December 7, 2018 - 12:57 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Over the past several weeks we’ve seen the pump prices of gasoline drop here in our area, and similar decreases have been seen nationwide.

Triple-A Iowa reports that the average price for a gallon of gas nationwide is now at a record low of $2.43 a gallon. The average in Iowa dropped 13-cents compared to last week to hit $2.16 a gallon. That’s 30 cents a gallon lower than last year at this time. Triple-A spokesman Nick Jarmusz says everything has fallen into place to push prices lower.

Jarmusz says you won’t pay the average price at all stations — as the cost to fill up can vary quite a bit across the state. Here in Sheldon, as of Friday mid-day, the pump prices are within a cent or two of $2.15 a gallon.

He says the prices should stay low for awhile — but there is one unknown still out there.

Jarmusz says it is likely the prices will stay right around where they are, at least through December.

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — A top Iowa Farm Bureau official says he’s thankful Mexico didn’t start a food fight during the renegotiation of NAFTA.

David Miller, the IFB’s director of research, notes – unlike other countries – Mexican trade officials did not target agricultural products when retaliating to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs.

Speaking this week at the Iowa Farm Bureau’s annual meeting in Des Moines, Miller said he wishes that would’ve been the model for other countries involved in trade disputes with the U.S.

Miller was quick to point out China did retaliate on U.S. food and ag products and that Mexico has done so in the past. He added it’s “refreshing” that, for the most part, the U.S., Canada and Mexico have kept food out of the tariff dispute.

December 6, 2018 - 2:13 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The Internal Revenue Service is highlighting the importance of keeping your tax information safe this week.

IRS spoksman, Christopher Miller says “National Tax Security Awareness Week” is especially important based on the trend this year.

Phising is when someone uses an email address that looks legitimate, but is not and they are trying to get your personal information. He says the reports of the problem are up dramatically this year.

Miller says the scams can be very sophisticated.

He says once you open the links they ask you for personal information that can use to file a tax return in your name. He says they will try all avenues to get to you and it may be someone close to you.

If the email is asking you for things like your Social Security number or bank information — that’s a big clue that it is a phising attempt.

Miller says you can help them try to stop these attacks.

One recent campaign used emais with subjects like “IRS Important Notice,” “IRS Taxpayer Notice” and other variations to demand a payment or they threaten to seize the recipient’s tax refund.

December 5, 2018 - 3:36 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Your gas meter. It’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when we have ice or snow. But you shouldn’t completely ignore it either.

We talked to MidAmerican Energy Spokesperson Geoff Greenwood. He says they ask their customers to clear snow from their meters.

According to Greenwood, things have changed in the past few years in most areas MidAmerican serves. He says in most cases, company meter-readers no longer have to access each meter physically once a month, but . . .

Greenwood says if you’re feeling extra generous, you can clear a path in the snow to your meter, but their crews can handle that if they need to. Just make sure the meter is not buried in snow or ice. For more information, you can call your gas company. In MidAmerican’s territory, the number to call is (888) 427-5632.

Sheldon, Iowa — No injuries were reported in the collision of a Sheldon school bus and a minivan Wednesday morning at the south edge of Sheldon.

According to the Iowa State Patrol, about 8:00 Wednesday morning a 2002 Ford Windstar, driven by 21-year old Michael Austen Howe of Orange City exited Highway 60 at the Business 60 South exit, and attempted a left turn onto Business 60 South. At the same time, a 2008 Thomas school bus, owned by the Sheldon Community Schools, and driven by 35-year old Mark David Pritts of Sheldon, was northbound on Business 60 South, and rear-ended Howe’s minivan. Troopers say both vehicles ended up on the east shoulder.

Howe reportedly told troopers that he didn’t see the school bus due to the bright sunlight. Troopers say that Pritts told them that Howe had failed to stop at the stop sign posted at the end of the off ramp.

According to the trooper’s report, the Sheldon school bus contained 17 children at the time of the crash. Troopers say all of the children showed to be OK, with no injuries whatsoever. Another school bus was summoned to pick up the children and deliver them to class.

According to the Iowa State Patrol, damage to Howe’s minivan is estimated at about $3-thousand, while the school bus sustained an estimated $10-thousand damage in the crash.

Howe was reportedly cited for Failure to Obey a Stop Sign and Yield Right of Way.

Northwest Iowa — In the next few days, while there’s little chance for snow — maybe now’s the time to make sure that your winter survival kit in your vehicle is well-stocked with the right type of items.

We had a chance to visit with Iowa State Patrol Trooper Vince Kurtz, who tells us people should take a moment to think about winter driving. He calls it a “change of mindset.”

He says people sometimes get the idea that it’s up to the road crews to keep the roads in shape so that you can maintain control of your vehicle. But Kurtz says that’s not the case.

According to Kurtz, there are three main items you should keep in your vehicle in the winter, and several others that would be a good idea. He says the first one is almost a foregone conclusion nowadays — a way to communicate, like a cell phone.

Even though drinks may freeze if you keep them in the vehicle, they will thaw as you stay in your warm vehicle and provide you with something to drink. Remember that water expands when it freezes and could burst the container if you’re not careful.

Kurtz says there are other items that would be a good idea to include.

