April 4, 2017 - 2:40 pm - Posted in News

Wellmark-BCBS-logoDes Moines, Iowa — If you are among the northwest Iowans who have an individual health insurance policy through Des Moines-based Wellmark, you may find yourself with no healthcare coverage beginning January 1st.

Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield has announced that they will no longer sell new individual health insurance policies in Iowa, and some current Iowa policyholders who have Wellmark insurance will lose it in 2018.  Wellmarks says their customers who bought individual policies  during the past three years are the group that will be affected. Many, but not all, of those individual policies were sold through the “marketplace” created by the “Affordable Care Act”, otherwise known as Obamacare.

Wellmark blames the move on their loss of $90-million incurred insuring that group over the past three years, despite dramatic, double-digit premium increases each year.

Wellmark says their decision affects only those who have an individual health insurance policy, and will NOT impact those who get their Wellmark policy through a group plan.  In addition, the insurance giant says they will continue selling individual Medicare Supplement plans to older customers.

Insurers face a deadline in May to decide whether to sell individual policies in 2018. Due to rising costs and uncertainty about the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, many other companies are waiting to make a final decision.

April 4, 2017 - 2:22 pm - Posted in News

Alliant-logoNorthwest Iowa — Electric customers in parts of the KIWA listening area may soon be seeing the rates they pay for their electric power increase.

Alliant Energy has filed a request with the Iowa Utilities Board to increase its electric rates by 11-point-six percent. The president of Alliant Energy’s Iowa subsidiary, Interstate Power and Light, Doug Kopp, says the company has not raised electric rates for six years.

He says they’ve spent around $2.5-billion in improvements to the system, and the rate increase allows them to recover those costs. Kopp says the customers have benefited from the money invested in the electric system.

Kopp says the new Marshalltown plant gives them more flexibility in producing power right away when needed, and he says it is more environmentally friendly. Alliant has around 500-thousand electric customers in Iowa.

The first part of the rate request creates an interim rate increase on April 13th and then state regulators have to decide if they will grant the full increase.

The rate increase would go into place in 2018, depending on the ruling from the I-U-B. Kopp says there are some tax credits and transmission refunds that will reduce the impact of the rate increase in 2017 and 2018. Alliant customers will be getting information on the proposed rate increase in their monthly bills.

Alliant Energy is the electrical provider to several communities and rural areas in our immediate area, including: Ashton; Matlock; Melvin; Sibley; George; Harris; Ocheyedan; Lester; and Little Rock.

April 4, 2017 - 10:22 am - Posted in News

autism_5Sheldon, Iowa — April is Autism Awareness month and Village Northwest Unlimited in Sheldon is using it as an opportunity to raise awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, in support of individuals and families who are living on the Autism spectrum.

Lisa Johnson is Director of Development for Village Northwest Unlimited, and she tells us how the Village is becoming involved with Autism Awareness Month.

Johnson explains Autism Spectrum Disorder.

She says that Autism Spectrum Disorder is very common, affecting 1 in every 68 children.

Johnson tells us that Village Northwest Unlimited has begun a program to help those with ASD to more easily transition from high school to independent adulthood.

If you’d like to enter the Village Northwest Unlimited Autism Awareness Coloring Contest, you can download your entry form by CLICKING HERE.  Entries must be submitted by noon on Friday, April 14th.

Osceola Sheriff Car 72-2Sibley, Iowa — A Boyden man has been arrested on several charges, including a felony after a traffic stop near Sibley.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that on Friday, March 31, 2017, an Osceola County Deputy arrested 31-year-old Leonel Marcelo Dimas of Boyden on charges of Forgery, a class D Felony; Operating While Under the Influence 2nd Offense, an Aggravated Misdemeanor; Driving While Revoked and Possession of Controlled Substance – Methamphetamine, both Serious Misdemeanors; and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Interference with Official Acts, both Simple Misdemeanors.

The Sheriff’s Office says they took Marcelo Dimas to the Osceola County Jail where he was booked, and at last report was being held on a $7000 bond.

They say the arrest stemmed from a traffic stop on A22 near Pierce Aveune, which is the Jackrabbit Junction corner west of Sibley.

March 31, 2017 - 10:58 am - Posted in News

refundsNorthwest Iowa — If you’re one of the many northwest Iowans waiting for your Iowa State Income Tax Refund for 2016, get ready to wait a little longer.

Iowa Department of Revenue spokesperson VIctoria Daniels says the agancy has been getting a lot of calls from people asking about their tax refunds.

Daniels says the reason refunds are taking longer involves new protections against fraud.

Another factor in the refund delay is a new federal law requiring the IRS to hold refunds until February 15 for people who claim certain tax credits. The federal agency conducts an additional review of those returns that are considered especially vulnerable to fraud. Daniels suggests taxpayers get used to waiting longer for their refunds.

Instead of calling the Iowa Department of Revenue to check on a refund, Daniels wants you to visit the agency’s website.

Daniels says Iowa has issued just under $142 million in income tax refunds on 2016 returns as of March 24.

To check on your Iowa State Income Tax Refund, CLICK HERE.

March 30, 2017 - 2:32 pm - Posted in News

medical health caduceus_sxcSioux County, Iowa — Sioux County has been ranked as thed healthiest county in Iowa in which to live, and Lyon County is ranked third, according to a new report just released.  O’Brien is rated #17, with Osceola ranked at #24.

Andrea Ducas, a program officer with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says the philantropic organization’s 8th annual County Health Rankings study looked at more than 30 factors.

Sioux County ranked number-one in the state for the health of its residents, while Monona County, just a few counties to the south, ranked 99th. Still, the last-place ranking doesn’t mean Monona County is a “bad” place to live, Ducas says it just helps to identify some areas where improvement is needed.

