November 25, 2020 - 3:14 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — It’s about time to roast, fry, or smoke the bird, prepare the traditional family side dishes, and sit down to a huge feast to be thankful for our blessings. But fire safety officials are encouraging people to remember the importance of fire safety this Thanksgiving holiday.

Nationwide, Thanksgiving day is the peak day for home cooking fires. South Dakota State Fire Marshal Paul Merriman says that makes home fire safety even more important.

He says that many people love to cook for this holiday or use candles, fireplaces, and other heating sources to create that festive atmosphere in their homes. But it is also easy to forget about fire safety and that could prove to be dangerous.

Merriman says it is important, at all times of the year, to have working smoke alarms on each level of the home.

We talked with Sibley Fire Chief Ken Huls about it. He says one of the most dangerous Thanksgiving cooking activities is deep-frying a turkey in a propane fryer.

(as said:) “You’re dealing with a lot of heat, flame, and grease which most of the times doesn’t mix if you’re not careful. I always recommend that it’s obviously an open area. You have to — have to — watch that almost the entire time while you’re cooking that, but it’s very common thing now. A lot of people like that type of turkey, but that open flame and grease if it boils over that’s pretty much where they get the fires. If it’s unattended or if somebody’s not experienced enough to use those things — they better read up on the instructions because they could cause major damage. And of course burns. It’s just a matter of keeping a fire extinguisher handy. Just be precautionary when you’re doing it. Just don’t take it lightly because they are very dangerous.”

Some experts advise not using turkey fryers to begin with. The National Fire Protection Association (or NFPA) says turkey fryers pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process. In addition, the burners that heat the oil can ignite spilled oil, so they strongly discourage their use.

Huls says even cooking your turkey the traditional way poses some fire risk, especially if your oven is not clean. He gives us some other tips about kitchen safety. He says a big one involves stovetop cooking.

(as said:) “Turn your handles in — especially with a lot of children running around and the holidays the family’s there. That’s when people get hurt when they don’t see the handle sticking out and then boiling water or corn or whatever you cooking on the top side tends to spill over and people that have gas stoves — they also have to take precautions for that too. Because things boil over you get kind of preoccupied in the business of trying to get the meal ready. That’s when you want to be careful. And of course, have the proper types of extinguishment nearby in case something would happen. Because you never throw water on grease, of course. And have a lid ready to throw on it. Of course if you have a fire… a grease fire… remember water and oil don’t mix. Just be precautionary. Have the right type of extinguishment  materials handy, even a fire extinguisher wouldn’t be a bad thing to have.”

The NFPA says people should stay in the kitchen when cooking on the stovetop so they can keep an eye on the food, and stay in the home when cooking the turkey and check on it frequently.

Specific fire safety tips for Thanksgiving and a video demonstration of why turkey fryers can be so dangerous can be found here:

Northwest Iowa — One new death and 57 new COVID cases were reported in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties on Wednesday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The death that was reported was again, an O’Brien County resident. Sixty-four people have died in the four counties since the pandemic started — Sioux County has had twenty-five. O’Brien County has now had 30. Osceola County has had one death. Lyon County has had eight since the pandemic started.

O’Brien County was up 15 cases Wednesday, at 1214 cases since the pandemic started. Sioux County was up 23 cases at 3582. Lyon County was up 16 cases at 988, and Osceola County was up 3 at 504. An average of about one in every 11 northwest Iowans in our area has had — or currently has — COVID-19.

Out of the 988 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 561 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 57%.
Out of the 3582 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 2527 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 71%.
Out of the 1214 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 725 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 60%.
Out of the 504 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 305 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 61%.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 2627, up 14
Cherokee 791, up 17
Buena Vista 2962, up 36
Clay 1102, up 15
Dickinson 1285, unchanged

Statewide Iowa — 170 state hospital leaders are urging Iowans to follow public health recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19.

A joint statement released by the Iowa Hospital Association’s physician leadership group and the Organization for Nursing Leadership asks Iowans to avoid crowds, stay home when sick and wear a mask. Dr. Michael McCoy, chief medical officer with Great River Health in West Burlington, says his hospital’s biggest challenge has been finding enough staff to take care of COVID patients.

(As above) McCoy says, “We’ve already stopped doing a lot of our elective surgeries, almost all of them, not because of beds, but because of — we needed to pull staff from that area.”

McCoy says 97 hospital employees were out Monday because they were either sick with the virus or needed to quarantine. Rates of new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have more than doubled in the past month. Dr. Tammy Chance, at the Boone County Hospital, says her goal this past summer was to get people to follow precautions so they could spend the holidays with family.

