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Rock Rapids, Iowa — No ribbon was cut on Tuesday — instead, commemorative glasses of water were used to toast those involved with bringing Lewis & Clark Water System water to the first Iowa community — Rock Rapids.

Lewis & Clark Executive Director Troy Larson says that Rock Rapids’ history with Lewis & Clark started when the system was just getting organized. However, on a 2 to 1 vote of the Rock Rapids Utility Board, Rock Rapids left the system in the early days. Years later, after the route had been planned, Rock Rapids Utility Board members decided they wanted back in. Rock Rapids Utility General Manager Jim Hoye says since the community joined late, Rock Rapids was not eligible to have the pipe coming directly to the town and had to take delivery of the water from points along the main line. Rock Rapids’ connection to the system is north of Lester on the state line.

Hoye says years ago, their customer, Lyon & Sioux Rural Water was making a connection between a water tower six miles west of Rock Rapids and the city of Lester. He says Rock Rapids heard about that and paid to have that line upgraded so they could also use it for the Lewis & Clark connection. Last year contractors working for Rock Rapids Municipal Utilities completed a million-dollar project to install six miles of 10-inch plastic pipe from Rock Rapids’ water treatment plant north of town to the Lyon & Sioux tower. A $500,000 Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture helped pay for the project.

When the Grand Falls Casino Resort was being built on the state line northwest of Larchwood, they needed a good water supply. Rock Rapids Municipal Utilities used their membership with Lewis & Clark to help out the casino resort. Rock Rapids gets the water from the Lewis & Clark main near the casino and sells it to Lyon & Sioux Rural Water, who then sells it to the casino and hotel. So in one way, Rock Rapids Municipal Utilities has been hooked up to Lewis & Clark since that connection went live in 2011. But the businesses, industry, and citizens of Rock Rapids have only recently been able to use Lewis & Clark water. Larson says that happened last October.

Larson says while they are happy that Rock Rapids is now fully connected . . .


He says that Rock Rapids water is a mixture of Lewis & Clark water and water from Rock Rapids’ wells, so they wanted to make sure they got the mix correct before scheduling the ceremony. He says they wanted to do it in the spring, but with the winter weather hanging on as long as it did, they had to wait until now.

Rock Rapids Economic Development Director Micah Freese says people may not realize the impact of this connection.


Larson says they hope to hold two more of these celebrations in 2018, one for Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water’s connection near Adrian, Minnesota and one for the city of Worthington.

He says that next for the Iowa part of the system is installing the pipe from Beresford, South Dakota to Sioux Center.


He says they’ll have enough money to do 50 to 60 percent of that this time. Larson says that once Sioux Center is connected, Hull will receive water too, as there’s already a line between Sioux Center and Hull. He says it is their hope to have Sioux Center and Hull connected in the next three to four years, depending on funding levels. And the line to Sheldon from Hull will be constructed after that.

He says this fiscal year, they received around $15 million from the federal government. He says that’s a lot better than the around $9 million per year they had been receiving — and that if that funding level continues, that could accelerate the timeline for Sioux Center, Hull, and Sheldon.

Larson says Sibley is the last Iowa community scheduled to receive water. (With Madison, South Dakota being the last community in the entire system to be connected) That’s the bad news. But …


Larson says that the meter building north of Lester was also named on Tuesday in honor of Rock Rapids Municipal Utilities manager Jim Hoye, who he says was instrumental in the decision for Rock Rapids to re-join the system.

June 19, 2018 - 10:11 am - Posted in News

ASHTON, IA – Due to excessive flooding that occurred on Friday, June 15, the Ashton, IA Post Office has been temporarily closed until repairs can be made.

No employees or customers were in or near the facility at the time of the incident.

Retail and Post Office Box mail operations will be temporarily relocated to the Sibley Post Office located at 412 9th Street. Retail window hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM and Saturday 8:30 AM to 9:300 AM. Post Office Box customers will be able to collect their mail from the window with photo ID until Centralized Box Units (CBUs) are installed in front of the Ashton facility this week.

There are no delivery routes based out of the Ashton facility. The blue collection boxes outside of the Ashton Post Office will remain in service for outgoing mail.

All mail was retrieved from the facility for Post Office Box customers to pick up without known damage.

The Ashton Post Office is a leased facility not owned by the Postal Service.

The Postal Service will do everything possible to continue providing uninterrupted service to the community while emphasizing the safety of our employees and customers as our first priority. At this time, it is unknown when services will resume at the Ashton facility.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

June 13, 2018 - 3:41 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — Law enforcement officers, EMS personnel, fire department personnnel, and 911 dispatchers from as far away as Woodbury County to the south, and Worthington, Minnesota to the north, are gathered at the Sibley-Ocheyedan High School in Sibley this week, taking training they pray they’ll never be called upon to use.

