Sheldon, Iowa — Faculty and administrators at Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon are looking forward to welcoming students in about a week and a half.

NCC’s Vice President for College Operations and Finance, Mark Brown says students will move in on Monday and Tuesday, August 17th and 18th and will start classes on Wednesday, August 19th.

Brown says NCC has a few advantages. For one, they have been practicing social distancing and other protocols all summer long on a smaller scale with summer classes. He says they also have other advantages.

Brown tells us that the campus will be open to employees, students, prospective students, and parents, but other visitors will need an appointment.

He says NCC has been following the applicable guidance.

He says they are constantly in contact with county authorities as well.

Brown tells us about NCC’s mask policy.

According to Brown, plexiglass barriers have been installed in several locations around campus to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

Students won’t have the same meal experience at NCC either, says Brown.

Brown says that while they will start classes face-to-face, they have alternative strategies, “loaded up,” that they can switch to if conditions warrant. He says they realize that the more hands-on classes are more difficult to do that way, but he gave accolades to the faculty for ways they have worked around the COVID limitations to get students the education and hands-on experience they need.

He says the main goal is — while slowing the spread of the virus — to minimize disruptions as much as possible.

For more information, click here.

Northwest Iowa — In just two days, northwest Iowa has gone from just three COVID-19 deaths to seven. Another death of a Lyon County resident was reported early Friday.

Three deaths were reported Thursday, one each in Lyon, Sioux, and O’Brien counties. Osceola County still reports no COVID-19 deaths.

In the four northwestern-most Iowa counties, fourteen more COVID-19 cases were reported on Friday, according to the latest statistics.

O’Brien County was up three at 136. Sioux County reports 617 cases, up eight. Lyon County was up two. 110 Lyon County residents have now had COVID-19. Osceola County was up one at 79.

Less than one percent of residents of Lyon and O’Brien counties have had COVID-19 — Lyon County has about nine-tenths of a percent, and O’Brien has almost a whole percent. Stats tell us that 1.31 percent of Osceola County residents have had it, and 1.77 percent of Sioux County residents have had COVID-19. The highest density in our region is in Buena Vista County, where over nine percent of the population has now had COVID-19.

As far as active cases, Lyon County has 15, Sioux County has 109, O’Brien County has 35, and Osceola has 10.

Recovery rate:

Lyon — out of 110 cases, 93 have recovered, for a rate of about 84%
Sioux — out of 617 cases, 505 have recovered, for a rate of about 82%
O’Brien — out of 136 cases, 99 have recovered, for a rate of about 73%
Osceola — out of 79 cases, 69 have recovered, for a rate of about 87%

Total numbers of cases from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report:

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 454, up 4
Cherokee 104, up 1
Buena Vista 1792, up 2
Clay 178, up 4
Dickinson 377, down 1

These numbers reflect the period of noon Thursday until noon Friday.

Northwest Iowa — It’s the lifeblood of northwest Iowa — but tall corn can cause some big problems at rural intersections.

Iowa State Patrol Safety Officer Kevin Krull says it happens every year about this time.

Krull says you need to always be alert when approaching an intersection, but especially if your view is blocked by corn or other tall crops.

Troopers tell us the tall corn contributes to several crashes each year at this time. They advise us to slow down, drive defensively, and expect the unexpected.

Sioux City, Iowa — A $77-million lawsuit filed by a U.S. Congressman from California (who has ties to northwest Iowa) against Hearst Magazines, the publisher of Esquire Magazine, and one of their writers — has been dismissed by a federal judge.

California Congressman Devon Nunes filed the suit in Federal District Court in Sioux City over what his lawsuit contends was a “Hit Piece” authored by Esquire writer Ryan Lizza prior to the 2018 congressional elections.

According to the complaint, Nunes asserted that the article, which was entitled, “Devin Nunes Family Farm Is Hiding A Politically Explosive Secret,” was “sensational and scandalous.” The complaint goes on to say the piece was republished by third parties on the internet and social media.”

The article at the heart of the lawsuit was published in September 2018, and in the words of the lawsuit complaint, the defendants “knowingly and recklessly injured Nunes’ reputation with a scandalous hit piece that intentionally disparaged Nunes and his family.” The filing also accused Nunes of “dishonesty, deceit, conspiracy and unethical practices, and severely impugned Nunes’ integrity and skills as a United States Congressman.”

The article attempted to paint a negative image of Nunes, and allegedly indicated that there was a scandal due to Nunes’ family’s move to Sibley from California a decade earlier.

The filing also reports that Lizza traveled to Sibley, where he “lurked around Nunes’ grammar-school aged nieces and stalked members of Nunes family, reducing his sister-in-law to tears.”

In sustaining Hearst Magazines’ motion for dismissal, U.S. District Judge C.J. Williams wrote, “The discussion of [Nunes’] family members’ efforts to cover up NuStar’s [alleged] use of undocumented labor is not linked to the discussion of [Nunes’ alleged] efforts to cover up the move of the family farm from California to Iowa.” The judge wrote, “There is no evidence of intent when the publication reports separate sets of facts instead of linking key statements together to create an inference.”

