Des Moines, Iowa — The Lewis & Clark Regional Water System is one of the top infrastructure priorities on a list that Iowa’s governor has sent to the President.

President Trump is pushing Congress to pass a spending plan to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure. Trump asked each governor to submit a list of their top five infrastructure priorities.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has put three water-related projects on her list. “Modernization” of the Upper Mississippi River Locks and Dams is at the top.

Number two on Reynolds list is the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System. When complete, it will provide drinking water to 300-thousand residents in northwest Iowa, southwest Minnesota and southeast South Dakota. Lewis & Clark was incorporated in 1990. Ten years later in 2000, the project was authorized. While the member communities and water systems have paid their share, the federal government has been slow to keep up their end of the bargain, according to Lewis & Clark Executive Director Troy Larson. The estimated cost to complete the system is over $580 million. While cities and systems are slowly being connected, the system has yet to reach Sioux Center, Hull, Sheldon, and Sibley in Iowa; Worthington, Minnesota; and Madison, South Dakota. Rock Rapids is the only system in Iowa that’s connected in any way so far.

Number three on Reynolds’ list is the Cedar Rapids Flood Mitigation Project. Reynolds also lists reconstruction of the interchange in the Iowa City area where Interstate 80 and Interstate 380 intersect as number four. The fifth project on the governor’s priority list is the expansion of the terminal at the Des Moines Airport.

June 21, 2017 - 6:34 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa  — The four northwest Iowa counties in our primary coverage area remain in the top 10 for lowest unemployment in the state, and three of the counties are ranked first, second, and third.

The May 2017 county-by-county unemployment rates were just released, and Lyon County again has the lowest (non-seasonally-adjusted) unemployment rate in the state, at just 1.5 percent, unchanged from April. Sioux County is second, with 1.7 percent, also unchanged from April. Osceola and Story counties are tied for third at 1.9 percent unemployment. Osceola is unchanged from April. A little further down the list, rounding out the top 10 at number 10 is O’Brien County with just 2.2 percent unemployment, up a tenth of a percent from the April figure of 2.1 percent.

Lee County, in the opposite corner of the state, had the highest unemployment in May, at 5.1 percent.

Statewide, the employment rate stayed the same, but the state did add some jobs, according to Iowa Workforce Development Communications Director Cory Kelly.

He says the good news continues for Iowa.

Kelly says that hiring in trade, health care, and manufacturing establishments helped keep the state growing.

He says that while the state added jobs and the unemployment rate stayed the same, more people were unemployed in May than in April.

Kelly says that you can visit for more information about current and historical data, labor force data, nonfarm employment, hours and earnings, and jobless benefits by county.

Des Moines, Iowa — All courthouses in northwest Iowa, and around the state, will be gun-free zones, after an order signed Tuesday by Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady.

Cady says in his order that, after reviewing the policies on guns across the state, he found 44 of Iowa’s 99 counties already prohibit weapons in their courthouses.  Additionally, Cady wrote that 11 counties prohibit guns in all county buildings, and 16 prohibit weapons in areas controlled by the judicial branch.

In O’Brien County, for example, the only area of the courthouse that had previously been a gun-free zone was the third floor, which houses the courtroom, Clerk’s Office and Judge’s Chambers.

In Tuesday’s decision, Cady writes, “the inconsistent policies and gaps in protection must be corrected for our unified court system to uniformly protect all Iowans.”

The order says, the new policy “serves to establish a safety perimeter for each courthouse or justice center that
allows for the efficient implementation and enforcement of a weapons prohibition and is intended to prohibit the general public from entering any courthouse or justice center with a weapon.”

Cady’s order bans all weapons from courtrooms, court-controlled spaces, and public areas of courthouses and other justice centers occupied by the court system.  The exception to the ban would be law enforcement officers who are acting within the scope of their duties.

To see Chief Justice Cady’s order, CLICK HERE.

June 20, 2017 - 7:00 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — Hay and a hay shed were damaged in a fire on Monday, June 19, 2017 near Sibley.

According to Sibley Fire Chief Ken Huls, about 5:00 PM, the Sibley Fire Department was called to the report of a hay shed fire at the home of Scott Julius at 1189 Oak Hill Avenue, two miles west and five miles north of Sibley.

The chief says the fire department saw the hay in the shed on fire as they approached the scene. He says the hay shed had an open front and was storing silage and haylage. He says the farmer had been grinding hay that day and the hay had started smoldering earlier in the day and he had been dousing it every so often. But Huls says it started getting away from him so they called the fire department.

Huls says he asked for the Little Rock department to be paged as well and both departments got to the scene about the same time. He says the Little Rock department provided extra water and manpower.

According to the chief, firefighters had to deal with heavy smoke. He says they got the smoke and flame knocked down, and then discovered that some of the building had been damaged, but they were able to save the building.

He says the owner also removed some of the hay from the building with a skid loader and they were able to cool it with water.

He says about 10 tons of hay was in the building and some sacks of feed were also destroyed, along with some of the steel siding. Chief Huls reports that there was about $7,500 damage.

Huls says no injuries were reported.

He says the cause of the fire appeared to be spontaneous combustion of wet hay.

He says they used 10,000 gallons of water to fight the fire, and crews were on scene for about two hours.

June 19, 2017 - 6:45 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — A greenhouse and floral shop in Sibley that’s been in business over 90 years is going to close at the end of the month.

Rick Echter, who owns Echter’s Greenhouse and Floral tells us about the business’s long history in Sibley.

However, Echter says the business is scheduled to close in less than two weeks, on June 30th. Echter says he’s retiring from the business.

Echter says they haven’t listed the business on the market yet, but he says the community needs the business.

