ice power lines sxcNorthwest Iowa — A number of Northwest Iowa electric cooperatives and one municipal utility have filed a formal appeal over the denial of FEMA disaster aid.

Lyon Rural Electric Cooperative, Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative, Osceola Rural Electric Cooperative and Sanborn Municipal Utilities have filed a formal appeal with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (or FEMA) asking that the agency reverse their decision to deny federal disaster aid to Iowa following devastating storms, a decision that — according to a statement from the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives — could also force the repayment of millions in previously-awarded aid.

Marion Denger, president of the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives says that their top priority is providing member-consumers in rural Iowa with reliable and affordable power. In order to do that, he says it’s important that FEMA honor its commitment and their well-established practices. He says that during the appeal process the association will continue to make a strong case showing this decision is an unprecedented reversal of FEMA’s disaster aid policy. With winter storm season approaching, Denger says it’s vital that they resolve this issue and give their members the assurance that the federal government will follow their established policy.

Following a late winter snow, ice and wind storm in April, a federally-declared Major Disaster included Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Sioux and O’Brien counties. Three of Iowa’s electric cooperatives, a generation and transmission cooperative and one municipal utility suffered damage.

In response to past disaster-related damage, FEMA has followed a policy where visually-observable criteria were used to determine if power lines had been damaged beyond the point of repair. FEMA reversed this long-standing policy and denied disaster aid applications following the April storm.

For the first time in the nation, FEMA has stated that disaster aid could not be issued because the affected electric utilities did not conduct comprehensive laboratory testing on every mile of wire on an annual basis. This test is not performed as a matter of industry practice or required to meet any industry or engineering standard. It is also not required by the Iowa Utilities Board, which regulates Iowa’s electric utilities and required them to submit reliability plans and inspection and maintenance plans.

Members of Iowa’s congressional delegation and a coalition of Iowa agriculture, business, and utility organizations had previously requested that FEMA meet with the utilities to discuss the disaster aid denial. Additionally, the governor’s office and the Iowa Department of Homeland Security have raised questions about the agency’s decision.

Denger says that the commitment of such a broad group of elected officials and organizations underscores the importance of reversing this decision. He claims that it’s the right thing to do for rural Iowa and their member-consumers across the state.

Earlier this year, KIWA News talked to Dennis Harper with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and he said that they had received a response from FEMA that because the new rules were not in effect before, previously-awarded disaster aid would not have to be paid back.

October 31, 2013 - 12:28 am - Posted in News

Osceola Sheriff Car 72-2Harris, Iowa — A Harris man has been arrested on an assault charge.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s office reports that on Monday, October 28, 2013 one of their deputies arrested 26-year-old Jake John Eledge of Harris for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. He was charged with Domestic Abuse Assault, a Simple Misdemeanor.

Eledge was transported to the Osceola County Jail and held on a $300 Bond.

October 28, 2013 - 12:45 pm - Posted in News


A Weekly Column about Plants, Gardens, & Yards

ISU Extension and Outreach Consumer Horticulture • Lyon-O’Brien-Osceola-Sioux Counties

Gardening Indoors with Houseplants

By: Margaret Murphy, Horticulture Educator/Regional Foods Coordinator Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola & Sioux Counties

Three quarters of Americans decorate their indoors with houseplants. If you are thinking of adding a new houseplant to your home, here are some helpful tips on how to select plants and keep them healthy.

Before you bring home a new houseplant give some thought to where it is going to be placed. Like plants we grow outdoors, houseplants have preferred light requirements, moisture needs and temperature ranges. The type of light a plant requires is one of the most important factors to consider prior to buying and bringing it home. Does the plant do best in bright light or will it do fine in medium or low light? The University of Illinois Extension’s website on houseplants ( has several good suggestions on plant placement based on its light needs.

