Orange City, Iowa — A new study finds that residents of Sioux County have the second-most purchasing power of all the counties in Iowa.

The study, by aims to find the places where average living expenses are most affordable to the people who live there. officials say that to find these counties they looked at the cost of living relative to income to determine the purchasing power.

They tell us that first, they calculated two different cost of living numbers for a household with one adult and no dependents. One reflected the baseline cost of living in each area and the other was based on expenditures typical to someone making the county’s median income.

SmartAsset says they combined the two cost-of-living numbers using a weighted average based on how close each county’s median income was to the minimal livable income in that area. They say they then subtracted income taxes paid in that area.

Finally, SmartAsset says they calculated purchasing power by determining the weighted cost of living as a percentage of median income.

Sioux County’s cost of living was calculated as $42,952, and the median income was reported as $66,022, for a purchasing power index of 67.73.

Only Dallas County in central Iowa beat Sioux County, with an index of 74.32, due mostly to their higher average income of over $82,000.

Lyon County was ranked 8th in the survey, with a purchasing power index of 65.23. Cost of living there was calculated to be $41,887, and the median income was $62,012.

Elsewhere in northwest Iowa, O’Brien County was ranked 19th. The cost of living was calculated to be $42,952, and the median income was $56,314.

Osceola County was ranked 45th, with a cost of living at $40,686 and a median income of $53,604.

Find more information here.

Northwest Iowa — This Monday, May 27th is Memorial Day in the United States. 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. Here are some of them.

In Ashton, the morning will start off with coffee and rolls at 8:30 a.m. The Memorial Day Service will be from 9:30 – 10:30 a.m., followed by the Cemetery Service at 10:30. Immediately following the Cemetery Service, Ashton will host a Memorial Day Dinner, serving from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Ashton Legion Hall. The meal will include pork loin sandwiches, hot dogs, baked beans, potato salad, chips, ice cream, and a drink for a free will donation.

American Legion Post 470 in Melvin invites everyone to observe Memorial Day services at Baker cemetery two miles east and two miles north of Melvin beginning at 10:30 a.m., Monday, May 27th. Those attending are urged to bring lawn chairs for their comfort. In case of inclement weather, the ceremonies will be held in the American Legion Community Center in Melvin.

The program will begin at Holman Township Cemetery at 9:00 a.m. If there is inclement weather, it will be in the Legion Hall instead. Pastor Doug Noonkester from the First Baptist Church of Sibley will have the prayer. Master Sergent Amos Kleinwolterink is the speaker. An ensemble of Sibley-Ocheyedan band musicians will provide the music. (They’ll also provide the music a the Ocheyedan service, which will start at 10:30 a.m. in Ocheyedan.)

Statewide Iowa — Triple-A Iowa predicts a three-and-a-half percent increase in travel volume this Memorial Day weekend, sparked — perhaps — by lower gas prices.

Triple A’s fuel price survey indicates the average price today for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.66 a gallon in Iowa. That’s 20 cents less than it was during the Memorial Day weekend last year. Gas prices in Iowa were about seven cents higher per gallon a month ago.

Here in northwest Iowa, pump prices are a bit lower than the statewide average, with prices within a penny or two a gallon of $2.63, as of Friday afternoon.

Triple-A projects that nearly 40 million Americans will travel 50 or more miles away from home this weekend.

May 24, 2019 - 2:56 pm - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — A Sheldon DJ has signed a recording contract to have one track of his own music released.

Donnel Eaddy, otherwise known as DJ Scruff, tells us how the deal came about.

Scruff says the track the record company will release should be out this summer.

He says he wants to impact the world with music.

We asked Scruff about his long-term goal.

He calls the experience of signing with a record company “an amazing time.”

Scruff’s initial offering is scheduled for a July release.

Statewide Iowa — Experts are expecting a record for travel this Memorial Day weekend. Iowa State Patrol trooper John Farley says that means you’ll see a lot of traffic on the state’s roadways.

Farley says during this holiday weekend they are using “SIDE” to explain what you need to do to be safe.

The I stands for impairment and making sure you are not under the influence of alcohol, drugs or anything else will driving. The D is for distractions.

Farley says they want to see the number of fatal accidents on the roadways come down this year.

Farley says there were four fatal traffic accidents in Iowa last Memorial Day.

May 23, 2019 - 4:34 pm - Posted in News

Sioux Center, Iowa — A long-distance outage caused headaches for some northwest Iowans on Thursday morning. But things appear to be back to normal now.

Premier Communications’ Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Scott Te Strote tells us what happened.

