January 17, 2020 - 3:40 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — An area fire chief who is also a trainer for the State Fire Service Training Bureau says people need to remember to slow down and change lanes if possible when they come upon flashing lights on the side of the road — especially during rough conditions like we’ve been experiencing.

Sibley Fire Chief Ken Huls tells us more.

He says they’re finding that if they stop all traffic, it’s actually more hazardous. So they’re trying to clear the scene as quickly as possible and move stuff to the side of the road so that they don’t create more crashes. But that means people are going to have to remember the “move over law.” He gives us some reminders.

But, he says it can happen to EMS personnel, firefighters, and law enforcement too. Huls says not only should you make a lane change if it’s safe to do so, but you need to slow down as well. If you can’t move over due to traffic in the other lane, you need to slow way down for any flashing lights, including emergency personnel, tow operators, maintenance vehicles, utility trucks, and even private vehicles with their hazard lights on. And Huls says, “Put down the phone. They get people killed.”

Des Moines, Iowa — (RI) — Republican lawmakers are proposing an amendment to the Iowa Constitution, in response to Iowa court rulings that struck down abortion restrictions.

Republican Representative Steven Holt of Denison gave a loud Marine Corps “hoorah” on Tuesday when Governor Kim Reynolds mentioned it in her Condition of the State message.

A subcommittee in the Iowa Senate gave its approval Thursday to a proposed amendment that states Iowa’s Constitution does not “recognize, grant or secure a right to abortion.” Senator Jake Chapman, a Republican from Adel, says the amendment will over-rule the decisions of unelected judges.

If this year’s Republican-led legislature endorses the language, it must also be approved by the legislature sometime in the following two years. That means 2022 is the earliest Iowans could vote on the amendment. Chapman says there’s no way voters will not understand what’s being proposed.

Critics like Reverend David Sickelka of the United Church of Christ in Urbandale say the amendment would set a dangerous precedent.

Jamie Birch Elliott of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa also testified at Thursday’s statehouse hearing.

The proposal cleared the first hurdle in the legislative process. It will now be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa Legislature is getting ready to start work on the people’s business in Des Moines, and a representative from our area is in a leadership role.

According to Iowa House Republicans, District 1 State Representative, Republican John Wills from Spirit Lake has been elected Speaker Pro Tempore of the Iowa House of Representatives. Following his swearing-in, he delivered opening remarks for the 2020 session.

In his speech, Wills said that it is an honor to serve as Speaker Pro Tem. He thanked his constituents for the opportunity to serve them. Wills represents Lyon and Osceola counties and the northern two-thirds of Dickinson County, and has represented that area for the last five years.

Wills also thanked his wife and family for their support and for their “tremendous sacrifices.”

The Representative says he wants to work to accomplish goals in a “bipartisan fashion.” He also says he hopes for “government that is smaller and smarter.”

According to Wills, his goals are to “wisely spend the taxpayer’s dollar, provide efficiency of government services, advance our freedoms and liberties, and ensure our government works for the people, not the other way around.”

Statewide Iowa — Making sure kids are growing up at a healthy weight from their very first days is a critical way to prevent obesity among adults. Most kids entering adolescence with obesity will still have obesity as an adult, so starting early is key. The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) will be participating in a Learning Collaborative Partnership with the Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HPRC), along with other state and local health departments. All agencies will explore strategies to encourage healthy weight among children in their communities.

The project will include modeling two strategies related to helping children move more in school physical education classes and utilizing electronic decision support for pediatric medical providers to recognize and treat childhood obesity. As part of this project, IDPH will leverage existing policies and community-based efforts that help children be more active, eat well and grow up at healthy weight. IDPH partners in the project include the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Medical Society, Iowa Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Blank Children’s Hospital, Iowa Heathiest State Initiative and United Way of Central Iowa.

The Learning Collaborative Partnership (LCP) began in 2015 as part of the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost-Effectiveness Study (CHOICES) Project, one of the HPRC’s key projects. The CHOICES Project is working to help reverse the national obesity epidemic by identifying strategies to reduce childhood obesity that have strong evidence for effectiveness and offer the best value for the money invested.

Ames, Iowa — It’s been a difficult year for farmers, the planting season saw an overabundance of rain and delayed planting, the United States’ trade war with China persisted, skewing both commodity prices and demand, and farm bankruptcies rose to the highest level since 2011. However, favorable interest
rates, strong yields, and limited land supply combined to help drive Iowa’s farmland values up for only the second time in six years.

The statewide value of an acre of farmland is now estimated to be $7,432, which represents an increase of 2.3 percent, or $168, since 2018. The $7,432 per acre estimate, and 2.3 percent increase in value, represents a statewide average of low-, medium-, and high-quality farmland.

