Lyon County Government Continues To Win With Riverboat Foundation Grants

Rock Rapids, Iowa — Lyon County Schools, Cities, and County government continue to win big with grants from the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation.
Grand Falls Casino sign at night
The foundation is the non-profit license holder for the Grand Falls Casino 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 half in a competitive grant process to non-profit projects.

The fourth quarter 2014 non-competitive grants are being given during basketball games in the county. The eastern Lyon County grants were given during a ceremony on Friday night, February 16th at George/Little Rock High School.  The central and western Lyon county grants will be given during basketball games at Central Lyon and West Lyon schools this Friday night, January 23rd.

Lyon County public schools — Central Lyon, George/Little Rock, and West Lyon are each being granted a little over $46,000. That makes their total for 2014 about $176,000 per school. Since the Riverboat Foundation started giving grants in 2011, each school has received nearly $600,000.

Lyon County cities are given grants based on their population. They range from about $14,000 for Lyon County’s smallest incorporated community of Alvord to almost $17,000 for Rock Rapids this time around. That brings the total for 2014 to a low of almost $54,000 for Alvord to a high of over $64,000 for Rock Rapids. Since the grants started in 2011, the total ranges from over $183,000 for Alvord to nearly $220,000 for Rock Rapids.

Lyon County is being given just over $19,000 this time, bringing the 2014 total to over $74,000, and the grand total to-date to almost $254,000.

The total amount being given to government subdivisions in the fourth quarter is nearly $278,000 and in 2014, the total is over a million dollars.

The foundation says that what the government subdivisions do with the money is up to each one’s board or council.

The grand total given away to the government subdivisions by the foundation so far is over $3.5 million. Another $3.5 million has been given to non-profit projects in the competitive grant process. The latest competitive grants will be announced during a ceremony at the Grand Falls Casino and Resort on February 7th.

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Indiana Company Acquires Long Lines

Sioux City, Iowa — The telecommunications company that recently purchased Orange City Communications, is itself being purchased by an Indiana company.
cat 5 rj45 ethernet internet cable
Long Lines says they agreed to be acquired by Schurz Communications, Inc., a diversified, privately-owned communications firm based near South Bend, Indiana. The sale is expected to close during the first quarter of 2015, following governmental approvals. Schurz intends to retain Long Lines’ current management and employees.

Over ten years ago, Long Lines joined forces with the city of Orange City to start Orange City Communications. This past August, Orange City voters voted to sell their portion of the communications utility to Long Lines.

Long Lines provides telephone, cable TV and internet broadband services to more than 20,000 business and residential customers in the metro Sioux City area and in Orange City, Mapleton, and other communities in Woodbury, Monona, Ida, and Harrison counties. Long Lines more than doubled the size of its fiber network during 2014, now extending as far east as Algona, IA and as far south as Omaha. Long Lines sold their wireless service, Long Lines Wireless to AT&T about a year ago.

Schurz operates cable systems serving 90,000 customers in Indiana, Florida, Maryland, and Arizona. Schurz also owns a number of media outlets across the U.S., including 11 television stations and 12 radio stations – among them KOTA-TV in Rapid City, SD – and publishes 11 daily and 8 weekly newspapers with a combined circulation of 225,000 readers. Like Long Lines, Schurz has always been a family-owned and operated company.

Brent Olson, CEO of Long Lines, says that joining the Schurz family of companies will allow the company to continue to provide the highest level of service and value to Long Lines customers. He says that the support from Schurz will allow expansion of HD programming, an increase in internet speeds, and availability to more customers.


Friday Fire And Monday Explosion Unrelated

Boyden, Iowa — Authorities are now saying the fire on Friday and the explosion on Monday at the same location near Boyden — were unrelated. Both happened at 3768 360th Street, seven miles southwest of Boyden.
Boyden FD Fire Department
Boyden Fire Chief Galen Blankers says that the fire that was reported on Friday, January 16, in the 7 PM hour, started in the center of the section that was destroyed, and was caused by an undetermined ignition source. This fire has been ruled accidental and remains under investigation.

Meanwhile, the explosion and fire that was reported on Monday, January 19, in the 2 PM hour, was determined to be a methane explosion with an undetermined ignition source. That explosion and fire were also found to be accidental and the incident remains under investigation.


