Northwest Iowa — With only a short time remaining to secure health insurance for the upcoming year, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach is offering free workshops to help individuals understand how to make smart choices when purchasing health care coverage.

Two workshops will be in our area. One of them is from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on November 14th at the ISU Extension and Outreach Sioux County office in Orange City. The other is at the same time, but on November 19th at the Sibley Public Library.

Extension experts tell us that Smart Choice Health Insurance is a health insurance literacy curriculum that provides research-based education to help consumers understand health insurance concepts and terms, evaluate their own health insurance needs, examine insurance plans and select a plan that fits their needs and budget.

Jan Monahan, Human Sciences Specialist in Family Finance with ISU Extension and Outreach says that as individuals and families consider essential benefits, additional coverage and pre-existing conditions, they may feel overwhelmed by the choices. She says that is true at any stage of life, whether the individual is turning 26 and leaving their family’s health insurance plan or if he or she has had their own health insurance policy for years.

Through the Smart Choice Health Insurance workshop, attendees will:

Understand the importance of networks and finding out which health providers participate in various plans;
Find out whether financial assistance is available to reduce the cost of health insurance;
Use a guide to identify their own health insurance needs and priorities;
Be able to compare different plans available through the Health Insurance Marketplace; and
Prepare to purchase health insurance coverage.

Monahan tells us the workshop will help people choose the coverage that best fits their or their family’s budget and health care needs, and help them use that plan efficiently once enrolled.

For more information about the Smart Choice Health Insurance workshop, contact the ISU Extension and Outreach Sioux County office at 712-737-4230 or xsioux@iastate.edu. The program is free and open to the public, with no pre-registration needed.

October 19, 2019 - 10:17 pm - Posted in News

Ames, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Transportation is making the transition into its winter operation phase. Winter operations director and former northwest Iowan, Craig Bargfrede, says they will gradually refit equipment from construction maintenance work to be ready for winter.


The DOT has 101 maintenance garages across the state that house 902 trucks, 42 motor graders, 27 tow plows, and 11 heavy-duty, self-propelled snowblowers.


The department buys salt during the spring and summer when prices are lower to have it ready for winter use.


While you might buy a one-pound bag of salt for your driveway — the D-O-T buys truckloads.


They spread salt and sand and also use 28 million gallons of salt brine to treat the roads during the winter. The department has more than one-thousand fulltime employees — and Bargfrede says they are also searching for some more people to work this winter.


He says many of the added winter workers come from other occupations that are seasonal.


Bargfrede encourages anyone who is interested to check out their winter work opportunities.


Bargfrede says he gets asked all the time when he expects the first snow — and says he doesn’t have a crystal ball to predict that — he just wants his crews ready when it hits.

October 18, 2019 - 1:31 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The state unemployment rate is back in a holding pattern again, staying at two-point-five percent in September.

Iowa Workforce Development deputy director, Ryan West, says it’s the third month at that rate after 12 straight months where it held at two-point-four percent.

The unemployment rate hasn’t changed, but there has been movement both ways in the September job market.

He says the increase in workers getting into the workforce offset an increase in people who don’t have a job.

The total number of working Iowans has increased by 45-thousand-200 compared to last September. West says a lot of the increase in labor is companies hiring extra workers to get work finished before the winter weather sets in. West says it is hard to get a handle on how long it takes someone who loses a job to get a new one.

He says the time of year and type of employment play a big role in how quickly someone gets a new job. West says Iowa Workforce Development sometimes tries to help people get back into the workforce by expanding their search beyond the job they held in the past.

Iowa’s unemployment rate remains well below the U.S. rate, which fell to three-point-five percent in September.

October 17, 2019 - 3:56 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — After last weekend’s cold snap and snow, this week has seemed comparatively pleasant.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Brad Temeyer at the Sioux Falls office says that while it seems nice, temperatures are not that much above normal.


He tells us that while the system will probably have some precipitation, it won’t be heavy and widespread.


According to Temeyer, it will be warm enough that any precip that does fall this weekend into Monday will be rain, and not snow. But he says looking at the middle to the end of next week, like starting around October 23rd, there may again be some precip, and at this point, it’s hard to predict whether that will fall as rain or snow.


