October 16, 2021 - 7:01 pm - Posted in News


Statewide Iowa — There’s a potential for frost in some areas of the state, but State Climatologist Justin Glisan says that’s been a rare occurrence so for this fall.

Frost happens when temperatures get down to 32 degrees, and the killing frost that ends the growing season happens at 28 degrees.

Glisan says we usually see more of the light frost this time of year.

He says the setup over the midwest has kept things warm. Glisan says the forecast doesn’t show any signs of the potential for the hard freeze — though parts of the state are in the time frame where that normally happens.

Farmers worry about an early frost ending the growing season before the crops can mature. Glisan says that hasn’t happened this year — gardeners are getting a bonus. He says you can keep getting your fresh veggies for a while.

October 16, 2021 - 5:39 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — The state panel which estimates the amount of money the state will take in now has the final numbers for the state fiscal year completed in June.

Holly Lyons of the Legislative Services Agency is one of three members of the Revenue Estimating Conference.

She details some of the numbers.

She says federal money helped the economy that had dropped during the pandemic in the previous year.

Lyons says the state is facing a lot of “headwinds” in the new fiscal year, including inflation, interest rates, and the worker shortage.

The other two members of the panel issued the same cautions as the state continues through the new fiscal year.

October 16, 2021 - 5:12 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — Fall leaves are beautiful – until they pile up in your yard. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says don’t send those precious nutrients up in smoke. Instead, put those nuisance leaf piles to good use.Leaves, small branches and other landscape materials can nourish your lawn, garden or community. It’s easy:

Compost. Composting leaves and food scraps is a great way to turn this waste into garden nutrients. A good compost mix needs both carbon (dead or dry leaves) and nitrogen (green materials like food scraps and grass clippings). Many types and sizes of compost containers are available. For tips on low-tech ways to compost, see a DNR tutorial.

Mulch. Your lawn will love you if you chop up and leave your leaves in place. Leaves are a free, natural fertilizer that enriches your soil with organic matter. You can use your regular lawn mower. Or, use a mulching lawn mower to shred and mix leaves and grass into your yard.

Bag it. If you have too many leaves or branches to compost, check with your community to see if they collect yard waste or have a drop-off site. Sometimes there’s a fee, but the upside is that anyone can pick up composted materials for their yards or gardens.

For some, burning leaves seems to capture the nostalgic smell of autumn. But breathing leaf smoke pulls pollutants such as carbon monoxide, soot and toxic chemicals into your lungs. While it may smell good, smoke is especially harmful to children, the elderly, and those with respiratory or heart problems. Turning leaves into nutrients is the healthy way to protect your and your neighbor’s lungs, according to the DNR.

October 15, 2021 - 4:01 pm - Posted in News

Sioux Center, Iowa — Safe family interactions. That’s the idea behind a proposed center which is to be run by the Family Crisis Centers in Sioux Center.

The new center is planned to provide a location for safe, supervised visits and exchanges for children and their families going through complicated family situations including domestic violence, divorce, and substance abuse. Plans are to create this new center by renovating a portion of the building where the Family Crisis Centers have offices.

According to Family Crisis Centers executive director Shari Kastein, there are no such facilities in the state of Iowa. Kastein tells us there are certain federal requirements that need to be met in order to have this type of center and the existing building meets the criteria. She says exchanges currently take place at public locations such as gas stations, restaurants, and even public libraries. The Family Visitation Center would offer a location with security in place and the ability to allow different members of the family to visit with a child without interacting with each other, avoiding potential conflict. Kastein says this center would focus on serving Sioux County families.

Kastein says estimated startup costs are over a million dollars. She asked for financial assistance from the Sioux County Board of Supervisors when they met this week. The board told County Auditor Ryan Dokter to look into federal COVID-relief funding that the county is receiving through the American Rescue Plan and see if the project meets one of the allowable uses.

The Sioux Center City City Council has approved the City serving as the conduit for a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant application to help pay for this $1 million project. The council also unanimously approved a $100,000 contribution to help move the project forward.