He says if they don’t get a buyer, he’s thinking he might do the bedding plant business only for one more year because they have to make those purchases in the fall, and his wife Barb will probably work at the courthouse for another 18 months. But he says the floral end of the business will close on June 30th.

Echter says if you’ve always wanted to run a flower shop and greenhouse, he’d love to talk to you. You can reach him at 712-754-3446.

Harris, Iowa — A northwest Iowa farmer has won Dow AgroSciences’ Power to Do More photo contest.

Dow AgroSciences is donating a total of $37,000, with $10,000 to the three winning communities as part of their “Power to Do More” contest sponsored by their Resicore® herbicide. Farmers were encouraged to send photos of themselves on their farm. One of those winners is Chad Hibma of Harris.

Hibma says that the contest has been fun. He says they ended up with 10,000 Harris votes and that really gave them a boost.

Hibma’s photo was of himself and his daughter standing in a cornfield. The money will go to the Harris-Lake Park FFA Chapter.

He says that the students are the future of our society and he says “we can help them and give them a little direction even if they don’t go into agriculture, they can at least understand what agriculture is about.”

The caption of his photo reads,

“This is what is most important to us, second to our faith. My wife and I have four children that mean the world to us. There are times it is difficult to manage four kids, but God gives us the strength to do so. We live on the family farm, which is great for our family because I am able to spend loads of time with my kids when they come out to the shop and ride along during busy times!

We are truly blessed with the opportunity that my father has given us to farm. Hopefully we can do the same for our children some day!”

Lindsey Kaehler is U.S corn herbicide product manager for Dow AgroSciences. She says every farmer has a story and they are “excited to share it.” She says that in addition to donating a total of $37,000 to 10 community organizations, they are creating short videos to showcase the power of their three winning farmers later this year. She says that they recognize the long hours farmers spend in their fields year-round, and they look forward to giving three farmers the power to do more off of the farm, too.

Two other finalists include Curt Robbins of Fairfield, Illinois and Lee Stammen of Fort Recovery, Ohio. All three winners get a sports trip for two. Hibma’s trip is to Sports Authority Field in Denver, home of the Denver Broncos.

June 16, 2017 - 3:16 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — The University of Sioux Falls has released its Dean’s List for spring semester 2017, and two Sibley residents are among the more than 400 students who made that list.

According to the University of Sioux Falls, in order to qualify for the Dean’s List, a student must achieve a semester grade point average of 3.5 or greater on a 4.0 scale.

Named to the spring semester Dean’s List at the University of Sioux Falls are Alecia Martinez, and Clara Meyer, both of Sibley.

Martinez is a USF Senior, majoring in Communications Studies & Theatre.  Meyer is also a Senior at USF, majoring in Social Work.

Sibley, Iowa — There’s been some movement in the civil case brought against the Sibley-Ocheyedan School District on behalf of a boy who was allegedly sexually abused by a former teacher at Sibley-Ocheyedan Middle School.

According to the Osceola County Clerk of Court’s Office, the attorneys in the case will have a meeting with the court that will likely take place over the telephone, in which it is hoped a trial date can be agreed upon. The trial-setting conference is scheduled for Tuesday, June 27th.

The civil suit alleges that the Sibley-Ocheyedan Community School District was negligent in hiring Kyle Ewinger, the former teacher and coach who is accused of having sexual contact with a student, and that they knew or should have known that Ewinger posed a safety risk to the children entrusted to him.

Ewinger has also been charged in a criminal case with Second Degree Sexual Abuse in connection with the alleged incident in October, 2015, when Ewinger is alleged to have spent the night in his middle school classroom with a student, and is accused of engaging in sexual activity with the boy. Ewinger has pled not guilty and a pretrial conference is set for September 1st, with the trial at this point scheduled for October 17th.

Primghar, Iowa — County Extension Councils from Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Sioux, O’Brien and Clay Counties have provided funding and teamed up with Iowa State University to bring additional Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) youth programming to Northwest Iowa libraries.

We talked to Extension Human Sciences Program Coordinator Mackenzie De Jong who told us more about it.

She tells us what they’ll be doing.

DeJong says that the six core lessons include Bridges, Colors, Electricity, Parachutes, Playdough and Pollinators. The interns will also help with and create additional lessons based on the needs of the library and community.

Three Engaged Scholar interns were hired for the summer, with each intern covering two libraries in Northwest Iowa. All of the interns have studied or are studying education at the post-secondary level.

· Kodie Borchers, a Northwestern College graduate and resident of Orange City, will be working at the Hull Public Library and Sanborn Public Library.

· Whitney Jorgensen, also a Northwestern College graduate and an Alton resident, will be spending her summer at the George Public Library and Sibley Public Library.

· Bradi Baske, a Spencer-native and current Iowa State University student, will be serving the Everly Public Library and Milford Public Library.

De Jong says all of the lessons have been tested in other locations and are “kid-approved.”

For a full schedule of summer programming, individuals are encouraged to contact their local library.

June 12, 2017 - 3:13 pm - Posted in News

Hawarden, Iowa — A Sibley man faces felony, and misdemeanor, theft charges following an investigation dating back to January of this year.

Sioux County authorities say the charges against 36-year old Ryan Jacobson stem from an investigation that began in January, regarding a theft that occurred involving Jacobson’s previous employer in Hawarden.

Deputies say that, upon further investigation, they reportedly discovered that Jacobson allegedly used the former employer’s resources to pay his personal debts, in the amount of approximately $19-hundred.

Authorities say that Jacobson was charged with both 2nd Degree Theft, a Class “D” Felony, and 4th Degree Theft, a Serious Misdemeanor.