March 13, 2014 - 10:59 am - Posted in News


Margaret Murphy, ISU Extension and Outreach Horticulture Educator/Regional Food Coordinator

March is one of my favorite times of year. It’s the time we begin the transition from winter to spring. In March we might get lucky and see the first of the early spring bloomers bravely poke its head up out of the chilled ground and add a bit of spring-cheer to the landscape. March also offers us the opportunity to head outdoors – on those welcomed days of above freezing temperatures – to get a little spring pruning done. It is also the time of year to take in some fun at garden shows.

Pruning reminders

If you grow summer and fall-bearing raspberries, now is a good time to prune them. Remove all weak, diseased, or damaged canes at ground level leaving the most vigorous canes. Also, prune out any cane tips that have died due to winter injury. If you’re looking for detailed information on how to prune raspberries, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach has a handy guide that can be found online at

Grape growers too will want to head out to prune grapevines between now and early April. Prune grapevines every year to get maximum yield and to allow for adequate vegetative growth for the next season. If pruning grapevines seems like a daunting task, take a look at ISU Extension’s publication Pruning Grapevines – it will help get you started. (It’s available at If you’re thinking about adding grapes to your landscape this spring, we also have a publication called Growing Grapes in the Home Garden filled with great information on what cultivars grow well in Iowa, when and where to plant, and how to care for your vines (you can download it for free at

Many shade trees and ornamental shrubs can be pruned now as well as. For more in-depth information on pruning times and techniques, see publications Pruning Trees: Shade, Flowering, and Conifer ( and Pruning Ornamental Shrubs (

All of these publications are also available through your local county extension office.

While you’re outside pruning, cut a couple of young, healthy branches from a favorite spring-flowering tree or shrub. Place them in a vase for forcing blooms indoors and enjoy some early springtime color. Try it with crabapple, flowering quince, red twig dogwood, honeysuckle, forsythia, lilac, or mock orange.

March also brings garden shows

Garden shows offer a fun-filled, information-packed opportunity to gather new ideas for the upcoming growing season. A great kick off to the gardening season is the Siouxland Garden Show. It begins on Friday, March 28 and goes through Sunday, March 30. It’s located at the Sioux City Convention Center. This show offers plenty of educational seminars, how-to sessions and make-and-take workshops. Admission is $5 for one day, $9 for a two-day pass and $12 for a three-day pass. Children 12 and under are admitted for free. Hours are Friday 10 a.m. -8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information on the show presenters and schedule, visit the Siouxland Garden Show website

If you find yourself in the Sioux Falls area that weekend, check out their lawn and garden show at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds. The Sioux Falls Lawn & Garden Show also runs March 28 through March 30 and offers landscaping and garden displays plus many educational seminars and hands-on demonstrations. There is also the annual nature photo contest. Times are Friday noon – 9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. -7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults and free for children 13 years and under. Check out the Sioux Falls Lawn & Garden Show 2014 Facebook page for more information on speakers and presentation times.

Both shows will have Master Gardeners available to answer lawn and garden questions and vendors that specialize in lawn and garden care and décor.


Margaret Murphy
Horticulture Educator/Regional Food Coordinator

Office:  712-472-2576


Des Moines, Iowa — A planned housing complex in Orange City has just been advised that they will receive nearly $835,000 in federal funds. The Iowa Finance Authority, or “IFA” Board of Directors has announced affordable housing awards to fifteen affordable rental projects in Iowa totaling more than $82.4 million in federal Housing Tax Credits and HOME program awards to build and preserve 650 affordable housing units in thirteen Iowa counties. Among them is the 14-unit complex in Orange cash bills dollars

Iowa Finance Authority Executive Director Dave Jamison says that the tax credit and HOME program awards will improve affordable housing options for Iowans, including providing more options to fit the needs of seniors and persons with disabilities. He says that these projects have leveraged an additional $8.2 million in local contributions, which shows that communities understand the benefits of these projects.

