July 2, 2020 - 3:54 pm - Posted in News

Washington, DC — Iowa’s junior US Senator is coming for a visit. Unfortunately, the stops will not be open to the public, in order to follow public health guidelines.

Senator Joni Ernst will stop in O’Brien, Sioux, Lyon, Osceola, and Dickinson Counties as part of her 99 County Tour for 2020 on Wednesday, July 8th.

In O’Brien County, Senator Ernst will visit local businesses in Sheldon. In Sioux County, Senator Ernst will visit Premium Iowa Pork’s facility in Hospers and meet with local pork producers. In Lyon County, she will visit with and hear the story of Ryan Odens, a disabled farmer in Little Rock who, thanks to the Easter Seals organization, has been able to farm successfully for 20 years.

In Osceola County, Ernst will tour Hawkeye Point and meet with community stakeholders and the local FFA chapter to hear about the work that has been done to rehab Hawkeye Point. And in Dickinson County, she will meet with public officials from Dickinson County Public Health and Emergency Management.

July 2, 2020 - 3:21 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — The four northwesternmost Iowa counties reported six more COVID-19 cases on Thursday, according to the latest statistics from the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Sioux County was up four cases at 461. Lyon County was unchanged at 40. O’Brien County was up one at 86, and Osceola County was up one at 57.

As far as active cases, Lyon County has one, Sioux County has 111, O’Brien County has 26, and Osceola has four.

Recovery rate:

Lyon — out of 40 cases, 38 have recovered, for a rate of about 95%
Sioux — out of 461 cases, 339 have recovered, for a rate of about 74%
O’Brien — out of 86 cases, 55 have recovered, for a rate of about 64%
Osceola — out of 57 cases, 47 have recovered, for a rate of about 82%

Also, one death has been reported in these four counties since the beginning of the pandemic, that in O’Brien county on Tuesday, June 9th.

Total numbers of cases from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report (7/1/2020):

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 312, up 7
Cherokee 75, up 2
Buena Vista 1705, up 9
Clay 127, up 2
Dickinson 259, up 10

Minnesota counties:
Jackson 55, up 1
Nobles 1661, up 6
Rock 29, unchanged

South Dakota counties:
Minnehaha 3638, up 11
Lincoln 352, up 5
Union 126, up 2

Here are some density numbers from regional hot spots. But keep in mind, that these numbers do include people who have had COVID-19, and have since recovered.

Buena Vista County, Iowa has a density of about one case in 12 people. Very close to that density is Nobles County, Minnesota, where there is one case in 13 people. Next in our region is Woodbury County with one case in every 32 people, and then Minnehaha County, South Dakota with one case in 53 people.

In the four northwesternmost Iowa counties, Sioux County tops the density list at one case in 76 people. Osceola is next with one case per 106 people. Next is O’Brien County with one in 161 people, and Lyon County reports a density of one case in every 295 people.

Des Moines, Iowa — The top two Republicans in the Iowa Legislature are condemning the actions of protesters after 17 Black Lives Matter activists were arrested Wednesday on the Iowa Capitol grounds. The protesters say the police involved should be investigated.

In a written statement, House Speaker Pat Grassley and Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver say “assaulting, disarming, and spitting on law enforcement is never acceptable” and will not be tolerated by any group on the Capitol grounds. The two lawmakers say they strongly support law enforcement’s actions to end what Grassley and Whitver described as “a violent confrontation with a disorderly group of protesters.”

The Republican legislative leaders say any member of the public should feel welcome in the Iowa Capitol and “it is not, nor will it become, an area of lawlessness.”

Des Moines Black Lives Matter protesters have issued a written statement, saying they tried to “de-arrest” fellow activists being detained by police by pulling their peers away from officers. The group accuses the police of becoming “violent and unmanageable” at that point and injuring some of the people who were arrested.

To view the written statement Speaker Grassley and Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver posted to social media, CLICK HERE.

The Black Lives Matter social media post can be viewed by CLICKING HERE.

Northwest Iowa — Law enforcement officers will be out in force this weekend as the Iowa State Patrol partners with county sheriff’s offices and city police departments across the state in a special 4th of July holiday traffic enforcement effort focused at removing impaired drivers from Iowa roadways.

Iowa State Patrol Trooper Kevin Krull tells us about this special enforcement effort.

(As above) “We’ve got the ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign going on this year. July 3rd through the 7th we’re going to tally the numbers for local law enforcement agencies, as well as the State Patrol, and hopefully gather some information that our numbers are better than they were last year as far as the big ones are concerned. And that would be the crashes.  Last year we had 112 crashes, and of those crashes we had two (who) died, and nine serious injuries.”

Trooper Krull says you’ll see a lot of State Patrol vehicles on the roads this weekend, and those troopers will be looking for all kinds of dangerous behavior behind the wheel.

(As above) “We’re going to bring out officers that normally would have been off. They’re going to be working their overtime shifts, we’re going to have extra shifts for those officers to work. We’re going to have some late-night patrols. We’re going to have some speed enforcement going on. We’re going to do our part to step up step up and try to curb those speeds, look for those distracted drivers and put some people who need to be in jail for drunk driving, in a cell for that.”

