July 7, 2015 - 6:31 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — You’ve probably heard about all the wildfire smoke coming down from Canada, causing air quality issues and a smokey smell in the air.
smokey sun
Meteorologist Matthew Dux from the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls gives us the situation.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials say that since the wind changes continually, it can mean differing levels of fine particulate matter in the air, and that can affect air quality.

On days when the air quality is low due to this smoke or for other reasons, the DNR recommends individuals with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children limit prolonged outdoor exertion until the smoke plume passes and air quality conditions improve.

Dux says some people assumed the smoke would last for a few days, but he says it’s been several weeks now already, and no one knows how long we’ll have to deal with its effects. He says Canadian weather conditions this past spring created a high fire risk.

He says the smoke on Monday was more intense than it had been for the last few days, and it may have caused a slight reduction in daytime temperatures.

He says it may even affect temps even more than a degree or two. But, says Dux, you can’t blame the smoke for causing all of the recent cool temperatures.

Back to the air quality issue for a moment. If you’d like to keep track of evolving air quality conditions, you can do so at: www.shl.uiowa.edu/env/ambient/hourlyaqi.xml.

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July 7, 2015 - 6:29 pm - Posted in News

Washington, DC — Avian influenza was the topic of Tuesday afternoon’s hearing of a U-S Senate panel and two Iowans were on the witness list — both men who run poultry operations that saw heavy losses. Senator Chuck Grassley says one of the men is in the egg-laying industry, the other raises turkeys, and both testified about how Iowa’s been very hard-hit by bird flu.
US Capitol_sxc

(As above) “Two-hundred and twenty-three detections have occurred affecting 41-million birds in the United States and almost two-thirds of them were from Iowa,” Grassley says.

Both of Iowa’s U-S senators are serving on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. Grassley and Senator Joni Ernst were among the senators hearing testimony about the devastating impact of the virus.

(As above) “We start the hearing with two gentlemen who are administrators within the Department of Agriculture giving us their perspective of it,” Grassley says. “That’s very important from the standpoint of any policy changes that need to be made or any more money available.”

The Iowans who will testify are: Jim Dean, chairman of United Egg Producers in Sioux Center, and Brad Moline, manager and owner of Moline Farms, a turkey production facility in Manson. Grassley says biosecurity was already tight on the Iowa poultry operations, so they’ll look for other potential solutions to future bird flu outbreaks.

(As above) “There is the possibility of a vaccine, but also, that brings about a political and scientific problem, whether or not we want to use vaccine that might eliminate some export of chicken meat to other countries where they haven’t approved of the drug,” Grassley says.

The U-S-D-A has already spent a majority of the money allotted for the bird flu epidemic, much of that on destroying and disposing of the infected birds and the comprehensive clean-up.

(As above) “About 400-million (dollars) was available and approximately 400-million will probably be spent in this short period of time,” Grassley says. “Is more money needed? That’s one issue for Congress. The other would be the exploration of an insurance program that would be new.”

In recent months, Iowa’s had at least 77 poultry operations hit by bird flu in 18 counties, resulting in the death or euthanizing of more than 31-million birds.

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July 5, 2015 - 8:39 am - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — The leader of the Iowa Poultry Association says he’s keeping close tabs on federal lawmakers as they threaten spending cuts to the U-S-D-A. One proposal being considered would cut a half-billion dollars, which could include funding for fighting avian influenza. Association executive director Randy Olson says he hopes Congress will provide the needed help to continue battling bird flu in Iowa and elsewhere.

(As above) “There’ll be a lot of discussion and posturing about budgets at the federal level, as there always is,” Olson says. “We certainly hope that the federal government and state governments will stick by the task of moving forward with avian influenza cleanup and making sure these farmers can get back on their feet as soon as possible.”

Iowa is the nation’s number-one egg producer. At least 77 poultry operations in 18 Iowa counties have had to euthanize entire flocks due to outbreaks. More than 31-million birds were destroyed. Olson says Iowa’s congressional delegation and Governor Branstad have been very supportive of the state’s poultry industry in dealing with bird flu.