We asked Temeyer to peer into his crystal ball and tell us what the rest of the fall and the first part of the winter will be like. He says while below normal temperatures are forecast for next week, as a whole, chances are better than even that temperatures will be above normal for the remainder of October, November, December, and into January. But he says chances are also better than even that we’ll see above-normal precipitation throughout that period too.

October 17, 2019 - 2:21 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The U-S Environmental Protection Agency is proposing some major changes to a rule that regulates lead in drinking water. One change would require water systems with lead above 15 parts per billion to annually replace at least three percent of their lead service lines right up to individual homes.

EPA Regional Administrator Jim Gulliford says this change is an improvement. The current rule requires water systems to replace seven percent of just their portion of the lead service lines, which he says doesn’t help individual homes.

Water systems with even higher amounts would need to replace at least 3 percent of their lead service lines each year.

The EPA is taking public comment on the proposed rules for 60 days once they’re published in the Federal Register.

Worthington, Minnesota — The ACLU of Minnesota is suing the City of Worthington and Worthington Police Department on behalf of a Sheldon man.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota, they are suing them over an alleged assault by police that put the victim in intensive care for five days, requiring multiple surgeries.

The ACLU-MN says they filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota against the city, its police department, Police Chief Troy Appel, Officer Mark Riley, and his friend and business partner Evan Eggers – who was doing a ride-along. The complaint alleges that police used excessive force against Kelvin Francisco Rodriguez, who according to published reports, lives in Sheldon and works for the JBS pork processing plant in Worthington.

The ACLU alleges that the assault broke four of Rodriguez’s ribs and lacerated his pancreas and liver. They say that Rodriguez, bleeding internally, repeatedly asked for medical assistance, and his requests were ignored. The suit says that when medical assistance was finally allowed, Rodriguez’s injuries proved so severe, he had to be airlifted to Sanford Medical in Sioux Falls, S.D. They say he incurred medical expenses close to $150,000.

The ACLU quotes Rodriguez as saying, “What happened to me is happening to other people, but they are silent. That’s why I’m working with the ACLU of Minnesota to file suit. As a human being, I ask that the police be held accountable for not adequately doing their job and respecting me as a human being. My wife and children saw me going in and out of life and death. I think it is fair to ask for justice. I don’t want to see the officer in uniform.”

The lawsuit alleges that the assault violated the Fourth Amendment and the delay in medical treatment violated the Fourteenth Amendment.

ACLU-MN Legal Director Teresa Nelson says, “Immigrants and people of color are too often targeted by police excessive force. We hope this lawsuit makes the city and Worthington police finally recognize and stop the use of excessive force against all people. Police are sworn to protect and serve people, not harm them, and certainly not to send them to the intensive care unit.”

The ACLU says that on January 12, 2019, Rodriguez was driving when he saw a police car. They say that fearful of how police treat immigrants and people of color in Worthington, Rodriguez pulled off the road into an auto dealership parking lot. The ACLU says, “The police followed, even though they had no reason to suspect Rodriguez of wrongdoing. Rodriguez got out and ran, fearing for his safety.” The ACLU alleges that when police activated their emergency lights, Rodriguez returned and complied with officers’ requests.

They tell us that this is the second time the ACLU-MN has sued Worthington for excessive force. Police had repeatedly punched and kneed a young man who was still seat-belted into his car. The city and Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force agreed to reform their use of force in that settlement.

ACLU officials say that the new lawsuit points out that Worthington police seem to be violating that settlement by failing to adequately investigate or document the use of force, take action to prevent these incidents, or discipline officers for violations.

The video below is dashcam footage recorded from a Worthington Police Department Squad Car showing the January, 2012 incident. There is some coarse language contained in this video, viewer discretion is advised.

Worthington Police Department video courtesy of the ACLU-MN

October 16, 2019 - 11:14 am - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — A former Des Moines Register columnist who hosted many of the newspaper’s yearly bike rides across the state of Iowa is hoping for a reconciliation that keeps the event’s management team in place. The man who’s managed the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa for the past 16 years resigned yesterday, along with the rest of the RAGBRAI staff, and announced plans for a competing “Iowa’s Ride” during the same week as RAGBRAI next July.

