Statewide Iowa — You may’ve heard the buzz about the mass return of the insect known as the cicada after 17 years in the ground. Iowa State Entomologist, Donald Lewis, says the emergence will be from Indiana to the east coast.  Iowa has to wait until 2031 for the periodical cicada to return.

Thousand of periodical cicadas emerge at one time and cover trees and other objects. Lewis says there is an annual cicada that we will soon see here.

He says you may also find the old shell of the cicada around the yard.

They then fly around until it is time to go back underground. There are not as many of the annual cicadas. Lewis says the purpose of the insects isn’t exactly known.

He says the periodical cicadas are about three-quarters of an inch long. Lewis says a raccoon or bear or some other animal may eat cicadas — but they are too big for most predators to eat. While they may seem imposing — Lewis says cicadas are harmless to humans.

If you want to see the mass emergence of the 17-year cicada, you’ll have to head east to Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and some coastal states. The nymphs surface during late May and June.

Washington, D.C. — Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is among several members of Congress asking the US Army Corps of Engineers to make flood control its priority in managing the Missouri River.

Grassley notes that it’s not the first time he’s asked the Corps to make the change, but he’s optimistic he’ll be heard this time.

Grassley, a Republican, joined the bipartisan group representing Iowa and three other states in signing a letter to the Corps this week. The federal agency’s failure to prioritize flood control in the past is being called a “real problem” by the lawmakers, as the waterway is a vital resource.

The letter encourages the Corps to simply follow federal law with the Missouri River as outlined in the Water Resources Development Act.

Congresswoman Cindy Axne, a Democrat, and Republican Senator Joni Ernst also signed the letter. On Wednesday, the southwest Iowa town of Hamburg, which was hit hard by Missouri River flooding in 2019, held a groundbreaking ceremony for a major project that will raise the levee eight feet.

Statewide Iowa — Pandemic restrictions are being relaxed in some areas after more than a year, and optimistic Iowans are responding by planning summer vacations to destinations near and far.

Hamilton County Public Health director Shelby Kroona says to do your homework first and make certain visitors are being accepted before you buy plane tickets.

Even some places in the US aren’t exactly safe from COVID-19, as she notes Oregon is experiencing a spike in cases at the moment.

No matter where you’re planning to go, researching options in advance is key and Kroona says the Centers for Disease Control is a good clearinghouse.

For domestic vacations, even getaways to other parts of Iowa, she says smart travelers will familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations before venturing forth.

It was announced this past week that Broadway theaters in New York will reopen in September to 100-percent capacity since being closed over a year ago. All of the COVID travel facts can be found at

Orange City, Iowa — A professor of accounting at Northwestern College, has been named the 2021 recipient of the Northwestern Teaching Excellence Award.

Vonda Post was honored during the college’s commencement ceremony on Saturday morning (May 8th).

The award is administered by a selection committee made up of Student Government Association members and Honors Program students. The committee chose Ross Bouma, instructor in kinesiology, and Dr. Chris Nonhof, assistant professor of education and English, as finalists along with Post.

The major factor used in selecting the award winner is evidence of strong teaching ability, according to Northwestern officials. The committee looks at faculty vitae, service reports and course evaluations in addition to the comments of nominators.

Post joined Northwestern’s business and economics faculty in 1992 after having served as the college’s comptroller and having earned a master’s degree in accounting from the University of South Dakota. The 1988 Northwestern College graduate is a CPA with experience in both public and private accounting.

Northwest Iowa — We had some early planting in northwest Iowa and in some areas we’ve had some rain and then some sub-freezing temperatures. But an expert thinks for the most part, planted crops are going to be OK.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Crop Specialist Joel De Jong tells us what he thinks.

He says there might be another issue though. Moisture.

De Jong says, surprisingly, subsoil moisture is not as low as you might think in most places. But Osceola County is pretty dry under the topsoil.

So, as far as subsoil moisture levels, De Jong says he’s cautiously optomistic. But, he says, we really need some rain to help the seeds and new plants.

Sioux County, Iowa — This is graduation weekend for the seniors at Dordt University and Northwestern College, and many students are receiving their degrees.

At Dordt University in Sioux Center, the commencement ceremony recognizing the class of 2021 graduates was on Friday, May 7. More than 360 students were listed in the commencement program, many of whom were present to walk across the auditorium stage to receive their diploma. Dr. David Mulder, professor of education, delivered the commencement speech.

If you missed the ceremony or want to watch it again, you can click here.

At Northwestern College in Orange City, they are awarding degrees to 377 students during their annual commencement ceremony this Saturday, May 8. Master of Education degrees are being presented to 129 students; another 219 are receiving Bachelor of Arts degrees; and 29, Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees.

An additional three students are receiving certificates of completion as graduates of the Northwestern NEXT program, a two-year campus life and learning experience for 18- to 22-year-olds with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Because of COVID-19, Northwestern’s commencement is being held in the Rowenhorst Student Center. Tickets and masks are required, and seating is limited to allow for physical distancing between attendees.

Commencement will begin at 10 a.m. this Saturday, May 8. Glenn Van Ekeren, the president of Vetter Health Services, will give the commencement address. You can watch it via live stream by clicking here. For more information click here.