(As above) “There’s no question that everybody realizes the severity of this crisis in poultry and egg communities,” Olson says. “We’re hopeful we’ll be able to get through this challenging time as quickly as possible.”

Iowa officials are waiting on the feds after Governor Branstad requested a disaster declaration in four particularly hard hit counties due to the highly-pathogenic avian influenza. One of those counties is Sioux County.

Story from Radio Iowa

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July 3, 2015 - 3:53 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — It’s the Independence Day weekend. While the Iowa Legislature discussed the legalization of fireworks like firecrackers, bottle rockets and the like this year, in the end they decided not to lift the ban on fireworks. We got some tips on staying safe with the legal ones from Sibley Fire Chief Kenny Huls.

Okoboji Fireworks
He says a good rule of thumb is that if it goes up or blows up, it’s not legal in Iowa without a permit.

Huls says there are some things to keep in mind when setting off fireworks of any kind.

Huls says the fact that fireworks are illegal should be enough to make people think twice before making an illegal purchase, but he says he knows many people do it anyway. He tells us about the hazards.

Huls emphasizes that if you’re doing fireworks legally, like if you have a permit or if you’re doing them in a state where they are legal, you really have to be careful — not only about lighting fireworks and about those that misfire, but about where they are enjoyed — that they are both set off and aimed at a safe location — away from other people and away from things that could burn easily like dry grass, wooded areas, and hay or straw.

He says there’s something else to keep in mind with illegal fireworks.

Again, Huls says slow down and think about what you’re doing, have extra water available, and have enough adult supervision.

And he says the best advice is to leave the aerial and explosive fireworks up to the professionals.

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July 2, 2015 - 9:15 pm - Posted in News

Statewide Iowa — A number of northwest Iowa law enforcement agencies are in the midst of a special focus on traffic safety. Different agencies participate every year. According to the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau, this time in our area it’s the Lyon and Osceola County Sheriff’s Offices, the Paullina Police Department and the Iowa State Patrol.

Independence Day is a time of celebration with family and friends, food, and fireworks, but the Fourth of July holiday weekend is one of the deadliest on the nation’s roadways when it comes to crashes involving alcohol.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports in 2013, the most recent year in which data is available, 512 people were killed, nationwide in motor vehicle crashes over the Fourth of July holiday (5 p.m. July 3–6 a.m. July 8).  One hundred and ninety-nine of those deaths, or 39 percent, occurred in crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.  More than 20 percent of the impaired drivers involved in those fatal crashes had a BAC of .15 or higher and the incidence of impaired driving was over three times higher at night than during the day.  Twenty-seven percent of motorcycle operators involved in fatal crashes had BACs of .08 or higher.  During that same time period, six people were killed on Iowa roadways.  Half of those fatal crashes were alcohol related.

Extra law enforcement officers will be present on Iowa roadways July 1–7, 2015, watching for impaired drivers.  If you have been drinking, don’t risk it; make a plan before the celebration begins.  There is always another way home; arrange for a ride or call a taxi and remember:Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving.

For more on the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over mobilization, you can visit www.nhtsa.gov.

June 30, 2015 - 9:08 am - Posted in News

Sheldon, Iowa — Louisiana Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Bobby Jindal is coming to Sheldon.
Bobby Jindal
We’re being told he’ll be here on Friday, July 3rd at 3 PM at Jard, Inc. Jard is a gun manufacturer about a half mile north of Highway 18 and Country Club Road. That’s just north of the Risefest grounds. His visit is open to the public.

Again Louisiana Governor and 2016 Presidential candidate Bobby Jindal will be at Jard, Inc. on Friday at 3 PM. The Jard event will include a meet and greet that will be open to the public.