When it comes to temperature, the good news is that most houseplants can tolerate a rather broad range. The majority of foliage houseplants, for example, manage well with daytime temperatures around 70 degrees F and nighttime temperatures about 10 degrees cooler. Not too different from how many of us keep our homes. However, houseplants can be adversely affected by being exposed to temperature extremes. Avoid placing them near heat vents where they will receive blasts of hot air or too near windows or doors where they may encounter cold drafts this winter.

The moisture needs of a houseplant can be influenced by a number of things including type of plant, type of container, type of soil, time of year and level of relative humidity. If you’re like me, you find it easier to remember to water if you keep to a schedule. I water my houseplants on the same day every week. However, ideally, plants should be watered only when they need it. For most this is when the top inch or two of soil is dry to the touch. If you are not sure of a specific plant’s watering needs and the plant label doesn’t provide it, you can look it up in a book on houseplants or on a reputable website. But no matter what the water requirements are for a plant, it should not be allowed to sit directly in water for too long. Remember to discard the water that drains through to the saucer.

With indoor plants, it is also a good idea to consider the humidity level in the house. Many houseplants favor a more humid environment than the average home provides, especially during winter. A tip to increase the humidity level around a plant is to place its pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water. Make sure the plant roots are not sitting in the water. Grouping plants closely together can also help create a more humid environment.

Other things to consider when selecting a plant is look for one with a well-balanced silhouette that doesn’t look leggy or sparse. Avoid plants that appear stressed or cared for improperly. Your new plant should not start off wilted or with damaged leaves or stems. Check the plant carefully for any signs of insects or disease. Remember that houseplants you buy at a store or garden center will be accustomed to a different environment than what they’ll find in your home. So give them some time to adjust. The University of Illinois Extension also reminds us that often plants will drop leaves or develop yellow leaves when first placed into a new environment. It is recommended to avoid fertilizing during this adjustment period to help minimize stress. If buying a houseplant now, keep in mind that most houseplants don’t need to be fertilized in the winter months.

Lastly, keep indoor plants well-groomed by removing dead leaves or stems. Some types of plants perform better if occasionally pinched back. This is usually best done in the spring or summer. Larger leafed plants may also need gentle dusting from time to time. Though houseplants can become infected with pests or diseases and should be periodically inspected for such; more commonly problems arise due to improper watering or fertilizing. Changes in temperature or light can also cause problems for houseplants. So if you find a houseplant is losing its leaves or otherwise looking stressed, double check that it is receiving the proper amount of moisture, fertilizer and light and is not experiencing too much in the way of temperature changes throughout the day.

For any questions feel free to contact Margaret Murphy by phone (712) 472-2576, email or contact your local County Extension office. Additional information was provided by the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Resource Guide for Iowa Master Gardeners (2011).

Contact information: Margaret Murphy 712 472-2576(office) •605 521-7893(cell) •

October 28, 2013 - 9:19 am - Posted in Obituaries

Joan H. Runia, age 83, of Sanborn, Iowa, formerly of Ocheyedan, Iowa, passed away on Saturday, October 26, 2013, at Prairie View Home in Sanborn.

Memorial Services will be Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 11:00 A.M. at the Christian Reformed Church in Ocheyedan, Iowa. Pastor Doug Quenzer and Pastor Stan Schalk officiating.  Graveside Services will be Saturday, November 2 at 10:00 A.M. at Ocheyedan Township Cemetery in Ocheyedan.

Viewing will be Friday, November 1, from 3:00 to 7:00 P.M. with no family present, at the Andringa Funeral Chapel in Ocheyedan.

Online Expressions of Sympathy can be sent to

The Andringa Funeral Home of Sibley and Ocheyedan in charge of arrangements for Joan H. Runia.

October 28, 2013 - 9:00 am - Posted in Obituaries

Dena Broesder, age 94 of Sibley, IA, formerly of Little Rock, IA died Saturday October 26, 2013 at Sibley Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Sibley, IA.

Funeral service will be 1:00 PM, Wednesday, October 30th at First Presbyterian Church in Little Rock, with Reverend Scott Burdsall officiating.  Burial will follow at Pleasant View Cemetery in Little Rock.