Meanwhile, Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon will have their commencement exercises next week Saturday, May 14th.

May 7, 2021 - 2:07 pm - Posted in News

Orange City, Iowa (OCBTC) — Vogel Bancshares, Inc operating as Iowa State Bank, has announced that they have entered into an agreement under which Vogel Bancshares, Inc Will acquire Melvin Savings Bank from Benz Holding Co. Melvin Savings Bank will be merged with and into Iowa State Bank.

Melvin Savings Bank operates two offices in Melvin and Sibley. The merger will expand Iowa State Bank’s service area in Northwest Iowa.

The merger is anticipated to close during the third quarter of this year, pending the receipt of regulatory approval.

Iowa State Bank is a locally owned financial institution with a rich history in NW Iowa that dates back to 1879. With over $700 million in assets, Iowa State Bank currently has offices located in the communities of Hull, Ireton, Le Mars, Orange City, Paullina, Remsen, Sanborn, and Sheldon. For more information about Iowa State Bank, visit

Story from our news partner, O’Brien County’s Bell-Times-Courier

Orange City, Iowa — Last-minute preparations continue in Orange City for the first Tulip Festival since 2019. The annual festival was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Orange City Tulip Festival Marketing Manager Jenon Scallon says they’re getting ready to make the poffertjes, Dutch letters, and saucijsjes and get the streets scrubbed for the arrival of the Tulip Queen. She says the volunteers and prospective visitors seem to be even more excited than normal.

It was even more of a bummer last year than it would otherwise have been for a Tulip Festival to be canceled, as the festival was to have been the 80th Tulip Festival. Scallon says that this year will, instead, be the 80th.

Speaking of the parade, Scallon says to watch for their new Tulip Festival float this year. She tells us some other events and attractions to which people can look forward.

Scallon tells us that the actors started preparing for this show in 2020, but, of course, could not perform it. She says some people were not able to take part, so some roles had to be re-cast, but the majority of the people performing are the ones who you would have seen, had there been a Night Show in 2020.

She says the persistence of COVID has forced a limited number of changes.

The Orange City Tulip Festival starts with a ride night and car show on Wednesday, May 12th, and starts in earnest on Thursday, May 13th. It runs through Saturday, May 15th. Find more information on the festival website.

Northwest Iowa — Each May the Iowa Association of School Boards invites Iowans to honor and recognize school board members. This month is a designated time to show support for your local school board.

Association officials say the 2021 theme is “School Boards: Leading Through Uncharted Waters.”

Association officials say that over the past year, leadership at the board table has come with challenges and decisions no one could have anticipated. School boards have made tough choices that impact the health and safety of students, staff, and the school community, while continuing to prioritize student achievement and educational equity. They say that in a normal year, these unpaid volunteers “work diligently to ensure schools provide the best education possible for Iowa’s future citizens.” They say, “In 2020, they’ve persevered and led through uncharted waters to make critical decisions without even a map to navigate these challenges.”

At Sheldon Community Schools, administrative staff says school board members are honored on posters and are acknowledged in school as well as at the May Board of Education Meeting.

At George-Little Rock, Superintendent Tom Luxford says they will provide certificates for the board members at the May meeting. They’ll also have a meat & cheese tray, and will be thanked as a group. Luxford says, “It’s been a great year. It’s nice to have been in school. I appreciate the board members.”

At MOC/Floyd Valley, Superintendent Russ Adams says their board members are honored with a supper and a certificate.

At Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn and Sibley-Ocheyedan, board members will be recognized with a certificate of gratitude at their May meetings.

South O’Brien Schools Superintendent Wade Rieley says their school board members will also be recognized with a certificate at their May meeting. He says there will also be a meat and cheese tray. They will also have a work session, and supper will be provided for the school board members during that session.

At Central Lyon and Rock Valley, they will also be recognizing their boards at their May meetings.

Other districts around northwest Iowa are honoring their school boards in various ways.

The Iowa Association of School Boards says that while school board members are elected by the community, they serve as unpaid navigators who help students set sail by devoting their time to monthly meetings, reviewing board materials, communicating with citizens, exploring learning opportunities, and attending school functions and activities. They say that most importantly, school board members have made tough choices that impact the health and safety of students, staff, and the school community, while continuing to prioritize student achievement and educational equity.

Statewide Iowa — The American Heart Association says progress has been made in stopping kids from smoking and vaping — but there is still a lot of work to do.

The Association’s Jeff Willett says there was good news on the topic.

Willett talked during an online presentation about the challenges they still face.

He says flavors were banned in reusable electronic cigarettes — but there is a loophole for single-use e-cigarettes — and they have seen a one-thousand percent increase nationwide in the use of disposable e-cigarettes by high school students, and a 500 percent increase in the use by middle school students. And he cited one company that is trying another approach for its e-cigarette.

Willett says they believe the reduction in the use of e-cigarettes could be linked publicity about the lung disease caused by the practice, and the federal change raising the age for using them to 21.

Willett says there has been some recent good news from the FDA.

Willet was part of an update Wednesday designed to give schools updated information on the issues surrounding tobacco and e-cigarette use.