Northwest Iowa — Several northwest Iowans are reporting receiving a call claiming to be from their electric provider and stating that they’re about to turn off the person’s electricity. Experts tell us it’s a scam.

Some electricity providers have even posted about the scam on their social media pages. Both the cities of Rock Valley and Hawarden have posted about the scam. The Rock Valley Police Department says residents have been receiving complaints that residents are receiving calls on their cell phones from someone claiming they are with “their utility power company” and showing a local phone number. The recording then gives a warning that the person’s power will be shut down in 30 minutes and then asks for the caller to push 1 to be connected with customer service. The Rock Valley police confirm that this is a scam. They say they are urging residents to hang up and call their local power company directly if they question the validity of the call. Residents are also encouraged to not give out credit card, bank account, or personal information. They say if residents feel they have fallen victim to the scam or have questions they can call the Rock Valley Police Department at 712-476-5716.

The City of Hawarden has a municipal power department. They also advise that if you get such a call, do not pay the caller anything, as it’s a scam. They say you can call the City if you need more information at 712-551-2565.

One of KIWA’s own employees has also received such a call. It also appeared to come from the same area code and prefix that the cell phone was from and was identical in every way to the calls the Rock Valley Police reported.

A check of social media shows that this scam is going on across northwest Iowa but also across the nation. It doesn’t appear to have anything to do with who your electricity provider is. We’ve heard from customers of rural electric coops, municipal electricity departments, MidAmerican Energy, Alliant Energy, and more, who have all received the call.

MidAmerican Energy tells us that you must be given a written notice at least 12 days before the utility service can be shut off for nonpayment. This notice will include the reason for shutting off your service. However, they say that if you have not made payments required by an agreed-upon payment plan, your service may be disconnected with only one day’s notice. But they will not turn your electricity off with only hours or minutes to respond. MidAmerican says the utility must also try to reach you by telephone or in-person before it shuts off your service.

Geoff Greenwood, MidAmerican’s spokesperson says they make several efforts to notify and try to contact a customer if their account is past due or facing disconnection, including notices that accompany their monthly bill and separate mailed notifications. He says MidAmerican will also try to call the customer if they don’t hear from them. But he emphasizes that when MidAmerican speaks with a customer – whether they called the company or the company called them – MidAmerican will make every reasonable effort they can to work with the customer. Disconnection is a last resort.

Greenwood also says that a customer should not trust the information that appears on their caller ID display, because it can be manipulated. He says if you receive a threatening call, hang up. Don’t call the number that’s on your caller ID display. Instead, call the number that’s on your bill or on the front page of your electricity provider’s website and they’d be happy to verify your account status. Or, if you’re enrolled in their online service, you can log in and check it there.

He says MidAmerican will not call out of the blue and demand payment through one means only, which is generally what a scammer does. Scammers often demand immediate payment via a prepaid money card (such as a Green Dot card), wire transfer, electronic payment platforms (such as Zelle), or even a gift card (such as an iTunes card).

If you’re a MidAmerican customer, you can report the scam by calling them at 888-427-5632. People who receive the call can also report it to local law enforcement, the Iowa Attorney General’s office and/or the Federal Trade Commission.

May 2, 2022 - 2:36 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa Democratic Party’s candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and congress rallied with about 600 activists at a party fundraiser this weekend.

The three Democrats vying for their party’s U.S. Senate nomination shared their biographies and their plans for defeating Republican Senator Chuck Grassley in November.

Sioux County native Mike Franken of Sioux City, a retired Navy admiral, told the crowd he’s running to dial down the political temperature in the country.

Former Iowa Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer of Ceder Rapids touted her 2018 race to defeat Republican Congressman Rod Blum of Dubuque.

Glenn Hurst, a physician from Minden, said if Democrats want to beat Grassley, they need to nominate a prairie progressive like former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin.

Candidates in all four of Iowa’s congressional districts spoke to the crowd. Congresswoman Cindy Axne of West Des Moines, who is seeking a third term in the House, was the closer for the group.