Visitation will be Tuesday, October 29th from 4:00 to 8:00 PM at the First Presbyterian Church in Little Rock.

An online registry and full obituary will be available at:

October 25, 2013 - 10:45 am - Posted in Obituaries

candleJoanne Kay Hinrichs, age 71 of Guttenberg, IA passed away on Thursday, September 5, 2013 at her home.

Graveside memorial service will be held at 9:30 AM, Saturday, November 2, 2013 at the Holman Township Cemetery in Sibley, IA, with Reverend Bruce Wilterdink officiating.

Family is in charge of arrangements.

October 24, 2013 - 2:39 pm - Posted in Sports

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources issues a weekly fishing report on Thursdays in an effort to provide the latest information heading into the weekend. The weekly fishing report is compiled from information gathered from local bait shops, angler creel surveys, and county and state parks staff. For more information contact the Spirit Lake Hatchery at 712-336-1840.



West Okoboji Lake

Bluegill – Slow: bluegills should start to move shallower as the water cools. Continue to fish around weed edges and open pockets.  Yellow Perch – Fair: Try using a pilkie tipped with wigglers for perch around some sort of structure be it weeds, rocks, drop-offs, or a combination.  Most are reporting many small fish with a few nice ones mixed in.


East Okoboji Lake

Yellow Bass – Fair: Try a pilkie tipped with wigglers over rock piles.


Big Spirit Lake

Yellow Perch – Slow: Only a handful of perch are being caught and the few that are mostly small fish in the 4-7-inch range with keepers being rare. Walleye – Slow: Fishing during the day has been spotty at best with the best bite coming around sunset and into the night.  The water has cooled into the 40s and a slow presentation has been the best.


Silver Lake (Dickinson)

Wader fishing should be picking up try fishing the late evening with twister tails or a jig and minnow.


Storm Lake (including Little Storm Lake)

The dredge machine on Storm Lake is in operation.  Stay clear of the dredge, booster pump, and pipeline that runs from the dredge to the east shore.  Recent sampling has indicated a fair amount of walleye (less than 17 inches) are in the state marina complex.


Little Sioux River (state line to Linn Grove)

Try white twister tails in the deeper holes for walleye.


Little Sioux River (Linn Grove to Correctionville)

Anglers are catching lots of walleye in the Little Sioux River from Cherokee to the Correctionville/Anthon area. Large white twisters are working great.  Live chubs have been producing good walleye as well.  Focus efforts on deeper pools, such as below rock riffles, near bridges, and around snags.


avera mckennan careflight new helicopterAshton, Iowa — A Sioux City man was transported by helicopter to a Sioux Falls hospital after an accident near Ashton on Saturday afternoon.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 4 PM, 28-year-old Zachary Lessard of Sioux City was driving a 2007 Harley Davidson northbound on Highway 60, about a mile south of Ashton. Seventy-two-year-old Donald Keninger of Ashton was also northbound on 60, in front of Lessard in a 1992 Dodge pickup.

Lessard failed to see the pickup as it was slowing down for a tractor, and rear-ended the pickup.

Lessard was taken to the Osceola Community Hospital and later transported by air to a Sioux Falls hospital.

Lessard’s 2007 Harley Davidson sustained about $7,000 in damages and Keninger’s 1992 Dodge Pickup sustained about $1,500 in damages.

The Ashton Ambulance and Ashton Fire Department also responded to this accident and Iowa State Patrol officers also assisted.

October 21, 2013 - 2:25 pm - Posted in News

drunk driving OWI DWI iStockSibley, Iowa — A Sibley man has been arrested and faces alcohol and driving-related charges.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that on Saturday (10-19-13), one of their deputies arrested 23-year-old Christopher Renner of Sibley, and charged him with Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated, Second Offense, an Aggravated Misdemeanor.

The arrest stemmed from a traffic violation in Sibley.

Renner was also cited for No Insurance, Careless Driving, and Open Container, all Simple Misdemeanors.