Jindal will start off the day at the Sioux Center Livestock Company Restaurant on South Highway 75 in Sioux Center. Governor Jindal will come by table-to-table to introduce himself and answer questions. That will run from 8 until 9:30 AM. At 11:30 AM, Jindal will have a lunchtime retail Event at Pizza Ranch in Rock Rapids on South Highway 75.
At 2, it’s on to Sibley for a Business tour of ammunition and firearms manufacturer Capital Armament Company at 1201 11th Avenue. Then at 3, it’s time for the Sheldon stop. He’ll wrap up the day with a dinner retail event at 5:30 at Gary’s on the River in Spencer.

June 29, 2015 - 9:27 am - Posted in News

Osceola Sheriff Car 72-2Sibley, IA — Two Sibley women’s vehicles were damaged in an accident in Sibley on Friday, June 26th.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that at about 2:53 pm, 90-year-old Frieda Anna Harders of Sibley was driving eastbound on 7th Street in a 2003 Ford Taurus in Sibley. Sixty-six-year-old Ellen Sontag of Sibley was driving a 1999 Ford Explorer northbound on 8th Avenue. According to the report, Harders failed to yield to Sontag and broadsided the Explorer in the middle of the intersection.

The Taurus received $4500 damage; the Explorer received $2000 damage.

No injuries were reported.

June 25, 2015 - 6:02 pm - Posted in News

Ocheyedan, Iowa — The death of a member of the Ocheyedan City Council and a petition have resulted in a special election in that city.

(file photo)

(file photo)

The City of Ocheyedan will be having a special election to fill the vacancy on the city council on Tuesday, July 14th.

Council member Gene Turner passed away recently. The Ocheyedan City Council appointed Kevin Hertz to fill the vacancy until the city election in November.

However, a petition was filed for a special election to fill the vacancy, forcing the election on July 14th.

The two choices on the ballot will be Kevin Hertz and Clyde Hoekstra.

The Osceola County Auditor’s Office says polls will be open on July 14th from noon to 8 PM.

June 23, 2015 - 3:25 pm - Posted in News

Mankato, Minnesota — The landline telephone company that took over for US West in Boyden, Doon, Hawarden, Hull, Ireton, Rock Rapids, Rock Valley, and Sibley has been purchased by Consolidated Communications. Enventis, formerly Hickory Tech began using the Consolidated name this week. The Mankato-based Enventis changed its name from Hickory Tech less than 20 months ago in October, 2013.
Enventis Becomes Consolidated Communications
Consolidated Communications announced that the company has started doing business in its Enventis markets under the Consolidated Communications name and brand.

Consolidated’s northwest Iowa representative Cassie Radtke tells us about the change.

She gives us a little background about the company that purchased Enventis.

Radtke says they now have service territory in 11 states.

She says their focus remains on providing reliable services at competitive prices and ultimately delivering a better experience.

Radtke says the move of their northwest Iowa office from Rock Valley to Rock Rapids is also a recent development.

She says the letterheads, brochures, buildings, and vehicles will begin sporting the new logo soon, as replacements are phased in.

Company officials say customers will not be required to change their email addresses.

More information is available on the Consolidated Communications website at www.consolidated.com/enventis.

Hickory Tech had purchased the northwest Iowa exchanges from US West in 1997, and for a number of years used “Heartland Telecommunications” as its Iowa brand. US West was a “baby bell” and a successor of Northwestern Bell.

Incidentally, US West merged with Quest in 2000, and in 2011 became CenturyLink. CenturyLink continues to serve several northwest Iowa communities as well, including Sheldon.

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June 23, 2015 - 10:41 am - Posted in News

Osceola County Courthouse Closeup_SVASibley, IA — 50-year-old Kenneth Elder of Ocheyedan plead guilty to Violation of No Contact/Protective Order.

According to the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, The Court orders Elder to pay no fine, a criminal penalty surcharge of 35%, and the court costs of this case. Elder is sentenced to 10 days in the county jail with all time suspended as informal probation to the Magistrate Court for a period of 2 years.