Some of the evening’s loudest applause came when speakers praised teachers — and criticized Republican Governor Kim Reynolds for proposing to send state tax dollars to parents who enroll 10-thousand children in private or religious schools. Deidre DeJear is the Democratic Party’s candidate for governor.

House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst was more blunt. Konfrst used the words petty and vindictive to describe Reynolds.

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee says Iowans know who really represents their values and beliefs, and who’s pushing a far-left agenda.

Statewide Iowa — Iowans who are doing some spring cleaning this weekend can plunk all of their bottles of unused prescription medications into a bag and drop it off on Saturday for safe, anonymous disposal. Dale Woolery, director of the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy, says it’s an easy process, plus, it may save a life.

The one-day take-back events are held twice a year. The collection in October of 2021 netted more than six thousand pounds of prescription meds statewide. Woolery says it’s a quick search to find a location.

These take-back events are a responsible way to dispose of prescription drugs, he says, while protecting the environment from improper disposal and preventing the dangerous misuse of opioid pain relievers and other prescription drugs.

Although Iowa ranks relatively low in rates of illicit drug use and overdose deaths, studies show opioid-involved overdoses claimed the lives of 258 Iowans last year, that’s up 64% over the last two years. National data show teen overdose deaths nearly doubled during that same period.

More information:
Click here for a dropbox locator from the DEA.
https://odcp.Iowa.gov/RxTakeBacks
Iowa Office of Drug Control Policy page on Drug Take-Back Day

LEWIS FAMILY DRUG #52 610 PARK ST P.O. BOX 455 SHELDON, IA 51201 1 miles Map
SANFORD SHELDON MEDICAL CENTER 118 N 7TH AVE P.O. BOX 250 SHELDON, IA 51201 1 miles Map
HY-VEE, INC. 1989 PARK ST. PO BOX 408 SHELDON, IA 51201 2 miles Map
LEWIS FAMILY DRUG #39 521 BLACK FOREST RD STE 5 HULL, IA 51239 18 miles Map
LEWIS FAMILY DRUG #67 420 2ND AVE SIBLEY, IA 51249 22 miles Map
THRIFTY WHITE PHARMACY #077 127 N MAIN ST PAULLINA, IA 51046 21 miles Map
HY-VEE DRUGSTORE CLINIC PHARMACY 321 N MAIN MARCUS, IA 51035 32 miles Map
SIOUX CENTER HEALTH 1101 9TH ST SE SIOUX CENTER, IA 51250 22 miles Map
LEWIS FAMILY DRUG #59 143 S MAIN AVE SIOUX CENTER, IA 51250 23 miles Map
HY-VEE PHARMACY 1951 S MAIN SIOUX CENTER, IA 51250 23 miles Map
HEGG MEMORIAL HOSPITAL INC 1200 21ST AVE ROCK VALLEY, IA 51247 28 miles Map
LEWIS FAMILY DRUG #69 1227 VALLEY DR ROCK VALLEY, IA 51247 29 miles Map
AVERA MERRILL PIONEER HOSPITAL 1100 S. 10TH AVE ROCK RAPIDS, IA 51246 29 miles Map
LEWIS FAMILY DRUG #61 106 N BOONE ST ROCK RAPIDS, IA 51246 30 miles Map
STERLING LTC PHARMACY #32 607 10TH ST WORTHINGTON, MN 56187 43 miles Map
HY-VEE, INC. 1235 OXFORD STREET WORTHINGTON, MN 56187 44 miles Map
HY-VEE PHARMACY (1382) 1201 12TH AVE SW LE MARS, IA 51031 42 miles Map
HY-VEE PHARMACY (1068) 800 N SECOND ST CHEROKEE, IA 51012 43 miles Map
HY-VEE PHARMACY (1636) 819 GRAND SPENCER, IA 51301 47 miles Map
THRIFTY WHITE PHARMACY #042 715 S GRAND AVE SPENCER, IA 51301 47 miles Map
BOOTH PHARMACY INC 903 CENTRAL AVE PO BOX 233 HAWARDEN, IA 51023 44 miles Map
LEWIS FAMILY DRUG #60 715 E 5TH ST PO BOX 291 CANTON, SD 57013 49 miles Map
HY-VEE CLINIC 1628 1012 OKOBOJI AVE MILFORD, IA 51351 48 miles Map
LEWIS FAMILY DRUG #42 528 S 3RD ST MOVILLE, IA 51039 64 miles Map
LAKES REGIONAL HEALTHCARE 2301 HIGHWAY 71 SOUTH SPIRIT LAKE, IA 51360 53 miles Map
HY-VEE PHARMACY 1500 18TH STREET SPIRIT LAKE, IA 51360 54 miles Map
LEWIS FAMILY DRUG #54 2202 17TH ST SPIRIT LAKE, IA 51360 54 miles Map
April 28, 2022 - 2:14 pm - Posted in News

