February 20, 2020 - 4:02 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — The 2020 census will begin with a mailing starting in mid-March. Census Bureau spokesperson Maureen Schriner says it’s important that everyone looks for and completes the census form to be counted. Schriner says the census determines our legislative representation and also determines how much money communities get from the federal government.

Schriner says some people are concerned that the information they provide on the completed census forms will be readily available. She says that in information is kept confidential.

She says the information is only released in an aggregate form.

Additional information about the census can be obtained by going on-line at www.2020census.gov.

February 20, 2020 - 3:45 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — The more seasonal temperatures we saw earlier this week that gave way to the frigid temperatures of today, will moderate for the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

With a high of 36 on Monday, to a below zero low Thursday morning, Meteorologist Lance VandenBoogart tells us what has been causing the wide temperature fluctuations.

He says temperatures for the upcoming weekend will be quite pleasant.

But VandenBogaart says we shouldn’t get too used to the weekend’s mild temperatures.

So I guess the old saying it true: “This is Iowa, if you don’t like the weather just wait a day and it will change.”

Washington, DC — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that the new Sioux County Regional Airport near Maurice has been awarded over a quarter of a million dollars for snow removal equipment.

The grant is part of $15.74 million in airport safety and infrastructure grants to 25 airports in Iowa. Federal officials say this investment in Iowa’s airports is part of a $520.5 million national investment in America’s airports.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao says that the federal support to airports across the country will help to keep our nation’s airports in good shape and make air travel a better experience for passengers.

In addition to the $270,000 to Sioux County Regional Airport near Maurice for snow removal equipment, the grants to airports in our area include the following awards:

$568,113 to Estherville Municipal Airport for taxiway construction.
$369,000 to James G. Whiting Memorial Field in Mapleton for runway lighting reconstruction and to install visual guidance systems.
$900,000 to Sioux Gateway Field in Sioux City for taxiway reconstruction.
$510,570 to Storm Lake Municipal Airport for runway and taxiway lighting reconstruction.

Other airports in the state received these awards:

$313,350 to Ames Municipal Airport for airport lighting vault construction.
$909,000 to Atlantic Municipal Airport for runway rehabilitation.
$278,000 to Arthur N. Neu Airport in Carroll for runway, taxiway and apron pavement sealing.
$225,000 to Schenck Field in Clarinda to acquire snow removal equipment.
$158,808 to Clarion Municipal Airport for runway lighting reconstruction.
$286,200 to Decorah Municipal Airport for access road improvements.
$600,000 to Denison Municipal Airport for runway construction.
$1.87 million to Des Moines International Airport for runway reconstruction and service road construction.
$1.41 million to Dubuque Regional Airport for runway lighting construction.
$616,500 to Fort Dodge Regional Airport for runway pavement sealing.
$300,000 to Fort Madison Municipal Airport for runway lighting reconstruction.
$383,976 to Harlan Municipal Airport for apron reconstruction and apron pavement sealing.
$155,655 to Independence Municipal Airport for taxiway and apron pavement sealing.
$478,748 to Iowa City Municipal Airport for runway rehabilitation and for obstruction removal.
$149,310 to Maquoketa Municipal Airport to remove obstructions.
$549,548 to Marshalltown Municipal Airport for building construction.
$360,000 to Mason City Municipal Airport for taxiway lighting reconstruction.
$1.2 million to Pella Municipal Airport for runway reconstruction.
$108,000 to Red Oak Municipal Airport for taxiway and apron pavement sealing.
$2.78 million to Waterloo Regional Airport for taxiway and apron reconstruction.

Federal officials say, “The Administration not only supports infrastructure through funding – it is making it possible to deliver these much-needed improvements more quickly. The Department is working hard to streamline the approval process, cut unnecessary red tape and reduce unnecessary, duplicative regulations that do not contribute to safety.”

KIWA file photo

February 19, 2020 - 2:48 pm - Posted in News

Hull, Iowa — A man was taken to a hospital and one room of a house was destroyed in a fire on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, in Hull.

According to Hull Fire Chief Greg Van Roekel, about 2:15 a.m., the Hull Fire Department was called to the report of a house on fire, with occupants still trying to get out at 703 Second Street. That’s in central Hull, just north of the Boyden-Hull High School.