Once again this year northwest Iowa farmland is some of the most valuable in the state of Iowa. In fact, only one county reports land values higher than our four northwest Iowa counties of Lyon, Sioux, O’Brien and Osceola. Leading the way in Iowa is Scott County in far eastern Iowa, along the Mississippi River. Scott County’s average farmland value this year is $10,837 Second in the state is O’Brien County, with an average farmland value of $10,411 an acre, followed by Sioux County at $10,297, Lyon County at $9,451, and Osceola County at $9,119.

For more in-depth information on Iowa farmland values, CLICK HERE.

January 11, 2020 - 3:51 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The changes continue for the state’s highest court.  Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins has announced that he will retire on March 13th.

The 68-year-old Wiggins has been the Acting Chief Justice since the death of Chief Justice Mark Cady in November. Wiggins is a Chicago native who got his law degree in 1976 at Drake University in Des Moines. He began practicing at a West Des Moines law firm after graduation, and also served as chairperson of the Judicial Qualifications Commission from 2000 until he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2003.

The retirement of Wiggins will give Governor Kim Reynolds a chance to name a replacement. It will be the fourth justice she has appointed to the seven-member high court.

The Judicial Nominating Commission just sent three names to the governor to select a replacement for Justice Cady.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer was raised this week from nine to ten-percent. While that still means a devastating nine out of ten people who are diagnosed with that form of cancer won’t beat it, the single-percentage uptick represents significant progress.

Pam Anderson is one of the rare Iowa survivors, who volunteers with the Des Moines affiliate of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

The survival rate for pancreatic cancer remains the lowest of all cancers, but reaching the ten-percent milestone is quite encouraging, according to Anderson, who says people in her circle are overjoyed.

Statistics find about 580 Iowans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year and 430 of them will die from it. It’s the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States and it’s expected to become the second-leading cause of cancer death this year. Knowing she’s among the very fortunate few, Anderson says being a pancreatic cancer survivor has granted her a new perspective.

The fast-moving disease is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can be vague and are often ignored until it’s too late. They include abdominal pain and back pain, changes in stool, yellowing skin, weight loss, appetite loss, and a feeling of being full after only eating a little food.

For more information visit www.pancan.org.

Image courtesy of Radio Iowa.

January 10, 2020 - 3:48 pm - Posted in News

Spirit Lake, Iowa — Use caution if you’re going to be on the lakes enjoying winter activities like ice fishing this weekend. That’s from the Iowa DNR.

Mike Hawkins, Iowa DNR Fisheries Biologist says that ice conditions vary among northwest Iowa lakes, and are poorer south of our area.

But he says even around here, be prepared for ice conditions to vary, and test the ice in front of you.

Since West Lake Okoboji is a little more variable, he gives us some specifics.

He tells us no car or pickup traffic is safe at this time, and he’d even use extreme caution with ATVs. Hawkins says whenever you’re on the ice, carry your picks on a rope and always wear a life jacket or floatation device.

Caption: An example of what is NOT safe at this time, according to Hawkins.

Iowa Statewide — The manager of an Iowa auction company says the state is making it difficult for truckers to get much-needed hay into the state.

Trucks transporting hay, straw, or cornstalks are often overweight and Iowa requires a permit for any truckload of hay — which isn’t the case in other Midwest states. Dyersville Sales Company manager Dale Leslein tells K-C-R-G T-V the permits are making it difficult for him to get hay into his auction.

Leslein said truckers don’t want to pay for these permits. Even if they did, he said truckers are worried they’ll get cited for not having the correct permits. Leslein said it’s critical to get hay into the state because of a shortage.

A low supply of hay means the prices go up, and that is passed on to farmers at a time when dairy farmers have already been struggling. These overweight permits for hay, corn, and straw cost 25 dollars. That allows a truck to drive on state roads for an unlimited number of times in one year. To drive on county and some city roads, truckers have to purchase permits from those local governments, too. Iowa Department of Transportation Sergeant Neil Suckow tells K-C-R-G T-V the state has given truckers a break by charging 25 instead of 50 dollars for the permit — which is the price for all other overweight loads.

Suckow said the permits have requirements to promotes safety on the road.

Leslein isn’t sure how much longer his business and farms can last with the permits in place. He says the alfalfa issue isn’t going away quickly.

Leslein said a change would help farmers who are already hurting as they try to supply food.

A similar hay and straw auction exists in Rock Valley where they sell on average, 4500 loads per year.

Des Moines, Iowa — The medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health confirms the flu is spreading much faster than usual this season. Epidemiologist Dr. Caitlin Pedati says there were nearly 700 confirmed flu cases statewide through the end of December, compared to only about 150 a year ago.

Dr. Pedati says the state’s flu activity level is compiled by combining all sorts of data from a variety of sources.

At this point a year ago, one Iowan had died from flu complications, but this season, the number is far higher.

While January and February are typically the peak months, Iowa’s flu activity level is already at its highest point — widespread — but Pedati says there are still simple ways to protect yourself.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list Iowa among the 34 states where the spread of the flu this season is considered widespread. While the flu numbers are significantly higher this season compared to last year, Pedati notes this season is still tracking below the 2017-2018 season, which was particularly bad.