Sheldon Council Hears Recycling Complaints

Council ChambersSheldon, Iowa — Confusion over recycling schedules, not enough room in the containers and uncertainty about what to recycle…..according to Sheldon City Manager Scott Wynja, these were the main complaints he saw in the recycling survey forms turned in by Sheldon residents. Much of the council discussion was centered on how to get schedule information out to the public. Both of the Sheldon garbage haulers said it was really easy. “If your garbage pickup day is Monday, your recycling pickup days are the first and third Thursdays of the Month. If your garbage pickup day is Tuesday, your recycling pickup days are the second and fourth Thursdays of the Month. There are no pickups on the fifth Thursday which occurs about every three months. But the council members wanted more information presented on the media, plus the city website and possibly a calendar inserted with the water bills. And people who still have questions should call their hauler. Some of the survey respondents complained that they should not have to pay for recycling, but it was explained that the haulers do not charge for hauling recycled items.

Many complaints were also voiced about the big container in the City Parking Lot. The container fills up fast, but cannot be emptied until a date specified by the landfill. The City Manager stated that the container is there as a convenience, but curbside recycling should still be primary.

Some residents also asked why there is still a fuel surcharge on their garbage bill after gas prices have gone down. It was explained that the surcharge is based on the fuel price on the fifteenth of the preceding month and the price of diesel fuel was either $2.69 or $2.89 on December 15th, which makes the surcharge 50 cents. If it would have been $2.49 or lower there would be no surcharge.

The council also voted to make a change on the 34th Avenue Median between Taco Johns and Mc Donalds. Public Works DirectorTodd Uhl told the council that this rock-filled sector was high maintenance and he suggested several alternatives. The Council decided to replace the rock with colored concrete at a cost of about $9,500.00.


Iowa Farmers Union Petitions State Ag Department

Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa Farmers Union is asking the Iowa Department of Agriculture to require 48-hour advance notice to neighboring farms before pesticides are applied to row crops.
sprayer pesticide application
In addition the group wants enhanced penalties for pesticide applicators who are identified more than once as the source of pesticide drift. Iowa Farmers Union president Jana Linderman of Cedar Rapids says pesticide drift can destroy organic fruits and vegetables and bee hives, plus it’s a danger to farmers who’ve planted crops like food-grade soybeans.


Linderman cites research by the Practical Farmers of Iowa that found that between 2008 and 2012, less than 20 percent of pesticide applicators were fined after state investigators confirmed cases of pesticide drift had affected specialty crops. The average fine was seven-hundred-16 dollars ($716).

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey says over-spray does happen, but it’s not common.


He says there are roughly 400,000 fields in Iowa and most of them get sprayed multiple times in a growing season. He says the Department of Agriculture only gets a handful of complaints every year — most of them accidents — where conditions change or applicators are in too much of a hurry. Northey says issues do occur, and that’s why commercial and private pesticide applicator training courses are required.


The Iowa Farmers Union filed a petition with the Iowa Department of Agriculture in December, asking that the agency adopt new rules for pesticide applicators. The agency has 60 days to respond. In addition to its request of the Iowa Department of Agriculture, the Iowa Farmers Union is asking legislators to pass a bill requiring commercial pesticide applicators to obtain more liability insurance.

Linderman Cut
Northey Cut1
Northey Cut 2


Head-On Crash Sends Teen To Hospital

Rock Valley, Iowa — A Rock Valley teen was taken to the hospital after an accident near Rock Valley on Monday, January 19th.
Ambulance Front Generic
The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office reports that about 5:40 PM, 15-year-old Joel Baartman of Rock Valley was driving a 2003 Buick Century eastbound on Highway 18, two miles east of Rock Valley. Fifty-four-year-old Kelly Miller of Urbandale was driving a 2005 Chevrolet Impala westbound on Highway 18.

The report says Baartman crossed the centerline and struck the Miller Chevy. Both vehicles then entered the north ditch where Baartman’s vehicle rolled.

The Rock Valley Ambulance transported Baartman to Hegg Memorial Hospital in Rock Valley.

The Buick and Chevy sustained approximately $8,000 in damages, each.

Baartman was charged with driving on the wrong side of highway.

The Rock Valley Fire Department and the Rock Valley Ambulance crew assisted the Sheriff’s Office.