November 30, 2020 - 3:04 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — One new death and forty-eight new COVID cases were reported in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties on Monday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The death was a resident of O’Brien County again. Sixty-five people have died in the four counties since the pandemic started — Sioux County has had twenty-five. O’Brien County has now had 31. Osceola County has had one death. Lyon County has had eight since the pandemic started.

O’Brien County was up 7 cases at 1297 cases since the pandemic started. Sioux County was up 22 cases at 3718. Lyon County was up 14 cases at 1044, and Osceola County was up 5 at 528. An average of about one in every 11 northwest Iowans in our area has had — or currently has — COVID-19.

Out of the 1044 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 599 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 57%.
Out of the 3718 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 2677 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 72%.
Out of the 1297 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 816 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 63%.
Out of the 528 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 326 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 62%.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 2766 , up 16
Cherokee 862 , up 19
Buena Vista 3061 , up 13
Clay 1183 , up 10
Dickinson 1395 , up 11

November 29, 2020 - 1:23 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — A total of thirty-eight new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the four-county area Sunday. That’s seventeen fewer new cases reported compared to the previous 24-hour period, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

During the 24-hour period ending at noon Sunday, O’Brien County was up 13 cases to 1290 since the pandemic began. Sioux County was up 15 cases to 3696. Lyon County was up 8 to 1030, and Osceola County was up 2 to 523.

There were no deaths reported in Sunday’s figures, so the death toll from COIVD-related illnesses in our four-county area remains at sixty-four. 30 in O’Brien County, 25 in Sioux, 8 in Lyon County and 1 in Osceola County since the pandemic began.

Out of the 1030 Lyon County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, 596 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 58%.
Out of the 3696 Sioux County residents who have tested positive, 2665 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 72%.
Out of the 1290 O’Brien County residents who have tested positive for COVID, 810 have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 63%.
Out of the 523 Osceola County residents who have tested positive, 324 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 62%.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 2750, up 18
Cherokee 843, up 10
Buena Vista 3048, up 14
Clay 1173, up 9
Dickinson 1384, up 22

Again, these figures were for the 24-hour period from noon Saturday, November 28th to noon Sunday, November 29th.

Statewide Iowa — A computer security expert suggests we abandon using passwords in favor of pass phrases. Jesse La Grew says the old way of creating short, cryptic passwords that you change frequently is no longer practical for most of us.

(As above) “If we have to change our passwords every 30 days, what are we likely to do? We’re likely to write it down,” La Grew says. “We’re going to be putting them on Post-it notes or putting them under keyboards.” 

The longer a password, the more secure it should be from hackers. Some computer systems require passwords that need to be between 16 and 20 characters, which is where using a pass phrase is handy.

(As above) “So how do you get that length of password while still maintaining the complexity required so that a computer can’t easily break into it?” La Grew says. “That’s where the passphrase comes in, where we’re using multiple words strung together.”

You can creating a pass phrase out of a series of words that are easy for you to remember — but hard to guess. It will make your account more secure from most attempts by hackers to force their way in.

(As above) “You can have a very long password with a series of five words that can be very difficult to guess and can take a computer an extremely long time to break into, based on the technology that we have today,” he says.

La Grew says don’t reuse passwords on any service where you might have credit card or banking information saved.

November 28, 2020 - 2:00 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Fifty three new COVID cases were reported in the four furthest northwest Iowa counties for the 24-hour period ending noon Saturday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

During that 24-hour period, O’Brien County was up 15 cases at 1277 cases since the pandemic started. Sioux County was up 22 cases at 3681. Lyon County was up 10 at 1022, and Osceola County was up 6 at 521.

Sixty-four people have died in the four counties since the pandemic started — Sioux County has had twenty-five. O’Brien County has had 30. Osceola County has had one death. Lyon County has had eight since the pandemic started.

Out of the 1022 Lyon County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, 591 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 58%.
Out of the 3681 Sioux County residents who have tested positive, 2655 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 72%.
Out of the 1277 O’Brien County residents who have tested positive for COVID, 801 have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 63%.
Out of the 521 Osceola County residents who have tested positive, 322 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 62%.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 2732, up 35
Cherokee 833, up 18
Buena Vista 3034, up 22
Clay 1164, up 26
Dickinson 1362, up 18

Again, these figures were for the 24-hour period from noon Friday, November 27th to noon Saturday, November 28th.

November 27, 2020 - 9:02 pm - Posted in News

UPDATE: The man killed in the accident has been identified as Jace William VanDenBerg of Ireton.

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Original story posted Nov 27, 2020 at 11:16 a.m.

Remsen, Iowa — One man has died, several people were taken to hospitals, and one was airlifted to Sioux City after a motorhome rollover accident near Remsen on Thursday, November 26, 2020.

The Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office reports that their preliminary investigation indicates that about 9:30 p.m., someone was driving a 1998 motorhome northbound on L12, about a half-mile northwest of Remsen, when the driver failed to negotiate a curve, causing the vehicle to leave the roadway and roll several times before coming to rest.

They tell us a 23-year-old male subject was killed in the accident.

The Remsen, Marcus, Orange City, and Le Mars ambulances took several victims to Floyd Valley Hospital in Le Mars. One was airlifted to Mercy One Hospital in Sioux City.

In addition to all the medical personnel, the Remsen Fire Department, the Iowa State Patrol, the Le Mars Police Department, and the Remsen Police Department all assisted the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office with the response to the accident.

Names of the injured and the deceased have not been released pending notification of family and friends. The investigation continues.

November 27, 2020 - 4:38 pm - Posted in News

Omaha, Nebraska — Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says this year’s increase in farm income is leading to an increase in farmland prices.

(as said) “Farmers are out there and they’re feeling better about the economy, but unfortunately we’re not seeing it in the businesses on what we call ‘Rural Mainstreet,'” Goss says.

Every month, Goss surveys rural bankers for a Rural Mainstreet Index. His latest survey indicates the economy in Iowa and nine other states in the Great Plains and Mountain West will dip in the current 4th quarter.

(as said) “It looks like we’re hitting a hiccup in the global economy and a hiccup in the US economy and, for that matter, in the regional economy,” Goss says. “Growth is just slowing down and potentially moving what was a V-shaped recovery into a W shaped recovery — in other words, back down into the recession.”

But Goss says farmland and commodity prices have beem climbing fairly dramatically this fall, leading to optimism in the ag sector. About a third of U.S. farm income this year will have come, though, from the Trump Administration’s payments to make up for trade losses and Goss says those are likely to end with the Trump presidency.

(as said) “On the flip side, we’re likely to see the Biden Administration be a little more positive on trade,” Goss says. “…You’ve got some positives and some negatives. I expect 2021 – at least as we sit here now — to be pretty good for the agricultural sector given the expansion on trade.”

And Goss says rising global oil prices are generally good news for the state’s ethanol industry as well.

November 27, 2020 - 4:00 pm - Posted in News

Boyden, Iowa — Some round bales were destroyed in a fire on Friday, November 27, 2020, near Boyden.

According to Boyden Fire Chief Chris Starkenburg, about 11:20 a.m., the Boyden Fire Department was called to the report of a hay bale fire at 3771 330th Street, a mile south and two and a third west of Boyden.

The chief says the fire department saw lots of smoke as they approached the scene. He says the bales, which were mostly cornstalk bales, had been stacked very close to a Quonset building. He says they got the initial fire out with water and then pulled the bales away from the building and each other and doused them with water.

Starkenburg says no injuries were reported.

He says the cause of the fire appeared to be — according to the owner — someone had been lighting a burn pile with a torch and the torch wasn’t quite out.

Chief Starkenburg reports that the damage was limited to the bales. The building had steel sides, which Starkenburg says helped a lot.

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

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Also on Wednesday during the 11 a.m. hour, the Inwood Fire Department was called out to a ditch fire at 2233 Cherry Avenue, which is about a mile and a half northwest of Inwood.

Inwood Fire Chief Troy Van Beek says about 50 feet of ditch burned, which they put out with water.

He says the cause is officially undetermined, but he thinks it might have been a cigarette. The damage was limited to the ditch grass, and firefighters were there for about a half an hour.

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The previous evening — Thanksgiving night — the Primghar Fire Department was called out to what turned out to be a controlled burn in a trench pit. Primghar Fire Chief Gary Lansink reminds people if they are going to use fire to clean up debris or trash of any kind, they should call the Sheriff’s Office in their county to advise them of the burn.

November 27, 2020 - 3:19 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — One hundred sixty new COVID cases were reported in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties for the 48-hour period of Wednesday noon through Friday noon, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

In those two days, O’Brien County was up 48 cases at 1262 cases since the pandemic started. Sioux County was up 77 cases at 3659. Lyon County was up 24 cases at 1012, and Osceola County was up 11 at 515. An average of about one in every 11 northwest Iowans in our area has had — or currently has — COVID-19.

Sixty-four people have died in the four counties since the pandemic started — Sioux County has had twenty-five. O’Brien County has now had 30. Osceola County has had one death. Lyon County has had eight since the pandemic started.

Out of the 1012 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 582 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 58%.
Out of the 3659 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 2608 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 71%.
Out of the 1262 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 776 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 61%.
Out of the 515 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 316 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 61%.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 2697 , up 70
Cherokee 815 , up 24
Buena Vista 3012 , up 50
Clay 1138 , up 36
Dickinson 1344 , up 59

Again, these figures were for TWO days — the 48-hour period from noon Wednesday to noon Friday.

