Sioux Center and Hospers, Iowa — Final federal approval has been received, and a company that started out many years ago as a northwest-Iowa-based independent telephone company has completed the final sale of a company with very similar beginnings.

This past April, Premier Communications and HTC Communications announced that Premier would be buying HTC. At that time, they hoped that the Federal Communications Commission would give their approval in time for a July 1st transfer date. Premier CEO Doug Boone says it didn’t quite happen by that time, but it has now happened.

Boone says that “right out of the gate” HTC customers will notice “no changes.”

He says that Premier will continue to provide voice, video, and data services as HTC has done in the past. He says HTC customers won’t even have to call new numbers to get a hold of billing or tech support.

HTC employees have become Premier employees as of this week. He says eventually bills will say “Premier Communications” instead of HTC. But Boone says that the HTC — or Hospers Telephone Company — name will not go away completely.

Boone says they plan on the continual upgrading of their facilities and adding more and more fiber to their network, improving speeds and performance.

He says HTC offers service in Hospers, Sheldon, Ashton, Sibley, and Ocheyedan. Boone says that since their 2016 acquisition of Consolidated Communications’ area in northwest Iowa, they have been the facilities-based provider for telephone service in Sibley. He says a number of years ago they served Ashton and Ocheyedan as well, but sold that to HTC, so now they are coming full circle. He says Premier looks forward to working with customers in HTC’s area, and that if people have partnership ideas, they’re open to hearing what they have to say.

Northwest Iowa —  Three northwest Iowans have been named by Governor Kim Reynolds to serve on new “Empower Rural Iowa” task forces.

Governor Reynolds named Kiana Johnson of Primghar to the Investing in Rural Iowa Task Force, and named Ryan Boone of Sioux Center, and Steve Simons of Larchwood to the Connecting Rural Iowa Task Force. The third task force is the Growing Rural Iowa Task Force, and doesn’t include anyone from the KIWA listening area.

“Idea summits” will be held in September as the three new Empower Rural Iowa task forces examine ways to elevate rural leaders, boost broadband access and make more housing available in rural Iowa. Nearly 180 Iowans applied to participate and about half were appointed by the governor.

Iowans may submit ideas online  or testify at one of three “summits.” The first is scheduled for September 6th in Holstein and will focus on connecting more Iowans to broadband service. The second will be held September 7th in Mount Pleasant and explore ways to spark strategic planning and development of new leaders in rural Iowa. The third will be held in Earlham on September 14th and focus on getting more investment into rural Iowa, particularly in housing.

Iowa Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg says Iowans can submit ideas online by visiting the Lieutenant Governor’s website.

August 17, 2018 - 1:54 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — The Labor Day sTEP, or Special Traffic Enforcement Project, is now in progress and will continue through Labor Day, Monday September 3rd.

Iowa State Patrol Trooper Vince Kurtz says this sTEP period will focus on impaired drivers.

Trooper Kurtz says that, although the FOCUS may be on impaired drivers, troopers, deputies, and local police officers will be enforcing traffic laws across the board.

He says troopers, county deputies, and local police across the state are taking part in this enforcement project, and will be out in force, some in marked patrol cars, and others in unmarked patrol cars. So buckle up, put your phone down, drive safe, and if your celebration includes alcohol, please find a designated driver.

The Labor Day sTEP project began Friday morning and runs through Labor Day.

August 17, 2018 - 1:52 pm - Posted in News

Sioux Center, Iowa — A Sioux County company has been awarded direct financial assistance and tax benefits from the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board for an expansion project.

Sioux-Preme Packing, Company plans to expand their pork harvest operation in Sioux Center with a 50-thousand square-foot addition to help meet demand for their specialty pork products.

The expansion will include installation of high tech automated pork cutting equipment and water jet cutting technologies. The project represents a $29-million investment by Sioux-Preme and will create 50 new jobs, of which 10 are incented at a qualifying wage of $20.41 per hour. Sioux-Preme was awarded tax incentives from the State’s High Quality Jobs Program.

