August 10, 2020 - 9:23 am - Posted in News

Sioux County, Iowa — A Tea, South Dakota woman was injured in a single-vehicle crash in Sioux County Friday evening.

According to the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office, they received investigated a motor vehicle accident that occurred about 7:00 pm Friday evening on County Road A54B, 16 miles northwest of Rock Valley.

According to the accident report, 20-year-old Brynna Parmelee of Tea was southbound on A54B in a 2008 Honda Civic, when she lost control and entered the east ditch, before coming to rest in a field.

Deputies say Parmelee was transported to the Canton-Inwood Medical Center by the Canton Ambulance for treatment of minor injuries.

The Honda sustained approximately $7,000 in damage.

Parmelee was reportedly cited for failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle.

The sheriff’s office was assisted by the Canton Ambulance and Canton Fire Department.

August 9, 2020 - 12:38 pm - Posted in News

Rock Valley, Iowa — A Rock Valley teen was taken to the hospital after an accident near that town on Friday, August 7th.

The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that about at 11:35 a.m. 17-year-old Sean Veltkamp of Rock Valley was driving a 2000 Chevrolet Tahoe westbound on Fillmore Avenue, about a mile east of Rock Valley, when he entered a curve in the road, noticed slower-moving vehicles ahead due to roadwork being conducted, and swerved to avoid striking the vehicles. The Tahoe entered the east ditch and rolled.

The Rock Valley Ambulance took Veltkamp to Hegg Health Center Avera. Two passengers in the vehicle sought medical attention on their own.

The Tahoe sustained about $6,000 in damage.

Veltkamp was cited on a charge of failure to maintain control of a motor vehicle.

The sheriff’s office reports the Rock Valley Police Department, Rock Valley Fire Department, and Rock Valley Ambulance Squad assisted with the response to the accident.

Northwest Iowa — At the beginning of the pandemic, people were asked to follow certain guidelines to help “flatten the curve.” At that time, experts told us the goal was to not overwhelm the hospitals with COVID patients.

Another metric that experts look at is how many new cases are being reported. We took a look at numbers around the four-county northwest Iowa area over the last 12 weeks, and while there is some insight to glean, the trends are not exactly clear.

O’Brien County started out the first couple of weeks with rises of four cases per week, then jumped to 12 cases the next week and spiked at 22 new cases the fourth week, and has been on a somewhat downward trend with some bumps in the road until this past week, when a rise of 18 cases over the previous week was reported.

In Sioux County, the increase-in-cases curve appears to be flattening somewhat. Their numbers are higher, but they have a larger population. The first week’s rise was 62 cases. They took a dip the next week with 26, and then spiked at 89 the next week, and have been following a general downward trend since then, and have been at the low of 26 new cases per week for the last two weeks.

Osceola County had one big spike, but has been doing pretty well. In the first week, there was a rise of five cases over the previous week. It dipped to two the next week, and 4 the week after that before a big spike in week four of 13 new cases. But, for the next two weeks, there were zero new cases before jumping to 8 new cases for two weeks, then 5 new cases for each of the next two weeks, then two, then one.

The news is a little harder to determine in Lyon County. They stayed pretty low at 5 or fewer new cases per week for the first five weeks, then six, then two. But then they started a rise and had 10 new cases in week 8, 16 in week 9, and 23 in week 10. Since then, it’s gone down a little with 9 in week 11 and 10 in week 12.

The 14-day percent positive stats seem to bear out these trends somewhat as well. Lyon County seems to be reporting the highest percentage in our area of new positive tests in the last two weeks, at 14 percent. Sioux County is close behind at 12, and Osceola is right behind at 11 percent. In O’Brien County, just 7 percent of tests in the last two weeks have come back positive.

Lyon County is tied with two other counties for sixth-highest percentage per county in the state of new positive tests in the last two weeks.

August 9, 2020 - 12:35 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — In the four northwestern-most Iowa counties, sixteen more COVID-19 cases were reported on Saturday, according to the latest statistics.

O’Brien County was up one at 137. Sioux County reports 625 cases, up eight. Lyon County was up three. 113 Lyon County residents have now had COVID-19. Osceola County was up four at 83.

Less than one percent of residents of Lyon and O’Brien counties have had COVID-19 — Lyon County has between nine-tenths of a percent and a whole percent, and O’Brien has almost a whole percent. Stats tell us that 1.37 percent of Osceola County residents have had it, and 1.79 percent of Sioux County residents have had COVID-19. The highest density in our region is in Buena Vista County, where over nine percent of the population has had COVID-19.

