May 20, 2015 - 4:21 pm - Posted in News

George, Iowa — Eleven people were overcome by fumes of some kind on Wednesday afternoon at a chicken confinement between George and Boyden.
Ambulance Front Generic
According to Lyon County Sheriff Stewart Vander Stoep, the call came in about 2:40 PM, for eleven people experiencing symptoms such as vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, and respiratory problems at 3902 260th Street. That’s about five miles south of George, or 11 miles north of Boyden, and a mile west on A52.

The sheriff says that the people were washing the walls after a bird flu outbreak. He says they originally thought the gas was anhydrous ammonia, or ammonia of some kind, but the workers said that their gas masks should have protected them from that.

We are told that about half of those who were overcome were taken to hospitals in Rock Rapids and Sheldon.

The Sheriff says the George Fire Department was on the scene late Wednesday afternoon checking oxygen levels in the building.

The Sheriff says the investigation continues.

May 20, 2015 - 4:03 pm - Posted in News
First section of 24 inch steel pipe

The first section of 24-inch steel pipe being installed

Washington, DC — Minnesota’s senators continue to push for funding for the Lewis and Clark water system.

Democrat U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken have introduced a bill to invest in rural water projects in order to address delays and complete construction. The Authorized Rural Water Projects Completion Act would establish a guaranteed annual investment of $80 million from the Bureau of Reclamation for 20 years to fund the construction of six Congressionally-authorized rural water systems, including the Lewis and Clark project. When completed, the Lewis and Clark Water System will cover a service territory of more than 5,000 square miles and provide drinking water to 300,000 residents and businesses in southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa, and southeast South Dakota.

Franken says that communities across the region have in good faith paid their full share to fund this project, and they’ve been waiting “far too long for the federal government to do the same”. He says this bill will help fund projects like Lewis and Clark, and that he’ll keep fighting for funding until the Lewis and Clark project is completed.

Ongoing construction of 14 inch PVC pipe

Ongoing construction of the 14-inch PVC pipe

Funding under the Authorized Rural Water Projects Completion Act would complement existing appropriated funds. The 2015 Energy and Water appropriations bill provided $47.2 million spread across the Bureau of Reclamation’s rural authorized water projects, but current funding is insufficient to complete the projects in a timely fashion.

For more information, click here for the news release on Senator Franken’s site.

Meanwhile, Lewis and Clark Executive Director Troy Larson says that Carstensen Contracting of Pipestone is making good progress on the pipeline to Luverne. He says they started construction in February on the 23 borings for the highway, stream and railroad crossings between the Iowa border and Luverne. The contract includes 5.9 miles of 14-inch PVC pipe and 12.7 miles of 24-inch steel pipe. He says Carstensen started installing the 14-inch PVC pipe in early April and plans to have it all in the ground by late May. The first section of 24-inch steel pipe was installed on May 12. Weather permitting, Luverne is expected to begin receiving Lewis & Clark water in December. The City has reserved 821,000 gallons a day.

May 20, 2015 - 2:09 pm - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — Some of the dead birds from the bird flu outbreak will be buried near Sheldon.

The Northwest Iowa Solid Waste Agency Landfill north of Hospers will be accepting truckloads of euthanized birds at its facility.

Landfill Compactor (generic file photo)

Landfill Compactor (generic file photo)

We talked to landfill director Larry Oldenkamp, and he says they signed a contract on Tuesday, May 19th to accept four million pounds of dead birds from flocks that were destroyed after Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza was found in the flock. He says the birds will be placed in large bags, and then loaded onto roll off dumpsters for transport to the landfill for disposal.

The birds will be kept separate of other refuse, and will be buried in a segregated area of the landfill, he says. According to Oldenkamp, the bird carcasses will be transported by a USDA contractor, along pre-approved routes.

He says trucks moving the birds will be disinfected at the poultry barn, they’ll be kept separate from other traffic at the landfill, and then the trucks will be disinfected before they leave the grounds as well.

May 18, 2015 - 4:13 pm - Posted in News

WErnstashington, DC —  U.S. Senator Joni Ernst will host town meetings in Osceola, Lyon, and Sioux counties this Saturday, May 23rd to discuss the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in addition to other topics. These town meetings are open to the public.