ALERRT, or Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, provides tools to better deal with an active shooter situation.

The Head Instructor, who is leading a team of instructors for this week’s training, is Sgt. Luke Fleener of the Webster County Sheriff’s Office in Ft. Dodge, and a certified ALERRT trainer. He says the training program traces it’s roots back to the days following the Columbine school shooting in Colorado.

He says the training has evolved over time, adjusting to the lessons learned with each new mass shooting incident.

Sgt. Fleener says it used to be that there was considered a hot zone, and a cold zone. The hot zone being the building in which the shooter was operating, while the cold zone being the safer area outside, where medical crews were forced to wait to get in to treat the wounded.

The portion of the ALERRT Training program being covered this week in Sibley is called AAIR, which stands for Active Attack Integrated Response, and Fleener says it’s designed to get law enforcement, 911 dispatchers, EMS and fire personnel all operating from the same page of the same playbook, should the worst case scenario come to pass.

The cost of the ALERRT Training is paid for by the federal government, and there is no charge for any emergency personnel, or their department, for the training.

This week’s ALERRT Training is taking place Wednesday and Thursday at the Sibley-Ocheyedan High School.

Above photo: Sgt. Luke Fleener (left) poses with part of his ALERRT Instructor Team

You can view more photos from Wednesday’s training session by CLICKING HERE.

June 12, 2018 - 4:00 pm - Posted in News

Harris, Iowa — A 64-year old Lake Park man and his 13-year old passenger were injured in a single-vehicle crash early Monday afternoon near Harris.

According to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occured about 1:40 Monday afternoon when a 1989 Ford Ranger pickup, driven by 64-year old David Hansen, of Lake Park, was eastbound on 130th Street. Deputies say the right side wheels of the truck dropped off the roadway, and when Hansen over-corrected, he lost control, with the truck entering the north ditch and rolled, coming to rest on it’s top.

Authorities say Hansen, and a passenger, 13-year old Ethan Nelson, of Lake Park, were both transported to the Osceola Community Hospital in Sibley by the Osceola County Ambulance.

Deputies say Hansen was cited for Failure to Maintain Control. The pickup was termed a total loss.

June 1, 2018 - 9:14 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — An alert Osceola County dispatcher helped avert a potential tragedy on his way home from work Thursday.

According to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, one of their dispatchers, Rene Miranda, was on his way home from work after finishing his 4:00 to midnight shift in the Osceola County Communications Center when he observed smoke,  and a house that was on fire in the 700 block of 3rd Street in Sibley.

Officials say Miranda discovered the blaze shortly after midnight, and notified Sibley Fire/Rescue. The Sheriff’s Office says Miranda then roused a sleepy occupant inside the burning residence. Authorities say the occupant then used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire.

Officials say they believe that the fire started in a tin receptacle for cigarettes, spread to a lawn chair and then to the siding of the house. The tin receptacle and lawn chair were located on an outside deck.

Thanks to Miranda’s quick action, the fire was extinguished before the home was heavily damaged, and before anyone was injured.

Ocheyedan, Iowa — A state senator who left the Republican Party in 2016 to protest Donald Trump being the GOP’s presidential nominee has ended his bid for reelection in November.

David Johnson of Ocheyedan was the only independent in the state legislature for the past two years. Johnson announced in December he would run as an independent and seek another term in the senate.

Three Republicans are running in Tuesday’s Primary for Johnson’s spot in the state senate. He’s been a legislator for nearly two decades but, as an independent, he faced a tough run for another senate term in the northwest Iowa district where Republicans far outnumber both independents and Democrats. Johnson had a long history in the Republican Party before he left it nearly two years ago. His father was a Republican candidate for governor in 1968. Johnson hints he’ll be back at the statehouse next year.

There are more than 20-thousand Republicans, about 13-thousand independents and 73-hundred Democrats in the district Johnson has represented. There is no Democratic candidate in the Senate District One, but a Democrat could be nominated by convention before the ballot deadline in August.

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Original Story posted May 31, 2018 – 12:31pm

Ocheyedan, Iowa — Iowa Senator David Johnson will not seek reelection this fall, according to published reports.

In 2016, Johnson, who was a Republican at that time, resigned from the Republican party when Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican Presidential nomination. At that time, Johnson changed his registration from Republican to Independent.

Since resigning from the Republican party, Johnson has had difficulties landing committee slots. Coincidentally, Johnson’s Senate District is the single most Republican district in the state. He serves the 1st District, which is comprised of Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Clay, and Palo Alto counties.

Three Republicans will have their names on the ballot for this coming Tuesday’s pimary election for Senate District 1, the seat currently held by Johnson. They are: Jesse Wolfe, of Emmetsburg; Zach Whiting, of Spirit Lake; and Brad Price, of Spirit Lake.