The chief says the fire department was told the fire was in one of the house’s rooms. He says they mounted an interior attack and got the fire knocked down quickly.

Van Roekel says one occupant of the home was taken to a hospital after he fell down the steps while trying to get out of the house.

The fire department was assisted by the Rock Valley Fire Department, the Hull Ambulance Squad, the Rock Valley Police Department, and the Sioux County Sheriff’s Office.

He says the cause of the fire is undetermined, and he declined to speculate on a possible cause.

Chief Van Roekel reports that the room where the fire started was totaled in the blaze, and the upstairs of the home sustained some smoke damage as well.

He tells us the 30 firefighters who responded were on the scene for about an hour.

Des Moines, Iowa — Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig has announced that the Sioux County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) will receive nearly $875,000 in state funding to expand the water quality improvement projects happening in the Floyd River watershed.

Naig says the District will receive a grant for $872,700 over the next three years to help implement additional conservation practices to protect the West Branch of the Floyd River.

Since the water quality improvement project began in 2014, farmers and landowners in the Floyd River watershed have planted 13,259 acres of cover crops, added more than 168,000 feet of terraces to reduce erosion, and installed one bioreactor and two saturated buffers.

Secretary Naig says that improving water quality is one of the most important issues we’re facing today. He says that these community-based projects are examples of the impact we can make when public and private partners and landowners work together to put conservation practices on the ground. Over the last three years, these projects have made measurable progress in the effort to improve water quality and soil health, according to Naig. He says that the Department is proud to support their efforts to build on this success.

This monetary grant is funded through the Iowa Water Quality Initiative and supports collaborative, community-based projects in priority watersheds that help reduce the nutrient levels in Iowa’s water. Water quality initiative funds may be used to install priority conservation practices like wetlands, bioreactors, cover crops, and saturated buffers. These practices are scientifically-proven to reduce nutrient loads and are critical to helping the state achieve the goals outlined in the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy.

The Floyd River rises north of Sanborn and flows southwest toward Sheldon, then basically follows Highways 60 and 75 to Sioux City where it joins the Missouri just east of downtown Sioux City. The West Branch Floyd rises just west of Boyden and flows southwest, joining the Floyd at Merrill for the rest of its trip toward the Missouri.

To learn more about the state’s Water Quality Initiative or read success stories, you can visit cleanwateriowa.org/water-quality-initiative.

File photo

February 18, 2020 - 3:19 pm - Posted in News

Le Mars, Iowa — (as reported by the Lyon County News): The Northwest Iowa Bandmasters Association held its jazz band festival for over 50 bands from 33 northwest Iowa schools at Le Mars on Monday.

They were split up into six divisions and started competing at 8:00 a.m. on Monday morning. The top two high school bands from their division will be selected and will compete in the Iowa Jazz Championships next month.

Here are the results:

Class 1A:
5th place Gehlen Catholic
4th place Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn
3rd place (Wild Card Eligible) Woodbury Central
2nd place Newell-Fonda
1st place Kingsley-Pierson

Class 2A:
5th place Central Lyon
4th place Sibley-Ocheyedan
3rd place (Wild Card Eligible) Sioux Center I
2nd place West Lyon
1st place Okoboji

Class 3A:
5th place Spirit Lake
4th place Spencer
3rd place (Wild Card Eligible) MOC-Floyd Valley I
2nd place Bishop Heelan
1st place Le Mars Community

Class 4A

5th place Sioux City East II
4th place Sioux City West
3rd place (Wild Card Eligible) Storm Lake
2nd place Sioux City East I
1st place Sioux City North I

Story courtesy of our news partner, the Lyon County News newspaper in George, Iowa.

February 18, 2020 - 1:13 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — A small group of Iowa House members and hunting enthusiasts are debating whether to increase the number of licenses for out-of-state deer hunters. Under current law, six-thousand deer hunting licenses are available for residents of OTHER states.

Representative Dean Fisher, a Republican from Montour, says expanding deer hunting opportunities would be good for Iowa’s economy.