Sioux Center City Manager Scott Wynja says that they see this facility as a huge benefit to the community of Sioux Center. He says it provides a safe and supervised exchange location for children and families, and it helps eliminate complicated situations for local law enforcement.

Kastein tells us Family Crisis Centers are also applying for another grant for operational costs called the Safe Haven Grant.

Statewide Iowa — A new Triple-A survey of first responders including police, fire and tow truck drivers, sheds new light on driving behaviors that have resulted in hundreds of deaths at the roadside.

According to the survey, more than 90% of first responders polled said they have had at least one near-miss incident or felt their life threatened – with 32% saying it happens ‘routinely’ – because motorists do not slow down or move over for those working along the roadside, despite the fact that Iowa law requires them to do so.

Triple-A Vice President Scott VerBracken urges Triple-A members and other motorists to give these first responders a break by slowing down and moving over.

VerBracken gave some sobering statistics about the number of tow truck drivers killed on the nation’s roadways.

The Triple-A First Responders Poll found that almost 70% of first responders say that, in their experience, motorists do NOT slow down and move over for those working along the side of the road. 60% say they do NOT feel more safe since the Move Over Law went into effect. More than 90% say they personally have been involved in a near-miss incident or had their life threatened because a motorist failed to move over, with more than 30% saying it happens routinely.

Iowa’s Move Over Law requires motorists to slow down and move over when they approach a vehicle with flashing lights OF ANY COLOR along the side of the roadway.


Tucson, Arizona — Decisions that could very well affect many church congregations in northwest Iowa are being made this weekend in Tucson, Arizona.

The Reformed Church in America’s (or RCA) General Synod meetings are going on through Tuesday. According to The most contentious issue is whether to allow gay clergy, according to Pastor Troy Van Beek, currently the transitional pastor at Rock Rapids First Reformed Church. But he says it’s more than that. It’s also about gay marriage. And in a much wider sense, he says he thinks many churches are re-evaluating what it means to be part of a denomination in the first place, and honestly, do they need to be part of a denomination to do the Lord’s work? Van Beek says the differences seem to be roughly regional, with the more conservative views around our area, and other views on the coasts, especially the east coast.

The most-anticipated business before this year’s synod is the Vision 2020 Team’s final report. The Vision 2020 Team process, initially slated for two years, has been drawn out over more than three years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Delegates from the churches of the RCA are spending time in discernment groups. The Vision 2020 Team is bringing three recommendations:

1. Appoint a restructuring team.
2. Form a new mission agency.
3. Provide for generous separation for churches and ministers that no longer want to be part of the RCA.

Related recommendations clarify the process of demission (or transfer) of ministers and whether the Church Growth Fund can loan money to churches that leave the RCA.

It is to be decided whether the denomination sides with those who support gay clergy or those who do not. The Vision 2020 report says, “We share a strong desire to be faithful to the Word of God, but we don’t know how to function when we differ on our interpretation of it.”

In other RCA news, Western Theological Seminary is proposing a change to its bylaws that would give it “affiliated” status with the RCA. The proposed change would allow for greater self-governance while maintaining ties with the denomination.

You can read the complete Vision 2020 Report here. And you can keep up with what’s happening here.

October 15, 2021 - 2:30 pm - Posted in News

Washington, D.C. — 4th District Representative Randy Feenstra, of Hull,  joined Iowa U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, a combat veteran and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, on a congressional delegation mission to Panama and Colombia over the past several days to meet with senior leaders in the countries to discuss challenges and opportunities in the region — particularly related to the United States’ southern border and other national security challenges. Feenstra and Ernst were joined by Michigan Representative Lisa McClain.

According to a press release from Congressman Feenstra’s office, while in Panama, Ernst, Feenstra, and McClain received an overview of U.S.-Panama relations and discussed Chinese influence in Panama, including maritime security and infrastructure investments. They also met with members of the National Assembly, as well as Foreign Minister Erika Mouynes and Director of Migration Samira Gozaine.