The Sioux Center facility was acquired by Perdue Farms in 2015 as part of its acquisition of Natural Food Holdings and its brands.

The 2018 IGHSAU Preseason High School Volleyball rankings are out and in Class 1A LeMars Gehlen is ranked second, while Harris-Lake Park comes into the season ranked in the 8 spot. Class 2A features Unity Christian ranked #2, and Western Christian comes in at 5. Sioux Center starts their season ranked eleventh in 3A, along with Spirit Lake at 13th.

Class 1A
Rank – School – 2017 Record
1 Janesville 37-7
2 LeMars Gehlen Catholic 29-7
3 Starmont 30-6
4 Holy Trinity Catholic 38-6
5 North Tama 29-8
6 Tripoli 25-14
7 East Mills 24-9
8 Harris-Lake Park 21-12
9 Westwood 23-9
10 HLV 16-8
11 Montezuma 31-6
12 Edgewood-Colesburg 16-16
13 Central Decatur 16-13
14 Iowa Valley 28-11
15 Southeast Warren 25-8

Class 2A
1 Grundy Center 37-7
2 Unity Christian 24-11
3 Dike-New Hartford 50-3
4 Beckman Catholic 31-13
5 Western Christian 39-7
6 Sidney 31-6
7 Council Bluffs St. Albert 28-4
8 Tri-Center 27-3
9 Wapsie Valley 21-16
10 Treynor 30-6
11 Ridge View 20-12
12 Belle Plaine 18-10
13 Lake Mills 39-4
14 Lisbon 25-12
15 West Burlington 25-8

Class 3A
1 Kuemper Catholic 39-3
2 Tipton 32-7
3 Iowa Falls-Alden 31-6
4 Osage 26-10
5 Waterloo Columbus Catholic 36-8
6 Center Point-Urbana 32-11
7 Red Oak 23-14
8 Davenport Assumption 25-8
9 Camanche 32-9
10 West Liberty 22-14
11 Sioux Center 34-6
12 Mount Vernon 26-11
13 Spirit Lake 21-17
14 Roland-Story 28-11
15 Union 19-18

Class 4A
School 2017 Record
1 Dubuque Wahlert 22-9
2 Sergeant Bluff-Luton 42-4
3 Cedar Rapids Xavier 32-10
4 Independence 33-9
5 Pella 33-7
6 Dallas Center-Grimes 27-8
7 Clear Creek-Amana 23-20
8 Waverly-Shell Rock 42-6
9 Lewis Central 33-6
10 West Delaware 25-20
11 Bondurant-Farrar 21-13
12 Sioux City Bishop Heelan 33-11
13 Fairfield 24-9
14 Western Dubuque 22-13
15 Fort Madison 25-8

August 16, 2018 - 4:16 pm - Posted in News

Hull, Iowa — When Western Christian students go back to school, they’ll meet a new principal.

Principal Harlan De Vries took the reins at Western Christian on July 1st. But De Vries is no stranger to school administration or to Christian Education in northwest Iowa as he tells us.

He tells us why Christian Education is important.

De Vries and his wife Donna have five children, the youngest of whom was just married three weeks ago. He says all his children attended Dordt College, where they also all met their future spouses. He says Donna also works at Dordt.

He says Western students shouldn’t expect any big changes when they come back to school.

Mr. De Vries lives in Orange City and will be commuting to Hull to serve as Western Christian’s principal. De Vries takes the position of Dan Barkel, who has taken the job as superintendent at Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn-Remsen-Union.

Orange City, Iowa — A northwest Iowa college is again ranked high.

Northwestern College is ranked as the third-best college or university in Iowa by College Consensus, a college review aggregator that averages the latest results from the most respected college rankings with thousands of online student review scores.

