Des Moines, Iowa — The first full week of the 2023 session of the Iowa Legislature is in the books. We had a chance to connect with new District 5 Republican State Representative Zach Dieken.

And that’s new in both senses — the district is new, and the representative is new. Dieken represents the new District 5, which includes all of Osceola and O’Brien counties as well as about half of Cherokee County and a few townships in Buena Vista County.

We asked Representative Dieken what his priorities are for the 2023 legislative session.

We asked him his opinion on the tax reform that legislators have been discussing.

Those of you know knew Representative Dieken before he became a representative probably know that he normally goes by Iowa State Patrol Trooper Zach Dieken. Dieken tells us that while he is now a state representative, yes, he is still a state trooper.

Dieken encourages people to give him a call. He says one of the emphases of his campaign was that we live in a republic and that means everyone can be involved in representative government. If you have an issue, he says he’d like to talk to you.

January 13, 2023 - 5:32 pm - Posted in News

Washington, DC — This area’s Congressman, Randy Feenstra from Hull was selected for the US House Ways and Means Committee this week.

Feenstra says he was selected by his Republican colleagues to serve on what he calls the “influential” committee.

Feenstra says, “I am humbled to be selected to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee for the 118th Congress to continue my work serving and delivering for Iowa. From agriculture and trade matters to healthcare and tax policy, Ways and Means covers a wide array of legislative priorities important to our agricultural community and rural way of life. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I will continue to be a strong voice for Iowa families, farmers, producers, taxpayers, and small business owners who deserve a seat at the table.”

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) praised Feenstra’s appointment saying, “Congressman Feenstra is a leader in fighting for the interests of rural America, and he will continue that leadership on the Ways and Means Committee. He will be an invaluable partner in solving the major challenges that face rural America – opening up new markets for farmers, creating jobs, and expanding access to health care, to name a few. The Ways and Means Committee is ready to advance a bold Republican agenda that supports the millions of working-class families struggling after two years of Democrat one-party rule.”

Des Moines, Iowa — If you or your children were on Medicaid before the pandemic, and during the time since, your income rose above the limit, you will probably lose your Medicaid benefits this year.

From March 2020, through April 1, 2023, Iowa Medicaid was required to maintain continuous health care coverage for members. This meant that if a member’s situation changed (e.g., financially) in a way that would normally disqualify them from the program, Iowa Medicaid was required to maintain coverage for the person during the public health emergency.

On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which ends what’s called the Medicaid program’s “continuous coverage requirement” as of April 1, 2023.

According to the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, that means that most Medicaid members will go through a redetermination process during the 12-month unwinding period to determine if they are still eligible for any Medicaid program(s). This includes members who have not had a redetermination in the last 12 months and those who have been deemed ineligible but whose coverage is being maintained.

With the initiation of the unwind plan, Iowa Medicaid says they will share important information with members. They say it is critical that Iowa Medicaid members have up-to-date contact information in Medicaid’s database, watch for mail from Iowa Medicaid, and respond to requests for information.

If members do not respond to renewal letters or requests for information, they may lose coverage.

Medicaid officials tell us that if you are set to lose your benefits, they’re not just going to leave you in the lurch. The process will take several months, and they say they will assist by providing information, resources, and processes on obtaining alternative health coverage after disenrollment.

For more information, click here.

Ashton, Iowa– A Ocheyedan man and his passenger were taken to the hospital after an accident near Ashton on Tuesday, January 10, 2023.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that at about 8:45 a.m., 74-year-old Bernard Engelkes of Ocheyedan was driving a 2001 Toyota minivan southbound on Highway 60, two miles north of Ashton. They tell us that 21-year-old Dax DeGroot of George was eastbound on 210th Street in a 2015 Ford pickup.

The report says that DeGroot pulled out in front of Engelkes while turning right causing the collision. It does mention fog in the area contributing to obscured vision.

The Sibley Ambulance took Engelkes and a passenger in his vehicle, 67-year-old Timothy Knudson to Osceola Regional Health Center Hospital.

Engelkes’s Toyota minivan sustained $2500 in damages, and DeGroot’s Ford pickup sustained $1500 in damages.

DeGroot was charged with failure to yield upon entering a through highway.

Sibley, Iowa– A man and a woman, both from Sibley were taken to the hospital after an accident in Sibley on Tuesday, January 10, 2023.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office reports that at about 3:45 p.m., 32-year-old Dustin Pursell of Sibley was driving a 2010 Volkswagen northbound on 8th Avenue, in Sibley. They tell us that 54-year-old Tina Haluska of Worthington, MN was westbound on 7th Street in a 2016 Jeep Cherokee.

The report says that Pursell failed to yield to the Haluska Jeep on the right. The vehicles collided in the intersection.