Williams’ dismissal also went on to say, “[Nunes] must prove [Hearst] published
the statements with ‘actual malice.’ ‘Actual malice’ means… [Hearst] published the
statement ‘with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was
false or not.'”

Judge Williams said it was on Nunes to show an intent to inflict harm through falsehood. He dismissed the suit for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted by motion.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The COVID-19 pandemic has made a mess out of many Iowans’ retirement plans. A study by an investment advising firm shows the average Iowans’ retirement savings balance dropped from 423-thousand dollars in January to 367-thousand at the end of March. That’s a 13-percent drop over three months.

Michelle Brownstein, vice president of Private Client Services at Personal Capital, says several factors are at play.

(As above) “One may be cost of living, so if someone lives in a more expensive area, they may not be saving as much for retirement,” Brownstein says. “There may also be population differences. If there is a slightly older population in a particular area, they may’ve saved a bit more than areas that skew a little bit younger from a demographic standpoint.”

The firm’s report shows Iowa ranks 12th out of the 50 states for the highest retirement savings average. As of June 30th, the average retirement balance for Iowans was a little over 415-thousand dollars, according to the report. Still, Brownstein says it’s more important to compare how your -own- account looks versus how Iowa ranks against other states.

(As above) “Are you personally on track to reach your goals?” Brownstein says. “If, for example, I lived somewhere really expensive or really inexpensive, to maintain my lifestyle in retirement is going to take a different amount of money once I get there to keep my lifestyle in the same format that I’ve become accustomed to.”

Looking at your 401k balance daily can “drive you nuts,” she says, and it may be smarter to only check in occasionally, as it should be an investment plan designed for decades, not day-to-day.

(As above) “The trick is to make sure that you have a great long-term strategy in place that you can stick to,” Brownstein says. “It’s tempting when there’s volatility in the market or just heightened uncertainty in a given period to want to make changes, to try and control things that you don’t actually have control over. You and I don’t control the market, as much as we might want to.” 

What you -can- control are things like the amount of risk you’re comfortable with, the goals you’re setting for retirement, and your individual savings patterns over time. The Personal Capital survey found 89-percent of respondants said they’re worried about the financial impact COVID-19 is having on their retirement.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — President Donald Trump’s idea of giving his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for president from the White House has drawn some criticism.

Republican Senator Joni Ernst was asked about it Thursday on her conference call with reporters.

(as said) “I really think it should be done in Des Moines, Iowa,” Ernst answered, “that makes total sense to me. We ‘re a state that largely supports Trump — and of course we could really use that economic boom. Just send President Trump in and we’ll find a place for him to give his acceptance speech.”

Another reporter asked Ernst again after her first answer.

(as said) “Well certainly I don’t think he should accept it from the White House and I don’t think he will,” Ernst says.

Ernst was also asked about when another federal coronavirus relief package may get done. She says Democrats don’t want to negotiate — and cited the extension of the federal unemployment as an example.

(as said) “We offered them the opportunity for a short term expansion of benefits so that we could continue to negotiating. (Senate Democrat leader) Chuck Schumer just flat out said ‘no’. He rejected it, no. Meaning either the heck with it, we are not going to negotiate — or he just simply wanted to throw us into chaos.”

Ernst says nothing can happen if Democrats don’t want to discuss the issue.

(as said) “You know if they don’t come forward with reasonable offers, counteroffers, it’s hard to negotiate. And we are not going to negotiate against ourselves. We want to know what is important to them,” according to Ernst.

Ernst is from Red Oak and is running for her second term in the US Senate.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The Iowa Finance Authority says more people could now be eligible to receive assistance through their COVID-19 Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention program.

Spokesperson Ashley Jared says those who were ineligible because they received the $600 federal unemployment benefit are now eligible for the program.

(as she says) “So if you have received that benefit in the past, you are now welcome to apply,” she says. “And even if you applied in the past and were denied because of that benefit, you are more than welcome to reapply to see if you are eligible for rent or mortgage assistance.”

She says the program will help those who are having trouble paying their rent during the pandemic.

(as she says) “We have rent assistance You can get up to $3,200 up to four months for rental assistance. And that is paid directly to your landlord. They have to log in and verify your rental amount at the apartment or home that you are renting.” according to Jared.

And there is help if you own your home.

(as she says) “If you have a mortgage and you are struggling to make your payment due to a COVID loss of income — we can also assist with that — with up to $3,000. Again up to four months to that mortgage servicer directly.”

Jared says. She says your eligibility is based on your income.

(as she says)  “It is based on 80% of the area median income, and that varies by county and household size. “In Polk County for instance, it is roughly $57,000 for a household of two.” she says.

The federal unemployment assistance expired at the end of July and the attempts in Congress to bring it back have so far stalled.

(as she says) “If something passes we would have to re-examine at that point — but right now we are just really glad we are able to open up eligibility to those who have received that assistance in the past.” Jared says.

Jared encourages anyone who may need help to check and see if they are eligible at iowahousingrecovery.com.

(as she says)”About 11-hundred have received assistance so far. A large majority of that being renters,” Jared says. “We anticipate the home ownership side will come a little later on, hopefully not though. Hopefully, people are keeping up on their mortgage payments.”