Chuck Offenburger was the “Iowa Boy” columnist for the Register for 21 years.

In a statement posted online, the RAGBRAI director T.J. Juskiewicz, who resigned, said the decision was based on how The Register and its owner handled its story about Carson King. King is the former ISU student who raised three MILLION dollars for the University of Iowa children’s hospital with a poster he held up during an ESPN broadcast. Offenburger, who resigned from the Register in 1998 to protest treatment of other veteran reporters, says in his view the paper “handled the story appropriately,” but Offenburger is hoping the RAGBRAI staff who resigned and The Register’s management can meet and resolve the dispute.

Offenburger, the newspaper’s “co-host” of RAGBRAI for 16 years, says the annual, week-long ride is one the most important tourism events in the state.

The RAGBRAI’s now-former manager says the newspaper’s executives blocked him from responding the way he wished to RAGBRAI enthusiasts who had questions about the paper’s Carson King story. The Iowa Bicycle Coalition issued a written statement expressing extreme concern about the future of RAGBRAI, which the coalition described as “iconic” and both culturally and economically important to the state of Iowa. The group expressed hope that a cross-state bike ride would continues, in whatever version that may be, in a way that elevates bicycling and promotes safety.

For more information about Iowa’s Ride, visit http://iowasride.com/

Statewide Iowa — Leaders of Iowa farm commodity and biofuels groups held a news conference Wednesday to call on President Trump to force the EPA to follow the deal on ethanol and biodiesel that Trump struck with the industry a dozen days ago.

Primghar farmer Kelly Nieuwenhuis is board president of the Sioux Center ethanol plant that has shut down joined the event by phone. He told reporters President Trump “has lost a lot of support” over his administration’s approach to ethanol policy.

Iowa Corn Growers Association CEO Craig Floss warned thousands of farmers who invested in ethanol and biodiesel plants will go out of business if the EPA plan stands. Grant Kimberly, executive director of the Iowa Biodiesel Board, agrees.

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw says the EPA draft for implementing the ethanol and biodiesel mandates over the next three years will create an economic crisis.

EPA officials, in revealing details of their ethanol and biodiesel policies for 2020, said their action “fulfills the agreement reached on October 4th with the White House, EPA and USDA.”

 

*****************************************

Original story posted 11:13am, 10/16/2019

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Iowa’s ethanol and biodiesel industry reacted in disbelief and anger after the Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft policy on future biofuels production targets.

The president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association was first to react, saying he was outraged the EPA failed to implement the details of a plan President Trump announced less than two weeks ago. Trump’s outline suggested oil refineries would be forced to blend more ethanol in gasoline next year, to make up for the ethanol blending waivers granted this year. The Iowa Corn Growers’ leader said the EPA’s document fell “well short” of that mark.

The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association blasted the EPA for reneging on Trump’s biofuels deal. The Iowa Biodiesel Board said the EPA’s plan did not restore the integrity of the Renewable Fuels Standard, as Trump had promised.

The EPA, in issuing its announcement, included comments from Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst as well as Iowa Ag Secretary Mike Naig, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg, all Republicans, all of whom the EPA quoted praising the proposal.

Reynolds, in a separate written statement late Tuesday afternoon released by her own office, said she understands the industry’s frustration and distrust, and Reynolds suggested farmers need to make their voices heard during the 30-day period for public comment on the EPA’s plan.

Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Iowa City, was the first member of Iowa’s congressional delegation to speak individually on Tuesday’s news. He called the EPA’s proposed policy “outrageous” because it provides no guarantee the ethanol and biodiesel production mandates will ever be restored. Congresswoman Cindy Axne, a Democrat form Des Moines, called it a broken promise from the president that’s “insulting, deeply disappointing, but unfortunately, not surprising.” Congresswoman Abby Finkenaur, a Democrat from Dubuque, said once again Iowa farmers are being let down by a president who “plays favorites with big oil.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign was the first in the Democratic presidential field to weigh in, issuing a statement on what it referred to as “the Trump Administration’s continued sabotage of Iowa’s renewable fuels industry.” Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar accused Trump of being more interested in his “big oil buddies” than in the plight of farmers.

