Northwest Iowa — Many northwest Iowans will be headed for Thanksgiving trips next week, and some forecasts predict this flu season will be more severe than last year. Dr. Deborah Mulligan, Chief Medical Affairs Officer of telehealth provider M-D Live, says the convergence of flu season and holiday travel season increases your chances of getting sick, especially if you’ll be flying to your holiday destination.

While many frequent fliers fear being seated next to sick strangers, Mulligan says air travel is fraught with chances for catching a bug.

If you do get sick, medical professionals advise you to not return to work or school until you’re feeling better to avoid spread of the flu virus.

Officials with the Iowa Department of Public Health also advise that you get a flu shot in order to lessen the severity of the illness, or avoid it altogether.

November 12, 2018 - 2:36 pm - Posted in News

Spencer, Iowa — A Spencer realtor who is the new president of the Iowa Association of Realtors says the housing market in the state has evened out. John Goede says the most recent numbers available showed September sales dropped by nearly 13-percent compared to last year, but the overall yearly sales are down only one-point-six percent.

Goede says the median sale price was up four-point-two percent even though the inventory of homes is rising. He says agents are using social media more to generate interest in houses — and there’s also a new trend being used.

Interest rates have gone up some this year, but he says they are not a point where they will have a big impact.

Goede says many homeowners who took it on the chin when the housing bubble burst, are now seeing some turnaround.

He says things are evening out so both sides tend to be happy when a house is sold.

Goede says the season trend for the rest of the year is for sales to fall off as the weather gets colder. The median sales price for a home was $160,000 in September compared to $153,500 in September 2017.

November 10, 2018 - 11:16 pm - Posted in News

Le Mars, Iowa — At least one area agronomist is concerned about the amount of topsoil we continue to lose every year.

Joel De Jong, an agronomist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach recently said, “The damage – sheet and rill erosion, gullies, sedimentation – I have observed this year has bothered me.” De Jong says that this area’s rich soil is the cornerstone for profitable agricultural production in this part of the world. He says history has shown us several cultures that had rich soils, but those cultures no longer exist – nor do their rich soils. He says an increase in cover crop usage in recent years has been seen, but additional stewardship of these soils is needed.

De Jong says that Dr. Rick Cruse, ISU Agronomy professor and director of the Iowa Water Center, has presented some information discussing soil formation and losses. He had three different scenarios looking at soil formation, and all three indicated that it took over 1,000 years to form an inch of topsoil.De Jong says that in Iowa, if you have highly erodible soils, allowable soil losses in conservation plans try to limit losses per acre per year to 5 tons. According to De Jong, five tons/acre/year would be like losing soil about the width of a dime off of all of your acres. A roll of dimes has 100 dimes in it. How many inches long is that? He says it’s about 4 inches long. So, according to De Jong, if you farm a century farm, and have averaged 5 tons/acre/year, it looks like we might have lost several thousands of years of soil formation on those soils in the last century.

He tells us that Dr. Cruse helped develop the Daily Erosion Project that can estimate soil losses on a daily basis. This project calculates erosion by watershed for every watershed in Iowa. You can see this information at this website Choose the “View Map Display” option, and then use the tools on the right side of the map to select options to review. You can zoom in on watersheds and see the data for each. Many in this region are estimated to have well over 5 tons per acre of detached hillside soil loss this year.

De Jong suggests that right now is a good time for landowners and those working farms to evaluate residue cover, erosive areas, and areas that need improvement. He suggests discussions with NRCS staff about your farms and running different scenarios of tillage practices, rotations, residue removal, cover crops, waterways, terraces, etc. to see how that influences the erosion on your farm.

De Jong can be reached at the Plymouth County Extension Office.

November 10, 2018 - 10:19 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Republican Congressman Steve King says he’s ready to mount a vigorous defense of the President in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee next year. King predicts “a good number” of Democrats will try to impeach the president once Democrats take the majority in the House in January.

Once he returns to Washington, King plans to confront Ohio Congressman Steve Stivers, the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee. On October 30th, Stivers took to Twitter to say the country “must stand up against white supremacy and hate” and Stivers “strongly” condemned King.

King won his eight previous races for Congress by an average margin of 23 percent. His victory margin in 2018 was about two percent.

J.D. Scholten is the Democrat who came within two points of defeating King this year. King has accused his critics of trying to “Kavanaugh-ize” him in the closing weeks of the election.

Scholten has not ruled out another run against King in 2020. Long-time Iowa Congressman Berkley Bedell and Senator Tom Harkin — who was first elected to the House — were both elected in their second try for a House seat.

November 9, 2018 - 3:21 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Northwest Iowans who are prepping their cars for winter may top off the antifreeze level in their engine, but as the experts at the Iowa Poison Control Center remind, be careful with those chemicals.

Registered Nurse Jean Hammack says antifreeze comes in an array of colors, including blue, pink and green, but all of them are hazardous if swallowed.

It’s best to leave antifreeze and wiper solution in the original gallon bottles, she says. After using part of the product, don’t transfer it to a smaller bottle, especially one that once contained juice or a sports drink.

Because of the color and sweet taste, children often mistake these chemicals for drinks, while pets may lick up spilled fluid from the floor. Hammack says to keep the poison center number programmed into your phone — 1-800-222-1222.

November 9, 2018 - 2:39 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — While a new report finds opioid use in Iowa is falling, methamphetamine use is back on the rise. Opioid-related deaths are down by nearly 50 cases statewide since last year, but more than 10-thousand Iowans got treatment for meth, the most ever.

Dale Woolery, interim director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy, says the renewed rise in meth abuse is disheartening.