The Senator and her staff will start the day at 9:30 AM at Cooperative Energy at 1708 Pierce Avenue at Sibley.  At 11:15 AM, she will be at the Rock Rapids Public Library at 102 South Greene Street in Rock Rapids. At 1:45 PM, it’s on to Sioux Center for a meeting at the De Yager Student Activities Center in the Campus Center on the campus of Dordt College at 498 Fourth Avenue Northeast.

Representatives from other offices and organizations have also been invited to join the town meetings. Their participation has not been confirmed, however.  They include the offices of:

  • Senator Chuck Grassley
  • Congressman Steve King
  • Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey

And representatives of:

  • Iowa Egg Council
  • Iowa Poultry Association
  • Iowa Farm Bureau
  • Iowa Turkey Federation
  • Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture

Last week, Senators Grassley and Ernst sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack encouraging the USDA to ensure that resources have been properly deployed to Iowa to fight the ongoing outbreak of HPAI.

May 18, 2015 - 9:12 am - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — A George man will serve time behind bars after he was found guilty of a number of crimes.

jail behind bars

stock photo


The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that 28-year-old Joseph Lee Daggett of George was found guilty last week of of the crimes of Theft in the Fourth Degree, a Serious Misdemeanor; Eluding, an Aggravated Misdemeanor; False Imprisonment, a Serious Misdemeanor; and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, an Aggravated Misdemeanor.

On the Counts of Theft and False Imprisonment, Daggett was sentenced to a year in the Osceola County Jail. The fine and surcharge were waived. He was ordered to pay court costs, restitution of attorney’s fees and a surcharge of $125.

On the counts of Eluding and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, Daggett was committed to the custody of the Director of the Iowa Department of Corrections for a term not to exceed two years.

These sentences were imposed concurrently with each other but consecutively to the other counts.

May 17, 2015 - 8:16 am - Posted in News

Ocheyedan, Iowa — A Slayton, Minnesota woman has been arrested on several charges after a traffic stop.
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The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that they arrested 29-year-old Sheila Marie Wilson of Slayton last week. The arrest stemmed from a traffic stop northeast of Ocheyedan. 

Wilson was charged with Operating While Intoxicated – 3rd Offense, Possession of a Controlled Substance – 3rd offense, and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.  She was also issued a citation for Speeding. 

During the traffic stop Wilson was found to have an outstanding warrant in another county as well. 

Wilson was booked into the Osceola County Jail and released after posting a $5,000 bond.

The Osceola County Drug Recognition Expert assisted with the investigation and arrest.

May 14, 2015 - 2:14 pm - Posted in News

Harris, Iowa — Several hundred hay bales went up in smoke on Wednesday afternoon into Thursday morning in a fire on the Osceola/Dickinson County line near Highway 9. Personnel from six fire departments assisted at the scene.
Rotating Light FS Wheeler
The initial call went out around 4:00 PM on Wednesday, May 13th. When firefighters got there, they found about 350 bales on fire near a building. Fire officials say they had to break down every bale and spray them with water. Firefighters were able to save the building.

Fire officials say the cause of the fire was a nearby burning rubbish pile.

No injuries were reported.

Firefighters from Harris, Lake Park, Melvin, May City, Ocheyedan and Milford fought the fire.

May 14, 2015 - 11:55 am - Posted in News, School News

Sheldon, Iowa — Four Sheldon Community High School seniors were awarded scholarships at a ceremony held Wednesday at Sheldon High School.

The John N. and Irene E. Bowers Scholarships are awarded each year to two graduating Sheldon High School seniors who will be pursuing degrees in nursing, and two who plan to pursue degrees in teaching.  Each of the four recipients receives a $3,000 scholarship.  Recipients are selected each year by the Sheldon Education Foundation from recommendations by the Selection Committee.

The scholarship winners from the Sheldon High School Class of 2015 for nursing are Kelsey Den Hartog, the daughter of Wayne and Debbie Den Hartog, and Shayla Van Meeteren,the daughter of Gary and Natalie Van Meeteren.  The winners planning to pursue teaching careers are Emma Beahler, the daughter and Blake and Sara Beahler, and Samantha Kleinwolterink, the daughter of Leon and Carla Kleinwolterink.