Renner was transported to the Osceola County Jail and held on a $2000 cash bond.

October 21, 2013 - 10:52 am - Posted in News


A Weekly Column about Plants, Gardens, & Yards

ISU Extension and Outreach Consumer Horticulture • Lyon-O’Brien-Osceola-Sioux Counties

 October is for Planting

By: Margaret Murphy, Horticulture Educator/Regional Foods Coordinator Lyon, O’Brien, Osceola & Sioux Counties


I know it is a bit early to think about spring blooms. After all, most of us are still busy putting our gardens to bed for the winter. But now is the time to plant spring flowering bulbs otherwise known as hardy bulbs. These include daffodils and tulips. Trust me, the reward of seeing their early spring color makes it worth the effort.

Planting bulbs is easy but it is important to plant them at the correct depth. If the package doesn’t include planting depths, the rule of thumb advises planting bulbs 2 to 3 times as deep as they are wide. Place the bulb tip or pointed end facing up. If the top and bottom of the bulb are not obvious, lay the bulb on its side (it will figure out the right way to grow). Once planted, water thoroughly to get the bulbs started on their rooting process.

It is not recommended to place fertilizer in the hole before planting bulbs as this might burn their young roots. Instead, use a light application of slow-release fertilizer on top of the ground or work it into the soil before planting. The fall is the best time to fertilize hardy bulbs since this is when their roots are developing. After the ground freezes, remember to cover your bulb bed with 2 to 4 inches of mulch. Use lightweight mulch such as pine needles or chopped leaves. Lastly, don’t forget to plant some bulbs from the ‘minor’ bulb group such as snowdrops, crocus, winter aconite and striped squill. These are early spring bloomers and can sometimes be seen peeking through the soil while snow is still on the ground.  More information on spring flowering bulbs can be found online in Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach Yard and Garden article Planting Spring-Flowering Bulbs by Richard Jauron and Willy Klein (September, 2011).

Another item you can plant now is garlic. Garlic is grown by planting the cloves. Avoid planting cloves bought in the grocery store as these are often treated to prevent sprouting. This makes them keep longer in your kitchen but can hinder the number of cloves that will develop after planting.

Garlic needs to be planted in a location that receives plenty of sun. Make sure the soil is well-drained. Garlic also does not compete well with weeds so it’s best to maintain a tidy garlic bed during the growing season. Before planting, gently separate the individual garlic cloves. The largest cloves will be the most productive.  Plant the cloves about one inch deep with the pointed side facing up. Cloves should be placed 3 to 5 inches apart in the row with rows spaced at about 18 to 24 inches apart. When finished planting, put down several inches of mulch to insulate the cloves over winter. Remove the mulch in early spring after the threat of a hard freeze is over.

Garlic is considered a “heavy feeder” so before planting work some all-purpose garden fertilizer into the soil. In the spring, side-dress the plants about three weeks after you see the first shoots emerge. This involves lightly sprinkling fertilizer along each side of the row keeping it about 3 to 4 inches away from the shoots. It’s recommended not to apply nitrogen after the first week of May as this may delay bulb development.

For hardneck cultivars, flower shoots (called scapes) begin to form in midsummer. The scapes should be removed when they begin to curl. This encourages the plant to focus its energy on bulb growth rather than flower development. If not removed, the bulb production can be reduced. But don’t throw those scapes away. Young, tender scapes are considered a delicacy and can be chopped up and put in salads or other dishes to add a mild garlic flavor. Harvest garlic when the foliage begins to dry and turn brown. In our area, that usually happens in August. For more information on growing garlic, see ISU Extension article Growing Garlic by Cindy Haynes (October, 2009).

So even though it seems like we should put our gardening thoughts away for awhile, it’s still time to get out and get some planting done! For any questions feel free to contact horticulture educator, Margaret Murphy, by phone (712) 472-2576, at email or contact your local County Extension office.


Contact information: Margaret Murphy 712 472-2576(office) •605 521-7893(cell) •