A write-up about the college on College Consensus’ website says that Northwestern is deeply committed to the values of Christian higher education and traditional liberal arts, emphasizing critical analysis, problem-solving, communication and leadership. Northwestern’s No. 1 mission is to send thoughtful, compassionate Christian leaders into their professions and careers. It says “Northwestern College has made concerted efforts to attract a more diverse student and faculty body, with around 10% of students coming from minority groups. Those who are looking for a Christian environment will find it at Northwestern.”

The College Consensus ranking averages rankings from organizations such as Forbes, U.S. News and The Wall Street Journal with student reviews published on sites such as Cappex, Niche, and Unigo.

Only two colleges in the state ranked better — Grinnell College and Drake University. A little further down the list, the University of Iowa was ranked sixth, UNI was eighth. Dordt College in Sioux Center was just out of the top 10 at number 11.

Mark Bloemendaal, Northwestern’s vice president for enrollment and marketing says that College Consensus is a comprehensive resource, as it draws from rankings with varying methodologies and includes input from students. He says, “We’re grateful when external rankings affirm the quality of the strong, Christ-centered education Northwestern students receive.”

August 16, 2018 - 9:53 am - Posted in News

Jefferson, Iowa — A Hull man was involved in a traffic crash that claimed the life of a Glidden man, early Wednesday afternoon, south of Jefferson, Iowa.

Iowa State Patrol Troopers say the crash happened about 12:20 pm Wednesday at the intersection of 290th Street and Highway 4, south of Jefferson.

Troopers say a 2010 Peterbilt, driven by 21-year old Arthur Vanderwaal of Hull had just turned to go southbound on Highway 4, when a northbound 2017 Chevrolet Express van, driven by 71-year old Wesley Bunnell of Glidden, Iowa, crossed the center line, and slowly drifted into the southbound lane.

Vanderwaal told authorities that when he saw the Bunnell van in his lane, he tried to avoid hitting the van by taking the southbound shoulder. Troopers say the van struck Vanderwaal’s semi on the driver’s side.

Troopers say 71-year old Wesley Bunnell of Glidden was killed in the crash.

Sioux Center, Iowa — Sioux Center School Board members are having an unusual meeting this Thursday. The early morning meeting was scheduled so that administrators and board members could take a trip to the Kansas City area as part of the meeting.

But the trip isn’t to visit Worlds of Fun or something of that nature — it’s a research trip, says new Sioux Center Superintendent Gary McEldowny. He gives us some background.

Mr. McEldowny tells us about the trip.

He says the target schools were selected by their architects.

McEldowny tells us that the City of Sioux Center has approved the school district to purchase 30+ acres of land from the City north of the current fairgrounds and Heritage Village. He says they are waiting for plans to firm up a bit before they sign on the dotted line to buy the property from the City.

He says that using the most optimistic timeline, the new school could be in use by the 2021-2022 school year.

He says Sioux Center has a very “collaborative spirit,” and that the district has a “long-standing success” with bonds passing — something that he called, “a blessing.” McEldowny says he’s excited for the opportunity to be the superintendent at Sioux Center. He started in that position on July first, after having served as the high school principal.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate — the commissioner of Iowa elections — says there is no way for hackers to alter VOTES in Iowa because every one of the state’s voters cast a PAPER ballot.

Pate warns, however, that “bad actors” on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook may try to sow doubt about election results.

Pate, a Republican, served one term as secretary of state in the 1990s and returned to office in 2015. He is seeking reelection to a third term as secretary of state. His Democratic opponent, Deidre DeJear, last week accused Pate of not doing enough to secure voter registration information that IS computerized, as recent news from the investigation of Russia’s attempt to influence the 2016 election revealed Russian operatives visited the websites of some Iowa counties. Pate says new voter ID requirements will address that, as voters show a driver’s license, a military or tribal ID, a passport or voter registration card at their polling place.

The voter ID requirement takes effect in 2019. For this year’s election, Iowans who do not show an ID at their polling place may sign an oath verifying their identity and will be allowed to cast a ballot.