Te Strote says it did not affect other products such as broadband internet, cable tv, local calling, or 911 service.

Te Strote says they strive for 100 percent up-time, but that’s not always possible.

According to Te Strote, Premier serves 28 communities in northwest Iowa, east and west from Hawarden to the Iowa Great Lakes area, and north-south from Rock Rapids to Hinton.

Iowa Great Lakes — With this weekend being the traditional start to the summer season at the Iowa Great Lakes and other water bodies in northwest Iowa, the Iowa Department of Natual Resources is reminding boaters about what they are calling “aquatic hitchhikers.”

The DNR is repeating the mantra, “Clean, Drain, and Dry.” Mike Hawkins is the DNR Fisheries Biologist at the Spirit Lake Fish Hatchery. He tells us there are many kinds of aquatic invasive species that they consider “aquatic hitchhikers.”

But, he says, while there are a lot of “hitchhikers,” there are some simple steps that you can take to help stop their spread.

Hawkins says that unfortunately, you can’t just take your boat out of the water if you don’t have fishing luck in one lake, and transport it and your live bait to another body of water to try your luck there anymore. He says you can still switch lakes, but there are more steps. You’ll have to at least drain your boat and power wash it, throw away any leftover bait in the trash, and buy fresh bait before you switch lakes.

And just a reminder — this is not just for anglers. Anyone who uses a watercraft — pleasure boaters, personal watercraft users, and even hunters in the fall need to take these steps if they use their watercraft in more than one body of water.

The DNR says you can find more information about aquatic invasive species and a list of infested waters in the current Iowa Fishing Regulations or at

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The Trump Administration has announced another round of payments for farmers, to compensate for lower commodity prices amid trade tensions with China.

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig says it’s needed, because corn and soybean prices are below the cost of producing a crop.

The first payments are scheduled to be made in late July or early August, but the final calculations aren’t set. The payments to individual farmers will be based on the impact trade has had on corn and soybean prices in their county. The assistance will not be determined by what farmers plant THIS year, but a farmer MUST have put some seeds in the ground this year to qualify for these payments. Naig says farmers would prefer to trade rather than get aid, but the unresolved trade dispute with China, along with a pending U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, have created havoc in the markets.

Naig says farmers understand what’s at stake as the Trump Administration presses China to make trade concessions.

While U.S. soybean sales to China have been healthy over the last several years, Naig says China has been blocking imports of U.S. beef, poultry, ethanol and corn. The Trump Administration plans to make nearly $15 billion in payments to farmers in three waves, this summer, again in November and then in January.

And Naig says China’s marketplace has been the opposite of fair.

Photo Caption: Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig

Statewide Iowa — A monthly report from the Iowa Association of Realtors finds almost 32-hundred homes were sold in Iowa last month, down about 200 homes from April of last year.

Association president John Goede, of Spencer, says there are several reasons for the drop.

There were more homes on the market statewide during April, almost 63-hundred compared to 54-hundred a year ago. The average price statewide was almost $194-thousand, up from $187-thousand last year, while the median price also rose from $157-thousand to $164-thousand.

Houses sold a little faster in Iowa during April, spending an average of 73 days on the market versus 79 a year ago, which he says has a lot to do with the change in seasons.

Goede says he’s booked to show homes all four days of Memorial Day weekend as interest is picking up. May and June will be strong for sales, he predicts, adding, central Iowa is best for new construction.

While the sale of single-family homes fell 8.5 percent statewide last month, the sale of townhomes and condos rose 8.1 percent.

May 22, 2019 - 4:21 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Farmers in this area are getting a little nervous when it comes to getting the corn planted. But as Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Agronomist Joel De Jong tells us, it could be worse.

He says that as a whole, this might be the latest ever planting in the corn belt. He says Ohio is at 9 percent in the ground and Indiana is only at 14 percent.

He says the wet, cool weather has got some producers thinking about planting soybeans on acres where they were planning on planting corn, since soybeans can get by with a shorter growing season. But that comes with risk as well.

As far as soybeans, about 15 percent of those are planted in the northwest district, says De Jong. But he says that’s mostly in the southeast part of the district. Up to the northwest, where we are, virtually no soybeans have been planted yet.

He says some farmers are at least getting more information about the prevented planting option in crop insurance, which he says isn’t used very often because it’s a significantly reduced payment, but it might be better than taking a risk on inputs that might not yield anything this year.

De Jong says for more information, you can visit the “Ag Decision Maker” Extension web site or call him at the Plymouth County Extension office.