As far as active cases, Lyon County has 18, Sioux County has 105, O’Brien County has 35, and Osceola has 12.

Recovery rate:

Lyon — out of 113 cases, 93 have recovered, for a rate of about 82%
Sioux — out of 625 cases, 517 have recovered, for a rate of about 83%
O’Brien — out of 137 cases, 100 have recovered, for a rate of about 73%
Osceola — out of 83 cases, 71 have recovered, for a rate of about 86%

Total numbers of cases from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report:

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 458, up 4
Cherokee 108, up 4
Buena Vista 1791, down 1
Clay 186, up 8
Dickinson 380, up 3

These numbers reflect the period of noon Friday until noon Saturday.

West Lake Okoboji, Iowa — According to one eyewitness, “hundreds” of boats were on hand for a political rally in the form of a boat parade on West Lake Okoboji on Saturday.

The “Trump Boat Parade” was hosted by District 1 State Representative John Wills of Spirit Lake, who represents Lyon, Osceola, and the northern two-thirds of Dickinson County in the State Legislature.

Boaters lined up starting at Smith’s Bay on West Lake Okoboji at 11 a.m. to show their support for the re-election of Republican President Donald Trump. The parade was to run from 1 to 4 p.m., and organizers reminded participants to follow C.D.C guidelines for COVID-19 safety. The boats were to run counterclockwise around West Lake Okoboji.

Another boat parade is scheduled for next Saturday, August 15th around Big Spirit Lake, and will start by the spillway.

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Sheldon, Iowa — Faculty and administrators at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon are looking forward to welcoming students in about a week and a half.

NCC’s Vice President for College Operations and Finance, Mark Brown says students will move in on Monday and Tuesday, August 17th and 18th and will start classes on Wednesday, August 19th.

Brown says NCC has a few advantages. For one, they have been practicing social distancing and other protocols all summer long on a smaller scale with summer classes. He says they also have other advantages.

Brown tells us that the campus will be open to employees, students, prospective students, and parents, but other visitors will need an appointment.

He says NCC has been following the applicable guidance.

He says they are constantly in contact with county authorities as well.

Brown tells us about NCC’s mask policy.

According to Brown, plexiglass barriers have been installed in several locations around campus to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

Students won’t have the same meal experience at NCC either, says Brown.

Brown says that while they will start classes face-to-face, they have alternative strategies, “loaded up,” that they can switch to if conditions warrant. He says they realize that the more hands-on classes are more difficult to do that way, but he gave accolades to the faculty for ways they have worked around the COVID limitations to get students the education and hands-on experience they need.

He says the main goal is — while slowing the spread of the virus — to minimize disruptions as much as possible.

For more information, click here.

Northwest Iowa — In just two days, northwest Iowa has gone from just three COVID-19 deaths to seven. Another death of a Lyon County resident was reported early Friday.

Three deaths were reported Thursday, one each in Lyon, Sioux, and O’Brien counties. Osceola County still reports no COVID-19 deaths.

In the four northwestern-most Iowa counties, fourteen more COVID-19 cases were reported on Friday, according to the latest statistics.

O’Brien County was up three at 136. Sioux County reports 617 cases, up eight. Lyon County was up two. 110 Lyon County residents have now had COVID-19. Osceola County was up one at 79.

Less than one percent of residents of Lyon and O’Brien counties have had COVID-19 — Lyon County has about nine-tenths of a percent, and O’Brien has almost a whole percent. Stats tell us that 1.31 percent of Osceola County residents have had it, and 1.77 percent of Sioux County residents have had COVID-19. The highest density in our region is in Buena Vista County, where over nine percent of the population has now had COVID-19.

As far as active cases, Lyon County has 15, Sioux County has 109, O’Brien County has 35, and Osceola has 10.

Recovery rate:

Lyon — out of 110 cases, 93 have recovered, for a rate of about 84%
Sioux — out of 617 cases, 505 have recovered, for a rate of about 82%
O’Brien — out of 136 cases, 99 have recovered, for a rate of about 73%
Osceola — out of 79 cases, 69 have recovered, for a rate of about 87%

Total numbers of cases from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report:

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 454, up 4
Cherokee 104, up 1
Buena Vista 1792, up 2
Clay 178, up 4
Dickinson 377, down 1

These numbers reflect the period of noon Thursday until noon Friday.

Northwest Iowa — It’s the lifeblood of northwest Iowa — but tall corn can cause some big problems at rural intersections.

Iowa State Patrol Safety Officer Kevin Krull says it happens every year about this time.