The Internal Revenue Service makes an annual per capita allocation of federal tax credits to each state for the Housing Tax Credit program. IFA is charged with allocating those credits to developers of affordable housing in Iowa. Developers who receive tax credits sell them to investors to generate equity for the housing developments. The tax credits provide a dollar-for-dollar reduction to the investor’s federal tax liability on ordinary income.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocates approximately $2 billion in HOME program funding among states and hundreds of localities nationwide. IFA allocates Iowa’s allocation of HOME funds to eligible entities to build and preserve affordable housing.

The IFA Board of Directors approved more than $5.5 million in State HOME funds to support six rental housing tax credit projects on Wednesday.

The Orange City complex is being called Prairie Heights, LLC. It will be at 900 Fourteenth Street Southeast. Fourteen affordable units for families are planned. The Tax Credit award is for nearly $285,000, and the HOME award is for $550,000. It is being developed by Excel Health Services, doing business as Excel Development Group.

Alton, Iowa — The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a man and any clues in connection with a burglary report near Alton.

The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that on Friday, March 7 at about 2:05 PM, a burglary and theft report was called in. The crime occurred at a home about three miles east of Alton. magnifying glass_sxc

According to the homeowner, when he returned to his home he found a Ford F150 pickup parked near his house. He says a white man got into the truck and drove off the yard at a high rate of speed. The truck went south on Kiwi Avenue toward Plymouth County. The homeowner realized his home had been broken into and called the Sheriff’s Office.

Upon further investigation deputies discovered that the perpetrator had entered the home through a locked door while no one was home. Once inside the home he stole a safe and a camera with two external lenses. The suspect truck is described as a black or dark brown 2005-2006 Ford F150, extended cab pickup truck. The suspect is described as a white man, about 25 years of age, 5’10″, thin build, with dark hair and a beard.

If you saw suspicious people or activity in this area when this crime took place, you are asked to contact the sheriff’s office. If you have knowledge about the crime and wish to remain anonymous you may use the Text‐ a‐Tip program. Directions can be found at

Orange City, Iowa — Two Orange City area traffic stops, both on Sunday, March 9th, led to two drug arrests for Sioux County Deputies.
Sioux Sheriff Car 84-
Early on Sunday, about 4 AM, the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office arrested 18-year-old Ashtyn Beller of Le Mars on charges of possession of Marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The arrest stemmed from a traffic stop at the intersection of 430th Street and Ibex Avenue, three miles northwest
of Orange City. Upon further investigation deputies located marijuana and drug paraphernalia with the
assistance of the Sheriff’s Office canine unit.

Then that evening, about 6:10 PM, the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office arrested 44-year-old Gordon Foreman of Sibley, on charges of possession of methamphetamine, prescription medication and drug paraphernalia.

The arrest resulted from a traffic stop, five miles southwest of Orange City on Highway 60. Deputies located illegal drugs inside the vehicle with the assistance of the sheriff’s office canine unit. Foreman was found to have an arrest warrant out of O’Brien County as well.

The Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office.

sioux county sheriff emblemRock Valley, Iowa — A Sioux Falls woman’s KIA was damaged in an accident on Tuesday, March 11th near Rock Valley.

The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that just before 8:30 am, 33-year-old Tonia Moss was driving eastbound on 290th St, nine miles northwest of Rock Valley, in a 2005 KIA van, approaching a T intersection with Highway 18. Moss failed to see the intersection and entered the east ditch where she struck a fence.

Upon further investigation the sheriff’s office found that the accident actually occurred on Sunday, March 9 at  2:00 a.m.

Moss’ KIA received $3,500 damage

There were no injuries reported

Rock Valley, Iowa — The former owner of a dairy near Rock Valley has agreed to a $75,000 fine for water quality violations.

The Environmental Protection Agency says their personnel conducted a series of inspections in March and May 2013 at cow-sxcthe Double V Dairy LLC near Rock Valley. As a result of the inspections, the former owner of the dairy has agreed to pay a $75,000 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, according to a proposed consent agreement.

EPA inspections and sampling documented that Double V Dairy discharged manure into Rogg Creek and its tributaries while it owned the dairy between 2010 and 2013. Manure and other wastewater discharges from concentrated animal feeding operations and their land application areas can violate water quality standards, pose risks to human health, threaten aquatic life and its habitat, and impair the use and enjoyment of waterways, says the EPA.

EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks says that producers should regularly evaluate all aspects of their operations to ensure they are not discharging into nearby rivers and streams. He says that even if livestock or poultry is confined indoors producers still need to manage their outdoor areas.

The EPA says manure discharges from Double V Dairy originated from stockpiles of used bedding sands that were stored outside in an uncontrolled area.

Under Double V Dairy, LLC, the dairy had the capacity for approximately 1,200 dairy cattle. The dairy was sold in November 2013 and is still in operation today. EPA Region 7 is working with the new owners to assure compliance with the Clean Water Act.

March 11, 2014 - 2:49 pm - Posted in News

Rock Valley, Iowa — The Rock Valley RAGBRAI Steering Committee has released their theme for the town’s RAGBRAI efforts this summer. The (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa — or RAGBRAI is starting in Rock Valley this year on Sunday, July 20th. Most of the several thousand riders will stay Saturday night, July 19th in Rock Valley.Print

Rock Valley Economic Development Director Jim VanderVelde tells us about the theme and logo.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

He says they plan to continue with that construction theme throughout their festivities. He says as far as he knows, the theme is unique, and the theme wears many hats.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

Rock Valley Mayor Kevin Van Otterloo says that this is the first time Rock Valley has ever hosted RAGBRAI, that’s groundbreaking in itself. Vander Velde says they’ve been doing a lot of groundbreaking in the literal sense too.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

Vander Velde says Rock Valley reported a 24 percent population growth between 2000 and 2010 with 29 new homes built last year alone.

On a more personal note, Vander Velde says he’s retiring this year — on June 30th. But he will still be involved with the RAGBRAI effort all the way through.

Click or tap the play button above or this link to listen.

Click here for a link to the Rock Valley RAGBRAI Facebook page

bikeDes Moines, Iowa — We knew several weeks ago that RAGBRAI bike riders would be in northwest Iowa. Rock Valley was announced as the starting town. We also knew that somehow they would have to get to Okoboji as it is the first overnight stop on the trip. What we didn’t know was how they were going to get there.

This weekend it was announced that the riders would be coming through Hull, Boyden, Sheldon, Melvin, and May City.

According to RAGBRAI’s map, the ride will start off on Sunday, July 20th, going east on the north side of Rock Valley taking B14 and K42 to get to Highway 18. The riders will then stay on 18 as it makes the one-mile jog at Perkins. Riders will continue through Hull and Boyden on their way to Sheldon. The map shows riders leaving Sheldon going north, on what is presumed to be Country Club Road and then meeting up with Northwest Boulevard and picking up B14, traveling east for a few miles. Then they’ll find L40 north and A52 east before jogging a mile north on Highway 59. Then they’ll take A48 through Melvin, do a couple more short jogs and end up in May City before they take A34 to Milford and the lakes area to stay the night.

The ride will also make overnight stops in Emmetsburg, Forest City, Mason City, Waverly, and Independence on their way to Guttenberg on Saturday, July 26th.

Click here for the blog post about the route from Rock Valley to Okoboji.

Sioux Center, Iowa — Two Hawarden women were taken to a hospital after an accident near Sioux Center on Friday.Sioux Center Ambulance

The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that early in the 6 AM hour, 23-year-old Sophie Jurrens of Hawarden was driving a 2002 GMC Envoy eastbound on county road B40, a mile west of Sioux Center, when she lost control. The SUV entered the south ditch with her vehicle came to rest on its side.

A passenger in the vehicle, 23-year-old Sadie Davis of Hawarden and Jurrens were both transported by the Sioux Center Ambulance to the Sioux Center Hospital.

Damage to the GMC is estimated at $6,000.

The Sioux Center Police Department assisted at the scene.

ss smallHospers, Iowa — An alleged undocumented worker who worked in Hospers has been arrested on identity theft charges.

The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that on Thursday, March 6, they arrested Napoleon Aristides Hernandez-Cruz on charges of Identity Theft, Possession of a Falsified Social Security Card and two counts of Forgery.

The arrest resulted from an investigation by the sheriff’s office following a complaint filed by the victim.

Hernandez-Cruz was arrested at his place of employment in Hospers.