Some experts suggest some kitty litter to pour out under your drive-wheel tires to help with traction if you are in a slippery spot. If you are on meds, it would be a good idea to include at least a day’s supply of them.

Some items you might want to have in your vehicle year-round, according to experts. Such things may include jumper cables, reflective triangles, and a small hand-cranked or battery-operated AM/FM radio (with extra batteries).

The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office has also released some winter driving and survival tips. Click here for that list.

December 5, 2018 - 2:03 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Iowa again ranks among the best states in the country for motorists, according to a report from a personal finance website.

Adrian Garcia, a data analyst for, says they compared things like annual insurance premiums, road conditions and commute times in all 50 states.

The reports are done every two years. In this latest report, Iowa placed 2nd in the national rankings, up from 3rd in 2016.

The average Iowa driver pays about a thousand dollars a year for car insurance, while the average California driver pays $17-hundred. Likewise, commute times in Iowa average 19 minutes versus 29 minutes in California, which ranked 50th on the list.

The report finds 11-percent of Iowa’s roads are of poor quality, compared to last-place California where 44-percent of the roads are in poor shape. The best state for drivers, according to the report, is North Dakota, followed by Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota and Nebraska. The worst state is California, followed by Hawaii, Connecticut, New Jersey and Washington.

You can view the entire 50-state report by CLICKING HERE.

December 4, 2018 - 3:10 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — Trade troubles with China have caused financial strain on many industries in the US, including agriculture, but Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is praising a new gesture by that nation involving Fentanyl.

Chinese officials vow to tighten controls on the production and export of that highly-potent drug, which Grassley says is a move that’s long overdue.

Grassley is chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Caucus on International Narcotics Control. He says Fentanyl-laced heroin has fueled the deadly opioid epidemic in recent years and is linked to the majority of opioid overdose deaths in America.

In October, Grassley says his panel heard from government officials and experts from across the U-S who emphasized the need for China to act on Fentanyl. Grassley says former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who is the U-S Ambassador to China, has been working toward this for some time.

A news release from Grassley’s office says in 2017, a full 60-percent of U-S opioid deaths involved Fentanyl, which is an increase from 14-percent in 2010. The release also says Fentanyl is involved in more deaths than prescription opioids or heroin.

December 4, 2018 - 1:02 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — (RI) — The notification process for prospective jurors who will hear cases in courtrooms across the state changed as of Monday.

State Judicial System spokesperson, Steve Davis, says it’s a move to a more modern way for jurors to fill out information once they are notified.

Davis says everyone is now used to doing things on their phones and computers and this is another thing to add to the list.

Davis says the new system also offers a way for you to be reminded if you are chosen for jury duty.

He says there is also a link on the website that answers a lot of questions about jury duty. Davis says a juror pool is put together with two lists.

Davis says jurors are then randomly chosen from the master list. That random selection process means you never know how often you might be called for jury duty.

Davis says each postcard will be specific to your county of residence and include the website address for the online questionnaire, the address of the courthouse with a small map, a juror number, the service start date, the term of service, and the juror badge. To find out more about jury service you can go to the Iowa Judicial Branch jury service page on its website and look for the information on jury service.

You can reach that website by CLICKING HERE.

December 4, 2018 - 11:56 am - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — November 2018 was quite a bit colder than normal, and just slightly wetter than normal in Sheldon.

The highest high recorded this past November was 59 degrees, on both November 2nd and 23rd. That high of 59 on the 23rd was one degree off the record of 60, set on that date in 2006. The lowest high last month was November 18th, with 21 degrees.

The lowest low recorded this past November was recorded on three separate days — on November 18th, 27th, and 28th, with five degrees above zero. That’s not close to a record, as the records on all those dates are below zero.

The all-time record low for the month is -20, set on November 14th, 1959. The all-time record high for the month is 77 degrees, which was set on November 8th and 9th in 1931 and 1999, respectively.

The average high for November 2018 was 37, and the average low was 17. Add those together and divide by two and you have the average temperature for the month, 27 degrees. The average normal high is 45 and low is 24, for a normal average temp of 34.5, so November 2018 was quite a bit colder than normal. Last year was much closer to normal with an average high of 45 and an average low of 21, for an average temp of 33.

We received a half an inch of snow on both November 9th and November 17th. Normal monthly snowfall is 3.3 inches. So this November we received 2.3 inches less than normal. On the season, by the end of the month of November, we normally have 4.3 inches. This season, we had only had 2.5 inches by that time, 1.8 inches less than normal.

However, on precip as a whole in 2018, we’re still well above normal. Normal precip from January to the end of November is 26.65 inches. This year by that time we had already had 48.19 inches, which is 21.54 inches above normal. We received some rain on November 2nd and again the 4th through the 6th, and a little bit on November 29th. On the 2nd we got one one-hundredth of an inch. On the 4th, we had 55-hundredths, with 6-hundredths on the 5th and 38-hundredths on the 6th. On the 29th, we had 2-hundredths. Add that to the three-hundredths and four-hundredths of an inch from melted snow on the 9th and 17th, and that’s our total of 1.09 for the month. Normal November precip is 0.98, so that’s only 0.11 more than normal.