Statewide Iowa — Pandemic restrictions are being relaxed in some areas after more than a year, and optimistic Iowans are responding by planning summer vacations to destinations near and far.

Hamilton County Public Health director Shelby Kroona says to do your homework first and make certain visitors are being accepted before you buy plane tickets.

Even some places in the US aren’t exactly safe from COVID-19, as she notes Oregon is experiencing a spike in cases at the moment.

No matter where you’re planning to go, researching options in advance is key and Kroona says the Centers for Disease Control is a good clearinghouse.

For domestic vacations, even getaways to other parts of Iowa, she says smart travelers will familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations before venturing forth.

It was announced this past week that Broadway theaters in New York will reopen in September to 100-percent capacity since being closed over a year ago. All of the COVID travel facts can be found at

May 7, 2021 - 2:00 pm - Posted in News

Orange City, Iowa (OCBTC) — Vogel Bancshares, Inc operating as Iowa State Bank, has announced that they have entered into an agreement under which Vogel Bancshares, Inc Will acquire Melvin Savings Bank from Benz Holding Co. Melvin Savings Bank will be merged with and into Iowa State Bank.

Melvin Savings Bank operates two offices in Melvin and Sibley. The merger will expand Iowa State Bank’s service area in Northwest Iowa.

The merger is anticipated to close during the third quarter of this year, pending the receipt of regulatory approval.

Iowa State Bank is a locally owned financial institution with a rich history in NW Iowa that dates back to 1879. With over $700 million in assets, Iowa State Bank currently has offices located in the communities of Hull, Ireton, Le Mars, Orange City, Paullina, Remsen, Sanborn, and Sheldon. For more information about Iowa State Bank, visit

Story from our news partner, O’Brien County’s Bell-Times-Courier


Northwest Iowa — Each May the Iowa Association of School Boards invites Iowans to honor and recognize school board members. This month is a designated time to show support for your local school board.

Association officials say the 2021 theme is “School Boards: Leading Through Uncharted Waters.”

Association officials say that over the past year, leadership at the board table has come with challenges and decisions no one could have anticipated. School boards have made tough choices that impact the health and safety of students, staff, and the school community, while continuing to prioritize student achievement and educational equity. They say that in a normal year, these unpaid volunteers “work diligently to ensure schools provide the best education possible for Iowa’s future citizens.” They say, “In 2020, they’ve persevered and led through uncharted waters to make critical decisions without even a map to navigate these challenges.”

At Sheldon Community Schools, administrative staff says school board members are honored on posters and are acknowledged in school as well as at the May Board of Education Meeting.

At George-Little Rock, Superintendent Tom Luxford says they will provide certificates for the board members at the May meeting. They’ll also have a meat & cheese tray, and will be thanked as a group. Luxford says, “It’s been a great year. It’s nice to have been in school. I appreciate the board members.”

At MOC/Floyd Valley, Superintendent Russ Adams says their board members are honored with a supper and a certificate.

At Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn and Sibley-Ocheyedan, board members will be recognized with a certificate of gratitude at their May meetings.

South O’Brien Schools Superintendent Wade Rieley says their school board members will also be recognized with a certificate at their May meeting. He says there will also be a meat and cheese tray. They will also have a work session, and supper will be provided for the school board members during that session.

At Central Lyon and Rock Valley, they will also be recognizing their boards at their May meetings.

Other districts around northwest Iowa are honoring their school boards in various ways.

The Iowa Association of School Boards says that while school board members are elected by the community, they serve as unpaid navigators who help students set sail by devoting their time to monthly meetings, reviewing board materials, communicating with citizens, exploring learning opportunities, and attending school functions and activities. They say that most importantly, school board members have made tough choices that impact the health and safety of students, staff, and the school community, while continuing to prioritize student achievement and educational equity.

Statewide Iowa — The American Heart Association says progress has been made in stopping kids from smoking and vaping — but there is still a lot of work to do.

The Association’s Jeff Willett says there was good news on the topic.

Willett talked during an online presentation about the challenges they still face.