Photo Courtesy Radio Iowa

Worthington, Minnesota — The ACLU of Minnesota is suing the City of Worthington and Worthington Police Department on behalf of a Sheldon man.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Minnesota, they are suing them over an alleged assault by police that put the victim in intensive care for five days, requiring multiple surgeries.

The ACLU-MN says they filed the lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota against the city, its police department, Police Chief Troy Appel, Officer Mark Riley, and his friend and business partner Evan Eggers – who was doing a ride-along. The complaint alleges that police used excessive force against Kelvin Francisco Rodriguez, who according to published reports, lives in Sheldon and works for the JBS pork processing plant in Worthington.

The ACLU alleges that the assault broke four of Rodriguez’s ribs and lacerated his pancreas and liver. They say that Rodriguez, bleeding internally, repeatedly asked for medical assistance, and his requests were ignored. The suit says that when medical assistance was finally allowed, Rodriguez’s injuries proved so severe, he had to be airlifted to Sanford Medical in Sioux Falls, S.D. They say he incurred medical expenses close to $150,000.

The ACLU quotes Rodriguez as saying, “What happened to me is happening to other people, but they are silent. That’s why I’m working with the ACLU of Minnesota to file suit. As a human being, I ask that the police be held accountable for not adequately doing their job and respecting me as a human being. My wife and children saw me going in and out of life and death. I think it is fair to ask for justice. I don’t want to see the officer in uniform.”

The lawsuit alleges that the assault violated the Fourth Amendment and the delay in medical treatment violated the Fourteenth Amendment.

ACLU-MN Legal Director Teresa Nelson says, “Immigrants and people of color are too often targeted by police excessive force. We hope this lawsuit makes the city and Worthington police finally recognize and stop the use of excessive force against all people. Police are sworn to protect and serve people, not harm them, and certainly not to send them to the intensive care unit.”

The ACLU says that on January 12, 2019, Rodriguez was driving when he saw a police car. They say that fearful of how police treat immigrants and people of color in Worthington, Rodriguez pulled off the road into an auto dealership parking lot. The ACLU says, “The police followed, even though they had no reason to suspect Rodriguez of wrongdoing. Rodriguez got out and ran, fearing for his safety.” The ACLU alleges that when police activated their emergency lights, Rodriguez returned and complied with officers’ requests.

They tell us that this is the second time the ACLU-MN has sued Worthington for excessive force. Police had repeatedly punched and kneed a young man who was still seat-belted into his car. The city and Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force agreed to reform their use of force in that settlement.

ACLU officials say that the new lawsuit points out that Worthington police seem to be violating that settlement by failing to adequately investigate or document the use of force, take action to prevent these incidents, or discipline officers for violations.

October 14, 2019 - 4:01 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — Iowa’s high point — northeast of Sibley, near the Minnesota border — is called Hawkeye Point. The folks who help with Hawkeye Point have decided the attraction needs a logo, and they’ve organized a contest that people can enter by submitting their designs for the logo.

Osceola County Economic Development Director Stephanie Neppl tells us the Hawkeye Point Board came up with the plan.


She tells us where the idea came from.


The contest is open to everyone in Osceola County. She says it runs until December 2nd, and it doesn’t matter if you submit your logo on paper or digitally, they will do what they need to do to make the logo work.

Neppl tells us you can email a jpeg or png file of your logo creation to sneppl@osceolacoia.org or drop it off at the Osceola County Economic Development Commission office in the basement of the Osceola County Courthouse on a USB stick or a CD. If you choose to draw your logo, they’d like you to take it to the courthouse or mail to: Hawkeye Point Foundation, c/o Osceola County Economic Development Commission, 300 7th Street, Sibley, IA 51249.

Neppl says please include your name, address, email and phone number. The courthouse is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. until 4.30 p.m.

For more info on Hawkeye Point, you can visit https://www.osceolacountyia.com/living-here/hawkeyepoint