(As above) Chance says, “I know this sounds morbid, but now my goal is to get people to take this seriously, so they don’t have an extra grave to visit of a close friend or loved one come next Memorial Day.”

Chance says there were a few days last week when her region nearly ran out of ICU beds, and her hospital has faced critical staffing shortages related to the virus. As of Wednesday, more than 1,300 Iowans were hospitalized with the virus, with nearly 270 in ICUs. Some 200 patients were hospitalized for the virus statewide in the past 24 hours.

Sibley, Iowa — Upper Des Moines Opportunity of Osceola County needs your help to brighten the Holidays for Osceola County families who might not otherwise have a merry Christmas this year, through their Osceola County Adopt-A-Family and Seniors Christmas programs. To adopt any of the families or seniors listed below, please call Upper Des Moines Opportunity of Osceola County in Sibley at 712-754-2573.

For the O’Brien County lists, CLICK HERE.

Below is the Osceola County Adopt-A-Family list……………….

Family Sex Age Size Wish
#1        ADOPTED
#2        ADOPTED
#3        ADOPTED
#4        ADOPTED
#5        ADOPTED
#6 F 65 XXL Walmart Gift Card
  F 16 XL Walmart Gift Card
  F 14 XL Walmart Gift Card
#7        ADOPTED
#8        ADOPTED
#9 F 42 3X Walmart Gift Card, Amazon Gift Card
  M 53 2X Cenex Gift Card, Walmart Gift Card
  M 15 M-L kids Iowa Hawkeyes, Minnesota Vikings
#10        ADOPTED
#11 M 11 16-18 Y Med Men Shirts,Harry Potter Books, Legos, Google Play Card
  M 10 12-14Y Paw Patrol, Google Play Card, Farm Animals
  M 3 5T Paw Patrol, Farm Animals
  F 30 Size 11 Boots
  M 34 36X32 Jeans
#12         ADOPTED
#13 M 8 XL Y 14-16 Athletic Clothing, Sports Equipment, Board Games, Books
#14        ADOPTED
#15        ADOPTED
#16 M 4 4T  10 Shoes, Clothes, Gift Card
  F 46 1X Gift Card, Sweatshirt
#17        ADOPTED
#18         ADOPTED
# 19  F 12   16Y, XS Womens, Crafts, Winter Hat, Hair Ties, Beauty Stuff, Full Size Bedding
  F 42   XL.,Towels, Wash Clothes, Gift Card
#20        ADOPTED
#21 F 7 7-8Y JOJO, Boots 13, Twin Bedding, Black Leggings
  F 6 7-8Y JoJo, Boots 13,in Bedding, Black Leggings
  F 51 1X Gas Card
#22        ADOPTED
#23 F 28   Gift Card Disabled
  F 63   Gift Card 
#24 F 27   Gift Card
  F 3 4T Clothes, Toys
  M 42 XL Gift Card
#25        ADOPTED
#26        ADOPTED
#27        ADOPTED
#28 F 15 SY Clothes
  M 14 MY Clothes
  M 7 8Y Clothes
#29 F 17 XL Clothes
  F 15 M Clothes
  M 7 10 Sweat Pants
  M 5 8 Sweat Pants
#30        ADOPTED
#31        ADOPTED
 #32 F 34   Anything Broncos
  M 15 M-L Anything Broncos
  M 10   Another with Pugs
  M 5 Boys S/M  Paw Patrol Cars
  F 12 S-M Gift Cards, Shoes Size 8, Clothes
  F 8 S-M Gifts Card, Shoes Size 3, Clothes 7-8
 #34 F 16 SM-Med Pant Size 3-5
  F 2 24Mon 2T Learning Toys, Baby Dolls
  M 5Months 9Months Learning Toys, Teethers
  F 7 10-12 Girls Unicorn Stuff
  F 5 5-6 Girls Barbie, Coloring Books
  F 41   Gift Card
#35 F 5 5T Girly Girl things bows, skirts, Barbies, Makeup age
  M 9 8-10 Boys Games, Scary Movies, Costumes
  F 39   Gift Card Bath & Body Works

Below is the Osceola County Seniors Christmas list…………….

Seniors Sex Age Size Wish
#1        ADOPTED
#2        ADOPTED
#3        ADOPTED
#4        ADOPTED
#5        ADOPTED
#6        ADOPTED


November 24, 2020 - 4:27 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — It’s that time of year again. Many of us are considering which lights and decorations to put out or purchase to make our homes more festive for the Christmas holiday period. The weather couldn’t be better — but there are some safety considerations to keep in mind.