He says flavors were banned in reusable electronic cigarettes — but there is a loophole for single-use e-cigarettes — and they have seen a one-thousand percent increase nationwide in the use of disposable e-cigarettes by high school students, and a 500 percent increase in the use by middle school students. And he cited one company that is trying another approach for its e-cigarette.

Willett says they believe the reduction in the use of e-cigarettes could be linked to publicity about the lung disease caused by the practice, and the federal change raising the age for using them to 21.

Willett says there has been some recent good news from the FDA.

Willet was part of an update Wednesday designed to give schools updated information on the issues surrounding tobacco and e-cigarette use.

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa House and Senate have unanimously voted to create a new crime for driving at an excessive speed and causing someone else’s death.

Representative Jon Thorup of Knoxville is a state trooper.

According to the Iowa Sheriffs and Deputies Association, it’s difficult to appropriately charge a speeding driver involved in a fatal accident if prosecutors cannot prove the driver was intoxicated or intentionally targeting someone. The bill passed the House unanimously on March 23rd. It passed the Senate Wednesday on a 48-to-zero vote.

The Iowa State Patrol issued 85 percent more tickets to drivers caught going 25 miles an hour or more over the speed limit in the first six months of last year compared to the previous four-year average.

Sibley, Iowa — The 5th and 6th graders from Sibley-Ocheyedan Middle School will be headed to Des Moines on a field trip next week, but they need your help to get there.

Sibley-Ocheyedan Middle School Social Studies Teacher Mrs. Julie Schuller says the students will be visiting the State Capitol.

A round trip to Des Moines from Sibley makes for a long day. And it’s even longer on a school bus. As a result, Mrs. Schuller says the classes are planning to take chartered busses.

Unfortunately, she says they have come up a little short for covering the cost of the second chartered bus, so they’re asking for your help.

Mrs. Schuller says her 5th and 6th graders are really looking forward to making the field trip to Des Moines.

She says she thinks one of the things the kids are most excited about is stopping on the way home to eat out. She says most of them say it will be the first time they’ve eaten in a restaurant without their parents being there.

If you’d like to chip in and help the Sibley-Ocheyedan 5th and 6th graders pay the balance of the cost of the second bus, you can contact Mr. Schuller at Sibley-Ocheyedan Middle School by calling 712-754-2542, or by email at

Again, that trip is scheduled for next Thursday, May 13th.

May 6, 2021 - 1:02 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — Spring brings warmer weather, sunshine, flowers and it’s when motorcycles begin to appear on the road.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month and Iowa State Patrol Trooper Kevin Krull says it’s vital that motorists keep an eye out for these vehicles.

Trooper Krull offered a suggestion to help you more effectively spot motorcycles while you’re on the road.

But of course the responsibility to avoid colliding with a motorcycle does not belong ONLY to the motorist, Krull says the motorcycle riders need to be the most defensive drivers on the road.

He also suggests that motorcyclists dress in a way that makes them more visible.

Trooper Krull says that motorists and motorcycle riders alike need to drive defensively, look out for one another and expect the unexpected, during Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, and all year long.


May 5, 2021 - 3:11 pm - Posted in News

Northwest Iowa — May, 2001. That’s when Rise Ministries was founded by a young man named Rob Roozeboom. Rise Ministries is celebrating their 20th anniversary this month.

Rise Ministries Founder and President Rob Roozeboom tells us how the ministry got its start.

He talks about Rise Ministries early years.

Roozeboom says that, as time went on, the focus of Rise expanded.

Needless to say, Roozeboom tells us, Rise did, in fact, start a music festival.

Roozeboom and his wife, Sharla, have three teenagers, and as he looks forward to the next twenty years, he says he says he’s starting to wonder if they might want to become a part of Rise Ministries.

The RiseFest Christian music festival takes place in Sheldon each June, with this year’s festival scheduled for June 11th and 12th at the RiseFest Grounds, located just north of Highway 18 on Country Club Road.

Northwest Iowa — This is National Teacher Appreciation Week and teachers in several districts are being honored and thanked by their administrators, students and others.