Fisher’s on a House subcommittee that’s embracing the idea of offering 15-hundred more deer hunting licenses to out-of-staters, and setting aside 500 of those licenses for hunters who’ve signed up with an Iowa-based hunting guide. The Iowa Bow Hunters Association opposes the move. Bob Haney is president of the group.

Eric Goranson, a lobbyist for the Iowa Bow Hunters Association, says Iowa hunters should be the priority, and it’s getting harder and harder for Iowans who live in urban areas to find places to hunt.

Jim Obradovich, a lobbyist for the Iowa Conservation Alliance, says other hunting-related proposals under consideration could complicate the system even more.

There’s a deadline this week for all of these kinds of policy discussions. Most bills must be endorsed by a House or Senate committee by this Friday to stay eligible for consideration.

February 17, 2020 - 3:57 pm - Posted in News

Granville, Iowa — A house was damaged and a local fire department was paged on Saturday, February 15, 2020, for an incident near Granville.

According to Granville Fire Chief Karl Kellen, about 7:00 p.m., the Granville Fire Department was called to the report of a house fire at 4632 510th Street, five miles south of Granville and a mile and a half east.

The chief says the fire department saw nothing out of the ordinary as they approached the scene. He says the homeowner was remodeling and some insulation in the attic started to smolder. He says the cause of the fire appeared to be electrical in nature. According to Kellen, the fire department used a thermal imaging camera to find the hot spot. He says when they found it they removed the material to the outside of the home. He tells us they did have to cut out part of a roof joist to get to the hot spot, otherwise, there was minimal damage.

Kellen says no injuries were reported.

He says the 12 firefighters who responded were on the scene for about a half an hour.

February 17, 2020 - 3:13 pm - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — This area’s Congressman, Steve King was in Sheldon on Monday. We had a chance to catch up with him.

He tells us the purpose of the trip.

Among the topics discussed at the meeting was ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard. King says the President signed an agreement in September to blend 15 billion gallons of ethanol. But he says when the rule was published, it was too vague. He says some have pushed for a new rule, but he says that’s hard to do.

He says he’s going to finish that up and double-check the language, ask others to sign on and have the President sign it.

Another area that farmers are concerned about is trade.

King says with the UK exiting the EU, it would be a good idea for both the US and the UK to enter into a trade agreement with each other. He says it may open up European markets for the US.

King says he believes part of the reason we haven’t seen the effect we expected from the US-China agreement is that China’s economy is experiencing a slowdown due to the Coronavirus. Meanwhile, he says we need to remain vigilant to keep Chinese pork out of the US, due to African Swine Fever, which he says has decimated a large part, possibly a majority of the hogs in that nation. He told us about one instance of an attempt to smuggle Chinese pork into the US that he saw with his own eyes.

King was asked what could be done about the shortage of workers in the dairy industry, and if there could be a change in visa policy. King’s suggestion is that those who come into the country on a temporary visa should have to put up a bond. He said it would work similarly to when you swipe your card at the beginning of a hotel stay. They keep your number on file in case they need it. The same would apply here — the account wouldn’t be charged unless you overstay your visa — then the money would be put into a fund to assist law enforcement to find those that have overstayed their visas.

He also mentioned that before we have major immigration reform, he thinks we need to close the border. Also, King says that there are millions of people in the US who are able-bodied, but who are not working. He says these people could fill the open positions at the dairy farms and elsewhere.

King also mentioned that he believes the health insurance business needs to be regulated not from the federal level, but from the state level. He says he hopes that the Supreme Court will rule that the last remnants of ObamaCare are unconstitutional.

February 15, 2020 - 4:03 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says having President Trump tout his prescription drug bill during the State of the Union speech has been a boost. Now, Grassley’s hoping to meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and this is his message:

Grassley, a Republican, and the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee have been working on legislation that would limit prescription drug price hikes to the rate of inflation. The bill would lower out-of-pocket costs for seniors on Medicare, too.

Bills need just 51 votes to pass the senate, but at least 60 senators must agree to allow debate. Grassley says he’s telling his Republican colleagues in the Senate the polls show voters consider prescription drug costs a top concern.

A dozen Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors of Grassley’s bill.