On the other side of the coin, Ducas says just because Sioux County ranked first on this year’s list doesn’t mean everything there is perfect, either.

The reports shows the five healthiest counties in Iowa are: Sioux, Winneshiek, Lyon, in 3rd place, Chickasaw and Cedar. The five counties in the poorest health are: Monona, Decatur, Wapello, Pocahontas and Lee. Sioux and Monona counties were also numbers-one and 99 on last year’s rankings. The study covers all 50 states and some 3,000 counties nationwide. Ducas says the rankings are designed to bring revealing data to communities across the country and the tools and resources to help them take action to improve health. See where your home county stacks up at: www.countyhealthrankings.org.

March 28, 2017 - 10:34 am - Posted in News

Joan SchuckSheldon, Iowa — KIWA’s final prize drawing from Saturday’s Sheldon Home and Design Expo was announced Tuesday morning on the KIWA Morning Show.

The prize was a pair of tickets to see the Off, Off Broadway Production of Barefoot In The Park, which will be performed April 20th through 23rd at the American Legion Community Center in Ashton.

The winner of the tickets from KIWA is Joan Schuck, of Sibley.  Joan stopped by the KIWA studios and told us how she learned she had won.

She said she was excited to learn she had won.

Schuck told KIWA she thought Sheldon’s Home Show was excellent.

Schuck’s winning entry was randomly chosen by computer from all the Off, Off Broadway entries, and was announced Tuesday on KIWA Morning Show.

March 27, 2017 - 1:30 pm - Posted in News

WeaverLogoSheldon, Iowa — A Sheldon woman has announced her candidacy for the Democrat nomination for the right to challenge 4th District Republican U.S. Representative Steve King in the 2018 general election.

Democrat Kim Weaver of Sheldon made the announcement Sunday on national television.  Earlier this month, she announced that she would formally declare her candidacy if she was able to raise $100-thousand by September of this year.  In the three weeks since making that announcement, the Weaver campaign raised more than $150-thousand from over 6-thousand individual donations, and received the high-profile endorsement of former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

Weaver ran against King in the 2016 general election, but failed to unseat the long-time representative.

Weaver is a Des Moines native, who graduated from Roosevelt High School. She then graduated from Iowa State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in Communications. A single mom, she works as an advocate for seniors in nursing homes, assisted living programs, and residential care facilities, overseeing a territory that includes thirteen counties and 109 care providers in Northwest Iowa.

Weaver has served as the Democratic Chair for O’Brien County since 2012.

unemploymentDes Moines, Iowa — It’s crowded at the top this time. The latest unemployment figures have been released and three of our four northwest Iowa counties are in the top five for lowest unemployment rates.

The latest county figures to be released are from January of this year. The lowest seasonally-unadjusted county unemployment rate in the state was Story county, with 2.3 percent. Tied for second-lowest were Lyon and Mitchell counties at 2.6%. Plymouth, Dallas, and Carroll were tied for third at 2.7%. Osceola was tied for fourth at 2.8% with Greene, Johnson, and Taylor. Sioux had 3.0% and was tied for fifth place with Boone and Buena Vista counties. O’Brien was not in the top five but was in the top ten. O’Brien County had 3.4% unemployment and was tied with Decatur and Shelby counties for eighth place.

Lyon County unemployment is up four-tenths of a percent from the previous month. Osceola is down three-tenths of a percent. Sioux County unemployment is up six-tenths of a percent, and O’Brien County unemployment is up three-tenths of a percent. Iowa Department of Labor officials remind us that these figures are not adjusted for seasonal work so those who work in farming, construction, and outdoor entertainment industries, and others for whom there is less work in the winter could be included in the “unemployed” category even though they may be back to work in the spring and summer.

Meanwhile statewide, more Iowans went off the unemployment rolls in February as the rate dropped for the fifth straight month to three-point-two percent. Iowa Workforce Development spokesman, Cory Kelly, says the state is pushing toward full employment — but that number is not exactly known.

Full employment means most of the people who want a job have one and those who don’t are in transition between jobs. Kelly says they don’t know if the unemployment rate has hit bottom yet.

The rate was three-point-eight percent last February. He says the private sector led the move that saw some three-thousand jobs created in February.

The construction industry added 16-hundred jobs last month and Kelly says the weather continues to be a big positive for the industry.

He says the leisure and hospitality sector was one area that lost jobs.

The number of unemployed Iowans decreased to 53-thousand-600 in February from 56-thousand-900 in January. The total number of working Iowans increased to one-million-639-thousand-700 in February. This figure was 27-hundred higher than January and 19-hundred higher than one year ago.

February 2017 numbers

Visit www.iowalmi.gov for more information about current and historical data, labor force data, nonfarm employment, hours and earnings, and jobless benefits by county.

March 27, 2017 - 7:32 am - Posted in News

Osceola Sheriff Car 72-2Sibley, Iowa — A Tennessee man is behind bars in Sibley on several charges including a felony after being arrested by the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday, March 26th.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office says that they received a report of a suspicious vehicle on Redwood Avenue near 190th Street, about four miles southeast of Sibley. After that, they stopped a vehicle driven by 37-year-old Joshua Bruinekool of La Vergne, Tennessee on Chase Boulevard in Sibley.

The Sheriff’s Office arrested Bruinekool and charged him with Operating While Intoxicated, third offense, a class D felony. He was also charged with Open Container, Speeding, and Driving Without a License.

The Sheriff’s office says after the arrest, they took him to the Osceola County Jail where he was booked in, and at last report was being held on a $5000 bond.