Krull says you need to always be alert when approaching an intersection, but especially if your view is blocked by corn or other tall crops.

Troopers tell us the tall corn contributes to several crashes each year at this time. They advise us to slow down, drive defensively, and expect the unexpected.

Statewide Iowa — The Dakota Access Pipeline, the underground pipeline that carries crude oil from the Bakken oilfields in North Dakota 350 miles diagonally across Iowa to Illinois, has received a reprieve.

Last month a federal judge gave the pipeline’s owners, Energy Transfer Partners, orders to shut down the pipeline by August 5th. The company said it would take 90-days to shut down and drain the pipeline.

On the day that the federal judge had set for the pipeline to be shut down, a federal appeals court issued an order allowing the company to keep pumping oil through the pipeline. At the same time, the court tore up the agreement that allowed the pipeline to pass beneath Lake Oahe, which means, technically, that the pipeline is being operated illegally.  Now it’s up to the Army Corps of Engineers to decide whether to shut down the pipeline, with the case probably going back to court again.

But for now, the oil will keep flowing under the feet of some folks in Lyon, Sioux and O’Brien Counties here in northwest Iowa.

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Original post 12:35pm, July 9, 2020

Statewide Iowa — The company that runs the Dakota Access oil pipeline is appealing a federal judge’s order that the pipeline be shut down.

On Monday, the judge gave Energy Transfer Partners 30 days to shut down the pipeline that carries North Dakota oil. The pipeline runs 350 miles through Iowa on its way to Illinois.  Yesterday, the company said the pipeline can’t be shut down and drained by August 5th, that the process will take 90 days. The company argued a shut down will have serious consequences on a large number of “innocent actors” and it’s seeking a delay of the shut down order until the appeal is decided.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has sued to get the pipeline’s federal permit rescinded. The federal judge on the case ruled the shutdown was needed, so an environmental review of a section of the pipeline could be conducted. The pipeline has been operating since June of 2017.

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Original story posted 9:23 am, 7/7/2020

Statewide Iowa — A federal judge has ordered the Dakota Access oil pipeline that runs through Iowa to shut down until an environmental review is completed.

The pipeline carries oil from North Dakota to Illinois. It runs 350 miles through 18 Iowa counties, entering the state in northwest Iowa’s Lyon County and exits from Lee County in the southeast. Oil began pumping through the pipeline more than three years ago. The company that runs the pipeline is seeking permits to double its capacity.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s lawsuit asks the court to throw out the federal permit for the pipeline. In 2016, the Sierra Club and more than a dozen Iowans who owned land along the pipeline’s route unsuccessfully sued in state court to try to block operation of the pipeline.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The COVID-19 pandemic has made a mess out of many Iowans’ retirement plans. A study by an investment advising firm shows the average Iowans’ retirement savings balance dropped from 423-thousand dollars in January to 367-thousand at the end of March. That’s a 13-percent drop over three months.

Michelle Brownstein, vice president of Private Client Services at Personal Capital, says several factors are at play.

(As above) “One may be cost of living, so if someone lives in a more expensive area, they may not be saving as much for retirement,” Brownstein says. “There may also be population differences. If there is a slightly older population in a particular area, they may’ve saved a bit more than areas that skew a little bit younger from a demographic standpoint.”

The firm’s report shows Iowa ranks 12th out of the 50 states for the highest retirement savings average. As of June 30th, the average retirement balance for Iowans was a little over 415-thousand dollars, according to the report. Still, Brownstein says it’s more important to compare how your -own- account looks versus how Iowa ranks against other states.

(As above) “Are you personally on track to reach your goals?” Brownstein says. “If, for example, I lived somewhere really expensive or really inexpensive, to maintain my lifestyle in retirement is going to take a different amount of money once I get there to keep my lifestyle in the same format that I’ve become accustomed to.”

Looking at your 401k balance daily can “drive you nuts,” she says, and it may be smarter to only check in occasionally, as it should be an investment plan designed for decades, not day-to-day.

(As above) “The trick is to make sure that you have a great long-term strategy in place that you can stick to,” Brownstein says. “It’s tempting when there’s volatility in the market or just heightened uncertainty in a given period to want to make changes, to try and control things that you don’t actually have control over. You and I don’t control the market, as much as we might want to.” 

What you -can- control are things like the amount of risk you’re comfortable with, the goals you’re setting for retirement, and your individual savings patterns over time. The Personal Capital survey found 89-percent of respondants said they’re worried about the financial impact COVID-19 is having on their retirement.