The trooper asks that you celebrate the 4th of July in a responsible manner.

(As above) “We ask people to celebrate with a plan. We’re not telling them NOT to celebrate, we’re just telling them to celebrate with a plan….get that designated driver, do the right thing and get that safe ride home.”

Since Independence Day falls on a Saturday this year, Friday the 3rd is the legal holiday. Trooper Krull says having the celebration confined to one weekend will make things busier and more dangerous on the road.

(As above) “Some years, when it falls on a Tuesday or Wednesday…the middle of the week…people will pick which weekend they wish to celebrate, the weekend before or the weekend after, and some people are lucky enough to be able to go all week long and put two weekends together. But with it being on a weekend this year, I expect the numbers to be high, and it’s going to be a very, very busy weekend.”

Krull had this final word for those who plan to be on the state’s highways and byways this weekend.

(As above) “Just try to be safe out there. So for everybody that’s going to go out and celebrate the weekend, it’s sounds like the weather’s going to be great, so do your part and celebrate with a plan.” 

The ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign runs from July 3rd through 7th. During the same period last year, two people lost their lives on Iowa’s roadways. Let’s all pull together and try to lower that number for this year.

July 2, 2020 - 9:57 am - Posted in News

The Tournament Softball pairings were released by the IGHSAU.

The Orabs start their tournament run on July 15th at Open Space Park in Sioux Center against Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley with a 5 pm start time.

Class 1A Pairings

Class 2A Pairings

Class 3A Pairings

Class 4A Pairings

Class 5A Pairings

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — A campaign is now underway to remind new and expecting mothers to use their seatbelts.

Iowa Department of Public Health nurse clinician, Stephanie Trusty, says they developed the campaign after seeing a concerning trend.

(as she says)”We do review all the deaths that occur during pregnancy and for a year after the birth of a baby,” Trusty explains. “And in our last review, 18 percent of maternal deaths were from car crashes.”

71 percent of the women who died in those crashes were not wearing a seatbelt. She says there could be a variety of reasons why pregnant women don’t buckle up.

(as she says)”Some women think that it might be a little bit uncomfortable — although the seatbelt should go beneath their pregnant abdomen like at the hipline just like normal. And I think some people think — well if the airbag deploys — that would harm the unborn child. That is really not true,” according to Trusty.

She says the message for mothers is to buckle up.

(as she says)”The safest thing that you can do to protect yourself and your unborn child is to wear a seatbelt. That’s the best way you can reduce injury and prevent being thrown from the vehicle,” she says.

Trusty says the deaths among mothers with newborns are likely because they got busy and didn’t buckle up.

(as she says)”Maybe the baby is crying — so whoever is driving pulls over — the mom gets into the back seat to attend to the baby and they take off without her being restrained. Unfortunately then if there is a crash or rollover, then she is thrown from the vehicle.”

Trusty says they are partnering with the Department of Transportation, Zero Fatalities, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau and Safe Kids Iowa in a statewide social media campaign

(as she says)”Targeting young women to help more of them understand how important it is to buckle up every time they get into a vehicle, whether they are driving or riding in the car,” Trusty says. “We are also getting a brochure out to health care professionals encouraging them to talk to every pregnant woman about seatbelt safety during pregnancy.”

Trusty says it’s the nature of a mother to think about their kids first — but they can’t forget their own safety.

(as she says)”Sometimes moms put themselves last — and it’s equally important that they are buckled up,” she says.

The program targeted at mothers runs through September 30th. Trust says everyone is reminded to always use seat belts when driving or riding in a vehicle.

Sioux City, Iowa — A man who conspired to distribute methamphetamine in northwest Iowa has been sentenced to more than 10 years in federal prison.

According to the US Attorney’s office, 50-year-old Juan Lopez-Zuniga of Denison was convicted by a jury earlier this year after a three-day trial in federal court, of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The verdict was returned following about three hours of jury deliberations.

The US Attorney’s office reports that the evidence at trial showed that Lopez-Zuniga was involved in a conspiracy that distributed more than 500 grams of methamphetamine from October 2015 through September 2016, from the Denison area. Evidence showed that Lopez-Zuniga conducted runs from Denison, right through our area — to Worthington, Minnesota — delivering half-pound quantities of methamphetamine to a co-conspirator for further re-distribution in Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota. Lopez-Zuniga would then return to Denison with the proceeds of drug sales.

United States District Court Chief Judge Leonard T. Strand sentenced Lopez-Zuniga to 127 months’ imprisonment. (That’s a little over ten and a half years.) He must also serve a 5-year term of supervised release after his release from prison. There is no parole in the federal system.

July 1, 2020 - 4:15 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — The end of June means the end of peak tornado season in our area. Twisters can strike during any month but they’re typically the worst here during May and June. Warning Coordination Meteorologist Peter Rogers at the Sioux Falls office of the National Weather Service, says it’s been a very quiet season for tornadoes in their county warning area, which is roughly from Sioux City north to Brookings South Dakota, and from Chamberlain, South Dakota east to Jackson, Minnesota.