We talked to Orange City Fire Chief Denny Vander Wel, and he says while new technology means fewer fire hazards, that should not lull us into a state of complacency.

(as said:) “Most lights that you buy today are LED and they don’t have the heat factor like the old… You know, when I was growing up we used to have the old bubble lights everything else, but then they got super hot! And there again a lot of people do not use live trees anymore, which makes a big difference but there are still some that… the tradition is there… we need a live tree. And there again, there’s people that sell them and they’re probably going to have  some type of instructions on stuff and watching your needles and making sure that they have plenty of water and so on and so forth.”

He says the lights that you buy should say how many strings you can put together.

(as said:)”It’ll say on the box, ‘Don’t plug in more than maybe two or three strings.’ You know, they have that end-to-end plug and don’t be plugging like ten strings in a row in there even if they’re LED because this can cause some problems. If you use an extension cord make sure it’s a good quality extension cord not something really lightweight… just for safety precautions. The more that we do to prevent, the better the outcome is. Just people… use common sense. Read the instructions.”

Fire safety experts also suggest that if you are using old Christmas lights, maybe consider replacing them with a string of new LED lights, if not for the energy efficiency, then for the safety factor. They also suggest not running extension cords for outdoor lighting if you can avoid them, and especially not to run them across sidewalks as they can be a hazard for walking or snow removal.

November 24, 2020 - 3:58 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — After a one-day reprieve, daily coronavirus cases are up again. Ninety new COVID cases were reported in the four northwesternmost Iowa counties on Tuesday, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

O’Brien County was up 14 cases, at 1199 cases since the pandemic started. Sioux County was up 48 cases at 3559. Lyon County was up 21 cases at 972, and Osceola County was up 7 at 501. An average of about one in every 11 northwest Iowans in our area has had — or currently has — COVID-19.

Sixty-three people have died in the four counties since the pandemic started — Sioux County has had twenty-five. O’Brien County has now had 29. Osceola County has had one death. Lyon County has had eight since the pandemic started.

Out of the 972 Lyon County residents who have had COVID-19, 553 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 57%.
Out of the 3559 Sioux County residents who have had COVID-19, 2489 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 70%.
Out of the 1199 O’Brien County residents who have had COVID-19, 696 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 58%.
Out of the 501 Osceola County residents who have had COVID-19, 298 of them have recovered, for a recovery rate of about 59%.

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

Iowa counties:
Plymouth 2613, up 26
Cherokee 774, up 18
Buena Vista 2926, up 24
Clay 1048, up 39
Dickinson 1285, up 13

November 24, 2020 - 3:05 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Less than a week ago we reported that there were four nursing homes in the four-county KIWA listening area that had COVID-19 outbreaks among the residents. The news has not gotten better since then. Tuesday, the state coronavirus website reports that number has risen to seven.

Also on Tuesday, state officials report there are COVID outbreaks at a total of 147 Iowa nursing homes, with more than 46-hundred residents testing positive for the virus. With holidays ahead, Governor Kim Reynolds says her state agencies are reviewing federal guidelines for visitation policies with nursing home managers.

(As above) “While the numbers are increasing and the number of facilities are moving into outbreak status, it also gives us a heads up on how we can get in front of that and, hopefully, avoid some of the horrible outcomes that we know happen with this vulnerable population,” Reynolds says.

Statewide test results in the past week have confirmed more than 16–thousand-six-hundred Iowans have the virus.

(As above) “While these numbers are not where we need them to be, they are lower than they were the week prior, when nearly 28,000 new cases and a positivity rate of more than 24% was reported,” Reynolds says.

About one in five of those who tested positive for Covid last week in Iowa were adults under the age of 30, but Reynolds says the infection rate is fairly well distributed among age groups. That’s what complicates the nursing home outbreaks, according to the governor and others, as the progressive spread of the virus in communities reaches into nursing homes.

(As above) “We’re continuing to look at the number of the tests to make sure that all of the facilities have the capacity to test,” Reynolds says.

Federal officials have recommended testing nursing home residents weekly, but that goal has not yet been met in Iowa. Five days ago, about one out of five Iowa nursing homes were listed on the state website as having outbreaks. Now, outbreaks are identified at one out of three.

(As above) “While it’s hard and we have more facilities moving into outbreak status, it also allows us to really identify a potential outbreak sooner rather than later,” Reynolds says, “and we can start isolating and making sure that we’re protecting the others that haven’t tested positive.” 