Washington, DC — An international nonprofit organization whose aim is the realization of “a free, just, and equitable society” has named a local institution of higher learning as a semifinalist for a national prize.

The Aspen Institute has announced 25 semifinalists for their “Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence,” and Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon is on the list. The Aspen Institute has also added a milestone in the award selection process.

Officials with the Aspen Institute say the $1 million Aspen Prize is the nation’s signature recognition of community colleges that are achieving high, improving, and equitable outcomes for students. In years past, only ten finalists have been named on the road to the winner, and this change is designed to highlight the increased number of colleges across the country doing excellent work.

The 25 semifinalists are

Amarillo College, TX
Broward College, FL
Cloud County Community College, KS
Elgin Community College, IL
Georgia Highlands College, GA
Harper College, IL
Hostos Community College (CUNY), NY
Imperial Valley College, CA
Itawamba Community College, MS
Kingsborough Community College (CUNY), NY
LaGuardia Community College (CUNY), NY
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, MS
Moorpark College, CA
North Iowa Area Community College, IA
Northwest Iowa Community College, IA
Pierce College, WA
San Jacinto College, TX
Seminole State College of Florida, FL
South Florida State College, FL
South Puget Sound Community College, WA
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, WI
Southwestern Community College, NC
Tallahassee Community College, FL
Union County College, NJ
Western Technical College, WI

Aspen officials tell us that the Aspen Prize, which is awarded every two years, honors colleges with outstanding performance in five critical areas: teaching and learning, certificate and degree completion, transfer and bachelor’s attainment, workforce success, and equitable outcomes for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. The winner will be announced in the spring of 2023.

Dr. John Hartog, president of Northwest Iowa Community College, says, “NCC is one of the few colleges that has been among the 150 colleges that are eligible for the Aspen Prize all seven times since the inception of the competition (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021, and 2023). This places NCC among the highest performing community colleges in the nation.”

NCC performed well when compared with the other 150 Aspen Prize eligible colleges:
· Top 5% for graduation rates for Pell Grant recipients (low-income students)
· Top 8% for first-year retention rate
· Top 8% for 3-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time students
· Top 11% for 3-year graduation rate for students of color

Hartog tells us that in previous award cycles, Aspen had not recognized the top 25 colleges, so he calls the news “an exciting new step for NCC in this award process.” He says those at NCC are grateful for this “prestigious recognition which speaks so well of our Trustees and employees—all of whom constantly focus on student success.” Hartog says NCC contributes to the strength and vitality of Northwest Iowa by providing quality, accessible, and affordable education to all its students.

Next, the committee will review its interviews with college leadership teams and will narrow this selection of 25 semifinalists to 10 finalists, to be announced in early June 2022. In the fall of 2022, multi-day site visits to each of the 10 finalists will occur, when teams of experts collect even more student outcomes data and gather insights about effective practices. In the winter of 2023 a distinguished jury decides who wins the Aspen Prize, based on quantitative data and qualitative information from each of the 10 finalists. The winner will be announced in the late spring, about a year from now.

Aspen officials tell us the Aspen Prize is generously funded by Ascendium, the Joyce Foundation, JPMorgan, and the Kresge Foundation.

Statewide Iowa — A new report from a progressive think tank finds 15 percent of Iowa households with at least one full-time worker did not have enough income to meet basic needs in 2020.