At Sheldon Community Schools, Superintendent Cory Myer says they got personalized note pads for all of their staff and there are snacks in the staff lounge this week. He says the school board approved the Teacher Appreciation Week proclamation at their April school board meeting. The proclamation says how important teachers are to society and thanks them for a job well done.

At George-Little Rock, Superintendent Tom Luxford says they had a big celebration and that sweet rolls were served to all teachers. He says they have an old-time ice cream social planned as a thank you to teachers this Wednesday, and on Thursday, there will be a teachers’ breakfast.

At MOC/Floyd Valley, Superintendent Russ Adams says each building will be recognizing their teachers in their own way. He says his office sent out treats to teachers and a thank you card. Adams says it’s important to honor teachers, especially this year as “…Everyone has put in more this year than ever.”

At Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn, Superintendent Patrick Carlin says their PIE Group (that’s Parents In Education) is bringing lunch and snacks all week for their teachers. He says the district will also be providing some snacks and a small gift to all employees to show their appreciation.

Sibley-Ocheyedan Superintendent James Craig says they recognize teacher appreciation week in the district with jeans week for staff. He says they also recognize their custodians, bus drivers, food service personnel, and paraprofessionals through the week. There are also community groups that support the week and teacher appreciation day on Tuesday of the week.

South O’Brien Schools Superintendent Wade Rieley says the Climate & Culture Committee is doing a lunch from a local restaurant. The National Honor Society cooked a breakfast Monday. The school board got a fruit basket and dessert basket for teachers and left them in each teachers’ lounge. Plus he says they will let school out early this Wednesday afternoon to give teachers a break so they can work in their rooms for a while without distractions. On Thursday, they’re going to do a “Throwback Thursday” where teachers post a first-year-of-teaching photo, and people can leave thank yous in the library. Plus there was a lunch to honor teachers on Tuesday for elementary teachers.

At Central Lyon, Superintendent Brent Jorth says the Central Lyon Parent Teacher Committee provided cinnamon rolls for staff on Monday. He says Central Lyon administrators provided lunch for staff on Monday and will again on Friday. Jorth says Central Lyon will also be hosting a retirement open house for Mrs. Connie Boeve, Mr. Bruce Eckenrod, and Mrs. Susan Van Wyhe this Wednesday at 3:30 to celebrate the 101 years of service these three middle school educators have given to the Central Lyon community.

At Rock Valley, Superintendent Chad Janzen says they provided a meal at their teacher in-service last week. He says they also use social media to bring awareness to the week and ask people to email a teacher.

Other districts are doing other things to honor their teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week.

Statewide Iowa — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rescinded three waivers that had excused Sinclair Oil refineries in Wyoming from the federal requirement to blend ethanol into gasoline.

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association executive director Monte Shaw says the waivers were granted on the last day of the Trump Administration.

(As above) “What was most shocking about them, not just the lateness of them and they aren’t justified to begin with, but these refineries are in the 10th circuit court,” Shaw says.

The United States Court of Appeals for the 10th circuit has jurisdiction over six states, including Wyoming. It’s the court that ruled early last year that small refineries only qualified for the exemption from blending ethanol into gasoline if they had applied for extensions of waivers originally granted in 2010. Shaw says the EPA’s decision fits with the law, but just as importantly it matches what candidate Joe Biden said on the campaign trail.

(As above) “He said he wanted to reign in these refinery exemptions, that they weren’t justified, that we need to follow the law and implement it appropriately,” Shaw says, “so for his EPA then to turn around and say: ‘Hey, these literally last minute exemptions don’t make sense. We need to pull them back,’ it makes sense because that is what he said he would do.”

Shaw says the Biden Administration’s EPA administrator was in Iowa Tuesday and toured an ethanol plant.

(As above) “Unfortunately I guess for him the previous administration left a lot of unfinished business on his calendar and that will include finally enforcing the small refinery waiver program appropriately,” Shaw says.

Other unresolved items include setting the federal ethanol production mandate for this year and announcing EPA labeling and equipment rules so retailers can sell E-15 — gas with 15 percent ethanol — year round.