In addition, the delegation joined Panama’s Vice Minister of Public Security Ivor Pitti for an overflight of the Panama Canal, where they discussed economic impacts of the canal and Chinese attempts to purchase portions of the operation.

In Colombia, Ernst, Feenstra, and McClain met with the Colombian President, Members of the Colombian Congress, U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Philip Goldberg, and other embassy and Department of Defense officials.

The members held a roundtable with Colombian Migration Agency Director Juan Francisco Espinosa on the challenges presented by the over 9,000 migrants stranded in the country amid a surge of people passing through on their way to the U.S. southern border.

Following the roundtable, the members met with President of Colombia, Iván Duque, and his Ministers, including Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs Marta Lucía Ramírez.

The delegation also flew to a coca field and discussed U.S.-Colombian efforts to combat drug trafficking through eradication and efforts supporting economic development of rural Colombia, aiding transition away from a drug economy controlled by cartels into a rules-based model of economic development.

Des Moines, Iowa — A new report finds about one in every six Iowa kids is obese, which is on par with national figures.

Jamie Bussel is a senior program officer with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which released the annual State of Childhood Obesity report. That report studied obesity rates in children nationwide between the ages of ten and 17.

Bussel says we shouldn’t get too hung up on those national rankings.

The pandemic has forced many Iowa kids — and adults — to live a more sedentary lifestyle, and Bussel says it’s absolutely having an impact on our weight and our health.

The study suggests solutions which include making universal school meals permanent and broadening federal programs like WIC and others which are designed to pull families from poverty. See the full report at: https://stateofchildhoodobesity.org

Sheldon, Iowa — A program that gives electricity coop customers/members the opportunity to give donations through their rural electric cooperative has been good for a local facility for individuals with disabilities.

Village Northwest Unlimited in Sheldon has announced that it has received a generous gift from North West Rural Electric Cooperative’s member-owners.

North West REC provides energy and other valuable services to benefit their members and the communities they serve. This donation was part of North West REC’s “Operation Round-Up” program. They tell us that members of North West REC can choose to participate by rounding their bills up to the next dollar. The rounded-up amounts are placed into a trust and are used to support worthwhile community causes, non-profit organizations, and to be used to assist those who experience individual family disasters in the four-county area served by the REC, which includes Sioux, O’Brien, Plymouth, and Ida counties.

The Village’s President and CEO, Barry Whitsell, says, “North West REC and their members have always been faithful partners of the Village. The “Operation Round-Up” program is a creative way to support the Village and assist us to accomplish our mission of bringing Purpose, Privacy, and Dignity to those we serve. This donation will go toward the remodel of one of our homes on campus. We are grateful to Lyle Korver and his team for their commitment to supporting the Village.”

Village Northwest officials tell us their facility is nationally recognized as one of the premier providers of services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorder, or traumatic brain injuries.

Photo caption: Left, Ken Miller of Northwest REC. Right, Barry Whitsell of Village Northwest

Northwest Iowa — Sanford Health has announced that recently, additional doses of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were approved for immunocompromised individuals. As part of the vaccine rollout, more patients can now receive a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine, specifically.

According to the CDC, individuals 65 years and older are now eligible for a third dose. Adults with underlying health conditions, and those who work and live in high-risk settings are also eligible.

Jeffry Meyer, M.D., a Sanford Health family medicine specialist, said providers have been seeing more breakthrough cases — meaning individuals who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may still contract the illness. However, because of previous vaccinations, many of the cases “are quite mild.”

“But for some people who are at high risk, it could not be so mild. So, a booster shot would seem to help prevent that,” said Dr. Meyer. The majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated individuals, he added.

Dr. Meyer said Sanford Health has “plenty” of vaccine. He said there were some road bumps earlier in 2021 with vaccine availability, but the health care system is equipped to offer shots to any patient.

“We have multiple locations that patients can get it at. All of our clinics have it. Many of the pharmacies have it,” he said.

Sanford patients can contact their primary care provider to schedule an upcoming COVID-19 vaccine dose, or can do so through the My Sanford Chart app.