May 12, 2015 - 5:45 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — Three more probable cases of bird flu and one confirmed case are being reported. Two of them are in our area, and the first case from Lyon County has now been reported. chickens With these new announcements, Iowa now has 49 cases of the disease in the state. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has quarantined the premises and once the presence of the disease is confirmed, all birds on the properties will be humanely euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease.

  • Buena Vista 14– A layer pullet farm that has experienced increased mortality.  An estimate on the number of birds at the site is still pending.  Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.
  • Buena Vista 15– Turkey farm that has experienced increased mortality.  An estimate on the number of birds at the site is still pending. Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.
  • Lyon 1- Commercial laying operation that has experienced increased mortality. An estimate on the number of birds at the site is still pending. Initial testing showed it positive for H5 avian influenza.  Additional confirmatory testing is pending from the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames.
  • Osceola 4– Broiler farm with an estimated 700 birds that has experienced increased mortality.  Confirmatory testing by the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) in Ames showed the birds positive for H5N2 highly pathogenic avian influenza.

As the Department receives final confirmations of the disease updated information will be posted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website at www.iowaagriculture.gov/avianinfluenza.asp. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Iowa Department of Public Health considers the risk to people from these HPAI H5 infections in wild birds, backyard flocks and commercial poultry, to be low.  No human infections with the virus have ever been detected and there is no food safety risk for consumers. IOWA CONCERN HOTLINE AVAILABLE TO ADDRESS AVIAN INFLUENZA QUESTIONS Concerned residents both within and outside the areas affected by avian influenza are encouraged to use the Iowa Concern Hotline at 1-800-447-1985 if they have questions or need disaster counseling. The Iowa Concern Hotline is available 24 hours a day. All calls are free and confidential, and the operators are willing to assist wherever possible.   Iowa State University Extension and Outreach operates the hotline and is partnering with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, theIowa Department of Health, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, IowaHomeland Security and Emergency Management Department and Egg Industry Council to provide up-to-date information to Iowans about the disease.     UPDATE ON ACTIVIES OF STATE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES IN RESPONSE TO AVIAN INFLUENZA   Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS)

  • Quarantining all infected sites
  • Subject to facilities implementing nationally approved biosecurity measures, the Dept. permits the movement of materials such as feed and other supplies on and off of infected sites
  • Leading efforts to monitor poultry within a 10-kilometer circle of each infected site
  • Coordinating state communication efforts on the disease
  • Working with federal and state officials to ensure the humane depopulation and disposal of all birds from infected sites

Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department (HSEMD)

  • Coordinating partial activation of the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) with several state agencies, including the Iowa Departments of Agricultureand Land Stewardship, Public Health, Natural Resources, Transportation, Public Safety, Inspections and Appeals and the Iowa National Guard. USDA, IowaTurkey Federation and Iowa Poultry Association are also present at the SEOC.
  • Conducting daily coordination meetings with IDALS, the governor’s office and other partner agencies to bring all up to date, and to discuss planning and needs. Other agencies involved include Iowa Dept. of Public Health, Iowa Dept. of Transportation, Iowa Dept. of Corrections, Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources, IowaDept. of Public Safety, Iowa National Guard, Iowa Dept. of Human Services, IowaDept. of Inspections and Appeals.
  • Providing resource support coordination as requested.
  • Regularly providing information for situational awareness with county emergency management coordinators.
  • Providing support for IDALS communications activities.

Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) – in conjunction with local public health officials

  • Sharing CDC recommendations on the use of personal protective equipment by persons working directly with sick chickens and carcasses.
  • Following up with workers who had direct contact with sick birds without the use of personal protective equipment.
  • Providing sound risk information, making sure the public understands that the virus presents no food safety concern or risk to the general public.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

  • DNR Air Quality has issued two variances for portable incinerators.  The DNR has also issued a variance for a thermal treatment unit.
  • The DNR’s primary concern is that disposal methods protect surface water, groundwater and air quality and does not result in further spreading of the AI virus
  • Investigating the feasibility and the potential benefits and problems associated with various disposal options including landfilling, composting, incinerating, and burying.
  • Looking at potential criteria for emergency air permits if needed for the incineration process.
  • Working with contacts at several landfills to determine the ability of those operations to take dead poultry as well as being able to wash and disinfect transport vehicles on site.
  • Investigating and maintaining contact with wastewater treatment facilities on the ability to accept and adequately treat leachate  produced by any landfill for the AI virus that may take dead poultry.
  • Developed solid waste acceptance criteria for landfills willing to accept AI infected poultry.
  • Contacted numerous potential sources of wood chips that can be used for composting. The wood chips would be used as part of the composting process.  The DNR has issued several variances to facilities to expand wood chipping capacity.
  • Preparing maps of infected facilities that show quarantine boundaries and to determine the proximity of other poultry operations and neighbors.
  • Investigating the geology involved with operations to determine the optimum potential locations for burial if needed.
  • Working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct sampling of waterfowl for AI.

Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS)

  • Communicated to the Disaster Behavioral Health Response Team (DBHRT) that volunteers were needed to assist with damage assessment surveying in the northwest region.  Three DBHRT members did volunteer to assist.
  • The Division of Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS) is responding to requests from Buena Vista and Kossuth counties for mental health support; a plan is being structured in collaboration with businesses in Buena Vista and Kossuth counties.
  • MHDS is in communication with Iowa Concern staff who are taking calls from people with concerns relating to the Avian flu.  If calls are received from people who need additional support, contact will be made to MHDS and a plan will be put in place utilizing either local resources or DBHRT support.

Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT)

  • Water hauling to assist with USDA operations continues.
  • Motor Carrier Services has provided a contact number for carriers that are transporting poultry carcasses up to 90,000 lbs to contact them for routing directions; directions are good for 24 hours.
  • Districts have applied dust control to gravel shoulders along Highways 3, 17, and 69 in Wright County.
  • Established permitting requirements for carriers transporting carcasses up to 90,000 lbs.
  • Working to craft messaging to be placed on the 511 and the 511 truckers page as to what to do if drivers will be hauling poultry products in Iowa.
  • Contacted Turkey and Poultry Associations to notify counterparts in neighboring states to be aware of Iowa’s travel restrictions of poultry products.

Iowa Department of Public Safety (DPS)

  • Providing liaison at Wright County emergency operations center

Background Information The United States has the strongest Avian Influenza (AI) surveillance program in the world.  As part of the existing USDA avian influenza response plans, Federal and State partners as well as industry are responding quickly and decisively to these outbreaks by following these five basic steps: 1) Quarantine – restricting movement of poultry and poultry-moving equipment into and out of the control area; 2) Eradicate – humanely euthanizing the affected flock(s); 3) Monitor region – testing wild and domestic birds in a broad area around the quarantine area; 4)  Disinfect – kills the virus in the affected flock locations; and 5) Test – confirm that poultry farms in the area are free of the virus. The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in partnership with theIowa Department of Public Health are working directly with poultry workers at the affected facility to ensure proper precautions are being taken. These virus strains can travel in wild birds without those birds appearing sick. People should avoid contact with sick/dead poultry or wildlife. If contact occurs, wash your hands with soap and water and change clothing before having any contact with healthy domestic poultry and birds. All bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard flock owners, should continue to practice good biosecurity, prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to state/federal officials, either through their state veterinarian at 515-281-5321 or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593. Information will also be posted to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and LandStewardship’s website at www.iowaagriculture.gov/avianinfluenza.asp.

May 8, 2015 - 5:44 pm - Posted in News
liquid manure honeywagon houle

file photo

Melvin, Iowa — A plugged liquid manure line gets the blame for a spill of 14,000 gallons of the natural fertilizer near Melvin on Wednesday.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says an estimated 14,000 gallons of liquid manure was released Wednesday from an 1,800 head hog confinement owned by D&L Swine LLC west of Melvin. To put that into perspective, according to their specifications, that’s about as much manure as would fill two normal-sized liquid manure tanks.

The DNR reports the release occurred when a line from the confinement building to the lagoon became plugged causing the liquid manure to run across the ground surface to a tile intake that outlets to an unnamed tributary to the Floyd River.

DNR officials say the owner responded by placing large hay bales in the waterway downstream from the tile outlet. The liquid manure is being pumped back into the lagoon and the tile line is being flushed. They say pumping will continue until the ammonia levels in the contained part of the stream return to normal. No fish kill occurred because the stream was too shallow for fish along the approximately one-fourth of a mile of waterway.

The DNR says the spill was reported by the owners of the facility.

Environmental specialists from the DNR were on the scene Wednesday and Thursday to monitor the cleanup efforts.