KIWA has reached out to Senator Johnson for comment, and will bring his comments to you once he returns our call.

May 25, 2018 - 5:13 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Memorial Day will be observed in the United States on Monday, May 28th.

Originally called “Decoration Day”, and celebrated on May 30th, the day was created to honor Civil War dead. It has since been expanded to honor all veterans who have died in service to the United States, and Memorial Day is now observed on the last Monday of May.

In addition to national observances, many local communities will hold Memorial Day services and events in northwest Iowa.

Ashton:

The Ashton Memorial Day events begin with coffee and rolls from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Ashton Legion Community Center downtown. After that, they’ll have the Memorial Day Service at 9:30, followed by the cemetery service at 10:30. Immediately following the cemetery service, at around 11:00 a.m., they’ll have the Memorial Day Dinner at the Legion Community Center. They’ll serve until around 1 p.m. The meal will consist of pork loin sandwiches, hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad, chips, ice cream, and beverages.

Ocheyedan:

In Ocheyedan, their Memorial Day service starts at 9:45 a.m. at the Ocheyedan Township Cemetery. The address will be given by Pastor Bill Vander Heide. After the service, coffee and doughnuts will be available for a freewill donation. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, the service will be in the Ocheyedan Town Hall.

Sibley:

The Sibley Memorial Day Service will be at Holman Township Cemetery. It will begin at 11:00 a.m.

 

May 24, 2018 - 2:46 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — A surprise luncheon was held Thursday noon at the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office in Sibley, to honor the 30th anniversary of Chief Deputy Kevin Wollmuth’s employment at the Sheriff’s Office.

Following the luncheon, Wollmuth sat down with KIWA’s Tom Traughber to reminisce a bit about his 30-year career with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office.

We asked Chief Deputy Wollmuth about the biggest changes he’s seen over the past 30-years. The two things he mentioned were technology, and the types of crimes the department deals with.

We asked him what sparked his interest in a law enforcement career.

Wollmuth had high praise for the people with whom he has worked over the past 30-years.

The 51-year old Wollmuth stressed that the celebration was just for his 30th anniversary, and he has no plans for retirement any time soon.

During the luncheon, Wollmuth reminisced about what he considers the strangest call he’s gotten in his 30-year career.  He said it was the day when the dispatcher called him and sent him to check out the report of a boa constrictor slithering down a Sibley street. He responded to the call, even though he says he knew there were no boa constrictors in Sibley, Iowa. A few minutes later, Wollumth said he radioed the dispatcher and apologized for doubting her, after he had, indeed, located the boa constrictor.

May 22, 2018 - 3:29 pm - Posted in News

The Community Bloodbank Bloodmobile will be visiting Sibley tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Osceola Community Hospital.

Community Blood Bank Executive Director Ken Versteeg says the Sibley visit is the blood bank’s big push heading into the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Versteeg says the Memorial Day holiday marks the first holiday of summer, and the demand for blood increases.

He says most anyone can donate blood, but there are a few requirements to keep in mind.

Versteeg added that you can only donate blood once every 56 days. He says donation is a simple process that doesn’t take up much of your time.

You can drop in any time Wednesday from 10 am to 1 pm, and 2:30 to 5 pm, or if you’d prefer to call for an appointment you can all the Osceola Community Hospital Lab at 712-754-2574.

The Community Blood Bank is the SOLE provider of blood and blood products to the Osceola Community Hospital, as well as most other hospitals in northwest Iowa.

Sibley, Iowa — Three Osceola County organizations have received a part of a $1.6 million bequest by a pair of farming brothers from rural Sibley.

Nick Schmalen, director of the Osceola County Conservation Board, tells us about what they received from the estate of George and Cecil Loof (pronounced “Loaf”).


According to dollarsanddirt.com, the average price for farmland in Osceola County is $9,069 per acre. If it were to bring that price, the land would be worth over $2.1 million by itself.

Schmalen tells us about the land.


He says what the conservation board will do with the money is, for the most part, undetermined at this point.


He tells us how the Conservation Board feels about the gift.


Ben Davis, CEO of Osceola Community Hospital in Sibley says their facility received $656,000 from the Loof estate.

Davis says they wish to thank the Loof brothers and their estate for the gift. He says those at the hospital are, “…truly blessed to have people in our community that believe in healthcare. …Generous gifts like this… assure the long-term viability of healthcare. We want to thank them for the confidence, trust, and belief placed in us.”

Osceola Community Hospital Director of Marketing Becky Krogman says it has not yet been determined for what purpose or purposes the money will be used. She says the Osceola Community Hospital Board will make those decisions.

A Sibley church was also given about $492,000 by the Loof estate. First Presbyterian Church leaders say the brothers were not members of the church.