Northwest Iowa — Initial unemployment claims were up again last week, according to Iowa Workforce Development.

The number of initial unemployment claims in Iowa, filed between Sunday, Nov. 15, and Saturday, Nov. 21, was 9,458, an increase of 3,466 from the previous week’s adjusted numbers. There were 8,720 initial claims by individuals who work and live in Iowa, and 738 claims by individuals who work in Iowa and live in another state. The number of continuing weekly unemployment claims was 37,112, an increase of 2,310 from the previous week. November through February are traditionally the months IWD sees the most unemployment claims, driven by increased claims in construction, agriculture, landscaping and manufacturing due to seasonal layoffs. For the week ending Nov. 21, 2020, nearly 43.6% of claimants indicated their claims were not COVID-19 related.

The U.S. Department of Labor adjusted last week’s initial claim number to 5,992 (a decrease of 320) and continuing claims to 34,802 (a decrease of 440 for a total decrease of 760 overall). Iowa Workforce Development relies upon the weekly data released by the U.S. Department of Labor to report its numbers and as such, adopts the revisions to the previously published data.

For the week ending Nov. 21, 2020, unemployment insurance benefit payments totaled over $10 million. The following industries had the most claims:

Manufacturing (1,622)
Construction (1,271)
Industry Not Available – Self-employed, Independent Contractors, etc (1,245)
Health Care & Social Assistance (920)
Accommodation & Food Services (780)

As far as the unemployment rate, the latest statistics available are those for October, when the state rate fell to 3.6 percent, after a high this year of 11 percent in April. It’s been falling ever since.

Northwest Iowa continues to lead the state in low unemployment numbers. Lyon and Sioux Counties are tied for the lowest unemployment in October at 1.3 percent. Osceola County is third with 1.6. Mitchell and Decatur counties are tied for fourth with 1.7 percent, and then it’s Pocohantas with 1.8 percent for fifth, followed by several counties, including O’Brien County at 1.9 percent unemployment, tied for sixth place in October.

November 25, 2020 - 3:14 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — It’s about time to roast, fry, or smoke the bird, prepare the traditional family side dishes, and sit down to a huge feast to be thankful for our blessings. But fire safety officials are encouraging people to remember the importance of fire safety this Thanksgiving holiday.

Nationwide, Thanksgiving day is the peak day for home cooking fires. South Dakota State Fire Marshal Paul Merriman says that makes home fire safety even more important.

He says that many people love to cook for this holiday or use candles, fireplaces, and other heating sources to create that festive atmosphere in their homes. But it is also easy to forget about fire safety and that could prove to be dangerous.

Merriman says it is important, at all times of the year, to have working smoke alarms on each level of the home.

We talked with Sibley Fire Chief Ken Huls about it. He says one of the most dangerous Thanksgiving cooking activities is deep-frying a turkey in a propane fryer.

(as said:) “You’re dealing with a lot of heat, flame, and grease which most of the times doesn’t mix if you’re not careful. I always recommend that it’s obviously an open area. You have to — have to — watch that almost the entire time while you’re cooking that, but it’s very common thing now. A lot of people like that type of turkey, but that open flame and grease if it boils over that’s pretty much where they get the fires. If it’s unattended or if somebody’s not experienced enough to use those things — they better read up on the instructions because they could cause major damage. And of course burns. It’s just a matter of keeping a fire extinguisher handy. Just be precautionary when you’re doing it. Just don’t take it lightly because they are very dangerous.”

Some experts advise not using turkey fryers to begin with. The National Fire Protection Association (or NFPA) says turkey fryers pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process. In addition, the burners that heat the oil can ignite spilled oil, so they strongly discourage their use.

Huls says even cooking your turkey the traditional way poses some fire risk, especially if your oven is not clean. He gives us some other tips about kitchen safety. He says a big one involves stovetop cooking.

(as said:) “Turn your handles in — especially with a lot of children running around and the holidays the family’s there. That’s when people get hurt when they don’t see the handle sticking out and then boiling water or corn or whatever you cooking on the top side tends to spill over and people that have gas stoves — they also have to take precautions for that too. Because things boil over you get kind of preoccupied in the business of trying to get the meal ready. That’s when you want to be careful. And of course, have the proper types of extinguishment nearby in case something would happen. Because you never throw water on grease, of course. And have a lid ready to throw on it. Of course if you have a fire… a grease fire… remember water and oil don’t mix. Just be precautionary. Have the right type of extinguishment  materials handy, even a fire extinguisher wouldn’t be a bad thing to have.”

The NFPA says people should stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop so they can keep an eye on the food, and stay in the home when cooking the turkey and check on it frequently.

Specific fire safety tips for Thanksgiving and a video demonstration of why turkey fryers can be so dangerous can be found here: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Seasonal-fire-causes/Thanksgiving.