The money for the program comes from an allocation made by the governor form the Federal Cares Act.

Statewide Iowa — Anyone who needs to do back-to-school shopping for clothes and shoes will save money if they go this Friday or Saturday, thanks to Iowa’s annual Sales Tax Holiday.

Officials with the Iowa Department of Revenue tell us it begins at the stroke of midnight, early Friday morning, and runs until midnight Saturday night. It’s always the first Friday and Saturday of August. Every year people can make purchases of clothing and footwear and they do not have to pay sales tax or local option tax on those purchases.

Officials tell us it is only for items that cost less than $100.

Jewelry is taxable, but certain items of clothing like bow ties, blouses, boots, bowling shirts, or uniforms are not taxable.

Find a full list of items and more information from the Iowa Department of Revenue by clicking here.

A couple of reminders — although the Sales Tax Holiday is timed to coincide with back-to-school shopping, school supplies are NOT included, and are TAXABLE, as usual. Also, while some people call it “tax free weekend,” the sales tax holiday is ONLY on Friday and Saturday of this week. On Sunday, normal sales tax rules go back into effect.

The legislature passed the sales tax holiday bill in 1999.

August 6, 2020 - 3:59 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa Department of Public Health is passing on a warning from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) — of an outbreak of salmonella in onions.

The CDC advises people not to eat, serve, or sell recalled onions from Thomson International, Inc., or food made with these onions. Onion types include red, white, yellow, and sweet yellow varieties.

They advise that at home, you should check your refrigerator and kitchen for recalled onions or foods made with them, such as salads, wraps, tacos, sandwiches, etc. Check the package or look for a sticker on the onion to see if it is from Thomson International, Inc., or one of the other brand names (listed below). If it is, don’t eat it. Throw it away.

Other brand names that may be on labels include Thomson Premium, TLC Thomson International, Tender Loving Care, El Competitor, Hartley’s Best, Onions 52, Majestic, Imperial Fresh, Kroger, Utah Onions, and Food Lion.

See the recall notice to check for further details and pictures of the products.

The CDC says if you can’t tell where your onions are from, don’t eat them. You can usually call the store from which you purchased the onions to find out if they sell that kind. But if you can’t tell, throw them away, says the CDC.

If you used onions to make any other food and don’t know where the onions were from, don’t eat the food. Throw it away, even if no one got sick, says the CDC.

They also remind you that prepared food may contain them as well, such as salads, sandwiches, wraps, salsas, and dips.

People sickened in this outbreak reported eating raw onions in freshly prepared foods, including salads, sandwiches, wraps, salsas, and dips.

Walmart is one of the stores that carry the onions, according to the CDC.

We checked with Hy-Vee and Fareway as well. Fareway officials say they do not sell onions from Thompson International.

Hy-Vee spokesperson Christina Gayman says that out of an abundance of caution, “We pulled all onions in question from our shelves last Saturday. Those onions had a sticker with the number ’52’ on them. If customers purchased an onion with ’52’ on it Saturday or prior, they are welcome to bring it in for a new onion or a refund, or if they no longer have the onion or the sticker was removed/fell off, we will still take care of the customer. All onions purchased since Tuesday (even those with the ’52’ sticker) are from a supplier in Washington and not from the supplier in question.”

Northwest Iowa — Three more COVID-19 deaths have been reported in northwest Iowa. This is the highest number of deaths reported in a 24-hour period in the four-county area.

Another death has been reported by the Iowa Department of Public Health in Sioux County, for a total of three since the pandemic began, another O’Brien County resident has fallen to the disease, and the first COVID-19 death has been reported of a Lyon County resident. Health Services of Lyon County reports that the individual was over 80 years of age.

In the four northwestern-most Iowa counties, four more COVID-19 cases were reported on Thursday, according to the latest statistics.

O’Brien County was up one at 133. Sioux County reports 609 cases, up two. Lyon County was up one. 108 Lyon County residents have now had COVID-19. Osceola County was unchanged at 78.

Less than one percent of residents of Lyon and O’Brien counties have had COVID-19 — Lyon County has about nine-tenths of a percent, and O’Brien has between nine-tenths and a whole percent. Stats tell us that 1.29 percent of Osceola County residents have had it, and 1.75 percent of Sioux County residents have had COVID-19. The highest density in our region is in Buena Vista County, where over nine percent of the population has now had COVID-19.

As far as active cases, Lyon County has 15, Sioux County has 106, O’Brien County has 35, and Osceola has 10.

Recovery rate:

Lyon — out of 108 cases, 92 have recovered, for a rate of about 85%
Sioux — out of 609 cases, 500 have recovered, for a rate of about 82%
O’Brien — out of 133 cases, 97 have recovered, for a rate of about 73%
Osceola — out of 78 cases, 68 have recovered, for a rate of about 87%

Total numbers of cases from other counties around the area and their change from the previous report:

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 450, up 2
Cherokee 103, up 4
Buena Vista 1790, up 1
Clay 174, up 1
Dickinson 378, down 2

These numbers reflect the period of noon Wednesday until noon Thursday.