The Sibley Ambulance took Pursell and a passenger in the Haluska vehicle, 52-year-old Beth Lindberg of Sibley to Osceola Regional Health Center Hospital.

Pursell’s Volkswagen sustained $10,000 in damages, and Haluska’s Jeep Cherokee sustained $5,000 in damages.

Pursell was charged with failure to yield the right of way.

The report says the Sibley Fire Department also assisted at the scene.

Washington, DC — Iowa 4th District Congressman and Hull resident Randy Feenstra is taking the Biden administration to task over how they have investigated cases of classified documents differently in the possession of former president Donald Trump and Biden’s son Hunter.

The Republican from northwest Iowa says with his party now in control of the House, they will press for answers about how former president Trump was investigated and raided by federal agencies while Republican concerns about hunter Biden were ignored:

Feenstra joined fellow house GOP members in voting for the Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act, which would repeal the IRS enforcement funding in the Democratic Inflation Reduction Act and prevent the Biden administration from hiring more IRS agents.

Experts say the bill will likely not make it to the floor in the Democratic-controlled US Senate.

Northwest Iowa — We up here in northwest Iowa seem to have lucked out again. A computer system that is used by some county recorders’ offices in Iowa was apparently hacked over the holidays and is still not completely back to normal.

The software, however, called “Cott Systems,” does not appear to be used by any of the four northwest Iowa county recorders’ offices, which use other software, such as “Eagle.”

Experts say the biggest remaining problem in counties that do use Cott Systems appears to be online access to real estate records. In some cases, we are told even the personnel in the recorders’ offices are not able to access those records. Not all of the counties that use Cott Systems were affected either. The hack seems to have only affected counties that have records hosted by Cott Systems.

Iowa county recorders’ offices issue birth certificates; licenses for boats, ATVs & snowmobiles; death certificates; hunting & fishing licenses, marriage certificates; and marriage licenses. They also deal with military records, real estate, and trade names.

Sheldon, Iowa — A local institution of higher learning is looking to honor one of their graduates.

Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon is seeking nominations for the 2023 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. They are asking that if you know of an NCC Alum who has done outstanding work in his or her industry, has done exceptional volunteer work, received a prestigious award, or obtained some other notable achievement, to nominate this individual.

NCC officials tell us that the person’s accomplishments can be of a personal or professional nature. They invite you to nominate a friend, a co-worker, a family member, or even yourself by visiting and filling out the Alumnus of the Year nomination form.

NCC officials tell us NCC employees are not eligible for consideration. All nominations must be received by March 3, 2023. They say the outstanding alumnus will be recognized during one of NCC’s 2023 Commencement Ceremonies.

January 8, 2023 - 12:24 am - Posted in News

Ames, Iowa — The Iowa State University Extension gardening webinar series is back underway this month. Program Coordinator, Alicia Herzog, says the series is based on input from participants.

She says they will focus on three different topics in the next three months.

(as said)Our first month is going to be all about edibles. So microgreens herbs, edible landscaping, growing in the cold, because a lot of people don’t know you can put up cold frames and do other special techniques to be able to continue growing food outside, even in the winter months here in Iowa,” Herzog says. The topic will switch to pruning in February.

Herzog says you need to register for the webinars so you can get a Zoom link.

She says you can look up the Iowa Master Gardeners on Facebook, and all of the webinars are listed there as events and they have the link to the Zoom and you can register there as well. The January webinars are held on Tuesdays. Click here for the website.

Orange City, Iowa – A collaboration of land-grant university extension specialists from Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota and representatives from the dairy industry with complementary expertise and knowledge of dairy production and management in the region are inviting dairy producers to a dairy workshop.

The collaboration is known as “I-29 Moo University.” They are encouraging dairy producers to register for this week’s I-29 Moo University Winter Workshop. This year’s theme is “Milking the Carbon Cow.” The workshops will take place at Wilbert Square Event Center in Brookings, SD.

Fred Hall, who is a dairy field specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, based in Orange City, says that the workshop will highlight a number of experts who will focus on topics that will help dairy producers understand carbon credits and market access.

The workshop begins at 10 a.m., with registration and refreshments, and will conclude at 3 pm.

Registration fees are $10 per person. Click here to register.

Hall tells us workshop topics include Measuring, Managing, and Modeling for the future with Dr. Kaitlyn Briggs, who is the Director of Environmental Research for Dairy Management Inc.; What’s all the Fuss about Carbon: A Soil Perspective, by Anthony Bly, who is an SDSU Extension Soils Field Specialist; and Opportunities and considerations in carbon markets by Leif Fixen, an Agriculture Strategy manager, for The Nature Conservancy.

There will also be a panel discussion.

For the full agenda, you can visit the I-29 Moo University events webpage.