The “Cost of Living in Iowa” report from Common Good Iowa finds nearly half of single-parent families needed government assistance to cover basic living expenses.

That’s Peter Fisher, research director for Common Good Iowa who is the report’s co-author. The report focuses on mid-2020, the most recent period when detailed data was available. Fisher says it means the analysis doesn’t reflect the current impact of inflation.

According to Fisher, most Iowa workers need to earn at least twice the minimum wage to have an income that covers a bare bones budget for food, housing, utilities, transportation, health care and — if there are kids — child care.

The report concludes nearly 114-thousand Iowa households where at least one adult has a job needed food assistance along with government-paid health care coverage and child care assistance in 2020. Natalie Veldhouse, co-author of the report, says the majority of residents in those households are white, but racial minorities are more likely to live in an Iowa home where money is tight.

Common Good Iowa executive director Anne Discher says the earning power of workers who are paid by the hour has eroded over several decades. Common Good Iowa supports raising the rate to 15 dollars for all workers who are paid by the hour, plus it’s calling for an increase in government spending to supplement the wages child care workers as well as employees who provide direct care to elderly and disabled Iowans receive.

Common Good Iowa was formed 16 months ago by the merger of the Iowa Child and Family Policy Center and the Iowa Policy Project. The Iowa Policy Project had issued seven previous “Cost of Living in Iowa” reports.

Washington, D.C. — Iowa Congressman Randy Feenstra says it’s time for the U.S. Justice Department to take real steps to sanction the four companies that control 80 percent of the U.S. beef packing industry.

The Hull Republican cites the amount one of those companies is paying to settle a lawsuit filed by grocery stores and wholesalers.

The lawsuit filed against JBS as well as Tyson, Cargill and National Beef accused the packers of working together to intentionally suppress the number of cattle slaughtered, to drive up beef prices.

Feenstra made his comments during a short speech on the floor of the U.S. House. The Department of Justice opened an investigation of meatpackers two years ago, but has not indicated publicly what its findings may be or if a lawsuit is pending. The Biden Administration is providing a billion dollars in grants to expand processing capacity in small packing plants. In February, the USDA unveiled an online portal for livestock producers to report allegations of price fixing. The four major companies in the beef packing industry say the prices they pay for cattle, and the prices consumers pay for meat, are driven by supply and demand.

Northwest Iowa — Firefighters continue to be busy in northwest Iowa. The problem is, some of their calls could be avoided.

We all know the grass and tinder out there are dry and the strong winds we’ve been having off and on have not made conditions any better. That means that burning may not always be the best idea. But there’s another issue too. Even if you’re burning safely, area fire chiefs are urging you to call in your controlled burns.

On Tuesday, the Hawarden and Ireton fire departments were called to a field fire northeast of Hawarden. Fire Chief Duane Schieffen says when they got there, they found out it was an intentional, but unannounced controlled burn. The Sheldon and Hospers fire departments were also paged out to the call of a field fire near the landfill that turned out to be the same — an intentional, but unannounced controlled burn. Plus, there have been more calls like that — AND a number of calls to fires that started as controlled burns that went out of control.

Sibley Fire Chief Ken Huls says you need to tell law enforcement and firefighters about your intentions.

He says well-meaning individuals often see fires, and since everyone is a little scared of fast-growing fires right now, they call 911.

Fire officials also remind us that they are often in short supply, and if they are busy responding unnecessarily, it may take them longer to respond to a real emergency when seconds count. Huls says if they get to a fire, even if it looks like it may be intentional — if they can’t find someone watching the fire, they put it out.

He says if you are going to burn, don’t do it without significant advanced thought and planning.

Fire officials say you should have water standing by, and if it’s near a field, have a tractor with a disk ready to go to disk firebreaks. Huls says cardboard and paper goods go airborne when they burn, so don’t put any of that in the fire. And you can’t burn tires, waste oil, or chemical products. And don’t burn near any houses or inhabited structures, whether inhabited by people or animals. He says to remember that it is your responsibility to see that smoke doesn’t cause visibility issues on roads.

Huls says weather and wind direction are also very important factors and should be considered before any burn. And don’t forget to call your local sheriff’s office communication center before burning.

