October 18, 2021 - 4:17 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Northwest Iowa fire departments were kept busy over the weekend.

On Friday afternoon, the Sibley firefighters were called out to 1371 Oak Hill Ave for a truck on fire, about 4:10 p.m. That’s about two miles west of Sibley and three and a quarter north. Fire Chief Ken Huls tells us it was an older pickup on fire in the middle of the farm yard. He says when firefighters arrived, the pickup was mostly destroyed. He says they put it out with water and foam. Huls says they’re not sure about the exact cause, but he thinks it was fuel-related. The 1980s era Chevy S10 was totaled in the blaze. Firefighters were on the scene for about a half an hour.
Then on Saturday evening there was another call for a truck on fire. This time it was a feed mixer truck near Maurice. Maurice Fire Chief Jeff Vander Weide tells us it was at 4763 Hickory Avenue, which is about two miles east and a half a mile south of Maurice. The call went out about 6:00 p.m. He says when they got there, they found the cab and engine compartment of the truck fully engulfed. He says they used firefighting foam to extinguish the fire, which was thought to be related to fuel, as the operator said when they got out they could smell diesel fuel. Vander Weide says it may have been a fuel leak that sprayed onto the engine. The truck was totaled in the blaze and firefighters were on the scene for 15-20 minutes.
Then on Sunday afternoon, the Granville firefighters were paged to a cornfield on fire at 4471 470th Street, which is about a mile south and a mile and a quarter west of Granville. The page went out about 2:30 p.m. Fire Chief Karl Kellen tells us that the field had been combined, so only the corn stubble burned. He says they got it put out with water from their trucks, but by the time they were about done, farmers started showing up with disks, and they helped make sure the fire was out and any fire would not spread. Kellen tells us that someone had been burning trash in the morning and the wind must have picked up enough in the afternoon to rekindle the fire and sparks blew into the field. He says 10 to 15 acres of stubble burned but they were able to stop the fire before it jumped the road into standing corn. Kellen tells us they asked for the help of the Hospers firefighters with their pump and roll pumper to get ahead of the fire. He says firefighters were on the scene for about an hour.
A little bit later on Sunday afternoon, the Hartley Fire Department was called out to a similar call, about 4:30 p.m.. Fire Chief Brad Meendering tells us the fire was at 2921 Vine Avenue, which is about two and three-quarter miles north of Hartley’s west side. Meendering says corn stubble was on fire, and they believe it too had been started by the re-kindling of a trash pile. The only difference is the people had last burned trash a few days before the fire. Meendering says about an acre of stubble burned. He says they extinguished the fire and were on the way back to town in about 20 minutes.

Statewide Iowa — Iowans are being warned to start their holiday shopping early due to shortages and long wait times for products, but now they’re also being warned to be careful how they’re going about finding gifts.

Bao Vang, spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau, says scammers are ready to take advantage, especially if you’re ordering something online.

Vang says the bureau’s Scam Tracker shows each person who fell victim to an online scam lost more than a hundred dollars on average.

Vang says consumers should protect themselves by doing their research, watching out for deals that appear too good to be true, and anytime you’re paying with a credit card. To report a scam, visit the BBB at BBB.org/scamtracker.

October 18, 2021 - 12:54 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — The number of new positive COVID tests in our four-county area during the past seven days is down, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

During the past week 126 new positives were reported in the four-county area of O’Brien, Sioux, Osceola and Lyon, compared to 156 for the week before. That amounts to about a 19% reduction. Sioux County reports 31, which is down 18 cases, while Lyon County reported 34, which is 16 fewer positives than the week before. The other two counties showed a slight uptick in positive results, however. O’Brien County reports an increase of three positives over the previous week at 39, while Osceola reports 22 new positives, which is one more than the previous week.

The best news from this week’s report is that there were no additional COVID-related deaths in the four-county area during the past seven days. That good news is tempered, however, by the fact that 193 of our neighbors and friends from the four-county area have perished from COVID-related illnesses since the pandemic began.

As of midday Monday, 58.3% of O’Brien County adults (18 & over) have been fully vaccinated against the virus, with 52.% of Osceola County adults, 49.8% of Sioux County residents and 52.1% of Lyon County adults are fully vaccinated. Statewide, the highest vaccination rate is in Buena Vista County where 75.7% of adult residents have been vaccinated. The county with the lowest vaccination rate is Davis County, in far southeast Iowa, where 44.7% of adult residents are fully vaccinated.

As of midday Monday there are 598 Iowans hospitalized with COVID statewide, with 78 of those admitted within the previous 24 hours. 152 of the hospitalized are being treated in ICU’s.

October 16, 2021 - 6:59 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 - 5:38 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 - 5:11 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.