Meth is a stimulant while opioids, in general, have a sedative effect. Woolery notes some people misuse both drugs and says policy efforts need to address all types of addiction. He says the drop in opioid abuse and overdose deaths is thanks to several simultaneous efforts.

Woolery says he’s hopeful the opioid epidemic will continue to improve.

November 8, 2018 - 4:23 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — This Sunday, November 11th is Veterans Day in the United States — a day set aside to give honor and thanks to the brave men and women who have proudly served in our nation’s armed forces.

The observance started out as Armistice Day, to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France.

Several communities are honoring our veterans in some special ways. But this year, since Veterans Day falls on a Sunday, many of the observances will be on other days.

Sheldon High School will hold an assembly to honor our Veterans on Monday, November 12th at 9:45 a.m. in the high school auditorium. Veterans and community members are welcome to attend. American Legion Post #145 will be holding a Veterans Day program at St. Patrick’s Church in Sheldon on Monday, November 12th at 11:00 a.m.

The Osceola County Veterans Day Program will be on Monday, November 12th and will begin at 10:00 a.m., it will be about 40 minutes long and there will be a gun salute outside after the program. Larry Ver Doorn, a veteran from Ashton says all veterans are invited. He says there will be lunch and pictures on the big screen. He says music will be provided by the Sibley/Ocheyedan Band and Chorus.

Orange City veteran Arlyn Kleinwolterink says there will be a program at the Unity Christian Knight Center in Orange City at 9:30 a.m. on Monday the 12th. He says there is also a Sioux County Veterans Open House at the Terrace View Event Center in Sioux Center from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Monday. He says all vets and their spouses are welcome. It’s free. Hy-Vee will serve a free breakfast to veterans at the event center.

The George Veterans Day program will also be on Monday, November 12th at the George-Little Rock High School Gym at 10:00 a.m., according to Clarence Stubbe of the American Legion. Patriotic music will be played by the George Little Rock High School Band, under the direction of Nicole Lewis. The colors will be posted by Jack Sauter Post 404 American Legion of George. They’ll do the Pledge of Allegiance. The band will play the National Anthem. The George-Little Rock High School Chorus will perform under the direction of Tim Mauldin. Several individuals will also present musical numbers. “Taps” will be played by Harris Kaster.

The Rock Rapids Veteran’s Day program will be on FRIDAY, November 9th at 10:30 a.m. at the Central Lyon High School Gym. Betty Van Holland says music will be provided by the Central Lyon Band, and the speaker will be veteran Bill Kortemeyer. Then, on SUNDAY — the actual day of Veterans Day, there will be a veterans’ recognition at the Veterans Memorial at West Side Park in Rock Rapids. Taps will follow a gun salute.

Rock Valley’s Veterans Day program will be on Monday, November 12th at 10:30 a.m. at the Rock Valley Elementary. They say the observance is to honor our area veterans and their families. Everyone is invited for the program, which will be in the elementary gym. 100 Years of the American Legion will be celebrated. Veterans and their spouses are invited to stay for a lunch in their honor.

November 8, 2018 - 3:58 pm - Posted in News

Tea, South Dakota — As the federal funding trickle increases to a slow flow, progress continues on the water line that would bring Missouri River aquifer water to Sheldon and other northwest Iowa communities.

The Bureau of Reclamation has announced funding for the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System Lewis & Clark General Manager Troy Larson says it’s good news.

He tells us the funding will have a direct impact on the effort to get the water to Sioux Center, Hull, and Sheldon.

In addition to the pipeline, before water can be delivered through the line Lewis & Clark will need to award contracts for a meter building at Sioux Center, a water tower near Beresford and for adding pumps to the Beresford pump station. Larson says these projects will be the first on the list for FY20.

Larson says Congressman Steve King visited the water treatment plant on Thursday.

Larson says King was very impressed by the facility and pledged his continuing support.

Photo caption: Congressman King and the group in front of one of the solid contact basins at the water treatment plant. Left to right: Sibley City Administrator Glenn Anderson, Sibley Mayor Jerry Johnson, L&C Operations Manager Jim Auen, Sheldon City Councilman Pete Hamill, L&C Executive Director Troy Larson, Sioux Center Utility Manager and L&C Director Murray Hulstein, Congressman King, Hull City Administration/Economic Development Director and L&C Director Jim Collins, Sheldon Public Works Director and L&C Director Todd Uhl, Rep. King staffer and State Senator-Elect Zach Whiting, and Hull Mayor Roger Buys.

November 8, 2018 - 2:54 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — With a threat of wintry weather in the forecast for some parts of Iowa, it’s a good time for us to think about preparing ourselves for winter.

Whether or not we get snowfall in the next few days, National Weather Service Meteorologist Chad Hahn says we need to be thinking about what it will be like BEFORE a snowstorm hits.

Education is one of the keys. Hahn says we need to know the difference between a watch and a warning, especially when severe winter weather is in the picture.

He says the winter season ahead has the potential to be less frigid than last winter.

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Northwest Iowa — Area retailers may see profits rise six-to-seven percent in the holiday shopping season ahead compared to last year, but consumers may have several elements working against them.

Economist Ernie Goss says we’re facing higher interest rates and higher prices for some imported goods due to the trade wars. Goss warns consumers not to overdo it.

A good way to limit spending is to use cash, not plastic, for all of your purchases, big and small, so you can keep a tighter reign on expenditures.

Goss predicts online holiday purchases will rise up to 15-percent from last year and he notes many retailers are offering free shipping to compete. Goss says some Millennials are shifting away from buying clothes and gadgets and are spending money on experiences, like trips. While these types of purchases don’t factor into retail spending, Goss says they will provide a similar boost to spending on holiday travel.