April 27, 2022 - 12:09 pm - Posted in News

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa legislature has approved a bill that is estimated to require that the majority of Iowa gas stations sell gasoline with a 15 percent ethanol blend.

Governor Kim Reynolds was speaking with reporters in West Des Moines when she learned the bill had passed the Senate.

The governor initially proposed an Iowa Renewable Fuels Standard last year. An adjusted plan passed passed the House this February. This week, Senators made changes that are expected to let an estimated 30 percent of smaller gas stations opt out of the requirement to sell E-15. Senator Waylon Brown, a Republican from Osage, says it’s a way to push back against the oil industry and federal regulators who’ve resisted using ethanol as a gasoline additive.

Republican Senator Dennis Guth, a farmer from Klemme, says the mandate violates the principles of free enterprise.

Senator Todd Taylor, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, says the bill will be an economic boost for rural and urban Iowa.

Republican Senator Adrian Dickey of Packwood, who has owned fuel stores, voted for the bill, but Dickey says retailers who install new systems to pump higher blends of ethanol will make zero profits from that investment.

The House approved Senate adjustments in the plan early this Tuesday afternoon and sent the bill to the governor on an 81-to-13 vote.

April 26, 2022 - 4:30 pm - Posted in News

Larchwood, Iowa — Over eighty projects in the tri-state area shared nearly $167,000 in mini-grants from the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation on Monday evening.

Almost all of the recipients asked for and received the limit of $2000, according to Lyon County Riverboat Foundation officials. Many of the grants were for projects within Lyon County, but many grants were also given to out-of-county and out-of-state projects.

The grants were given to projects as far west as Crooks, South Dakota, as far north as Luverne, Minnesota, as far south as Sioux Center, and as far east as Ocheyedan.

It’s not known if there will be enough money to do this in the future, but this time, there was enough money available to fill every grant request that was received. That’s 84 grants in total.

Projects ranged from equipment for online computerization and a catalog of museum artifacts for the McCallum Museum of Osceola County to daycare supplies for the George Community Foundation, and from new exterior doors for the Sibley VFW post to replacement of bathroom floor and visit room window blinds at the Seasons Center’s new Family Visitation Center in Sioux Center.

The Sheldon Recreation Department got $2000 toward batting cages at the Sheldon Sports Complex.

The foundation is the non-profit license holder for the Grand Falls Casino and Golf Resort near Larchwood. State law mandates a certain percentage of the casino’s gaming take has to go back to the community. The agreement between the casino and the non-profit stipulates that for the first $20 million the casino collects in gambling winnings in a year, they will give the foundation 4.5 percent. When they get up to $20 million, the percentage goes up to 4.75 percent; and when they get up to $30 million, it goes to 5 percent.

The Lyon County Riverboat Foundation is set up to give half of the money in grants to county government subdivisions and schools, and the other half in a competitive grant process to non-profit projects.

2022 LCRF Mini Grants

April 26, 2022 - 3:56 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon has been named one of the best in the nation by an online college aggregator.

According to NCC officials, BestAccreditedColleges.org has named Northwest Iowa Community College’s Associate of Arts Program #25 on their list of Best Associate Degrees in Liberal Arts in the Nation. NCC was the only Iowa college listed in the top 50 rankings.

A representative of BestAccreditedColleges.org says that they create their guides and school rankings with student education in mind, and this list will help the aggregator’s website readers and NCC’s potential students learn about Northwest Iowa Community College’s offerings. They tell us they considered hundreds of institutions across the country and ranked Northwest Iowa Community College using data around financial aid awards, the quality of education, faculty, campus resources, and more.

Representatives of the website tell us that their school rankings only include accredited, non-profit public and private schools. They say their objective approach to judging schools uses a proprietary ranking system, which combines current data points from the U.S. Department of Education with school-specific details.

Data points include the cost of attendance including tuition cost, financial aid, and more; accessibility, which includes admittance rates and more; and quality & value, which includes retention rates, graduation rates, and the student-faculty ratio.

A full list of the top 50 Schools can be found here.