Clean Line Energy Representative To Address Development Planners This Month At NCC

Rock Island Clean Line windSheldon, Iowa — One of the men responsible for bringing the wind energy power line concept to northwest Iowa will be in Sheldon this month.

Cary Kottler with Clean Line Energy, will be the featured speaker at the Northwest Iowa Development partners meeting on Wednesday, January 23.

As General Counsel, Kottler is responsible for all legal, contractual, regulatory and compliance matters for Clean Line. In addition Kottler works on Clean Line’s commercial arrangements and advises on business development opportunities and corporate strategy.

Kottler will discuss the $1.7 billion Rock Island Clean Line project, a high-voltage, direct-current line designed to transfer up to 3,500 megawatts of wind power and other generation from northwest Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota to communities in Illinois and other eastern states by 2017.

Northwest Iowa Development is a regional, six-county partnership focused on promoting Northwest Iowa and growing the regional economy.

Orange City STEM Career & College Academy To Be Launched

Prairie Winds Event Center in Orange CityOrange City, Iowa — The MOC/FV School District, Unity Christian High School (UCHS), and Northwest Iowa Community College (NCC) are launching a new venture to help students seeking degrees in certain areas.

The newly-formed STEM-Career & College Academy will be launched with a luncheon on Friday, January 11th, 11:00 am at the Prairie Winds Event Center in Orange City. CEO’s and HR Directors from the area’s major employers and industries have been invited to attend.

Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, who co-chairs the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, will be the featured speaker at the event. She will be joined by Dr. Aletha Stubbe, President of NCC; Superintendent of MOC-FV Gary Richardson; Unity Principal Wayne Dykstra; Elizabeth McMillen, the Coordinator of Education with Sanford Health; and Orange City Mayor Les Douma.

The new Academy is the result of collaboration between the three educational institutions to address the shortage of high school graduates seeking 4-year college degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering and technology (STEM). It will also address the need to further develop a skilled workforce.

NW Iowa Remains The Driest Corner Of The State; Livestock Having No Trouble Yet

cattle_hay_snowDes Moines, Iowa — Moisture continues to be an important topic across Iowa. Although drought conditions in some areas have eased and many were glad to see significant snowfall, concerns remain about how much moisture will be available in the spring.

As December came to a close, the latest USDA Crops and Weather Report says topsoil moisture levels rated 45 percent very short, 42 percent short, 13 percent adequate, and 0 percent surplus. The driest area of the State was the northwest corner with 59 percent very short, very similar to the area’s condition last winter at this time.

Grain movement rated 47 percent none, 40 percent light, 11 percent moderate and 2 percent heavy. The snow and ice received December 19 and 20 slowed grain movement in some areas.

Availability of hay and roughage supplies was 41 percent short, 57 percent adequate and 2 percent surplus with 31 percent of the supply in good condition. Livestock conditions have been reported as normal. Hog and pig losses in December were 26 percent light, 73 percent average and 1 percent heavy. Cattle and calf losses were the same with 26 percent light, 73 percent average and 1 percent heavy.

Click here for the full crops and weather report.

Iowa’s Pheasant Numbers Have Fallen Far Over The Years

pheasantDes Moines, Iowa — A new report finds the size of Iowa’s pheasant population has fallen 83-percent since the mid-1990s due to disappearing habitat and a series of harsh winters. Kevin Baskins, a spokesman for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says habitat loss alone would have meant only a 26-percent drop in pheasant numbers.

(As above) “You kind of have an exponential effect when you have declining habitat combined with harsh winters because they have no cover to escape the conditions they’re facing,” Baskins says. “We’ve had several winters in a row with above-average snowfall.”

A milder winter a year ago, combined with the summer-long drought, helped the pheasant population somewhat. Baskins says the habitat loss combined with several severe winters is making it harder for pheasant chicks to survive.

(As above) “The other big influence we have weatherwise is when we get into colder and wetter springs,” he says. “The chicks, when they’re hatching, if they’re exposed to those conditions, they succumb to the elements. They don’t have as high a survival rates when we get into the colder and wetter conditions after first hatching.”

Baskins says Iowa lost more than a million acres of habitat between 1996 and 2010. He says higher corn prices prompted many farmers to plow up land that normally would serve as habitat for the birds. Bob-white quail numbers are also in decline. The numbers come from the DNR’s 2013 report on the pheasant population.

Branstad Bags DeerOn another hunting-related note, Governor Terry Branstad was one of the sportsmen at his annual deer hunt who snagged a trophy this weekend. The governor shot an eight-point buck at about five o’clock Saturday afternoon.

Sioux Center Officers Arrest One On Sex Charge, Two On Alcohol-Related Charges, and One For Disorderly Conduct

Sioux Center PDSioux Center, Iowa — In the latest from the Sioux Center Police Department, officers arrested one on a sex crime, two on alcohol-related violations and one for disorderly conduct.

Officers arrested and charged 23-year-old Ben Vonk of Sioux Falls, South Dakota with Public Intoxication.

Last week Sunday they charged 20-year-old Mitcheil Phomphakdy of Sioux Center with Disorderly Conduct and Persons Under Legal Age in possession of alcohol.

That same day, Sioux Center officers charged 21-year-old Diego Hurtado of Beaufort, South Carolina with Disorderly Conduct.

This past Wednesday (1/2), the Sioux Center Police Department arrested 32-year-old Philip Stacy of Sioux Center on two counts of Lascivious Acts with a Child.

UPDATE: Kidnapping Suspect Now Also Charged In Connection With Death Of His Mother

sac county sheriffUPDATE: Authorities now say 21-year-old Kirk Levin has been charged with first degree murder in the death of his mother, 45-year-old Marilyn Schmitt of Early.

Early, Iowa — Sac County authorities were investigating a kidnapping on Thursday (1/3), when they found a body in a home. Initially it was assumed the crimes were not related. Now the body found in the home near Early has been identified as the mother of the man arrested in connection with the kidnapping incident.

Sac County Sheriff Ken McClure says the woman has been identified as 45-year-old Marilyn Schmitt of Early. He says Schmitt is the mother of 21-year-old Kirk Levin and lived at the house where her body was found on Thursday morning. Law enforcement officials are awaiting autopsy results on Schmitt’s body.

Levin was arrested by the Sac County Sheriff’s Office in connection with the kidnapping case, on charges of kidnapping, assault while participating in a felony, and assault with intent to commit sexual abuse. The charges stem from the reported kidnapping of a woman from her home in Storm Lake on Thursday morning. The woman was reportedly taken by Levin to his mother’s home, about a half-mile from where the woman was found attempting to flee from a vehicle.

In the case of the found body — authorities believe Schmitt had been dead for about two days.

Until recently, Levin had been incarcerated in a state prison on a 2010 Sac County burglary conviction. He appeared in Sac County magistrate Court Friday morning where his bond was set at 200-thousand dollars. He remains in the Sac County Jail.