Conditions simply haven’t been conducive for many tornadoes this season. Rogers reminds folks not to get complacent as severe weather, including tornadoes, can develop anytime. We asked him if the calm severe weather season is an indicator of things to come, or if it means that we could still see a lot of severe weather.

According to Rogers, the National Weather Service encourages people to have more than one way of receiving warnings, and not to just rely on your cell phone, as all systems are capable of failure. He says having more than one way to receive warnings also ensures that you can take cover as quickly as possible.

Rogers says warm and humid conditions will persist into the 4th of July weekend.

For more information, check kiwaradio.com/weather or weather.gov/SiouxFalls, or stay tuned to KIWA Radio.

Statewide Iowa — A survey finds Iowa’s economy is slowly recovering from the pandemic, but the state is lagging behind the Midwest overall in clawing back from widespread shut-downs and job losses.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says their survey of business owners across the nine-state region found a Business Conditions Index of 50-point-three, where 50 is considered “growth neutral” on the zero-to-100 scale.

(As above) “It’s a good number,” Goss says. “It makes us feel a little bit better, but it certainly indicates there are many, many, many challenges and we’ll have to see many, many more months of above-growth neutral readings to get back to pre-COVID-19 levels.” 

Iowa’s economy is still below growth neutral at around 47 for June, an improvement from just 42 in May. The Jobs Index for the Midwest is also still in negative territory, he says. Again, using the zero-to-100 scale, that indicator fell to just 39 during June.

(As above) “Even with the numbers at least moving above April’s record low reading, we’re still down about 1.2 million jobs in the region,” Goss says. “In most of the states, we’re hovering around 9% loss of jobs since COVID-19.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, Goss says Iowa has lost 161-thousand jobs, or about 10-percent of its employment. He says the surveys point to a flattening of employment with only slight job gains in Iowa in the months ahead. The Creighton survey found more than half (51%) of businesses surveyed plan to make -no- staffing changes for the rest of 2020.

(As above) “Seventeen percent of the businesses and manufacturers said they would bring back furloughed workers,” Goss says. “Twenty-six percent said they’d bring back furloughed workers -and- make new hires, and six-percent indicated they would continue layoffs, so that’s the bad news.”

Goss says a survey of bankers estimated farmland prices fell by four-percent in the past year and they expect those prices to fall by another three-point-two percent over the coming year. About one-fifth of bank CEOs surveyed expect low farm income and falling farmland prices to present the greatest challenge to banking operations over the next five years.

Statewide Iowa — New state guidelines for reopening Iowa schools this fall say face coverings should be allowed, but not required.

Mike Beranek, president of the Iowa State Education Association — the state teacher’s union, says that doesn’t make sense.

(as said) “With the explosion of cases being identified in various parts of our country, I simply cannot understand why we, as a state, would not recommend PPE for our staff and our students,” he says.

Beranek is urging local school boards and administrators to not only require face coverings but to ensure there’s adequate physical separation of students inside classrooms.

(as said) “When you have a classroom of 28-40 students, that will be incredibly difficult to maintain the safety protocols that are established by the CDC,” he says.

Districts may set their own rules, but state officials say parents must be notified if district standards are stricter than the state guidelines. The Iowa Department of Education recommends against screening students and staff as they arrive at school as people can be sick without having a fever. Beranek, a third-grade teacher in West Des Moines, says these state guidelines are deeply disappointing.

(as said) “I truly believe that there will be districts around our state that will do the right thing,” Beranek says. “As a state that believes in local control, now is the time for our local communities to work together to ensure that not only are students learning and growing, but they’re also safe and healthy.”

Students who are medically fragile or who have specific medical needs will be allowed to stay home. The Department of Education’s guidance encourages schools to teach students not to criticize the choice of wearing or NOT wearing a mask.

Governor Kim Reynolds says school officials who choose to mandate that everyone in a school building must wear face masks must seriously consider how to implement the policy.

(as said) “What type of a face covering will be allowed?” Reynolds asks. “…Who will be responsible for providing the face coverings and take the measures to ensure that they’re sanitary? Who will be responsible for tracking the appropriate use and storage of a face covering?”

Newly posted guidelines from the Iowa Department of Education have a list of considerations about face masks and the governor says schools must define what appropriate use means.

(as said) “What do you do during lunch? Naptime?…The other thing the CDC states is that cloth-based coverings should be washed after every use and it’s important to always remove face coverings correctly and wash your hands after handling,” Reynolds says, “so this is really important and it becomes problematic.”

Reynolds says the state’s epidemiologists help the state’s education department develop its “broad guidance” to schools about how to safely resume classes this fall in the midst of a pandemic. A mandatory face masking policy has what the agency calls “considerable implications”

Iowa school districts were to have submitted “Return to Learn” plans to the state by this Wednesday. The plans must include three components, outlining the option of in-person instruction in a classroom, an online-only option, and a third option that’s a hybrid of meeting inside the school building and taking classes online.