Iowa nursing homes with a confirmed outbreak are able to request masks and other personal protective equipment from the state’s stockpile. Reynolds says state officials are working to train nursing home staff to ensure they are using the PPE appropriately. According to the state website tracking COVID-related data, more than a thousand Iowa nursing home residents have died after contracting the virus.

Here in our four-county area, the state coronavirus website shows outbreaks at three facilities in Lyon County, two in O’Brien County and one each in Osceola and Sioux Counties.

Primghar, Iowa — The O’Brien County Board of Supervisors has given the OK to sharing their engineer with Osceola County temporarily — until Osceola County can find and hire a replacement engineer.

Aaron Holmbeck resigned as the previous Osceola County engineer Wednesday, June 10th. Dickinson County Engineer Dan Eckert shared his services with Osceola County for about four months, until the Dickinson County Board of Supervisors decided it was time to have Eckert’s services full-time again.

Under the 28E agreement between O’Brien and Osceola counties, O’Brien County Engineer Scott Rinehart will remain a full-time employee of O’Brien County. Osceola County may hire him for no less than 20 hours per week, paying O’Brien County for his services as billed by O’Brien County. Osceola County will also pay one-half of Rinehart’s benefits.

Each county will provide office space, telephone, supplies, equipment, technical support, etc.

The agreement is to begin on December 6th, and will continue until terminated by either board, with 30 days’ notice.

November 24, 2020 - 10:40 am - Posted in News

Western Iowa — While there have been scattered showers, parts of Iowa have had very little rain since mid-summer and the continued dry weather is drawing down soil moisture levels.

State climatologist Justin Glisan says while drought conditions are lessening in some areas, they’re worsening elsewhere, as much of Iowa’s western third is now in moderate to severe drought.

(as said) “Subsoil conditions across much of the region show a below-normal percentile,” Glisan says. “Recent warm and windy days produced higher evaporate demand in the atmosphere, so the atmosphere is thirsty, especially for this time of year, those conditions allow for extraction of any subsoil moisture or surface moisture that we see.”

We’re heading into a drier time of year, so Glisan says it will be difficult to recharge soil moisture levels before spring.

(as said) “With a lack of precipitation, this makes rainfall infiltration when we do get it harder to get down deep,” he says.

Glisan says that lack of soil moisture may bring some help to Iowa’s farmers in the spring.

(as said) “The silver lining here is that moving into the growing season, drier-than-normal conditions will make fieldwork and planting easier,” Glisan says. “If you go back, the last two or three years, we’ve had pretty wet conditions going into the growing season with record subsoil moisture which delayed planting.”

Conditions could change within a matter of several weeks, as Glisan says the trends point to above-normal precipitation for January through March.

November 23, 2020 - 4:08 pm - Posted in News

Sibley, Iowa — A number of things about blood drives have changed in the pandemic, and the need for blood has never been greater.

That’s from Community Blood Bank Executive Director Ken Ver Steeg, who tells us about a blood drive they’ve got coming up on Wednesday — the day before Thanksgiving — in Sibley.

(as said:)”We’re going to be there from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. And then again from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Little different hours this time, primarily due to the fact that because of it being a four-day weekend, we want to make sure that we have all the blood tested and ready for transfusion prior to the weekend. So in order for us to do that, we have to kind of end the drive a little bit earlier, but we’re starting the drive a little earlier as well. So a little different there.

Ver Steeg tells us why the need is so great.

(as said:) “I cannot emphasize how much COVID has changed the way that we do blood banking right now. We went from being able to take 12 donors an hour to taking seven donors an hour. So we’ve reduced the amount of people that we can actually take in an hour’s time per those social distancing purposes. And then usually around the holidays we see a dip of about 25% in overall donations because people are busy with the holidays. This might not be the case this holiday. It’s hard to say we really don’t know what this is going to look like. But if that’s the case, then we would actually see half of what we typically would get just prior to that four-day weekend. So our hopes are that we don’t see that. That we actually see community members coming out if they haven’t donated in a long period of time… if it’s been a while since you’ve come out to give we ask that you please consider donating at this blood drive event. We really do need a full schedule here to really hit home that four-day weekend and have an adequate supply for the patients at Osceola Regional Health.”

Due to COVID restrictions, they are on an appointment-only schedule, says Ver Steeg. He says you can call the Osceola Regional Health Center to make an appointment at 712-754-5358. Ver Steeg says all donors must be at least 16 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. You can donate blood every 56 days.