overmole reports that there was minimal damage. He says the structure seems to be sound.

He says the firefighters who responded were on the scene for about an hour.